Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Brillo Scarf

Next up in the reveal is a scarf that my mom requested for her Christmas present. She and I were yarn shopping and she found this purple yarn with silver threads in it that she loved. She requested a simple garter stitch scarf out of it. After I started it, I was concerned about the texture and called her up to get her opinion. I explained that it felt like a brillo pad. She said she didn't care, so I kept on knitting. She wore it most of the afternoon after she unwrapped it so maybe she is OK with the neck exfoliating qualities of her new scarf!

This yarn is really hard to photograph. It is called Glisten and is made by Louisa Harding. It is a tape yarn with bits of tinselly, glittery silver mixed into the dark purple.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Felted Balls

I mentioned in my last post how tired all of the Christmas events made me and I guess it only really hit me when I got home from work last night and sat down to eat with Paul. I took a few bites of dinner and realized I was too tired to chew. So I went to bed. At 7pm. And I slept until the alarm woke me up at 6:30am this morning. I think I really needed the recovery sleep!

Now that most of the Christmas gifts I made have reached their intended recipients, I can start revealing them here. First off is a gift I made for my sister. I wanted to experiment with felting roving into beads. I know my sister can pull off funky stuff, so I made her a necklace using a combo of felted beads, fishing swivels, glass beads, spacers from a necklace my mom and I took apart, wire and miscellaneous findings.

The clasp features a silver star on each side.

I am not sure if she is going to wear it. She was a little weirded out by the felted balls. Oh well, I had fun making it. In the process I learned that those little suckers aren't easy to make. I think I actually broke a sweat when I was rolling and rolling and rolling them to get them to wet felt.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Home again, home again.

Whew! We just finished 5 Christmas events in as many days. We are home and pretty dang tired.

After Christmas Eve at our apartment with my sister and dad and then Christmas Day at Paul's parents house, we still had 3 more Christmas events to go to.

Event 3:
On Friday we finished some last minute gift preparations and then spent the evening at the play Fat Man Crying, which was at the Minneapolis Theater Garage. I won tickets to this show when I attended Stitch, Bitch n Die at the Bryant Lake Bowl Theater in October. Both plays are by Joseph Scrimshaw and both shared a wry humor and an easy to digest storyline.

Event 4:
On Saturday morning we woke up bright and early, piled the presents, dogs and ourselves into the car to go to Wisconsin. It was there that we met up with my dad and then drove further into Wisconsin to get together with the extended family. I haven't seen some of my extended family members in so long that the younger cousins weren't recognizable to me anymore. It has also been so long since I have seen them that many of them had never met Paul. It was immediately obvious to Paul that I do not come from a vegetarian oriented family. He could tell by the "man room" in my aunt and uncles house that was full of taxidermy creatures including a bear, fox and other creatures I glimpsed when quickly scanning the room and promptly beating it out of there as fast as I could. He could also tell by the gift that said "man" of the "man room" gave to my dad: a back scratcher made from a dried turkey foot. Gross.

Event 5:
After spending the night at my dad's house where I got to sit and knit by the fire for a while, we got up early again in order to drive back to Minneapolis, drop the dogs off at the apartment, pick up a new batch of gifts and go to my mom's house.

It was totally worth it though because she made her famous chocolate mint bars. My sister and I look forward to those bars and have been known to get a little petty when it comes time to divide them up.

We enjoyed the afternoon together eating falafel, playing games, opening presents and teasing each other.

In addition to his real presents, Paul also got a few hand-me-down gifts including a tobacco pipe and a "meat pan." He is looking forward to totally grossing me out with his tobacco smoking, meat eating ways. And, to think, I married a non-smoking vegetarian. I think I was duped!

