Friday, January 26, 2007

negative 18 degrees?

We’re off skiing this weekend and even though it is -18 degrees (for real) at Sugarbush, I would withstand any temperature torture to escape for a few days.
Hart and I aren’t really what you would call skiers and we’ve actually never skied together before. I used to ski when I was little but “little” was a long time ago and I have only gone a few times in the past 10 years. Hart had a ski house with some of his guy friends when we were in grad school and they’ve had reunions in the last two years, at which time he’s learned a bit. Come to think of it – he had a ski house for 2 years for whole seasons and never once skied while there. Anyway – it’ll be funny. A bunch of us rented a house in Vermont for this weekend so there will be lots of eating, playing games and hanging out.

I brought two sweaters so I’ll be knitting, reading, and well, writing my strategic plan which is due next Thursday, which I haven’t even started yet.
Here is my before picture of CPH and hopefully I’ll have a good after picture, with plenty of progress. I don’t think this yarn is very photogenic. It’s like me in that way.

As for other before and afters, we have been told that our new windows will be installed on Monday and Tuesday. We are back Monday night so my fingers are crossed that we’ll open the door to find a beautiful sight. The probability of this happening is about 7%. We have been told this about 4 times before, the first time was, I think, maybe 8 or so months ago? Just to capture the impact, I took before pictures from our living room. There are 6 more in the back.

If all works out there will be a gorgeous shot of CPH in front of new windows next week.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Gifts in the Sheep Meadow

Here it is and here's the story. I am a long story teller, just be patient.

Last Saturday I walked over to The Point to pick up the Fall issue of Knitscene with the pattern for Central Park Hoodie. Good thing I didn’t decide to wait a few weeks to get the pattern– I stopped into Purl on the way over and almost had a heart attack bc the new issue is out and they didn’t have any of the fall issue left. I almost ran to the Point (not like cutting a 5 minute walk down to two minutes would have made a difference), made a beeline to the back and grabbed it. There were like 14 copies left, but whatever. On my way out, I brushed my hands against the Tahki Donnegal Tweed and told myself to wait.
Fast forward to this past Thursday. It’s 3pm and I’ve had a miserable day. My stress is now becoming apparent as my project, which I now consider my child after 6 months of nurturing, is turning from strategy and an “idea” to execution and reality. I had just left a meeting in which my manager looked at me and said, “my group is falling apart”, specifically referring to the sheet white complexion and lack of smile that has become, along with clothes, my (and the rest of my team’s) every day appearance.

But then we all head into a big team meeting. And at the end of the meeting our VP announces these awards for “making a difference” and well, by god, I got one! I was grateful and flattered and thanked the team. And then as people were gathering their things to head out, my coworker leans over, winks and says, “so what are you going to buy yourself?” Well hello there! It turns out that this award comes with $100!

What am I going to buy myself? Well Donnegal Tweed, of course..enough for my CPH. So of course, I rush to the Point after work, only to find out that “no, we only have 5 skeins left” and “no, we can not order more for you”. Er, thanks anyway.
Get home after (trying to get a table at 'Ino) having, actually, great pizza at some place on Carmine (thank you Hart, thank you Chowhound) and immediately started googling the yarn to order.
I placed an order with The Village Sheep at 11pm on Thursday night and received my yarn at 10am today, Monday morning. Er, hello? Could it get really any better than that? Highly recommend this place.
Above is the gorgeous Donegal Tweed in a deep purplish. Look, I'm a crappy picture taker. I appreciate and covet, well, let's call it what it is, yarn porn, but I can't take good pictures period (no we haven't bought a new upgrade to the 3 mega pixel Le Click of 2007) let alone at 7pm.
Anyway, I heart the yarn and I can't wait to start. I'm even going to join the KAL - this is my first and I'm pretty excited about it.
I shall keep you posted, on this and my Hourglass (first sleeve on the needles). But until next time, here are a couple of post scripts:
ps: I know I keep talking about it but I hate mittens. I don't hate them but I'm having a really hard time with them. I keep seeing people fly through them like they are stinking garter stitch scarfs but I am so confused about the cuff (do I i-cord, should I rib the cuff to make it squishy and er, what is this Italian thing?). It's just making me stressed talking about it so I'm going to stop.
pps: I'm still angry about the Patriots loss. Did they deserve to win? Yes in general, but I will agree that they played terribly against the Colts. Is Peyton Manning the best thing ever and was the reason the Colts won? No, if you watched the game a) he was good but not THAT good and b) really, Marlin Jackson (who played for Michigan, btw) won the game, not Peyton. And I will fully admit that I kind of like Peyton. I think he's a great QB and I kind of love all those ESPN commercials. It's just that, well, I'm just cranky about it.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Saturday Morning Topic: Cooking

