Monday, April 27, 2009

Jen's Bridal Shower - posthaste

I kept forgetting to post pictures I took of my lovely friend Jen's bridal shower two weeks (!) ago....and now she is married!! Their wedding was awesome; the actual ceremony was less than 10 minutes, and included such fabulous nuggets of wisdom as, "When you are sick, I will make you orange Jell-O", and my personal favorite, "I promise to know the difference between stockinette and reverse stockinette stitch..." ... The vows were pretty funny, but it was very obvious that she is crazy about her new husband, Lon. Actually, the first time I met him was at their wedding! I sat next to some other glassblowers. :) Then I sat next to knitters at the reception.

So, here are some pics! Here is Jen opening gifts as her sister is passing them to her. :) (I liked the color of her sister's shirt, which was really interesting that a redhead could pull it off, but she wore it well!)

Here is a shot of the personalized Dove candies that her sister had made up. They really went to a lot of effort to pull this event off, and even though bridal showers are definitely not my usual scene, I could tell they did it with love and just wanting Jen to have a great time.

Here is a shot of Jen's sister bringing over a giant canister of Dove candies - the girl in the black shirt eventually guessed how many were in there, and won the jar, which she promptly shared with everyone. (I should also mention Jen's ridiculous funny maribou-trimmed light-up tiara! Yeah!)

And here she is, in attack mode for the cake. :)

Congratulations, Jen!! I am so happy for you and Lon!!!!

Dry Falls Camping Trip

This past weekend, I headed out for my first camping trip of the year with Tori, Igor, Ryan, and his new girlfriend, Rupali.

Tori set up a trip to Dry Falls State Park, located in eastern Washington, about a 3 hour drive from my home in Ballard. According to the literature, the falls were created at the end of the last Ice Age, when a large waterfall kept retreating further and further, carving out a huge canyon that looks very reminiscent of a miniature Grand Canyon, to my eye. The dry fall-bed is three times the size of Niagara Falls, and I believe that is via measuring perimeters of both falls. There is a series of lakes, all varying sizes, that lie at the bottom of the dried waterfalls. They are very beautiful, and conducive to kayaking.

We unwittingly arrived the day before trout fishing season opened, so we were crowded into the state campground amidst a miasma of families with children, carousing and drinking heavily while pulling in their limit of trout. (Mark tells me trout is tasty; I've never tried it! Maybe I should have convinced someone to catch us some trout and we could have fried them up...)

The weather was fairly cold. The sun warmed things up in the mid-afternoon, but I think I had a fleece or my ski jacket on for all but a few hours while out there. The scenery was beautiful - high chaparral desert, bristling with sage plants and hearty yellow wild daisies that bloomed beautifully on the arid landscape. It was interesting to see such dry earth along the walls and tops of the canyons, and then see the rushing water of rivers flowing to lakes below.

Here is a picture I took at the Dry Falls visitor center, a curious building that looks like a cuboid mushroom. This is, I believe, the end-point of Dry Falls.

I decided to try and start a series of Crossfit-related pictures themed to my travels. This one I call "L-Sit Attempt at Dry Falls". My face looks especially ridiculous because I am trying to hold still while Igor takes a picture. I am fairly certain I exhibit Bitter Beer Face when trying to execute deadlifts. I told Fran it looks like I'm trying to poop.

On Saturday, we drove around - rather, I drove the rest of the folks around, since I am the only one without a pickup truck. We drove to a place called Soap Lake, which appears to have "healing waters". Waters full of "ichthyological oil" (better known as "Fish Oil"), and smelling of sulphurous compounds. Whatever mineral(s) is/are in the water create a white deposit along the shorelines that resembles laundry soap. I don't know if Soap Lake is actually alkaline, but it's kind of a neat place to visit.

Here's a shot of Tori and Ryan, showing success and Being Healed By The Waters of Soap Lake, after immersing their feet. I told them I didn't have towels in the car, so they suffered mucky feet the entire way back to camp.

Here is just a cute shot of Ryan & Rupali, at Soap Lake:

And, to prove that my camping was not entirely bereft of crafting, I managed to get in some spindling and knitting on my February Lady Sweater. I completed the eyelet row, and now am just doing garter stitch until the "sleeve stitches almost meet underneath your arms". Hopefully that will be soon, and I can start the lace portion!

