Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Celebrities: They're just like us!

At least, Katherine Heigl from Grey's Anatomy is. She says she likes to knit a lot!!! (Scroll down to the very bottom of the story, where she's talking about what she likes to do when not working.)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Flower Basket Shawl #1!

I have the (by now) traditional burst of pictures that come every now and then after a visit to GPG's. Unfortunately, the pictures I have queued up for the moment will be the last for a while, because finals are coming up (*much gnashing of teeth here*). But hopefully there will be more photos once finals are over.

Anyway, I finally have pictures of the Boll Weaver's Flower Basket shawl! I decided to go all out with the pictures, since this is my first completed lace project, and documented the blocking process from start to end. GPG has a LOT of shawl pictures saved on his hard drive now . . . I have only a few now to share with you.

Here's a photo of the unblocked shawl, just to give you an idea of how big it is:

It's a bit small. I knit with US3 needles, which made the lace very dense. The second FB shawl is on US 6 needles to make a bigger shawl.

And, of course, here is the obligatory soaking in the sink shot:

Here is the shawl, slowly getting pinned out:

I had a tough time getting the thing to block out properly. I expect that I probably could have blocked it larger than I actually did, which would have helped because it's on the small side. But I was concerned about tugging on the shawl too much. I wasn't so much worried about breaking any of the yarn (because, as the Yarn Harlot says, then I'd have to go lie in the road), but pulling down on the points of the shawl was definitely distorting the straight line I wanted at the top, even though I threaded waste yarn through the straight edge and pinned it down as tightly as I could. To keep the top from drooping, I didn't block as severely as I probably could have.

But I think it still came out fairly nicely:

Here's a full shot, with a random ruler thrown into the mix:

FO pictures to come in a day or two!

Oh, and Caitlyn was kind enough to inquire about my voice. It is much better now, although I'm still coughing a little. It was completely gone for about 5 days, then starting coming back in dribs and drabs over the next couple of days, when I sounded like a chain smoker.

Now I'm still a little hoarse, but at least I can sing along with the radio again, which I couldn't do about a week ago. I also hope to start running regularly again, too; while my voice was gone, I hardly ran at all because I had such tightness in my chest that I couldn't breathe through the exertion. (Just walking to school was bad enough!) But I will almost certainly not be running the Houston marathon next year, at this rate--I'm even farther behind with training than I was last year, which was already pretty bad. I have to bump down to the half.

More to come soon!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

My contribution to Thanksgiving dinner

I had really grand plans for Thanksgiving. I had wanted to buy a roasting pan, make my own turkey, and go all out with the works--mashed potatoes, gravy, homemade rolls, green beans, sweet potato and apple gratin, and apple pie. As it turned out, school and a bunch of other stuff (like lack of funds and time) conspired to keep me away from my perfect Thanksgiving dinner. Instead, I had dinner at a family friend's house, and this was my contribution:

Chocolate chip cookies.

Oh, well. The perfect dinner will have to wait. I may try my hand at it over the winter holidays, after school is over. We'll see.

In knitting news, I finally have an FO to show! Behold, the first of two thank-you scarves:

As you can see, I haven't even woven in the ends . . .

Pattern: Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf
Yarn: Plymouth Encore Colorspun Worsted, Color 7172
Needles: US 8
Recipient: UT professor

The colors aren't too bright in this picture, but the scarf is vaguely UT-colored. At least, it has some burnt orange thrown into a mix of browns, red-oranges, yellows, and light blue tweedy flecks. Since these scarves are intended to be thank-you gifts for UT (or ex-UT) professors, I thought something in school colors (but which also wasn't too obnoxious) was appropriate.

The second scarf, identical to this one, is near completion, which is good. I hope to get it finished soon so I can send them off before 1) I look too ungrateful for these professors' help, and 2) I start studying in earnest for finals.

I also finished an Odessa in a nice dark red color, with white beads, but unfortunately, 1) I haven't taken a picture of it, and 2) it fits my head perfectly. And my head is smaller than the intended recipient's head. Sigh. A picture may come later, but at any rate, I will have to cast on for something bigger and hope that I have enough yarn.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone has a blessed and restful Thanksgiving. Enjoy the holiday!

