Tuesday, December 28, 2010

How Laura saved Christmas

Ever since going to Off the Waffle, I have been obsessed with the idea of making Liege waffles at home. (Mostly because driving eight hours for breakfast is ridiculous. But if you start by aiming to drive eight hours for dinner at Marché, stay the night, THEN have breakfast at Off the Waffle, it's totally reasonable.)

So. I found a recipe, I ordered the special sugar, and I had planned to make them Christmas morning. I had glanced through the recipe, and read some stuff online that said that they needed to rise for an hour. My plan was to pull my ingredients the night before, get up an hour before the rest of the family, prep the waffles, and let them rise while we open gifts.

While I was busily paving the road to Hell with all my good intentions, I printed out the recipe, and really looked at it. This recipe had better curl my toes for how much work it is. Read for yourself, I'll stay here.

1 1/2 hours to rise, do some stuff, let it rise for 4 hours, fridge for 30 mins, do some stuff, fridge it overnight,  do some stuff, let it rise 90 minutes, THEN throw it on the waffle iron.

(For those of you doing the math, that's 6 hours of waiting the day before, then - let's assume that overnight is another 8 hours, then another 1 1/2 hours. That's 15 1/2 hours of prep.)

Naturally, I was disappointed that I had RUINED CHRISTMAS by promising the family fancy Belgian waffles, and now they were going to get boring old scrambled eggs. Laura had been busily texting me while she was getting ready, making sure we had all necessary provisions in place.

When I dramatically announced that the waffles weren't happening, due a complete and utter failure to plan on my part, she directed me to a cookbook (practically to the page) so that we could still have delicious waffles, minus the 15 1/2 hours of prep. See?

That is a cow waffle. Mmm! (You can find the waffle iron here; you'll never have ho-hum waffles!)

And that is how Laura saved Christmas.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

One hour

Yesterday was a whirlwind of crazy.

I'm usually very ahead of my game when it comes to planning, but somehow I ended up at grocery stores the week of Christmas. Specifically, FOUR grocery stores, for different things. We accomplished a lot using my "surgical strike" grocery shopping technique, but thankfully, that's all over now.

We were assigned desserts for all of the gatherings we're attending, which is cool. I could have done One Dessert to Rule Them All, but where is the fun in that? (Also, we'll have some overlap in guests at a couple of these things, so I need to keep it interesting.)

At least one of the guests tonight is vegan. I had been listening to the most recent episode of The Knit Wits Podcast (which is funny even if you're not a knitter), and Carin mentioned a vegan strawberry "cheesecake". She was kind enough to share the recipe on their forum group, and so, a vegan strawberry cheesecake I made.

Mmm, vegan!

It's remarkably simple- basically throw two sets of stuff into your food processor (or in my case, Laura's food processor, which I have on loan this week), freeze, eat pie. It's pretty tasty, but you can't think "This is going to taste like cheesecake." Instead think, "This is a delicious vegan dessert," and you'll like it a lot.

After I made the vegan cheesecake, I looked at it and wondered if I should do something else. After all, the prep took about 10 minutes, and I wasn't sure how many folks would be attending. I called our hostess, and let her know that I had the ingredients for an apple pie as well, and could easily throw one together. She let me know that a homemade apple pie wouldn't go to waste, so with my handy sous chef (Mom), we threw that pie together in a half hour.

It smells SOOOOOO good!

At the same time, Andrew was prepping a cake for last night's get together. You would think this wouldn't work in our "one butt" kitchen, but Andrew and I have a natural choreography. We're like figure skaters in that tiny kitchen, but with a few less sequins, and loads of illegal lifts. (Take THAT, U.S. Figure Skating Association!)

In one hour, we had (mostly) made three desserts. The house smelled incredible, and had that special kind of warmth that only an oven can provide.

Now, the tough part is waiting for tonight's festivities before cracking into them. I think the only way to do that, is to bake cupcakes. Thank goodness we picked up that 50 lb bag of flour yesterday  .

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

We are loved

Last night, Andrew was making dinner, and the smoke alarm went off. Normally, you open some windows, fan the smoke away from the detector, problem solved.


The previous owner of our home had a home alarm installed. If the fire alarm or the home alarm was triggered, it would broadcast the alarm to the whole. Entire. Neighborhood.

Despite all of the stuff I've burned, and all the smoke I've managed to get going in the house, I have never triggered the smoke alarm. It took us a few minutes to realize that the smoke alarm wasn't just annoying us, it was alerting the whole. Entire. Neighborhood.

There was a bit of drama getting it quieted down, but the heartwarming thing is this: all of our neighbors came to make sure that we were all okay. There was three waves of concerned neighbors, which means that everyone checked for themselves, instead of assuming that "someone else" would check.

I have incredibly strong feelings about "someone else". I'm usually the person who says something, makes the call, or goes to check. I know that in the horror movie version of the world, this dooms me, but it's just who I am. I'm terrified at the thought that we'll all "someone else" and while everyone stands around with a concerned ear, passing the buck to "someone else", nobody will help.

I always think, "Well, I *am* someone else."

So, while Andrew was working on finding the code again (which he did), I got to chat with the neighbors and assure them that we were fine, and tell them about our few days in the house. (How the POLICE came to check while I was moving the first load of stuff into our new house, alone, looking punky and disreputable with my pink hair back in a bandanna.)

Our newest neighbor mentioned how glad she was to see all the turnout for our alarm, and how much better it made her feel. I'm really glad that our neighborhood is extraordinary in that it's full of "someone else"s.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Houston, we have sleeves

I don't usually knit on a deadline. I think it sucks the joy out of knitting, and I've said so. Over and over and over again, ad nauseum. 

Yesterday I decided that it was time to sit down and get some knitting done. I sat and knitted for the better part of the afternoon and evening- stopping periodically to hydrate, nourish, and stretch (of course). It. Was. Heaven.

(The only thing that could have made it better would have been if I'd had a good-looking man feeding me chocolate and massaging my feet while I did it. But he was out seeing TRON.)

This is the body of Cece, in all her Spinach-y glory

Not only did I get 1 1/2 sleeves done on my Beloved Cece, I also got halfway through Season 2 of Dr. Who (with David Tennant). In less than six hours.

I can't believe this sweater has taken me so long. I know it's because it has been neglected in favor of Meghan's Twist Cardigan, which is sitting politely in it's bag waiting for the sleeves to be set in before I can knit the collar and buttonbands. Both the Twist and Meghan are okay with the waiting, though for you naysayers (coughTikacough) I am happy to tell you that Meghan will be getting her half of the sweater swap.

The thing about Cece is that her construction is a lot like Ariann, which I finished knitting last year before Rhinebeck. (Now that I'm thinking about it, that makes my Rhinebeck 2009 sweater count to be two sweaters. Not bad!)

