Sunday, March 30, 2008

Tea Two

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Saturday Michael took me to the Roswell Tea House for the second stop on my tea passport. It's a fabulous tea house, with a huge, wonderful selection of loose teas (black, green, white, oolong and chai). You can get your choice of Afternoon Tea, High Tea (not true High Tea, but the Afternoon Tea plus soup), plain old lunch (the curry chicken salad looked to die for!) or even a Japanese tea ceremony.

We went for the Afternoon Tea. I started with the Blue Mango green tea (mango and pineapple), which was very yummy, and Michael started with the Monkey Picked Oolong. If you know Michael at all, you can see that it was impossible for him to resist this tea. Later, I switched to the Spring Blend (green tea with orange, hibiscus, rosehips, red peppercorns, and a host of other things I can't remember!) and Michael had Rose Chai.

Here's a closer look at the yummies:

Everything was good; I ended up not eating all the apple strudel (it's that flaky thing on the center tier), because I'm really picky about dishes with cooked apples and this just wasn't doing it for me. I think anyone but me would have liked it, but it needed more sugar for me! =) I was content, however, to eat possibly the best cream puff I've ever had. The curried chicken salad sandwich was to die for. The texture was like velvet, and it was so rich. The scones were a little bit of a disappointment, because they were overcooked (and done in muffin tins) and there was no Devonshire Cream!! The lemon curd was excellent, though...not "eggy" at all.

We were planning on going for a walk afterwards around Tech campus, which is just beautiful during the Spring. Unfortunately, it started pouring down rain about a minute before we left the tea house. We did drive through some very pretty neighborhoods and saw lots of blooming cherry trees, redbuds, dogwoods and some azaleas starting. We even saw some wisteria! It's not quite the same as last Spring, where everything literally burst into bloom all at once (who ever heard of Bradford pears and dogwoods blooming at the same time!) But all I have to show you is a shot of some urban Spring right down the street from us. I wish I knew the name of this vine...if you do, leave me a comment!

JiffNotes
Finally, Spring is here! And today, it's 45 degrees...stupid jet stream. =(

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Well, what do you know...

I've been posting for a year!! For some reason, I thought my Blogiversary was in April, but I decided to check, and lo and behold, it's today! If you've recently started reading, you might enjoy my inaugural post. It's not stitching- or knitting- or really even geek-related, but it does speak to cultural diversity...or lack of awareness thereof. And, you know, without getting preachy. =)

Let's have some blog candy!! Post me a comment (even if you've never read before), and I'll send you something from your choice of categories: stitchy, knitty (but not knitty), or geeky. I may even throw in "beady" if that's more your bent. And if none of that floats your boat, I can always send chocolate. =) I'll leave comments open until 11:59pm on April Fools (April 1), and then have Michael pick a winner from the popcorn bucket. No foolin'. =)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Easter...squirrel

My whining and generally being a pest paid off (I wasn't going to fork over five smackers for shipping from someone I see every week) as casablanca brought me an Easter present to church on Sunday:
Isn't he the cutest? I'm calling him Sunny because he showed up on a sunny Easter morning. He is handmade and painted with loving detail. I love his saucy little stance. But then, I kind of have a thing for squirrels...I am picky, though, so Sunny is part of an elite collection.

What are you waiting for? Head on over to Etsy and get yourself some squirrel love! (There're bunnies, too!)

Monday, March 24, 2008

I'm out of clever titles...

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...for March Madness. At least ones that won't make even me groan as I type them. I've been doing pretty well with working on something different every day. I only broke my "rule" twice: Both times were because I was so tired/braindead that I couldn't think of doing anything except relatively mindles. So I knit on the Medallion Capelet. I have now finished all three medallions! Here's a "blocked/unblocked" photo:
I get it now: Blocking gooood.

Speaking of blocking, this will look a lot better once it's blocked ("Branching Out" from knitty):
There is a glaring mistake right now, but I've already restarted this so many times that I'm just going to sew up the hole!! I really need to put in a lifeline. I'm probably going to tempt fate until the next repeat.

