Thursday, April 28, 2011

This sewing addiction

...has got me by the throat, and I love it! I expected this week to be incredibly busy.  It turns out the first couple days have been available for me to do what I want! Which means.... sewing!! I am currently working on a couple "present" projects, so pictures of those will not be going up until I have gifted them.  But... I did work on something for me, that I can show! A Kindle cover. Yes, my new toy needed a cover. And no, I did not want to spend $30-$50 on the ones they sell on Amazon. So I put my mind to the task... and here is the result!

Its like a giant pocket!

The Kindle just slides right out

And rests in the little pocket in front!

I might think about making another... slightly more difficult one. But for now, this suits my needs! And its material that I love!  Not a lot of extra $$ and custom-made. Hooray!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


its just one of those days. The kind where the weather is not sure what it wants to do, so it fluctuates between 50s and sunny and 40s and cold and windy. Sometimes it rains... who knows?

Sometimes its one of those days that you reach into your closet to grab shoes for the day (I tend to walk to work in tennis shoes and change into my heels) and its not until you get to work that you realize that you grabbed Brown shoes to go with your Black pants and deep Purple shirt.
yes, brown shoes. Go me.
 But sometimes its the little things in the day that make it alright. Like finishing off the last of this yummy deliciousness. Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread! I made a loaf over the weekend for Easter and am happy to say it turned out beautifully.
Jay told me that mine looked even better than this before I let it rise some more. :) It was my first attempt at making bread of any kind... and I am happy to say that I will be trying it again sometime soon!

courtesy of

And... the brightest part of the day? The arrival of my brand-new Kindle. My beautiful friend Claire has raved about her Kindle, here: Dear Kindle and on multiple other occasions. After much research, and a lot of convincing by Claire... I purchased one. I figured it would be a great long term investment... especially considering how often I go out and purchase books. I am an avid reader!
So... this pretty little new toy arrived today. I promptly downloaded 12 FREE books that I had ordered on Amazon (prior to its arrival). And now... I wait patiently for the charging to be complete and I can take it home and read. And read. And read some more. I will be back to update you on how well I love this new toy.

Monday, April 18, 2011

sometimes its the random happenings that are the most fun

This weekend was jam-packed and fun filled! Despite my ever lingering cold (curse you!) I took full advantage of the beautiful weather and the weekend! Friday night started out with a Mammoth game with Anne and Josh. It was their first Mammoth game ever! And... I am pretty sure they are hooked. We'll be dragging them back again. And again. And again. The Mammoth won their game! Hooray! So we headed out for some drinks after the game... during our drinking sesh, Anne and I came up with the BEST HALLOWEEN COSTUME IDEA EVER! No, I am not telling what it is. But since we literally have months before Halloween... its going to be great.

our little group!
 Saturday was going to be a busy day... so Jay and I made sure to eat a yummy and delicious breakfast. Yum! I had blueberry-granola-walnut pancakes. Oh yes...
 After a quick stop at the dance studio for a little choreography practice (we have a show coming up in May), Jay and I met up with the awesome Miss Claire and our friend Sol for some outdoor lacrosse.
lacrosse at Invesco!

Claire and I soak up some rays
 We were at Invesco Field to watch our DU Pioneers take on Ohio State... GO Pios!!!
 It was a really, really nice day out. Warm sun, cool breeze... perfect for the game!

Jay and I

hello, friends! Claire and Sol
 After the game finished (DU won!!) we all decided to continue to fun... and go putt-putt! I do not do well at putt-putt (usually  mini-golf, bowling and pool are all pretty bad) but I love a good adventure!
what a weird group
 Jay was our official score-keeper. Since only he and Sol knew how... and Claire and I were just there to hit balls around. :)
 The boys had their stances and their practice swings. But continued to look on in awe as Claire and I just whacked the balls and they ended up closer to the holes.

 Somehow... at the end of the day... I WON!!!!!!!!!!!! Seriously. I kept the score card and everything. It was awesome!!
taking a victory lap on my giant lizard
The group of us headed to dinner and stuffed ourselves silly. Then it was home for the night. Whew! Can't wait to do it again!! Re-match? Anyone? Anyone?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A bunch of random stuff....

