So when I was in college, one of my friends would always make fun of me because when I was over at her apartment and I had to choose a mug, I always chose the Monet one. She was like “I knew you would choose that one!” I was like, whatever–have you seen the Monet umbrellas? Anyway, I think Monet is one of those things that kind of gets eye-rolled at because of all the tchotchkes that have the paintings imprinted on them (mousepads, anyone?), much like classical music pieces that are overplayed. But the thing is that sometimes cliches are famous because they’re good. I tried to make a case for Pachelbel’s “Canon” at my wedding with this argument, but Adam was like “No. Too many commercials.” (Ha! I had my own Pachelbel moment…the song we used had the same chords as Pachelbel’s “Cannon”! Plus, I got to do a nod to my Phil Spector fandom–we did “Be My Baby.” I know Phil Spector is crazy, but I fact-checked a whole story about Phil Spector once and I developed a whole new appreciation for the “Wall of Sound.” By the way, I discovered this enormous list of songs that use the “Be My Baby” drum beat. So if you wanted to do one of those Wheel of Fortune Before and Afters–you know “Baseball Bat Cave”–you could say that musically, Pachelbel begat Be My Baby, which begat this giant list of other songs, including my beloved Billy Joel’s “Say Goodbye to Hollywood.” Incidentally, one of the DJs we interviewed cited Billy Joel as his guilty pleasure and I started laughing–I was like, “Don’t apologize, I love Billy Joel!”)

Anyway, when we were on our honeymoon we went to see Monet’s water lillies at the Musee de la Orangerie and they were truly spectacular (they were actually at Gagosian in New York earlier this year, but we didn’t have a chance to visit). When you see them huge and up close, they are incredibly emotional and moving in a way that cannot be conveyed by the coffee cups and other tchotchkes.

Here’s a photo that Adam took on our honeymoon:
Honeymoon

This is a long warm up to say that I think my new mittens seem kind of…dare I say Monet-esque? I know, every two-bit knitting designer describes their creation as inspired by Monet. And then you look at their project and you’re like, “whoa, that is the ugliest pastel bit of knitting vomit ever.” Well, I know, but there is a nice play of color on these mittens. (The front and the back are reverse fair isle of each other.)
Fingerless<br /> <a href=

Fingerless Mitt

Should I make them fingerless mitts as I first planned or mittens?

Posted in Mittens at October 19th, 2010.

Here’s my bag of fingerling weight sock and shawl scraps, left over from my socks and shawls. It’s so inspiring! I thought to myself, if only I had some fingerling weight solid to do some fair isle in. Guess what? I looked in my Bin of Stash, and I have a whole ball, plus maybe 20% of another ball of light blue alpaca, left over from the hood hat I made my sister. I am chugging along on these really cool mittens–photos to come tomorrow of the work in progress.

Posted in Inspiration, Mittens at October 17th, 2010.

Shawl
Pattern: Hamamelis Shawl, by Kristin Kapur, of Through the Loops. $6.00

Yarn: Sundara Fingerling Silky Merino, color: The Life Aquatic. This is from a Seasons subscription that I had in 2008-2009. Sundara is kind of a crazy cult yarn that is hard to get–Seasons was a thing where you paid her every month and then every other month you received a batch of yarn. You didn’t get to pick the colors, only a “season” of colors (I had winter). Anyway, you can get skeins of it from her website. It currently runs $40-$50 a skein. The website says you get 500 yards, but I think its significantly more. I had quite a bit left over.

Needles: Size 5 Lace Addis.

Project begun/ended: April 2010-October 2010. Only seven months. 🙂

Shawl
Notes and modifications: I knit the medium size, and then I knit 40 rows of the garter stitch chart (chart 3) instead of 24. I was going to knit 48, but I ran out of steam. So it’s somewhere between a medium and a large. It’s a straightforward pattern though it’s not very intuitive.

This yarn is billed as a semi-solid, but mine was pretty variegated, so I wanted something with a lot of garter stitch that didn’t compete too heavily with the colors.
shawl

I don’t think anyone ever wears their shawl like this, but it seems to be required to show you the full knitting and shape. My body looks weirdly out of proportion here but I think it has to do with the angle at which it was shot.

Shawl

I like to wear my triangle shawls like this, so it’s more scarf-y and less old lady.

Posted in Finished Objects 2010, Shawls at October 15th, 2010.