Here are shots of some more progress that's been happening since last time I checked in...Moss Creek's "Autumn Jewels":

The sad progress on Britty Kitty's Poinsettia:
Yes, I believe that's the second time this month for that, but I did something else that day. I also started my surprise ornament, but no pictures of that. =)

This looks impressive, but it wouldn't if you saw where it was before this month. =) Victoria Sampler's "Heirloom Christmas Sampler":


The "Where's Waldo?" of today's post...can you find the start I made on Ellen Chester's "Quaker Turtles" in this picture?


Thanks to my stash, I was able to start LaBroderie's "Shakespeare's Garden" with DMC Flower Thread on a Silkweaver Summer Fun Pack fabric pretty much the same as the Light Mocha Cashel called for, only with beautiful subtle variations.
By the way, I ironed the fabric before I started, because it had been in its little plastic bag for years, and it was very creased. I have now promised myself that I will always iron fabric before I start. Look how great it looks! And it was so much easier to line up in the Q-Snaps! I immediately violated this rule when I started the Quaker Turtles. =) My rationalization is that I'm going to cut the fabric apart and make it my travel project as soon as I finish that @!#%^& Pear (excuse my language...it's on 35 count).

JiffNotes
More madness...but the good kind now.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Disney Dump

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Some time ago, I was giving the blow by blow of our trip to Disney wayyyy back in November. Well, I will spare you the gory details of the rest of the days, but there were a few pictures I wanted to share.

Here's an actual successful attempt at Kinnearing!
Yes, that is a parent in a U(sic)GA shirt with his kid in a Goofy hat. Those of you who live in Georgia or play U(sic)GA in any sort of sports will understand why that's so very, very funny.

Getting stuck on It's a Small World for half an hour is something no one wants...unless you're my husband. He had a fabulous time identifying where each and every kid in the "white room" hailed from. I tried and failed to count the points on the temari the Japanese kid was holding. We had to climb off the boat at the end while a cast member held it close to the "bank" with a stick. This is what the ride control booth looked like:
That's one of those "you know you're in trouble when" pictures. As we were leaving, with our four "front of the line" passes (to which we put good use), Michael said to one of the guys in the booth, "I know other people are upset, but for this guest, getting stuck was a Dream in a Million!" They all laughed heartily.

I do have to mention Fabulous Cast Member #3 at the Haunted Mansion. We lingered in the Stretching Room until all the other guests had left, because they have upgraded the soundtrack in there. At the end, the gargoyles whisper things.... One of the cast members noticed this, and so as our Doom Buggy was about to leave the boarding area, he hopped on the side, held his finger to his lips, and said, "Shhhh...." Then he used his flashlight to give us a glimpse of the original portraits from the hallway in the ride, now hung in the "foyer" (the first room you go through). How cool was that??

Remember the Foreshadowing? I did end up getting a sinus infection, and we decided to pony up the change for a doctor. Once I had some antibiotics, I felt much better, and was never as tired as this poor child:
Dude, that's half-past nap time for sure!

To close, let me give you the final results of this trip's Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin contest between Michael and I (which isn't really a contest, of course. Unless I win.) Michael chips away at my lead!

But I dash his hopes immediately...


A brief interlude while I show you one of my favorite things about EPCOT:


And now, the finals! Winner takes all! (Or, more accurately, nothing but bragging rights...). And I've got 'em baby! I've got two words for you:
SPACE ACE!!

Michael collapses in defeat:
I feel I must be fair to mention that my Space Ace was only made possible by the fact that we got stuck on the ride at some point for a minute or two. Of course, Michael may not want me to mention that near his score.... =)

That's all folks! Until our next picture-laden trip...see you real soon!


JiffNotes
I finally finished blogging the Disney trip...does this mean it's time to go back now?? If you're cravin' more Disney, especially the Most Awesome Pirates of the Caribbean Pictures Ever, head to Erin's blog....

