Friday, June 30, 2006

week in review

Thanks to the start of Summer Fridays at work, I got to finish up some lingering projects. My New Orleans Malabrigo scarf from One Skein has been patiently waiting to be blocked for a couple of weeks. Since the humidity is at its lowest level in weeks, I decided that blocking it NOW was imperative. After a quick soak in the bowl to the salad spinner, I laid it out for a stretch.

I don't have blocking wires, and thought that string might help, and I was pretty pleased with how it worked. Not perfect, but it really helped to get the edges straight and tidy. After we return from the city I'll unpin and promptly fold up for the fall. I'm very pleased with this beauty, especially since it looks like it just needed some nudging to open up and show off the ribbing. The cable on one side is very cool, and the colors are fascinating. The left-overs will make such a lovely baby cap.

Speaking of babies, another one was born into the friend-ily yesterday. We've got a little girl this time, and I'm really debating what to make for her. She's a Southern lass, so it's got to be lightweight; time is short around here, so can I commit to making a blanket? While little baby clothes are so darn cute, I get a little sad thinking that they'll only be useful for a couple of months at most. So a blankie is looking more likely. Also, big brother got a blanket on the occasion of his birth, so fair is fair, right? Don't want to be responsible for starting up sibling rivalry so soon!

I also finished the toe on a Regia sock, which means I've gotten through five pairs of socks in six months! I'm well on the way to success in my personal sock challenge. Sticklers will note that the socks aren't exactly finished, but mustering the courage to graft 30 stitches or so takes some time. They are darn close, and that's good enough for me. I plan on taking two skeins of Koigu along with me this weekend, and hope to get a good bit done while we are "away". The subway to and from Coney Island is a looooong trip.

I'll be back with lots of pictures on Tuesday.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

weekend update

So. Where’ve you been?

You know. Around.

Pretty lame excuse.

Yeah. There’s rain, then heat, and rain and heat together.

Certainly lame.

And fretting about impending doom w/r/t the big scary multiple regression exam.

Oh, boo hoo.

Well, we are camping out in the big city for the weekend, going to Coney Island and out for fancy dinners. That’s interesting, and won’t involve school.

Better. A weekend update on Thursday? Any pictures from the Spin-Out to share?

Yeah, a couple. It was fun, and I spun some truly bad examples of yarn. I think that I should just knit with unspun fiber. Hubby was much more proficient.

I sense some other underlying issues. Anything you’d care to share?

Well, post #100 is approaching really soon. I feel like I should plan something to celebrate, but then, I basically only do this for myself, so what should I do? Get a really froofy drink at Starbucks instead of a plain latte?

Hey, you’ve got three subscribers in Bloglines… that’s something.

I’m one of them.

Well… Celebrate post #123 as an occasion if that makes you happy.

Sounds like a plan. Celebration forthcoming.

Friday, June 23, 2006

drinks round-up

The Dining section of the paper had some interesting pieces about drinks this week. Of course, I had to read the one on cocktails
first. I did try the passion-fruit and ginger syrup in a little drink this week. I used two ounces of vodka and half an ounce of the syrup, gave it a good shake, and poured it over some ice. (Nice home-freezer ice, too.) The syrup was very sweet, and didn’t need any simple syrup at the end. The vodka’s edge drowned out the ginger component of the syrup, which was disappointing. I’ll have to figure out something else to try next.

Keep your fingers crossed for the Spin-Out. Rain or shine, Hubby and I are going to go! Neither of us know anything about spinning, but I’ll bring a sock along to keep me company. It looks really cool, and I’ve always admired the bags of raw fiber at Rhinebeck. I’ve never seriously thought about trying to learn, because (a) I already have too much yarn, and (b) not enough time to knit, let alone spin what I need to knit. Maybe Hubby will decide that spinning is his craft of choice… and I’ll get the best of both worlds!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

identical twins

I shouldn't be so proud of this, but I'm really tickled that I managed to get the repeats on the second sock to match the first one. I just couldn't figure it out for Hubby's second sock. He reminded me that he rarely stands with his feet right next to each other, so it really wasn't such a big deal. He's got fraternal twin socks. I think that these are going to go to a friend for her birthday, which is next Monday. I don't know if they will be mailed by then, but it will be close.