The major difference is that Cece is knit out of sport weight yarn and Ariann is knit out of worsted. They're both beautiful, but Cece is taking me just *this* much longer. (She's still worth it, have no doubt.) I've even picked a beautiful button to be The One:

Doesn't it look like a minimalist artichoke?

I'm powering through the sleeves to get to my favorite part - joining them and knitting the yoke all in one piece. Despite the fact that it's (approximately) one MILLION BILLION stitches per row, there's something incredibly satisfying about seeing something that looks like a finished sweater on your needles.

I think that's when I'll go to a coffee shop to work on it, with a pocket full of business cards for my favorite LYS. There's nothing like seeing a nearly finished project to inspire people to start knitting before the holidays.

Enabler, out.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Block, blocking, blocked

When I was in marching band, lo those many years ago, we had an instructor who would say, "If you can say it, you can play it." I'm of the opinion that the saying works just as well for knitting.

Say it with me: block, blocking, blocked. See? Easy.

I would by lying if I told you it was quick. It's a little tedious, but the payoff is there. See?

Meghan's Twist Cardigan, almost finished!
Here's what I did.

I wove my dressing (or blocking) wires up both outside edges, then through every single stitch on both outside edges of the cables. (Precision work like this totally tickles my OCD, for the record.) This sweater has beautiful shaping, so blocking it square would be positively criminal.

I used the same technique to block Meghan's Twist that I used for my own- to only block the edges and the cables so that the cables would pop. (This brilliant idea was shared by Kathy in San Jose.)

It's a runway of cable-y goodness.

And BOY do they!

It took three episodes of Battlestar Galactica (two hours, fifteen minutes) to get it totally blocked- from setting up the Knitter's Blocks through steaming it. I know you're thinking "Two and a half hours? That's a lot of time."

Here's the payoff: the family has been living with this sweater. They've seen it nearly every day since I started swatching for it a few months back. Every single person who passes this sweater on the table stops to admire it, and comment on the difference that blocking has made. Every. Single. Person. (This makes me think that I really should have done a "before" picture. Next time.)

I love the effect of blocking. It really elevates the level of my work, and corrects a multitude of tiny inconsistencies. It also means spending some quality time with Steamy, and you know how I look forward to our encounters.

And for those of you who use the all-too-common "It'll block out," this goes doubly for you. It can't block out if you don't do the blocking.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Yesterday, Andrew and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary. We have two wedding anniversaries, technically, and yesterday was the first. Since it fell on a Tuesday, it was Tuesday as usual (errands, laundry, a little knitting) until Andrew got home.

Andrew brought me my favorite flowers, which I don't know the name of, but I still love them:

Can you name these flowers? I call them "Red Lilies".
But there was more. You see, when you've been with someone for a few years, they notice things. Like your favorite chocolate:

The one on top is my favorite-favorite, and there *were* two.
But what I was the most excited about, was this:

Mmmmm! The flavor of love is "pickled".

Yes. Pickled cocktail onions. Two years ago (at a fancy dinner) I had my first martini, and while I thought the martini was merely "eh", the cocktail onions stole my heart. We stopped at a grocery store in our fancy-pants clothes so that I could get a jar. (I might have eaten two or three jars worth over a couple of weeks. Maybe.) If it's pickled, there's a good chance that I'll love it.

But that's not all.

After that, we went for something that I was having a hankerin' for. Fried pickles and garlic parmesan wings, and there's only one place around here that has them.

For the knitters: Sock is the Vanilla Sock with the Andrew variation, out of Creatively Dyed J'ouvert (Cake)
Now, before you start telling me about how Hooters objectifies women, I already know. In an attempt to support anyone *but* Hooters, I have tried the fried pickles at places like The Counter (Caution: Noisy website), which is very fancy-pantsy, and they're not half as good.

(Though, the Counter is where I go if I have a hankering for an excellent burger. And ogle the waiter who looks like John Barrowman.) In order to get good fried food in this area, you've got to go to a seedy joint like Hooters. That's a fact.

So, in short, it seems that in six years of marriage, Andrew has figured out the mystery-wrapped-in-an-enigma-sprinkled-with-intreague that is me.

And the answer, evidently, is food.

Monday, December 13, 2010

To Miss K, with love

Dear Erin;

Happy belated birthday! As your BFF, it's my responsibility to make sure that your birthday is awesome. We've both been very busy, and due to shortages in materials, your birthday gift was delayed.

Before we talk presents, let's talk about you. You're smart, gorgeous, talented, and HILARIOUS! You are always up for a crazy adventure, a creature feature, and the occasional accidental adult zombie flick. (I'm still sorry about that one.) You're always a good sport, and you make me smile even when I'm in the middle of a bad mood.

More than that, you are a good friend to me - the best! I love that you've offered to menace people at the wool auction on my behalf, and offer to shank people who make my life harder. You're the O'Brien to my Bashir. The Chakotay to my Janeway.  The Picard to my Riker. The Spock to my Kirk. You get the picture.

You'll always share a good story, chores, or a bowl of pho with me. You're willing to try my culinary experiments, and you're always very encouraging.

I know that you feel overwhelmed by your stuff right now- that's normal during and after a move. I wanted to do something for you that would be clutter-free, special, and a little decadent.

Step 1
These are made with Jackie's secret cupcake recipe

I managed to talk Jackie into giving me her ultra-secret perfect chocolate cupcake recipe. It's a totally from-scratch recipe, and in my opinion, the best cupcake ever to pass my lips. I wanted a spectacular base for the main part of your gift, the blue whipped cream roses.

Blue roses

I was going to do blue gumpaste roses, which I found a few months ago. I hunted everywhere, and there was no gumpaste to be had in all the land. I ended up at Barbara of Pauline's (in Willow Glen), and Barbara herself took me in the back and taught me how to make whipped cream roses.

(Quick segway- Barbara of Pauline's reminds me of one of those yarn shops that's been open for 40 years, where they teach you what you want to learn then and there, and they have Definite Opinions about how Things ought to be. Barbara has a wealth of knowledge that she shares; she was patient with my uncoordinated self, and was able to isolate my technical issues and explained clearly how to fix them.)

You read about how I practiced making the whipped cream roses, and that was so that yours would be beeeautimous. I used food coloring to make your roses blue (your favorite color of rose), and I also used just a tiny bit of rose water in to give them a faintly rosey smell. Mom and Laura helped with putting the green on the cupcakes, and we all ended up faintly Smurf-colored by the end of the night.

I hope this year is a great one for you with plenty of time for you to do the things that you want, lots of fiber, and projects that turn out perfectly.