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Real March Madness

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CNN Center is four blocks away from us. So is the Georgia Dome. If you watched the news last night, you probably saw lots of pictures around this area. Concrete and insulation in the street. Old brick buildings collapsing. Water flowing down staircases. By the grace of God, our building is untouched. Totally. Our deck furniture on the roof of our three-story building didn't even move. We were out to dinner at the time, and didn't even know anything was happening until we went back to our friends' house and turned on the TV. At first, I was just worried about the leak in our roof, but as we drove home, I started hearing reports of windows of downtown hotels being blown out. Just for reference, here's what the front of our place looks like again:
ourSide
I was freaked out. It didn't help that when we got off at our exit, Atlanta's finest (sic) wouldn't let us turn towards our street. We did get home after a brief detour, and, miraculously--and I mean that in every sense of the word--nothing was wrong. The plastic bag I crammed in the hole in the roof even kept it from leaking!!! You've seen the news coverage, I'm sure, so I won't elaborate (except to say, BBC viewers, that Atlanta is NOT in Mississippi, but in Georgia--did hosting the Olympics do nothing for us?) But I will say it was freaky to go up on our deck this morning and survey the damage:

This is where the basketball tournament was going on (and also where the water was cascading down the stairs, if you saw that particular reel):

I kind of wanted to title this post, "God Smites the SEC", but I thought that might border on blasphemous. Not the thing when you're so thankful God saved your own place.

JiffNotes
Now if I can just keep Michael from leaning out the window with his plastic popcorn bucket, trying to catch hail....

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Something

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I did do some more work on Astrid Friday morning. It now looks like something (we have a title!), although I'm not sure what:

That night, some friends invited us out for dinner to a new place by their house. What kind of food do they serve? Don't know; never been there. What's the name of the place? Don't know...we've just driven by and it looks cool. Sounds great!! Sicne the backup plan was a place that (allegedly) serves great shrimp & grits, I wasn't too worried. I needn't have worried at all; the food was more than palatable. Our appetizer? Chocolate chicken wings. You read me right. We had to try them, I mean, come on! Since we're all fans of a good mole sauce--not to mention chocolate itself--we weren't sure how it could possibly go wrong. It didn't. They were incredible, and incredibly spicy. We all agreed that two apiece was plenty, unless we were provided with several vats of water as an accompaniment. I can't wait to go back and have them again. The rest of our meal was great as well. I'll let you discover the yummy for yourself at Cafe Circa. Please ignore their ridiculously cheesy taglines.

We watched just enough Eli Stone when we got home for me to do a few rows on the Fountain Foxglove socks. They are much less bright than this picture implies:


Saturday I found some fabric in my stash that will work for Shakespeare's Garden, so I'm going to start that Tuesday night at stitch group! That night we went to a birthday party and then went out afterwards for sushi with DFs Andy and Jill to a new place called Kuroshio (in Kennesaw, if you're local). They had a great array of creative rolls, a la carte yakitori and tempura, as well as a variety of cooked dishes. The rolls we tried were awesome, even without the help of our Serbian waiter, who, when we asked if they had bento boxes, responded, "I've never heard of those." (!!) When we got home, we continued the theme by watching Ping Pong, which I highly recommend. Since we were dealnig with subtitles, the most I could manage was a few rounds on Tubey. Tonight, I'm planning to work on Autumn Jewels. Right after I spread some carnage in Halo 3. =)

JiffNotes
March Madness marches on (groan!)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

March Madness

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This month's theme is "March Madness". This was such fun last year, and I've been looking forward to it this year. The intent is to stitch (or knit) on a different project every day of the month (or at least every day you stitch or knit during the month). Since we made these themes up, those rules aren't rigid; for instance, you could make it almost a rehash of Guilt-Free January and "do whatever you want". I interpret March Madness this way: I can work on something I've already worked on during the month, as long as that same day, I work on something else I haven't worked on yet. In short, every day I must work on something I haven't worked on yet this month.

Here's how it's going so far:

March 1: Stitched on My Christmas Pear (no pics...it's kind of a boring stitch right now; endless gold.) This is my travel project, so I'm likely to work on it some more during the month. Also, I knit on the Pomatamus socks. Again, no pics; I just barely managed to start the pattern section, so most of it was boring p1 k1tbl ribbing.