You know, I’ve been thinking a lot about blogging recently. It sort of came up because Adam asked me why I hadn’t applied to be a Weddingbee blogger even though I read it ALL the time. (Even, I must admit, after I was married.) A small part of it was because I am a writer for money (though not here on my self-funded, three-reader blog) and I didn’t feel I wanted to write for a commercial website for no pay. The bigger part is that I am a huge oversharer in real life. I like to overshare about everything–even if I just met you at a dinner party, I am soon telling you about all of my life problems. But the internet is not the place for that–it’s a place for undersharing. However, what I think makes a blog interesting is when people are really personal. But how can you do that without oversharing?

I started a knitting blog so I could share my projects, but Ravelry has really efficiently created a way of sharing knitting information that surpasses individual blogs and Facebook seems to have replaced personal blogs in general. I have always read blogs on Bloglines, but now Bloglines is closing down and it makes me have to re-evaluate the role of blogs. I enjoy having a place to blab about what I want, but I wonder if blogs are still the best way of doing so. Sigh.

Anyway. Here is the shawl so far. I am SO over knitting it and want to knit many other things, but I must finish this shawl first, otherwise it will sit around taunting me:

Shawl

Let’s see, what else do I normally blab about. Um, books. I finally finished a rather short but very bleak non-fiction book The Oysters of Locmariaquer, which I wanted to read after my Brittany all-oysters-all-the-time honeymoon. This book was the winner of the National Book Award in 1965. In addition to being a fairly comprehensive history of oysters in France, it tells the story of the oysterpeople in Locmariaquer. Every tale was incredibly bleak. In addition to working all the time and making very little money off an unstable business (oysters), the oysterpeople had these terrible life stories, many of which seemed to involve your only and beloved daughter being beaten in an oyster restaurant before committing suicide with just…one…oyster to eat. I think this book was hard to read because every chapter seemed filled with even more bleakness. But the prose is beautiful and often funny, plus I learned a lot about oysters.

Foooood. Here are some food photos, since this has now become a housewife blog:
Rice-Cooker Cooking

I made this in the rice cooker after reading Roger Ebert’s book The Pot and How to Use It. Let me save you your money and point out that there is no need to buy this book. Adam got it from work for free, but it is basically this entire blog post on Roger Ebert’s blog published in book form. But funny and informative. Roger Ebert turns out to be hilarious and enjoys cooking everything in a rice cooker. You are not going to get a Michelin star from anything made in a rice cooker, but it will be edible and fairly easy to make. This is the Jubilee rice from Lundberg that I am a fan of, cooked with Imagine chicken broth, and reconstituted shiitake mushrooms (pour boiling hot water over dried mushrooms and soak for at least an hour), edamame, tofu, spinach. Plus Penzey’s spices, which I now throw into everything.
Banana Bread

Banana bread from Cook’s Illustrated, I think the September issue. Yummy. Wait, I think I might have to get a slice now.

Posted in cooking, Shawls at October 8th, 2010.

I know, it’s a knitting blog…and I’m hoping to have more knitting content next week. But I have been cooking a lot, so here’s some food pix.

I made some ratatouille and stretched it out over three meals and not until the last meal did it reach its full potential.

Meal #1:
Dinner

This is from Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison, with her accompanying semolina crepes. It was okay, but it was lacking something. (For those of your shopping along at home, this is our lovely everyday wedding china, One O One, by Eva Zeisel for Royal Stafford; Sasaki Asana flatware, designed by Vignelli Associates; and Riedel wine glasses. I am grateful for all of our wedding gifts, especially because I lived like a stereotypical bachelor before I got married and ate frozen lasagne over the sink with my one fork. Seriously. I only had one bowl. When Adam moved in, he brought two bowls. So we had three crappy bowls. But now I am truly grateful for being able to eat off nice plates and not my dollar store purchases. And we now have so many great kitchen tools! My most used gift, besides the plates and flatware, is, I think, the garlic press.)

Anyway, the next night I cooked it over rice, which Adam deemed a big improvement. And then finally, I had the idea to add beans. This finally elevated it to a truly tasty meal:

Dinner

VOILA!! Here’s my recipe. I am including the brands not because I am paid (HA!) but because I think it might be useful.

(0.) Cook some dried black beans from scratch. They have much more texture and taste (and are significantly lower in sodium) than the canned ones. I put in a heaping teaspoon of Penzey’s Fox Point seasonings when it was cooking. This takes awhile, so budget out a few hours to get this part done.

