Friday, July 28, 2006

moving right along

last night i actually went to the gym, which did not end well. i really should have eaten something before i went, but of course i wasn't thinking about that as i left work early and raced home like a bat out of hell to try to make a 5:30pm class. however, the result of this oversight was a weird blood-sugar drop half way though the class that left me white as a ghost, sweating profusely, and feeling dizzy and nauseous. bleh. i left. however, the good side of this was that, since i felt like doing nothing but sitting, i made some serious headway on adam's sweater last night--i just watched movies and knitted while the hippie was off at game night. after the bile settled its ass back down and i got cooled off, it was actually quite pleasant. had a cat on my lap and everything. and then today i got another inch or so done knitting through lunch with my friend kerstin. whoo hoo! it's still going to be a bit of a push to get this done by next wednesday, especially as i suddenly remembered last night that i have an enormous wire thing order to fill that i had utterly forgotten (sorry jenn!!!) but you know me--i think i can get it all done anyway. we'll see...

by the way, please pardon the poor picture quality. i am still camera-free, so all i have is my phone. the green in the picture came out WAY blacker than it is in person, but there's not jack i can do about that. i think i will go buy a new camera today, in spite of the fact that it's gonna make me ramen-noodle-poor.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


i finally broke down and bought some dancing shoes. last night was the last in our 3rd ballroom dancing class--we have been taking lessons now for almost a year, which is just amazing. time is FLYING! but anyway, since there's no end in sight to the dancing thing, i decided to go ahead and get some actual gear before class starts again on august 16th. it's funny--i am viewing this as kind of an athletic shoe purchase. it's gotten to the point that i am performance limited because i don't have the right shoes. and what's cool is that THESE are the right shoes! girly strappy cute shoes are the right ones for something i can get exercise doing! whoo hoo! so yeah. now i am waiting--the shoes should be here tomorrow, and i am growinfg IMPATIENT. let's hear it for ebay, however--i got these shoes at wholesale cost. whoo hoo!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


in light of the fact that my camera is dead and gone, i thought this would be a great time to burden you with some more pictures from europe! i know you are all just DYING to contain your excitement, but really--y'all try to hold back, now...

so on day seven in europe, we left amsterdam and got ourselves to a swedish island called gotland, which lies out in the baltic sea. this means we took a cab, two planes, a train, a bus, and a three hour ferry to visby, the capital of gotland. here we were picked up by my friend arne and driven about 10 feet to our hotel. let's just call that a Long Day. (that was friday, by the way, in case you;ve lost track.) we only took one picture all day, sunset at something like 10:30pm from the deck of the ferry boat.

day eight was absolutely glorious--sunny and windy, cool, but not biting, and the city was GORGEOUS! it was a perfect day for arne and anna to get married, but that part will be in a different post--i have too damned much to say! gotland is technically part of sweden, although the people and the dialect are quite different. of every place we visited, visby was the most awe-inspiring to both of us. it is just wholly different from anything we had ever experiences before. it's a midieval walled city, largely in tact, and the people there are fiercely proud and protective of their heritage. cars of non-residents are not allowed within the walls of the city. the streets are cobblestone, and i mean real, honest-to-god, hardcore cobbles. (very hard to navigate in heels!). the roofs are traditional ceramic tiles from local clay. the building that housed our hotel was built in the late 13th century, and an addition was added to it in the 1700s. the hotel personnel refer to the the addition as the "new part", and folks--that just boggles my mind.

in the morning before the wedding, we took a really long walk through the city, and i think it was my favorite thing about our entire vacation. between the perfect weather and the glorious setting, it was impossible not to fall in love with the place. i took almost a gig of pictures on our walk, which is why it has taken me so long to get through them. and these pictures will never do it justice. every corner we turned revealed something more amazing than the last. most memorable was a ruin of an early 14th century church, which was built over the ruins of a much older pagan temple. there were runes carved into the stone as well as latin words. the walls were crumbling, and in some places, overgrown with vines, lichen, and flowers. and all this is just there in the middle of the city, open, matter-of-fact, right beside a cafe. that alone was worth the price of admission. however, add to that the spectacle of the city walls, the broad vistas over the rooftops down to the sea, and the gardens, and throw in a little shopping for local artwork, and you have yourself a perfect morning.

