Monday, January 31, 2011

Adventures in Eating

You may be sitting there, thinking, what the heck does "Adventures in Eating" mean? Or maybe you're just looking at that rather gross looking picture up there and wondering what the hell that is. Either way, you're about to find out the answer.

I don't consider myself an adventurous eater, but I also don't consider myself picky. I love vegetables, different animals (sorry if that offends), and like to try new grains and sauces. There is only one thing I actually hate and will not eat: mayonnaise. I don't like things like carrots (which I tend to eat for breakfast at work anyway), or stinky cheeses (which I tend to avoid, especially those with mold, ewwwww). Eggplant, brussell-sprouts, broccoli, etc. are all fine with me.

My boss is Chinese. This really isn't at all relevant to this post except to point out that she has different culinary experiences than I do. When I first started working for her, she took me out to Dim Sum with another Chinese co-worker - since i hadn't really been to an authentic dim-sum, it was an excellent experience! Now, I've always considered myself to be easy to gross out - just eat some mayo in front of me, but they seriously upped the ante. Among other things, that day, I was subjected to fried chicken feet. They expected me to be grossed out - and I kind of was.....but it wasn't that scary and I'm sure my people have their own similar foods that I would know about if I had any real links to my Armenian or Serbian or Gypsy heritage. So I ate the chicken's foot and everything else they threw at me that day, no problem. But there's one thing I was relieved didn't come up - the 100 year old Egg.

Seriously, what an unappetizing name.

So, I thought I was safe. I was wrong. My boss, as it happens, just got back from maternity leave this week, and it's been almost a year since our last weird food fest. In honor of her return, we took some time out and went to lunch together in one of the cafes at work.

Guess what they were serving.

That's right. The Century Egg.

So, my boss made a video with her phone as I put the egg, some tofu, and some rice on my fork and waved it around, unable to stomach the thought of putting it in my mouth. That picture up there - see the brownish part? THAT'S THE EGG! The thing is like something out of Dr. Seuss! The "whites" are actually a clear brown (think the color of the cola gummies you ate as a kid). The yolk is a musty forrest/olive green. It' intense thing to consider eating if you've never been exposed to it before.

But, well, I was on camera. And I have a thing about not appearing to be a wimp in front of people. So, after lifting the fork and putting it down about 5 times, I put it in my mouth, braced for the worst, and chewed, trying not to taste anything.  It was................fine. It wasn't amazingly good or horribly bad. It was ok. Not something I'd seek out, and looking at it still gives me the shudderjiggies (I just coined that word for you)(you're welcome), but I survived and am no worse for wear. I even had a second bite. I'm like a rockstar of trying new food! This was truly an adventure in eating.

On thing's certain, I prefer it to that limp, cold, fried chicken's foot I had a dim sum.

As my BFF Jasmin would say: "I eat the wierd stuff."

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Small Steps to a Great Journey

Some of you know that I am pretty into crafting.....and those of you who really know me know that "pretty into" is a huge understatement. One of my favorite crafts is spinning, something I've been doing for a relatively short time - about 5ish years. I say relatively short because I've been knitting for 24 years now which tends to be my main craft of comparison. With spinning, especially when you start on a drop spindle, you're not left with huge amounts of finished product - especially if you're using top/roving/fleece that you've been handed off of someone else's tuft. 

Being left with smallish balls of what I first spun, and then little balls of my later handspun that I'd used on projects, I wondered what to do with them. I mean, they aren't great. The yarn is thick and thin, there isn't enough left for another project, and some of what I started with was really bottom of the barrel stuff.

So what do I do with it?

Today, while cleaning my Fiboreum, I found a few of these little balls as well as some larger balls that I may actually be able to get a project out of yet. My first thought was to make them into butterflies and then put them into a journal or something. I mean, I do have a scrapbook that I bought just for the purpose (as well as a shelf full of blank journals to use). I started a knitting/spinning journal back in 2008, and I liked what I did, but the truth is that I didn't keep up with it enough and it just isn't the same without pictures, which I've never been good about taking and pasting in.  So, a spinning journal was out.  I briefly considered putting the little balls into some vases or something. You know, display it. But such small amounts didn't seem like they would look very good, and I was cleaning my office while unpacking and trying to clear out clutter to begin with. What would be the point in spreading out the clutter? So that was out. What was left? I supposed I could start a spinning blog - take some pictures and then post them and then get rid of the scraps of my spinning with a clear conscience - or donate them or something. There would be a record then, so that should be enough. But, really, I'm pretty bad at keeping even one blog that covers knitting and spinning, so I doubt that I would be able to keep that up. Besides, blogging takes away from knitting and spinning time anyway, right?

