Thursday, March 30, 2006

Spring thoughts

Things I'm thinking about...

  • I think my rosemary plant caught whatever killed my basil and I had to throw it out. My windowsill is now left with only mint (which has been thriving after this 2nd attempt to grow it from seeds) and parsley (which now looks like a cross between 2 plants). I blame the old pots for the death of basil and rosemary. We stole those pots from the yard of a plant store that was closing in Wickford. They never looked very good and often had white powdery stuff on the outside. Last weekend, I bought an eggling with basil seeds because I miss fresh basil and it looks so freaking cute in the eggy ceramic pot.

  • I'm going to RI this weekend! But don't tell my gram cuz its a surprise. It's her 80th birthday and my mom has been planning a surprise lunch for her at her favorite restaurant - I think she invited 15 people! It's a good thing my visit is a surprise cuz I couldn't think of a single thing to get her so it looks like my presence will be the present. Lame, I know.

  • UPS delivered my yarn today! Using up a gift certificate to YarnMarket from Xmas 2004, I ordered the extra skein of Cascade Fixation for the socks and 2 skeins of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Chunky in coral. After seeing the luscious results over at SealDaze on her Anthropologie-inspired Capelet from Peonyknits, I had to join the club. I know another SnB already had knit the popular cardigan, but she doesn't have a blog so she doesn't get a link here. I was tempted to get something in blue (surprise, surprise) but I broke with tradition and got coral. I had a coral halter top once that I loved. And I have a skirt that I don't wear very often because it has such a strange mix of colors in it, including coral. And in case you are also in the dark like E, it is not a green, but rather a mild pink/orange/melon. I like this pattern because it seems like a good intro to actually doing a full cardigan, it's the perfect weight/length for spring, and since it uses so little yarn, its a very cheap sweater.

  • E and I had a very domestic weekend 2 weeks ago. Wedid some marathon shopping at Ikea and came out with an entertainment center, floor lamp, 2 table lamps, and a pendant lamp for the kitchen table. The entertainment center replaced this black plastic/plywood crappage that I got at CVS my sophomore year. It now houses the new (to us) Pioneer tuner/receiver that E found on Ebay. And of course it needed speakers so he hunted around for some deals and now we have surround sound! Now I can hear NPR from the kitchen. With the new furniture came a mini-makeover and we changed the orientation of the room. I'm not really one to do actual spring cleaning. So the work we put into the living room felt like a nice alternative. Things did get cleaner, old stuff was moved out, and the new look is light and airy. I can't wait to start leaving the windows open all the time.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Does this mean I get to buy new shoes to show these off?

I started my first sock sometime last year. I don't really recall when exactly cuz much of last year was a blur of wedding planning, moving and then all of a sudden it was Christmas.
Anyway, I'm using Cascade Fixation which is VERY elasticky (is that a word?) and the pattern is from Wendy's Toe-Up Sock pattern. After the excitement of doing the toe, I really lost interest in it, and I started to despise the yarn. I think its just not a good choice for a first sock. Anyway, I had nothing to knit for Sunday's SnB having finished my mom's scarf - mostly - so I dug out the abandoned sock. It took me forever to remember where I had left off, but it turns out I was JUST about to turn the heel! Wheeee... And now I have a completed turned heel. I'm very glad I'm done with those short rows and the tedious wrapping it required. Not to mention that I hate purling with these needles and this yarn. Now it's just straight shooting up the ankle and nothing but knit (I bet that's already been taken as a blog name). Any suggestions for how long it should be?

When I ordered the yarn, I was in denial about how much would be needed for 2 socks so I only ordered 1 skein. Another skein must be ordered immediately lest I fall victim to the one-sock blues - which is very likely since it took me so long to get moving on #1.

I could forego ordering new shoes and just sport the socks w/ sandals look. Nice.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

New look

I'm testing out a new banner. I'll probably change it again in a few days. I want to see if it grows on me. Just figuring out the necessary html code took up most of my energy to work on a new banner. It'll be much easier now to swap in a different image since the code is the way it should be.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Continuing the food theme....

I've been perfecting a snack mix over the last several months using items from Trader Joes and Safeway. People seem to like it so I'll share it here. I don't have a name for the mix yet, so brownie points for any witty suggestions.

  • peanuts (preferably unsalted or lightly salted; dry roasted is yummiest)
  • dried edamame (a friend and I exploded with joy when we first saw these at Trader Joes. And then we nearly ate the whole bag on the car ride home.)

