Wednesday, December 31, 2008

13.1 in June 09

Yep, that is right. Out of shape, non-runner me, is going to run the Seattle Rock n Roll 1/2 marathon with my sister and brother (mom too, with any luck). I may as well warn you now, this may be a painful process for me.

However, I am happy to report my first "run" which most actual runners would literally laugh out loud at. William sent me a link to this training program, for extreme beginners. The goal of the training program is to go from couch to 30 minutes of running straight in 8 weeks. If that sounds as ambitious to you as it did to me, you probably need to do it too :).

So back to my first "run". I came into work early (for those of you who don't know I already come into work pretty darn early (6:30 to be exact)) and then started my workout on the little gym in the office. It was actually a really hard workout for me 1 minute running followed by 2 minutes of walking - repeat 10 times. Even though it was super tough, I did it and it felt awesome!!

Here's to a healthy happy 2009!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

PMP baby!

I finally took that damned PMP test... and PASSED!

It has been the bane of my existence to study, work and get ready for the holidays and I cannot tell you the sigh of relief I feel now that the test itself is done. Yeehaw!

Friday, December 05, 2008

First present wrapped

One thing I learned from Flylady is wrap as you buy. Well, of course I am not quite that good, but I did wrap one today - way ahead of my family heritage of mad wrapping on Xmas eve. Hooray for progress.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Brazil pics - part 2

Another amazing thing about Brazil - that I failed to capture on film - was the fruit. It was ambrosia. The mangoes, the passionfruit, the pineapple, the papaya, and some artichoke looking fruit that was white in the center was absolutely delicious. Everyday for breakfast we would go to the roof of the hotel where they had an amazing breakfast bar and you looked out over the beach while eating the best fruit you have ever had in your life.

Another amazing thing - also sans photo - the coffee. They had little espresso machines with whole beans everywhere. I am not normally an espresso fan - it is just too much. But to Brazilians, it is just coffee and it was seriously amazing. The had a little coffee dish called cafe com chantilly - coffee with whipped cream that was absolutely the best coffee in the world.

Back to things i did get pictures of...

The Christ statue. On the way up to the top of the mountain, you take a little train where if you stick a limb out the half-windows you are likely to lose it. It was seriously chiseled into the side of the mountain, through a rain forest with occasional train stops for people who actually lived there.

The first picture is something growing on the trees along the train route, my botany background got the better of me and I took several pics. If there are any phytologically minded people out there who know what they are, please share. I would love to know too.

The second pic is also from the train, it doesn't really show you how steep the mountain is, but you can see that you are getting pretty high up.

Once you get to the end of the train ride, you have to hike up several flights of stairs, maybe 6 floors worth to get to the top, but then the top - wow. This statue is huge and it overlooks the city from several different views. Everyone, was trying to get a good pic of themselves with their arms outstretched juxtapositioned in front of Christ. I refrained, but just barely. It was a holiday in Rio on the day we went up, so it was crazy crowded up there and really hot (especially after all the stairs).

Brazil pics - part 1

This if from the coffee run in a mad dash (hurry up and wait style) across Dulles airport to get the delicious Mayorga coffee (speaking of, they are at my Costco this weekend - yay!).
The view from the front of my hotel room. One thing I wish I would have captured on film is the sidewalks. They were amazing. You can see the sixties era pattern on the Ipanema beach sidewalks and it was all with small stones. All of the sidewalks were basically mosaics - talk about a laborious way to create a walkway. The result is really beautiful. It is amazing. And if you head down the beach for a while you reach Copacobana beach and the sidewalk pattern there is a wave of black and white.

The view from the side of the hotel room (I had the front corner - which gave me awesome ocean breezes). One funny thing about Brazil, this beautiful mountain in the distance is highly populated as you see, but it is a favela or squatter village. Can you imagine a group of squatters just taking over prime real estate like that anywhere else.

I only wish I were a better photographer and that I hadn't been so chicken to take my camera out of my bag that I was desperately gripping the entire time I was in Brazil.

Okay, getting these pics in the right places is a trick with blogger, so I am starting another post - all apologies.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Traveling, welcome home and sick

I went to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for work last week (tough job, but somebody's got to do it) and while the trip itself was lovely, I was worried about my little family (for good reason) while I was gone.

As luck would have it, Audrey started to get sick Saturday night and neither she nor her parents slept much as a result. Having an overnight flight on Sunday night was both a blessing and a curse, I hated to leave poor Ryan with a sick kid all by himself, but I desperately needed the sleep - and you know you are desperate for sleep if sleeping overnight in coach on an international flight sounds like a welcome blessing. That however, did not happen, my flight was delayed/canceled until the next morning, so I had another mediocre/bad night of sleep (trying to let Ryan get a little sleep since he would be handling a sick 3 yr old alone for a week) at home. So, after fighting some good ole DC traffic on the way out, I hit the airport in time to have my ticket changed (and upgraded for free to Economy plus :) - no laughing William). I got to the airport really early, because lets face it, I wasn't sleeping much at home and I really needed to get a little rest on the plane so I was hoping to get a window or an aisle seat.

