Monday, March 30, 2009


I have been in this apartment exactly three years, seven months, and three days. It's been a good time -- the longest I've lived in one place as an adult. And although I like the place itself, I'm not down with the roommate thing any longer. It's time to grow up, time to be on my own, time for change. *nods resolutely*

Moving is one of the biggest change-bringers that can happen to someone (or that someone can enact), don't you think? Knowing that, and knowing myself, signing a one-year lease brought my commitment issues to the fore. But now that it's signed, I am -- ironically -- feeling quite free. The lease will automatically become a month-to-month contract after one year so I'll still have the option of continuing to live in the apartment. But I will also have the freedom to find another place if I feel like it, or if life moves me elsewhere. In that regard, the one-year lease has come to feel like a countdown.

Before I start, however, I feel it fitting to post about the place I'm leaving. I dug around in my photo archives and found these from last year. I took them to post on Craigslist when I was looking for a new roommate. And because I always limit my CL searches to the ones with photos, I did my best to take photos that I'd want to see if I were looking for a place. What do you think? If you saw these pics, would you want to live here (or at least see the place)?


Living room - The sofa and coffee table that I lurve. (My brother is keeping the matching loveseat for me.) The square table is from Ikea and was my former dining table, until I decided that my guests and I need more back support! The leopard pillows were sewn by my BFF, Myko. The octagon table was inherited from another BFF, M2. The lamp is stolen a gift from my parents. The zabuton (floor cushion) and dish are from Japan. So nice to be surrounded by the things one loves!


The LR from another angle. Those eastern windows bring in a lot of morning light! Here you can see my dad's flatscreen, which is such a delicious upgrade from my old TV (covered in sarongs in the corner, and since given away), both in appearance and resolution quality. Over to the left you'll see the microwave and toaster oven on a cart (w/o wheels) to free up counter space in the kitchen. I sold them all to my roommate when we parted ways. I now have a hand-me-down toaster oven, but am trying to live microwave-free. The red and white bag is really strong because it's made of woven packing strips! I got it in Vietnam. It's the best thing for carrying beers and bottles of wine.


From the LR looking into the dining area and kitchen. The dining set is the only furniture I've ever purchased. I got it from Craigslist. Unfortunately, it's a reproduction and not a vintage 50s set. I also got the bike from CL; it's from the early 70s, older than me! Maybe one day I'll actually ride it...


Here's a view from the entrance, looking through the kitchen into the dining area. It was hard to really have any sort of theme in this space since I couldn't do anything with the cabinets, but I appreciated that they were plain (no hardware or carving). I accented all the brown by lining the shelves in red (even though it was't visible), putting a red rug under the sink, and having a red kettle and red towel rack. Brown and red is a nice combo.

I'm looking forward to the new configuration of these pieces in my new apartment.  And I'm looking forward to the fresh start of moving.  See you there!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Hunt for housing

When I moved in to my current apartment, my then-roommate handled everything.  Her brother had found the ad in the paper; she and her mother called, went to see it, and spoke to (i.e. schmoozed) the manager; there was another appointment so that I could see it; and within the next week, we'd signed the lease.

Three and a half years--and three and a half roommates--later, I've learned a lot about living with another person.  After deciding to part ways with my current roommate at the end of January, embarking on finding a place for just me has been exciting indeed.  I admit, however, that there has been a pretty steep curve to climb in regards to apartment searching, and there have been days where I felt on the verge of a major stress rash.

In retrospect, I do regret asking My Supernova to start the serious hunt with me on my birthday.  What a tiring--nay, exhausting--day!  Though we knew the area we were searching in well, after a while all the addresses and phone numbers blurred together.  We looked at nearly a dozen places, with no good leads.  In fact, we saw quite a range of apartments and met a variance of personalities in the way of managers and owners.  The biggest lesson I learned was that as much as I am trying to prove myself a good tenant in order to "win" the apartment, I also need to make sure that the place fits my needs well beyond the basics of space, location, and budget. 

Though I was online obsessively, the physical search took about two weeks.  Still, it was a stressful two weeks, in which I felt like I aged a year!  In the end, I found a place that I think fits the bill.  It's a one-bedroom apartment (I thought I could live in a studio until I saw the ones available), which gives me some room to separate living, sleeping, and eating.  Locationally, it's less than a mile from my current place--which means change, but not drastic change:  I am still on the same bus line and still within easy reach of my parents' and brothers' homes.  Also, the owners are local, and seem both easygoing and attentive.

The lease is signed! 

I've been packing and cleaning my apartment (which accounts for by absence from blogging) and doing my best to enjoy my remaining time there.  And, I'm getting ready for a spring break trip (planned long ago).  Lots to do by month's end!  