(1.) THE RICE. I highly recommend using this short grain brown rice mix–it’s got some chew and a lot of flavor. It’s called Lundberg Jubilee. I bought it at the health food store and according to the package it is a mix of “Wehani®, Black Japonica™, short and medium grain red rice, short and long grain brown rice and sweet brown rice.” Okay, whatever. But it’s a crucial element of my recipe, in my opinion.

(2.) Put the rice (I used 3/4 cup for two people) and put double the amount of chicken broth into your rice cooker or pot. (So, here, I put in 1.5 cups of chicken broth. I use Imagine Organic, because that is what Cook’s Illustrated decided was the best after taste tests, and Chris Kimball is my lord and master. I would also try to use a lower-sodium brand here.) I also sprinkled Penzey’s Spices Old World Blend over the top and stirred it around before I started cooking. (We got the Penzey’s “Ethnic Milwaukee” set of spices from Adam’s Milwaukee cousins as a wedding gift and I have been using them with abandon.)

(3.) Cook the rice.

(4.) Form a mound: Put in a bunch of rice. Heap some warm beans on top. Put the reheated ratatouille on top. Ratatouille is tastier after a day or two in the fridge. As I said, this is from Vegetarian Suppers by Deborah Madison, but probably any recipe for ratatouille is fine. Fry an egg. Put it on top.

(5.) Eat.

Posted in cooking at September 17th, 2010.

Shawl at MoMA

So I’ve been knitting on this shawl since, well, since before the blog went on its hiatus. I had big plans to finish it before my honeymoon, so I could prance around France with it, but nope, never finished it. Then I brought it ON my honeymoon, thinking I could knit all my memories into every stitch. Yeah. I actually became totally sucked into watching all these episodes of “The Good Wife” on the plane ride over (and back) and just enjoyed life on the TGV train rides, so I knit exactly zero stitches on my honeymoon, which is fine too. (Above, I am knitting on it in the Museum of Modern Art’s garden early this summer when we went to see Marina Abramovic. Also, someone next to us was using his iPad as a phone and holding up this GIANT pad next to his ear. I was laughing at him, but then he gave us a dollar that I dropped so then I felt bad for mocking him.)

I think there was a little bit of a life pun in that I started watching this after I got married, but actually I am really into the show. I think this show is really well directed–I totally recommend it even though no one seems to care when I recommend it in person. It’s not just me! Critics love it too!

Here’s my random long aside about “The Good Wife.” The premise obviously started with the Elliott Spitzer marriage; Julianna Margulies is “The Good Wife” (or Silda Spitzer) and Mr. Big, aka Chris Noth, is the Attorney General husband who had to step down because he slept with a prostitute. Anyway, it’s pretty successful in being two things at once. First, every episode is a mini-Law and Order, because Alicia Florrick (Juliana Margulies) had to go back to work as a junior lawyer after her husband went to jail, so every episode has a mini plot arc about the case she’s working on. She has a smart (but fierce, you know how it is) sidekick, who is the investigator at the law firm, and a rival in Logan Huntzberger. I do not know what this actor’s name in real life or on the show is, but he played Logan Huntzberger on Gilmore Girls (and Lyla’s obnoxious super-Christian boyfriend on Friday Night Lights), so Logan it is. Plus there’s the boss who happens to be an old flame, another boss who is Christine Baranski, who is kind of hilarious in everything, but plays the tough lady boss here. That’s the work story. Then there’s also a season-long arc, which is about her relationship with Chris Noth and her mother-in-law and her kids, who are always getting involved in trying to protect their dad from the Chicago machine, which is trying to take him down.

First of all, the acting is solid. You believe Chris Noth, since he’s basically playing the same person he always plays–slimy, but charming dude. More believable than the real-life Elliot Spitzer, actually. Julianna Margulies is compelling and all the side characters are good. Secondly, the directing is good–there are a lot of little touches that are nice–they do a lot of the cutting back and forth on scenes that was pioneered in The Graduate. I tried to explain this to Adam yesterday, but actually, I learned it all from this interview with Ron Howard in the Times, so just read that to get what I mean. But there are other things too–the photos that the Chicago machine sends to intimidate the family are riffs on the photos of Marion Barry smoking crack, back in the day, but with Chris Noth in the photos instead.