DC airports have fabulous coffee - Mayorga - so I went, via very slow tram, from one end of Dulles airport to the other to get a delicious cup of heaven and savored every drop of it. As I headed back to the terminal printed on my ticket, I just glanced at the departures screen to make sure my flight was still on schedule.

As an aside, it is never a good sign when there are NO flights to your destination on the departure screens. So I stopped at an information/help booth and they were baffled and seriously looked at me like I was the crazy one just because I was holding a ticket for a flight that left the night before and they had no information on any flights to Rio leaving that day. I went back to my terminal a little bit skeptical which quickly turned to a quick moment of panic when none of the other 12 people I was traveling with were at the gate. However when I heard several small groups of disgruntled travelers mumbling/shouting in Portuguese, I decided to use the ladies room and just sit down and wait - I was at least close to the correct gate.

Then my group came back from the fancy lounge (you million miler fliers know what I am talking about) and all my worries were assuaged for the moment. Then we all sat down to wait. Then they boarded the willing and eager, I was not among them, and so I was one of the lucky people with leg room when they stopped boarding and shut down the gate for a couple of hours. Finally they deboarded the plane, gave us lunch vouchers and told us to come back in 5 hours.

As another aside, I am really fortunate to work with great people. Hanging out at an airport for basically an entire day before heading on a super long flight is taxing on everyone, but I was fortunate enough to be with a very pleasant and, by the end of our wait, jovially tipsy group.

So we eventually made it into the air a day late, which put us into Rio at 6 am about 2 hours before our meetings were scheduled to begin. We postponed the meetings for a few hours to let us check in, shower, rest and eat. The meetings went well, and the next day we finished them up and got to do tours of their submarines and ships, which was really cool.

Thursday, was a holiday in Rio, and the weather cooperated beautifully. It was sunny with a slight breeze and in the mid 70s - perfect really! We went to see the Christ statue in the morning and then we came back to the hotel. I was determined to at least stick my feet in the ocean and feel the sand between my toes, since we were staying right on the Ipanema beach front at the Caesar Park hotel.

As yet another aside, I had the most geourgous view from my room ever!! The first room they gave me was awful. Smoking is alive and well in Brazil and my first room was a cigar box, but that I would have dealt with. However, my one pet peeve in hotels is showers that don't drain. So I got to my room at 6 am on Tuesday morning and hopped right in the shower, a gorgeous marble shower, that did not drain at all and I had to cut my shower short because I was afraid I was going to flood the entire bathroom as the water kept rising. So I ran down to the front desk and asked for a new room, and eventually I got one, a great one, ocean front and side view with windows that opened, so I got the most amazing ocean breezes through my room.

Wow this post is getting long and the point was supposed to be my return.

To sum up the week, I started traveling to Brazil on Sunday night and finally arrived Tuesday morning. Tuesday we had our meetings. Wednesday we had meetings and ship tours. Thursday was a holiday so we saw the famous christ statue and hung out on the beach and eventually left for the airport. Friday morning I arrived home at 8:01 am.

Friday morning at 8:03 Ryan went to a long and well-deserved sleep (being a single parent taking care of a sick 3 yo who won't sleep when she is sick is exhausting). And I began to take care of poor sick Audrey, luckily grandma took her to the doctor the day before (so Ryan could attend a pre-finals study group) and she had her meds working a little by the time I got home. Audrey was thrilled to see me, but, oh so exhausted and sick with double ear infections. Friday afternoon Ryan went to the doctor and got antibiotics too. So it should come as no surprise to anyone that our house is a disaster and now *I* am sick too.

Luckily, I had preplanned to spend the week of Thanksgiving at home to give Ryan some extra study time and Audrey some mama time. I was hoping it would be a little more fun, but sick is sick and there's nothing you can do about it, so I am off to bed...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

AnnieAmelia's sweetcase

An old acquaintance from high-school just started her own on-line yarn store - AnnieAmelia.

It is awesome - she carries really nice yarn. The one thing she does that sets her apart from other yarn stores is her "sweetcase". She show cases a special yarn and provides a pattern that really shows it off. Then she includes something "bodyish", a charm, ribbon and sends it off in a beautiful fabric bag. It is a really cool idea, especially if, like me, you are a little intimidated by all the varieties of fancy yarn on the market today.

