29 August 2008

Yum scrum

Because it's Friday. Because I got home yesterday from a very exhausting business trip. And because I have a day and a half to do a thousand things before we leave for vacation Sunday morning... A meme I stole from Pam's blog.

The Omnivore’s Hundred

Here’s a chance for a little interactivity for all the bloggers out there. Below is a list of 100 things that I think every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food - but a good omnivore should really try it all. Don’t worry if you haven’t, mind you; neither have I, though I’ll be sure to work on it. Don’t worry if you don’t recognize everything in the hundred, either; Wikipedia has the answers.

Here’s what I want you to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari (I only like the rings, not the tentacles)
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich (one of my favorites)
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans (in Nawlins', no less)
25. Brawn, or head cheese (um. ew. and, ew.)
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava (the X is Greek and his mom made the most fabulous baklava)
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (I've even had a Cuban before. Shhhhh... don't tell anyone)
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala (my absolute favorite Indian dish)
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut (my family is from the south; eating KK donuts is a requirement)
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle (with loads of melted cheese and ham in a ski lodge in Innsbruck, Austria - yummers)
57. Dirty gin martini (ick - sooooo not the same as a vodka martini, which I figured out the hard way)
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads (um. ew. again.)
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake (I would eat funnel cake everyday if I could)
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini (I don't get what the big deal is - they're grainy and salty)
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill (come ON!)
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict (just Tuesday morning at a hotel in Chicago)
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse (that's just wrong)
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake


21 August 2008

Why our cat begs like a dog

ice cream cat

Uh, yeah, that would be Shane feeding ice cream to the cat. It's totally his fault that she begs every time we eat.


20 August 2008

What was I thinking?

I don't wear heels. My everyday wardrobe is not dressy enough for them. My feet can't handle them - I've been wearing Birkenstocks almost every day for so many years that my feet are ruined for any other shoes. Also, I can't walk in heels. No matter how hard I try to walk normally, they just don't feel natural to me. The last pair of heels I bought was for my wedding 2-1/2 years ago.

Until today...

new shoes

What could have possibly happened to make me decide to buy a pair of heels? It's this stupid business trip I have next week. Usually, when I travel for work, I don't bother wearing anything too business-y. Business casual is sufficient, especially if I'm visiting current clients.

But this time, I'm going along with some coworkers to give a presentation to a current client in an attempt to get them to sign a contract with us to do a lot more work for them. I thought more formal business wear was in order. Of course, because I never wear stuff like that normally, I had to go shopping last weekend. I ended up with some brown tweedy slacks with cuffs at the hem, a cream colored shell and a brown one-button sweater with elbow-length sleeves. That's about as business-y as I can stand. I figure if I add my pearls and some pearl earrings, then I'll be dressed up enough for the occasion.

Since slacks nowadays are made longer so that they can be worn with heels, I needed a pair to prevent the cuffs from dragging on the ground. A quick shopping trip after work today and I picked up the above shoes. The rounded toe feels better on my wide feet than pointier toes.

I am so going to hate myself on Wednesday. I predict much pain and swearing. If I'm lucky, I won't trip and fall on my face.


18 August 2008

Baby Sweater FOs

Sorry for that prolonged absence. Work has been uber-stressful lately, and I haven't felt like blogging. I have a business trip next Monday that involves a 2.5 hour drive with people I'm not too fond of. I'll be back in the office for a whole day, then we're off to Colorado for vacation. In anticipation of being out of the office for essentially 2 weeks, I have been trying to work ahead. I think I've burned out a circuit in my brain.

Anyway, enough work whining. On to the FOs!

Two of the gabillion pregnant women I work with are due 2 weeks apart, and they are both in my department, so we had a joint shower for them. Since they would be opening their gifts together, I thought making them the same thing was a good idea. So they both got the same sweater.

baby hoodies 080708

This is the Easy Baby Cardigan (Ravelry link) from Knitting Pure & Simple. The name is accurate - it's a very easy pattern. I'm not too great with sweaters, but this pattern was simple even for me.

green baby hoodie 080708

It's worked from the top, down. I opted to do a provisional caston so that I could kitchener the top of the hood together. I love kitchener. It's one of those magic knitting things that is a pain to do, but the results are worth it.

The green sweater has a seed stitch border. The red one has a garter stitch border (the pattern is written with garter stitch).

red baby hoodie 080708

The yarn is Knit Picks Swish Worsted in Red Pepper and Dublin. I used 5 whole skeins of each, and a little of a 6th skein. I'm loving this yarn. It's really soft. It would be a great yarn to use in gifts being knitted for people who don't like the usual scratchiness of wool. And it's washable. How great is that?

green hoodie closeup 080708

I will definitely make this sweater again. It may end up being my go-to baby sweater for shower gifts. I'm thinking of making my niece one for her first birthday in December.

