31 July 2006

This 'n' That

  • I went to the dr. today because my hand's been bothering me. He's pretty sure I have both carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis. He gave me an anti-inflamatory for the tendonitis, and we'll be scheduling a test for the carpal tunnel. I was kind of bad, though, because I told him I spend a lot of time writing and typing, but I sorta didn't mention knitting. I didn't want him to tell me I couldn't. Yes, I know, very mature of me, but sometimes I prefer to live in denial. Actually, knitting doesn't bother my hand anyway, so I think it's probably okay.
  • You know how I mentioned humungo bees in my last post? I saw my first one of the season the other day, buzzing around my head as I was on the back patio. These guys (actually, this one was a girl) are amazing--you look at them and think there's no way they could actually fly, but they do. They're like something out of a cartoon. Also buzzing around yesterday was a large red dragonfly. The Things were in the pool, and the dragonfly was delighting both of them by zooming right over their heads.
  • Anybody know anything about bed sheets? I'd like to buy some nicely luxurious ones, but don't want to spend $800. I know thread count matters, but that can't be all, right? Because Target has 600-thread count sheets on sale for $30 this week, and that seems way too cheap. What's the deal?
  • I want one of these. Which is stupid, because it's not like I spend much time in the laundry room. Still.
  • I got a new camera phone. I haven't figured out how to use it yet. I haven't even activated it yet. But I'm enjoying looking at it and thinking about how sci-fi the whole concept feels.
  • I suddenly really, really want a Print Gocco. But apparently they're not being made anymore, so if you want one, you'll have to pay someone way too much on eBay. There is a Save Gocco campaign. Maybe if enough people sign the guestbook they'll bring it back. Spread the word!

27 July 2006

Creepy Crawlies

In the past couple of days, I've become slightly addicted to a website called "What's That Bug?" All sorts of interesting creepy critters there. I'm generally a big fan of little creatures. I was delighted to find this praying mantis on my lemon verbena yesterday. Isn't she cute? I was beyond thrilled to spot a tiny little lizard scurrying across my patio the other morning (too fast to get a picture, alas). I'm quite tolerant of the assorted spiders that find their way into the house. I welcome bees to my garden--even the Humungo Bees that zoom impossibly around like small helicopters. I've even pretty much overcome getting freaked out when I spot a black widow hanging around. But there are a few creatures I can't stand: the zillions of ants who are always trying to move in with us, the icky little pantry beetle things that just appeared in Ruthie's cookie jar, and the individual yellowjacket that stung me in the leg last week for no reason at all. Oh, and they're not creepy, but I've come to intensely dislike the pigeons that have moved onto my roof and are crapping all over my roof, windwows, and patio.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me

26 July 2006

Fun with the Constitution

I found this site while I was actually doing work today. Not only can you learn about the Constitution, but you can play Bill of Rights Golf, Constitutional Trivia, or Who Wants to Marry a Founding Father? I get James Wilson of Pennsylvania--woo hoo!

24 July 2006

Little FOs

It's too hot to even think about knitting a big project, so I've been working on some little ones instead.
So here we have a felted mobius basket in Manos, and also a felted needle cozy. The cozy's made from leftover Manos and also leftover Kool-Aid dyed yarn, and the pattern (such as it is--this is really a no-brainer!) is from Cat Bordhi's Second Treasury of Magical Knitting. And I guess the good thing about living in an oven is that these guys dried really quickly when I put them outside.

22 July 2006

Can You Say "Global Warming?"

What's really depressing was that this wasn't even quite our high temp today--it actually topped out at 112.9.

We keep our thermostat set at 80, but as you can see, our poor A/C can't quite keep up with these temps.


On a totally different note, I don't know whether I ever posted a pic of my brilliant decorating idea. This is one of the walls in my study:

The pictures you see are actually postcards, and the frames were about $1 each. The postcards are from my own travels, and also my friends' and family's. They come from 4 different continents (if anybody wants to send me one from Africa, Australia, or Antartica, I'd be very pleased!!) and 12 countries. I like the juxtaposition of one from Spokane next to one from India. My whole study is decorated in a bit of a travel theme, so this was a perfect idea. And my darling hubby did all the measuring and hanging. :-)

19 July 2006

Mmmmm. Chocolate.

I'm here to testify: Icelandic candy bars taste wonderful, even after melting and then resolidifying in the fridge. Makes me want to visit Reykjavik. Thanks again, SP!

18 July 2006

Surprise Goodies Arrive!

Such excitement! My package arrived today from my Secret Pal!

I loooove the colorway of this yarn. I don't think the picture can capture how gorgeous it is. I'm going to have a lot of fun deciding what this yarn wants to be.

And, as if that weren't enough, my Secret Pal also noticed that I like foreign candy and she included a candybar from Iceland! I've never had Icelandic candy before, and I notice that the wrapper coordinates with the yarn. Unfortunately, it was decidedly non-Icelandic outside when the UPS guy delivered my package--it was 108 degrees, as a matter of fact--so I've had to put my candy in the fridge until it returns to a less liquid state. I'm looking forward to trying it.