So seeing this fancy idea, I volunteered to be a "tester". Lucky me, because she sent this amazing little skein of fancy Australian merino wool yarn with glass beads scattered throughout (tilli tomas), it is so beautiful!!. This is so much fancier than anything I normally buy that I feel totally spoiled.

The pattern she sent is for a headband. I am definitely making a fancy headband with this yarn, but I am really hoping there is enough left over for a coffee cup cozy - how handmade glam would that be (on second thought, i think i may order some "chocolate cherry" and make mug cozies for Xmas - yay another project :))?!

I think this idea would be an awesome gift for any knitter on your list (hint hint).

Oh and also the bag is just as cute on the inside (I turned it inside out for the 2nd photo) and the lip gloss is awesome!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I <3 Etsy

Today I made my first Etsy purchase. I have been a big fan of the site for sometime. I love to just see what other people are creating and selling, but I haven't jumped in until today.

What was it that finally prompted me to buy....

Owls! A cute green owl ornament and an owl crewel picture (to be honest, I don't even know what that is, but I know I really want to try it out). I am going to refrain until after the PMP and after Audrey's Xmas is crafted, but then, watch out world.

Also, I love this person's blog. She has all kinds of neat tutorials. I think Audrey and I may try making some Xmas ornaments with the sunshine clay tutorial. Thanks Nikki.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Picnic blanket

So I have been wishing we had a good hearty picnic blanket/car blanket for a long time. And coincidentally, I found a denim quilt pattern that I really want to try.

I rarely go to fabric stores, as knitting is really my crafty hobby of choice, but I just happened to be in one the other day for material to make Audrey's present. I also happened to see some amazing picnic fabric - so I have yet one more project on the back burner now. :)

Audrey's Xmas present

I know that I said a couple of posts ago that I was not taking on any new projects for xmas. Well, I am making much better progress on my PMP exam prep than expected, so I went ahead and bought the pattern to make this doll for Audrey.

I also went to the fabric store while she was at Gymboree and bought the fabric to make the doll. Now I just need to find a great yarn for the hair and I will have most of what I need to make the project. I am so excited.

I keep looking at this flickr group and getting so excited for the possibilities.

Back to yogurt

This morning, I finally decided to take the time to make some yogurt again. It has been a while (a long while) since I last made yogurt, but I really love it, and it really doesn't take long at all. In fact, when I finished I wondered why I have not done it for so long.

Here is my method: I take ~4 cups of milk and boil them (when I am more vigilant, I try not to quite let it boil, but almost). Then I let the milk cool to 115 degree (F). At which point I pour it through a strainer into a pyrex pitcher. You don't have to strain it if you watch the milk and don't let it curdle, but I rarely watch it that closely. Then I mix in ~1/2 c. of powdered milk. I take about 1/2 c. of the strained mixture into another bowl that I whisk with the starter (this time I used a powdered starter, but most of the time I use 2-4 T of plain yogurt that I let come to room temperature). After the starter is completely dissolved, I add it back to the main mixture and stir some more. Then I pour it into little glass jars in my yogurt maker, put the lid on and wait 6 hours.

When I make it often, I already know the correct spot on my pan that is one quart and I use frozen plain yogurt starter, which is so easy, because my ice cube tray is exactly 1 T, so I just pop a couple of cubes into a bowl to thaw when I start boiling the milk. When I make it often, I also make flavored batches by adding a couple of spoonfuls of fruit and/or powdered sugar and/or brown sugar and/or maple syrup. But today, it is just plain, because that is how I like it best.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Dishcloth set

I cannot for the life of me figure out why blogspot keeps turning this picture from landscape to portrait, but so it is.. the black is bats, the purple is a frankenstein, the orange is a pumpkin, the green is a witch, the brown is a tombstone and the cream is a ghost.For the dishcloth swap that I was a part of, I found this great set of "mini" dishcloth patterns on Ravelry and this blog.

So I decided since they were minis, and since they looked so cute as a set that I would do the whole set for my partner. However, they are only really minis if you do them with the recommended size 3 needles. I did that for one of them (the pumpkin) and then accidentally did the rest in size 5 - which made them slightly smaller than normal dishcloths, but not quite "mini". I really like this set and my spoilee had a great idea of starting an afgan with them. I may actually do that myself at some point with another set. We shall see...

Friday, October 31, 2008

Best Swap Spoiler ever!!