March 2: Nothing. Nada. This was Sunday, and after church we went with Michael's parents to The World of Coke (his mother declared the opening film "the dumbest thing I've ever seen"), then out to dinner. When we got home, I was too tired to think of lifting any kind of needle.

March 3: Monday night, "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" finale. I managed to get through half of the rounds of my third (!) medallion for the Medallion Capelet. Of course, that's probably 1/3 or less of the stitches, since you're increasing every round. Here's a pic of the first medallion (unblocked...I'm hoping the lace pattern will "pop" more once it's blocked). I kind of wish I'd used a darker color, although I do dearly love this color. I'm now beginning to wonder what I'll wear under it, though! I'm hoping to finish it this month, just in time for it to be too warm to wear it. =)


After I finished the first medallion, I told myself I'd just do "just one block" on the Herringbone Block Shawl before I started the second medallion. Just for reference's sake, here's what it looked like at that point:

So I added another block. But remember how I said I loved the way the Noro colors were happening? I had three different colorways to play with. Also, I started using the rosewood Lantern Moon needles I bought in Highlands. Oh, my, they are so lovely to use. So smooth. It's like knitting with butter. Or, at least, it's what knitting with butter would be like if butter wasn't all greasy and melty and completely incapable of holding its shape and was actually, you know, lovely hard, smooth, dark wood. So here's the "one more block" I did:

Yeah. I managed to finally restrain myself once deciding which color to use next took too much cognitive effort. One change I am making to the pattern: It calls for you to only knit whole blocks, and then at the end, add garter stitch strips to the entire length. The sounded painful to me, so I decided to do the fill-in half blocks you see there. I like the way they're turning out. Hopefully once it's done, I won't miss the stability that the garter sides would add.

March 4: Easter Fairy. A good project to take to stitch group, as it's relatively mindless, and you need those brain cells for talking. =) I am reconciling myself to the fact that this is in no way going to be done before Easter. I'll most likely set it aside after Easter, because I don't want it hanging around finished for months before I can in good conscience display it again. I'm still going to work on it this month, but I'll try for the actual finish next year.

Doncha love the scissors?? They were my birthday present to myself when I ordered the materials for the ornament exchange (pre-excluded from the stash diet, of course, and scissors don't count. I've been told sock yarn doesn't count, either, but that's part of why my stash is in the state it's in. =)

March 5: Lady Scarlett's Secret Garden box. I figured since I got a dispensation for Barnabee's Bride, I ought to finish its predecessor. =) I actually squeaked this in on the last day of Guilt-Free January. But, you know, I'm so slow that I didn't get much done. And on that note, I also started my first ornament for this year's exchange (the Britty Kitty one from JCS 2007). I'll work on this one another day this month. Behold, the stunningly miniscule amount of stitching!









Last night, I started Astrid. I thought I'd be able to make good progress on one of the large circles during AI and Lost. Well, the commercials during Lost, anyway. I cast on...or at least, I started to. Rats, didn't leave a long enough tail. Cast on 84 stitches again. Rats, the "just pull tight" join does NOT work well with Magic Loop. Knitterly denial let me go three rounds until this became apparent. Cast on again. Somewhere, I forgot a yo. Frak! OK, I can pick it up; no worries. Wait, now I have an extra stitch. OK, p2tog and keep going. Wait, I should not be k2tog that yo! I should be k in it! Double frak!! Here's the net result of my night of knitting:

*sigh* I think I'm going to need to do a little on this today so I can feel good about myself. And yes, the yarn is just about as close in color to the KP cables as a wool/plastic pair could get. I totally did not know that when I bought it. By the way, the Harmony Wood needles? Why haven't you bought them yet?? If I said things like that, I would say they are "teh awes0me". But I don't, so I won't.

JiffNotes
March Madness is not about basketball, it's about juggling....

