Thursday, August 31, 2006

Revealing my identity

For Secret Pal 8, I was secret pal to Tina at Pieceful Creations.

In June, I sent her a package to arrive for her birthday with the following contents:

In July, Tina received:

  • Knit-themed notecards
  • a strawberry scented candle
  • a map of Canada from the Canadian embassy
  • HR Magazine, July 2006, 50 Best Places to Work
  • The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan

In August, she received:

All throughout the Secret Pal exchange, I read Tina's blog whenever she posted and left comments for her, sent emails to let her know that the packages were on their way, and dodged any questions that might have given me away!

This was such a wonderful experience for me and alot of fun.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


After the Secret Pal 8 hostess groups were posted, I went through Cerella's list and checked out each blog. I had my suspicions but wasn't absolutely sure who my secret pal was... until I opened my August package!

Harriet, the limedragon is my secret pal. Talk about spoiled ROTTEN!! Look at all these wonderful goodies! Everything came wrapped up and as I opened each package, I screeched, I squeal, I screamed with delight. There were shrieks of "Oh my God!" and "Look as this!!" and "Oh wow!"

Chocolate bars, The Best of Knitter's Magazine Shawls and Scarves, The Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques by Nancie M. Wiseman, ColorJoy Patterns by LynnH for two difference hats, a felted moebius basket that she made herself just for me, a knitting notecard with knitting needles and yarn, a sheep bookmark, a blue pen covered in sparkles (destined for my knitting bag), the Clover yarn cutter pendant (something I've wanted for a LONG time), a cute artichoke pin (already pinned to my knitting bag), a sheep tape measure, sheep coasters, Lantern Moon knitting needles (I LOVE THESE), Clover stitch holders, an iTunes gift card, knitting note cards from Cafe Press, and some subversive cross stitch notecards that say things like "Go Fuck Your Self" and "Happy Fucking Birthday" - it's just too much!

Max said it was like Christmas. Yes, yes it was.

Erin had fun too:

Thank you Harriet. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. So much.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The art of Amy Weber

When Amy Weber put out a call for yarn scraps in exchange for her paintings, I responded immediately.


Good deal! Thanks Amy! Can't wait to see what you make.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Friday, August 25, 2006

Sale at Knit Happens!

Do you remember the contest I won back in July? I picked up my prize yarn from Knitgirl last night at Knit Happens. Totally made my day - again!

Then Holly helped me picked out some great yarn. Today was the first day of the Knit Happens sale. I picked up three skeins of Jade Sapphire Daisany (100% silk) boucle yarn in the Lagoon colourway at 35% off. I love the rich colours.

After the store closed at 8pm, Max and I walked down to the Torpedo Factory. On the way back, we indulged ourselves and got some ice cream. Sugar-free low-fat butter pecan for me (not bad at all) and chocolate chip mint for Max.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Knitted baby hats

In the past month, in addition to knitting Lady Eleanor (which looks the same but longer), I've become obsessed with knitting baby hats. They're small, quick to knit, cute as anything, and enthusiastically received as gifts. These were knit up in August:

Ella's cotton hat Squirmy top baby hat
Another Baby Hat Inside the baby hat

In addition, the roll brim hats represent my first foray into knitting with two colours at the same time and using double pointed needles. The tension isn't exactly right, hence the bulging and puckering, but the hats are still cute as anything - don't you think?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Dinner at Brix

Our dinner at Brix was, by far, our favorite meal while we were in Napa. To drink, we had the Dr. Loosen, Bernkasteler Lay, Riesling Kabinett, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer with our server's recommendation. The wine list is 32 pages long and he was exactly right. If you go, ask for a seat outside. This is the view:

The view from our table


Main Courses
Pork Chop Special with Potato Risotto


Saturday, August 19, 2006

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Napa, California...part III

We set the alarm for 4:20am and requested a wake-up call for 4:40am. Ugh. We packed up the car and checked out by 5am and drove into Oakland. There wasn't any traffic at that hour thankfully. We returned the rental and checked in without incident. As we were heading for the line for security, we saw Andy and Jackie! What a surprise! They were going on their honeymoon. We talked with them briefly, and again after we had all made it through security. The second time around was considerably less awful than the first time.

