Thursday, July 31, 2008

In which a DVD costs me $162

Earlier this week, Andrew wanted to buy some picture frames. The plan went like this:

Step 1: Go to Target and buy frames.

Step 2: Print pictures at Kinko’s.

Andrew wanted some company, so I tagged along. We looked at frames, and on our way to the register, Andrew asks me if I wanted to pick anything up.

“Oh, yeah! I wanted to get a copy of ’10 Things I Hate About You’,” I answer, as we go back upstairs to the appropriate department. We walk through the DVDs, and not only do I find 10 Things, but a bundled pack of Ghostbusters 1 and 2.

Sam and I LOVE the Ghostbusters movies. I think if Ghostbusting was a real profession, Sam would be one. At $13, this was a steal.

[For you folks playing the home game, we’re at 9 + 13 = 22.]

Across from the movies, I saw the display of Wii games. There was the “High School Musical” game, complete with microphone. It’s totally creepy, but I have an unnatural love of the HSM movies. Maybe it’s Zac Efron. Maybe it’s because I’m old enough to know which original high school musical movies they’ve ripped off the themes from (Grease and Dirty Dancing are just two of them). Maybe it’s Zac Efron.

Andrew mocks me a little, and we pay, claiming that the game is for our daughter, to save me the embarrassment of feeling like a creepy old lady.

[Now, we’re at 22+ 50= 72.]

When we finished at Target, I mentioned that I wanted to check New York and Company for a dress that I hadn’t been able to get online. Just as we start to walk towards NY&Co, Andrew spies a GameStop. Since we’re on the hunt for a few specific Wii games, we stop in.

[Two games = 60. 72 + 60 = 132.]

Oh yeah, NY&Co. Two dresses, both 70% off.

[Two dresses = $30. 132 + 30 = 162.]

That’s what I like to call Jasmin Math.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Victory is MINE!

That's right, folks. I finished the Tour de Fleece in time.

Berry Patch- 6ply
Berry Patch- 6ply cu

Looks good, right? That's only half of the finished project- the other half was still resting on the bobbins. It's roughly 1200 yards of worsted weight, six-plied.

I had initially intended to do it as a four-ply, but at four plies, it was a sport weight:

Berry Patch- 4ply

So, six it was.

I know, I should have posted it on Sunday, but these pictures were taken under my new lighting. So, I've sacrificed a little timeliness for quality.

In any case, I can proudly don the following:

tourdefleece shirt

I've always liked yellow.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

It’s not easy being beautiful

There’s a saying in Farsi, “Kill me, but make me beautiful.”

If you’ve ever suffered blisters at the hand [foot?] of a pair of fierce shoes, burned yourself with a curling iron (or hair chemicals), or squeezed yourself into a pair of Spanx, you might be Persian. Welcome to the club!

It’s the most succinct saying describing what some of us elect to do to ourselves in the name of beauty. I’m not complaining- I’m just setting up the cultural groundwork for you.

Last week, my highlights DESPERATELY needed redo-ing. Given that I got my last set of highlights done exactly a month before, I was feeling a little on the cheap side.

(Suzi is a very talented stylist, but I have a wool auction I want to go to in three weeks. I saved at least one fleece’s worth of cash by doing this at home.)

Mom and I sat in the bathroom and used one of those “do your own highlights at home” kits. They work SUPER well.

If you’re a knitter/crocheter, they work even better for larger streaks if you use a size G crochet hook, rather than the A or B that it comes with (but you need to pre-punch the oh-so stylish bonnet). Many hands make quick work, and the chemicals were applied.

Given my naturally VERY dark hair, and considering that my hair is possessed, chemicals usually need extra time to set. So, one full episode of the Tudors later, I hopped in the shower to get the chemicals out.

The color was SHOCKING. Very blonde. I looked a bit like Cruella de Ville, but the next night we had planned to apply the pink. I was brushing my hair, and you could hear it cracking a breaking in bits. Yikes!


