Moving day!

Hello, Thanks for popping in...but I've moved.
The blog is now here.
come and visit!



I just killed my blogger template...argh.
So, I guess this is the perfect oppurtunity to announce my switch to typepad...which was going to happen soon anyways. It will just be happening sooner.

Spring break

Its Spring Break at last, and so I'm taking a computer break until next week. I have some projects to finish up, and some to start...and a vacation to go on. Finished Icarus photos soon!



This weekend we had crisp spring weather, so we took our breakfast to Golden Gate Park to see the cherry blossoms!

In Japan, cherry blossom parties called hanami (literally flower-viewing) are a national pastime. As the first signs of the blooms appear, in early late March/early April, areas in blossom are broadcast together with the TV weather report - a blossom report. Sakura bloom first in the South, in Kyushuu where it is warmer, and over a two week period the flowers move in a wave through Japan.

The best sites can get very crowded, as companies or familes picnic underneath the trees in large groups. Hanami parties are also very lively, if the videos shown in Japanese classes are anything to go by, much sake and taiyaki is consumed!

Our own little hanami was quite sedate, we were the only ones under the trees. The flowers were incredibly beautiful... in perfect bloom.

I hope that someday I will have the chance to see the Sakura in Japan, but San Francisco has very nice trees!

The flowers are shortlived, and soon fall; a metaphor for the brevity of live that has been appreciated by the Japanese for centuries. They are the basis for one of my favorite haiku which is:
That which blooms also falls,
the way of life in this world of flowers.


back on track

Did i tell you that I sewed my first button hole? It was quite an accomplishment and I was extremely proud of myself. And the effort was all in overcoming the idea that it was tricker than it actually was, which of course it wasn't. My machine, I've discovered, does them brilliantly; and all one has to do is note the length of button to be holed beforehand, and press reverse a couple of times while sewing. Amazing. The newly made button hole, and its button live on a new bib for Blu to replace one of our worn velcro ones that she loves to pull off.
I'm sorry to admit that the sight of her struggling wildly to get it off and failing gives me no small amount of pleasure.

As I was on a roll during naptime, I also took a seam ripper to the Icarus shawl. I know that sounds bad, but trust me its ok....I finally got all of the reject mohair free...and very slowly picked up the live stitches and put them back on the needles. It was amazing that I didn't manage to lose any in the process, and after counting twice there were still 523 (it takes a very very long time to count this many :-). So the new correct yarn has been attached and Icarus is back on track! I'm halfway through edging row 4, so my fingers are crossed that I can finish the row and bind off without anymore problems!


Every since our previous move, we have been storing boxes at the same house - but now that we have our own storage we have slowly been moving the boxes over, going through them and packing them away. Peter bought home a small one that said 'Ribbons' the other day, and yesterday Blu and I opened it.

I am a ribbon hoarder, so I wasn't sure exactly which box this was....
I found some lovely things that I forgot that I had, and when I finish going through it I'll show it.


laying low

I've either had a bizarre case of the stomach flu, or I've been food poisoned twice in the past 5 days...both equally unpleasant possibilites I assure you. Everything is on pause while I reconstruct life outside of my bed. The good news? Spring is here.


Life in the sun

Ah bliss! If only the weather were like this year round - I'd be in heaven. But then I'm sure that I would knit less. So maybe not.

I had midterms this week (blech..) and in the aftermath of all that hard core studying my brain kind of frizzled, and well I just haven' t been able to concentrate on anything remotely 'serious' since. The weather hasn't helped. All of this glorious sunshine makes one feel bad for being inside, so Blu and I have spent a lot of time in the park this week.

Perhaps too much, we went to Golden Gate Park yesterday and I was shocked how well she sat in her stroller on the ride over - I should have known better right? She didn't even want to get out and walk while we were there, and she napped for 2 hours while I laid on the grass under the cherry blossom trees and knit. Either she was coming down with something, or it was the heat because I realized after awhile that all of this placid behavior was very un-Blu-like ( does that tell you something about her normally?) and by the time Peter picked us up that afternoon she was looking pretty out of it. The poor babe came down with a fever and had a temperature of 102 the whole evening. That was it though...today she was back to normal,

but her school has a 24 hour fever free policy so we had to skip...a shame right? we went for a walk instead.

