Home at Last.

Its good to be back. I'm now offically ready for the vacation from my vacation. I'm tired, the house is a mess, and I think that I gained five pounds...but I'm also really pleased with the great trip we had, and the fantastic goodies that I brought home!

I hit all the spots on my list.
The Met of course, the highlight of which for me are the Vermeers and the Rembrandts.

Also where this art deco mosaic reminded me of a patchwork quilt,

and where there was this amazing lace in the Medeival art exhibit. I wish I remembered where it was from.

Next, we hit Pearl Oyster Bar,

for their luscious lobster roll. and blueberry pie.

Saint Ambrous Gelateria
for some mouthwatering gelato.
Peter tells me this is the best he's had outside of Italy, I'm taking his word for it.

Oilily (when they wouldnt let me into the Frick with the baby), for some shameless drooling over their adorable dresses. I bought Blu one little outfit, but sadly the dresses will have to wait until she's walking. Don't want her to get tangled. Nearby Oilily I discovered Bonpoint....wow. Thats it, the entire store summed up in one word. Wow. This place rocks...and it knows it. It costs a mint. But, wow ( I can't say it enough) I wish that I fit into their clothes. Everything is made from Liberty fabrics, everything. The pants, the blouses, the dresses; all in beautiful subdued shades, no wild pinks and oranges here. The sweaters are wonderfully designed, hand knitted, and cashmere. If I didn't knit myself, I would have had fits over them . The whole store looks like it was made from a japanese craftbook, but well, French. Needless to say we bought stuff...just a little.

The main event of the trip's shopping was Purl.
It is everything that has been said about it and more. I think that if I lived close by, I would never leave. I would be there in the morning when they opened and would have to be pried away when they closed. The store, and Purl Patchwork a couple of doors down, is not large. But its contents are so refined, so beautifully organized (by fiber and color), that you feel like this is the ultimate yarn shop. Similarly with the fabric shop...it is as if, because the stores are so small, they only have room for the very best things. I think that they thought I was very odd. We, the baby and I, must have fondled every yarn in that shop. T wice. I just couldn't decide. this is what I came away with:

see that? thats cashmere...lime cashmere. It was calling to me, I tried to leave without it but no, it needed to follow me home.

This is some lucious silk. Peter asked if it was enough to make anything with. I kinda dodged the question because well no its isn't really. But its so expensive, that had I purchased enough to actually knit something, he would have choked. This way, I can buy it in bits...ease the pain as it were. Sneaky, no?

This is some Alchemy destined to become an Icarus shawl in the future.

and this is some selfstriping sock yarn from Lorna's Laces.
Made exclusively for Purl, so its kinda like a souvenier.

At Purl patchwork I was more modest. They swore to me that their website would be up in the near future, so I felt consoled as I will be able to order more fabric as needed.

Still, I came away with these:

and these:

Next on the list was, Kinokuniya.
Surprisingly the Kinokuniya in NY is not any bigger than the one in San Francisco. It may actually be smaller if you include the stationary store. It is more centrally located. Right across form the Today show stage in Rockefeller Center, which boggles my mind because that has got to be some pricey real estate and to have it filled with a bookstore, and a non english one at that is kinda astonishing. But I disgress. I was there for the craftbooks. And I found some great ones.
This is called "Simple Quilts".
The text at the bottom in white says "I wanted to make this sort of white quilt..." While I haven't yet ever attempted quilting, I liked the minimalism of the colors and the contemporary designs.

Next is one on Handbags.
Called roughly: "Start of the journey, with this bag". there has to be a better translation, but well I can't think of it right now sorry. It is a book of handbags for travel, or going out. Each bag featured has a smaller accessory bag, and some have 2.

Finally I got this book which I have seen on a number of blogs.

New York children's clothes.

I love this book. It has two stories associated with it for me. The first crafty blog that I ever read, last year sometime, was Nikkishell. I was amazed at her skill and especially loved the clothes that she made for her daughters. In particular, there was a kimono top she made that I adored, and she posted later on that she got it from this book. I've been on the look out for it ever since. The second story is that when we were walking in SoHo after going to Purl I went into this little children's shop that had some really cute things in the window. Inside were many wonderfully simple little outfits, out of Liberty of course, with a very familiar style. Eerily so. On the wall was a little ribbon map that I recognized. I realized that it was all made from that same book! Then I asked the clerk, who of course was Japanese, that had the store by any chance ever written a book? And of course....they wrote it! I'm a bit of a dork, and I got rather excited. He seemed rather surpised that I knew of the book at all, as I'm not Japanese..but put up rather well with my pathetic fangirl gushing. I had to buy something at that point to show my appreciation, so I got a little knitted monkey for Blue who's really a girl- monkey cause she's got her baby on her back. I thought that I had a picture, but I can't seem to find it right now.