When we applied the pink, it took SUPER well. Like electric pink. So, Mom and I have decided to give the overall-highlights a break for a while, and just do the roots when they grow out.

But it looks wicked cool. I’m just saying.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Romeo and Juliet - a review

Event: Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare Santa Cruz
Cost: Buy tickets here- costs range from $12- $44. Our tickets were "comp'ed".


Charles Pasternak (Romeo) and Caitlin FitzGerald (Juliet) in SSC's 2008 production of Romeo and Juliet.
Photo: R.R. Jones

(Hunky, n'est pas?)

The Review:

Like I said on the Podcast, Romeo and Juliet is not one of my favorite plays, and had my tickets not been comp’ed, I likely would not have attended. This would have been an epic mistake.

For the venue alone, it was worth it, but it was so much better than just a pleasant venue. Shakespeare Santa Cruz has an indoor theater (where we saw Bach at Leipzig) and an outdoor theater, where we saw Romeo and Juliet.

The outdoor theater is charming- still intimate while having enough space to be comfortable. The smells and sounds of the woods surround you, adding to the experience.

[WARNING: First time attendees- bring blankets and seat cushions. Santa Cruz gets very cold at night.]

Let’s talk about the play. We all know the plot, right?

Most of the cast is dressed in contemporary clothing, but some are in semi-Elizabethan garb. Somehow, the old and the new blend together. The older characters tend to be the ones in the Elizabethan clothing, which is an interesting juxtaposition.

My personal biases against the play are many; however, it was executed so well that ten minutes into the show, all thoughts of “overdone” and “cheesy” were fleeting.

When Romeo appears, offstage, you expect the traditionally “emo” Romeo. Sure, the show starts that way, but the secondary characters are so funny, that he seems like the appropriately lovelorn teen. In preparing for the Capulet’s ball, there is a lovely parallel between Romeo’s friends primping and preparing him and Juliet’s mother and nurse grooming her for the party.

Juliet’s appearance is reminiscent of a young Anne Dudek, and while the actress appears physically mature, her delivery of the role reminds the audience that while one may appear to be mature, they aren't, necessarily. I have never been so convinced that Juliet really is fourteen years old. She captures the haste and despair that seems to always accompany young love.

The “Pilgrims/prayers” scene (at the Capulet ball, pictured above) made my heart stand still. Seated in the audience, you can feel the electricity between Romeo and Juliet.

It made me feel fourteen years old again. Somehow, after rehearsals and multiple performances, the actors have managed to keep the scene feeling young, frantic, and authentic. (It doesn’t hurt that Romeo is a total hunk. I’m just saying.)

To be honest, until I watched this production, I hadn't realized how funny the first act of the show is. Every other interpretation has been so mired with the eventual outcome of the couple that it has dragged down the whole show. The actors managed to keep the production funny and light in the beginning, and appropriately poignant in the second act.

Other things worth noting are that throughout the show, there is some interaction with the audience, but it’s minimal and well-executed. Due to the way the outdoor theater is set up, entrances and exits are made through the audience, bringing you into the action. It’s fantastic.

If you get a chance to attend any Shakespeare Santa Cruz productions, DO. They do an excellent job and have unusually attractive casts. If not for the culture, it seems to be worth attending solely for the eye -candy.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Bach at Leipzig: A Review

Event: Bach at Leipzig, Shakespeare Santa Cruz

Cost: My tickets were “comp’ed”. To attend, tickets range from $12-$44.



Stephen Caffrey (Fasch) in SSC's 2008 production of Bach at Leipzig by Itamar Moses.
Photo: R.R. Jones.


Last Friday, I had the pleasure of attending Shakespeare Santa Cruz’s production of “Bach at Leipzig”. This was my first time attending a Shakespeare Santa Cruz show, and I was very pleased with the overall experience.

The indoor theater (where this show is playing) is lovely and small, with no real need for amplification. Every seat in the house seems to be a good one. I like intimate theaters, and I’m all for being close to the action.