I just have to post pics of the most amazing and generous and thoughtful swap package I've ever received (which is saying something, because I have had some really awesome swap spoilers).
But JoAnn, this was amazing. This package had: a book of dishcloth patterns, because I mentioned I would like some, another knitting book "Knit 2 Together" which is already distracting me from my required study time, a *huge* skein of lovely cotton yarn - I think I am going to make the bathmat in the Knit 2 Together book with it, KnitPicks 14" size 10 harmony wood straight knitting needles (again, I have totally been wanting to try their sticks), the yarn cutter that I really wanted for travel, some great pumpkin spice soap, a bag of Halloween colored M&Ms (which Audrey has quickly claimed as her favorite potty treats), 2 bags of trail mix (we will be bringing these on our apple picking adventures tomorrow), purple witch socks (I wore them to work on Thursday), a purple bat dishcloth and scrubbie and if all that wasn't an amazing package - she also sent a hand crocheted grocery getter bag.

Seriously - thank you! You have set the bar so high for paying it forward on my next swap :).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Decorating for Halloween

Audrey and I read quite a few library books about Halloween at the end of September. In all of them the characters were making decorations for Halloween and putting them around their house. So a few weeks ago, she woke up wanting to make Halloween decorations to decorate our house.

This is the banner that I came up with. It is actually a bit of a banner from Target that had cool lettering and the rest is bits we got at Michaels.

It turned out just fine (I am not a crafty perfectionist on things like this), but I do wish I had done the project on felt instead of foam - what was I thinking. Oh well, it turned out pretty well despite being made of nasty foam - and most importantly, Audrey *loves* it.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Christmas crafting

I am already thinking of all the xmas presents I would love to make. Of course, non of the things I am about to mention are actually going to happen this year, due to lack of time, but I thought I would write down my thoughts, in case I have a little more time next year. :)

Audrey: Wee wonderfuls doll, we love to look at the photos of the beautiful dolls others have made here. Everytime we look at the photo group Audrey asks if we can get one of these nice dollies for herself.

Ryan: His scarf - this might actually happen, I have been working on it slowly throughout the year.

Genny: a corduroy quilt - she really loves corduroy.

William: A fancy and warm shawl/scarf in some super thin cashmere yarn - go for broke right :).

Mom: A kitchenaid cozy. I have been keeping my eyes open for a pattern, but have yet to see anything I want to make.

Dad: A skinny sweater - he has recently lost a lot of weight (yay dad!). I am thinking maybe the one with the flames on the arms from Stitch n' Bitch Nation, since he has also recently started riding his motorcycle again.

MIL: an afgan.

Me: a sweater (tbd), a cashmere skully scarf and cap (i already have the yarn).

Ben: a denim quilt - i actually have been collecting the denim to do this for a while. I made a denim quilt for William a couple of years ago and was planning to make one for my bro too, but... then I went back to work and it just never happened - maybe someday.

Mary Merna: a denim and khaki quilt (apparently I think everyone needs a good denim blanket in their lives).

House: I would also really like to make a knitted banner for my house. No pattern per se, but I have an idea in my head already.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Toys for adults

Yesterday was Christmas in October for me.

We have been talking about buying a freezer for years - and by 'we' I mostly mean me with an occasional nod from Ryan. Well, finally, with Ryan in school and me working full-time we decided to get one so that we can make the most of any meals we do cook, by freezing some for a less cooking day and so that we can make the most of the partially cooked meal options available as well.

Thank you Costco, we got a great price our beautiful freezer.

Also, last week when G moved out, I went to go vacuum her old room and voila our vacuum stopped working. This isn't really a surprise. We got this hand-me-down, workhorse of a vacuum from my in-laws when they were done with it and buying a new vacuum for themselves - 5 years ago. We have certainly been on borrowed time with it for awhile. Even so, I had no idea how much vacuums cost, man they are expensive. We went with the Dyson DC-24. It is a small vacuum and it is AWESOME!!

I had no idea how dirty our carpets had become. I seriously was having so much fun vacuuming our house yesterday because I was in shock at how much better they looked when I was done. Plus the vacuum rolls on a ball, which at first I was not used to so I just vacuumed as I usually do. Until I got to Audrey's round rug. This vacuum was awesome on it. I wasn't fighting with the rug and the vacuum to keep it on, it just stayed. It was awesome. I am in love, I want to vacuum everything in my whole house.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Breaking News!!

While reading the Yarn Harlot, I saw this...
Obama holding a half-finished knitted sock. Knitters are crazy and so much fun. Things like this make me proud to call it my hobby of choice. :)

Caveat: I am not making any sort of political comment with this post, just posting for fun.

Fall thoughts

One thing I love about fall, is the feeling that comes over me to really get my house in order. I love house projects anyway, but fall really gets me feeling harvesty. So in celebration, Audrey and I are going to head to Costco and buy a freezer. I heart food storage.