It's Saturday morning, 9:30, I'm drinking Dunkin Donuts Hazelnut, and trying to come up with a plan for the day. I have nothing to show on the knitting front but an hour glass sweater with about 6 more inches (but click here, if you insist)

I am the type of person who is so excited and eager about things that I just don't have the skills or talent to execute. I think about it, talk about it and plan and strategize consistently - but it intensifies about this time (9-10am) on this day (saturday). I have a full day ahead of me and so much promise. But it just NEVER works out. The two biggies are home design and cooking. I will touch on one today. Cooking.

First, I should introduce you to my boyfriend, Alton.

I love Alton Brown. In fact, Hart also loves Alton Brown. I became obsessed with the Food Network, I don't know, maybe 4 years ago? At that time the obsession was bordering unhealthy (Barefoot Contessa, Easy Entertaining, Everyday Italian, both live and on Tivo) but I've relaxed a bit and while I watch the others once in awhile, I'm currently only loyal to Alton. If you have never watched Good Eats, you don't know what your missing.

Hart and I have, I think, 72 episodes of Good Eats on Tivo. We watch at least 1 episode, if not 2 almost every night. It is not at all likely that said episode will be "new". Most are repeats and most we've watched at least once before. And we save almost every one of them. We talk throughout it too. Alton has taught us a lot and we now anticipate what's going to happen. When he's slicing apples for a pie we say "get out the lime juice, you need to prevent browning". wow, we're weird.

With all of this, I don't cook. We don't cook. We are seriously, as strange as it sounds, a household that literally orders in or goes out to dinner every single night. EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.

Do you want to see how much worse it gets? Look at what is located in our apartment. The counter space.

This is not Brooklyn kids, this is actually a kitchen in Manhattan. I'm not saying this is the best kitchen ever, but it's not a galley kitchen with zero space. I didn't realize how uncool it was to tell the owners that we didn't cook until she said, "see the granite slab within the regular tile? this is for pastry making, it keeps it cool". I do not deserve this kitchen at all.

The reality is that neither of us can cook and we don't have the skills or the insight to be creative. We love to watch it and we actually seem to know a lot about how to do it but we're "armchair chefs". We watch and talk and know, but just don't take action.

But when we do try, we go all out. And it's so exhausting that we all but swear it off for the future. For example, we went to cooking school in Thailand a couple of years ago, and at the end of class you receive a cookbook with all of the recipes you made. A few months ago we made dinner one night from a couple of recipes and it literally took 2 hours of shopping and two hours of cooking. It was delicious, yes, and I guess it sort of proves we can cook, but this just isn't sustainable. And it demotivates us.

Yes, I can make spaghetti and sauce but I don't really like eating pasta. I can also make a vegetarian lasagna. Hart can make chili, with meat. And he claims that he is a great cook but that my being a vegetarian prevents those dishes from surfacing. I actually think he's lying and has no dishes up his sleeve but I do think the vegetarian/non vegetarian thing is a huge issue for us. It's overwhelming for someone who can't cook to try and do something that is great for vegetarians and carnivores. And to be fair, to the situation and to him, Hart is as much a carnivore as I am a vegetarian. So yes, there are plenty of vegetarian dishes that we both can eat, but I frankly don't think it's fair that he have to eat vegetarian all the time.