Parking is a steal- $2 and very close to the theater. There is food, wine, and a gift shop on site, but you could also bring a picnic and enjoy it there, if you come early.

The basic plot of the show is that six composers have gone to Leipzig to apply for the position of organist at Leipzig- a position which holds a great deal of prestige (and a modest salary). The six other composers use guile, trickery, tomfoolery, and all other means of subterfuge to eliminate the competition. Much of the exposition is done in an epistolary manner- where the characters read their letters aloud before releasing them by pigeon, signaling the end of the letter.

It sounds boring, I grant you. That’s not at all the case. It’s really funny, and really fast. Meaning, if you’ve had too much wine beforehand, you’ll feel a little behind.

In addition to lightening-quick dialog and beautiful costuming, the acting is quite good.

One small criticism that I have is that the actors would start a line quickly, and gain momentum, leaving me reaching for my Tivo remote- to jump it back. As a naturally quick speaker, I know it’s hard to slow down, but really, I only fell behind once or twice.

The story is easy to follow and a great deal of the humor is obvious. There are some high-context moments, but the show is fairly accessible.

I would call this a good “date” play- not too heavy, nice and light, but not necessarily family-friendly. There is a close-to-naked character, but all of his vital bits are covered. (In fact, I would attend again just for the eye candy. I’m just saying.)

Another high point of the show is the fight scene at the end. It’s magnificent, and my second favorite staged swordfight EVER. (First place still goes to the swordfight in The Scarlet Pimpernel.)

Would I go again? Most definitely. You should go, too.

Monday, July 21, 2008

In the event of turbulence, please fasten your safety belts

Friday night, Mom and I attended Shakespeare Santa Cruz’s production of “Bach at Leipzig”. I’ll be writing up my review of it (hopefully) tomorrow. I finished the pair of Cascade Heritage socks during the show, which is awesome.

We drove home, and I stayed up later than usual spinning away. When I finally started heading to bed at 2 AM, I noticed that Elphie was having some muscle tremors. They started in her torso, and moved up to her face.

I looked in the dog health book, and among the possibilities were a toxin. So, I called the ER vet, and took Elphie in. To her great discomfort, they did a very thorough check, and assured me that it was very unlikely that she had encountered a toxin.

(Toxins result in seizures, not tremors, per the ER vet. Elphie wasn’t seizing. Thank God.)

The ER vet gave me a list of options, including leaving her there for observation and/or having them administer some activated charcoal in the event that she had ingested something nasty. One of the possible causes of the tremors was anxiety, and given that I changed my routine three consecutive nights, it’s the obvious one, in retrospect.

If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you know that Elphie is my formerly abused dog. It has taken us a lot of time to get her to the point where she’s functioning like a (mostly) normal dog. Part of this has been through routine, and the ER vet is the exact opposite of routine.

I was worried that Elphie would stress herself into a heart attack, so I said, “Thanks, but I can observe her at home, where she’ll be less anxious. And I’ll be happy to administer the activated charcoal myself.”

The ER vet, not knowing my prowess with medicating my dogs, made sure that I was adequately prepared, sent me home with a GIANT syringe full of activated charcoal. Elphie is a 30 lb dog, and the syringe looked like enough activated charcoal for ME, a 130 lb woman.

When we got home (at 5:30 AM), we sat and snuggled (with Niki, who was NOT amused that he was left home with Mom, who is a champ for coming over at 2 AM and sitting with him). Then, I gave Elphie the activated charcoal, which she took beautifully.

The stuff has a syrupy consistency, and looks like black oil. Per the ER vet, it also stains flooring, so I put down a “dog towel” (a really old, ratty towel, specifically kept for dog purposes), and got about 98% of it into her without much fuss.

The remaining 2% (all over the towel) looks like I used it to take apart and rebuild my engine on it.

At this point, we’re well into Saturday, so I go to bed, and don’t get up until 12:30. Donna and the Minions were headed over, so, I brushed my teeth and hopped in the shower. As I got out of the shower, Donna arrived.

