Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Working field trip

It's kinda nice that we get to go on field trips as part of work.  A couple of weeks ago I went to the Academy for the first time for their anime exhibit (of course they had some of my fave!).  Today, we went to the Pacific Asia Museum.  And I remembered my camera -- huzzah!

PAM main entrance[looking in from the street]

This museum is such a cozy place.  I hadn't been here for a few years at least, so was glad to be reminded of how quaint it is (as opposed to the monstrosity of LACMA, which is so far away in addition to being such a large space to navigate).  It used to be a residence, so I guess that makes sense.

PAM courtyard[garden courtyard]

The inner courtyard is a great area.  There's tons of plants as well as a koi pond with the most darling lotus in bloom.  The last time I was here was for an exhibition they did on sake.  I went on reception night, when they had set up many tables for sake tasting.  It's a very good private event or party venue.

My coworkers and I came specifically came today to see the current exhibit called, "The Samurai Re-imagined: From Ukiyoe to Anime."  Although my anime is about ninja, I can understand the bushido (way of the warrior) philosophy that is threaded throughout it, as it is in many other manga and anime.  Having lived in Japan and experienced its culture firsthand, seeing the modern manifestations of those old themes increases my emotional attachment to these sorts of things.  Here, I like the contrast of the samurai armor with the plastic robotic and fantastically imagined figurines...


DSC08577   DSC08579

... as well as the muted colors of ancient scrolls and washi paintings against the pop of printer's colors and larger-than-life silhouettes.


DSC08588   DSC08587

We continued through galleries of Silk Road arts and textiles, images of the Hindu god Ganesha, and ceramics from all over Asia.  They were all so intricate and beautiful!  These are only two of the many shots I took.

We were lucky to have been guided through the gallery space by the Executive Director as well as the Curator.  It was an insider's view and explanation of space, budgetary constraints, and vision for and philosophy of the museum that we wouldn't necessarily get as everyday visitors.  The curator talked about how they hung one of the kimonos they had on display, and the technicalities of displaying those items, as well as obi and scroll.  He talked about them like ordinary objects -- which, I suppose, is what they are.  They just seem magnified in value and importance behind such a large piece of glass, don't they?!

It was a nice visit.  The last few images I took capture some more of the details and textures that I love so much about Asian things.  I took these in the gift shop and outside!  If only I could actually afford one of the amazing shelves and cabinets on which all the wares are displayed!  For now I'll just ogle:




What a great way to start the workday!  Hope you've had a good one, too!


It was so hot last week that I couldn't muster up the energy to cook at high heat or eat a really hot meal.  Thank goodness I had some somen on hand!  Here's how my Japanese mother taught me how to cook somen noodles:


  1. Heat water until it comes to a running boil.

  2. Add somen (coveniently pre-wrapped into one- or two-serving bundles); stir occasionally.

  3. Add one more cup of water and leave until the pot comes to boil again.*

  4. Turn off stove, remove and drain somen.

  5. Wash somen under cold running water by rubbing a handful at a time between your hands.  (It's pretty sturdy and can take it!)*

You can purchase the tsuyu (dipping sauce) either condensed or straight.  I prefer to buy the condensed because I can dilute it to taste.  I like to put the prepared somen over ice and a bit of water, then dip it into the tsuyu in a separate sauce dish.  Since it carries some of the water from the bowl over to the sauce, this way of eating somen is itself a sort of natural diluting method.  Lovely, too, and more substantial, with eggs (make an omelet and slice it very thinly, like the cucumber above), kamaboko (fish paste cake), and chopped green onion.  (But I was too lazy. I had mine with a beer instead.)


* These are the additional steps I learned from my Japanese mother.  Heretofore, I'd been making somen like I make my pasta (which our family Italian-American friend taught us how to do).  She says that adding the water ensures that it will cook all the way and dilutes some of the film on the noodles, and washing it ensures that it's, well, uhm, clean.   I don't know how much of a different it really makes in the overall taste, but what I've learned of Japan is that it's all in the details, so I'm glad to know (and apply) them when I can! (^o^)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Real life

These days DC is on his summer researching and writing schedule, and is thus spending more time at his place -- which means that I have reverted back to my nocturnal and "spread out" ways.  So much for pretty posed shots, friends.  Today I show you how I really live!  Are you ready?!