On another topic, would anyone care to share their experiences with Audible? I'm trying to figure out the different options and what will be best for me. I'd like to get unabridged books so I can multitask and improve my mind and knit at the same time. Getting the CDs from the library and loading them onto my iPod is a bit of a pain. Is it worth it?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

for my constant commenter

The monstrosity that caught your interest is two blocks away from the entrance (that I use) to Grand Central. There are usually a few people looking in the windows, so I guess that cats appeal to some. ;) They might appeal to me if it were not for the could-kill-me-in-an-hour-fur that cats have. But I took a couple of pictures this morning just for you.

On my way home, I saw that the doors were open, and I suppose that I could have gone in and walked around a bit. However, I wasn't brave enough to do so.

Monday, June 19, 2006

nearly finished socks

Significant progress is being made on my own personal sock challenge: proof that I've got another two socks nearly completed. If only it didn't take so long to do the short row toes! My foot nearly melted when trying on the wool sock on the right. The pictures aren't the greatest, but I couldn't take it much longer. Once that toe is done, the wool pair is finished! That brings me up through March. The obnoxious orange sock is going really quickly; I did the whole length of the foot today. April seems right around the corner...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

my weekend

To start, I finished a little baby hat. I call it Lettuce Head. I just knit a tube, and then gathered the bound-off stitches and tied them together. The color and top remind me of a new head of boston lettuce. It will soon be headed out to a new baby. Of course, it's dasterdly hot, so luckily it turned out big for wearing in the fall.

We got this bottle of passionfruit and ginger syrup in a new chocolate shop in Cold Spring. I'm trying to figure out how to use it in a drink, and will experiment later in the week. I think that vodka will probably work best.

More strawberries! Last week's berries weren't the greatest, so I only got a pint. These are fabulous, so I'm regretting the decision. But there will be more next week.

Good luck on Monday!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

field trip

We look a nice little trip to Cold Spring, NY this afternoon. The scenery was great, as was the browsing in antique shops. We had lunch at a little place called Le Bouchon, which was good. Sadly, they didn't have any Rose on the wine list. It was a big shame... french bistro fare in the summer and no Rose to be had?

Reports of the yarn shop in town were good, and I'm happy to say that Knittingsmith lived up to the hype. There were lots of tweedy marvels on the shelves, but the promised high of 90 degrees meant that I couldn't get too excited about them. I fell for this wool, and had to get a little. It's two-ply and very loosely spun. The owner of the shop suggested that it would be good for gloves or fingerless mitts. I'll be happy to let it age in the stash for a while.

Friday, June 16, 2006

tonight, the role of sophisticated new yorker

will be played by yours truly! Last night Hubby, a friend and I got a chance to see Jessica Molaskey at the Algonquin Hotel's Oak Room. Such a famous hotel, and it's always nice to be able to go as a seat-warmer and not have to pay the cover charge. The show was great (corroborated here). It was fun to dress up for the day, and I even brough makeup with me to do some face-fixin before we arrived. Of course, I forgot about that part and went in with only the bare minimum. In honor of my favorite member of the Round Table, I had a Dorothy Parker cocktail: vodka, chambourd, and lemon juice. Sweet and tart, but a little strong for my drink tastes.

Also, Happy Bloomsday!

I'm taking a break from the studying, and enjoying some knitting time on the train. In fact, I think that I'll take advantage of a lunch break (so rare!) and knit for a while now, too.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

happy flag day!

I signed up to receive email updates from my state senator a while ago. There was a pretty challenging race for his seat in 2004, and he won it by 18 votes. Really. After that adventure, I decided that I should try and keep some tabs on what he's doing for me.

The emails are quite useless, but entertaining to see what the good senator and his staff think are the most pressing concerns of the district. But on Monday I got an email that I have to excerpt, because it really does hit at the heart of What Is Really Important In American Politics Today.

~ Long May It Wave ~


I pledge allegiance to
the Flag of the United States of America
and to the Republic for which it stands,
one Nation under God,
Indivisible, with liberty and
Justice for all

(The Pledge of Allegiance was written by Francis Bellamy, who wrote it in 1892 as a tribute to our Flag on the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America.)

(Please See End of Flag Day Message For Ways to Save Gas and Save Money.)

Good lord! I wish that I could send this out to the 18 voters who got him re-elected. The full story behind this election is related to the $5.15 Is Not Enough campaign by the Working Families Party. Very interesting political maneuvering by a relatively small operation from Brooklyn.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

peony season

My peonies are just so lurvely that I bought a skirt to celebrate them. Me, in a skirt? Yeah, it's kinda unreal.

I have a whole bag of Jo Sharp Desert Cotton in the exact light green color of the leaves. Now I just need to find a nice pattern for a sleeveless top and I'll be a happy girl. (Gauge roughly 18x24.)

