Monday, February 28, 2011

Spice Market

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On Valentine's Day, Michael and I ate at Spice Market, which is located in the Midtown W (uber-trendy and all that jazz). However, don't hold that against the restaurant!

I tend to be suspicious of anything super-trendy, whether it's a restaurant, movie or singer. However, Spice Market is glorious and was very relaxing despite its proximity to the unce unce unce typical in a W lobby. I wish I'd been able to get better pictures of the food, but the "mood lighting" thwarted me and I HATE dining when others are "flashing", so I had to make do. I can't, for example, show you a picture of THE BEST BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP EVER, but I can show you lentil chips with amazing sun-dried-tomato chutney:

But back to the unpictured soup: It was PERFECT.'s the crazy thing: Topped with tofu foam. Now, I have a hearty dislike for tofu; I think it comes from too much grainy "tofutti" as a kid. But I couldn't have told you this wasn't a dairy product. It was perfectly creamy, and the soup itself was rich, smooth, and studded with pumpkin seeds and eensy cubes of candied ginger. You can pretty much throw candied ginger on anything and I will declare it "best ever", but this soup might have qualified even without it!

My main course was a steak with a coriander pesto over bok choy.

Michael had...some food as well. No seriously, he had a great Thai slaw salad and Pork Vindaloo, but those pictures came out EVEN WORSE than these. Perhaps it was the heat shimmers rising from his food, as he went through quite a lot of water, but they were good nonetheless.

Dessert! Michael had this crazy Yuzu (TART!) sorbet with white chocolate mousse and meringue sheets, drizzled with BASIL SYRUP...
...while I downed a dessert that was about as close as you can get to having a slab of fudge at a fancy restaurant:
It wasn't as sweet as most fudge, and it was thicker; closer to taffy. But it was rich and chocolately and great, and the banana with caramelized sugar on top was the perfect size.

All in all a great meal!

Totally worth it!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Random Progress

I should be packing, but I thought I'd post an update of Random Thoughts quickly.
This is what I wanted to have done for February, so I am still on track for finishing this by the end of the year!

When Michael saw the mini-sampler at the bottom right, he said, "So are you going to stitch another even smaller sampler inside that one??" Infinite recursion in stitching...that would be awesome. =)


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This week's been hard. I'm really just talking about work, but lack of sleep and stress has made it seem a little like there's been little else this week. There's one project, just about to go "live", that's really OH MY GOSH SO IMPORTANT WE CANNOT MESS THIS UP, DUDES! Then there's another project that's being rushed out the door as a replacement for something else they wanted to do. Then there's interviewing for a new position.

The GOOD news is that tomorrow morning I leave for vacation! Michael and I are driving down to Port Canaveral, where, on Sunday (my birthday) we'll board the new Disney Dream for a four-day cruise, followed by a couple days staying at Fort Wilderness Lodge and going to the parks. I can't believe it's been two years since we were at Disney! This may be the longest Disney-free stretch since we got married. I'm incredibly excited. Except for the whole getting older thing. I just got a card from my mom with the number written down, and that was the first time I'd seen it in print, and it was...shocking. Let's just say Disney World and I are the same age.

The OH MY GOSH project is actually in the best shape; I'm really confident of my part in it, even though I feel as Darth Vader must have felt as he watched the Death Star explode...
I find your lack of testing...disturbing.

The bad news is that I have to be on a call at 11pm tonight--YES, the night before I'm leaving for vacation. I am...NOT pleased. My teammate has everything covered, and my manager usually doesn't ask me to do this type of thing (I don't work Fridays), so I can only imagine he's getting some pressure from "higher up" to have me on call.

The other project...well. I'm a team lead now, and let's just say I didn't get to pick my team. One's great; the other Trying. This person doesn't seem to have the abilities to accept verbal instructions, remember how past problems were solved, or take my advice on how to solve problems. This person seems oblivious to what anyone else on the bigger team is working on and always seems astonished that others have different deadlines or bigger workloads. The best I can say each week is, "Well, I didn't kill Repeat this week!"