The kitchen has been too warm to
cook much, so its been very light meals this week...which is probably a good thing. Dinner tonight was a Vietnamese glass noodle salad with chicken, yesterday we did prawns with garlic with arugula salad. I wish that we had a grill so that we could do more but we have to make do. In a couple of weeks it will be winter again and it won't seem quite so practical

Tomorrow is farmer's market day, and I'm going to get 10 pds of navel oranges (organic for $15 - a great deal)...I only got two oranges last time and they were so sweet and juicy that I've been kicking myself all week.
And aving just discovered that we have like 2 pounds of ginger in the fridge - where does it all come from? - I need to search out some recipes to use it up...any suggestions?

Lastly: Pete's going to kill me for posting this, but he got a hair cut yesterday and its super cute!

It's a nice photo too, you can really see the color of his eyes... sorry sweetie, I just had to. I got a haircut last week, but one of the prerogatives of being the blog owner is that you don't have to share photos of oneself!


Spring Socks

I finished my self-striping lime socks! I put them on immediately showed them to Blu, who was not very impressed - and then yanked them off because its too bloody hot out to wear socks! Can you believe it? 79 today...79. Its March. I'd hate to think that we are using up our ration of Summer now....


Lime striped socks:
Yarn: Lorna's Laces sock yarn
Quantity used: 1 1/4 ball (?) - lets call it a bit more than one.
Purchased: Purl Soho, June 2006
Pattern: Knitty's Universal toe up sock pattern - Free!

Notes: They fit wonderfully. The yarn is great; very warm, but not bulky. I was knitting with bamboo dpn's and some times the yarn would split, but it didn't bother me - well not much anyways. There is probably more than 3/4 left on the second skein, so I can make Blu some socks too. I don't know that I'm sold on toe up socks though. Completing the wraps was just annoying, and I didn't pickup the heel in the tightest fashion...there are all these little holes (see picture)! I wonder how I can fix this next time?

It was difficult trying to take a picture of these in action. Someone kept trying to get in the way.


little patchworks

I've been planning to try out patchwork for a while now after seeing all the lovely things made on peoples blogs and in craftbooks. Generally patchwork is the provision of quilting, but because I have no need for a quilt (I have several wonderful ones already), I decided to start out small. So its a pincushion....with 1 cm squares. Cute, ne? There is something very soothing about putting together all of the little bits into one whole, and it doesn't have to be done in one go!
Inspired by a Japanese craftbook, an embroidery one strangely enough, I found the whole concept to be simple enough that maybe I could extend it to other things. Like cushions....we definately need some cushions around here.


A warm pot of fish.....

The blog's unintentional hiccough, due to sunny warm days outside and evenings spent studying ... has not left very much to talk about I'm afraid. We are plodding along. Our days are full. Blu, now that she is very steady on her feet, is bored with mere walking...its now all about the climbing, jumping, dancing and sliding. Our twice daily walks have become searches for the most interesting staircase to climb, the steepest driveway to run down or slide, and for the perfect size rock to hold in a little hand, occasionally licking to keep Mama interested.

It hasn't all been work though. Peter and I had the good fortune to be given some tickets to Sleeping Beauty last week, so Blu had an evening in with her Aunt and we got to feel like adults! Yeah!

Did you know that Japanese cookbooks are just as lovely as Japanese craftbooks?
I picked this one up at Kinokuniya yesterday:

It is on Nabemono, or one pot cooking, with an emphasis on simple 'weekday' meals. Fish, chicken and vegetables in a simple broth - to which rice or noodles can be added afterwards...simple and very fufilling. The pot in the picture is a hitori nabe or nabe for one person; all of the recipies have been sized with the single eater in mind....but its not so hard to extrapolate for two. This morning for lunch I made a pot of hamachi with leeks and spring onions, which I sent to school with Blu over rice. This evening, fish again - salmon this time - with mizune greens and chinese cabbage...and the broth finished off with ramen noodles. It was delicious, but I'm sure that it would be even better if I had as lovely bowls as these:

Isn't it fabulous?


make way for spring

I think we've had enough of Winter. Its a month early, and there is rain coming this week, but little by little Spring is showing itself in our house. This morning it prompted Blu and I to embark on a crusade against the accumulating toy debris, put away the well used and bring out some 'new'. I saw it later when writing my grocery list for tonight, realizing that all the recipes I had chosen were definately 'Spring-ish' ones - with flavors of lime, honey and tyme and not a stew in sight. I think it must have started last week, when after waiting for at least a month the first rhubarb appeared in the market...