Cleanliness-wise, DC and I are pretty much the same.  However, he is much, much tidier than me.  For him, everything has its place, from whence it comes when needed and is returned when not in use.  Not so much with me.  I am working on so many different projects (chores, duties) at once, and I like to have  it all in arm's reach.  And I'm okay with piles.  In witness thereof:


Days apart from DC are those that I give over openly and nearly entirely to my hobbies (the one's he's not so interested in) -- namely, knitting and ninjas.  Here I am winding yarn for a new project, while watching my favorite anime series with my laptop hooked up to the flatscreen (no messing around here!).  Perfect, especially with no-thinking stockinette stitch!  Now, all I need to figure out is how to hook the audio so it comes out of my flatscreen, and not the wimpy laptop speakers.  My brother got me the audio cable, and I plugged the red and white ends into the flatscreen (Audio in section) and the other end into the earphone jack on my laptop, but no luck.  Any tech-savvy helpers out there?

laundry[Good thing I can't afford that Eames LCW chair yet -- lots of room for the drying rack and ironing board!]

I also use the time apart to do my more time-consuming chores.  Like laundry.  And hand washing.   And air drying.  And ironing.  Goodstuff.

Don't be afraid, friends!  It doesn't stay this way for (too) long.  The apartment blows up during the week, but I'll make sure to do a thorough clean (dusting, sweeping, taking out the garbage, etc.) before the weekend.  Because I feel like weekends are their own entities.  So they deserve their own space for a new mess. 

 Onwards to more productive lazy days!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Renegade Craft Fair SF

I'd emailed J+B about the Renegade Craft Fair when I found out about it, so it was a definite To-Do item on our itinerary.  We powered up Sunday morning with an awesome homecooked brunch, and geared up for the ride there.  Helmet, gloves, backpack, practicing braking and setting off... and a bright sweater so B could easily glance back and make sure I was still there!


Let me tell you, riding a bicycle in San Francisco is very different from doing the same in the countryside of Japan or the mostly-bikes metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City!  It was a bit daunting riding alongside so many cars -- thank goodness for bike lanes! -- but very satisfying, especially on such a nice day, and even more so as we zipped by all those cars (and brake lights) along Embarcadero.


The craft fair itself was poppin'.  There were a lot of booths and a ton of artsy people all around.  Seeing it all in person, I really appreciated the hard work that went into organizing the event, as well as the artists' creativity and *pluck* in setting up each of their own display areas.  It was cool to see some of the booths of people I've seen on blogs or Etsy -- good to "discover" that they are people, after all!


I was hoping to find buttons for my Forecast sweater, but saw "completed crafts" more than "craft supplies." I noticed lots of baby items.  Perhaps I've got baby on the brain (more on this later), but I was drawn to the onesies, bibs, alphabet prints, mobiles, and other wee things.  I saw one with hand-silkscreened earphones (those big ones that the DJs wear) and was pretty tempted.  But in the end, I couldn't drop over $20 for it. 

rcfinside2 See, that's my thing with these sorts of fairs.  I want to support artists, support local, support handmade -- but I can't afford to!  Also, even though I'm not Ms. Uber Crafty, if I see something that I think I can make --  which, honestly, I saw a lot of there -- I'll never buy it, even if I never end up making that item.

 Am I the only one who feels this way?


Needless to say, I left empty-handed, and sooner than I'd anticipated.  One of these days, though, I'd like to try going to a fair like this again.  As I get more into sewing (in the near future), maybe I'll gain a better understanding of what it really takes for these artists and craftsmen and women to do their thing. 


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bay Area getaway

Drove up for the fourth wedding in as many months.  My first time to Stanford.  It was as beautiful campus, a gorgeous wedding.  Sorry, no pics of that part.  The DSLR didn't go with my dress.  Some pics of the rest of the long weekend should more than suffice, however.  Enjoy! 


On the road. Up the 5. First time in years
Blown away by how awesome and varied it looks.