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Birthday Bash

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Thank you for all the birthday wishes! I took the day off work, hoping to spend it stitching, knitting and going to the Aquarium for lunch. The Aquarium plan got nixed because it was only 27 degrees outside! So, I stayed holed up and did get some stitcing done on Easter Fairy. I wanted to start Astrid, but I ended up not having the right needles here (that will be rectified shortly, since I spent my birthday money from my parents on a set of Harmony Wood needles from KnitPicks). Michael came home from work bearing beautiful mauve tulips

and took me to dinner at Magic Fingers Buckhead for some amazing sushi. They fly the fish in fresh from Tokyo every day. We had the best piece of nigiri we've ever had; a Japanese fish called kinmedai (golden eye snapper). For dessert, there was pineapple mango creme brulee. Whoah. And then, there was "second dessert," my birthday cake!

Doncha love the candle? =) Anyway, it's a chocolate raspberry cake from Whole Foods...so it uses real butter in the buttercream icing. Very moist and wonderful! My main present from Michael was the coolest ever "Tea Passport" that he made:

We actually went to The Four Seasons, one of my four "destinations," on Saturday, but very, very sadly, I forgot my camera. There's a blank page at the back of my passport that Michael tells me can be a "return visit" to one of the tea places, and that may be the one, because it was delightful.

Thursday was not a banner day, since all the contractors were supposed to show up...and only one did. The home inspector (for our old place) showed up as scheduled and did the same great job he did with our new place. The painter never showed up. His boss said he wasn't answering the phone. The HVAC guy never showed up, and when I called, they said he was out of town and someone was supposed to call me and tell me. Well, they didn't. The glass contractor just never returned my calls until late in the afternoon. So, I had to take off to my hair appointment unshowered and with the promise of another day where I'd have no chance to work out, let alone shower. *sigh*

However, the day did get better after that. =) Since Why Knot Knit is so close to where I get my hair cut, I decided to drop by and make an AYP (Authorized Yarn Purchase). That is, it didn't violate my decision to not purchase stash, since it was for finishing an existing project. I knew I'd need more Kureyon to complete my Herringbone Block Shawl, so I got this:

I wish you cuold see this yarn in person, because the picture does not show the deepness of the colors. Two of the skeins are actually Silk Garden, and the colors are incredibly vivid.

Afterward, I came home and rescheduled all the contractor appointments for the next day. Then, I took off to my stitch group (kindly meeting on an alternate day because of my church's Easter Choir reheasals...which ended up getting changed after stitch group changed to accomodate me...) for a birthday celebration for me and another member. My DF Andy cooked a fantabulous dinner at her swanky new place and there were lots of presents!!

From Debbie, a great CD (yes, I've already listened to it...love it!) accompanied by a beautiful handmade card:


Jill made me the most fabulous scarf and gave me a gorgeous shawl pin, which I have high hopes of going beautifully with my Medallion Capelet once it is done. (Progress pics are coming soon, I promise!! Unless you're on Ravelry; in which case, head on over there and see them now.)

I've already worn the scarf twice. =)

And, in the "nice to know my girls got my back" department, I got some lovely stitching- and knitting-related presents. Linda (the other birthday girl) gave me a gift certificate to Knitch. From Cathy, who somehow remembered a comment I made about this being my favorite--and very out-of-print--La Broderie pattern:

From Andy, Angela and Jean, a pattern I was dying to have the moment it was released (including ALL the materials and the oh-so-cool scissors).

I can't wait to start both of these during March Madness!! Also, Jean gave everyone these awesome Kitchener Stitch reminder dogtags (check out etsy). Andy gave me this cool coin purse (and I have just the stitch markers to put in it). And finally, Andy, Angela and Jean (though I suspect it was mostly Jean's idea ;) gave me these spectacular stitch markers:

TMTIH. That's for "The Magic That Is Heather"...a nickname that Teresa gave me. I think it was because I'm such a geek that I wrote an AI program to handle our ornament kit exchange. =) Anyway, thanks, girls. You all made it a great day despite the start!

And my brief postscript is that Friday, the glass guy came (eventually), the painter came, and the HVAC guy came and actually fixed the heat pump! He said when he saw all the data I emailed, he knew he'd have to send his most technical guy. And today, it was 70 degrees outsie. =)

JiffNotes
Somehow, the stash keeps coming. Ain't nothing wrong with that. =)

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