Thank you so much, Secret Pal!!!


On a completely different note, I'm going to gloat. Too bad, North Korea! So sad, Canada! Nice try, Zimbabwe! But we have the most embarrassing head of state on the planet. Yeah! USA rules!

17 July 2006

A Good Day

So I went to Petaluma today, and I got to visit a new yarn store and an old favorite.

The new shop is Philato, and it's in downtown Petaluma. It's a pretty tiny store, but the owner was extremely friendly, her daughter was cute, the other customer in the store was holding a sweet tiny dog, and the yarn that Philato does carry is very nice. I spotted Lorna's Laces, Art Yarns, Noro, and something made from corn. I finally came away with some Lite Lopi.

The old favorite is Knitterly, which is also in downtown Petaluma, just a couple blocks away. It had moved since I visited last. As always, the employees were very nice. With enormous effort, I restrained myself from buying some of the lovely angora that was sitting near the door, so tempting....I did, however, get a pair of long bamboo size 9s to replace the broken one.

While in Petaluma, I also managed a visit to Copperfields bookstore and Jungle Vibes, lunch at Hallie's, and the company of a good friend. It was a good day, even though it was something like 100 degrees out, and A/C is scarce there.


Thing 2's room has an underwater theme. I recently decided it was missing a vital component: a treasure chest. So I bought a plain wood one at Michaels, which I stained, painted, and bejewelled:

I even glued an assortment of treasure to the inside:

I'm particularly happy about the jewels inside the box. They were actually part of a set of pool-diving toys, but hubby banished them from the pool because they kept jamming the pool vacuum. I'm happy to have found a good home for them. Thing 2 hasn't seen the completed project yet, but she was very excited to see it in progress yesterday.

While I was gluing and glittering last night, hubby was finishing painting the kitchen. We're both pleased with how it came out. I'm not sure how well the color will show up in this picture; it's a light terra cotta color called "chimenea". Next job will be the living room (which has 20 foot ceilings--should be interesting!).

And, on a completely different note, and via Boing Boing, they have some interesting ice cream flavors in Hungary. And no, this has nothing to do with the fact that I happened to be visiting Budapest 4 years ago when I first became aware of Thing 2's existence (thanks to a nasty case of morning sickness plus temperatures hovering around 43 degrees Celsius).

15 July 2006

Knitting Misery

Thanks for the needle sympathy! As Lauren pointed out, I used it as an opportunity to visit a yarn store. Unfortunately, my LYS had only short bamboo needles in size 9, and I prefer long. So then I tried Michaels, which carries long bamboo needles, but was out of 9s. Has there been some sort of bizarre run on size 9 needles?? This pretty much exhausts my local needle sources, but I am planning a trip to Petaluma (and Knitterly) on Monday. Maybe the size 9 fad hasn't hit there yet.

Meantime, I forged ahead on a circular needle. Because of my eccentric needle-holding method, I prefer straights, but the circular will do in a pinch. But then I decided that the back of the shell I was knitting was too long, so now I'm going to have to frog it. Sigh.

11 July 2006

I Scream

Okay, I have a new favorite ice cream: creme fraiche. I had some at The Slanted Door in San Francisco and decided to make my own. I ended up improvising a bit from a few recipes I found online. Here's what I came up with:

Creme Fraiche Ice Cream
2 cups creme fraiche
2 cups 2% buttermilk
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
juice of one lemon (about 1/4 cup)

Whirl in blender until smooth. Chill for a couple of hours, and then pour into ice cream maker.

Seriously, I could overdose on this stuff. I'm sure it'd be delicious with cherries or berries or chocolate on top, but at this point I'm mainlining it.

I'm working on a knitting project, too, but it's going slowly because hubby's painting the kitchen, and I get to be his assistant. That means that as soon as I'm settled comfortably on the couch with my knitting, he needs another brush or more tape or something, and up I get. Oh well, at least I don't have to paint, and the kitchen looks really great. Instead of white, it's now a light terra cotta color. Pictures to come.

07 July 2006


So I know in my last post I was all snobby about touristy things. And Pier 39, etc are as tacky as ever. But I gotta tell you, there are a lot of worse places to spend an hour in July than here:

This pic is from the Red & White Ferry Bay Tour. I think the highlight for Thing 1 was passing just under the Golden Gate Bridge. As we did, she shouted, "We're at the edge of the United States!"

We saw pelicans and cormorants and the back of Alcatraz, and then kept pace with this cargo ship which had just arrived from China or somewhere.
I should also mention another touristy thing in SF worth visiting: Hyde Street Pier. It's run by the National Park Service, and it's a true bargain. You can walk around the pier for free, and if you want to go on board several historic ships, it'll cost you just $5 (free for kids!). I'm not particularly into things nautical, but who could resist climbing onto a 120 year old sailing ship, a big old ferryboat, or a 99-year-old tugboat? Kids can clamber all over the ships and touch nearly everything, and both times I've been there we've practically had the place to ourselves. Across the street, inside the same building as the Hotel Argonaut, is the free Visitor Center.