all we did in visby was scrape the tiniest tip off the iceberg--i am DYING to go back! i am unbelievably grateful to anna and arne, without whose wedding we would never have even known about gotland, which is undoubtedly a future vacation destination for us all on its own. it would be a wonderful place to go with children, and it apparently has much to offer beyond visby's walls: cave paintings, viking ruins, pristine beaches... go, people! buy plane tickets RIGHT NOW!

the pictures from our walk in visby have also been added to the set from europe. click these links for the posts about paris and about brussels and amsterdam. more to come...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

drat! curses!

my camera has apparently given up the ghost--it's lost its ability to read the memory cards. blah. which means i can't show you my knitting progress OR post a picture of my now-somewhat-famous chocolate pudding. *sigh*

Monday, July 24, 2006

pudding from home

thanks for the dessert suggestions! i appreciate them even though i caved and made the chocolate pudding. it's just so tried and true, which i think is the Right Thing to serve to people you don't know all that well. plus the hippie--he loves it. i must say though, it was nearly a disaster of great proportions this time. it takes a while to make this stuff and then almost an hour to bake it. i was already late starting and cutting it a bit close on being able to get it chilled before time to eat it. and then--like a MORON, i put it in the oven to bake and TURNED OFF THE OVEN!!! what's with THAT?! talk about a near disaster! i waited, doing 10k other things, and then the timer dinged--so i went to get the pudding, and it was ice cold. oh the rage--you have no idea... so i did what any cook would do: i said what the hell, and i cooked it anyway. and you know, it came out fine. great, even. and now, i have talked about this pudding enough that i thought i would share the recipe with you:
Chocolate Pudding
4 cups heavy cream
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 large egg yolks
1 /2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Bring the heavy cream to a simmer in a large heavy saucepan, then remove the pan from the heat. Place the chocolate in a large stainless steel bowl, add 1 cup of the warm cream, and let stand until the chocolate is melted. Stir the chocolate mixture until it is smooth, then stir in the remaining cream.

In a separate large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Gradually whisk in the chocolate mixture. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer and skim the froth from the top.

Pour the pudding into eight 6-ounce ovenproof ramekins or coffee cups. Place them in a deep baking pan and put the pan in the preheated oven. Add enough hot water to the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the cups, then cover the pan with aluminum foil, crimping it along the edge to form a tight seal. Bake the puddings for about 50 minutes. When gently shaken, they should look set around the edges but not quite set in a quarter sized area at the center.

Remove the cups from the water bath and let cool at room temperature. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Serve chilled topped with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
you can also find this on the website of home, my favorite restaurant in new york, as well as in their cookbook, recipes from home, which you should just go ahead and buy right this minute.

ps--i will add a picture of this fabulous confection when i get home tonight. :)

UPDATE: added a bad picture from my phone, which is better than no picture at all!

Friday, July 21, 2006

what's for dessert?

whew! what a week! i normally have a few free minutes during my lunch hours or after work to blog, but it's been a little tight for that this week. anyway--let's jsut say i am freakin TIRED right now. but i must power through that!!! i am about to leave work to go to the NC art museum for an evening of art, dinner, and drinks. should be cool even if i don't last all that late--one martini, and i think i might be down for the count! tomorrow, we are hosting a little dinenr party at chez nous, so that should be interesting--it's people the hippie works with, some of whom i don't know all that well. further, most have never been to our house, which means it must be spotless--what type A girl could do less? i may have to blow off my company's summer picnic to get everything done in time. my big debate right this minute is what to make for dessert. it's an italian feast, and the hippie's pushing for chocolate pudding (of course!), but i just don't know. any ideas y'all have, i would LOVE to hear. and it's gotta be something that doesn't take all day! :)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

brussels, amsterdam

devling back into the mists of time, more about europe...

we left paris on tuesdy morning, day four. took a death-ride in a very very smelly cab to the train station, and then a very fast train to brussels--we were there by lunch time. we stowed our gear in lockers and made our way into the city to have lunch and walk around. met up with some friends of raina's for mussels and beer, which was divine, and then just wandered about for a couple of hours. i bought my body weight in chocolate, drooled on some lace, bought a pink pashmina to try to keep from freezing to death, and ended up in an irish pub talking to a bartender from cuba. in belgium. small world. i also bought some fabulous handmade soap, which is now all but gone. *sigh* we really were not there very long at all before it was time to go. we took a slower train from brussels to amsterdam--very relaxing. i knitted and stared out at the countryside rolling by while raina and the hippie napped the time away...