Despite the increase in posts over the last week or so, there are a few little things that I have totally forgotten to post about. For example... I got new glasses! Hooray! The last pair was from Sophomore year of college...and even though I don't wear my glasses that often (I like my contacts) I like wearing them at work where the air is super duper dry.  This was the first time picking out new glasses without the input of a friend or family member, but I really like them.
my new glasses!
 Another fun thing... I made a new dance bag. Since sewing is becoming my new, fun, all-consuming hobby, I felt that a customized dance bag needed to be made. I remembered to take pictures this morning, after all my dance stuff was shoved inside, so I hope to get some better pictures that show the bag a little better when its not bulging with crap. I found this great, bright material... and just loved it.  It has a very tropical, hippie, retro feel to it and is totally different than anyone else's bag.
check out the OWLS!
 I added special pockets on the inside to organize my stuff better. There is a pocket just for my competition ghillies (super tight, not stretched out), a pocket for my bobby-pins and barrettes and hair ties (and any other hair or make-up paraphernalia, and a pocket for band-aids and Tylenol/aspirin etc. The bag is wide enough and deep enough for my hard shoes and extra practice ghillies, hair, tape, and anything else I want to cram in there.
custom-made ghillie pocket
 And last, but not least, in the random updates.... Wednesday nights have become a weeknight date night for Jay and I. Up until about a month or so ago... we usually only saw each other on the weekends. Friday through Sunday. This was due to our schedules and normal routines that we just didn't stray from. Now... Wednesday nights Jay heads over after work! I usually make dinner for us (although sometimes we go out) then we snuggle down on the couch and watch random movies or even more random tv. Its a great mid-week break!  Last night, for example, I made steak, potatoes and asparagus for dinner. Steak and potatoes is not that interesting, but its good home-cooked food. :) Then Jay and I headed to D Bar to get some dessert. D Bar is a food place owned by Food Network chef Keegan Gerhard (often seen on "Food Network Challenge")  The desserts at D Bar are not cheap... but OH MY they are good. And worth every extra second I will spend at the dance studio tonight....
I got the Chocolate Caramel Tart... oooey gooey sweetness

Jay picked out the Key Lime Tart... oh so tart!
The combination of my super sweet dessert and Jay's super tart dessert was perfect. We were eating off each other's plates as much as our own. So tasty!!!

And that is it on all the random bits of stuff...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Results and Goals

Feile Denver.
The venue was great, plenty of stages, plenty of room... the fiddle player left something to be desired (I have the same complaint with him from every feis I have danced with him at - I cringe when I see him next to the stages).  I had a blast with all my dance buddies (thanks for the pics, Stace!)
Cool dude Olivia and I and the cool kids below
I missed it last year with my broken foot and am highly disappointed with this year's results. The recap:
Reel: 5th of 10
Light Jig: 4th of 7
Slip Jig: 4th of 9
Single Jig: 4th of 7
Treble Jig: 5th of 10
Hornpipe: 2nd of 8 (Hooray!)
Trad Set: 6th of 7 (not sure how that happened)
Treble Reel Special: 8th of 21

Despite starting 2 hours behind the original schedule, I felt good when I executed my steps. I thought I danced well, my fellow dancers told me that I looked good, but it all comes down to the subjective decision of the judges and I apparently did not have what they were looking for. 

Hey! thats me :) I felt good when I was dancing... must remember to smile the WHOLE time
Judging is the worst and weirdest part of Irish dance. I mean, places are awarded based on scores from the judges. But, just like in figure skating, gymnastics, diving, etc., the judges scores are all subjective. Based on how they felt the dancer, skater, or gymnast did. Its not based on the fastest time, winning goal, 2 point basket, highest jump, longest throw....
In my B.I.D (before Irish Dance) life, I played soccer. I swam on the swim team. I ran track. I played basketball. All of those activities had a specific set of rules in order to win. Score the most goals. Swim the fastest, run the fastest. Score the most baskets. Simple. Straight-forward. I think the thing I struggle with the most in ID is that I can't please all the judges all the time. I just need to hit the stage every time and do the best I can and hope they score me high enough.