(Tangentially speaking: I have wanted a freezer for years, but now with Ryan in school and me working full time, we really want to take advantage of healthy partially premade meals and freeze meals when we do could so that we won't have to do cook or eat out nearly as often, but still get healthy and cheaper food. I could go on and on about how excited I am for this purchase, but that is another post for another time.)

And Ryan and I have come up with a new plan to keep our house a little cleaner with him in school and me working. Inspired by flylady, I am going to empty the dishwasher each morning before I leave and Ryan will fill it during the day. Simple and hopefully effective. Now if we could just come up with a similar system for laundry.

On the knitting front, Audrey's sweater is coming along and she almost has two sleeves to go with those shoulders. Also, I have given myself a bribe for passing my PMP course for work - I get to something from my wishlist. I am thinking either the Mason Dixon knitting book or the Holiday Knits book or some beautiful yarn for a sweater for me, I haven't quite decided. I am waiting until I finish to decide. Now if I could only get myself to study...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Now, I will start this with a disclaimer that I am not necessarily endorsing tattooing with this post (especially you Audrey - when you are old enough to read this), that said...

Isn't this an amazing tat! I can't wait to see it when it is done. I saw this on my favorite crafting blog.

Knitting Notions Wishlist

Well, in my last post on knitting I said that I wasn't so much a notions type of gal, but then as part of the swap I am in, I was reading lots of the other participants blogs and I realized I am in fact a notions gal. Here are some I would love to have (and will probably slowly acquire with the weekly 40% off coupons from Michaels).

The lovely yarn cutting pendant - truthfully, I could see myself actually wearing this on travel, just so that it is handy at all times.

The somewhat sassy, somewhat piratey t-shirt - does that qualify as a notion?

The new knitpics straights in the longer lengths - any size will do, I use them all.

This list will grow I am sure as time allows.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Cool Book List

I found this list on Ally's blog and thought it was a fun idea.

The Big Read is an National Endowment for the Arts program designed to encourage community reading initiatives and of their top 100 books, they estimate the average adult has read only six.

*Look at the list and bold those we have read.
*Italicize those we intend to read.
*Underline the books we LOVE .

Share this list in your blog, too, if you like.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6 The Bible

7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel

52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I faired okay 28/100. Interesting many of my favs are on this list (11/100). Notably Jane Austen did quite well with no less than 4 books - go Jane!

How did everyone else do? My guess is that of my friends and family Mary H will take first place, followed by my Mom and William, then Wendi, Desiree and Mary M. I also bet I am at the bottom of my well read friends list.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

New Swap

I really enjoy making dishcloths, sad but true. So I really love the online dishcloth swaps because I get to send them to people who I know will be excited about getting them.

I just signed up for the "All Hallows Eve Dishcloth Exchange". This should be fun. I am also in a Christmas dishcloth exchange right now on swapbot. The swapbot exchanges are fun because they are usually simpler than the blog exchanges. It is nice to have so many options. Thanks to all the hosts out there, who are nice enough to set these fun things in motion.

Friday, September 12, 2008

They are back!!

Yesterday Liz called me on her way into the office to see if I wanted anything from Starbux. I told her I would meet her there and off I went, thinking maybe it was an iced coffee day - but as soon as I got there and saw the sign indicating that the delicious Pumpkin Spice Latte had returned, I knew that was the drink for me. I forgot how good those drinks are. They are a little on the sweet side, so I only let myself have a drink or four a season, but each time I savor every drop. Delicious. I think I might try to do my own pumpkin spice latte at home this morning - and I am definitely adding a little cardamom and some fresh ground nutmeg. Yum, I am making my own mouth water at the very thought.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

All Hallows Eve Dishcloth Exchange Questionaire

Knotting Yarn
1. Do you knit or crochet? For how long?
I knit and crochet. I have been knitting for a couple of years now and that is my primary yarn hobby. I have been crocheting on and off since I was about 9 and my grandma Gigi taught me.

2. What sort of needles or hooks do you enjoy using the most? Are there some you've been dying to try out and haven't?
I mostly use wooden needles. I have noticed the metal needles hurt my hands, if I use them for too long. I love longer wooden needles and I can't wait to get my hands on the new harmony long needles at KnitPicks.

3. What kind of projects do you most enjoy? Small things you can take with you, or big complex ones that are just gorgeous when they're done? I enjoy small things that I can take with me, I love doing dishcloths because of the quick sense of accomplishment and the fact that they are so usable. I also have a couple of bigger projects in the works - a sweater for my daughter and a couple of other gifts, that I don't want to disclose in case the recipients read this. :)

4. List one pattern for a dishcloth that you love to make, or just tell us about one you've made or received that you loved. I love the Mason Dixon Knitting dishcloth reloaded. I especially love it in bright colors and/or varigated yarns. I also did (designed seems a little strong) a 5 star variation on that theme, that I really love because it lays perfectly flat, but still has a lot of interest.