we didn't get into amsterdam until fairly late, tired and starving. the only place that was open for dinner was this random little italian place called sardegna, which turned out to be run by these grumpy old italian guys and totally fabulous. the next day (day five), it rained all day. i took a couple of pictures from the hotel windows, but nothing outside. we spent most the day in the glorious van gogh museum, grabbed a boring lunch in an irish pub (apparently these are universal), did some shopping, got caught in the rain AGAIN, and planted ourselves in a bar for the rest of the afternoon. that night, we went to see boom chicago, and awesome improv comedy group from the US. there's a bar attached to the theater where they perform, and after the couple of pitchers we had during the show, i am sorry to say that we just stayed in that bar. i drank some martinis. more than a wise person would consume. and i smoked all of raina's clove cigarettes. and then i stole some dutch guy's cigarettes and smoked those, too. then i think i may have had another martini. let's just say that this evening, which started out strong, did not end that way. i ended up soaking wet and weepy, napping involuntarily on the bathroom floor in the hotel for most of the night in between trying not to die. the next day, needless to say, was half wasted.

somewhere around 1pm on day six, the hippie and i struck out on our own into the city. i had half a roll and a cup of tea. we went to the rit museum, which was pretty awesome--the bulk of the museum is closed for renovations, which means that all we saw was what the museum personnel consider to be the cream. it was divine--small enough to do in an afternoon, not too overwhelming, and featuring some gorgeous vermeers, rembrandts, delft pottery, and these enormous beautiful pen and ink drawings of battles at sea that ended up being our favorite thing there. after, ready to actually eat something, we found a nearly-french cafe and had some lunch, then went for a long walk through the city. this is the only day i took any pictures to speak of. we walked past a beautiful enormous tree with this great whimsical sculpture in it. we walked over canals. we poked in cool shops. we just took our time and did a bit of wandering. we met raina for dinner and went to see boom chicago again--this time without the martinis! after, we did the obligatory walk through the red light district after becoming nearly hopelessly lost trying to find it. we saw the prostitutes in their window blackberry-ing each other and looking positively bored out of their minds. we passed on the sex shows--honestly, i don't think i have ever been in a place that made me feel less sexual. it was actually a little depressing. the red light district, she is not for me.

amsterdam is a city i would like a do-over trip to. there are things i would like to do there that we didn't do, and i failed to learn anything at all about the history of the place. the culture is so laid back that i think it could be a very relaxing place as well. the people are friendly and interesting and all speak english. but all in all--it wasn't my favorite place we saw. maybe i was just misisng paris too mcuh...

anyway--that's all i got in me to write about today. there's still sweden to go, and then i will have told you about the whole vacay at last. i have added all the brussels and amsterdam pictures to my european vacation photoset on flickr if you are interested. :)

in summary: pumpkin. frog. hot.

last thursday, game night, i went over to jenn's house and finished the pumpkin hat. excellent. adam's head will be warm in the fall. i was trying to take pictures of it, but jenn's cat, kidley, kept trying to eat the camera cord. meanwhile, gabriella was showing off her dinosaur tattoos and making me take pictures of them to show to the hippie. she thinks he's the greatest thing since sliced bread--so cute! but i digress... i also started on the orange sweater i am making to match the pumpkin, but didn't get very far yet. i haven't bothered to take any progress pictures since just a little orange strip at this point. and...that's it. i didn't pick up my needles all weekend. i am a knitting slacker. i did wrap and pack up a bunch of gifts i have needed to mail since before freakin' december this weekend, so that's something at least. anyway, back to last thrusday: as i was leaving jenn's house, she spotted this little tiny tree frog sitting on her porch lamp catching bugs. (don't look, sam!) i thought he was too adorable not to share.

in other news, it's fucking hot here. but i like my outfit today.
that is all.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


our friends jeff and carrie lost their fabulous and wonderful cat, seuss, today. i honestly think seuss may be the greatest cat who ever lived, bar none. even my own. he was friendly and talkative, a purrful, aggressively affectionate head-butter who was always pleasantly in the way, a silky soft, friendly, impish devil of a meower without whom the world is less bright. i know that sounds dramatic, but i swear, this was just an amazing cat. he used to lean out and butt my head from the top of their refridgerator, and he never failed to make me smile. *sigh* jeff and carrie have lost a good friend, so y'all think some good thoughts their way.