Behold, the picture of me spinning in front of the campfire!

I should mention that I really miss Daniel on vacation trips like this. He is an excellent camping companion :) plus, you know, he's really warm at night. Which would have been nice...

Diet Challenge Update

I got my "Before" pictures taken today, flub and all. It wasn't so bad, the woman taking the photos did it in the women's bathroom at the gym. The Challenge starts Friday! I am ready, though... I figure if I can lose 5-10 lb in 7 weeks, that would be freakin' awesome, and help me to eventually achieve my goal of being Gutless (well, in a physical sense of the word, because having Guts is important, of course... oh, I've dug a hole, haven't I...)

I learned there are 30 people participating - that's a $900 (!) kitty!!! Plus a month of free unlimited Crossfit brings the total prize to $1060. Thank god they are doing cash - I don't think you'd have to report it? :)

The workout today was simple, yet tough. Alternating 3 barbell push-press-squats with a partner, for 20 minutes. My partner and I used 20 kg, and I think we got 27 rounds in? Yeah!!

Dinner was a pint of watermelon chunks and a large oven-baked pork chop in African spice.

I need to go set up a Food Diary as a Google document so I can access it from wherever I am - when I did the food diary with Fran, I liked not having to remember what I ate so I could enter it at work, or at home, etc.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Crossfit Diet Challenge

I received an email from my Crossfit studio, saying they had a Diet Challenge coming up.

I think I am going to do it!

The terms are that you pay $30 into a kitty. The challenge lasts from May 1 - June 19 (seven weeks), and you are to keep a food diary and email it to the group participating once a week. You also take "before" and "after" pictures in a bikini top and shorts (for women).

The winner gets the entire kitty + 1 month of free Crossfit!

This will be interesting, because they encourage people to at least give up gluten and processed foods, and I am already a couple of steps ahead of them.

I think my big problems here are:

- I have a HUGE sweet tooth, and I really have to not have any sugar in the house if I don't want to go snacking on it. (I just cleaned out my cupboards - again. I shall be tossing some old Snickers bars Daniel left here, as well as some rice, etcetera).

- I eat a lot of fruit, since I don't eat a lot of sugary foods anymore. Of course, fruit (and dried fruit) are full of fructose...their own sugar.

- I don't "really" practice portion control.

- I know I eat way more fat than either the Zone or the Paleo diet advises...


Time to dig out the Zone portions book, and remember what the heck everything was (e.g. I think one block of watermelon was 3/4 cup, and I think a block of strawberries were 1.5 cups...but I need to go look! It's been 10 years).


Wish me luck! I might even be brave and post my Before and After pics on here! (EEP!)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Totally Random

Time for a bulleted blog post!

  • I started knitting the February Lady Sweater, from FlintKnits, using Plymouth Mushishi yarn. The yardage is even better than Eco-Wool, and so I think I'll get away with two skeins of it. If not, it might have shortened sleeves, or some handspun to coordinate.
  • I started spinning some merino lamb that Kim had sent me a while back. It's soft! I am spinning it on my Kundert top-whorl drop spindle, and the only prep I am doing is fluffing the locks before barely predrafting them. Turning out fairly well! I am going to Andean ply it (i.e. wrap it around my hand and use the resulting bracelet to make a 2 ply yarn).
  • I got bored with my coffee table, so I painted it! Currently, the top is drying from it's second coat of chocolate brown paint. It's the same paint as is on some of my walls, so I am fairly sure it will coordinate. I think I am going to do some sort of leaf design on top. I wanted a new table, so I thought I'd paint it before I went spending cash.
  • My friend Jen's wedding is tomorrow! I am so happy for her. I'll be there, even if weddings and such are not my scene. Daniel wants a curtain pulled back to have the entire scene revealed without any pomp. :)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Success with the Woolee Winder

Kris and Randy graciously invited me to their Pre-Tax Potluck tonight, but I am ... somewhat tired. I had today off, and got up around 7 AM, and made out a "To-Do" list, which included several errands. Went and took some passport photos (oh, my life is so hard!!), then I came back home, made some coffee, and read and spun some yarn. Then I met Fran with some plants for her, and we went down to SoDo for a couple of hours, then ate at the Coastal Cafe in Capital Hill.