Here are the deets:
Pattern: Simple Baby Cardigan by Knitting Pure & Simple
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Worsted in Red Pepper and Dublin
Needles: size 9 29" Inox circs
Started: sometime in late May 2008
Finished: 8/6/08
Mods: Did a provisional caston and kitchenered the top of the hood; used seed stitch on the border of the green sweater instead of garter stitch.

And how were the sweaters received? Both mommies loved them. Unbeknownst to me, the mom who received the green sweater has planned a jungle theme for her nursery, so the green is perfect. And the other mommy is a huge KU fan and loved that the red is one of KU's colors. Yay!

red hoodie closeup 080708

06 August 2008

Giving in to my inner fiber geek

I learned to knit 5 years ago. I took a class at the Yarn Barn in July 2003. Obviously, I took to knitting right away. It’s an obsession I cannot ever imagine being without, and one that I hope I can indulge for many, many years to come.

Not long after learning to knit, I remember having a conversation with my aunt about it. At the time, she knew how to crochet, weave, and spin, but not how to knit; spinning was her obsession, much as knitting was mine. I knew nothing about those three crafts, so even though we both had a love of the fiber arts, we couldn’t relate. She would talk about her most recent spinning wheel acquisition (she has several, including a massive antique great wheel), or show me one of her numerous plastic tubs full of fiber, and I just didn’t get the fascination anymore than she could understand my need to use two skinny sticks and thin yarn to loop together a pair of socks.

I had no interest in learning to spin. Other than my aunt, who lives 5 hours away, I didn’t know any spinners. And, at the time, spinning was not as popular as it is now, so I didn’t run into it very often on the knitternet. Slowly, though, I started noticing more and more knitters learning to spin. Every time I encountered a knit blogger's tales of spinning, I generally skipped over those posts and hoped for the knitting content to return.

So, why not jump on that ever widening spinning bandwagon?
  1. I don’t like the often thick-and-thin quality of handspun yarn. My anal retentiveness prefers millspun yarn. The smoother, the better.
  2. I don’t like the often barber pole color effect of plied handspun yarn. I figured there was probably a way to avoid this, but it seemed like the majority of what I saw on the intarwebs had that particular color effect. There are some times when barber pole-ing looks okay to me, but in general I prefer plies of the same color that repeat, either in short repeats or long ones, and hand-painting.
  3. Cost. Do I really need another craft and all of its various paraphernalia taking more of my paychecks and storage space? Especially since spinning wheels are no small expense? I can hardly afford my yarn addiction, much less whatever fiber addiction would surely accompany any acquired spinning skills.
  4. This is the most important reason: I HATE the fact that once you have spun something, you cannot unspin it and redo it. My aforementioned anal retentiveness is manageable in knitting because if I mess up, I can rip back and redo my work. Such is not the case with spinning. If I don't like something that I have spun, too bad – I’m stuck with it.
Late last fall, I started reading a knitblog that had a fair amount of spinning content in it (the late Momma Monkey’s blog – God rest her soul). While I didn’t read much of the text in the spinning-heavy posts, I did stop long enough to look at the pictures. Gigi did lovely work, and seeing her handspun sparked my interest a little. As more and more knitbloggers started spinning and posting about their handspun yarns, I paid a little more attention than I did when my adventures in knitting began 5 years ago.

Maybe I could spin. Nah! I still wasn’t convinced. I mean, what happens if I learn, then produce crappy yarn while I’m learning? My perfectionism hated the thought of all that wasted fiber. And I really couldn’t get past that barber pole thing (I’m sure there’s a better name for it, but I can’t think of one right now).

Still, I kept the idea at the small dark space at the back of my mind. Whenever I would see some handspinning pictures on a blog, I would dust off the thought and ponder learning to spin. But each time, I would put that thought away for another day.

Then, I saw this post. That was it. I was convinced. Seeing that nearly perfectly spun hank of yarn in such lovely even repeats of color was all I needed to decide that I wanted to learn to spin. I’m sure that somewhere in the back of mind, I knew it was possible to handspin yarn that is similar to millspun yarn, I just needed to see it to know for sure. My anal retentiveness be damned. For the first time, I looked at a picture of handspun yarn and thought, “I wanna do that!”

So now my quest has begun. After a couple of months of research, I have decided a couple of things: 1) I don’t want to spin on a spindle, and 2) I want to be able to spin mostly finer weight yarns – nothing thicker than sport weight. I know what wheel I want, and I have started saving the money for it. Instead of doing the impulse buying that has characterized most of my adult financial life, I am going to be responsible and save the money. If all goes well, I may be able to afford the wheel I want by the new year. I won’t say now which one I have my eye on. I’ll save that until after it is purchased.

In a strange coincidence, Rebekkah at Bowerbird Knits is giving away that very skein of her handspun that changed my mind about spinning, in a contest. She wants to know what our creative pursuits will be over the next year. My response is that I plan to learn to spin. More specifically, I want to spin some sock yarn, design a sock pattern, and knit the pattern from my handspun. I would eventually like to buy a whole fleece, process it myself, spin it, and knit myself a shawl, a sweater, or an afghan. But that seems awfully ambitious for a new spinner. Maybe next year.