I am really looking forward to living on my own again, yet I know that I don't always take well to change -- even that of my own doing.  So there will be many lessons to learn and many ways in which to grow during this next season.  Wishmeluck!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Knitting For Me: First FO!

Been plugging away at the Shetland Shorty, and it got done a couple of weeks ago.  And I've actually worn it!  I've been knitting for a several years now, but this is probably the very first successful garment I've knit for myself.  Just call me a late bloomer...

shetlandshortyIn any case, once I reestablished a feel for the pattern it was easy going.  There are tons of modifications--not because I'm one of those genius pattern tweakers or customizers, but just to work around the mistakes I made without having to frog any more than necessary!  Looking at the various versions and notes on Ravelry helped me make the biggest change, which was knitting only 12 repeats of the Birds Eye Lace pattern for the left and right fronts (instead of the 17 prescribed for the XS size).  I figured it out by trying it on, as best as possible, while knitting.

When I rejoined the yarn, I realized that I'd mixed up the front and back, I knit the neckline and front edging in reverse garter (purl every row).  Because of that, I knit one extra row before binding off so that the bind-off edge would show on the right side of the garment.  You'd think a body couldn't mess up on simply purling, but somewhere along that part I managed a dozen or so knit stitches, which went unnoticed until I was weaving in the ends.  Oh well.  Thank goodness I'm not that much of a perfectionist!  And besides, the flaw is on the wrong side; from the right side you can't really tell.  So I'm not showin' where it is!


What I will show you is how much yarn I had leftover.  What a relief, after having woried that I'd totally run out!  At the beginning, I tried to conserve by knitting only seven of the nine garter rows for the lower band and ties.  I don't know how much that would have helped, but in the end it really came down to knitting five less repeats on the left and right fronts. 

I love this shrug!  It fits comfortably, and both color and pattern add a cheerful pop and some texture to my mostly-darks-and plain wardrobe.  I also like that it's a bit longer on me, not tied right below the bust.  My younger brother, the art student and one of the most stylish people I know, was surprised to hear I'd knit it myself.  He said it looks like I bought it, and expensively.  Huzzah!

Here are the specs:

Pattern:  Shetland Shorty (Gundrun Johnston for Knitty, Summer 2008)

Yarn: Hand Maiden Sea Silk, Pumpkin

Needles: US3 Addi turbo circular, US4 aluminum straight

I took advantage of a day off and the morning light to take a couple of additional photos.  To tell you that Shetland Shorty is my most successful garment requires me to show you my past failures.  These were worn after they were completed, but due to dissatisfaction on various points, have, over time, been demoted to the back and bottom of the drawer.  I thought I'd post and talk about them now, before they get frogged.


First we have the Apricot Jacke from Rebecca 27, which was, incidentally, my very first sweater (finished in 2006).  It's a lovely sweater, but I think my first mistake was yarn choice.  GGH Samoa is 50% cotton and 50% microfiber, which is great for the machine washability, but does not have the "pullback" of wool, which is obvious especially at the elbows.  The other major flaw is the sagginess of the arms, which you can see pretty clearly in the photo.  I learned a lot, through this, about knowing my own measurements and knitting garments to fit me (what a concept).

I adore the pattern too much (and forked out too much money to get it) to go without this sweater, so it will be knit again, in either a wool or wool blend yarn, and fully taking into account the lessons I learned the first time around. 


Next up we have the Spring Fling cardigan, also finished in 2006.  I'd wanted an openwork cardigan to stave the blast of the A/C at the office, which had me bundled up like it was winter in high summer.  Like the Apricot Jacke, my initial mistake was yarn choice (hmm, is a pattern emerging here?).  I used Baruffa Aerobic, a 100% merino wool that ended up too warm, despite the open pattern.  I also had problems with width, which were exacerbated when the cardi was blocked and the lace really stretched out.  You can't really see it too clearly in the photo, but the arms are really baggy and bunchy, uncomfortably so.

Were I to knit this sweater again, I'd also add a proper band around the neckline and down the fronts (although it's not in the original pattern).  I did add one row of crochet, thinking it would stabilize the edge more, but, unfortunately, that didn't quite do the job.

