Saturday, August 22, 2009

Giant, gorgeous getaway

The lack of posting has been due to the preparing for yet another trip.  With the entire family.  Our first in years.  My first time to Maui.  First time to Hawaii since age six.

Our flight was delayed an hour.  Which all adds up when one accounts for: shuttling to the car rental place: waiting in line:  driving 45 minutes to our destination:  stopping at the supermarket.  For the half who did not fly First Class.  Were very hungry.  And all were tired.

A quick meal (and beers) were quickly consumed.  Bed was fallen into.

And this morning, here is the view that was woken up to:


Our 'troubles' have been forgotten.  We'll be here for a week.  A.  Very.  Good.  Week.  Aloha!

Friday, August 14, 2009


Tons of traffic made the drive down to the Bay Area much longer than it's meant to take.  But when we finally got to Alameda, the salty breeze in the air -- and a hearty lunch -- restored our spirits.  We fell into a food coma and had a slumbering siesta well into the afternoon.

shoreline walk

The smell of a neighbor's bbq wafting through the open windows roused us.  We took a long walk down the shoreline and through a nearby lagoon area where each of the houses had its own deck and dock, with rowboats and canoes and the like.  Willow trees, ducks, yards with grassy knolls.  It was idyllic.


shadows   mini fields

The walk really worked up our appetites -- we could hardly wait for the pizza to be ready!  Thank goodness the trip back from there wasn't too long.  DC had seen "The Ramen Girl" on a plane during a recent trip, so we rented it because he thought I'd like it.  The story line was so-so, but the scenery made me nostalgic for Japan.  Though I didn't notice it at the time, DC later said that I genuinely laughed a lot as we were watching it!

What a lovely wind-down to our busy weekend!  Just what we needed to power-up for the six-hour-straight-shot back down to SoCal.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Roadtrippin': Sac-town

This was our second road trip to Northern California for a wedding (DC's grad school friend); first wedding on a week-day.  In addition to taking Friday off, I made arrangements to leave an hour early on Thursday.  DC picked me up from the office, which meant leaving two hours before we would've if I'd worked a regular day and then taken the bus home.  It shifted traffic conditions in our favor, and it was still light before we got to Fresno, where we spent the night (so nice to be able to break our time on the road in half!).

cornfields[one minute: cornfields aplenty!]

on the road[next minute: deserts]

I brought my current knitting project, the Whisper Cardigan from Interweave Knits, Spring 2009.  Stockinette stitch is perfect for roadtrips!

knitting on the road[Why so many safeties? Very rudimentary counting ability...]

We awoke on Friday morning entirely refreshed, and after a quick breakfast, were on the road again by mid-morning.  It only took about 2 1/2 hours to get to Sacramento.  Our destination: along the Sacramento River, just outside of city center.  A quick lunch, an afternoon siesta, and a quick change, and we were all set. 

The couple is techinically already married; that's why you don't see any chairs set up for a ceremony.  In fact, they live abroad, and their summer vacation is actually three weeks on tour to have various celebrations with their friends and family who are in the U.S.  The weather couldn't be better: a sort of cold-snap had Sac-town and its surrounds about 20+ degrees cooler than they usually are this time of year.  Lucky us!

riverside tent[open bar + hors d'oeuvres -- yes please!]

inside tent[dance floor?! boo yah!]

Our friends are Muslim, and had an Arabic-style celebration.  Samosas, skewers, lamb chops -- yum.  Ladies in beautiful, glittery, sheer, floaty saris and dresses -- beautiful.  Arabic music, clapping, cheering -- interesting, and fun!  Bon Jovi and ice cream -- typical of the groom.  Table names of cities with significance to the couple and their courtship -- educational.  Congrats, N+N!

Being so close to the capital, I had to stop by and see it (I hadn't been since the 6th grade California History field trip)!  Unfortunately, deterred by large crowds of (loud) Asian tourists, we didn't stay too long.  But I still managed to take a few cool shots. 

capital   rotunda

state seal   governator's office

All this in 20 minutes -- justapeek indeed!  We spent more time and were at greater leisure at our next stop.  And it was just Saturday morning!  More (pictures, mostly) later!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ruffly waistband

Recently my blogsurfing has taken a turn away from knitters to sewers and fabric crafters.  Through several meanderings I discovered this blog, which is simply a delightful read.  Rachel's got crafts and cooking down pat, as well as a great eye for photography.  She's posted a few ruffly headbands, and after seeing the post on 100 Layer Cake, I decided to make a ruffly waistband to wear with a LBD I have.  With five weddings attended and four to go before year's end, my dress selection is getting scant; it's high time to get creative!

The wedding was last Friday, and what with the shorter week and preparing for the road trip up to Sacramento, it's quite a miracle I got to making this at all!  Luckily I had a couple fabrics in stash that I knew I wanted to use; the only thing I had to go out and get was the 2" grosgrain ribbon.

On Wednesday night, after preparing road trip goodies (guac + chips, hard-boiled eggs, edamame), making sure my camera battery was charged, and packing everything to take to work (I'd be leaving from the office) the next day, I sat down with my fabrics, ribbon, scissors, needle, and thread, and got to work.  My circles were all different sizes, and I layered the fabrics randomly -- sheer over sheer, solid over solid, sheer over solid, solid over sheer -- and sewed them down in random order as well.  I don't remember exactly how many circles I cut of each fabric, but I'd estimate about 30 sheer and 24 solid.  The final size of the ruffle blossom is about five inches.  Overall, it took about four hours.  I'm sure the time would diminish with more practice.  Et voila:

ruffly waistband 2

I'd purchased a light pink fabric, but decided against adding  it in favor of keeping the color scheme monochromatic.  I like how the sheer fabric adds just the right amount of bling to the whole blossom.  You can see that the ends are already starting to fray, but I kind of like that unfinished look, too.  And, hopefully, this isn't going to get tossed around so much that the ends'll ever get too bad!