Anyway, I see a glimmer of hope and it looks like this:

I admit that my magazine subscriptions are random but after seeing this at my mom's house a few years ago, I became addicted and have been reading ever since.

Real Simple recipes are, well, real simple, and not boring, like spaghetti and sauce. The current issue has a few great recipes for really easy things and I think I'm going to go out and get some ingredients today.

But, after writing all of this, I'm hungry and I don't want to cook anything. This is a total example of the first two sentences of the second paragraph of this post. Am I going to take action? Not likely. Actually, that is not very positive. I will take action but I'm simply not sure when.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Thank you very much, Ms. Marigold


Here she is.
Started: December 12, 2006
Finished: January 14, 2007
Pattern: Ms. Marigold from Zephyr
Yarn: Knitpicks Elegance in Lilac - I originally ordered 4 but needed to order a 5th. I used almost 75% of the 5th
Tools: Size 5 29" circular, size 3 32" circular and a size G crochet hook
Modifications: I knitted for size small, but after getting fairly far along, I tried it on and was concerned with it being a bit too tight. I followed the two modifications - I started the increasing directions to get a little more give in the waist and I also knitted it a bit longer. This definitely resulted in needing more yarn
Other: well, when I was done with the sweater it was still a bit snug, but after blocking, which I thought would do the trick, I'm in trouble. It really stretched out along the neckline, which you can see a bit from the picture. I guess my only option is to try blocking it again. Also, I bought the size 3 circular from Knitpicks with my yarn order, and well, I sort of fell in love. They are stupidly cheap and while I assumed the worse, they are amazing. Super easy to use and the purple cable between the needles is the most flexible thing ever. I only wish they had sizes bigger than 3.
Next up, the disaster that came from my Norweigen Mittens. Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Field Trip

I'm happy to report that I am almost done with Ms. Marigold. Since we last spoke, I picked up stitches (successfully), did the border for the neckline and did my first crocheting ever, thanks to the many websites with close up pictures and step by step instructions. I'm almost finished with weaving the ends, will hopefully lay it out to block today and have some final pictures to share in the next couple of days.

Saturday Field Trip: Yesterday we had a wonderful little field trip to Tarrytown, New York. It all started about 2 months ago when our friends Kelly and Jared suggested going to Blue Water Grill. It was November, the leaves were turning and apparently BWG is beautifully decorated in fall colors. It was crisp and cool and definitely cider weather but we already had plans and it didn't work out. After Hart and I had dined at Blue Hill in NYC a couple of years ago, we've been eager to check out the Blue Hill restaurant at Stone Barn Farm in Westchester and, yes, the first available reservation was 2 months later, at 5:30 pm mind you.

We made a day of it - we left at 2pm and stopped at the Lyndhurst Castle, a really beautiful and historic gothic castle - with a boatload of history. It is gorgeous and we went on the tour, which was great.

We then headed over to Stone Barn and as it was already 4:30 and a little rainy out, we walked around the grounds a tiny bit and settled in to big club chairs in front of the fire for cocktails. The background is really interesting and exciting - the restaurant opened only a couple of years ago, and is located on the Stone Barn farm, a working farm that is also the SB Center for Food and Agriculture. They have lots of educational program, and Blue Hill uses all its ingredients from the farm.

We began dinner at 5:30 and left the restaurant at 9pm. This was the best dinner and dining experience I have had in a long time. We splurged on the tasting menu (5 courses + 2 desserts) and chose local wine which was amazing. The staff was incredible - and the service amazing. Usually I'm the tough diner - as I'm vegetarian but in our party we had 1 person (Hart of course) who could and would eat anything, one no-red meat eater and the best - one who wanted no vegetables. I kid you not.

I can't say enough about this place. It was luxurious, delicious and just a wonderful experience. The day was an adventure and a perfect excuse to get away from the city and be surrounded by nature.