Well pruned sycamores. And beautiful buildings. At Cal.
Visiting DC's friend.  The rocket/planetary scientist. (Really.)
Second time here ever.  DC can't believe it.  Thinks I should get out more.



Caltrain station.  And awesome skyline. From F17.  Where J+B live. 



View by day. Equally awesome.



Mission Beach Cafe.  Yum.



Near AT&T Park.  Can you tell by the hats? 
Basically: one huge tailgate party. Wish we were going. 



Just under the Bay Bridge. 
Not the camera.  Not the photographer.  But the day itself: 
Picture perfect.



Cherry blossoms in summer?! Crazy!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Renegade Craft Fair!

Just found out about this through my random web wanderings (more directly, through Daily Candy).  If I can't make it to the LA one this weekend, I can go to the one in SF when I'm there for a wedding next weekend! 

How's that for timing?!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

No idle hands

Or, in other words, explainin' where I been...

DC came home last week, after having spent a fortnight in Africa (+ nearly 2 days' travel each way).  Just in time to celebrate the 4th of July.  Which is also our Y1 anniversary.  Luckily, he broke me in to his summer rovings by taking a monthlong trip to Europe when we first started dating last summer, so two weeks really was nothing.  It gave me some time to do stuff around the apartment (rearrange, again) and work on my gift.

The idea that We. Must. Have. A. Logo. got into my head a while ago, and stuck.  So, with the idea of getting the image in my head down on paper and framing it, I sat down with Microsoft Word and my extremely mediocre design skills.  I wanted something plain and graphic, and was going to put it over layers of security-lined envelopes of different patterns.  After nearly an hour of making text boxes, scaling, and aligning, I got it the way I wanted, and hit Print. 

Then I decided that it'd be better to print on the laser printer at work (shhh!), so I saved it to a thumb drive. 

Then I decided to print on my cotton blank postcard stock, so I dove through my stationery stash to find it. 

Then the idea came to me to do a cutout, so I traced the logo onto the blank card, and got out my knife and ruler.

Then I decided to make the cutout circle of the "d" into a heart.

Then I decided to do another "frame" of the security envelope pattern around the outside of the logo.

Then I chose the background color (chose the black over baby blue, to highlight the heart).

Here's what the final product looks like:

jdc logo

Not what I had in mind at the beginning, and certainly not perfect, but organic and spontaneous -- which reflects us.  The second part of the gift is the requirement to take a picture with it every July 4th!  I'm thinking of making a smaller version that we can take along on our trips, too (he doesn't know this yet, but will be happy to oblige, I'm sure!).

* * *

Whenever DC is away, I take out his letters and read through them again.  Not only does he write beautifully -- both in penmanship and content -- he shows his creativity, too.  Here's an example, which I'd been meaning to frame for a while but just got to recently:

DSC08513[with new succulents!]

It's a little puzzle he made for me, using a coffee cup sleeve!  Cute, no?  I used another security lined envelope innard for the background, it's a subtle gray color that adds the right amount of texture.

For my Y1 gift, though, DC completely surprised me with:

Y1gift[lovely! green!]

After exchanging gifts, we headed out to meet our parents for brunch.  Interesting way to spend our Y1 anniversary, don'tcha think?!  We celebrated in the evening -- just us two -- with wine and sparklers. 

* * *

In my last post I mentioned that I was already putting the Kacha-Kacha Counter to good use.  I got to over 100 rows much faster than I had time to take a picture, and then got to the point where I don't need the counter anymore!  This morning I finally snapped a couple of shots before heading out the door.


This is Forecast, by Stephanie Japel for Knitty W05.  Yes, I have wanted to knit it for that long.  But I was daunted by something sweater-sized and held off.  For a long time.  During which I knit shawls and socks and other little things.  One day, a couple weeks ago, I decided to cast on, and from there I kept going.  And now I'm almost done!  I got some knitting done during lunch, and am over halfway done with the ribbing on this (second) sleeve.  If I don't have to stand on the bus ride home, I think I can finish by the time I get home today!  So I can start picking up stitches for the button band.  Which shouldn't take long.  Which means I will have an FO to show you shortly!

The full story when the time is right.

Happy belated 4th of July!  I hope yours was good, too!