Monday, May 25, 2009

Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries...And Figs

It has been a nice long weekend. For once I didn't make myself an enormous list of things I wanted to accomplish, only to be frustrated by what didn't get done at the end of it all. I did get some things done, but we managed to set aside time for fun too.

First, a garden update:

Last year, the birds ate all but 4 of the cherries off of the cherry tree. This year, they either forgot about them or decided to be nice and leave some for us. Tons more will be ready soon. Yum.

And the fig tree has started, as my husband says, sprouting fruit from every crotch:

Can't wait to see the kind of searches that wording brings people here now. They're going to be awfully disappointed. But I won't be when I get to have fresh figs sliced over arugula and fresh mozzarella with a squeeze of lemon. Yum again.

Fiber Fun

I decided that even though they're predicting frost in Vermont tonight, by the time my upcoming high-school reunion comes around in early June, it'll be perfect weather for a summer-weight sweater. I'm an optimist - so sue me. Saturday morning I cast on:

This is going to be Hey Teach from Knitty. I'm using Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in the Candy Apple colorway. I'm actually farther along than this picture indicates - I've now finished the middle ribbing and added about two inches of the lace pattern. Instead of knitting it in separate pieces, I'm combining the fronts and back, and knitting them all together until I need to split for the sleeves. The only other change I'm making (so far) is to do a twisted rib in the middle instead of regular - I think it'll look a little more polished.


Sunday morning Kathy and I went for our normal walk, then Brian and I headed down to Monterey to visit the Aquarium and check out the new seahorse exhibit. It was, as expected, insanely crowded, but worth it. The surroundings weren't exactly conducive to picture taking, but it's the best I could do:

So cool!

And blurry.

But cool.

This morning I slept in 'til after 6:00 (if you're used to getting up at 4:00, that's late) and then I washed and sliced these:

Cooked it 'til it looked like this:

Poured it into these:

15 minutes in the canning kettle and...

23 jars of strawberry jam!

That should hold us for 23 years or so...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What A Difference A Day Makes

Monday morning I was sending the itinerary for my upcoming Vermont trip to my aunt and arrived at the horrible realization that the changes I'd made to my ticket two weeks prior never went through. I immediately got on the phone with Virgin America who said they could get me on the flights I wanted but the cost would be an additional $250 (the original change was to save me about $80). I asked to speak with a manager but of course none were available but they said someone could call me back within 24 hours. Whatever.

As soon as I was off the call, I finished tossing on makeup and rushed out the door to work. Twenty minutes later (the advantage of a commute at an ungodly hour) I pulled into the parking lot, only to realize I'd left my laptop at home. Crap. Normally I could go to the Desktop crew and get a loaner but I'd arrived just after 6:00 am, and no one was there to set one up for me. Not wanting to wait 2 hours for a computer, I called home and my husband saved me by running it up to me. Awesome.

So I logged on and headed into the kitchen to make some coffee. Which I promptly spilled on my hand, burning my finger. Ouch.

So a messed up flight, a forgotten laptop and a burned finger - all before 7:30 am. Could it be any more of a Monday than this?

Fast forward 24 hours.

Work was great on Tuesday; I accomplished a ton, didn't even feel the need to bitch-slap anyone, and I managed to fit a work-out into my day.

I even finished and blocked this:

That's my Swallowtail Shawl in Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud (Midnight) with beads instead of nupps. It's for a silent auction for my high school. I love it.

Thank goodness things balance out now and then!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough...

...Reassess Their UFOs?

Life dealt us a curve ball recently which kind of threw me for a bit, but I'm back and doing better now. Generally when things are difficult for me, I'll retreat for a while to collect my thoughts and regroup (also to avoid spilling my guts out publicly and regretting it later). It's also a time I'll often choose to clean up, clean out and/or reorganize something that's been bugging me for a while. Pulling together something in my life always helps me feel more positive, and gives me more ablity to cope with the other things.

During my most recent self-imposed hermit period, I decided to pull out all of my UFOs and see how big the pile had grown and just finish a few things instead of feeling all guilty about them. To clarify, if I'm currently (and somewhat steadily) working on a project, I don't consider it a UFO. That's a Work in Progress. 'Unfinished Object' to me indicates that I've ignored it for a while - maybe a long while. I like to finish what I start, so these actually make me pretty uncomfortable - as if I've given up or something.