BUT.... there are things I can do to make each dance and each step and each competition better. For me!

So... my goals (since the one comment I got on the results was for my reel : stamina)
Conditioning - running, biking, dancing -- work to build up my endurance
Drills - I know I need to work on turning out my back foot and really loosening up my feet and ankles
Height and Bounce - I dance like an adult. 1 foot off the ground at a time. (Not really) But I do need to work on making my steps bouncier and getting more height on jumps, leaps and other tricks.
Placements - Better placements, but really my ultimate goal would be to move all my dances into Prizewinner by the end of 2011.
4 dances, 3 feisanna, 1 goal...

Friday, April 8, 2011

the Journey...part 2

So we continue on with the story of my dance journey. Since I am sure that you were all just riveted to your seats waiting for my next post.

As I started winning (or placing 2nd behind my uber talented awesome friend Stacey) all the time, my teachers started suggesting the idea of "dropping down". ---Dropping down refers to leaving the Adult competition and dancing as a kid in the &over category. Due to the rules and regulations, Adults cannot compete at a Champion level, so in order to have more of a challenge, Adults can choose to "drop down".---
Before this point, I had watched a couple of our other Bennett Adults "drop down" and do fairly well. (Who am I kidding? One of those adults is competing at Worlds in a couple weeks) But, I wasn't totally convinced that was what I wanted to do.  But...after getting my new (and first!) solo dress, it started to become more of a thought in my mind. At the same time, Stacey was also being pushed to drop down... so we decided to just bite the bullet and do it together. That way we had each other to lean on, practice with, and struggle through the kids competitions. The plan? Our first "&over" competition would be at Feile Denver, April 2010. Together.
And then I went and broke my foot.
sweet blue cast
Two days after St. Patrick's Day. In class. While dancing. Ugh. I tried to convince myself it wasn't broken. Look! I could walk around on it... it didn't hurt that bad. Except I couldn't just walk it off. So I went to the Urgent Care. Got an X-ray and received confirmation that my foot was indeed broken. So for the first time in my 26 years....I got a cast. And let me tell you they are not as fun as one would want them to be.
Obviously, I did not compete with Stacey. I had to wait until June until I was allowed to start dancing again. I took it slow. My body said, sure, we can do this...bu my brain had a panic attack each time my feet left the floor. But it got better. I felt better. I started pushing myself, more and more. My goal was to be ready for my favorite competition, Longs Peak feis in Estes. What a perfect circle....first feis as an Adult and then first feis as an &over! Thursday classes, Saturday classes, private lessons...
September rolled around and I could barely breathe when I thought about the competition. The day of I thought I was going to be sick. I was so nervous. Getting on stage for my reels... I remember hearing the music but I don't remember dancing my reel. Ha! I know I did something because I didn't place last...
By the end of the day, I was so proud of myself. I had competed with a group of 13-15 year olds! And done well... 3rd in Light Jigs, 2nd in Single Jigs, 1ST in SLIP JIGS, and 1st in my Trad set and 4th in the special.
Stacey and I post awards

Sunday's competition will be my third feis as an &over. I am still nervous. But, as my amazing friend Claire just told me, "It's fine that you're nervous, it means it is important to you". Thanks, Claire. You're right. Dance is important to me. The last 3 1/2 years have shown me that I have the strength to do what I put my mind to. Its been quite the journey... and there is just so much more ahead of me! So, thanks for the reminder, Claire... and thanks to other inspiring dancers. I can't wait to set goals and kick some butt!
at my 2nd &over competition

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My journey...

In 3 days, I have a dance competition coming up. This will be my 3rd competition as an "&over" (meaning dancing with kids instead of adults) and I am nervous.   Our school sent out the competition schedule earlier this week and I felt a wave of nerves wash over me.

Dance was one of the topics that Stacey and I discussed last night during girl's night... and for whatever reason, following our discussion, I felt even more nervous. Like, first competition nervous. I am truly not sure why. I have only one new step that I am incorporating into my solos this competition... although I haven't been able to get through both feet up to tempo. Hmmm....