The store's name by the way is Makie and when I got back to my hotel and looked in the book there indeed was the inscription, 'Makie's childrens clothing'. Amazing.

Traveling with the baby was easier than I expected it to be. She graciously slept on the plane, most of the long train rides and sat through several meals and trips to the museum.

She's started to creep along the floor now, nearly crawling. Its rather exciting.. and a little worrisome. I think that I have a lot of baby proofing to do in our house yet. Hope to have some new things to report next week. Have a good weekend!


A Short Break

In a matter of hours I will be getting on a plane. We are going on vacation, to NYC, for a week and so I will not be blogging again until next week. I've been busy all day packing, trying to keep my mind off the impending flight. I do not like to fly...I hyperventilate, break out in a cold sweat, and clutch the armrests whitefisted each time the plane takes a dip. Though I know that the odds are against a crash, I cant help but think that we are like sitting ducks..or rather sardines trapped in a little metal box tossed through the air with no way out. Fun, huh? Also this will be the first plane ride with the babe; making it even more nervewracking. OK...I need to think about something else..Happy thoughts.

One happy thought at the other end of the tarmac, Purl SoHo. I'm so going to spend lots and lots of money there. This was assured when Peter said "you know, you can always ship things home rather than carry them back". Oh can I please?? Likewise with Kinokuniya NY, I'm crossing my fingers that its better stocked with craftbooks than the SF store, and which I'm hoping is not as disappointing as Takashimaya NY. This thanks to Disdressed's list of crafty places in NY. I've been doing my research.

Anyways, I'm packed, prepared and ready to face the plane. and I sincerely hope that I'm back next week to tell all about it. But if I'm not, well you know what happened to me. I ate too much and was too fat to get on the plane. A distinct possibility.

jaw nee!


Happy Father's Day

To all Dads out in the universe, and to those that celebrate them - Happy Father's Day.

The Sponge Sequel

So I had another go at the sponge cake. This time I used a recipe from Donna Hay, and it would have worked out great but my pans were too large. I ended up with 2 very fluffy pancakes. But hey, now I know that had I the right pans, I would have had a sponge. We had it for breakfast this morning, smothered with black currant jam and whipped cream. Yum!

Phoebe was kind enough to send me an article on Australian Sponge Cake craft. I gather that there is a society of people who make it their business to perfect baked goods such as sponges. Very serious business, baking in Australia. There was an attached recipe for the perfect sponge, which made me laugh because I didn't recognise a bunch of the ingredients! I would have thought that all cakes were pretty similar in construction, but not so! It seems that as long as you have eggs (of any sort - as the recipe suggested ducks eggs), some sort of flour, and some sort of liquid you can have cake. This particular recipe mentions things like 'full cream custard powder' which I'm fairly sure I will never find in the US, and the aforementioned duck eggs but also requires dropping the pans before and after baking. Are they serious? Is this common practice??? I haven't had very much baking experience, but I've never heard of dropping your cake on the floor intentionally. Anyways - Thanks Phoebe for the article, it was enjoyable to read even if I stick to my own recipe!


Kitchen failures

Domestic Goddess I am not. Yesterday I had an urge to make a sponge cake. This involved: buying a cake pan, ingredients and carefully balancing naps with bake times. I used the recipe from the Domestic Goddess cookbook for the Victoria Sponge, and I thought that I followed the directions rather carefully. There was only one rocky bit when the baby wanted to eat and the cake wanted to go into the oven, well the cake sat around a little while. Which probably was a bad idea. Taking it out of the oven it was as promised, a nice golden hue and an inch or so above the rim of the pan. Mission accomplished...or so I thought. 20 minutes later, I glance into the kitchen and wonder in shock where my cake has gone. It fell completely, to about a third of its size. Although the taste was fine, the texture resembled that of a brownie; not a sponge cake at all. How disappointing. What did I do wrong? Did letting the batter sit cause it to lose all the air? Did I take it out of the oven too early and shock it? Should I not have used the food processor? (I had my doubts about that one from the start, but since Nigella said it was ok...)

And where do I go from here? Hang my head in defeat, promising never to bake another sponge again or give it another go?
I'm tempted to try again, the new Donna Hay magazine has some seemingly idiot proof sponges.
Though if it goes south again, I swear I will never bake sponge cake again.


Kickin' the dust off our shoes

Blu and I are back from our sojourn in the country. It was a wonderful trip, visiting with both Peter's parents and my own and enjoying a real summer (rather than San Francisco fog).

We arrived home last night, and this morning we walked down to the post office to pick up a package that came while I was gone.

From June in Singapore, my Backtack softie has arrived!! It was pretty exciting to receive a package from so far away. Look how many stamps it took! Here she is,

Isn't she cute? I just love her little ears, they have the perfect curve.

