Thursday, June 25, 2009

Vancouver!

OK, so we went to Vancouver in May. In the BEGINNING of May. I am nothing if not tardy.

Fortunately, I picked up the habit of writing down everything we do and eat on vacation in a little notebook from my mother-in-law, so you still get to hear about it in more detail than you ever hoped for. Sorry for all the pictures, but that is one photogenic city, bitches.

Tuesday
We arrived after flying many hours and eating much airport food. As one does. Before dinner, we stopped into a market to pick up some crackers and cheese to sacrifice to my acid reflux before bedtime, as was my wont. (It seems that I've cured the acid reflux by squeezing half a lemon into every glass of water I drink. Who knew?) Now, if you've ever been in a New York supermarket, you're familiar with the sense of despair that one can get in such an establishment. They don't have a lot of room, so the aisles are too narrow for the carts, the food selection ain't so great and the store will randomly stop carrying your favorite whatever.

Not so in this glorious market whose name I didn't write down, but is in the trendy Yaletown area. Fresh produce as far as the eye can see and so many kinds of cheese! I wanted to live there forever. IN the market.

We grabbed dinner at lebanese cafe called Nuba. I had the fried cauliflower plate and who cares what His Awesomeness had? It wasn't fried cauliflower. His loss.

Wednesday
We awoke to discover that this was the view from our hotel room window:

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Romantic, no? Fortunately, we weren't there to enjoy the sumptuous room, so we were away from the racket most of the time.

On our way out that morning, we realized that it was the first city we'd been to together that neither one of us had ever been to before. We declared this to be both freaky and deaky. We decided to just go with it and keep opening the guidebook like big dorks.

We took part of the walking tour through Gastown from the Frommer's guidebook. Where we started was all touristy, with gift shops and generic restaurants and a steam powered clock.

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That's it, up there. We then deviated from the walking tour by one (1) block and saw many junkies and someone collecting used needles. We even saw an obvious drug deal going on in the middle of the street in broad daylight. Now, New York junkies lurk and shit, so I don't know WHAT the deal is with Canadian junkies and their complete lack of subtlety.

So, stick to the guidebook walking tour, people.

Oh, Jesus Christmas, I just realized that in the picture of the clock up there, you can see me in the bright red fleece pullover I brought along for the trip. It was weather appropriate, and I kept reading about how sporty Vancouverites are, but I walked past a lot of people in nice jackets while I was walking around looking like Frankenberry.

OK, so we made it to Chinatown, where, like the big dorks we are, we took a picture of Eduardo because that's how we roll.

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In Chinatown, we went to the Sun Yat Sen Park and Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden. We took a guided tour through the garden, which was so worth it.

And here is where I flog you with pictures instead of boring you with all the cool little details I learned on the tour.

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After the tour, we went in search of a specific dim sum place mentioned in the guidebook. We couldn't find it, but did see more drug dealers and a methadone clinic. So that was nice, too.

We headed back towards the gardens and found a dim sum place and ate dumplings and stuff.

We had dinner at an Silk Road fusion place called Sanafir (music warning). They do this whole small plates thing where you order, say, the chicken and you get 3 chicken dishes from different places along the silk road. Each dish was so complex and delicious and wow. If we go back to Vancouver, we'll be eating there again.

OK, this is long enough with all the pictures, so I'll save the rest of the trip for the next post.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sandal Socks


For years, I marked the beginning of sandal season by picking up a box of band-aids for all the blisters and sore spots I’d be getting. Then I discovered foot tubes, small spandex tubes to be worn under sandals to keep them from rubbing. When I couldn’t find any at the store last year, I bought some sock yarn and whipped some up myself.

The pattern comes in two versions: one for DK weight yarn and another for Fingering weight yarn. When substituting yarn, look for cotton with a little something stretchy added. Go ahead and use up leftovers. If you only have enough leftovers to make one Sandal Sock and end up with mismatched pairs, who cares? Before you know it, it’ll be too hot to worry about matching.

Size

One

Finished measurements will be a circumference of 4.75 inches with ribbing unstretched. They will comfortably stretch to fit up to 8 inches. The length is 3 inches.

DK Version:


Yarn

Cascade Fixation (98.3% cotton, 1.7% elastic; 100 yd per 50g skein); color: 2406; 1 skein [Note: each pair requires 14 g of yarn, so 1 skein makes 3 pairs]

Needles

1 set(s) US #4/3.5mm double-point needles, or size needed to achieve gauge

Notions

stitch marker (optional); tapestry needle for finishing

Gauge

Pattern Gauge: 28 sts = 4" in 2x2 ribbing. [Note: Row gauge is unimportant.]

StSt Gauge: 24 sts = 4”

Pattern Notes

This pattern is worked in the round.

2x2 Rib (Worked in the round over a multiple of 4 sts): 
Round 1: [K2, p2] to end.
 Repeat this round for 2x2 Rib.

Pattern

Loosely cast on 40 stitches. Divide the stitches evenly between needles. PM if desired. Being careful not to twist the stitches, join to begin working in the round.