It’s not *groundbreaking* or the best tv you’ve ever seen or anything, but overall, it’s really very well done. And randomly produced by Ridley Scott. There’s my fall TV suggestion for you.

Posted in Shawls at September 8th, 2010.

It’s like the start of a new school year. Never mind that I’m not in school. The other day, my friend was like “Are you ever going to blog again?” And I said, “Why yes, I am.” But you know, I had a lot of freelance stuff, then wedding stuff, and then I got married, and then I had a honeymoon, and then I came back, blahbity blah. I have been knitting, albeit somewhat sporadically, but now that I am weaning myself off wedding blogs (so hard), I am back to knitting blogs.

I will leave you with a photo from the honeymoon, from The Bon Marche in Paris:

yarn

Of course I had to visit the yarn shop!!

Posted in Yarn Stores at September 7th, 2010.

So, I started a new shawl, but I don’t have any photos of it yet, so sadly, this post will be photo-less. Unless you want some food photos. FOOD PHOTOS. Oh so boring:

Chickpea Couscous

Mark Bittman’s Chickpea Tagine with Chicken and Apricots, from the New York Times dining section a couple of weeks ago. This was okay. For a quick recipe, it was pretty good. It was no couscous royale that you can get in Paris (yes, I know, I am one of these annoying people who finds Paris ab-fab), but it was decent. I would say B+. But the chicken thighs (I bought Murray’s) were tasty.

Kale Chips

Kale chips. These took over the knitting and food internets recently. I enjoyed them. I was actually lured by Crazy Aunt Purl’s negative review of them, claiming they tasted like nori. I like nori, so I made them. This is the recipe from the kitchn. I cut down the salt to 1/4 teaspoon (and two shakes of the salt shaker) and it was still way too much. Go lightly on the salt. Also. Very very easy to make. I would say A-.

Also, here are some book reviews. I know, this blog is filled with excitement. But what can I say? I read, I eat, I knit. Or as Laura Bush supposedly said, upon meeting her future in-laws, Bush 41 and Barbara Bush, “I read, I smoke and I admire.” Maybe I should read Eat, Pray, Love.

Anyway.

Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens. I was making a bunch of Miss Havisham references recently and figured I might as well read the damn book. Parts of it were much funnier than I expected, which was a plus. However, I am torn about Dickens’ emphasis on plot. Though I often prefer plot to character development, Dickens is pretty crappy at developing characters, to the point where even I, a plot-whore, noticed. But he is a master of family revelations, which I also enjoy, but it makes the book somewhat ridiculous at times. You know everything is going to be wrapped up in the end, however implausible the connections may be. Could the con man truly be related to Estella? YES!! Well, I guess since this was written as a serial, it requires ridiculous family revelations. Much like the ongoing soap Brothers and Sisters on ABC, which I am also fond of. Dickens=Sally Field ranting. Very similar.

The Uncommon Reader, by Allan Bennett. I thought this one was pretty funny. I like royal gossip quite a bit, so this novella about Queen Elizabeth II was totes entertaining to me. Your appreciation probably depends on whether you enjoy thinking about the British Royal Family in your spare time or not.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery. This one was okay. It was somewhat predictable, I think, in its depiction of two totally smug, self-righteous characters, but it was set in Paris, so that’s a plus. (For me.) It kind of was like this Louise Fitzhugh kid’s book I read Nobody’s Family is Going to Change. Or Bridge to Terabithia. There’s something about this book that seems sort of ’70s-ish. Maybe the French are stuck in the ’70s? I don’t know.

Here’s to some knitting photos tomorrow!

Posted in book reviews, cooking at April 19th, 2010.

lemon drop sock

I was knitting along on my socks on the subway a while ago and a man asked me how long it took to knit one sock. I was all, “Oh, a couple of weeks.” That was a lie! The fastest I have ever knit a sock, is, yes, in a couple of weeks, but generally, it takes much longer, because I get bored and because life gets in the way. This photo isn’t the best, because I made Adam take it late at night (and as you can see, the ends aren’t woven in! Maybe they’ll get a better photoshoot later. Or not.

Anyhow. Here are the deets:

Pattern: Stansfield 304 from More Sensational Knitted Socksi, by Charlene Schurch

Yarn: One skein Yarntini sock yarn in Lemondrop. This is from deep in the stash; I bought it at the now-defunct online shop Sonny and Shear for $23, before shipping. You can still buy this yarn from Yarntini directly, though I was hoping this was the self-striping, though alas it was the variegated.