Your Feffalina

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Diminished capacity

Today, I learned a new skill:

A thing of wonder and beauty

I learned how to make whipped cream roses. Since I'm a kinetic learner (meaning: I've got to do it to learn it), I bought a pint of whipped cream and practiced making roses while watching the newest episode of Glee.

The best way to learn how to make roses out of whipped cream (or anything out of whipped cream, for that matter) is to whip up a pint, sit with your family, practice the task, and then eat the results, rinse, repeat. You develop the skill, and your family consumes a ridiculous amount of whipped cream. It's a great activity for bonding the family, in my opinion.

(My favorite part was declaring the defective ones, then eating them. The good ones were admired for a moment before being consumed.)

As you can imagine, with that quantity of whipped cream Things were bound to ensue. Mom declaring that the next rose was hers (out of turn); Andrew screaming about whipped cream rose conspiracies. I might have kicked something over and declared the living room to be Sparta. (That's not an admission of guilt, it's just ... something that *could* have happened. Get my drift?)

In any case, in planning future activities, the following conversation took place between me and Laura'nge:

Laura'nge: So, I'll pick you up for yoga tomorrow?
Me: For the early class or the regular one?
Laura'nge: Wait, you're planning to go to two classes?
Me: I think I can do it, but it might be the whipped cream talking.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


When I'm running late
Every light I hit is red
I look like a jerk.
No, this isn't today. Disk Dr, Rapid City, SD 07/2004

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Santa drives a Geo Metro this year

Part of the adventuring that has kept me from blogging has been the insane amount of time I've been spending in the car.

In my opinion, gifts that take arrangement and planning are usually the best ones. This year, I got my mom the Best Gift Ever. If you listen to the podcast, you know that she has wanted a vintage treadle Singer sewing machine for YEARS. As in, ever since they left the one they had in Germany. Every time a vintage machine is mentioned, or at a yard/estate sale, we stop, and for some reason or another, the machines fail to impress.

Fast forward to Oregon Flock and Fiber 2010. I was chatting with a listener (Elaine, who is AWESOME), who collects and repairs vintage sewing machines. She mentioned that she was looking to unload a few of them (to good homes) and I may have mentioned that Mom has always wanted a vintage treadle Singer. Elaine said she had just the one, and let me know that she would get back to me with pictures.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. Elaine sent pictures, stats, and a price, and I was a little lost. It looked really, really good, but I wasn't sure if it was exactly right. So, I blew the surprise and let Mom know that I was going to make this sewing machine happen for her, if it's the right one. I just didn't know enough about a) sewing machines and b) what she was looking for, specifically, to make this decision with confidence. Mom loved it, so I set things in motion.

Here's the tough part. The machine was north of Seattle, and for those of you playing the home game, I live in Silicon Valley. 13 1/2 hours each direction, by car (according to Mapquest). You betcha that this puppy can't be shipped.

"It's ok, Mom," I said, "It's totally worth it. Merry Christmas!"

In a fit of shock, enthusiasm, and perhaps a little self-pity, I posted to Facebook that I might be taking an impromtu road trip Seattle-ward to see a lady about a vintage Singer. A friend of mine (through my BFF Miss Kalendar) generously offered to do the pickup for me. It turns out that she was *already* going to be driving up and back to Seattle, and she didn't mind being one of Santa's non-Unionized elves.

She arranged the pickup details with Elaine, and we made plans for me to pick up the machine from her place (in Santa Rosa) on Wednesday. Joined by my partner in adventuring (Laura), we ran errands all the way up to Santa Rosa and picked up this beauty from Delightful Lila:

I should have told you to brace yourself. Sorry. (Picture courtesy of Elaine, the Singer fairy)
What? You need a better look at the machine itself? I understand.

Have you ever seen anything more perfect? (Picture courtesy of Elaine, the Singer fairy)
Laura and I had a long, traffic-riddled drive home after the machine pickup, so we decided to stop for dinner. Fortunately, I had a recommendation from the incredible Rosemary Hill. Other than being a brilliant knitwear designer and creator of AMAZING jewelry, she also has phenomenal taste in food. She recommended Syrah Bistro in Santa Rosa.

I love a good Syrah, and along with having a staggeringly awesome wine selection, the food was incredible! We had the world's best waitress (sever? Is "waitress" still PC?), and enjoyed a leisurely meal while we waited out traffic. We got home just after 10 PM, and the guys cheerfully unloaded it into Mom's house.

Mom had seen the pictures, and it's even more beautiful in person. The gasp of delight as we walked through the door with the cabinet and the machine was amazing. (For the record, historically when Mom has gasped, it's Not a Good Thing.) Andrew still has to mount the machine on the cabinet, but it's on the docket for today so that Mom can start enjoying the machine now.

Thanks to Elaine the Singer Fairy and Delightful Lila, Andrew and I have managed to make this the best Christmas ever for Mom. The best gifts are the ones that require Ocean's 11 type planning and precision, don't you think?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Full of spirit

I have been swept up by the Holiday Spirit. That means something different for everyone, I know, but for me it means baking, Christmas music, and family functions. I have strict rules around the holidays, but they're mostly there so that I can really get my jolly on.

Like my main rule, no Christmas music before Thanksgiving. First Halloween, then Thanksgiving, THEN Christmas. Get it straight, retailers. I love Christmas music, just at the right time of year. I especially love *my* holiday playlist, which includes Michael Bublé (shock!), Frank Sinatra, Brian Setzer's orchestra, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and a few of the Carols for Cure CDs which support Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

I'm most enthusiastic about the last set of CDs. It's holiday music done by Broadway actors. Aside from supporting a great cause, the music is pretty great.  Some of the songs are interpreted in the style of the show that the singers were doing (concurrent with the recording), and some are the classic arrangements performed by wicked talented singers. (I put all my holiday music into iTunes, make sure the genre is tagged with "Holiday", and play it all on shuffle.)

On a more traditional note, we went to see MiddleJ perform in The Nutcracker last night. I'm not normally a fan of ballet, but I am MiddleJ's biggest fan, and not in the creepy Kathy-Bates-in-Misery way. (By the way, thanks Steven King. Way to ruin a perfectly nice sentiment.) MiddleJ is incredibly talented, and I find more and more to enjoy about the performance every year.

This year, it was the wicked adorable little kids in the production, mostly the ones playing mice, soldiers, and the cutest of all, the lambs. Watching little kids do ballet is ADORABLE. They remind me of a herd of puppies- cute and enthusiastic, which upstages all of the fancy-pants ballet dancers. (This is scientific proof that enthusiasm trumps talent, for the record.)