I have to go back to work today; a four and a half day weekend is pretty nice. It would be even better if I could repeat it with no pressure of papers and homework assignments. Soon I'll be done for a whole month, and I CAN'T WAIT!!!

Monday, June 12, 2006

sock-of-the-month club

While regular life seems challenging enough on most days, I’m going to issue myself a little knitting challenge. It’s time for my very own Sock of the Month Club. Not just a sock, but a pair of socks per month! Woo hoo! With classes slowing down, and the desire to carry big knitting projects around with me fading as the temperature rises, it’s time for socks. It’s a belated New Year’s Resolution: knit 12 pairs of socks during 2006.

I’m a little behind, but where’s the fun in being exactly on schedule? So far this year, there are two pair completed: the autumnal Koigu and the Retro Ribs. That brings me up through February.

Then there are two socks that are nearly completed: hubby’s blue and tan, and my gray and pink. And because I decided that another pair of Addi size 1s were needed for me to really complete the Sock of the Month Club challenge, I’ve started another set for me, in this extremely wild Regia cotton. Hubby’s second sock is a bit delayed because I’m trying to figure out the repeats in the yarn so they can match. I don’t know I can’t get it, but once summer class #1 is over, I’m sure that it will be much easier. So I’m up through the end of March, basically. No sweat. By the end of June I should be through April’s socks, or maybe even May's. Totally doable.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

happy knit in public day!

I didn't knit in public (sorry). I did yesterday, though: both legs of the train ride; and also while waiting for my lunch, on a bench, outside Snack, on Thompson Street. I haven't been out much today, but the farmers' market had peonies, which are looking lovely.

I'm happy to report that I'm through officially pondering Afghanistan's troubles. The presentation was given, the memo turned in, and now I just have to write a final paper, and I'm done with class #1 of the summer session. It's a lot easier to focus on a paper when finishing the thing is the only piece standing in the way of completion. No more dilly-dallying! Except to blog, of course.

Friday, June 09, 2006

a grand day out continued

After the Kykuit tour/forced march, I decided that we needed to head up to the Stone Barns Center for Agriculture. Last fall we took a tour of the facility and met the bourbon red turkeys that were busy growing for Thanksgiving. The turkeys were all accounted for already, but I decided that we should try to get one this year. So that was my justification for wanting to go, but it was really so we could relax in the bar at Blue Hill at Stone Barns and sample one of their unusual cocktails.
They couldn’t help with the turkey waiting list, so we headed for the bar. The list, unfortunately, was pretty similar to what I remember from last summer. I decided on a sorrel margarita, which was grassy and green green green. Nice and tart; a little too much salt. Last summer I was crazy for the rhubarb martini. I’m supposed to get a batch of rhubarb from a friend this week, so I will try making my own rhubarb syrup for special concoctions.

After drinks and nibbles, we visited the farm's sow, who is now so big that she can't move. They use a little crane-like device to move her around. Normally I would feel bad for an animal that's so large it can't move, but I think this pig might have it better than me, so I'm not so sorry for her.

On to the chickens, who live in mobile pens, with hen houses that move with them. When the grass is less than fresh, they just move the chickens and their home. The pens are more like suggestions to the chickens. We saw lots of chickens wandering around outside the tiny fence. When we did the official tour last summer, our guide took us into the pen, and one chicken tried to eat my toes. You might want to avoid the sandals if you visit. Or keep your distance.

From the chickens' perch we heard lots of adorable bleeting, and I had to go tramping through the fields to find the sheep.

You can see that the fences for the animals aren't a big deal. A few strings does not a Robert Frost-type fence make. Also, the sheep-dog's name is Stella. (Because if you are going to be yelling a name frequently, why not exercise your Brando impersonation skills at the same time?)

There were lots of little lambs scampering about, chasing mommies, and bleeting like crazy. The scene was so precious that my face hurt from smiling so much. We will certainly have to go back for another visit before too long. One wonderful thing about the Stone Barns Center is that you can just show up and take a walk through the fields. I imagine they don't recommend visiting the cows and larger animals close up, but the chickens, sheep, and pigs are totally friendly, and happy to visit for a while.

Monday, June 05, 2006

a grand day out

Yesterday I took an afternoon off from school. Was it deserved? Maybe not. I should have spent more time working on the neglected statistics studies, but I did a homework assignment that took an hour and a half, and that’s my limit. But page limits on papers are helpful at times, and since I’m running up against one for the latest Afghanistan paper, it was time for a break.