Here's some pictures from the sky:

Our connection in Dallas was pretty tight but we made it - and so did our luggage! We arrived at DCA about 10 minutes early and were home before dark. Erin was right at the door to greet us. We had pizza for dinner, unpacked a little, and then I went to sleep. It was a great vacation but exhausting!

- beef jerky makes for good airplane food, granola bars less so but still okay
- it's much easier to knit on the plane when you don't take Dramamine
- expect the worse and maybe your luggage will show up

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Napa, California... part II

Woke up at 8am so Max and I could have the complimentary breakfast in the lobby. Sat with Aunt Debbie. Met up with Ben and the three of us headed to the Jelly Belly factory for the free tour. What fun! I had such a great time. It was like being in a Food Network show - except you couldn't take any pictures. At the end of the tour, they gave us free candy and then we headed into the shop for the free samples and to buy more candy. We came away with 4 huge bags of belly flops (jelly beans that didn't live up to the standards), a bag of Swedish fish for me, a bag of chocolate covered mixed nuts for Max, a blue jelly bean magnet for our fridge, a bag of sour inch worms for Kristina and Bruce (since Bruce studies worms and Kristina likes candy), and some postcards. The highlight of the visit was when Max and Ben tried the Rotten Egg Bertie Bott's.

Jelly Belly Store Jelly Belly Store
On the way back we went to an olive oil tasting at Sepay Olive Oil. Max and I bought some garlic oil and jalapeno oil that was very yummy. For lunch, the three of us went to Lyon's Restaurant.

Then we had to get ready for the wedding. As Max and I were getting our wedding clothes out, Max couldn't find his tie. Turns out he didn't pack it and it was lying on our bedroom floor. Quickly we drove next door to Kohl's and picked out a blue silk tie - the only one we could agree on. I like ties to match the shirt he's wearing. He likes "complimentary" ones. We picked up Julia and drove into Napa. The wedding was at the River City Restaurant. Since we were early, we dropped off Julia and then quickly drove over to Yarns on First - the yarn store in Napa. I only had 20 minutes but I got some Crystal Palace dpn knitting needles, an Addi circular needle, and this yarn:
Linen yarn Mohair yarn

The Wedding
Last minute advice from married friends Exchanging wedding rings The newlyweds First dance
It was very warm during the ceremony but once the sun went down the temperature dropped about 15-20 degrees. The reception was great, dinner was good, the speeches had me crying along with Grandma Hyland, and there was dancing! By the end of the night, I was tired and my feet were pretty tired too. We said our goodbyes to everyone since alot of people were leaving the next day.

Max and I woke up and had breakfast in the lobby with Kristina and Bruce. They checked out and then the four of us drove up to Armstrong Redwood State Reserve. Bruce drove, Max navigated, Kristina and I sat in the back talking and taking pictures of the scenery as we drove along. We got to the park around lunch and we were all hungry so we ate at Pat's in Guerneville first, then parked outside the park and started our walk from there. Although there were alot more people in the redwood forest than there was at Shenandoah, Max remarked on the quietness of it several times.
Giant Roots Tall Trees Kristina and Bruce Pie
We saw the tallest tree, the oldest tree, the icicle tree, and walked along the discovery trail. We stopped at a picnic area to share a 5" apple pie with a crisp topping from Sweetie Pies. On our way back to Vallejo, we hit traffic on 101. Luckily, we found another route and made it back to the hotel in time to download Kristina's pictures, say goodbye to Kristina and Bruce as they headed off to San Francisco, change our clothes, and drive into Napa for our dinner reservations at the CIA. Dinner was good but the restaurant was loud. Our server was good but he seemed rushed. I kept wondering if he was one of the students (he's wasn't). More on that later. After dinner, we drove back to the hotel and packed so we would be ready to leave in the morning.