ok, so i didn't finish the pumpkin hat, but i DID make a little flower and sew it onto the boring plain little hat. (i promise this is the LAST TIME i am going to show you a picture of this thing!) i do like it much better now--amazing what a little embellishment can do! tonight i will go over to my friend jenn's house and finish the pumpkin hat, and then hopefully get started on the sweater to match it. i would love to do some work on the lace, but i think i need to do that one all alone without trying to carry a conversation. conversing is how i made the nasty mistake in there that i still need to fix. so yeah. still obsessed and knitting like a fiend. i think it's catching or something, because jenn is all fired up to knit this for gabriella. yay for more people knitting!

by the way, the good hair's still in effect--i am not sure what's going on there AT ALL, because it's been a sight to behold lately! but hey--i am going with it. and in other news related to my appearance today, i just have to say that i am wearing the cheapest outfit ever, and i love it! let's hear it for those massive end-of-summer sales they always have like 2 days after the first day of summer!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

getting ready for fall...

i am knitting like a woman obsessed and have been for the past few days. i think it's a reaction to having had such a busy summer--knitting makes me relax but still feels productive. anyway--last night i was feeling kind of ill and the hippie was off at kung fu, so i put in a movie and got out my knitting. however, it was clear that i wasn't up to the concentration level required by the lace (especially since i made a little mistake and need to back up), so i decided to cast on something a bit more mindless. also, i wanted to make something wool--i know it's summer and all that, but my fingers miss the julia, and i was itching to knit with it again. while i love how the garter stitch cardigan i just finished came out, i can't say that the mission falls cotton was my favorite yarn to work with. but i digress... as of last night, i am making a little pumpkin hat for my friend alyce's toddler, adam--hopefully this will fit him in the fall. (it's the same pattern as the eggplant hat i made a while ago.) the cool thing is that this gift is NOT a surprise--i promised alyce i would hook her baby up with something for the fall. and since it appears that i will finish this little hat tonight, it looks like hooking her up will be no problem at all. if all goes well--i will have time to whip up a sweater to go with this before i head up to boston at the end of the month. :)

oh, i had an epiphany this morning, too. the sam left a comment in my last post suggesting i add a little felted airplane to the plain little cotton hat , which is a great idea except for two things: 1) the hat's cotton, and i have mixed feelings about adding a wool something to it, and 2) an airplane seems too boyish since i am planning to give this to a little bitty girl ASAP. BUT, it got me thinking about other possible embellishments, and i remembered that i have a pattern for a little knitted flower i got from my LYS to go on just such a hat! yay! guess what else i will be knitting tonight?

in other news, i am having a remarkably good hair day.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

tying up loose ends

did i mention that i spent almost all of the 4-day weekend over the 4th cleaning my house? it was GLORIOUS to have that much time to do things i never seem to be able to do. the hippie was out of town, and i turned away every single prospective social engagement to just work on the house. i wish i had had a whole week. my crowning achievement was re-organizing the bookshelves. the hippie and i are book people--we keep outgrowing our book space. so i took all the books we rarely referenceand put them on top of the wall of the library wall in our living room. this means i climbed the library ladder about eleventy-million times. my calves were feeling that, let me tell you... but man, don't these look great!? i even dusted them! and now, there's some room to grow on all the other shelves. not a lot of room, but still...

in other accomplishments, observe my FO's. the cardigan is done, buttons and all, and i LOVE it! the hat, on the other hand, is a thorn in my side. i embroidered little blue flowers on the hat, but alas--they were nearly invisible. AND they made the hat too bulky to boot. so now it's just a plain little hat, and though it bores me to tears, i guess it's OK to give it along with the sweater. i am tempted to rip it out and stripe it or something. hmmm... maybe i'll make another stripey one tonight. meanwhile--the lace for the pillowcases was coming along well until i noticed a MISTAKE in it, about 3 repeats ago. and it's just one teeny twisted stitch of a mistake that no one can even see, but man--it's buggin' the crap out of me! to rip or not to rip... i am trying to talk myself out of it. i'll let you know how that goes.