  • honey-sesame sticks
  • raisins (golden raisins work too)

  • sunflower seeds (hulled. although I often find these are too small for the mix)

  • diced pineapple (getting harder and harder to find so i've had to substitute it with various dried fruit mixes when I don't feel like going to Whole Foods.)

I've put a lot of work into finding the magical balance between taste, nutrition, and sometimes more importantly, cost. I'd like to add yogurt chips to the mix but I can't find them ANYWHERE. Yet, do you know how many ready-made trail mixes come with yogurt chips? Why don't those same stores carry just the yogurt chips too? When I search online, I'm directed to pet food stores because (apparently) rodents love yogurt chips. I just can't bring myself to order rodent food for our trail mix.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Fondue-bie Doobie Do

On Thursday night Erich and I got to use one of the restaurant gift certificates given to us as a wedding present. The Melting Pot is a franchise dedicated solely to fondue. We had a lovely time and if you can afford it, I recommend trying it out. We were a bit surprised, however, at how the meals are structured. As in, how you are supposed to eat everything. We learned that you cook everything yourself at the table. And at no point do you get to dip meat into cheese. Their menu doesn't fully clarify what will happen at the table. So this post should serve as a "how-to fondue" for those interested in the Melting Pot.

1. Fondue for Two is the menu option most recommended for groups of two (big surprise). Under this option, you choose from one of 4 cheese courses (shared), one salad from among three options (each), and finally, an entree option (shared) from 3 choices.

2. The cheese courses are the Cheddar Cheese fondue (cheddar, emmentaler, beer, garlic), Wisconsin Trio Cheese (Fontina, butterkaese, bleu cheese, white wine, scallions, sherry), Tradiditional Swiss (Gruyere, swiss, white wine, garlic, nutmeg, lemon, kirschwasser), and Fiesta Cheese (cheddar, mexican herbs, spices, jalapeno, salsa). We chose the Cheddar Cheese fondue. The waiter then brought all the ingredients to the table: shredded cheese blend, fresh garlic, and some beer. He slowly added the ingredients to the pot that had been preheating on the table's built-in coil burner. He stirred it constantly so the cheese melted evenly and soon it was a piping hot cheesy dip. Yum. We were given an assortment of breads, apples, and raw veggies for dipping. It was hard not to overdo it on the first couse.

3. Salad course: We both chose the California salad. It was tasty, but has nothing to do with fondue so I'll leave it at that.

4. Entree: A little more complicated. Not only do you choose an entree, but you also have to choose a "Cooking Style Selection." This totally perplexed us. Basically, at its simplest form, the entree you choose can EITHER be cooked according to the traditional, european method with canola oil, or you can opt for a slightly healthier broth base. Those would be the "Fondue Bourguionne" and "Fondue Court Bouillon" respectively. The restaurant also offers 2 more jazzy cooking methods called Coq au Vin Fondue (herbs, mushrooms, spices, garlic, burgundy wine) and "Mojo Fondue" (a Caribbean bouillon with citrus and cilantro). We opted for this last option because it was based on the Bouillon base method, but with cool flavors.

5. Entree part II: The pot on the table now starts preheating with whatever cooking style selection you chose. The waiter brings out a platter of all the meat that comes with your entree plus veggies and potatoes (all raw). We also got at least 6 different dipping sauces! The favorites were curry sauce and a teriyaki-honey sauce. We chose the "Signature Selection" entree which includes tenderloin, shrimp, teriyaki marinated sirloin, chicken breast, and salmon. Then you begin the exciting and fast-paced process of sticking your piece of meat onto a skewer and resting it in the simmering pot. Within 2-3 minutes, you can remove it, dip it in a complimentary sauce and wolf it down. We each had 2 skewers and before long, we could barely keep up with the cooking time and sauce options. The vegetables could be thrown in at any point and would just float for a few minutes until cooked.

Everything was so good - we definitely didn't have room for dessert which disappointed our waitress cuz that's her favorite course. That just means we'll have to go back for an entire evening of just dessert fondue. Just a word of warning: the experience is deceivingly pricey. I wouldn't have expected such cheap ingredients to translate into an expensive evening. Thankfully we had both the gift certificate and had peeked at the menu online and knew what to expect. Drinks are especially expensive. This is really a shame because it seems like a great group activity but its cost is prohibitive. It almost makes the restaurant seem pretentious.

Thanks to Minerva and G-Love in Philly for hooking us up with the fondue-funds (which I almost just typed as 'fund-dues' but thought it looked weird. i love puns).