I had a terrific (and much needed) session with her- where she noticed that I’ve been working out. There’s nothing like someone noticing that you’re toning up.

The Minions were champs, we had a great time, and during the course of the evening, Andrew’s first flight was delayed like three times- which meant he totally missed his connecting flight out of JFK and had to fly out the next morning.

Again, if you only know me in the internet world, Andrew has been in Maine since late April. He’s officially back and home forever, but I thought discretion was safer when it comes to out-of-town spousal units. I mean, really! If y’all knew my stash was ONLY being guarded by Niki and Elphie, you might know how to get past my wily guard dogs. Andrew is harder to distract.

In any case, Andrew was tired and just. Wanted. To. Come. Home. As someone who spent the same amount of time working out of state, I would have sobbed in the airport, and possibly thrown a temper tantrum if they had told me I was coming home one single minute later. Props to Andrew for NOT tantrum-ing.

So, again, I stayed up until Very Late spinning on my Tour de Fleece project (which is now only 4 oz away from having the spinning finished) on the new, nameless, Saxony wheel, and promptly slept in until Andrew’s plane was nearly landed.

I dressed up (in one of the new dresses that was ordered and fits), got my makeup on, and went to collect him from the airport. The poor guy was so tired and relieved to be home that he got teary. (In a manly way, of course.)

We went out to get some much-craved Mexican food, stopped at Purlescence (to swap the Heritage sock out for another half-finished pair- the new one there is in Regia Silk, color 0190), and went home to watch Shark Attack and nap.

Despite the fact that we did very little, we’re still exhausted.

Oh, and my shelving should be arriving today. Good timing, huh?

Saturday, July 19, 2008


You know what's awesome?

When you order a bunch of dresses and skirts online, they arrive, and EVERYTHING fits!

Bonus points if it was all on sale. [Which it was.]

Friday, July 18, 2008

The perfect office process

Since we moved into our current house, I have had storage problems. Despite the fact that the new place is more than 200 sq. feet bigger, and our garage is bigger, we've lost the awesome storage that we had at the old house.

We are planning to install some storage, it just hasn't happened. It's been a busy year.


My big problem is my office. Because I'm having to keep all of my stash in the house (as opposed to putting most of it in the garage, and some in my office), my office looks like storage at an LYS. Not aesthetic, not tidy, not conducive to any sort of creative thought or activity.

So, I've been hunting for the perfect storage solution, the perfect shelves. I found them, but the unit is going to hang 6" over the window, so, for the last six months, I've been looking for something "better". After six months, I have decided that I can cope with a 6" overhang. It looks like this:


I ordered the unit from IKEA, purveyor of fine Swedish furniture, and they're going to deliver it next week. This coincides with Andrew taking some time off of work to decompress and get a few things done. I would have built it myself, but the unit is like 7 1/2 feet tall and made of solid, heavy, wood.

(For the readers who haven't met me in person, I am NOT 7 1/2 feet tall.)

Ideally, I would have "before" and "after" pictures, but I think that I need a fisheye lens to adequately represent the disaster zone that is my office. But my camera is not an SLR, and I can't add awesome lenses to it. (When Gretchen comes over to play Wii, I'll likely ask her to take a few shots of the improved office.)

This way, the shelves are wide enough for both the storage containers I want for my UFOs, and the bags I store my roving in. This also creates a place for my tools, which makes me incredibly happy.

The Agreement I've made with Tika can only help with the office tidy-ing, since roving will be condensed to yarn, and yarn will be turned into garments. Ideally.

Also, I'd like to share some good news: Andrew has gotten a promotion! You may now refer to me as "Mrs. HR Consultant Level 3".

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I am immune to your seduction techniques

Dear Aija;

Maybe you didn't read my blog. Maybe you did. But I have to say: you are evil.



(If you aren't part of "The Agreement" [see right], please go buy the beautiful roving so that I don't.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Agreement

Tika and I need mutual support in doing a little stash reduction, the healthy way. Through social pressure! I'm sure we'll still be supporting our LYS, just in a more reflective way.