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Knitting Whisperer

Yes, folks, that is I: the Knitting Whisperer. I completely lost my voice this weekend, and it is still gone. GPG took me to a really nice restaurant on Saturday night to celebrate (belatedly) our anniversary, and he could barely hear a thing I said. (That having been said, Da Marco is a very tasty restaurant. Check it out for a nice splurge.) Really, the only time he could hear me say anything was when we were together in complete quiet, like at home or in the car with no radio.

But, despite having to speak in a whisper all weekend, I did manage to get a lot of knitting done. (It helps when GPG drives so I can knit as we're going somewhere.) I made some progress on the second Flower Basket shawl, for GPG's mom, as well as some progress on the second thank-you scarf. I also started an Odessa for GPG's sister.

Most importantly, I blocked out the first Flower Basket shawl, intended for the Boll Weaver. GPG graciously took lots of blocking photos. Unfortunately, I had to leave to head back to Austin before I could take all the pins out and see the finished product. (I caught a ride to Houston and back this weekend, so I had to leave when the ride was ready to go.) I also didn't get to look at any of the pictures. But, I will be back in Houston in a couple of days for Thanksgiving, so we'll be able to take some photos of the finished shawl soon. And then I'll post pictures of everything.

Have a good week!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Another form of procrastination

I guess I should be knitting, but I'm at school and have no knitting with me. (More accurately, I have knitting, but ran out of yarn.) I'm supposed to be reading, but I am not. Instead, I am answering more mindless questions:

1. Flip to page 18, paragraph 4 in the book closest to you right now, what does it say?

Well, taking into account all breaks in the text as paragraph breaks (because otherwise there aren't 4 paragraphs on the page), it says:

"Even if the 'place of injury' is the touchstone for the tort of alienation of affections under the traditional rule, the law of Vermont would still be applied, because for the purposes of this tort Vermont is the 'place of the injury.' Section 377 of the first Restatement of the Law of Conflict of Laws posits the place of wrong in the state where the last event necessary to make an actor liable for an alleged tort takes place. . . ."

I won't bore you further. I'm supposed to be reading for my Conflict of Laws class.

2. If you stretch out your left arm - as far as possible, what are you touching?

Nothing. The wall is pretty far away from me.

3. What's the last program you watched on tv?

Grey's Anatomy last Thursday.

4. Without looking, guess what time it is.

6:45. Oops. 7:12.

5. Except the computer, what can you hear right now?

Nothing. The journal office is pretty quite at this time of night.

6. When was the last time you were outside and what did you do?

Err. I was walking to school. I've been inside for so long today that I had to think about it!

7. What are you wearing?

Jeans. T-shirt. Grey hoodie. Grey socks. New black Birkenstock shoes. They look a little orthopedic, but I have decided to embrace the orthopedic-ness because they are super comfy and perfect for walking to and from school in.

8. Did you dream last night? If you did, what about?

No. It was pretty windy here in Austin last night, so I kept waking up. Seriously--it was so windy I could hear it. And my house was creaking. It was really, really windy.

9. When was the last time you laughed?

Hmm. I chuckle a bit in class sometimes. I know I definitely laughed in class today. But that's not a very good laugh.

10. What's on the walls, in the room you're in right now?

Old journal stuff left here by other generations of editors.

11. Have you seen anything strange lately?.

Hmm. I guess I was intrigued by the process of making tiramisu last Thursday. You whip up egg yolks and sugar for about 5 minutes, so I thought the way the consistency of the mixture changed over that time was pretty interesting--not at all what I expected. Then you heat the egg mixture with cream added over the stove top, and you get another unexpected change in consistency. It was pretty cool, and I'd make the tiramisu again just to see it. Of course, it helps that the tiramisu recipe is pretty darn tasty, too.

12. What do you think about this meme?

If it helps me procrastinate, at this time of year, it's great.