Needles: Susan Bates DPNs, size 0

Project began/ended: Started December 7, 2009. Finished April 12, 2010. So, four months. But I did knit some other stuff in between!

Notes/modifications: I knit them toe up on DPNs. I like toe up and I like DPNs.

Posted in Finished Objects 2010, Socks at April 13th, 2010.

So Adam and I…okay, I would like to insert a note here to say I actually have friends who are NOT my Significant Other, but I value their privacy. Adam, on the other hand, is all over the internet*, so clearly, he gets to be the topic of all of my posts. Anyway, just wanted to get that off my chest, so my two readers don’t think I’m some Boring Smug Married who spends all of her time with her S.O.

*We met in real life, or IRL as the kids say, but he is the most useless person to google because there is Way Too Much information about him on the internet.

Anyway, so we’ve been taking these long walks, or as Adam dubbed them “Urban Hikes” (and as he’s dubbed himself, “Guide Adam,” pronounced obnoxiously French-y, as in “Geeede Ahhhdahm”) around the city, and we’ve seen some cool rarely seen sights in the city. Like graffiti:

lemon drop socks WIP

Here’s the traveling sock with some graffiti at 5 Pointz, which is this huge factory space covered with graffiti. (My city councilperson*, by the way, hates graffiti with a crazy vengeance, and is always sending me updates–via snail mailed newsletters–about his latest attempts to convince marketers and branding companies that “graffiti is not art.” Sometimes I understand his issues, especially on storefronts and private residences, but sometimes, I am like, “Okay, just let The Man use graffiti on some stupid energy drink to pretend to be cool. OMG.”  Personally, I think some graffiti can be really neat, though, like I said, there is the bourgeois part of me that understands how graffiti is my city councilperson’s pet peeve. Like ugly tags. Why do people have to use those? Blech. Also, I am probably the only person in my district who reads my city councilperson’s newslwetters.)

*New York has a representative for each district called a councilperson or councilman, who serves, duh, as part of the City Council. They’re pretty much small-time politicians, though they do have a certain amount of power as individuals and as a governing body. They’re generally pretty accessible, though.

lemon drop socks WIP

A close-up of the sock with some graffiti outside 5 Pointz.

We were trying to walk from Queens to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, but it took longer than we thought, so stopped in Williamsburg.  New Yorkers know Williamsburg is The Hipster Neighborhood, but there’s also the Hasidic Jewish part, which is less commonly visited by non-Hasidic Jews, and which is where we ended up. I knew, however, from past experience, that the Hasidic Jews serve delicious stuffed cabbage, but we could not, for the life of us, find a single restaurant. It might have been because it was Sunday, or that there aren’t a lot of restaurants in general in the Hasidic part of the neighborhood. (Interestingly, I was just reading this week’s New York magazine, which just came in the mail, and it has an article summing up the problems between the hipsters and the Hasids, amusingly entitled “Clash of the Bearded Ones.”) I was starving, though I did manage to satisfy my hunger a little bit with some chocolate babka (I went to Jewish pre-school at a JCC, so even though I am not Jewish, nor a hipster, but Chinese-American, I have a store of Jewish knowledge that pops up at random times. Like what babka is. Or how to recite Jewish prayers. Or how to make challah. *I* should be the subject of a New York magazine article! Chinese girl raised Jewish! Though I went to a Reform Jewish pre-school in San Francisco, which is quite different from the very observant Hasidic Jewish community in New York.)

Anyway, we crossed over from the Hasidic side of Williamsburg to the Hipster side to eat at Diner. Where there were ramps on the menu. RAMPS! Adam and I make fun of ramps all the time, because foodies are always like “Ramps! Ramps! Ramps!” We are like, “Okay, calm down, freak shows.” Anyway, we had the ramps. Unsurprisingly, they were like any member of the allium family (leeks, onions, chives, etc.). You know, CHIVE-y. And tasty. But not, mind-blowingly tasty. Just good. I also had the nettle fettuccine (NETTLES!) and it was good. Adam was like, “Do those noodles have some sting? Is that the nettles?” I was drinking (a rare thing for me, because I am sort of allergic to alcohol), and I was like, “I don’t know…everything is making me feel sting-y.”

lemon drop socks WIP

Diner is set in an old railroad car. Can you get any more hipster?

Posted in Socks, travelingproject at April 12th, 2010.