I tied a small bow at one end of the ruffle-blossom, and slid it over to the side.  The full-length shots I took at the wedding came out blurry, so all I can offer is this one, taken awkwardly as I was sitting down.  But you kinda get the idea, right?

ruffly waistband

The ruffly waistband totally made my plain ol' dress -- which I usually wear to work! -- so much more wedding-apropriate. DC was impressed, too! 

Wanna make your own?  You can find the tutorial here.  Thank you, Rachel!

Botched button band

Forecast has been finished and blocked for a couple of weeks now.  It fits fabulously.  I found some buttons but stalled on sewing them on because I wasn't quite satisfied with the button bands.  Finally, though, I worked my way to pinning the buttons in place, just to see what a pseudo-finished-object might look like:

forecast collar

Not too bad, no?  Unfortunately, not that great, either.

forecast front

I do like the contrast of the red against the grey (with the yellow of my walls, to boot -- hello, autumn!), but as you can see progressing downwards, the band becomes increasingly ruffly and fussy -- so much so that a couple of the lower buttons consistently get unbuttoned!  Oh dear.  Even after I read a ton of articles on how to pick up the stitches, accounting for the difference between stitch length and width.

forecast reflection

The best thing to do is to frog both bands completely and reknit on smaller needles.  This time 'round I'm not going to slip the first stich of each row so the top edging tightens up a bit, and so the buttonholes end up a tad smaller.  There's no rush, really, since it's still summer (so hot during this photo shoot!).  Hopefully, the anticipation of having a new handknit sweater well and ready to wear in a couple of months will motivate me to get this done sooner rather than later.  Wishmeluck!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mix it with mint!

Aside from the occasional G+T or less occasional Sidecar, I'm not usually a fan of cocktails.  Yet there was something summery about the thought of mint-infused drinks, so I surprised myself by offering to bring mojito ingredients to Le Chef's tapas party.  I ended up making pitchers and pitchers of the stuff, and converted both myself and others who weren't quite given over to cocktails. 

Then, a week later, I remembered my mom's spearmint bush...  so, naturally, after planting the cuttings, I used the plucked off mint leaves to whip up a batch of my new favorite summertime drink.


  • Lime, one, juiced

  • Sugar, enough to 'fill up' the lime juice (about 1 tablespoon)

  • Ice, crushed

  • Mint leaves, at least a half dozen -- plus a sprig for garnish

  • Rum, one (and a half, if you like) shot(s)

  • Tonic water, just a splash



  1. Squeeze lime into glass.

  2. Add sugar.

  3. Add mint leaves.

  4. Stir until sugar dissolves.

  5. Mash mint leaves a bit (use the handle of a butter knife).

  6. Fill glass with crushed ice.

  7. Add a shot of rum.

  8. Top off with tonic water; stir.

  9. Garnish with mint sprig.


Sit back, relax, and enjoy!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Freshcut: minty version

On a roll from my recent experiment with the hydrangea cuttings, I remembered that my mother has some spearmint in her backyard that she swears has a lemon scent.  When I was at my folks' house last week, I pinched a couple of stems and brought them home to attempt to finally start my herb garden.

spearmint cuttings

Looks good so far.  In the past week I've seen mini mint leaves sprout.  These small-scale-even-I-can-do-it summer projects are my little happinesses.  My little pots of cuttings are my go-to in the morning as I'm preparing coffee or packing my lunch, as well as in the evening right after I've set my work bags down.  See?  It doesn't take much!

Wanna know what I did with all the mint leaves I plucked off the stems?  Stay tuned for another summer happiness!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


It's no secret that hydrangeas are among, and may well be absolutely, my favorites. I spotted a large bush in a corner of Le Chef's backyard, and requested a few globes to bring home.  He happily grabbed the pruners and obliged.  I chose three just-beyond-their-prime stems:

IMG_2517[freshly cut stems]

IMG_2520[ at home, top view]

IMG_2523[at home, side view]

IMG_2519[at home, close up]

I like how antiqued the flowers look, the purples, blues, and greens singed a bit with brown at some of the tips. 

I also trimmed a few of the cuttings and planted them in some fresh potting soil.  Et voila:

cuttings[grow, little ones!]

Now, a week or so later, the buds are starting to get a bit greener and have grown a teeny, tiny bit.  I've put the pot on my dining table, which gets a bath of morning light every day, have kept the soil moist, and give it a few encouraging words each day.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they'll survive a four-day absence this (long, for me) weekend.  If not, I know where to go for more!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tapas to die for!

My good friend, always a lover of food and food prepration, went to New York for culinary school a few years ago.  Fortunately for me and many others, he's home and shares his skills.  Food + drink + friends = more fun than you can shake a stick at.  Here are just a few glimpses of the goodness:

[click each pic to make *big*]

I came a bit late and went straight into preparing mojitos, so I missed out on a few shots of the finger foods: meatballs, chicken wings, skewers, arroz negro, &tc, &tc.  But I did eat some of each:  all delicious!

Thanks for a wonderful evening, friend!  Can't wait until next time, and will call you up when your heirloom tomatoes are ripe!  You are too, too generous.  Mad props.