13. What's the last film you saw?

Err. I can't remember. The last one I saw in a movie theater was definitely Cars. The last one I saw on DVD was . . . Moulin Rouge. I think. (Cars was totally better than Moulin Rouge.)

14. If you became a multimillionaire, what would you do with the money?

I'd create my own foundation and use the money to do good things, much the same way that Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are. How cool would it be to use all your money to hire the very best and brightest scientists out there, give them great facilities, and say, "Do what you can to cure X" or, "Send a man to Mars," or "Build a better environmentally friendly car" or whatever???

15. Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know.

Hmm. I am planning on taking the California bar exam next year. I guess many people don't know about that.

16. If you could change ONE THING in this world, without regarding politics or bad guilt - what would it be?

I would cure a disease, if possible. Or reverse all global warming/pollution.

19. What do you want your children’s names to be, girl/boy?

Ehhh. I am not really a fan of children. Let's not go there.

17. Do you like dancing?

In theory, yes. In practice, I'm a terrible dancer.

18. George Bush?

Not a fan.

20. Would you ever consider living abroad?

Depends on where.

21. What do you want God to tell you, when you come to heaven?

Why he does things the way he does them.

22. Who should do this meme?

Anyone else who doesn't want to study for class!

Too much to knit

Holey moley, I have too much to knit. I really don't know if I will be able to finish all the holiday knitting I had planned out for myself this year. I will either be giving some late, late gifts or settling for store-bought things.

The good news is that I have finished some things. Gifts for the Aspiring Ecologist, the Violinist, the Pianist, and GPG's brother-in-law are all done. I also have finished the Flower Basket Shawl for the Boll Weaver, who is due back in Austin from Eureka, CA sometime soon. Lastly, I've finished one of the two scarves I need to knit as thank-you gifts for the professors who wrote me recommendations for my clerkship applications.

The bad news is that I really haven't made much progress on anything else. I started another Flower Basket for GPG's mother, but haven't gotten farther than few inches on that, and I have yarn for yet another Flower Basket for my grandmother. (I thought about using other patterns for these shawls, like maybe Kiri (link is to a PDF), but at this point I figure I should go with the familiar pattern.) I want to make slippers for the Chairman and socks or some kind of cowl for the Chairwoman. I also have yarn to make Odessa for GPG's sister and hats for his nephews that will match their dad's hat (that is to say, GPG's sister will have a hat of her own while her husband and sons all match. It's just hard to match men's hats to Odessa). I still have the one thank-you scarf to finish. And all this is to say nothing of the gifts I had intended to make for GPG--at least a pair of socks, plus a very special surprise that will remain unbloggable until it's made.

On top of all this, next week during Thanksgiving I'll be seeing some families with new babies that I haven't seen in ages. One is visiting from Switzerland. So of course I have to give those babies Almost Famous Luggy Bonnets (picture of one knitter's version here) from Weekend Knitting. I dropped all the other knitting this week to get a move-on with those. But, unfortunately, by the time I have those bonnets ready, Thanksgiving will be upon me, and with Thanksgiving comes . . . cramming for finals, and the finals will not end until Dec. 20.

Something is going to have to give, and it won't be the finals. Despite my 3L ennui, I still have my neurotic law student pride. Unfortunately, because he is the most understanding, it will probably have to be GPG's gifts . . . but even with that respite, I'm afraid that I'll need more slack than that. Clearly I did not prioritize my gift-knitting very well this year. Arg!

I don't know how I'm going to do all this.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Self-made lunch

The Seedless Grape stomach is very full and happy at the moment, thanks to Cook's Illustrated. For lunch, I brought some leftover beef stroganoff that I made over the weekend, plus one of the last bits of tiramisu that I made for last week's Grey's Anatomy feast. Both were delicious, and both came from the outstanding Cook's Illustrated website. I have a web membership ($15/year) and it is well worth the price!

For an afternoon snack, I also have a slice of pumpkin bread (plus chocolate chips!) that I made on Saturday at the same time as the beef stroganoff. Cook's Illustrated actually doesn't provide a recipe for pumpkin bread, but I cobbled together my own recipe from CI's banana bread recipe plus this recipe from Epicurious. The pumpkin bread didn't rise as high as I would have liked (for instance, the banana bread recipe rose much higher), but I still have a remaining cup of canned pumpkin to try another loaf. And, regardless, the inside is nice and moist. Very tasty.