I adore rhubarb. It is my second favorite fruit (after pomegranates) and I have wonderful memories of my mother stewing it with strawberries and honey for me when I was young. Its clean tartness promotes a feeling of 'Spring' that few other things can match. I bought all I could and yesterday it realized itself in the form of a Rhubarb Grunt (from How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson) - a grunt being a variety of quintessential American baked fruit dessert similar to a cobbler or crisp.

We ate it for breakfast, Blu had it for lunch, and then finished it for dessert in the evening with cream. I hope tonight there is more available at the store...so I can do it again. Even if it is still February, rhubarb makes it Spring for me!


a little bit of inspiration

Seen the pictures on flickr of the Tokyo International Quilt show?? All I can say is...wow and more wow. Check them out here if you haven't had the chance.




Submitted to Whipup : Whiplash catagory #1 - Creative use of normal household waste.
Used: recycled sheet, thread

I really like the idea of smocks. For its history, as a garment that functionally protects ones 'real' clothes, and for its extreme cuteness. I read once, although I can't remember where, that a typical wardrobe for girl before the 20th century consisted of one regular pair of clothes, one set for church and several smocks for everyday wear. I suppose that as the cost of clothing has dropped exponentially over the years, and as so many of us have so much of it, smocks no longer serve the purpose that they once did. But still, they are really cute... and as babies seem allergic to bibs they are the perfect food fight foil. Plus they have the added bonus of showing that in fact, yes - your baby is a girl, even though she may not be covered in pink or have enough hair to be self evident.

Inspired by Amanda's fabulous gnome smock, and these two from craftbooks:

I made this:

The fabric is from a thrifted sheet, which I like because its reversible.

Its so funny how these things are sewn, inside out and backwards - all pieces together until it looks like a jumbled mess, but then you turn it out through a little hole, and ta da! its all finished. Amazing. I wonder is it just the Japanese patterns that are like that, or Western patterns too (I haven't sewn any yet...)?

Anyways it fits her - with room to grow....

and since it only took 3 naps and 1 after-bedtime to cut and sew I think that we will be making some more...


Is it really Friday?

No, its not....but when thinking of this post I thought it was. Its Thursday, and I'm surfacing for air and a quick look around.

The new semester has struck and Blu and I are back to our commute.... and I have noticed that the closer I get to finishing my degrees, the more distant I feel from the end result. After doing this for so long it will be very strange to actually finish, but thats still ages away.

For now, the classes I'm taking this semester are very wordy...and I'm taking my first Japanese class since Blu was born. I'm behind, as I expected, but was pleased to note that I could still understand my Sensei just fine...I might actually do alright.

Here's where I've been this week:
  • Remembering how to read
  • Learning that Aragon was not just from LOTR
  • Spending alot of time looking at fonts...
  • Finding a really good recipe for Teriyaki Chicken...
  • Drooling over this
  • Trying to do a little yoga (Blu likes to do Downward facing dog with me!)
I haven't lost my resolutions with the loss of my vacation, in fact they have been reaffirmed. Blu's jacket was just the beginning! Several hours were spent trying to re-string stitches on the Icarus shawl...I didnt' make much progress though...there are 570 stitches. I also cast on another green sock like this one. There was a resolution for no new projects I know, but socks don't count right??

I've also taught myself how to crochet with the help of this book,

and some tips from my Mother.
My Mother always crocheted, not anything in particular, just little squares on occassion or things for my toys. But she recently taught herself to knit, and since I've always knitted and never understood crochet we are trading tips. Its fun. This book? Very fun. Here is some more:


Blogger is being odd...

The new blogger is doing something odd where I can't see a persons return email address when they comment, so I can't reply... has anyone else experienced this?


Blu's Cabled Jacket is finished. Can you believe that I did it? If it takes me this long to knit a baby sweater, than I think that Pete's going to have white hair before I finish his!

The Details:
Cabled Jacket from The Baby Knits book by Debbie Bliss.
Yarn: 6 balls of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino purchased on Ebay.
Buttons: Liberty Print, handmade.
Start to Finish: Febuary 05 - January 06.
Notes: Ok, Ignoring the fact that it took me 10 months to sew down some pockets and find some buttons, this was a pretty fast knit. It was fun to knit because it was easy but not mindless due to the seed stitch and the cables.
The yarn was..well, it was so-so. It was disappointing to find that the dye job was incomplete on some of the balls, there are actually 2 or 3 white undyed stitches. They aren't terribly noticable but I feel ripped off because I was assured that this yarn wasn't 'seconds'. I definately won't ever buy yarn from ebay again.
And why is it that Debbie Bliss' patterns are always so odd? Don't get me wrong, the sweater is cute but I'm pretty sure (I dont remember because of course I didn't write it down) that I was knitting this for a 6 mo. old. It fits her perfectly right now, with a bit of room around the middle. She would have been swimming in it at 6 months.