In any case, at the end of the show, I took the opportunity for a knitterly photo-op:

(The photo is blurry, but my photographer is tall and handsome. You understand.)
What's that? A sock with a future afterthought heel? It's the sock of choice for all Nutcrackers; you saw it here first.

Monday, November 22, 2010

You can't always get what you want

Dear Cece;

I miss knitting on you. I know that when you arrived in the mail, I (practically) tore through the Tyvek envelope with my teeth to free you, balled you up immediately, swatched, and cast on within the hour. There is just one thing keeping me from you, and we both know what that is.

Sweater Swap 2010: A Twist Cardigan for Meghan, from the Stitch It! Podcast.

Meghan's sleeves. I honestly don't remember the sleeves on my own Twist taking this long. I blame the fact that Meghan is taller than I am, Cece. Every row on this pair of sleeves is like an eternity away from you.

What I'm saying, Cece, is that while knitting cables feels more appropriate for the practically Canadian weather we've been having in California, I'd rather be knitting you.

But I will tell you one thing, Cece. If your sleeves take HALF this long, you're going straight to time out. Don't say I didn't warn you.



Saturday, November 20, 2010

Get them while they're young

Last night, we celebrated MiddleJ's 17th birthday. I'm totally stunned at the fact the kids are growing up at light speed and turning into charming young adults. The milestones (birthdays, graduations, etc) feel like suckerpunches - we see all the kids with relative frequency, but it's the milestones that remind us all that they're growing up.

In any case, I decided to pull a few articles out of my winter closet for the occasion. It's been Very Very Cold (<60 F), which gives me a chance to wear my beautiful knits. I chose charcoal slacks, one of my Jackie O turtlenecks, a black silk cardigan, and my Juno Regina stole. I knit the stole a million years ago, and it doesn't get nearly enough wear. See?

Juno Regina, knit out of Handmaiden Sea Silk in "Pumpkin". 'tis the season, yo.

In any case, I showcased it by stylishly wrapping it around my neck with the pointed ends in front. The whole ensemble made me feel six feet tall, and like I was walking a runway regardless of what I was actually doing. (And let's face it, I have a FIERCE runway walk.)

Then, out of NOWHERE, came an amazing moment. Another niece, who I'll call Galette (because she is sweet, not fussy, and does her own thing), paid my Juno a compliment.

"Aunt Jasmin, your scarf is really pretty," says Galette.
"This? I knit this," I said, a little shocked.
"You MADE this?" Galette and LittleJ took time to investigate the pointed ends.
"I did."
"Could you make me one for Christmas?" Galette asked, hopeful.
I snorted, "Christmas is a month away. That is so not happening."
"Next Christmas?" Galette was still trying, and I found her optimism adorable.
"No. But, I can teach you how to knit, and by next Christmas, you could make one of these for yourself," I offered sincerely.

At this point, LittleJ mentioned that she had gone back to her knitting. I taught all Three Js to knit when Andrew was living in the cottage attached to their house, seven or eight years ago. The kids were interested, and as any self-respecting knitter knows, you strike while the iron is hot and plant that seed early.


Long, long ago, LittleJ wanted to make a Gryffindor scarf. So, as any good aunt would, I enabled. I bought them Kids Knitting by Melanie Falick, hoping that the initial lessons would spark a lifelong knitting flame. LittleJ worked on it for a while, but her interest waned. It happens.

Fast forward to Thursday night, when LittleJ and her friends were all going to the midnight premiere of the new Harry Potter movie. LittleJ remembered her neglected scarf, and since they were dressing up for the event, she grabbed it in hopes that she could wear it that night. She noticed that it still was finished, so she grabbed her trusty knitting book, and flipped through it until she found the section for binding off. (For the record, she refers to binding off as just "binding". I dig it.)

In true knitterly fashion, her friends were in the car waiting for her, while LittleJ is saying things like, "I need to finish binding my scarf!!!" She did, she wore it, and I think she might just have gotten that little hit of knitting that has the potential to become a lifelong obsession. (Or perhaps it is I who is the optimist now.)

In any case, as the night progressed, it seems that all the girls there (MiddleJ, LittleJ, Galette, and the Equestrienne) want to start (or in some cases, revisit) knitting. When they started talking about this, the hills were alive with the sound of knitting, and I was Maria Von Trapp.

Since then, in my imagination, I'm leading the kids in a rousing rendition of "Do Re Mi" (but with a knitting twist "YO, a stitch, a hol-ey stitch. K, a simple knitted stitch. V, the shape a knit stitch makes..."). My imagination *might* have completely run away with me. Maybe.

Me? I'm just glad that I was able to leverage knowledge that evil industries have collected for good. Get them while they're young, and they'll be knitters for a lifetime.

Or at least, an aunt can hope.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Where have all the knitters gone?

Let's talk about the zombie apocalypse.

I've been on a zombie flick kick for a while (starting with Zombieland, which was surprisingly good), and I've noticed a distinct lack of people with any actual skills. No architects, no engineers, no farmers or ranchers, but most noticeably? No knitters, tailors, or seamstresses. Not even a couturier can be found. (Admittedly, they are rarer in real life anyway, but still.)

First, let's talk about what I've been watching. I got a double-dose of zombie apocalypse yesterday- the TiVo picked up Land of the Dead which featured my favorite man in a vest, Simon Baker, and John Leguizamo (who I apparently only like in drag). They go a little off-script with the interpretation of zombie mythos- mainly that the zombies are sentient, communicate, and have a leader. (I can just hear the trailers, "One zombie to lead them all...")

The people are all loathsome, the rich have somehow maintained their lifestyle in a gated-type community, the working stiffs fight the zombies, and everyone works for The Man. I briefly thought that this was a movie where people work together to survive. It turns out, it's about the triumph of the zombie spirit, since at the end, we find out that the zombies *only* want a place where they, too, can be safe. And kittens. They want kittens.

We could say that Land of the Dead is dated- since it came out in 2005. AMC has started a series called The Walking Dead, which is utterly captivating. It features Andrew Lincoln (who you might recognize from Love Actually or Teachers), and shows the best and worst of what is left of humanity in the United States. The exposition has been artfully crafted, the characters are being slowly developed, and the zombies seem to be sticking to the classic zombie mythos. (I hate it when they go off-book. Fast zombies, my foot.)

I won't spoil the show for anyone (because if you haven't seen it, you should give it a shot), but we're finally getting to see day-to-day life for the survivors. There is hunting, and people do laundry, but nobody is knitting. Or sewing. Or mending. We finished watching the episode, and it really, really bothered me that given a fixed amount of pre-prepared resources, nobody is thinking ahead.