In other knitting news, I am making progress on Hourglass but I have to say, this is going to take a long time and will require endless rows of stockinette. A new thing for me is this turning round thing - knitting a bunch of rows and then purling one. I wasn't sure what the purpose was but a couple of days ago I was watching Knitty Gritty and they explained it. They also showed a very simple way to seam it up as you're working but as I was too far past that point, I guess I just need to deal with it at the end. Not so much looking forward to that as well, we know I hate the whole finishing thing.

Future Projectos: I am getting really excited about the Central Park Hoodie from Knitscene, and if I can just get my act in gear, I'm going to run to either Purl or The Point this afternoon and grab the magazine and either buy yarn on the spot or ponder it for awhile. I'm loving all the pictures on the KAL and eager to start a little bit more complicated project.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The End Justifies the Means

I just got home and have been thinking about finishing Ms Marigold all day. I had to put her down on Christmas because I ran out of yarn, but did have enough to pick up the stitches for the border and knit a couple of rows. I got my extra ball of Knit Picks a week ago and swore not to touch it until I was done with my scarf and today is that day.

So I hate picking up stitches for a border - I dreaded it, I suck at it and now I know why. Since I stopped almost 2 weeks ago I have had this little buzz in my ear telling me that I didn't pick up enough stitches and the result would be a crunched neckline. When I bought my Malabrigo at Downtown Yarns the day before I flew home for the holidays I brought Ms. Marigold in and asked the lovely women working there what to do. I know how to pick up stitches (er, kind of) but how many, or how frequently do I do it? She told me what I didn't want to hear, something to the effect of "You just try and see how it goes. I usually pick up border, knit it, and pull it out a few times before it's right". The lesson is one similar to the gauge issue - not wanting to do one, skipping it and finding out your sweater is 2 sizes too small/big.

Not enough picked up stitches (go ahead, click to enlarge it, see for yourself)

Look (above) at how close I am!

The amount of discipline and restraint that I will be pulling off this evening is massive. I WILL be ripping this out and starting over. I am going to hate it and just to make it worse, I will be watching the National Championship game - and watching the team I hate, Ohio State, play Florida, the team that should not be playing. Michigan should be playing.

Thank goodness Hart's Mom got me the Vogue Knitting book- it has a great chapter on picking up a border and I need all the visual aids possible.

This post is dedicated to myself - I am documenting this restraint so that I look back and remember my strength. I really should have pulled out the stitches before I posted shouldn't I have?

ps: should you look at this picture and think that, nah, I didn't need to pull it out, I would have been fine, please bite your tongue. For real.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

FO - all bundled up for 70 degree weather

Yesterday I finally finished my Irish Hiking Scarf! I wove in the ends and everything. My first cables and my first time using really wonderful, soft, high quality yarn. The scarf was inspired by An Abundance of Lisa who did a great one. I finished it on Saturday and it was a great day to do it although I should have spent more time outside enjoying said weather.

Start Date: December 24th
End Date: January 6th
Material: 2 skeins of Malabrigo in Pagoda 11092
Pattern: Irish Hiking Scarf
Other: I knitted this up on size 7 needles instead of size 8. Also, I ended up using the entire 2 skeins which got me to 65" vs the 55" in the pattern because I usually fold the scarf in two and pull it through to tie a "knot" at my neck.

So my first official week back at work was brutal and on Friday Hart and I aimed for a chill dinner at Mexicana Mama - the one on 12th and broadway (vs the sister restaurant in w. village which requires way too long a wait) and then head to Union Square for a movie. but as soon as we walked out the door we saw Soho Billiards staring at us. We see this each and every day but this time we really saw it. We ended up going east to another Mexican restaurant that Hart of course heard about from Chowhound, but which I won't list because it was not memorable. Net net, 2 margaritas later (and excessive discussion about Bush and deployment of troops*) we played pool, went to bed and woke up groggy on Saturday.

we got up and met friends for brunch, walked around Union Square a bit and headed home and watched some football and (me) finish my scarf.