This was the first cabled pattern that I've done, and I found it to be pretty simple to cable without a needle as long as you are not trying to do something else - like hold a baby - at the same time. It bugs me that all the cables twist the same direction. Had I more cabling experience at the outset, I would have twisted the lefthand cables the other direction. But it didn't bother me enough do it again.

I also found the pattern to have way too many button holes, it looks so busy... I think that 5 would have been enough. Oh well, next time. I never did find suitable buttons, these I made from some of my precious Liberty fabric...and when the sweater is too small they are coming off and going on something else, for me. I love them, and after all the knitting they are my favorite part of the sweater. Blu loves them too, she doesn't believe me when I said that they aren't edible. Everytime I put the sweater on her she tries very hard to yank them off and eat them. Maybe she won't wear it after all.


Tourists at home - Pt 2

This post has been simmering for a couple days... our tourist adventures have continued; this time with the camera.

Wednesday we went to the Park, with a capital P. Golden Gate Park has to be the best place to go for a walk with a baby, if only it wasn't so far! It took us 2 trains to get there, one of which broke down, but we stayed all day. First stop was the Botanical Gardens, where Blu got out and practiced her walking while we had lunch. The gardens are one of my favorite places in the city, and I can remember going with my Mom when I was very small as well. Its free to all and open everyday, its dog free which is a nice change but you have to beat back the squirrels with a stick; they have been fed too much.

Peter told me that the Botanical Gardens remind him of the ones in Melbourne, maybe thats because they have a native plants of Australia and New Zealand section..

Initially, having never seen a squirrel before Blu was rather curious..likewise the squirrels felt positive that we had something for them too eat and fearlessly ventured close. But after one jumped up on the bench at the spot where Blu was hanging over the back, a squirrels approach caused her to shriek in terror so we had to move on.

Close by is the new De Young museum, and the future Academy of Sciences (which by the way is going to be awesome!!). Some people really don't like the new building as it is very modern, but I think its kind of cool. Its made of copper, and so will weather organically as it is exposed over time to the elements. Already some parts are beginning to turn green. Plus (and this I admit is pretty geekish) it reminds me of the pyramids levels in Mario Bros. 3 for Super Nintendo...because its kind of megalithic and has palm trees...anyways, it makes me smile.

I was planning just to have a cup of tea at the cafe and read, but Blu fell asleep and a load table of corporate types scared me away. So I wandered through the museum for 30 minutes or so and caught some of the highlights. Its in between exhibits so there wasn't too much to linger on.

We ended up at the Conservatory of Flowers.

Its a gigantic hothouse, they have tropical plants from all over the world, a butterfly room where you can stand surrounded by hundreds of butterflys and even an orchid room specializing in high elevation orchids from the Andes Mountains. Even better, its like 85 degrees year round. I didn't go inside, Blu was still napping and I didn't feel like tackling any more stairs but its a really really nice place to visit. Just sayin..

So ends our second day of touring our city. At home that evening, Blu was so worn out she went to bed at 7! I followed soon after....


Tourists at home

Blu and I have been playing tourists this week, our last week of winter vacation before school starts on Wednesday. I've been trying to head further afield than neighborhood for things to do so we have been very busy. San Francisco has a reputation for being a very kid unfriendly town, and while I have certainly experienced this, this week I found that it is possible to find things to do with children that don't involve sitting in the park or lots of money.

Blu was a surprisingly complacent traveller, a godsend because at times we spent 45minutes on trains or waiting. I discovered that as long as I gave her snacks she would sit in her stroller much longer than I would have expected.

Our first outing was Tuesday, we hiked up the hill to the Randall Museum. I had heard about this from another Mom of a one year old as a good place to take toddlers. Aside from the massive hill - it would be really convienent to have a car for this one - it was. Situated above the Castro the Randall Museum is a hands on natural history center. It does classes on weekends and for school groups in art and ceramics and has a toddler rooms and rotating exhibits. The current one was on honey bees. There were gigantic models of bees flapping wings, protecting the nest, larvae - these were a bit freaky like 4 foot white slug plushes - and interactive hives and bee dances... Blu loved it and spent a long time flapping the bee's wings up and down. What a great place, and the best part? Its free.