Let's face it; clothes wear out. Even *if* the cities are full of abandoned department stores, they are also full of zombies. In the best of times, it's hard to find something in your size. Nevermind a store that's been looted. Plus, the gal at the dressing room is probably a zombie. We know from The Matrix that all the future holds for us is sweaters that are full of holes, since "progress" equals never learning how to mend your sweaters. I don't discriminate, apocalypse-wise. I saw 2012, too, and there was (again) a lack of people with actually useful skills. (But LOTS of nasty, movie stereotypes of rich people.)

As an aside, should any apocalypse come, I would rather have my knitting group in my camp than an army of MBAs and entrepreneurs. Or scrapbookers.

Andrew pointed out that the survivors (on The Walking Dead) haven't yet figured out that their clothes will wear out, which I countered with the fact that making clothes? Takes time. Especially if they don't have access to commercial fabric, power, or yarn. When you start from scratch, this stuff takes time. You have limited light, and have to be mindful of repetitive stress. (Though, I pointed out to Andrew that my Victoria was the best wheel for an apocalypse, since it's small and light.)

Plus, while the department stores might get looted, chances are good that you can find an LYS that is (mostly) intact.

So, to summarize, come the zombie apocalypse, come find me. We'll be the warm and well-dressed camp. And as my BFF points out weekly, everyone else will just be food.

(Thanks to my BFF, Miss Kalendar, for the inspiration for this post. Go listen to her podcast, Brass Needles. It's knitting, sci-fi, and brilliant.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Deductive reasoning

I got home from a great yoga class tonight, but am not feeling stellar. When Andrew called to see if I needed him to pick anything up on his way home from work, we had the following conversation.

Me: I'm not feeling great, I am going to drink some water and go lay down.
Andrew: Did you eat something?
Me: Yeah, and Mom is going to boil noodles to go in some soup for me.
Andrew: What do you think is wrong?
Me: I don't know. Maybe the flu? I feel like butt.
Andrew: It can't be the flu; you got a flu shot.
Me: Well, then it must be butt. Because I didn't get a butt shot.

All hail the foresight to freeze my healing chicken broth so that all it needs are elbows.(And my amazing deductive reasoning.)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Andean ply

Last night, I came to the realization that I needed to take some pictures and do a ton of plying. Here's why:

(This tray has four sides, all of which are full of bobbins.)

Yes, the bobbins aren't full-full. They all have about 1 oz of fiber, which needed to be photographed before I could get it plied up. Thanks to my photography lesson with the incomparable Jade, a little fiddling with my lighting, the settings on my camera, and using my sweet external flash yielded some pretty good results.

So, I sat down to do some plying. I got busy and plied up the Crown Mountain Farms Blue Faced Leicester (from the Fiber of the Month Club), and I got to the end of one bobbin and realized that I still had 20ish yards of single left on the other bobbin.

I've been listening to the Yarnspinner's Tales Podcast at night. Cindy has a lovely voice, and is probably the most articulate person I've ever listened to, when it comes to the technical side of knitting. I'm listening back from the beginning, and in one of the episodes, she talks about Andean plying. For the first time, it really clicked. Basically, you make a center-pull ball around your wrist, and then ply from both ends.

Sounds simple enough, right? So, I decided to use the new skill I learned to finish off the end of the ball. (Normally, I would have Andrew walk back until the spare yardage was exhausted, and then ply until the yardage was done.)

In watching a video on how it's done, there are flashier ways than simply wrapping your wrist with single, but Cindy's description yielded some pretty spectacular results for having done it sight unseen. (You can see a YouTube video of the "right" way of doing it here.) I'm also super-pleased with myself for learning a new spinning skill.

My real motive for feeling the need to clear out bobbins?

That's right, this is what 20 lbs of clean fleece from Morro Fleece Works looks like. My table? Not as spectacular.
My fleeces from Black Sheep Gathering 2010 have started arriving. They're big, beautiful, and demand to be spun.

Just like that disc of Mad Men demands to be watched. Coincidence? I think not.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

An afterthought

I've been knitting socks for a million years. However, as with all things, doing something for a long time doesn't necessarily make you an expert. I've basically knit the same pair of socks over and over again (with minor variations) about a million times.

My go-to vanilla pattern has a flap heel, though in college I did some experimentation and went through a period where all of my socks had garter stitch short-rowed heels. (Isn't that what college is about? Experimentation?) In any case, after college (like so many other girls) I went back to my standard flap heel.

If you listen to the podcast, you've heard my mom rave about how addictive afterthought heels are. If you're me, you hear it even more frequently. Like so many other things, her suggestion worked its way into my brain, and I succumbed to peer pressure. I started a pair of beautiful socks (out of Abstract Fiber's Temptation in "Snapdragon") with the express intention of finding out what all the hubbub around afterthought heels was about.

We were watching TV (The Good Guys, my current favorite show), and I decided to take pictures with my phone and tweet my progress.

This is my sock, with the waste yarn placed where the heel should go, 7 inches in. Dog sleeping in background is not necessarily necessary to execute an afterthought heel, but is a snuggly option. If allergic, feel free to substitute with a cat. Or goldfish.

To get to the afterthought heel, I knit my sock to my total foot length, minus the length of two sets of toe decreases. If my foot is a total of 9 1/4", and my usual toe decreases are 1 3/4" long, that would be:

9.25 - 2(1.75)  = 5.75 (<- total length of the foot in inches, pre-toe)

(Do you get as excited about order of operations as I do? I'm going to assume so.)

Next, it's time to pick up stitches:

Next step: Pick up stitches on either side of the waste yarn- or in this case, crochet cotton.
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT pull out the waste yarn in a moment of excited enthusiasm. Mom (whose hand is featured in the photo above) was very clear about that when I got feverishly excited about intentionally making holes in my knitting. Pick up your stitches FIRST.

Like that. See? Two needles, stitches are all safe and accounted for.
Now comes the fun part. Mom says that if the waste yarn is slick enough, you can just slide it out. (I'm using mystery crochet cotton, since I'm pretty sure that Herself walked off with my sweet skein of beautiful, slick crochet cotton. She'll deny it, but I have my suspicions.)

Next step: Unpick/slide out your waste yarn. Bonus points if you pretend you're a surgeon, since removing stitches is pretty much the same regardless of your subject.
I don't think anything could have made me happier than seeing my stitches, all tidy and heel-ready blossom open as I undid the waste yarn.

Try it on. Look, it worked!
From here, knit a toe the way you normally would. Use your best kitchener stitching skills on those final remaining stitches, and voilà!

So, there is a teeny-tiny hole at the side, but you'll notice the conveniently located tail, which I'll be using to close the hole before I weave it in.

And on that note, I'm going to go and start the second sock while the spirit moves me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The magic fridge

As I mentioned earlier, LukeWarm and I have had some... speedbumps in our relationship. After realizing how much he was smoking, Mom suggested I help him quit. Mom's suggestion, as always, was right.