So, in a brief moment of whimsy (yes, I experience whimsy), I grabbed one of the little balls and cast on a few stitches with it, knit until it was gone. I really liked knitting with it - and I remembered it - it was the first thing I spun on my very first wheel - an Ashford Joy. It was thick and thin and low quality wool - and I had made a pair of socks out of it on size 3s or so that I still have. But I loved the feel of knitting with it and the memories that came back as well as, I admit, the enjoyment of my own industriousness in creating something that I could use. I mean, really, how cool is that?  When that bit was done, I grabbed another ball - this one was blue and white. I made it when I had first learned to drop spindle. I had spun each color separately on my first drop spindle while at the Renaissance Fair the year I met my Fiancee. I think it was my very first spinning. If it wasn't it was close to it.  After I finished that second ball, I grabbed a third, the same blue, but plied with grey this time, from the same summer. But I had a long strip from the first two balls, so I bound off the second ball and, with the third, picked up and knit along one of the edges of the strip.

After that, I knew what I was doing. I was making a memory quilt from my own handspun. I had figured out what I was going to do with it, and it was something that not only was incredibly satisfying in that it allowed me to relive the memories of what I had spun and when as well as what I had made with the yarn originally, but it allowed me to find a use for the odds and ends that suits my personal ethic of reusing and recycling and using what I already have to make things which I can use in another form. 
Each little piece of handspun that I use to make this blanket is a small step. But I think it's a great journey to make a blanket, especially with yarn that will range from about a worsted to a lace. And, in knitting this, I will get to see how my own spinning improves. Below is a picture of my first 3 steps.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Who was that masked woman?

Well, not exactly masked, but I am wearing a a bank robber. Although, might I say, if I WERE a bank robber, I would totally be the most comely masked of all bank robbers ever. 

The proof is below:

I almost forgot to blog today....but I did finish the Good Luck Cowl (featured so ingeniously above) (if I do say so myself) (which I think I just did)(although I think it's more like "alluded to"), so that's a plus one for me.


Well, I also decided to purge my personal belongings today and, well, let's just say that one trashbag, and a box for Goodwill later I have a really messy Fiboreum floor and a lot of stuff that I wasn't able to part with. Curse you, beautiful costumes!! But I am working towards just having LESS. It's part of my greening of my life that I've been doing each month. If I can get by with less things (and we know we all can) then I am going to attempt it. Before anyone worries: Yes, the stash is safe. 
And with that, time for bed. Tomorrow is the fiancee's last day before leaving for India and I have a whole 'nother list-o-chores to get through with him so I can send him off right. (and somewhere in there, I really do need to clean my office)

~ Miss K

Friday, January 28, 2011

Inquisitive Giraffe is Inquisitive

Inquisitive Giraffe says: "Oh hai, whatreyou doing?"

I kind of love this little guy. This is the 2nd giraffe I've made from the same pattern (purchased from MochiMochiLand)  The first was for my friend Truthy5000 (I just came up with that nickname, but it is super-accurate, trust me). The second one was made when Truthy5000 asked me to make one for a friend of hers who was expecting. This is usually when my BFF Jasmin will start rolling her eyes about how I can't say no (Does that make me an EASY knitter?) But, well, Truthy5000 is someone I like and respect, so she deserved it.

In other news, just about 3 more days left in January 2011. I'm using the end of the month as a sort of deadline for me to finish some of my projects. Think of it as a personal challenge. It's also a good way for me to focus on finishing someone that's near completion rather than working on 4 or 5 things that are all relatively new. It's quite a slog type of thing. But, along with finishing knitting stuff I also need to work on other items that were neglected over late fall and winter. Namely:

1. Unpacking (and this may be the most frightening one)
2. Upping my green-ness (still trying to make one or more little changes each month)
3. Figuring out the hew house yard set-up for gardening
4. Determining what I should plant for food as seedlings and doing it
5. Investigating getting fruit trees
6. Truly managing my yarn and fibre stash. I was AMAZED at the amount of handpun and unfished projects I have. Time to get that sorted right out!

Wish me luck, me hearties. Yo'-freaking-ho!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

How I spent my Winter Vacation

 Ok, let's be honest, the title of this entry is entirely misleading .

#1. There was no winter vacation. I worked my normal job, moved house, podcasted, and volunteered every weekend and some weeknights at the dicken's Faire.

But, during rehearsal, sometimes this happened:

Now, don't get me wrong, that didn't happen very often....but if you're at rehearsal, in your victorian undergarments and only half in costume, with a prop and some fancy knee socks and someone hands you a hard cider............well, sometimes you'll be weak.

