Monday, February 25, 2008

and the oscar goes to...

While the Oscars weren’t nearly as long as they’ve been in previous years (11:48? really?), I did get quite a bit done on my newest project: a scarf-sized Clapotis.

The stitch markers are new-to-me rubber rings from Clover. I’ve always just used simple plastic rings from Susan Bates that are super cheap, which is super good for me as they always seem to be scattered around the apartment or the bottom of my bag. But during the sweater knitting (still keeping my fingers crossed that it will turn out OK), I discovered that the rings were actually slicing my fingers.

How did I discover that? By tossing a vinegarette dressing into a salad with my fingers. The vinegar jumped right into the little cut, and I promptly started jumping around and howling in pain. It’s better now, but I’m glad I made the investment in the fancy stitch markers. Much more comfy…

Sunday, February 24, 2008

down and out

I planned on sharing some lovely photos of a finished Hourglass Sweater, but I've run into some blocking problems.

After blocking, the sweater is now huge, and I'm very depressed about it.

Instead, please enjoy some selections from the New York Botanical Garden's Orchid Show, which opened yesterday. Lovely, aren't they?

Friday, February 22, 2008

snow day

New York finally got its first big snowfall today. I'd already planned to take a personal day from work, to go in for a physical and drive Hubby to the airport in the afternoon. Well, I made it to the doctor's office, and enjoyed a leisurely visit with her, as none of her other patients were going to brave the roads. For most, it was probably a good idea, as this county isn't able to plow their roads well at all. For example, I saw a salting and sanding truck go by, immediately followed by a plow. Wouldn't you think it makes a lot more sense to get the snow off the road, and then put down the salt to melt the ice and sand to provide traction?

But my visit to Trader Joe's was great; there were fully stocked shelves and hardly any people!

Of course, Hubby isn't flying out this evening. The airline called at 1am to let us know that his flight was cancelled because the airplane wouldn't be able to make it into Newark. I fear that the airport is going to be a mess tomorrow, too, but he has far more patience than I do, so it's really working out that I'm staying home for this trip.

Today's my snow day, and I'm staying home to knit. The apartment is pretty cold for some reason. I've got my Clapotis wrapped around my neck, and pulled up over my nose. Too bad we gave away our space heater last weekend.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

weekend adventures

I think I've written about my and Hubby's inability to be spontanious on our travels (and in general, I supposed, since this wasn't really travel per se). Sunday morning we were trying to decide what to do for breakfast, and Hubby decided that we should call up the BIL and SIL and make a dim sum run to Chinatown. We made it into the City without any problems, but getting downtown proved rather difficult. At some point, BIL said, "The Chinese New Year is celebrated for 10 days, right?" Fairly soon, we determined that Yes, Indeed there were parades and celebrations going on, and we were having a beast of a time finding a place to park (even in a parking lot).

Our first choice dim sum house had a line of about 30 people out the door; the second place was closed. But we lucked into another place that Hubby had heard of, and we ended up having a great meal.

We've been doing a lot of cleaning out to prepare for the move, and I found my very first laptop, circa 1993:

It's SO heavy, and the screen is about 5" high. But it's adorable! I couldn't locate the power cord and should probably chuck it, but think that it's going to stick around until the last possible moment.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

joining up

The sleeves are done, and the body is done, so now I just need to learn how to join them together and do raglan shaping. It would normally sound pretty easy, but it requires that precious commodity, time. Which I don't have much of right now.

We are trying to do some "staging" of our apartment for potential buyers. Among other things, this means that we have to be incredibly neat all the time. I'm hoping that this will become habit, and in the future I'll always go to bed with the coffee table clean, mail sorted away, and dishes all washed. I don't think this is a likely scenario. We are also tossing stuff with great abandon, and have some lovely family members who volunteered garage space for us to remove stuff to make our place look spacious and charming. Now we need to figure out what goes permanently, what goes into their garage, and what stays. What should happen with the little Yankee helmet that they use for dishes of soft serve ice cream at the stadium? I can't throw that away, can I?