Here you can see Thing 1 at the helm of the Balclutha. That sweater she's wearing is the one I made last fall from the yarn we Kool-Aid dyed. Several people commented on it yesterday, and she enjoyed pointing out the flavors. The guy at Oakville Grocery was so impressed he let her pick out any candy she wanted. :-)

One last tourist-related comment. I've noticed that there are certain people who are instantly identifiable as foreign tourists, long before they say a word. Case in point:

I wonder whether I stick out this much when I travel abroad?

05 July 2006

Totally Tubular and My Personal Tour of San Francisco

The new Knitty is up; this issue has lots of socks and hats and other small things. C'mon, don't you need a sock monkey hat or a pair of angel wings?

Several months ago I bought some yarn at Artfibers in San Francisco (one of my favorite yarn shops). The yarn was sort of a tube-shaped ribbon, and the girl at the store showed me a really nifty way to begin a new ball of tubular yarn. You sort of stick one end into the middle of the other...or something. It seemed so simple at the time, but now I can't for the life of me figure out how to do it. Anyone know??

And speaking of SF, I'm off there again tomorrow, this time for with Thing 1 for a back-to-school treat (we have year-round school here, so she starts 2nd grade next week!). We're going to stay at Fisherman's Wharf and do touristy stuff that a 6 year old will love (eg, Pier 39) and that I would never do on my own. And this makes me think about the fact that each of us enjoys a place in our own unique way. For me, for example, a perfect tour of San Francisco would eschew cable cars and the Golden Gate Bridge. Instead, I would do some or all of the following:
  • visit Artfibers and Imagiknit
  • eat my way through the Ferry Building, especially on a farmers market day, and buy stuff at the craft booths across the street
  • browse for books at City Lights
  • enjoy a view from somewhere; I especially like views of the Bay Bridge, which I think is unjustly overshadowed by the flashier Golden Gate Bridge
  • browse on Union or Chestnut Streets
  • spend a lot of money at Flax (the paper room alone can keep me busy for an hour or more)
  • eat someplace ethnic
  • hang out at Ocean Beach; maybe a beer at the Beach Chalet while I'm there
  • do something that is truly Only in San Francisco--Beach Blanket Babylon, maybe? Tea in Golden Gate Park at the Japanese Tea Garden? People watching in the Castro? Get winded walking up a sidewalk with stairs? Shop for cheap trinkets in Chinatown?
  • visit a museum. I haven't been to the new de Young yet, but SFMOMA is a longtime favorite
  • eat dim sum, preferably with a Chinese friend
  • ogle the cute Italian waiters while drinking espresso at Caffe Trieste
  • pick up a real estate magazine and remind myself that the valley's not so bad

Where to stay for this dream trip? Hotel Triton or Hotel Vitale; Hotel Argonaut's very nice, too, but not close to anything on my list.

04 July 2006

4th of July

In our neighborhood, the 4th of July is celebrated with dunk tanks

and with water slides

and with bounce houses

and with barbeque.

Everybody is damp and smells like sunscreen, hot dogs, and popsicles.
Tonight, of course, there will be fireworks (and lots of melatonin for the dog).

Gimme Your Stuff

Gimme Your Stuff

On someone else's blog (I forget whose) I found a link to Gimme Your Stuff. Sounds fun! I'm in California's Central Valley, and I can offer:

  • snack foods, such as flavored almonds or chocolate
  • other foods from the area (jams? honey? olive oil?)
  • knitting magazines
  • a variety of kinds of yarn
  • stuff with the logo of my local university (California State University, Stanislaus)
  • other stuff from northern California (Yosemite, San Francisco...)
  • books
  • local magazines or newspapers

What I'd like:

  • snack food or candy from countries other than US
  • Curly Wurly bars!
  • souvenir snow globes or floaty pens from anywhere
  • yarn
  • any decorative item unique to a particular area
  • children's picture books in languages other than English

03 July 2006

Mystery Solved

Here's Thing 2 and the mystery item from the other day: a knitted, felted Gerbera Daisy. It's from a kit I got for my birthday back in March. I can't blame you for not guessing this one!

02 July 2006

A Weekend Break

No correct guesses yet on the mystery item from the other day. :-) But it's almost done, so I'll post the solution tomorrow.

I spent the weekend with some girlfriends in San Francisco, basically eating, talking, and being massaged. We stayed at the Hotel Vitale (same place I stayed in March). We never managed to stray more than about 2 blocks from the hotel. Here's the view from the 5th floor terrace:

We had dinner Saturday night at Faz, and lunch Sunday at the Slanted Door (which has claypot chicken to die for). And for dessert? Fleur de sel caramels from Recchiuti (Ibrought some home to share with hubby, but we are selfishly hiding them from the Things, who wouldn't fully appreciate then anyway):
I gotta say, sometimes life is sweet.