Why "Repeat"? Here's a background story: I asked Repeat once where a document was, and Repeat told me the Lotus Notes database where it was. "OK," I said, "I can find it in there." "Oh, I can send it to you," Repeat replied. "That'd be great," I said, "but actually it's William who wants the document. Can you just send it to him?" "OK," Repeat replied.

A few minutes later, I got an email with the document attached. William was not copied. I muttered, "Seriously??" and forwarded it to him.

Yesterday provided another gem where when I suggested Repeat get Loyalist (name also withheld, but this time to protect the innocent rather than the guilty) to help with debugging a problem, Repeat informed me of thinking of getting our manager to help. I laughed and said Repeat would be much more likely to get L's time than our manager and lead architect (who is INCREDIBLY busy), and Repeat said our manager would probably just say to go with Repeat's currently approach (wrong, unstable) if it was working (which in Repeat's world means not producing an error). I told Repeat I was pretty sure our manager would say he hadn't looked at that stuff in years and to keep going but get me to check it when I got back (which is what's happened before).

Sorry. I'll stop ranting. And I promise at least some eye candy before I leave!!

Work stinks, but I'm away for the week on a Disney cruise!!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mystery Progress

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Thank you for all the well wishes for me getting better. I think I'm over the sinus infection now, but I'm still really tired. I need to get my strength back up before we leave for our cruise and Disney vacation next weekend (for my birthday)!

I managed to get one of the corner gardens done on Chatelaine's Mystery II...but if these each take me two months, I won't be finishing this in 2011!
That's a LOT of Jessica stitches!! I'm working on Random Thoughts right now...I thought I picked a small area for February, but there are a BUNCH of queen stitches. I'll post a picture once I'm done with this month's part.

I'll leave you with this "monkey business" of Michael's when he brought me a snack.

Feeling better...stitching progress is slow...leaving for a Disney cruise in a week!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

And the winner is...

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Congrats!! I'm guessing you want the stitchy/knitty prize, but you can let me know for sure when you email me your mailing address...heather at lottloft dot com. I already found another goodie to throw in. =)

So which of these things do you think happened to us in the past week?

A) Heather gets patted down for the second time while going through airport screening (2 for 2, baby!)

B) Michael "finds" a screw in his salad at {unnamed restaurant}...with his teeth

C) Our trash can is stolen

D) Heather spikes a fever at 101

E) All of the above

If you guessed E, YOU ARE CORRECT! I'm pretty sure I have yet another sinus infection (which means I can't go to the Minute Clinic in CVS anymore...they won't take you after three in 365 days, ASK ME HOW I KNOW). I'm going to the doctor tomorrow after Michael and Rocky (WARNING: High Geek Factor Link) somehow manage to haul thirty-nine 20' boards to our deck (our fourth story).

Clearly, not much stitching has gotten done. To say I was brain dead Tuesday night (high fever) would be an understatement. Even American Idol didn't make sense (OH WAIT.) I do feel better now, but I have learned that I really, really stink at keeping myself hydrated and remembering when I took drugs, drugs, glorious drugs.

Speaking of which...I need to go drink some water.

A) Yes, I'm "one of those people" that opt out of the full body scanner. We just don't know the effects of that radiation on the skin, and since I make Snow White look like a tropical goddess, I'm not risking it. Neither pat-down made me feel uncomfortable, other than my own flusterations at having to make a travel companion wait.

B) It was teensy (1/4"?), he didn't harm his teeth or mouth in any way, our meal was free (duh), and I'm not ratting out the restaurant because we eat there, like, twice a month and they're always awesome and nothing like this has ever happened there.

C) The joys of living downtown. I actually saw the guy, but didn't realize it was our trashcan. Also, I was in pajamas and hacking up a lung. Which, now that I think of it, might have been a huge deterrent to the guy if I'd gone chasing after him.

D) I'm under 99 now. 97.6 is my normal!

JiffNotes FAIL: Longer than actual post.