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I Dream of Duggar

I really should be writing about the amazing weekend I had (it included a bike ride in the park, a museum, the DMV, and a couple of happy hours) but instead I feel like exposing you all to something I'm calling the Duggar Phenomenon. I vaguely remember once hearing about this southern family that had a lot of children...around 14 kids. But it was only a vague memory. Then, on Friday or Saturday, Erich and I caught a little 1 hour special on the Duggar family of Arkansas.
We watched it. I was mesmorized. Then, TLC ran another special about them last night (it actually kept me up late!) which revolved around the process of them building their 7000 sq. ft. house. I think I even dreamt about them last night! I have so many unanswered questions. Do they have a large extended family too? Do their cousins like them? Since they are home-schooled, do they get extracurricular interactions with other kids, or is it only through church group? Are these kids going to grow up normal? Cuz see, the odd thing is, they really appeared to be normal on TV - both in how they interacted with each other and the way they spoke on camera. Except for their matching outfits, the obscenely large collars that the girls' dresses had, and the fact that they have 14 siblings (I think its actually 15 now) they really seemed well-adjusted, intelligent, mature, etc. But I wanted nothing more than to judge them and critcize so much of their life. Are those kids going to grow up and want nothing to do with having babies? I spent a good chunk of my time today researching their philosophies, daily life routines, and trying to figure out which religion runs their life. I think it's most likely fundamentalist Southern Baptist, but I can't tell if "fundamentalist" is just a word that people who are not like them impose on such families. It doesn't sound like a label anyone would ever voluntarily have. They also follow a particular life principle known as "Full Quiver" after the passage in the Bible that recommends having as many children to fill a quiver (gross paraphrasing). I am hereby not responsible for the feeling you have after seeing the results from googling "full quiver" and "duggar" - or even just full quiver. I haven't even reached the tip of the iceberg yet on the questions I keep thinking of. They'll probably keep me up again tonight. I was hoping this entry would be a bit purging.

On an unrelated note, and STILL not getting to the point about the fabulous weekend, look what finally arrived at work today! It's my first kitchen scale. A friend of ours asked me tonight, "um, why? i mean, why did you order that?"
Haha. Ok, well see, a lot of the recipes I pick out give ingredients in mass measurements only. And because I never really took a lab science or cooked much with my mom, I can't guesstimate ANYTHING - 5 ounces? 200 grams? 1 lb, 3 ounces? No idea. I get by looking up rough conversions on the internet and saying things like, "well, it asks for 5 ounces of x liquid. And a regular glass of water is considered to be 8 ounces. So fill a little more than half of that glass with x liquid and you'll probably be at 5 ounces." And I KNOW that most of the cooking I do probably doesn't require the precise measurements that a kitchen scale will yield, but if I'm going to fuck up a recipe, I'd like it to be from my own ignorance, shortcuts, or risk-taking. Not because I can't achieve the portions the recipe calls for.

Here are a couple snippets of the wonderfully warm weekend:

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Hump Day (giggle smirk giggle)

I don't really have a reason for posting tonight. Other than that it's been over a week since the last posting and I'm a little paranoid that my friends will remove me from their sidebars. Truth be told, I've just been so sick of the computer in the evenings. Work has been pretty intense for a few weeks and most of it has been computer-heavy. Also (and feel free to start gagging) coming home now to my best friend is less condusive to getting in computer time. Back in Petworth, in my 1-room world, I was content to spend evenings in my computer chair eating dinner, watching TV, chatting on Trillian, blogging (ok, LJ'ing), browsing, etc. It was actually quite pathetic how much time I stared at my screen back then. Think of all the time I could have been knitting!! In my defense, a lot of it was due to wedding planning which had to be in electronic format for the most part.

A day late, here's last night's attempt at Self Portrait Tuesday. Mind you, I'm not actually participating in it, just contributing a little bit. I think Bugheart said the theme for the month was Time. Well, I didn't really consider that when I took this. So let's see if I can fake it: The writing on the mirrored wardrobe behind me shows "Energy Storage Pathways of the Human Body" from Erich's biochemistry class. He drew the diagrams last weekend....but they're still there. And he's about to enter the room (the camera was on a timer as usual). So I'm sure a more clever person could draw some philosophical parallel between his movement into the room, the static diagrams, and the act of knitting that somehow would illustrate the theme of Time. No? Too much of a stretch? I get an A for effort though.

And here's an older photo from when PassionKNITly came to visit us in DC and drop off THE AFGHAN. We romped around the capital and took many touristy photos. This was my favorite of the people-less shots.