Here's the list:

Traveling Cable Top out of Tess' Designer Yarns Microfiber Ribbon

This is a tank top that I'm going to have to finish soon. First because our thermometer is reading the current outside temp as 112.2 degrees (F). No it's not quite that hot but damn it's roasting out and I could use another lightweight tank top. Second, because the microfiber ribbon is the only ribbon yarn I've ever encountered that's a joy to knit and just flows through the fingers.

Then a couple of scarves. I'm knitting a few in non-neutral colors to brighten up my everlastingly beige/brown/cream/black wardrobe. I love the yarn and the patterns but apparently I don't love finishing scarves. But, they're good summer projects as they're not overly bulky, and it would be great to have them done by the time it's cool enough to have something around one's neck again.

This is the Falling Water Scarf by Bonnie Sennott. I'm using Malabrigo Laceweight in the Velvet Grapes colorway. Love the yarn, love the color, love the pattern. I'd love to finish it!

Next is the Haruha Scarf in some Lana Gatto VIP that I dyed myself. Ditto what I said about Falling Water.

Both of these scarf patterns are free. There are a ton more that I'd love to make, but I'm holding off starting more until I make more progress on these. Let's hope these aren't famous last words...

Here are some Marigold Socks by Pamela Wynne (she's the one who designed the insanely popular February Lady Sweater). This is a project of Firsts. First, it's my first pair of toe-up socks, and it's my first socks made using two circulars rather than DPNs. The yarn is from, and it's their Glorious in Desert Sand. First time I've used that too - and I'd use it again. It's a fairly fine yarn - which can come in handy when you have narrow feet as I do. Often sock patterns in gauges as written are a touch too big for me. Rather than having to calculate to size down, I'll often use a slightly finer yarn and a smaller needle, and everything will fit nicely.

These are Ribbed Lace Socks from Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch (one fab book, especially for those just learning about sock knitting). I'm knitting them with short cuffs (don't always need full leg coverage in sunny CA) from Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn in the Nantucket colorway. I started these on a business trip in late 2007 and then stalled. Nice yarn, easy pattern.

That's It?

And this is all of my UFOs in their bin. That's it. One bin, not squished full, and not a very big bin to begin with. What was I feeling so guilty about? I'll bet I could finish every single one of these by the end of the year and have plenty of time to start and finish other projects as well. Silly me.

But before I do that, I need to finish Swallowtail #3, which is almost done. I decided to skip the nupps and go for beads instead - only because I had some beads that went perfectly with the yarn. I'm pretty much loving the effect (embiggen to really see it). I'm now half-way through the very last repeat - shouldn't be long now before I can wash/block it and show it off.

Another thing to show off, though they're not my creation. Brian planted these for me and I picked them today. Gorgeous, no?

I'm not sure how I'll prepare them, but they'll probably end up chilled, and eaten alongside some chevre. Yum.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Let It Grow, Let It Grow...

Things are growing like crazy around here:

Could this be a more garish combo?

Fruit is ripening all over the place:



And a lone fig.

Beets are forming...

Broccoli is starting to head:

And if vampires ever show up to bug us, we've got plenty of early garlic to ward them off:

I planted some herbs today too. The back yard is pretty much full, so I planted them in a half-barrel out front:

It's going to be pretty crowded in there but I'm planning only to keep things in the barrel for the season, so it should be okay. I've got chives, parsley, marjoram, thyme, sage and basil.

Things are growing on the fiber front too.

I finished spinning the Crown Mountain Farms singles yesterday:

And plied them today.

That's 491 yards of light-fingering weight superwash Merino for socks. I'm pretty pleased. I'm not sure what pattern I'll knit but I might go for my first pair of Monkeys.

The Swallowtail Shawl is growing as well. A dark messy blob - woohoo!

And another FO I completely forgot about. Earlier this year I made a Tomboy sock which was displayed in Margit's booth at Stitches. I'd only made one, and completely forgot about it until it was returned to me this weekend. So now I have some new socks already half-way completed! It's kind of a cool pattern - I like the cuff a lot.

They Followed Me Home; Can I Keep Them?

Ever since I moved to California I've wanted to try and grow Orchids. I haven't bought any though as they tend to be expensive and I have other spending priorities. But when it rains, it pours - 2 appeared in my life within about a week of each other, both gifts. Sweet, huh?

And Some Things Just Grow Old...

Blogger won't let me rotate this correctly but Miguel insisted I put this in anyway - he wants to be known as San Jose's only 139-year-old model. Not to shabby for an old guy.