Although, I should mention that Paul was a really good sport and willingly filled his long Christmas weekend with tons of family bonding time.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Post Christmas Project Planning

The last Christmas gifts are currently drying after their blocking bath and washing. What does that mean? It means I am free to knit for me!!! As much as I love knitting and crafting gifts for my loved ones, it is a bit stressful to worry if they will like it or not, if it will turn out like it is supposed to and if it will be done on time. As I mentioned before, this year I only gave gifts that I made, which meant there was a lot of planning, supply shopping and execution time involved leading up to this week of gift giving. Prior to that, I was knitting Jessy's birthday Clapotis. And, prior to that, I was knitting Paul's birthday sweater. So, you can see that it has been a long time since I have been free to knit whatever the hell I want to. Which led to this mess:

I spent a good chunk of yesterday evening making some project choices. I am now set to start a cowl, a pair of socks, some cat toys and a pair of mittens. We are heading out of town today to partake in part 4 of Christmas, which means I will have some knitting time in the car and perhaps some knitting time by the wood stove at my dad's place. Aaaahhh, tis nice to knit selfishly!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Multiples of Christmas

This year's Christmas marks a big change for Paul and I. We are used to staying in Boston for Christmas, which means we had established really low key traditions for ourselves. We would take the dogs somewhere to run around off leash, have phone calls with friends and family, open presents, make a yummy dinner and relax at home. That is so not the case this year. Like many of the adjustments we have made as part of our move, one is not necessary better or worse than the other, but it is definitely different.

This year Christmas is happening for us in 5 stages. The first of which occurred on Christmas Eve. My sister and my dad came over to have Christmas dinner with Paul and I. We enjoyed an evening of eating, drinking and being merry. The "being merry" part included talking, opening gifts and watching A Christmas Story "Pulp Fiction Style", as Paul would put it. Since the 24 hour marathon had started before we had finished eating, we turned it on in time to watch the end of one showing and the beginning of the next.

We had a dinner of roasted veggies, quinoa, kale and, for the meat eaters, smoked salmon.

"We" didn't include Jessy, who, after taking one look at dinner, opted for a sandwich. She claims her taste buds are too sensitive for the veggie mix I had concocted, not to mention her strong aversion to the texture of mushrooms and "mushy" vegetables. Luckily I had anticipated her reaction and had sandwich fixings on hand.

I had spotted this recipe for Baked Apples a while back and had been saving it to make for our Christmas dinner. I made a modified version of the recipe and, for Jessy, an even more modified version. It was delicious!

Jessy brought gifts for the dogs which they smelled the second she walked in.

Christmas day brought the second round of Christmas celebrations this time at Paul's parent's house. It had been a really long time since I had seen Paul's sister and her family. It was great to see them, to get to know his nieces better and to meet his nephew. The last time I saw them their little boy was still in utero.

Paul's mom put out a FEAST. We all ate well and took home massive amounts of leftovers. In the corner of this photo you can see Paul's mom taking a photo with the camera she got for Christmas last year. I was sort of lazy with the picture taking, so I neglected to get photos of the other attendees: Paul's mom and dad, Paul's grandma and her boyfriend and Paul and I.

2 down, 3 to go :)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


So, when we left off Paul and I had spent a nice day celebrating my 30th birthday and were heading home to have dessert, or so I thought. On the ride home from the restaurant we were having the type of wrap-up-the-day conversation that we would usually have. As Paul and I stepped into the dark apartment, continuing our conversation, I was suddenly met with a room full of family and friends yelling "SURPRISE!!!"

Paul had organized a surprise party and damn was he sneaky! I was so shocked that they had all managed to plan such an elaborate party without me catching any wind of it whatsoever. My very logical brain immediately starting trying to figure out how they had done it. Especially my mom and Paul, who had been a very effective party planning team. Paul planned the party but, knowing his own organizational limitations, enlisted my mom to provide him with helpful nudges and reminders along the way. Paul had made a copy of our keys so my mom could set up and let everyone in. Wow!

I was grinning from ear to ear saying hi to everyone, slowly processing the shock of it all and then I froze, remembering a few things that I likely would have cleaned up had I known I was having a party, like the underwear I left in the bathroom! I ran to put it away and then happily rejoined the party.