In my nervous state, I have been seeking...something...and have been scouting out blogs and surfing the dance boards. For what? I wasn't sure. Then, I found this, Rince Go Bragh. Its a blog by a fellow Irish dancer who is on her way to Worlds at the end of this month. She blogs about her goals, her aches and pains, her achievements, her thoughts, etc. But, the best part about this blog? She started dancing only 3 years ago. Guess what? I started dancing 3 1/2 years ago, (albeit a bit older than her and without her gymnastics background) so I felt that our journeys are comparable. I will probably never be as good as her, nor make it Worlds, but I can set goals for myself and keep track of how I am doing, what I need to work on, etc. journey...into Irish dance

My obsession with Irish dance began when I was really young. My parents and I lived in Chicago, and (being the awesome parents they are) they took me out to many different summer festivals including one where there was Irish Dancing. I have no idea how old I was, but I just remember being fascinated by the dancing. Any of the parades we would watch (specifically St. Patty's) the dancers were my favorite part.  I always wanted to be an Irish dancer, but it was not something my parents could afford.
As I grew older, I still loved to watch the dancers and always held on to the thought in the back of my head...
After college, when I got my 2nd "real" job, I decided that now was the time. 23 years old was the year that I was going to start dancing. So I looked around on the web and learned that Denver has a LOT of Irish dance schools. I ended up choosing Bennett.  They looked to cater more towards adults, especially Adult beginners (that was me!). So, in June of 2007, I stepped into the doors of the studio and haven't looked back since.
Me, about 8 months into dancing
My first "show" was in August of that same year and my first Adult competition came in September of 2007. The Estes Park Scottish/Irish Highlands festival has a feis, Longs Peak feis, which was my first and the competition will always be my favorite to participate in. At that competition, I cried but managed to get through a 4-hand, and 8-hand my reels and my light jigs. I placed 3rd in my light jigs... and it whetted my competitive spirit. Since then, I have competed at two Oireachtas (regional competitions) with 8-hand figures, moved from Adult Beginner all the way to Adult Prizewinner and placed or won consistently. It was addictive and awesome. Every time I learned a new step or landed a new trick... I loved it even more.
during competition

stay tuned for Part 2 of my journey....

the Julie purse

So... remember last week when I made this purse? Well, I carried it with me last week, to work, to dance, out to dinner, etc. A friend of mine, Julie, saw my purse and exclaimed, "I want one just like it! Make me one?" So I said sure. I had found this great patterned fabric during one of my perusals of Hancock, but it was a smaller remnant and I wasn't sure how to make it fit a purse pattern. But... I made it work. I think. I hope. So... if it looks terrible, let me know, ok?

The hanging purse

laid out flat
Julie had asked for no pockets and the same purse as I had. So... I didn't add pockets, but I did add a little overflap with button for the closure instead of the ribbon ties I had before. I think it worked out well! And looks cute to boot. Hahaha, I rhymed.

I feel like this purse turned out much smoother than my first. Which makes sense because practice makes perfect, right? Right... which means... more to come! All my friends out there... beware. You're most likely getting a purse for your birthday/Christmas or whatever. Enjoy. Or at least pretend you do ;)

Monday, April 4, 2011

drinking for a good cause...

Isn't there always a good cause to drink? No? Yes? Anyway... Saturday afternoon, a bunch of my school's dancers got together to dance and pub crawl our way though downtown Denver's Irish pubs. Why did we do this? For a good cause!!! No, really, we did it to collect tip money to help send two of our dancers to the Worlds competition at the end of this month. Woot!
the crazy group!

Nikki and I with my man!

The group of dancers

captured! mid freaky jump!

my big supporter! love this guy!
We managed to dance our way through Scruffy Murphy's, Fado's, Celtic (2 shows), Katie Mullens, The Tilted Kilt and Nalens. I called it a night after The Tilted Kilt, but most others continued on. It was a beautiful, warm day to dance around. It was great fun and hopefully a huge help to our dancers!
Worlds this year is in Dublin. Its a HUGE Irish Dance competition with dancers from all over the world (hence the name). Its the first trip for one dancer and the 2nd (its been a while) for the other. Best of luck to Mark and Ari!!!