I love it. Love it. I only wish it was cold enough to wear it. Did I just wish for cold weather? I sort of willed it today as I wore it today while Hart and I were running errands. We ran into our friend at a bookstore and I started sweating in doors and needed to take it off.

So up next is finishing Ms. Marigold (just got my extra skein in the mail) and getting down with my Hourglass. I actually stayed in last night and through both Kill Bill 1 and Kill Bill 2 - got about 20 rows done. This is going to take for - ev -er.

In other news, I'm getting a little ancy about my bookclub situation. It's all me - not the group. I'm simply not feeling the books we are reading. It's been less than 6 months for me and I joined the group because my reading was becoming - well becoming like nothing. I hadn't read any novels in a long time and I used to be an obsessive reader - I think I just got out of practice. When I joined the group was reading Feminine Mystique - we had a few (in my opinion, which is what this is about) great books: Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion and Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami. But the last one was Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson and the current book is an Lee Miller: A Life, an autobiography by Carolyn Burke. I find all books selected to be fantastic - influential and interesting, but at this point in my game, I am really interested in reading more low-maintenance stuff. Like I just finished Kite Runner and I'm reading Atonement now. I don't know - I love the discipline that comes with book clubs and the women in my group are great. I am not reading the Lee Miller book and am telling myself to be fine with it. Our bookclub meeting is in 1 1/2 weeks and I thought I would pick it up this weekend - but a) it's not available at the two B&N near my house, nor at Strand, b) the in-store price is $35 and 450 pages and c) given the 450 pages gig, I can't order it online and read it on time. Clearly this is an internal struggle that I just needed to rant about.

*I will say this: I wouldn't call myself a liberal - I would call myself a Democrat. There are things that I lean on the side of the liberal point of view and there are things that I fall more in the moderate camp. Hart is almost a liberal. I truly believe that Bush would rather stay in Iraq until he leaves office to save face. I believe that he would rather let it go until the next President to clean up this mess than actually pull out and admit that he's wrong.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Monday Night Lights

Couldn't have been happier about the close of another year - at 5pm on Friday we pulled together a last minute New Years party and it was tons of fun. For New Yorkers spending New Years in the city, there is nothing more dreadful than figuring out plans. Going to random parties or bars or god forbid, Time Square, is not at all exciting, and this year many of us were in denial about setting a plan in motion.

For the first time in my life I live in an apartment that it conducive to entertaining and we've made the most of it. Having friends over is one of my favorite things - whether it's a night of ordering Lombardi's and playing cards with a few friends, hosting every single Michigan game or having an all out serious party. Last night we had about 20 people over and it wasn't our usual homogeneous crew (like all our Michigan friends, all our b-school friends, etc). Lots of little pockets who all connected beautifully when pulled together. I couldn't have been more pleased. Thank god all of my friends are extroverts.

And onward.

So as we closed 2006 with friends at our house, we are opening 2007 in the same way but with a less than exciting result. No more than 2 hours ago did the Rose Bowl end, and while I was nervous going in and honestly was not sure how it would end, I certainly did not expect the outcome. It was much more devastating than anticipated. Even so, it was great to have the Wolverine regulars over - sporting maize and blue shirts, running around, screaming, postulating and getting excited. It didn't turn out the way we had hoped and while the above shot is not from today's game, this picture does remain the best picture of the year.

we have a dwindling crowd but a few still here. the remainders include 5 guys, drinking whiskey and shuffling cards. interestingly they have taken a strong interest in my knitting (i did keep going with my irish hiking scarf until 5pm kick off) and are now probing me for info on my blog. one of them, the said lawyer- book reading maniac immediately spotted the blogger screen and tried to find out my url. i guess i'm just not ready to take this public but for what its worth, i am sharing his (edit: he told me he could find me out if i linked to him - so not happening).


i am excited to write them and i have them in my head. i just need to make sure i prioritize and not bite off more than i can chew