The rules:

As of midnight, July 14th, no new fiber, no new yarn until Stitches West.

An even trade (50g for 50g) is ok. So is buying that last ball of yarn so you can finish a project. Project scope issues shouldn’t be penalized.

Anything ordered in advance doesn’t count.

No gift yarn or roving can be accepted UNLESS it's for a birthday or anniversary or legit holiday. (My birthday is November 23rd, Tika’s is December 6th.)

Tools, patterns, and books are not considered stash, and thus, will not be included in The Agreement.

The Monterey Wool auction is being grandfathered in, as it was planned months ago.

Accepting donations of yarn to make charity items is acceptable. Charity knitting must be finished within an 8-week window of receipt of the yarn.

If you buy something new, you have to get rid of equivalent weight/yardage out of the stash.

For FO’s, a bottle of wine will be given (under $20) to the finisher by their partner.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Look! Over there!

This weekend, with Andrew's blessing, I set up the Wii. (Normally, I don't wait for his blessing to do anything, but since this is an "us" gift, I wanted to make sure it wouldn't upset him if I got everything set up.)

It turns out that I get my competitiveness from Mom. We played Wii tennis until I got a little achy. That woman can TALK TRASH. (I couldn't be prouder. :) )


You don't want to read the blog today. You want to go over and listen to the podcast- we interview Franklin Habit.

I love, love, love him. Listen to the show and read his blog. You will too.

Here's the picture Rachel got of me at the 1000 Knitter's shoot:

1K knitters shoot

Friday, July 11, 2008

An "us" gift

Andrew and I are coming up on our 7th anniversary. After hearing all the hype, I would like to announce that we are now the proud owners of a Wii and a Wii Fit.

I've never owned a game console before, so we'll see how this goes. It should be fun, right?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Spring dresses are the new black

For my fellow Bay Area residents- Have you noticed how we’re living on the surface of the freakin’ sun? I hit 85 degrees before 11AM. It makes me grateful for the a/c.

In any case, given the scorching hot weather, I’ve started wearing dresses. It’s as close to naked as I can get without breaking any laws. Since I only had a small handful of dresses to start with, when I go out, I am on the prowl for them.

In Maine, I bought a few lovely ones, which are comfortable, attractive, and functional. I’ll admit, it’s really hard to find things that are attractive, appropriate, and fit well.

I’m not without resources. Mom has been trying to get me on the sewing bandwagon for years. So, starting this week, I’ll be sewing myself dresses. I’m hoping that I enjoy it.

At the very least, I’ll end up with some wicked awesome clothes, right?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Do a little local good. You know you want to.

Hi all;

My good friend Joey’s father was very recently diagnosed with lymphoma. While they’re trying to sell his house, their dogs need a place to crash. I know knitters are good people, so I was hoping that some of you might be willing to foster.

Mercedes (a bull mastiff) is great with families and small kids. (She is fixed)

JP (a Jack Russell) is great with families and everyone along with kids, but of course, loves being hyper and barking. (He is fixed.)

Bailey (lab retriever mix) is a lovey dovey dog, but no good around small kids. He likes to be the center of attention.

Bentley (german shep) is lovey dovey guy and great with kids, but can be very loud and aggressive to strangers.

Joey would be happy to pay for food, flea treatment, and (depending on cost) any vet bills incurred. This would be a temporary situation, until the house is sold and they get things a little more settled.

If you're interested, and in the California Bay Area, please send me an e-mail at: cuteknitterAThotmailDOTcom.

Extreme nerditude

Sometimes, the magnitude of my nerdiness astounds me.

While I was in Maine, the first of our CSA boxes came. (CSA stands for Community Sponsored Agriculture. Organic, locally grown fruit and veggies.) I was so excited about this, and made Mom (house and dogsitter extraordinaire) tell me about it in great detail.

The stuff in the boxes is better than I imagined. When I arrived home Sunday (after fawning over the new wheel), Mom and I spent an hour or so in the kitchen together. We used about 90% of the contents of the box (which is quite a bit), and prepared four dishes.