What an amazing party it was. I was having way too much fun absorbing the experience to take out my camera, so I had to rely on friends and family to take the photos. Here are some that were taken by Mark, Jerri, Jamie and Adam.

Walking in and totally surprised
...notice that "cat that got the canary" expression on Paul's face behind me!

It didn't take long for my mom to bust out the bubbly and organize a toast to my third decade.

Mom, Me, Zoe, and Jessy (the family baby whisperer)

Mike and Sally

Baby Wants Bubbly
Sylvia knows what she wants and she knows how to get it:) Good thing Adam's arms are longer than hers.

Zoe was taking charge of Mark's glass. She can knock 'em back like no other baby.

Kidding, kidding, kidding. No babies were intoxicated at this party. However, I am encouraging an early love of yarn.

As if the room full of friends and family wasn't enough, Paul had also gathered video birthday wishes from a few friends who live in other cities. That's Beth on the screen!

Paul had ordered a white chocolate, raspberry birthday cake from The Franklin Street Bakery. As Salt 'n Pepa would say, "Whatta man, whatta man, what a mighty good man."

I haven't had a birthday party in years and I've never had a surprise party. It was an awesome thing to experience and definitely made me feel loved and happy to be here in Minneapolis.

I should also mention that I got a haircut on Friday by the same person that cuts my sister's hair. We were chatting during my haircut and discussed my upcoming birthday. He was very insistent that I was going to have a surprise party. I told him that I didn't think that Paul would be the type to arrange something like that. In fact, I was SURE that he would never plan a surprise party for me. Paul is sort of known for his casual, lack of organization, procrastinating ways, none of which are qualities that would be useful in planning a surprise party. I was so sure that there was no possibility of a surprise party that I shared the amusing story with both Paul and my mom. That, in turn, prompted my mom to call my sister to find out if she had told the hairstylist, who had told me and potentially ruined the surprise. I unknowingly created a little ripple of surprise party panic amongst the secret keepers. And, really, the joke was on me because he DID plan it and he did it quite well. There were good guests, food, cake, drinks and most of all, I had no clue about any of it until he wanted me to know!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Busy Birthday Girl

Wow! What a spoiled girl I am! I have been very busy celebrating my birthday over the past few days.

I started my Friday morning, the day before my birthday, with a birthday cupcake. Jamie ordered a Red Velvet Revolution cupcake from Bangerang Bake Shop and had it shipped to me. It was a fun and yummy indulgence, which I happily ate for breakfast.

Paul had claimed the day of my birthday for secret birthday fun far in advance, so I had birthday celebrations with others in advance of the actual day. On Friday evening, my mom and I went out to a delicious dinner at one of my favorite places to eat in the whole wide world: The French Meadow Bakery and Cafe. I actually ate the dish pictured on the front page of their website, the Sweet Corn Arepas. We also shared the often raved about Appetizer Tasting Flight, some tasty stout beer, chocolate torte and dessert wine. It was a great feast and a great one-on-one evening with the woman who has known me the longest.

On the morning of my actual birthday, Paul started the day by unearthing our car from the snowfall and driving us through the snowy city to have a birthday breakfast at Victor's 1959 Cafe.

Victor's serves Cuban food in a mismatchy, oil cloth clad, graffiti filled, shack-like building. We loved it!

The food reminded us of the meals we ate in Costa Rica. Beans, rice, eggs and plantains = Yum.

At breakfast I was presented with an envelope titled "Do." It was filled with options of art exhibits that I could chose from as the thing we would "do" with the rest of the morning. The first omen that indicated things might not go as planned was that Paul realized he had forgotten his wallet at home. I had to front him the money for breakfast. No big deal. We have linked accounts and he can transfer the money back to me and it'll be like he bought it the whole time. Well, that was the beginning of things being a little off. After more snow clearing, more snowy driving and a wallet recovery stop at home, we headed to the first exhibit at Franklin Art Works.