Work in 2x2 ribbing until the piece measures 3 inches from the cast on edge.

Bind off loosely.

Finishing

Weave in ends.

Fingering Version:





Yarn

Fortissima Socka Cotton Color [45% cotton, 42% virgin wool, 13% polyamide; 420/m per 100g skein]; color: 6525; 1 skein [Note: each pair requires 14 g of yarn, so 1 skein makes 7 pairs]

Needles

1 set(s) US #2/2.75mm double-point needles , or size needed to achieve gauge

Notions

stitch marker (optional); tapestry needle for finishing

Gauge

Pattern Gauge: 36 sts = 4" in 2x2 ribbing. [Note: Row gauge is unimportant.]

StSt Gauge: 28 sts = 4”

Pattern Notes

2x2 Rib (Worked in the round over a multiple of 4 sts):
 Round 1: [K2, p2] to end. 
Repeat this round for 2x2 Rib.

Pattern

Loosely cast on 52 stitches. Divide the stitches evenly between needles. PM if desired. Being careful not to twist the stitches, join to begin working in the round.

Work in 2x2 ribbing until the piece measures 3 inches from the cast on edge.

Bind off loosely.

Finishing

Weave in ends.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Souptastic

Inspired by Vallen Queen's post about cookbooks and the soup-related e-mail exchange it inspired.

It's been raining for weeks now, which makes it soup weather. Except that I haven't made any soup lately. Soup tends to be a bit of a production around here. Since I'm all about the leftovers, soup means bringing out the big pots and the individual containers and all that. But it's all worth it for the convenience that comes starting the next day. Open fridge/freezer and oh look, homemade food that I can eat as soon as I can apply some heat. Good stuff.

I started following The Way of the Soup a few years ago when I was working at a company that had a cafeteria, but no fridge or microwave. You could have a meal for $2.50, unless you wanted to eat something that was both healthy and satisfying. Even after the cafeteria manager came back to work after his heart attack and added a few options to the salad bar (true story), the only whole grainy options were multigrain bread at the sandwich counter.

I was incredibly frustrated until I remembered the existence of Thermoses. I reheated my leftover soup in the morning before work (using the 5 minutes that I'd been using to put on makeup in the morning) and problem solved.

I've gotten to the point where if I don't have a a coupla weeks worth of lunches in the freezer, I get edgy.

So here are my super genius helpful hints on soup. These don't apply to soups with dairy (cream of, etc.) because according to Thermos, milk and Thermoses don't mix well, so I stayed away from those.
  1. Make a big pot of soup. I prefer to make a lot rather than a little because if I'm going to cut all those vegetables and so on, then I want to get several meals out of it.
  2. Let the soup cool a bit on the counter. You don't want to put it right into the fridge because it'll raise the temperature of your fridge and could wreak havoc on your dairy products.
  3. Then put it into individual containers. (I got some at the dollar store and they were fine as long as I didn't stick them in the microwave. If you're going to reheat your soup at work in the microwave, then spend the few extra bucks for the good kind.) I go with 1 3/4 cups for an individual portion.
  4. Stick a label on the individual containers if you're planning on freezing any of them, unless you really like surprises.
  5. Leave them in the fridge overnight. This is critical. If they go straight into the freezer, they'll get mushy. That whole "you can't freeze beans" thing your mom told you? She just thinks that because she skipped this step. I got this tip from The Daily Soup cookbook, so you know it's not just my quackery.
  6. The next day, put them in the freezer.
  7. You can reheat on the stove top in a covered pot with a little water on low heat. Covered in the microwave works fine, too. Even after a few months in the freezer, they're fine.
I've had success freezing casseroles this way, too, including ones with cheese. Those all get heated up in the microwave and eaten right away--I'm not trying to shove a square piece of lasagna into a round Thermos.

OK, so now that I've blown your mind, and you're just itching to make some soup, go do that. My go to soup cookbook is Twelve Months of Monastery Soups. The recipes are divided by month and use the ingredients that are in season. The book is currently unavailable at Amazon, but keep checking--used copies could get listed. And check your library and other book stores. I've also gotten some good recipes from Cooking Light Magazine.

If you're going to eat soup for lunch on its own, then you're going to want to make sure you have all your food groups in there. If you want to try a recipe that has no protein, add a can or two of beans. If the recipe has no carbs, add some pasta, or bulgar wheat or couscous. Does your soup look like it could use more veggies? Add a package of frozen mixed veggies.

Questions? Soup suggestions? Cookbook recommendations?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Content

A year ago, someone in my writing group asked, "Don't you think it's a little crazy that we're trying to break into this field just as it's falling apart?" Having lived through the dot com years, I shrugged it off, since, well Amazon.com is still here and there are plenty of web jobs still around.

But even though the guy who asked that question has been getting more work in print media than the rest of my writing group combined, we do have this game-changing things are going to hell period in newspapers and magazines. Essentially, that whole ignoring ads thing that we all do has finally caught up with the people who need to find the money to produce stuff we want to read, and is therefore catching up to those of us who want to read stuff. 