Playing around with some new template changes today, not sure if I like it or not...
What do you think?

*Edit 1-25: Thanks for the comments, I too like the minimalist scheme but I don't think that this is "it" yet. And I'm not so sold on the red on the sidebar so I think that that is going to go....



Doing some research tonight and I came accross this in Flickr's use disclaimer:


Its really bizarre, but I suppose that it wouldn't be above some people to sue after suffering from a fit while scrolling through photos.



It took some effort, and some intense bribery, but I got the video...
Here she is taking hesitant steps...
This stage is already going, everytime she stands she goes a litle farther, a little more steady...
She is growing fast, no?


being upright

Blu has been making a concerted effort to practice her walking today. Her highest count was 14 steps, with a little snowballing run at the end. I have been desparately trying to get a good video clip of some steps, but everytime she sees the camera she stops. Argh! I swear, I will have video in the near future.

I'm trying to make good on my New Years resolutions this year, at least during January... I think most New Years Resolutions turn out to be January Resolutions don't they? Anyways short duration aside, one of my resolutions was to finish what I've started. This is a big one for me as I'm prone to starting many many things - books, projects, assignments...- and forgetting about them half way, the projects on my sidebar being a good example :-). I'm really trying to make good on this one, no new knitting (or sewing for that matter), until all started knitting is finished. Well, I may cast on a sock but that really doesn't count does it? And I got such pretty yarn for Christmas too!! But I'm determined, I will finish. In that spirit, I've picked up Blu's Cabled Jacket again.

One side, sleeve and pocket seam to go, but I think I might have block it again. You know what? I think it might still fit her, amazing as that is. I'm chalking it up to the stretchy weight of cotton, and not my laziness in matching row gauge.

I also got this in the mail this week:

Ordered from Purlsoho so that I can finally finish the Icarus shawl for my Mother, that is if I can bear to pick it up again. You might ask why I bought two skeins when I only need to knit 2 rows (Yes, Peter that would be you), and the simple answer would be just in case. Honestly, I originally bought this yarn to knit something for Me, so this is just a sort of stash reimbursement....
The pretty fabric sitting underneath the yarn will become pajama pants for me and Blu when the new project ban is lifted, its already washed and ready to go.

And to distract you from my lack of promised video and interesting content, I will send you to Yarn Harlot (if you haven't been already) where you can see the amazing power of knitters en mass. And if you have spare change and feel like being an upright human being, it is IMHO a very worthy cause. When I went to the actual website early in December, I had the strong urge to tell everybody I knew that for Christmas I wanted the approximate value of my gifts donated instead. It was only a momentary urge, otherwise I would have no new yarn, or fabric, or cookbooks....but I still hope to donate something. And I'm not above laying on some guilt and saying you should too.


More Effort

Sometimes it takes a little more effort to achieve what usually happens effortlessly.
I'm trying to keep this in mind this week as it has been a bit of an uphill battle, literally.

We have been having such nice weather that we went to the park both yesterday and today. Blu's cold seemed to be improving and we were feeling a bit pent up inside the house. Because I usually take the bus to get to the park on the top of the hill I decided not to take a stroller, but to wrap the baby to my chest instead. In retrospect, I don't think that I will do that again. There is only one bus that does this route because its pretty remote, so we usually spend at least 10 minutes waiting. Its a bit of a gamble. After pulling all the tricks I could think of to keep Blu still while waiting for the bus, it came - going the wrong direction of course. Rather than wait with the fidgety baby for another 15 minutes I started trekking up the hill on foot. This is a really, really long hill - 10 or 11 blocks, up and up and up....

I stripped off my coat about half way up. The diaper bag was getting pretty heavy by then too, so I slung it along my chest. Now I felt like a pack mule, or a bag lady, baby strapped to my front and bag across my back huffing and puffing up the hill. .We got some odd looks...but Blu didn't notice, she fell asleep shortly thereafter.

The view from about 3/4 of the way up nearly makes up for the sweaty hike.

The bus passed us at that point.

We had lunch at the top, and played awhile but it was very windy and Blu was very irritable after only having a 20 minute nap, so we came home pretty soon - by bus this time. We must have looked a mess on the way home, Blu had lost a sock somewhere along the way and was shrieking at having to be carried for so long ( I usually can't rewrap her once we are out becuase the wrap trails on the ground) and I was a bit frazzled and tired from the climb.
The moral of this story? Mama should always take a stroller, and try to be prepared for the unexpected.

Today Peter drove us to the park, and everyone was very happy.

The End.