William Lamson - Actions
Lamson, based in New York, will premier his recently completed Actions series of 33 short videos (2007-08) in which the artist artfully bursts dozens of black balloons in increasingly inventive ways. The videos, extending over 30 minutes, are a study in motion with a dry sense of humor throughout. Each short required intricate planning, exact timing and deadpan performance by the artist, such as Actions (April 10, 2008) depicting the artist swinging into frame, suspended from his heels to pop a falling balloon at the last possible moment of its fall with a pin attached to his head.

When we got there we found it was closed until noon. Ok, that was fine, we just headed to the second one and planned to return to the first one later. The second exhibit was called Sketchy Past and was at the Rosalux Gallery. That too, didn't open until noon, but with the drive over there, it wasn't long until noon. So we wandered around the Open Book Center and waited for it to open. Which, it didn't. The snow was pretty bad, so we suspected that the staff person was delayed. While waiting for it to open, I got hooked up with info about a pottery sale from Jamie and Charleen, so Paul took me there to buy me a little sumpin' sumpin' out of clay.

Then, we made one last attempt at seeing an exhibit and headed back to Franklin Art Works. It was open this time, but when we got inside we encountered an dark, empty screening room where the exhibit was supposed to be. As stated by the staff person, they were having "technical issues" that weren't worth fixing being that this was the last day of the exhibit. Ahhhh!!! At this point we took an arm's length photo and headed home to be under quilts for a while. We had had enough of fighting the weather and didn't want to further tempt the deck that was seemingly stacked against us that morning.

After a lazy afternoon and another envelope entitled "Touch" full of coupons for a year's worth of massages from Paul, we got bundled up again and went to dinner. Paul found a place in St. Paul we hadn't been to before called Cafe 128.

The menu didn't have a lot of choices, especially for a vegetarian, but the choices were all quality and quality is better than quantity! Paul had a chicken dish and I had roasted vegetables with saffron cous cous. We were impressed with the flavors and enjoyed our cozy dinner.

But, there was one more envelope to be opened. This one was titled, "Go." It was a BIG present. Paul is sending me to Rhinebeck in 2009! He knows how much I enjoy it and heard more than a few remarks during Rhinebeck 2008 about what I was missing out on, so he decided to start a little "savings" account into which he will make a deposit each month until my flight and admission are covered. What an amazing gift!

Now I just need to find some travel partners...calling Becky!...calling Jamie! Let's go!

As if that wasn't enough, the day wasn't over yet. Paul told me that I had dessert waiting for me at home, so we didn't order any at the restaurant. You'll have to wait until the next post to hear what happened next :)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Making Lemonade

Life has given me a few lemons lately. I am doing my best to make lemonade.

For one, I didn't get the job offer I was hoping to get this week despite them calling me to say how great my interview went and what a wonderful candidate I was. Also, I seem to be in some sort of job application loop in which I get nowhere. I applied for a job this week a few days before the deadline and received a response saying that I wouldn't be considered as they had "closed" the position, yet it was still advertised on the website. Then, I got another email from another job I applied to saying they would like to interview me, but they aren't looking to hire anyone right now due to the poor economy. I applied to that job in response to their company website which had an entire page dedicated to seeking new employees and instructions on how to apply. Waste. Of. Time.

Additionally, on Saturday morning my dog Tchazo was messing around with something on the floor that sounded off. I swooped in to take whatever weird thing he was about to eat and found that he was tasting and spitting this item out on the floor repeatedly. It was when I picked it up that I realized he was messing with one of his TEETH! One of his premolars had broken at the gum line and fallen out of his mouth. It was the weirdest thing because one minute he was sleeping and the next minute he was standing next to me with his tooth on the floor. A broken tooth means one thing: Oral Surgery. Luckily we haven't had occasion to take any of our pets to the vet since we moved back, but we did have a vet we knew from when we lived here in the past. I got him in to the vet yesterday and he is now happily back at home, minus a few big roots and with the addition of "railroad stitches".