So even though I need sitting and knitting time to calm myself down, I will just have to delay it for a while. Hopefully we'll have a deck and lounge chairs in Portland. That sounds like just the ticket.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

day of triteness

1. Our lunch service is giving us Valentine’s Day cupcakes today. There was a line outside the Godiva store I passed this morning.

2. That little dog Uno is the cutest thing ever.

3. On this date in 1859, Oregon became the 33rd state of the union. (Not really trite, but interesting, no?)

4. I’m getting a little bored with knitting stockinette stitch in the round. The sweater is almost ready for the joining of the sleeves and the start of raglan shaping on the yoke. I’ve never done this, but maybe I’ll finish it before the end of the long weekend. And then I’ll meet the “Knit a Mile” goal for January/February. Good stuff!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

westward, ho!

Two years ago, I opened up Yarn and Cocktails. It was snowing that day, and because we were nesting, I finally went over to Blogger and got started. Guess what? It's snowing again today, too.

I like to take the opportunities present by anniversaries, new years, and birthdays to reassess and look into the future. And decide to change what I don't like. So I think today is a good day to share the secret I've been keeping.

Hubby and I are moving to Portland, Oregon this spring.

(I think that we've told everyone who needs to know, but this could be an interesting experiment in learning who reads and never mentions it.)

Did you know, in that place called "Outside of metro NYC", people can control the temperature in their homes? Seriously! People get to decide if they want it to be 80 degrees inside in January! And that people have their own washers and dryers? You don't have to wait in line, nor worry if someone just used bleach in a machine that you are loading dark-colored clothes into? You also don't need to pay for the priviledge of using washers that never provide really hot water (thus no felting).

And there are places where parking is not an issue that overwhelms thoughts of going out? You can just park, and not for $40 for three hours, either! And when you come home, there's a place for you to park for the night! I know, it's crazy sounding.

These aren't the only reasons for moving. A 20-minute commute is pretty darn appealing after spending 2.5 hours per day getting back and forth from the office for 11 years. And some space to breathe is rather exciting as well. We are ready to live in a place where we can get to a hiking trail in minutes rather than hours. And the farmer's markets in Portland put the Union Square Greenmarket to shame.

There's wine for Hubby (and me), and fantastic yarn shops, too. We just need to sell a lovely apartment in a tony NYC suburb first. If you know anyone in the market, do drop a line. ;)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

the test drive

Many years ago, when we were in Italy on vacation, Hubby and I saw lots and lots of Smart cars. Totally adorable, and the perfect size for on-sidewalk parking in Rome. Because really, why park on the street, when there's a whole sidewalk right there? (I did not really care for Rome all that much; historically it intriguied me, but the people - not so much. I would very very happily spend all my remaining days in Florence or Venice, however.)

But anyway, while in Rome we actually went to a Smart dealership, and in our very terrible Italian found out that there was a plan to bring the Smart to the U.S. in a few years. We bought little models of the Smart, waited patiently, and signed up on the waiting list.

It's now 2008, and the Smarts have landed. And they are so very adorable. We got the call for our test drive, and got to take them for a spin. Aren't they the cutest thing ever?

The driving was fine; the cars are designed so you are sitting up pretty high - about 8" higher than in our current Saturn. And for being less than 9' long and no backseat, it feels quite spacious inside. (Drat, should have taken a shot from the drivers' seat.) There's a kooky manual/automatic transmission that would take some getting used to. I don't really understand why it isn't one or the other, and the sales rep lost me in his explanation of it all. The ride isn't the smoothest thing out there. Hubby and I both hit the same pothole* and you certainly felt it. But for me, with less than stellar depth perception, it's pretty great, because there are NO hidden parts of the car. There's no hood, no trunk, and you can almost stretch out your arms to touch all sides of the vehicle. I was demonstrating this fact while at a red light. I think Eddie the sales rep wished I was holding onto the steering wheel.

*Because there's only two seats in the car, we couldn't test drive together, and our sales guy started laughing after he bumped over it again. Pretty funny. We were practically at the dealership before Hubby realized that we wouldn't be in the car together. He's so excited about this car that logic isn't always primary in his mind.