I was so discouraged at those two failed sweaters that I haven't even attempted one for three years!  I don't know that you could call the Shetland Shorty a comparable project, but I put it in the same category because it's for me.  With the high from this success and the resolution made at the beginning of the year to knit for myself--not to mention a few more years of knitting experience to back me up--I am exited to begin to knit a sweater for myself again.  Here's to future successes!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Another year older

It's a funny thing to say that my birthday kind of snuck up on me this year because, well, the date never changes.  My friends and DC had actually been asking me what restaurant to go to and what I wanted to do for weeks leading up to it (a Friday this year, no less), but I couldn't think of any place, and I could think of only one thing that I really wanted  to do: go apartment hunting (more on this in anther post).

msngiftDC surprised me by actually starting off on the day before my birthday, leaving this cute succulent for me to find after work.  He even cut little hearts out and taped them to the vase (awww...)!  You can't see it from the photo, but the top leaves are variegated green and white, with pink tips: so cute!    I'd been wanting a succulent for a while, so it was the perfect gift.

Then, on the day itself (March 6) he presented me with various gifts throughout, when we took breaks from apartment searching.  I was totally spoiled!

One of the gifts was a little stuffed teddy bear, from where he works, which says, "Someone at ***** loves me." Cheesy, also but totally adorable!


Later in the afternoon I opened yet another couple of gifts: a light and a compass, both suitable for my keychain.  No longer will I have to carry my heavy mini Maglight in my bag!  And I will always know what direction I'm going, which will be especially useful in Orange County because I'm always, always lost there.  But DC's reason for gifting them to me was to prepare me for camping!  We'll see, friend, we'll see...


These types of everyday gifts are the best ones for me because I get to use the gift and, in turn, think of the gift-giver, on a daily basis. But moreover, they're items I wouldn't necessarily go out and buy for myself.  So: I'm very grateful.

In the evening we went to Camilo's in Eagle Rock: a place I'd heard of and been meaning to try, but hadn't gotten around to yet.  It was a nice treat!  I liked the decor of the place (we sat in a cozy corner, near the faux fireplace?), service was good, and we had an excellent, romantic meal.  I ordered a penne dish and went on a limb to eat the olives and red peppers in the dish as much as possible; DC had the evening's fish special, and declared it, "Excellent."


During the apartment hunt I requested a pit stop at the local yarn store (LYS) because we were just a couple blocks away.  I picked up a couple self-birthday treats (but really, I was redeeming a store credit that I'd had for nearly a year).  The spring issue of Interweave knits is one of the best I've seen in a while; I like the cover sweater, the ruffle halter, a shrug/sweater, and the shawls featured (sorry I don't recall any of the names).  The yarn is a laceweight cotton made by Araucnia, out of which I plan to knit a summer scarf/shawl.

Over the weekend we had dinner at the izakaya side of Shin Sen Gumi in Fountain Valley, another place I'd seen but never eaten at.  Despite the LONG wait (though pehaps typical for SoCal), I had a good meal with good friends.

Here are a couple of other gifts I received this year, which I totally love.  From my BFF Myko: beer, a purse, and an ecobag (she knows me so well)!  And from Jaxs, a set of napkins and some salve (from Anthopologie, a treat!).

mykogift   bdaynaps

The following Monday during our family dinner, Mom prepared a special dish to celebrate both my brother and me.  It was nice to end such a delightful and busy weekend with an intimate, home-cooked meal.

One year, I'll love myself enough to throw me a large party and invite a lot of people.  I've given myself until 35 to do that.  In the meantime, I'm entirely happy with a birthday celebration like the one I just had.  Thanks, friends and fam, for the company, gifts, food, and lovin'!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Birthday brother

Not to discount the celebrations of friends in the first two months of  the year, but March and April see a flurry (or, perhaps, a fury!) of birthdays within my circle of friends.  My work anniversary also happens to coincide with my brother's birthday.  Instead of some of my bubble thoughts about the former, however, I have chosen to share some photos of the birthday dinner.

jonesin'The night started off casually enough, with friends *just happening* to stop by my brother's place.  He was innocently happy to see his friends dropping by, on his birthday no less, while his girlfriend, Jaxs, opening the door and welcoming all, whispered, "He'll get it sooner or later."

It took the gathering to reach nearly a dozen people for him to realize that it was not simply happenstance, and once the light bulb went on we were off to West Hollywood, where dinner reservations awaited.  Her first choice, a place called Gjelina, having difficulty accommodating our entire party, Jaxs chose a place called Jones Cafe.

It was an interesting place:  a mixture of a pretty happening bar area (esp. for a weeknight, and in this economy!), and a pretty good restaurant.  The crowd was eclectic, with parties from older families to young artsy-types.  I guess our group added to the mix, too!