Smoking, as we all know, is bad for us and those around us. Especially (in my case) the people who I was trying to impress with my mad pie skills. Nothing gives your guests confidence in your culinary abilities like an surly oven billowing smoke. Even if you insist that it's *supposed* to do that.

This morning I put on my battle gear (cow print apron, gloves, headband), and LukeWarm and I spent some quality time working on getting him to quit smoking. As I started giving LukeWarm his spongebath (part of the terms of him quitting), I realized that I have never seen my mother scrub her oven.

Lest you think poorly of my mother (and her housekeeping), there are lots of things that just happened around the house. The oven and fridge magically cleaned themselves, and more than that, the fridge would magically fill itself.

I discovered that my parents had a magic fridge when Andrew and I first started dating. I would take a glance at my options, take something (or not), and that was that. Except that unlike my parents' fridge, nothing good magically appeared after a couple of days. 

I have known for years that the recipe for a magic fridge involves a responsible adult going to the store and filling it, but there is nothing more disappointing than realizing that you're a terrible fridge fairy.

Like any skill, earning your fridge fairy wings takes practice, effort, and knowing the needs of the people in the house. A good fridge fairy should have:

- Components to cook with
- Nutritious snacks (premade, like string cheese, applesauce, or delicious fruit)
- Yogurt/cottage cheese
- Milk
- Sandwich stuff
- Ice cream, vanilla plus another flavor
- Pot stickers (in the freezer)

(Why yes, despite my attempts at being an adult, those are staples in our house. If we don't have dessert, the terrorists win.)

So, in any case, today's lesson was that a pot scraper, Dawn dishwashing detergent, a new sponge, a few paper towels, and a heavy dose of determination will get the job done.

It also helps to have a Mom who shows you how to avoid all the work next time, by lining the oven with aluminum foil. Which explains why I never saw her scrubbing out the oven.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What doesn't kill us makes us hotter

Yoga is the best part of my week; I've been going to classes regularly since August. I'm not good at it (yet), but I like how it makes me feel. You shouldn't confuse that with "I like doing yoga", because as soon as class starts to get challenging, the Inner Dissenter starts whining about if class will EVER be over.

In case you're not familiar, the Inner Dissenter is the voice that tells you that you're not good enough, you're not a fastidious enough flosser, or that you look fat in those jeans. Mostly, the Inner Dissenter is a jerk.

[Side note: I think my personal hell is one where you're in a super-hard yoga class that never, ever ends. Or, sitting in a perpetually spinning office chair.]

I tried out a variety of classes, and throughout the week, my yoga workout varies. There is one class that is an ongoing challenge for me, taught by Kent Bond, who is the founder of Willow Glen Yoga. It's only the second yoga studio I've ever been to, but I like it LOADS better than That Other Place. They encourage the use of props, and for those of us who might be out of shape (or "alternatively shaped", as I like to think of it) props make easing into the positions much, much easier. It's taken a lot of the misery, pain, and self-loathing out of doing yoga, as far as I'm concerned.

Some of the classes are lovely and slow, but still on the challenging side. Not Kent's class. Kent's class delivers a Chuck Norris sized punch in the face, the core, and the hamstrings. Kent's class is simultaneously the most challenging and the most satisfying class of my week. The first few weeks were really frustrating for me; I felt betrayed by my lack of body awareness, my lack of balance, and my lack of sheer strength. I'm used to being a quick study, but my brain and body have had a really tough time with yoga.

Going to yoga has been incredibly humbling. I'm not used to struggling to learn something, and the first few classes I took with Kent were a challenge to say the least. The first class was an exercise in humility: every pose that we did in class, Kent would come by and correct me. When we were in a pose and he would pass me, it felt like a victory; I'd have a ticker-tape parade in my head. Halfway through class, every time Kent walked towards me, I thought, "Please don't be here to correct me." Then, I realized, No Jasmin, you're wrong.

I was there to learn, and unless I wanted to do it incorrectly (and risk injuring myself), I needed to really absorb the correction. Being a quick study has made me a lazy learner; if I don't get it right away, my inclination is to quit. Frankly speaking, that is crap.

The Inner Dissenter was louder than ever, saying all sorts of unflattering things about my learning ability, and was encouraging me to roll up my yoga mat, go home, and have a bowl of ice cream instead of doing the Hard Yoga.

I thought loudly to the Inner Dissenter, Shut up and let me learn.

I pushed through to the end of class, and ached all the way home. When I got there, Andrew asked me how it had gone, to which I responded, "Miserable. I'm going to keep going until it's not so hard."

And I have. In the last couple of weeks, I've noticed that I'm able to hold the poses more easily, my flexibility has increased, my balance is improved, and my shape has changed, noticeably. 

Maybe if I approach intarsia with the same gusto, it won't be so horrible.

Monday, November 8, 2010

An apple [pie] a day

Our CSA has inundated us with apples. I know it's the season for it, but when it comes to apples and citrus, we're set. The previous owner of our house took a lot of pride in the garden, and the thriving fruit trees are a testament to his hard work.

Unfortunately, regardless of how many times I tell the trees to please ripen 8-10 apples a week, they insist on ripening all at once. This year, a friend of ours volunteered to come and pick our apples in order to turn them into deeeeelicious hard apple cider.

Then came the CSA, with eight million apples every week. I've mostly just been eating them as I go, but there are only so many apples a girl can eat. Since I am trying to earn my Adult badge, I've been going to the grocery store on a more frequent basis in order to properly stock my pantry.

Like my knitting and spinning stash, it takes time to stock a pantry properly. I'm finding that we were missing some essential items (like cinnamon, oddly enough). In my quest to stock the pantry, I pass the baking section every time I go to the store, and I see the tub of lard.

Historically, I've never cooked/baked/sculpted with lard, and it's not something that my mom used in her cooking, either. But I WANTED to buy a tub of lard. Obsession doesn't even begin to explain this. Every time I walked past the lard, it called to me.

So, given the abundance of apples and my burning need to buy a tub of lard, the only logical solution was to make apple pie. Apple pie isn't a big deal, I've made it before, and I've made my own crusts before, too. Just not with lard. I called Laura and Mom over, and we. Made. Pie.

We used the pie recipe from Mom's McCall's Cooking School cookbook, and the crust recipe from Joy of Cooking. I used lard and butter for the crust, followed the directions to the T, and Mom coached me on rolling out the crust properly.

At this point, it's only fair to point out that Andrew was suspicious of my use of the lard, despite my enthusiasm. He declared that he didn't think he liked lard in pies, despite any lack of previous pie-with-lard experience. (I think it was the beautiful marbling in my rolled-out crust, with the lard and the butter making a lovely swirl of deliciousness.)