We found a YouTube video of Jay Leno checking one out, and he seems to be a super-car-guy. He was very positive about it, so that seems good. He went in-depth about the safety issues, too. It's a Mercedes vehicle, so it's not some Yugo (or Tata perhaps?). The car has a steel structure that is pretty impenatrable. But he also pointed out that the car is light, so swerving and stopping are much easier than in a standard vehicle, and certainly easier than in an SUV. And he also said that you shouldn't ever expect to be in a head-on, 70 mph collision.

After our test drives, I deemed it irresponsible to not go and see what other little cars are out there on the market. Very helpfully, the Mini dealership is about 100m down the road from Smart. At Mini, and the other SIX dealerships we visited (EIGHT in one day and I collapsed after coming home), there was nothing to compare. The Mini felt cramped compared to the Smart. All of the other small cars felt like there was no design thought put into them at all. They felt cheap, basically. And had only very standard gas mileage (around 30 mpg).

The Smart is really lovely, very cleverly designed (the engine is in the trunk and you can pop off the side panels and change the color of your car very simply and the roof is all transparent which helps it feel bigger), and gets roughly 45 mpg on a standard gasoline engine - the same as the Prius.

We'll be getting a second car soon. And it's gonna be a cutie.

Friday, February 08, 2008

bits of hourglass

The sleeves are done! The sleeves are done!

Now I just have to knit the entire body. There are many, many stitches required to make it all the way around my torso. But we don’t have too much planned for the weekend, so I might hopefully make some good progress.

Tomorrow’s big adventure is going to be test driving (what may be) our new car: the Smart. I will be taking lots of pictures (while Hubby drives). Can’t wait to tell you about it!

Monday, February 04, 2008

doing the right thing

Last week while walking home, I saw an insurance card on the sidewalk. It was from my insurance company so I recognized it quickly, even though it was pretty dark. I stuck it in my pocket, and then promptly forgot about it.

The next day at work, I found it and did a quick poll in the hallway about what I should do with it. It’s not like a credit card that you might use on a regular basis, and probably not a big deal for the insurance company to reprint. But under the insured person’s name there was a company name on the card, and so I went to Google and found the address of the firm.

I tossed the card in an envelope and addressed it to the Human Resources Department. I jotted down a quick note saying that I’d found the card on 57th Street, and hoped they could get it back to its owner. I guess I didn’t sign it (head cold = fuzzy brain), because…

This morning I found the following message on our e-bulletin board from one of the receptionists: “Thanks for returning the insurance card found on the street: A staff member kindly mailed an insurance card found in the street back to Gregory G with an unsigned note. Gregory's father, George, called with heartfelt thanks. He said it's very refreshing that someone would take the time to do this and wanted to express his appreciation.”

So I’m assuming that the card belonged to a son who dropped it (there are lots of high schools and colleges in my office’s immediate area). Google came through again, because this kind person found my office and called say thank you. My hallway conferees are quite excited to see what good fortune comes my way for doing this good deed. Me too! I'm ready.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

a new start

(First attempt on the left, the new sleeve on the right.)

The Hourglass Sweater is back on the needles. It turns out that my gauge for the sweater was spot on with a size 6 needle, and therefore the crazy modifications I'd made on the first go-around weren't really necessary. Also since starting the first sleeve, I learned that a turned hem should be started with a two-sizes smaller needle.

So I've started fresh, and I'm enjoying the counting necessary for making a garment, with the stockinette stitch keeping things basic enough for me to muddle through with a head cold. I will start some lace soon (and the Logan River Wrap is a great idea!) to remain optimistic that I won't be sick forever. And when I'm through with being sick, I'll have a great sweater to wear.

Friday, February 01, 2008


Home sick, yet again, so I took the opportunity to graft together the toes on my January socks.

Two pair of socks in one month is pretty impressive for me! My bag of gifts-to-give is getting pretty full. Could I possibly be done with my holiday knitting by spring? (Not likely.)

I'm really not sure what I'm going to be knitting next. The joys of the knit stitch are starting to wear a bit thin, and I think it's time for a challenge. Of course, this cold is making my head a bit foggy, so starting a lace project probably isn't the best idea. But the weekend doesn't have much on the schedule (thankfully), so I might find something to grab my interest.

Oh, and Go Giants. I guess.