After I left her place, I went to run my errands. Which, ahem, included a stop at Acorn Street yarn shop. I picked up this skein of Cascade 220, intended for this hat pattern I found. I have been wanting to try colorwork for a while.

Here is the progress on my "Jeweled Steps" socks by Cat Bordhi. This yarn is from the Rockin' Sock Club 2008, and I got somewhat frustrated with the pattern included. Concluding that Life is too short to be annoyed by a knitting pattern, I decided to use the yarn for a Cat Bordhi pattern that I have been taken with for some time. I know a lot of people find her patterns difficult, or confusing, but to me they make great sense. :)

I picked up an extra skein of Mushishi for my February Lady Sweater, as well. I am about 50 yards short, but if it really comes down to it, I can use some Cascade or spin some yarn to complete the sleeves (which are the last part of the pattern, anyway).


I also had my first handspinning success on the Woolee-Winder! The tool is awesome, although I am still having problems with the gears sticking occasionally.

The fiber for thi yarn came from the Fiber Play tube that lovely Kim bought for me at Urban Fauna studio in SF. I carded the fibers randomly together into a few large batts, and spun a single on the WW. Then I wound off the single into a center-pull ball, and plied it from both ends of the ball. I put the ball in my new steel mixing bowl ($2.69 at the restaurant supply store; my new favorite place!), and went for it. I got 108 yards out of the Fiber Play, not including the single I wrapped with thread for one of the art-yarn hats I made last month. I bet I got closer to 200 yards out of this box. :)

Here's a shot of the yarn on the WW.

And here's a shot of the finished yarn - roughly worsted or aran weight.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Sunny Spring Day

Today turned out to be a beautiful day! Cold, but beautiful. It was raining in the morning, but by the time I was done with work and out the door, it was gorgeous (sky-wise.)

I was reading Allure magazine, and they had a review of a local nail salon. Since the price was reasonable (manicure for $15, pedicure for $25, I believe), I thought I would go check it out. I've never had a manicure or pedicure (unless you count the acrylic nails (!) I had put on for Senior Prom in high school...[on a side note, acrylic nails in 1999 could be used as screwdrivers on 1970 VW Beetles... just ask me how I know!] ). I originally scheduled myself for both a manicure & pedicure, but upon arriving, I changed my mind and just had my hands dealt with. Outside, the temperature was hovering around 48 degrees F, and I didn't want to be forced out of my wool socks into flip-flops.

So, here is what $20 ($15 + a $5 tip I left) got me:

I chose a translucent OPI polish - it is vaguely pink with silver sparkles - which apparently isn't showing up in the photo. Was it nice? Yes. Do I think it was worth it? Meh...maybe if I had a special occasion to deal with - like, my birthday or my wedding day. The woman basically did what I do at home when I paint my nails - clean them, push back the cuticles, cut off any hangnails, file them, and paint them. She did include a forearm and hand massage, which was a nice touch (and she did this "snapping" thing with my fingers, essentially pulling on them with her fingers in a "snap" pose, which made them press harder on my knuckles. A very interesting sensation). The other thing I didn't like is that you can't see their autoclave where they supposedly put their tools to sterilize, and she used an already-used nail file on me.

The pedicure areas looked interesting - according to the Allure review, the chair vibrates. I also have ticklish-foot issues, and I am scared to get a pedicure because I don't want them cutting off all my callouses (which sounds gross, but otherwise I'd have blisters everywhere...)

I have to say, I am glad I didn't go anywhere more expensive. The place is called Hoa Salon, on 64th & Roosevelt Ave., if anyone is interested. :) (Right next to the Sunlight Cafe).


Next up: The current state of my knitting.

I just bought this skein of Plymouth Mushishi yarn at Acorn Street LYS here in Seattle (post-manicure). I'd been curious about it ever since I saw it in the latest Vogue Knitting, and I think it might make a nice February Lady Sweater. Another plus: 95% wool, 5% silk, 491 yd worsted weight, $23.95 at Acorn St. So, a little more pricey than the same amount of Cascade 220, but this has some silk in it. The shopkeeper's opinion was that it was another Plymouth attempt to capture some of the success Noro has had.