The food was much better than I'd expected.  The decor made the restaurant look like a pizza place, but the menu was much more extensive.  We tasted a range of dishes, from spaghetti with homemade meatballs to salmon to pizza; and I ordered the red snapper evening special.  Delish!

img_1617   img_1629   img_1633

We topped the night off passing around the birthday dessert: apple pie.  But it was all about the brown sugar and butter drizzled all around the plate, plus the vanilla ice cream.  *da bomb*

It's over a week later and I still haven't even gone out to get the gift I've been wanting to give my brother.  Lots has been happening on all fronts--my own birthday celebration included!  Back with more in a bit!

Happy birthday, G'zilla!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Twice trippin'

Two road trips in as many weeks will leave one with a lot to tell, I declare!  In a nutshell: many miles traversed, many laughs, and much food and wine consumed.

My first trip to Fresno proved successul on many accounts.  Like I said, I got to see my DC's hometown, including the old elementary and high schools, houses lived in, and even the hospital in which he was born (and where his mother still works)!  And I must have done something right, because the folks dug up old footage of the violin- and viola-playing (and contest-winning) days.  It was adorable!  DC's dad seemed to have more of a tickle as we watched, laughing over bygone fashion and hairstyles.  Then came karaoke--which allowed me to score a few bonus points (thanks to those years living in Japan).  One of the best parts of the trip was Sunday morning brunch.  I'd sung the praises of brunch and the self-serve waffle bar of college days, and then awoke to find that DC's mother had pulled out their old waffle machine and run to the store for batter mix and fresh berries.  It was such a treat, and I felt truly, truly blessed.  As if that couldn't be beat, the folks presented me with an early birthday present, since they won't be down when my actual birthday comes.  It was, really, the sweetest thing.

fresno goodies

Don't think I left the agricutural heartland without any homegrown goodness.  We stopped by a local specialty shop to stock up on goodies for me to take back to fam and friends.  The Sierra Nut House is such a cool place!  I chose Jordan Almonds for my dad (his favorite), ginger candy for mom, cantaloupe candy, mixed nuts and berries, and dried cranberries for myself, a treat to sprinkle onto salads (and a substantial difference in freshness compared to what you can get at the supermarket).  Yum!

In addition to that, the entire family called, searched, and brought me to a local yarn store!  Janna's Needle Art was a great store, full of a variety of yarn, a table full of laughing ladies, and a very cute poodle.  Of course I had to get something.  After a lot of ogling I chose a skein of sock yarn in a purply color that I don't have much of in stash--and that DC's mother liked.  I'm going to knit her a pair of socks.  I later found out from the proprietess that it was dyed by a friend of hers.  So I am glad I chose something unique and local.

fresno yarn2   fresno yarn

Neither of the photos above shows the beauty and depth of the yarn's variegatedness, but I'm including both as examples of the effects of light and background on photography (something I'd like to learn about properly).  The one on the left was taken in natural morning light; the one on the right was taken at night by (harsh) flourescent light.

Unfortunately, I'm unable to share some of the more interesting photos I took of on-the-road scenery because the files are way too big.  It was a bit of a gray weekend, but I had some cool shots of the ribbonlike car lights along the grapevine, fruit orchards in bloom, and snow on nearby hills (it's been chilly!).


I remembered to change the camera settings for last weekend's road trip to Phoenix, but ended up not taking so many photos.  I also brought along some knitting, but hardly got to it, despite six hours on the road each way.  DC and I hardly even had any music on; we just talked and enjoyed each other's company.  I managed one photo shoot for the socks, though.  The camouflage blends right in with the desert scene!

In Phoenix we stayed with DC's friends and had dinner with each of their parents the two nights we were there.  On Saturday afternoon we went to visit an old college friend of mine, who I hadn't seen in years.  I finally got to meet her husband and her younger son, who is now two!  He and his older brother (now a very precocious five-year-old) are the cutest!  It was the greatest type of weekend--full of friends and families.

This was the first real roadtrip for DC and me (he says Fresno doesn't count); and it really solidified that we are good travellers and good companions.  Which is great news.  I'm looking forward more and more to our upcoming trip to Washington, D.C.  And we're planning another roadtrip to the Bay Area for later in the summer.  It's nice not to always travel alone!


A couple days of focused knitting on the bus and I am already further along than this picture, snapped yesterday morning.  One great thing about the pattern is that it lends to ease of row-counting.  I go by "section" as my ribbing shifts back and forth, so the going along is quick.  Huzzah!  I've finished both short-row heels and have moved on to the leg cuffs, which means these babies will be done, blocked, and ready to give well in advance of my dad's birthday.

Two road trips in as many weekends is as much as a girl can handle.  We did indeed have a good time, but I like that we will be at home the next few weekends.  There's much going on and much to be done before we take off again.  I'll come up for air here every now and again to keep you posted!