5. What are your 'must have' notions? Are there any notions you need or can never have enough of? Any that might make you cry if you owned more? I don't really have many knitting notions outside of needles and yarn and my ipod counter. I can't even think of anything I am missing, but am certainly open to surprises.

Petting Yarn
6. What are your favorite yarns to work with? Any you hate or are allergic to? I really love cashmere - don't we all. But to stick within my budget, I use a lot of cotton and I love the cotton blends with other natural fibers - like the cotton linen blend or the cotton modal blends. I really don't like to work with acrylic. It just seems like a waste of work.

7. What colors do you like to use in projects? Any we'd never catch on your needles? I love all colors, the deep and intense ones, the bright and the subdued earthy tones. My current needles have a Christmas varigation and some solid greens. I tend to gravitate towards beautiful greens and reds even when I am not working on Christmas stuff.

8. Any cottons you'd like to try you can't find by you, or just haven't gotten around to getting? I would love to try some new cotton blends with other natural fibers to see how they hold up.

Halloween, Fall, and General Stuff
9. Do you like to use bar soap or shower gel more? What kinds of scents do you love? What kind do you hate? I am definitely a bar soap type of gal. I love clean scents - we use nothing but handmade bars in our bathrooms and as our kitchen soap. I do not care for pachuolli, vanilla or really floral scents.

10. What's more 'Halloweeny' - Ghosts, Pumpkins, or Witches? Witches!!

11. What's your favorite Treat to get? Sweet or Salty? Anything you're allergic to or just hate? I love dark chocolate and I love it with a bit of a salty nut. My absolute favorite - in case my spoiler happens to be from Hawaii is dark chocolate covered macadamian nuts. I just can't seem to find them around these parts very often.

12. What was your favorite Halloween Costume as a kid? As an adult?? As a kid, my favorite costume was to be rainbow witch - yep I made it up. My mom made me all kinds of variations on the theme with everything from a flower power skirt to a large cape. As an adult, I still dress up every year for Halloween as a witch, though now I go for the classic black to either take my daughter trick or treating or to pass out candy.

13. Are you on Ravelry? What's your ID? Yes I am on Ravelry and my ID is "madame" - quel suprise. :)

14. Anything else you'd like to be sure your pal knows? I like unusual shaped dishcloth patterns, if you happen to know how to make something clever like that. I would love a copy of your pattern to try it myself.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Cozy Fun

Because I like cozies so much, I may just have to knit a set of these for any and all of my drinking relatives. I think this could be the perfect gift for my bro for Xmas? :) I saw this on Lime & Violet's blog, in case you are actually curious.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Knitting Mysteries?

So I am not generally a "mysteries" kind of gal. But there is a fun series of knitting mysteries, that I really like. It is by Maggie Sefton and the first book is "Knit One Kill Two" and all of the title are similarly cheesy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Cozy craziness

I had to post this because Ryan kind of makes fun of my "cozy" fetish. And to be honest he didn't properly appreciate my offer to knit him a computer cozy. So imagine my delight when I found this...

Some clever artist got tired of staring at an old and dilapidated gas station and decided to craft a "cozy" to take care of the problem.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Tumbleweed Houses

I like the idea of small houses, and truthfully I think my own house is a little big right now. I enjoy the coziness of being close to the ones you love in everything you do - for better and for worse. Also, I am really annoyed by the hugeness of nearly all home builders. Do I really have to buy a 3500 sq ft home, just to get a pantry - I don't need a music room, a media room and a library, just an extra closet type space in or near the kitchen - heck I'll even add my own shelves? But I digress.

Back to little houses, Tumbleweed was started by a fellow who lives in a house that he built that is 96 sq ft. This is a little on the extreme for me. But I do like his biggest house plan. Which is incidentally probably the smallest I would actually consider for my family (just about 850 sq ft). It is called the B-53 and it is so cute - an arts and crafts style. Of course, I would add the third bedroom and call that the library/office/crafts/game/guest room (clearly it would need some good shelving) :).

And for anyone else who enjoys floorplans as much as I do, I am including the floor plan.

As an added bonus, can you just imagine how small you power bills would be for heating and cooling a place this size, plus even on a city lot, you could still have a good yard to play on and grow some delicious produce. My frugal sensibilities are all aflutter at the very thought of the cool fruit trees I could grow and the delicious vegetables.

I think I would also want a garage and of course - a pantry :).

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Bikram Blues

I haven't been in nearly 3 weeks. I am going tomorrow morning. It will probably kick my butt.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A few new favorites...