Via Prairie Tales, CraftyPod has an interesting post about the situation, prompted by changes at the craft sire CraftyStylish. If you're interested in the subject, and since you're reading stuff online, you should be.

CraftyPod also links to a discussion of the situation in comic form, which is not to be missed.

The whole the consumer pays for stuff that's delivered directly via the web? Software developers have been doing that for years. Back in the day, when we delivered a release, someone burned a bunch of CDs (and before that floppy disks), and FedExed them overnight to the client. It seems to quaint now. Nowadays, we just move the software to the production server and voila. The clients have to log into the access the software, and we can shut off their access if they don't pay. Or you buy a download of software, such as a VirusScan.

Even with all the Freeware bouncing around out there, people still pay for software even when they don't get a disk.

Things will change, and it'll all get figured out. Print Media isn't going to disappear. Although the paper might, in many cases. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Got Mail?


Shelagh of Alice in Paris Loves Art and Tea is hosting a Letter Revival Festival. It's like a swap, but all you have to do is write a letter. One letter. Shelagh will match you up with a pen pal and you'll have an excuse to use some real stationery.  

I don't usually do swaps since if I can't get my act together enough to blog consistently, I can't possibly expect myself to put together a lovely gift package in a timely manner. But a letter, I can do. I won't even have to buy stationery. I have loads of the stuff leftover from pre-email times (when dinosaurs walked the earth, and Prometheus had yet to bring us fire, etc. etc.).  As a kid (5th grade-ish, I guess, though possibly older), I would trade stationery with the daughter of someone my mom knew. This girl and I would exchange packets of blank stationery through our moms and although we wrote each other short notes, we never met. I still have some of what she gave me, including one sheet of paper that can be folded and cut along the lines to make a paper airplane.

Anyway, if you're into this sort of thing, you can go over to Artful Penpals and sign up before June 14. Me, I'm excited to visit the blogs of everyone who signed up, since they're bound to be kindred souls. I couldn't possibly be the only one who owns sealing wax, right?

In other news, just when I thought the bad economy had forced my building super to dilute the stuff he uses to mop the halls, thereby demoting the lemon reek to lemon stink, the reek is back. I have deployed the giant 3-wicked coffee scented candle to counteract it. And yes, I realize that I've blogged about the lemon reek several times, while mentioning it to the super exactly zero times. His English isn't so hot (which is fine, because I had enough trouble learning French when I was living there that I get that not everyone can just pick up a new language, even after 20 years) and he's so house proud that I don't think anyone could convince him to use less than full strength lemon reek to clean the floors.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Yet Another Open Letter to People Who Need to Fuck Off

Note: This was originally written in January, hence the talk of snow. I guess I saved it, waiting for at least one more person who needed to fuck off, but I guess I've been so busy writing the novel that I haven't noticed anyone who deserved my wrath. Even the lemon reek of doom has dwindled.

Speaking of writing, I've either been not blogging at all, or sitting down to type up what I hand-wrote yesterday and got distracted by an idea for a blog post and then wrote that instead of Chapter 19 and then started looking through drafts of posts instead of getting back to work, so clearly, I need to fuck off. 

So, while I stop goofing off while I'm supposed to be living the dream, please to enjoy:

To People Who Throw Furniture in the Trash

Why? Why would you do that? Why would you take a soul-stirringly awesome mid-century modern space age mod coffee table (and similarly awesome side table) and leave it out in the trash to get ruined by rain or snow? Maybe it doesn't fit your taste, but you could've sold it, or donated it or given it away on Freecycle. Someone would've come to the house to take it away safely.

But, no. Grandma died and you wanted to get the house cleaned out so you could get back to Florida* ASAP. There's a recession on and you threw away something like $500 or more, while and at the same time, displaying your complete lack of taste.

Your actions are criminal, criminal, I tell you! Hmph.

Even with the snow damage, I wanted to take the coffee table home. We would've had to call a cab to transport it, but small price. But HA reminded me that we have no room for it. Though since then, I keep looking around the apartment trying to find something I could've thrown out to make room.

HA had to placate me by agreeing to put a Mod Room in our dream house, complete with Egg Chair for him and a similar coffee table for me.

* My brother once said that there are 2 kinds of native New Yorkers. The ones who were always going to move to Florida long before retirement and the ones who would rather die than move to Florida ever. The same can be said of moving to the suburbs in NJ and Long Island. There's a lot of hubbub about gentrification, "Manhattanites" moving to Brooklyn and Queens and raising the rents, new development and all that. In many cases these "Manhattanites" are from other parts of the country and maybe lived in Manhattan when they first moved here until they were priced out of the area. I figure there's no point in complaining about the newcomers since we need people to replace everyone who was born here, but moved to Florida, New Jersey or Long Island. Also? I used to live in pre-gentrification Williamsburg, Brooklyn. One supermarket in the area had gray lunch meat and moldy cheese. Another had odd-smelling fish and meat sections. I used to say that if gentrification meant getting a decent supermarket, then bring it on.