I'm not sure of her name yet, but I'm pretty sure she's a cowgirl bunny...somehow the back of the dress reminds me of a bandana, and paired with the black and white fabric... I think I need to make her a hat!

June also sent along a fabulous brooch for me that she made (!!!) and a bell toy for Blu which promptly went in the mouth.

And little present was paired with the cutest little cards stamped with June's handcarved stamps!

Thank you so much June! It was wonderful to be your receipent.

And now....(drumroll please!!)
Since Serena emailed me to say that her Backtack kat had arrived, I can now reveal what it was that I sent! Here she is:

I used the Pointy Kitty pattern from Wee Wonderfuls. And I thought that she turned out rather well.

And here is a close up of my favorite part:

I loved this button so much. It was very hard for me to part with. Sigh. Well I know that its gone to a good home so I can't be too sad I suppose.

So what did I do on my vacation? - well, nothing really. Which was kinda nice, and rather unavoidable since my parents live out in the middle of no where. We took walks, sat on the porch in the morning sun drinking tea, took Blu for rides in a little red wagon. Country stuff.

Each morning I would get up and my baby would be missing from my side, I'd find her out in the garden with Mom watering sitting happily in the wagon, lap and face strewn with rose petals. (I never did manage to convince Mom that roses were probably not the best thing to give her, I kept finding petals everywhere, and pollen all over her mouth.)

Mom and I would chat until her kids would arrive (my Mom is/was a Montessori teacher, and has a small community pre-preschool out of their home), and then Blu and I would go off for a nap. All before 8:30 am.

Slow internet, fuzzy television, fuzzy phone and water that never gets quite hot enough. Plenty of mosquitos, snakes and lizards. But also a ripe cherry orchard a stone's throw away, no traffic, birdsong, and warm sunrises. Even with all of the dust, it will always be home to me.

My visit home was not as productive as I had planned. I had hoped that a miracle would occur and somehow the Trellis scarf would get knit up, if I was lucky, by little elves like in the story about the shoemaker? well unsurprisingly it didn't, I barely sat down to my knitting at all. I did manage to make a batch of lime curd, a german chocolate cake (my Grandma's recipe) for my Mom's birthday and a strawberry sponge cake for Peters's but that was about the extent of my craftiness, almost.

Do you see that dress in the picture? That is Blu's octopus dress. I love it. I bought it last year when I found out I was pregnant; at about 2 months I started going compulsively into baby stores and testing the waters. You know, to see what was out there. I saw this at Gymboree and knew that my baby absolutely *needed* to wear it. While I was at home, my Mother and I sat down and set out to copy it.

Mom has been sewing her own clothes since High School. She sewed most of my clothes when I was young, decked out all of my toys, and made her wedding dress. She knows what she's doing. I, however, have no clue. So I was a bit lost. But Mom was really patient with me. She showed me how to draft the pattern, and cut out the pieces (though she made me do it!), and wrote a list of very detailed instructions for me to follow when sewing it up at home. A little scary, but not too bad...yet. I hope to finish it this week and have something to show for myself. Crossing my fingers...

If you've made it to the end of this post congratulations!!! I think it was my longest ever. and there is still more tomarrow....including some goodies received from Italy, but that's all for tonight!


A Little Break

Its exciting to see all the back-tack projects emerging. They are all very wonderful, a lot of time and effort that has blossomed into creativity. I'm looking forward to seeing the completed flickr gallery in a couple of weeks.

This has been a very busy week for us. Very out of the ordinary! Blu had a vaccination on wednesday, for whooping cough, which made her very fussy for most of the afternoon and evening. But she is so brave when she gets her shots! Of course she cries, but she also pauses mid cry to smile at the nurse and she fell asleep nearly immediately afterwards. The shots are definately more difficult for me than her. I agonize each time I give her one, wondering if it is really the right thing to do. I believe in vaccination but I have definate doubts about the mass immunization of a population, and wonder whether all of them are really necessary and at such a young age! We are spacing out her shots quite a bit, and being rather picky..but still.

Because it's Peter's birthday on monday, we have also been running around looking for the 'perfect' present. Which sadly we didn't find. We found some good substitutes though, and a fabulous anniversary gift which will just be about paid off when I pick it up in 3 months.

For his birthday we are going Home to visit his parents and mine. A long car ride, we leave tonight after traffic, but the weather up there should be beautiful and its always nice visiting family. While Pete has to come back to work on Tuesday Blu and I are going to stay with my parents and visit next week, so I won't be blogging until next weekend.

Hopefully all the rest and relaxation in the country will inspire me to knit like a whirlwind and complete the trellis scarf in time for my Mother's birthday next sunday. Unlikely, 21 lace chart repeats + a border, but you never know....

Well I'm off to pack, wrap presents and knit lace...Until next time!