My co-workers and I love the new honey latte from starbux! Deliciousness - though perhaps not so nutritious. They start with a honey syrup and a shot or two of espresso, followed with steamed milk and topped with whip cream and drizzled with honey. Decadent and Delicious!

I finally found a foundation with a good finish and texture that has a high SPF sunscreen. Shiseido has a 42 SPF sunscreen foundation and it is my new favorite. The woman in Nordstrom sold me on it, because it was what she was wearing and it still looked fresh at the end of the day. Plus it is thin but not too thin and watery. Really it is so good as a foundation and then to add on a serious sunscreen is so fantastic.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Paul class - aka my triangle is getting better

Paul is one of my favorite Bikram teachers. He is really tough. Lately, he has been on vaca for about a month and I usually only make it to one of his classes per week, so last night was my first night back in his class. I could barely walk after the class because my muscles were so spent. Today, I am so sore, but in a good way.

William and I have talked about what makes Paul such a good teacher. I think it is that he really watches you during the whole class. And he will generally correct people in between sets of savasanas by demonstrating the proper way to do it. His demonstrations are amazing because he is just so muscley, you can actually see each muscle working the way it is supposed to in the posture.

Last time I was in his class he told me to reach for the floor in the triangle, so I did and was surprised that I could touch. Last night he came over and corrected my arm positioning, which is nice since you can't really see if you are doing it right when you are looking up at the ceiling rather than in the mirror.

Long story short, Paul's once a week class really helps me take big steps and Jim's classes help me really practice all the little things to get me ready for Paul's class.

I may have mentioned this before, but I am no longer using the ball at all (help prop to protect one's knees) in the fixed firm pose. I can sit between my knees and my butt now touches the floor!!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Knitting - dishcloths (again)

It has been far too long since I have been really active on my blog - which is a shame, because I really enjoy posting.

Recently I have decided to admit (to myself) that I just love knitting dishcloths because they are quick and easy, they travel well (as knitting projects go - i almost always have one on needles in my purse) and there is never any guilt associated with not finishing one for a month or two if you get busy.

However, how many dishcloths does one girl really need - not that many, so I have decided to start swapping them with other people who also love them on a site called Swap-Bot. It is actually really cool because unlike my previous swaps, these are quite simple - just dishcloths - so I don't have to find the time to shop for other goodies to include in the package.

So imagine my surprise when I received a swap package that was so thoughtful and touching it nearly made me tear up - and we are talking dishcloths - not generally an emotional type of gift. This lovely lady, Timiae, hand-dyed the cotton yarn then made me a dragonfly dishcloth and an "om" symbol dishcloth out of this yellow cloth that she said reminded her of Buddhist monks' robes, which is why she calls the color 'meditation'. And if that wasn't enough - she included a hank of beautiful cotton that she dyed for me to use in a project of my own!

I took pics, but it will be a while before I download them onto my other computer and then post them. If you look on Timiae's blog, you can see pics of both the dragonfly and the om dishcloths.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Family Photo

Vaca and Bikram

I must say it has been wonderful to have the week off. Ryan's sister's and their families were in town for the week, so we spent a lot of time with them and Audrey got to play with her cousins - which she loved.

I got to do some Bikram - which I loved. I did not get to do the much anticipated mini-challenge due to scheduling conflicts, but I did get to go a few more times than normal and during the middle of the day rather than either early morning or late night, so that felt really good. In fact, I made some progress in the triangle posture.

Let me give some back ground info. Jim - my usual teacher - is very concerned that you do postures the right way rather than doing them all the way. As he always says, "10% of the posture 100% correct will give you the full benefit of the posture." So in triangle, Jim really emphasizes getting low and opening up your hips rather than touching your fingers to the floor. So for the last couple of months I have been just working on getting a deeper and lower stretch. Then on Monday and Wednesday I had Paul as my teacher. He watched me do the triangle the first time and then said, "Ok people, I know Jimini has you all scared to reach while in triangle, but if your leg is parallel to the floor you should be able to touch the floor in proper form." Which he then demonstrated. Let me just say that Paul's demonstrations are amazing!

Clearly he was talking to me, because my leg is parallel, so I tried it, but I didn't try it too far, because I was still afraid of doing the posture incorrectly. However, last night, when I had Jim as my teacher again, I figured I would try and touch the floor, because if I really was doing it wrong he would definitely tell me. And voila, I touched the floor and sure enough, it was a piece of cake because I was definitely low enough! Yay!! I was so excited I nearly lost my balance and fell over. "Act cool" I kept saying to myself. As soon as I got out of class I called William and left a very excited message on her machine.