"Ah, well," I said, channeling my mother, "More for me. It sounds like you don't need any pie."

Andrew backpedaled a bit, and boy, was he glad he did. The conversion rate of photos to words applies here:

So good, we couldn't wait for a photo first.


We actually ended up baking three pies, but I only kept one at home. (Laura took one, and we delivered the last one to my BFF, Miss Kalendar, at her enviable new residence.) It's amazing how satisfying a piece of pie can be.

There were learning experiences attached to the pies, of course.

The first was discovering that three pies worth of crust are exhausting to make. I've been going to yoga 3-4 times a week since August, and the last crust felt positively Herculean to make. Core strength doesn't matter when you're cutting in cold butter and lard. (It's okay, Core Strength. I use you for everything else!)

The second was finding out that LukeWarm is a drama queen. A little bit of crust falls to the bottom of the oven, and he smokes like a chimney. Sheesh!

The last is that there is nothing more satisfying than eating hot pie (a la mode, of course) while you relax with your loved ones in front of a zombie apocalypse flick.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Good enough to eat

For a few years now, I've been fooling people around me. People seem to be under the impression that I am an adult. It's an elaborate deception; like an adult, I went to work, I paid my bills, I did my laundry, but I never considered myself to be an adult.

I still eat ice cream for breakfast in the summertime. When I see kids begging for candy at the grocery store, sometimes I buy it not because I WANT candy, necessarily. I buy it because I *can*, and there isn't a thing anyone can do to stop me.

What really convinced me that I am a total fraud is cooking . I do a fine job with executing recipes, but I can't look in the fridge and compose dishes by memory or invention. I watch other people (I call them "adults") glance at the contents of their refrigerators and divine up brilliant and delicious dishes. Not me.

Meal planning is another challenge, mostly because my inner six-year-old wants something different on Wednesday than I did on Sunday (when I was trying to be an adult an plan my meals).

I confessed to Laura that I am a fraud, after she complimented a dish that I had prepared for a pot luck, and she laughed hysterically at my heartfelt, shame-filled confession. Maybe I hadn't been clear enough.

"I don't know how to throw things together. I look up what I want to cook, buy the ingredients, and make it," I explained.

Laura laughed even harder, then declared that EVERYONE is a fraud, and that there were no real adults. Apparently, everyone is guilty of perpetuating an elaborate social ruse. Who knew?

Mom told me that it wasn't about any secret that I didn't know - it was my cookbooks. I picked my cookbooks based on specific dishes or skills; I bought Soup: A Way of Life for the Quibebe recipe, the America's Test Kitchen cookbook for the tomato soup recipe, and the Williams Sonoma "Meat" cookbook for the Texas Chili recipe.

(Yes, there are loads of great recipes, but those were the clinchers.)

"You need a good, basic cookbook," Mom said, "A Fannie Farmer, or the Joy of Cooking. You do the complicated stuff well; this will be a breeze."

Laura mentioned that she had a few copies of The Joy of Cooking, so I asked to borrow one to flip through before investing in a Very Large Cookbook. To my great surprise (and intimidation), Laura GAVE me one of her copies (yes, still plural) of Joy of Cooking, along with a few of the Better Homes and Gardens recipe binders.

A few nights ago, I made meatloaf for the first time. It's not a big deal for most of you, but I am ridiculously proud of myself. I prepped the meatloaf, threw it in the oven, then worked on getting the sides (steamed carrots, green beans, potatoes, and gravy) prepped and timed to be ready when the meatloaf was done.

Before you start admiring my adultitude, wait a moment.

Like with knitting (and everything else in life), with cooking you should read the directions all the way through FIRST. Had I done that, I could have knit through an uninterrupted repeat on my Cece cardigan, instead of trying to figure out why my oven refuses to actualize its potential. (It seemed that while the knob reads one temperature, the oven itself runs 75 degrees colder than the knob claims.)

While I can appreciate LukeWarm (my oven's name)'s desire to tell me that he's hot and ready for my tasty morsels, he's just too small for my needs, and really takes too much time to get me what I need. Which is (in case you weren't clear on it) hot, delicious food in a reasonable amount of time.

(Don't tell LukeWarm, but I've been trying to burn him out with my constant attention so that I can move on with Prince PipingHot. I need size and heat and will accept no substitutes.)

In any case, after figuring out how much I need to compensate for LukeWarm's lackluster performance, when the time came I held my breath for the moment of truth: How is this dish?

A rousing success! Plates were cleared, and for the first time in almost five years of marriage, Andrew went for seconds. Then joked about licking his plate. I thought it was pretty good, too.

With the help of friends and family, I think I might just earn my adult badge someday. Or at the very least, a really convincing fake.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Reading material

The last time I went to give blood, I took Sam along. The Stanford Bloodmobile was a short and heart-healthy walk from home and Sam was curious about his blood type, so I took him with me. It was his first time giving blood, and I was there to tease and heckle encourage and support him. As I served him up to the volunteers, I was positively bursting with sisterly pride.

We filled out our paperwork, and then waited in line for our turn. Sam was lost in his thoughts, so I pulled my Kindle out of my purse and started reading.

"Do you like your Kindle?" Sam asked me.

"I love it. I can read anything, anywhere. AND nobody knows whether I'm reading War and Peace or if it's a trashy romance novel," I answered honestly.

"Are you reading War and Peace?" he asked with a sarcastically arched eyebrow.


Normally, Sam would have made some sort of crack about the decline in the quality of my reading material, or if he's on a feministy kick, how romance novels set unrealistic expectations in women and continue to denigrate the cause of female Writers. (Notice the capitalized "W". That's because they're Serious Writers.)

Instead, he chuckled to himself, and shook his head, let me enjoy my romance novel, and enjoyed the sunshine.

And Sam? For the record, I do have War and Peace on the Kindle. I just haven't gotten to it yet. I have some trashy romance novels incredibly important literature to read first.

Friday, September 3, 2010


This last year, we discovered "Supernatural". I know it's been on TV for a few years now, but I thought it looked cheesy and thought that the premise (from the teasers) was thin. When a friend of mine (the same one who recommended Buffy, Coupling, and a number of other great shows) turned out to be a fan, I gave it a shot.

I was pleasantly surprised at how fantastic this show is. The writing is smart, the dialog is funny and sharp, and the characters are nicely developed over the course of the program. It's Buffy meets The Dukes of Hazzard with a little of The Odd Couple thrown in for good measure. I really like their take on the various mythos and urband legends,and the two protagonists are so handsome that they ought to be required to carry a permit for their potentially lethal good looks. Google them at your own peril.