Mealtimes are seriously my favorite times of the day. I love having good food to eat while I'm at school; it really brightens up an otherwise boring day.

Recipe for Seedless Grape's pumpkin bread, Take 1:

Mix and set aside:
1 3/4 c all purpose flour
3/4 c sugar
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (although next time I'll probably bump this up to 2 tsp)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 c chocolate chips (Cook's Illustrated likes Nestle's Semisweets)

Melt and cool:
6 Tbsp butter

Mix the butter with:
1 c canned pumpkin (Libby's)
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 c plain yogurt

Fold the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture. Pour the batter into a 9x5" loaf pan that has been sprayed with baking spray (non-stick spray with flour added). Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes, turning around the loaf pan halfway through to ensure even baking. Cool on a rack in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out of pan and cool entirely. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

An appalling lack of self-discipline

Yesterday I suffered from an appalling lack of self-discipline and stayed up until 4 in the morning working on a new Flower Basket shawl. Not a good idea if your original plan was to wake up at 8, get to school at a reasonable hour to get some work done, and then leave around 4 to go running outside. I ended up not waking up until 10:15 or so. But at least that new Flower Basket Shawl has several repeats now.

I say "new" FB shawl because I finished the first one yesterday at the last panel of the Frontiers of IP symposium sponsored, in part, by my journal at school. I attended the entire symposium and got quite a bit of knitting on the shawl done, and I managed to cast off just before the whole shebang ended on Saturday. Although I am one of the few editors on my journal interested in IP, the knitting was just about the only useful thing I managed to get out of the symposium.

I am visiting GPG this coming weekend and hope to take pictures of before and after blocking the shawl. Although I have knit up some lace before, this is really my first lace FO, and it is definitely the first time I will have ever blocked lace. So I hope it turns out nicely. I'm a bit concerned about the size because I used US 3 needles and sock-weight yarn, even though the pattern recommended US 6 needles (which I'm now using for the new shawl). I hope that the shawl will stretch a lot so that it's a proper drape-y size. It's supposed to be a gift for the Boll Weaver, and she's tall enough that it needs to be a lot bigger than it is now, fresh off the needles.

Anyway, I now need to get back to an edit in order to atone for my lack of self-discipline earlier. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Feats of strength

I have nothing terribly interesting to report; the end of the semester is drawing near, so everything and everyone around school is getting a little bit tense. The Grey's Anatomy enchilada feast last week was a rousing success, although I think my guacamole left a little something to be desired. (I have yet to find a good recipe, even from Cook's Illustrated.) This week we're doing Italian: some kind of yummy pasta recipe from one student, tomato and basil and mozzarella salad from the other, and TIRAMISU from me! Very exciting.

Anyway, the most important and interesting thing I have to post about is not even from me. It's from the Chairpeople, who just ran the Taroko Marathon in Taiwan. I can't really describe it myself; here is what the Chairman had to write about it:

"We completed the most beautiful marathon last Saturday, partly in the rain. The temperature was about 70-75F and cloudy/rainy. The course was in and out of the gorge with the elevation gain of 480 meters.

"I began to have some muscle cramp at about 15km. I asked [the Chairwoman] to go ahead at about 20km. I could not run for some time until I saw some medical team spray something on runners' legs. I asked for some and it helped. I was able to run for some time but cramp came back again. I asked for some more spray when I saw the medical team again. This time it was different kind which was better than the first kind. I was able to run most of the way. I saw [the Chairwoman] after she made the turn from the highest point of 530 m. I was about 4 km behind her. It was a good feeling when I made it to the top. At the first water station from the top, I got some cream to rub on my legs and it also helped. I began to pass some people on the way.

"I did stop to 'smell the roses' - to take pictures where the views were so spectacular. This course is hard but so beautiful.