(The four dishes were gazpacho, Scandinavian cucumber salad, veggie stir-fry, and strawberries and cream.)

The two of us work really well together, and we had so much fun doing it.

The truth is, I love to cook, but I don’t do it very often. I think it’s a matter of too much housework and not enough time. I could go into a feminist rant about working a double-shift, but that’s not what I’m getting at here.

One of the goals of Jasmin 2008 is to make time for the things that make me happy. I love to cook, and I’m good at it. I need to be doing less of the things that Andrew could be doing, and more cooking.

He likes to eat, but he doesn’t like to cook like I do- and he’s been doing a bulk of the cooking since he started grad school in 2005. That doesn’t make any sense.

Maybe we’ll draw a graph with the changes. I wonder how other two-income households divide up the housework.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The wait was worth it

When I arrived home yesterday, my 30” Schacht-Reeves Saxony wheel was waiting for me. Some conspiring occurred so that it would be waiting decoratively for me on the hearth.



It’s so pretty.

I sat down to spin at it, and it needs some breaking in, but, wow.

Pictures are coming soon.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Someone ought to open up a window

I have a series of awesome pictures from 2004, when Andrew and I went to Mt. Rushmore on July 3rd. We have a few shots of me posing for the addition of my face to the monument. I think that I would look positively fetching in stone, don't you?

Sadly, I don't have time to upload any of them today to share, but I will share them. Soon.

I encourage everyone to think about what July 4th means to you- if it means re-reading the Declaration of Independence, reviewing the Bill of Rights, or listening to 1776, do it.

Have a safe and happy holiday!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The most perfect food EVER

I love ice cream, but I'm a portion-controlling freak. I used to be obsessed with Dibs, but I've found something even BETTER.

Breyer's Ice Cream Poppers with Hershey's coating. Mmmmm.

Think, chocolate kisses full of vanilla ice cream. Healing properties of both, easily portioned out.

Sticky fingers now, back to the ice cream...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A little good

When traveling, I like to pick stuff up stuff for my dogs. So, when I was in Maine, we stopped at a place called Planet Dog- which has LOADS of cool dog stuff. I saw that there was a grooming station, and peeked over the barrier to coo at the dogs.

I chatted with the gal who works there, and spotted an ADORABLE chow/shiba inu named Gigi. She's less than 30 lbs, and sweet as all get-out. And, available for adoption, it seems.

"We've got two dogs," I told the gal. "And we live in California. There's no way we could adopt a dog out here."

But then, I started thinking. People from all over read my blog. People, maybe even, in (or near) South Portland, Maine. So here it is:

I love my dogs. Adopting Niki and Elphie was the best thing I have ever done. They are incredible companions, they make me smile, and they keep me on my toes. They're also a little expensive side and loads of responsibility. Think children with much less talking back.

If you've ever thought about getting a dog(s), and you have the extra time to devote to them, please do adopt one.

And, if you happen to be around Portland, Maine, go into Planet Dog and meet Gigi. She's a sweet girl who needs a home.

(If you do adopt her, send pictures!)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The essence of elegance

While traveling, we went to Joe's Boathouse- which is supposed to be this amazing surf and turf shack. When in Maine, eat lobster, right?

We drove out to the Boathouse, were seated, started our appetizer, and were having a generally pleasant time. The waitress kept my water glass full, and I was happy. Then, disaster.

I would like to pause the story for a moment and let you readers know that water glasses, restaurants, and I have had an adversarial relationship- at best. Chris, Zak, and Andrew all have fallen victim to some form of my incredible lack of coordination, usually ending up with a lapful of ice water.

Somehow, between picking up my glass and drinking, my glass SHATTERED, covering my crotch in broken glass, ice, and water. The ice and the water were embarrassing, the broken glass was a hazard. I reached behind myself to pull myself up off of/from under the broken glass, to plant my hand firmly on some of the glass that had landed on my sweater.


Also, a crotch covered in water.