The basic premise is that there are two brothers who go around hunting the things that go bump in the night, and their relationship feels a bit Kirk/Spock-ish. In a good way. It's about friendship, general badass-ery, but most importantly, it's about the good and the bad when it comes to family. (It also has an *incredible* soundtrack, full of classic rock.) Every episode is "a good one!", and the best part of the whole thing is that they don't take themselves - or anyone else - too seriously.

Anyway, to bring this back to the point of the story (which is always knitting), we attended the Sock Summit before I got really into the show, and I bought some sock yarn. (Gasp!)

The gal from Damselfly Yarns was a die-hard Supernatural fan, and dyed this colorway which was inspired by the demon cloud at the beginning of Season 2:


It might have been the combination of the color and the silver threads that are spun into this yarn, but I had to have it. Magpie, much?

In any case, Astrid was enthusiastically telling me about the source of her inspiration, and I couldn't share her excitement about perfectly capturing the color- because I hadn't seen it yet! I was inspired to cast these on when I saw the demon cloud fill the sky at the beginning of the season, and I thought, "I have yarn that looks *just* like that!" (Well done, Astrid!)

I paused the DVD, scampered back to my office and grabbed the skein so I could have a themed knitting project to go with the entertainment. (And for the record, I plan to spin "One" while I watch "A Chorus Line". And do a kickline at my wheel.)

I've been slowly plugging away at these socks, using them as my carryalong project. Season 5 is coming out on DVD next week and if I don't finish the socks before then, I'm seeing some ab-filled knitting time in my future.

There are certainly worse things in life.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


In the spirit of Jasmin 2010, I have been on a finishing binge. After the Tour de Fleece, I decided to finish up some spinning projects that were languishing on plastic weaving bobbins, and the first project on my list was the baby cormo fleece that I bought at the Retzlaff winery in 2009 and split with the fabulous Meghan.

Before I say anything else, you should know that this fleece is so soft and crimpy, that it's no longer just "cormo". You have to roll your r's. Rrrrrrrrr. Corrrrrrrrrrrrmo. It's that soft.

The baby is all grown up!



and finally:


I wish you could feel how fabulous this yarn is. When I was finishing the singles, Gnat was positively bombarding me with fantastic sweater suggestions, including the Baby Cables and Big Ones Too sweater.

Go ahead, click on it. It's GORGEOUS, and is totally feeding my current obsession with cables and yoked sweaters. Of course, from this blog you wouldn't know, since I haven't posted pictures of me in any of the sweaters I've finished except for the Mondo Cable Cardi, but they're coming.

For now, I'll pet the yarn until I cast on the sweater. Which, for the record is queued to get cast on after I finish ... something.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Something good for Gigi

When I was a kid and we'd go grocery shopping, my mom was one of the "If it's not on the list, we're not buying it" moms. For the record, she was also an "If it's advertised on television, we're not buying it" mom, but that's not the point of this story.

Anyway, at a certain point I decided that I was Very Clever, and wrote "Something good for Jasmin" at the bottom of the shopping list. Vague, but specific enough. Sam, of course, saw the brilliance in my plan and would write "Something good for Sam" under my "Something good for Jasmin". A good idea once is a good idea twice, and as a little kid he could recognize that.

"Something good" was often a favorite fruit, but as we got older, Mom would get us "Cocoa Farts" (generic Cocoa Puffs), or our own specific favorite flavor of Ben & Jerry's. It was a little something special- and we still ate nutritious meals, lest you think Mom hung up her Dr. Scholls sandals and abandoned her crunchy muesli ways. It was just a little junk food that we ate in moderation.

Fast forward to this last year. Mom has been spending more time here, which we enjoy thoroughly, and our grocery list is out for all to see - and add to. Mom has been carrying on our grocery tradition, and I often find "Something good for Mom" on the list.

So, in the spirit of "Something good for Mom", I picked up a treat that we don't get very often:


Sesame seed balls. My favorite Chinese bakery is in downtown Mountain View, and sadly, I don't get there very often. Yesterday ended up being a right-place-right-time kind of day, and I picked up a box of these goodies for us to enjoy.

After all, Mom also taught us that the best part of "something good" is having enough to share.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Off the needles and into my heart

Dear Miss (Mrs?) September;

I have to admit, when I got the email from Stephanie including me in the Off the Needles calendar, I was a little nervous. When I got to the shoot, and saw this gorgeous shot of you, it didn't comfort me in the slightest:


I mean, look at you! You're cute as a button and twice as sharp as your needles. You've written my all-time favorite KnitLit, I've been reading your blog for *years*, and may have had to contain myself a bit when we were interviewing you for the podcast.

There are so many things I admire about you: you're gorgeous, smart, funny, a great knitter, a fantastic writer, and you have a sassy Mama tribute tattoo. And LOOK at that rack! I am totally honored to be in the same sexy knitter calendar as you. I hope you'll sign mine!

Your fan forever,

Miss (Mrs?) July

(As a side note, the project still needs about $1k in funding, so order your calendar now!)

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Lion in Winter - A review

Event: The Lion in Winter, Shakespeare Santa Cruz

Cost: Our tickets were comp'ed, but you can buy tickets here. (They range from $14-$49.)


John Pasha as Richard “the Lionheart” in the Shakespeare Santa Cruz production of “The Lion In Winter”.
(Photo by rr jones)

The Review:

As with "Love's Labor's Lost", I went into this play totally cold. There's a brief description of the plot on the page for the show (linked above), but it doesn't do the play justice.

The best way of describing this show is part Tudors, part Twits, and a hint of the Prodigal son parable. Henry II is preparing for his succession, and like any good monarchs-in-training would, the three boys fight, plot, and do their utmost to secure their spot as the future King. Marco Barricelli conveys the conflict of deciding what is best for the empire he has built and reconciling that against how he feels about his sons.

There are complex family dynamics at work in this play, mainly how the imprisoned wife and the scheming sons interact. Everyone is working toward their own end goals, politically aligning themselves for their best benefit, but looking over their shoulders the whole time.

"The Lion in Winter" deals with serious themes, but is also incredibly funny. All of the actors have fantastic dramatic chemistry. I feel inclined to add that this is a ridiculously handsome cast. Most notably, John Pasha (Richard, photographed above), who happened to be sitting in front of me during Love's Labor's Lost. So, so handsome- and look at that beard! I love a good beard. He was convincing both as a future monarch and as a soldier. (This is personally relevant to me because my initial introduction to Richard I was in the Robin Hood story.)

There is definitely some artistic license taken with the history, but it didn't ruin my enjoyment of the play. (For reference, I *love* The Tudors.) If you can't cope with anachronisms, perhaps you should skip this show, and for that matter, any historically-based costume drama. If not, this play is not to be missed.