Monday, July 10, 2006

farmer's market, revisited

saturday i went to the farmer's market for the first time all summer. i just find that amazing, as i LOVE the farmer's market and generally try to go as close to every weekend as i possibly can. you know this, as i have written about this before. however, this time i have PICTURES--whoo hoo! :)

saturday was a beautiful day, and the market was packed! my favorite variety of freestone peaches (windblo) was the feature of my favorite orchard (pee dee prchards), so i got some, of course. i also bought new red potatoes, butter beans, blackberries, silver queen corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, honey, and some flowers. just walking through the place makes me happy, even when it's utterly stuffed with people and everything takes forever. i just go slowly and take in all the sights and smells. i walk the whole length of the market before i buy anything, checking out the produce and searching out the folks to whom i am loyal. i saw my crazy honey people, my aforementioned orchard people, and my favorite: the flower lady (who i found approximately 5 seconds after giving up and buying flowers from--gasp!--someone else). the pepper guy wasn't there, nor was my little herb seller, but i made do!

i have long conversations with strangers while i buy things. this time, as i was buying butter beans, a random woman asked me how i was going to cook them, so i told her:
for a pint of fresh baby limas, cook one piece of bacon in the pot and remove it. add a little olive oil if you need to and sauté a little slivered purple onion in the fat. add the beans and about a cup of chicken broth, and bring it to a boil. throw in a few sprigs of thyme, put a lid on, and simmer for about 30 minutes. when it's done, crumble the bacon back in, and season the mix with salt and pepper. voilá.
it's good the day you make it, but the leftovers are even better. the woman actually wrote all this down on a little notepad, which amused me. and as i was talking, the seller was listening intently--when i finished, she declared that my butterbeans called for a pork chop and some biscuits. and guess what i made for dinner last night? cumin crusted pork chops, boiled corn with butter and old bay, butter beans, sliced tomatoes, and biscuits with buckwheat honey (courtesy of my pseudo-mother-in-law).

for dessert, i made some pig pie. the great bill neal used to use a pig-shaped cookie cutter to cut out the sweet biscuit dough for his fruit cobbler topping, and his kids always called the cobbler "pig pie." i have a pig-shaped cookie cutter, too, so i have taken to using it for cobblers as well. last night's was a mix of peaches and blackberries, and man, it was GOOD! thank goodness i get to have some leftovers tonight!

sometimes i am so Southern, it scares me. but i digress...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

knitty kind of day...

today it's all rainy outside, and all i want to do is sit and knit. yesterday, i got out of a doctor's appointment early and had about 45 unexpectedly free minutes, so of course--i went to the yarn store. my favorite person was working, and i basically sat with her and sewed up my baby sweater while she was knitting away on a beautiful lace shawl. remarkably pleasant way to spend some time, if you ask me. i was pleased to discover that she has a knitting blog, as well as a second blog about her life aside from knitting. my circle of knitting bloggers expands yet again...

see that the garter stitch cardigan is complete except for the buttons. i have some mother of pearl buttons for it, but i am not yet convinced that they are not too big, so i have been hesitating to sew them on until i get a chance to make a second pass of the local fabric stores in search of more. and check out the little hat i made to match the sweater. i am not yet sold on the fabulousness of this hat, but am hoping i will like it more after i get the little blue flowers embroidered on it. i think i am going to block this whole set as well, just so it looks neater and more finished. soon, i will be able to give this to an actual baby.

today at lunch, i started these lace pillowcases from weekend knitting. i tried them last year, too, but that was a miserable failure. i think there were two problems: 1) i didn't have any experience with small needles and tried to blithely go from using almost entirely size 11+ needles to knitting lace on some size 3's--mistake, and 2) i think i did not yet have enough experience with the different types of stitches you have to use (yo's, ssk's, etc.) to knit lace to be able to back up when i messed up. i started and ripped out the more complex of these two lace pillowcase patterns about six times before i just gave up. but now, i think i am ready for another go--i certainly got enough tinking experience with that damned clapotis, and i have gotten more comfortable with smaller needles, so i think i am ready for this now. and this time, i am going with the simpler pattern, too. today, i got through one repeat without messing up, and so far, it actually looks like it's supposed to. i know it's only ten measly rows, but i am still pretty pleased with myself. :)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

blog envy

i think i have crossed some blogging line over here. i just spent the last 10 minutes being pissed off that i didn't bother to go watch any fireworks last night so that i could be posting pictures of said fireworks today. i have photo jealousy of this total stranger's flickr set of fireworks photos and blogger jealousy of flaurella's 4th of july post. she got to go to a parade; all i did was swelter and nearly die of boredom watching syriana*. *pout* something's definitely wrong with me.

* and yes, i KNOW it's supposed to make me think about our government and the middle east and all, but it really just made me want a movie do-over.