Hubby suggested a trip to Cold Spring for a little antique shopping (not that we ever get things at antique stores except old postcards). It sounded good to me, except for the fact that the highly regarding yarn shop was closed on Sundays, and it was already past noon when he floated the idea. We had to get back to cook our local pork chops for dinner, you see.

So we decided to stick a bit closer to home and visited Kykuit in Tarrytown. Built by John D. Rockefeller, and turned over to the National Historic Trust a couple of years ago, it was a fairly grand home (but nothing compared to some of the mansions in Newport). JDR was quite a devout Baptist, and they didn’t go in for the drinkin’ and the dancin’ that amused the wealthy of Newport.

Originally I hoped that we’d be able to wander through the house, and camp out in a garden or two for reading and knitting. But Kykuit has tight security, and there was no dilly-dallying allowed. We had about five minutes to view Nelson’s art collection in the basement gallery. Forward, march!

We decided to end the afternoon with the Rockefellers at another part of their estate: the Stone Barns Center for Agriculture, home of Blue Hill north. Stay tuned for those pictures tomorrow (which are much better, I think, and feature a sorrel margarita).

Saturday, June 03, 2006

things i love about summer

(This is going to be a short list. I'm a winter kind of gal. Easier to wear wool.)

1. Farmers' markets arrive in little parking lots. You can find eggs from real chickens, talk with farmers that actually know what their cattle ate before they ended up in plastic pouches, and vegetables that were in the ground in the very recent past. Some of the veggies actually have real dirt on them (like our radishes)! The veggie options are still fairly small, but the greens are starting to come up; we've got arugula and spinach for the weekend.

And strawberries that are actually strawberry-colored all the way through! After being reminded of how good strawberries can actually be, I can't believe that I have those styrofoam things from God knows where in other months. Summer fruit makes me want to bake like crazy, even though the sweltering kitchen makes me crazy. I'm so ready for the other berries to arrive... but patience is a virtue, and the raspberries and blackberries will be worth the wait.

2. School vacation! Eventually! Papers on Afghanistan continue. The more I read, the more hopeless I feel.

Friday, June 02, 2006

city slicker indeed

One of the joys of a subway system that runs 24 hours a day is that maintanence is hard to accomplish when there are always trains zipping by. Therefore, NYC has a few problems when the rains come. And the rains have been coming in fierce sudden bursts lately. This afternoon I had the pleasure of watching full trains go by with no room little 'ol me (nor anyone else, to be fair). Because the drainage in the subways is so clogged that when it rains a lot, they have to take certain tracks out of service (electricity + water = bad).

The guy behind me (closer to me than Hubby gets some nights) had some good salsa music in his headphones, though, so I got to enjoy that during the trip.

However, the slow-downs weren't so bad, and I only had to go a few stops. Hubby, on the other hand, is stuck in traffic somewhere, watching as precious cheaper-than-gold gasoline is burnt up. But I'll bet he doesn't have someone underarm in his nose.

(Last night I turned a heel! But I'm too lazy to get the camera out to share. Long day of classes.)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

some days, you gotta love the post

The Department of Homeland Security cut the allocations for New York City and Washington, DC by approximately 40% in the current round of grant allocations. The Post helpfully points out the ridiculous nature of this decision. (In case you can't read the sub-headline, it says, "Feds slash our funds to boost hicks in sticks." Hee hee.)
Reasons for the decrease include not wanting to pay for overtime, since New York City doesn't have any national icons. Um, whatever. We used to have one, but it was destroyed by terrorists. There's that little statue in the harbor, but the Frenchies gave it to us so it's not so vital to America. Also, evidently the NYPD is one of the worst prepared police departments in the country. According to a 60 Minutes piece from a few months ago, the NYPD is the only police department in the country to have officers and agents stationed abroad. A NYPD officer was on the scene in Madrid before any federal agent. Studying to learn how NYC might be better able to handle a similar situation.

One of the sad things about being a student of public policy is coming to terms with the fact that policy is always trumped by political interests. Always. So, the two cities that have experienced terror attacks in the US voted (roughly) 90% for the other guy in the last presidental election. Now security funding is slashed. Coincidence? I think not.

(I'm trying to puzzle out the Chicago situation, and why that blue city got more money in this round. All I can figure is that someone in DHS really likes Jennifer Aniston and since she's a Windy City-er now, they have to make sure she's safe.)

No knitting going on. Very little drinking too. Very sad state of affairs all around.