#2. Did I mention that sometimes I take on knitwear repair for people in my cast? Yeah, I'm a softie. I offer to fix things that people have which are hand knit and falling apart. I started this tradition the year before and fixed someone's favorite sweater. This year, it was two pairs of knit slippers. I do it for free because I love seeing well-loved handmade items get re-furbished so they can be loved some more. The person I mended the slippers for sent me a gift card - sneaky - but it was for YARN! How could I refuse.

#3 Bet you were wondering what happened to that single I had wrapped around my lazy kate that I had spun from all those samples (featured in a couple-a posts back). Well, if you weren't wondering, you don't need to look at the next picture - but you may want to anyway. That's right, an adorable cowl! To be fair,it was only about half of the samples - the other half are stll on the lazy kate, which is keeping me from being able to use it. I suppose I'll have to do something about that soon. 

Isn't it lovely? Nowhere near a color I can wear, though (any of them), so it's sitting in my gift bin until it finds the person it was made for. I thought I'd found her, but it was too itchy for her. What can I say? There is pure wool in this thing - it's going to itch most people. 
And that, my friends, is part of what I did from November - December 2010

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

So here we are again. Seems like this is always the same cycle. I swear that I can't blog, then I blog once but determine I could do it more often, then blog a few more times, then drop it for a few months. By my estimation, we're in the 3rd phase, were I blog a few more times before forgetting.

Guess I'll ride this pony for all it's worth!

Which reminds me - did I ever give an update on the sasquatch socks part 2? In other words, the NaKniSoMo project?  Well, I did finish them in time, in fact, I finished them early, if you'd believe that! Below is a cell-phone picture of one of the pair (I do 2 at a time) being modeled by it's owner next to my leg, wearing a sock that comes up proportionally as far on me as his does on him. See! I wasn't lying!!!  The man's feet are enormous!  You see my knee in the picture - his knee is not next to mine, his knee is like a foot higher up! I will also say that you should probably be impressed I even got this picture - it's very hard to get pictures of the sasquatch, as many nature lovers would attest!

So, well, what else? I wanted to upload more pictures of different projects, but my phone is at home and there is nowhere for my camera's memory card to fit into the computer. so there we are.

Currently, I'm knitting a pair of socks for me out of the same 2 balls I used to make a pair for my mom that I finished last week. Can't decide if I really like the colorway or not. When I post the picture, you'll see what I mean.

Lastly, I podcasted about learning greek in my best Rosetta Stone voice. It is now apparent to all of my listeners why I will never get a job with Rosetta Stone.

That's the update for today. Work/life balance preserved for, although I am working late tonight, I am taking time to post to my blog.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Work/Life Balance - A resolution

So, many you may have noticed that I work....a lot. It's not really a problem most of the time. I find my job fulfilling and can usually carve out some time each day to work on something that's important to me - the past month it's been taking about 30-45 minutes each day (yes, I know I am technically entitled to a full hour for lunch and 2 15 minute breaks, but I consider the rest of the time used up checking personal email and the occasional chat with a friend) to take a nice walk outside. As someone who suffers from seasonal mood stuff (very mildly, but it is there), I find that this helps me maintain my cheery disposition in spite of work stress. :) It's been one of the ways I'm trying to make sure I get time for me - that I practice work/life balance. As a workaholic from a family of workaholics, I will run myself into the ground without noticing, and this is what I'm trying to avoid.

However, I overused my poor left achillies tendon from walking during the day and my new workout during the mornings. The new workout wasn't really that hard - just 3 miles on the treadmill on an incline, with about 10 extra pounds on a vest and then another 3-5 miles on the exercise bike....and sometimes 5/5miles or 6/6miles if I had time - but it was enough extra after the past two months of not working out regularly that it "overused" my tendon. I stayed off of it for 3 days (the first break I'd taken), but 2 days after I went back to exercising, the pain was back. Whoops!

So, after meeting with the Dr., I have a mandate to do minimal normal walking for 2 weeks, take aspirin constantly, and ice the darn thing. After that, I'm good to start exercising again, but supposed to work on slowly getting back to where I was. If the pain comes back.....well...let's just say she already wrote the perscription for physical therapy.

Those of you who know me know that my first instinct would be to sleep in now and/or work through the day without real breaks. But wait, I have a NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION to have better work/life balance!

What has filled the time? Well, some knitting and spinning, to be sure. But also, working on my Greek. Remember that? I promised the fiance that if/when we got engaged I would learn Greek to be able to talk to his family and also so we could have bilingual kids. And, believe it or not, the little homebody that I am, I've been spending a lot of time over the weekends away from my wonderful house at events like baby showers and helping friends with their home improvements.

Overall, I think I'm doing ok at the work/life balance thing. I know it will always be a struggle - and, like GI Joe says, knowing is half the battle.