In order to not become a totally crotchety, cranky, stressy mess, I made time yesterday for some enjoyable non-job related things. I got to stop by my dad's place and pick up my birthday present...a new BREADMAKER! He got me a breadmaker as my college graduation present 8 years ago. I used it regularly until right before we moved back to Minneapolis. It was about then that it started to turn itself off in the middle of baking a loaf of bread. It went in the dumpster when we moved and I have been missing my homemade bread since then. He also gave me a bag full of homemade canned goods like tomatoes, salsa and BBQ sauce and bit of birthday cash to be spent on something fun for myself.

Then I met my mom for dinner and dessert at Wilde Roast Cafe. After dinner, we went to listen to her friend Jane's band play Christmas music. It was sort of surreal going to a band concert in a middle school auditorium.

They kept the lights on in the auditorium while they were playing which meant my mom and I could knit through the concert! Here my mom is learning the importance of a selvage stitch:

I worked on one of two remaining Christmas gifts to be finished.

After the concert, we got to eat our second dessert of the evening: Gingerbread Men!

Despite moments of frustration, I am still managing to stay upbeat about banging my head against the figurative wall that is job searching in the current economy. It helps a lot that Paul, my friends and my family have been so supportive of the process and offering me encouragement to keep at it. Thanks guys!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hardcore Life

I'm a bit behind the times on posting about activities. Since the weekend is looming near and I have not yet spoken about the massively hardcore weekend I just had, I figured I should get on it. Here are some of the hardcore things I did this past weekend...

I spent Friday evening knitting and chatting with Jamie and snuggling with Sylvia:

Jamie says she finally believes that I live here, so that is good.

On Saturday night Paul and I went to a party. We seemed to be drawn to people with Christmas trees as they are in the background of both of these photos.

At this party, Paul's friend Paul shunned his Bloody Mary in favor of a glass of chocolate milk which he drank with a bunny themed swirly straw:

Paul's friend Steve snuggled Orbity, Kristin and Ryan's dog, who is smaller than our cat and had multiple wardrobe changes throughout the evening.

Not pictured, but also accomplished this weekend was Christmas present wrapping, Christmas knitting, risotto cooking and job applying. All in all, it was a rock star weekend. We are lucky we didn't get arrested.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sweater Blocks

Holy tedious! This is the project I started at Jamie's a few weeks ago. These are a set of building blocks/balls/toys for Paul's youngest niece and his nephew. I made them by cutting out squares from felted wool sweaters, seaming them together by hand using a thin yarn and stuffing them with polyfil.

I think the colors and textures are interesting so hopefully the kids will too!

If I were to make these again, I would sew the seams with a sewing machine. Handsewing 12 seams on each of 7 blocks took a long time.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Sage leaves look a little like a cat's tongue, but green.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mittens for Zoe

When the weather first started to get cold, Jerri, Zoe and I were walking somewhere and Jerri mentioned offhand that Zoe needed some mittens. My ears perked up and I made a mental note to knit that girl some mittens!

Once upon a time, maybe 2 years ago, I had started a pair of adult, fair isle mittens with 3 colors. I got as far as the cuff when I realized that my needle size was far too small, my gauge far too tight and my stitches all wonky. I tore it out and haven't tried fair isle since then. I thought 2 color baby mittens were a safer way to dive back in.

These are the Two Colour Baby Mittens by Abigail Welbourn. I knit these in two shades of purple Encore Worsted yarn and followed the spiral chart on the pattern.

Since it is officially and very much winter here in Minnesota, I gave Zoe her Christmas mittens last weekend. She wore them home that night and seemed to be grateful for her toasty fingers and her tasty mittens.
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