Here is my March 2009 RSC kit. Beautiful, as always! I think the pattern will be interesting to knit. It's by the Yarn Harlot. The yarn is beautiful, too... I guess I am getting drawn to more pink-based colors lately... Tina also included some fun "cut it out yourself" Blue Moon stickers, as well as the customary Dyer's Notes and "emergency" keychain skein.

Here's my Hemlock Ring Blanket in it's current state. Earlier this week, I got around to migrating the blanket onto a longer cable (all hail Knitpicks Options needles!). It has made the knitting much more relaxed; although I am impressed & surprised that I could fit that many stitches onto what looked like a 20" circular needle. (!) I'm into what looks like a mostly Feather-and-Fan-ish portion of the blanket. The Eco-Wool I'm using is very nice to knit with, as well. I can't wait to sling this over myself on the couch!

Here are my finished Monkeys! (Only took me 4 months!) I think the pooling of the STR Lightweight is really interesting. This is "Fire on the Mountain", which is interesting because the right sock in the picture looks nothing like what that colorway looks like on the BMFA website. I just washed them... I did wear them once, but I am pondering sending them to my friend Priscila isntead of those DK weight socks... *hm*.

Here are said DK weight socks. I'm doing them in a basketweave pattern. The yarn is from "A Swell Yarn Shop", Duets XXL (DK) weight. I feel like I have to knit really tightly, and since the basketweave pattern changes every two rounds, I am having problems memorizing it. At least I am past the heel and into the foot. I'll use the green contrasting yarn for the toes of these socks, too.

And here is my frogged-and-wound ball of STR for my Cleopatra's Stockings socks. This was the March 2008 RSC kit. I love the color of the yarn... I had some problems with the twisted stitch pattern on the foot... The toe was *interesting*... I am debating whether to follow their short-row shaping toe instructions or just use Judy's Magic Cast-On for my toes...

Finally, I just received Cookie A's new book "Sock Innovation". It's neat! I am looking forward to comparing it to Wendy Johnson's "Socks from the Toe Up" (which I believe I put on hold at the library).


On a random note, I am entrenched in reading "The Ringing Cedars Series" by Vladimir Megre. It is translated from Russian, full of historical and social footnotes for the non-Russian, and fascinating. My mom sent me Book 1, entitled "Anastasia", and once I started reading that I couldn't put it down. It's about a woman who lives in the Siberian taiga, and basically has miraculous powers that heal people and the Earth. It's also about these particular cedar trees in Russia that "ring", or resonate, because they are signalling to Man that they want to give back the energy they have been storing up from the Earth. It is so well written that I just let myself believe everything, not allowing the blurred line between documentary and fiction to bother me. :) It's just easier that way, sometimes. I starteed Book 2 last night, and the series is 9 books, all told. I know my local library branch has Book 8, Pt. 2 (aka "Book 9"), but the others I have put on hold as well.


Random Pontification:

Did you know that if you de-friend someone on Facebook, it doesn't tell them? I just used this feature to my advantage after becoming increasingly frustrated at a disillusioned acquaintance. I also blocked them from my intra-work IM service (which also does not alert the person to what you have done; it only makes you appear offline to them and they cannot IM you).

It has made my social-networking and work lives so much nicer!!


Other random note.

Daniel and I use Skype to communicate with each other. I highly recommend it. Lately, since he has not had internet access since moving into his new apartment, I have been making use of Skype's ability to call a phone directly. Calling Japan from Skype costs 6.6 cents per minute. Not bad. The only downside is that I have to wake up 15 min earlier than normal (so 5 AM) in order to get to talk to him. Since Japan does not utilize Daylight Saving Time, it is an 8 hour difference right now.

*Sigh* I miss that guy. But I did just order him up some sweater yarn from the WEBS Anniversary Sale. 8 balls of Cascade 220 Superwash in a light navy color. (I know that sounds weird; the color name was akin to "blue serge", which I associate with serge suiting). He wanted a navy sweater, so he shall have one! I didn't want to buy *dark* navy blue, though, since I would need 100 more lightbulbs in my house in order to see what I was doing!

(I also bought myself two skeins of Cascade Eco-Wool in a pale gray, to make myself the Owls sweater by Kate Davies... *whee*!).


So, I think this weekend will be composed of me either playing in Tori's yard or preparing some fiber for spinning, AND making sure I paint my window area!