Oh and also, after class on Wednesday, Paul said I had a really great practice!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Life is good here in the DMV (DC, MD and VA). Work is keeping me busy and I am still enjoying my job - which is good since Ryan has quit his job and is going to start being the Stay-At-Home-Dad at least until he starts law school in the fall. Which is of course big news in and of itself, Ryan got into George Mason Law School - the evening program. We are thrilled - this means other than Ryan getting to actually move forward toward his career goals, there aren't going to be any huge disruptive changes (like moving, changing jobs, etc.) for our family.

Also, Genny, my sis, is still living with us and going to watch Audrey for a few hours each week in return for room and board.

A friend of mine started a ladies book club and that has been so much fun! Our first book was "A Thousand Splendid Suns", our second book was "Eat Pray Love" and our next book is "Absurdistan". At the last book club I tried a pomegranate martini for the first time. I really liked it, it wasn't at all sweet and fruity - which I don't really like - it was just good. I better ask Susie what type of pomegranate juice she used so I can make it some other time for myself.

Here is the recipe:
1 part pomegranate juice (I will post when I know what kind)
2 parts good vodka

Shake with ice, then pour into glasses and add a splash of club soda.

Last weekend, we went and visited my Aunt and her family including kids in North Carolina. The trip was interesting, Audrey picked up some unfortunate behaviors from the slightly older girls - like answering her mama with "No! Never!" so she is getting into lots of trouble these days. Plus she is sick from being with other kids who were sick - blast. She had a great time at the children's museum near Duke University. It was really neat - they had an amazing butterfly room.

In other news, I am doing another mini-Bikram challenge next week. I am taking next week off because my family-in-law is in town. While there will be lots of fun family time, I am also going to try to make it to yoga everyday, because it just feels amazing to get to go that often.

The next week I am going to Newport, Rhode Island for work. It's a quaint town, that would be especially nice to visit in the summer... Unfortunately there are no nearby Bikram studios, so I won't be able to go while on travel (somehow William manages to travel to places with Bikram, I don't).

Saturday, February 02, 2008

New Teach

Last night was the first time I have been to Bikram since last weekend - on account of getting sick earlier in the week. I was a little trepidatious because I hadn't been in almost a week, but I figured it was going to be Jim teaching so it wouldn't be so bad.

Usually I go to the Friday 6 pm yoga because that is the class that Paul teaches. Paul is a really good teacher - but he is also really hard. He holds the poses longer than Jim and he is just hard-core. So hard-core that he is gone to compete in the championships this weekend. Paul is great at explaining the postures and answering questions - so I almost always ask him all of my "fine-tuning" questions.

Jim is an old man and one of Bikram's senior teachers. He is an ex-army Ranger so he plays up the gruff, tough guy act; BUT he is actually an extremely gentle teacher. He is very hands on. He will come over and physically move you into the correct position if you are doing it wrong. He also knows how to modify any posture to any level. In short he is a phenomenal teacher. And I feel so fortunate to practice under him so often. (After going to so many classes with Jim, William now ignores her teachers in Minneapolis, because she "knows" the point of postures.)

So my current mix of 3 Jim classes and 1 Paul class each week has been really good. Now however, with Paul at the competition and on vaca after that for a few weeks, there is a new lady teacher at my Friday night class. She was tough. She held all of the postures longer - with very little space between the postures and sets, our class was still 105 minutes rather than 90. She gave some good tips on postures that often get over looked - like the sit-up. She also corrected me on my back bend at the beginning - she said I was doing very well, but need to put the weight into my heels. (I still can not quite wrap my head around the idea of bending backwards as far as you can *and* simultaneously leaning backwards onto your heals - I think I might ask Jim to spot me on that this evening.)

I was pleasantly surprised that after nearly a week off, my body was able to go deeper into almost every posture - which felt fantastic. But, holding each posture longer... I am so sore today.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Recent projects

I haven't written in far too long, but I have been knitting even if I haven't been blogging about it.

I recently started making the "dishcloth reloaded" from the Mason Dixon Knitting book. It is this fabulous hexagon shape and it goes pretty quickly. Plus I love making something both functional and fun. I will post pics once I download them from my "new to me" camera.

Are there any knitters out there with other unusually shaped patterns for dishcloths that they enjoy?

Bikram Babes

While William was here over Christmas, she and I went to yoga everyday. And now I am hooked! I go 3-4 times a week. To fit it in, I go every Friday, Saturday and Sunday and then I try to go in the evening of the day that I work from home - usually Wednesday or Tuesday. I wish I could go everyday, but I am thrilled to be able to go as often as I do.

For the first time (perhaps in my life) I actually have an exercise routine that I *love*. If I could go everyday I would - but it is 90 minutes long and it is 20-30 minutes from my house - so it is more of a time commitment than I have on a daily basis.