"As I ran and walked toward the finish line, I saw some tour buses going up hill. They were to pick up the runners who could not complete the course in 6 hours. I decided that I would not let them take me to the finish line. I began to run and run. At one point for a long stretch, I was the only one runner on the road. I passed many young people who lost all the energy and may be waiting for the bus. I crossed the finish line at 6 hour and 35 minutes. [The Chairwoman] did it in 5 hours and 50 min. The time limit was 6 hours.

"She got a metal and I got an extra bottle of water. But we both had joyful and thankful hearts that we made it."

Isn't that just amazing? What amazing feats of strength and fortitude from the Chairpeople. I'm so proud of them.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Being a better blogger

Although GPG's Olympus camera died on me, I am still trying to hold myself to my resolution to be a better blogger and document my crafty/culinary adventures a little better. I told myself yesterday that even though I again have no digital camera, I can still write about what I'm up to until the next time I'm within range of one.

So, what am I really up to? (Besides battling off the last vestiges of a cold, that is?) I'm making . . .


A couple of other students and I have established the practice of getting together on Thursday evenings with homemade food (and, in my case, knitting) to watch Grey's Anatomy. This weekly get-together started innocuously with strawberries, vanilla ice cream, and caramel cookies. The next week, it evolved into banana bread and gingerbread with pumpkin-flavored ale. From there, it exploded into beef stew with mashed potatoes, corn muffins, and apple crisp; beef stroganoff with roasted carrots and peanut butter cookies; and wild rice and chicken casserole with Halloween-themed sugar cookies. Sounds delicious, no?

So tonight we're having a Mexican-themed meal. I'm making chicken enchiladas, thanks to America's Test Kitchen's The Best Light Recipe, and fresh guacamole, thanks to ATK's The Best Recipe. (The light recipe for guac is probably fine, but it sounded like too much work, what with pureeing frozen lima beans and such.) The others are making Mexican salad (with corn tortilla crisps!), some extravagant bananas Foster chimichanga flambe something or other dessert with cinnamon ice cream, and blender margaritas. How exciting!

And, while Grey's is actually on, I will be knitting on a scarf based on
this pattern. I have actually already knit two of these suckers, which provide good mindless knitting for school meetings and boring reading, but those are Christmas gifts for the Violinist and the Pianist, so no photos of those. The scarf that I'm currently knitting is supposed to be a thank you gift for someone who I'm pretty sure doesn't even know about this blog. So I will try to post pictures about that eventually.

I'll try to write about results from our enchilada/guacamole/margarita/chimichanga extravagana tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Happy November!

And what better way to ring in November than with . . .

More baby elephant pictures!

GPG and I went to the zoo last Saturday to see the baby elephant again. Fortunately, it was sunnier, so the pictures are a little better. The elephant was a little shy at first, hanging around his mom and aunt a lot, but he did start to venture around on his own a bit. Here he is with his aunt:

He's so small he can walk between her legs!

And here he is, taking a rest from being so cute:

It's hard work being cute!

And here he is, walking a bit on his own. GPG thought it was interesting that he walks with both legs on one side in the air. I think he could fit in very well with the Beatles in that Abbey Road picture:

And the orangutangs were out as well:

I think this was the youngest orangutang, Luna. She had a lot of fun playing with that yellow blanket!

After the zoo, we checked out an installation art exhibit at the Rice University Art Gallery. It was interesting, but it's hard to explain what it was. Two disciples of the architect Frank Gehry created the exhibit, called Rip Curl, and it consisted of thousands and thousands of sheets of cardboard, assembled on a wood frame, to create a really interesting topography:

You could go climbing around on the exhibit as long as you stayed within the boundaries marked by these little flags stuck into the terrain:

It was really neat. Unfortunately, it was hard to capture the entire exhibit in a single picture to convey exactly what it was like to go climbing around on it. And, even more unfortunately, the exhibit has gotten taken down, so you can't go see it yourself anymore. I feel lucky that we got to see it before the exhibition closed.

That's it for now. I have to go to class and I have to recover from this cold, which seemed to get better from the weekend but which has now settled into my chest. Bleah.