I blame the drugs.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Crazy Raleigh Rally Round-up

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Do not worry, there are needlework pictures coming. And also some geeky content. And food. Keep scrolling.

So. In Atlanta, sports bars look like this.

In Raleigh, they look like this:
This picture shows roughly 1/3 of the TV screens and approximately 1/5 of the neon I could see without turning my head. This is what happens when you get in late from a flight and are desperate for food. Which was...strange. Usually, I trust my server, but I don't think I'll ever order "regular sweet" barbecue sauce in a state that specializes in vinegar barbecue sauce again. It had...crushed red pepper in it? Who does that??

Anyway. The hotel was nice...
You can't see the love seat and huge bathroom. Or how CLEAN it was. That's the top kudo I can give to a hotel: IT WAS CLEAN.

We did have one excellent meal there (WARNING: REALLY CRAPPY PICTURE AHEAD!)
This is The Irregardless Cafe, which has the BEST vegan menu I've ever seen. It was so good, *I* ordered from it. That is amazing when you understand that I am an incredible carnivore. I wish I'd ordered one of the other dishes, as the Shepherd's Pie I got...
...was very yummy, but a bit "homogeneous" in flavor. I like a little more variety. However, the squash was perfectly cooked and this meal did come with the Best Salad Ever:
Candied walnuts, craisins and herb-crusted, warm toasted goat cheese. NOM. The boss man got the Brazilian Steak. DOUBLE NOM.

The class? It was...OK. I did learn some things, but the instructor was a strange mix of knowing everything about some things and nothing about others. Also, he did not seem to know all the answers to the "end of unit" test questions or how to fix some of the problems we had in the labs. (For the geeks that are interested, this was Red Hat class JB325 Advanced JBoss Enterprise Development.)

Did I do any stitching? night I stitched for about 10 minutes. On the plane, I knit two rounds of two socks. I did manage to swim one night in the indoor pool, but it was so small about four elementary backstrokes took me across, and there was so much chlorine in the pool that I determined I didn't have enough eye drops to swim again! I played a lot of Halo: Reach, though. =P

I did get to start my last Crazy Challenge piece the Saturday before I left. I probably spent more time sorting the colors in the kit than stitching, though! You know, it was one of those "fabulous" kits where all the colors are in one hank and you have to try to distinguish twelve shades of brown with names like Lightest Brown, Very Light Honey Brown and Somewhat Light Golden Brown.
I do feel validated that the colors in this vaguely reindeer-shaped blob are the same as those I picked for Dasher (scroll down) when I thought his original colors were too yellow.

Right before I left, I also put in a little time on Bumblebee Stumpwork, thus completing my goal of "touching" all eleven Crazy Challenge pieces in January.
Those are turkey knots, which leave loops on the surface of the fabric. Once they're all stitched, you cut them and then trim the fringe to make a nice, fuzzy bee.

I also made minuscule progress on the Squirrel Fob.
Get it? Minuscule! Because it is so small...and also I made little progress? See what I did there?

Yeah. I think I need a nap.

Business trip where your boss brings an Xbox 360 --> not conducive to stitching.

Also, please don't forget that I'm having a giveaway...stitchy/knitty/geeky! Go comment on that post to enter by tomorrow at 11:59pm EST!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

TUSAL and a Plea

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(What's a TUSAL?)

I got a new "yearly" ort jar, because my old globe did not provide the "sparkly strata" effect I wanted. Instead, there were these separate blobs of orts from each month.
The new one isn't quite what I was looking for, but it's closer. It'll be interesting to see if a year's worth of orts fit. I guess with enough squishing....

Now for the plea. While I was working on Shakespeare's Garden, I noticed that I am missing one of the DMC flower threads for it. Perhaps I had some idea of what I was going to do about that at the time I kitted it, but that idea has fled into the murky mists of time. So if anyone out there has a skein of 2358 DMC flower thread that you'd be willing to part with, let me know how much you want for it (or I might have another color to trade). Thanks for looking out!

So now that that January Craziness is over and I'm back from my trip, what should I work on??

Old Geek-outs