- Peter Hyland said to me, "Nicole, you haven't changed at all!"
- if you make a funny face (Kristina), I'm going to take a picture
- discovered I like foie gras mousse

Monday, August 14, 2006

Napa, California... part I

The first day of the new rules about no liquids or gels in your carry-ons. Our flight was scheduled to leave 2 hours after the new rules were put in place. DCA was mad chaos. Luckily our flight was delayed one hour and we made it on the plane right before it took off. Connected in Dallas. Checked my voicemail. It was a message from my Mom telling me about the new airport security regulations. The Dallas airport is HUGE! There are 4 terminals and a monorail that connects them. Luckily that flight was delayed also and we made it to the gate just as they started boarding. Arrived in Oakland but our luggage wasn't on our flight. Picked up the rental car, had something to eat, and got our suitcase from the next flight. Drove to Vallejo and checked in at the Ramada Inn. Napped. Tried to connect to the free wifi but it didn't work. Had dinner at Black Angus.

Drove into San Francisco to pick up Kristina at SFO. Her flight was also delayed. I knit a bit while we waited for her. From the airport we drove to Andy and Jackie's house and hung out until it was really really late. We met their dog Reesa and two of Jackie's friends, toured the house, admired their wedding gifts, and drank sparkling wine. Drove Kristina to the Microtel and then back to the ours. Crashed. We had been up for 24 hours by then.

Woke up at 9am. As we were getting ready, Ben called. We met him in the lobby and the three of us went to IHOP for breakfast. I gave him the baby hat and wash cloth for Ella. Ben ooh-ed and aww-ed over it and I was happy. After breakfast, Max and I headed out to Napa.

Got lost at first but then we stopped at the visitor's center and they gave us all kinds of good directions. We drove up Silverado, went to Mumm Napa, toured their champagne caves, tasted some champagne.

Drove along Silverado some more, crossed over to 29 and went to the Beringer estates, did the tour and the wine tasting. The white was good but not sweet enough for me, the reds smelled good but I did not like the taste. Also tried their Nightingale Private Reserve dessert wine in their tasting room. Bought a bottle to bring home. Very sweet.

Drove back along 29 and stopped at Brix for dinner. The meal was fabulous, the view was amazing, the service was outstanding... and we were there for over 2 hours! More about that later. Called Kristina on the way back, met up with the Hylands in the lobby, hung out with them in Julia's room until it was late, and then went to bed.

Take Aways
- The Ramada Inn Vallejo sucks, don't stay there
- Three days of good vacation makes up for one day of bad travel
- There's 4 kinds of wine: red, white, the kind you like, and the kind you don't

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Half a Lady

Lady Eleanor at the half way point

I have definitely reached the half way point and it is already pretty long. Soon I won't be able to hold it up and say, "Look!" Definitely too big to travel with, so I've decided on these projects to keep me busy on the plane and during my layovers:

- 2 Candy Cane hats from Handknit Holidays, one infant size and one for 24 months

- garterlac washcloth/kitchen towel using Lily cotton yarn in blue

Monday, August 07, 2006

Secret projects

Although I can't tell you about the secret projects I've been working on, here's some clues:

Lady Eleanor has made it to the 3rd ball of yarn. There are 5 in total and so I'm nearing the half-way point. It's definitely too big to travel with me to California this week so I'll have to find something else - maybe I'll work on my other sock!

Weekend review
Saturday we did a lot of cleaning up and getting ready for our trip. We also went to the gym. For fun, we drove out to the Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center to see Superman on IMAX - but it was cancelled! Still, we had a good time walking around the museum and looking at all the planes and space memorabilia. Afterwards we drove over to Tysons Corner for a little shopping. That night we watched The Neverending Story. It's shorter than I remembered but still good.

Sunday we tried to relax in the morning but ended up cleaning some more. After lunch, our friend Anthony came over. We talked and played a couple of games of Settlers of Catan. Not too many people know how to play and it's so complicated explaining the rules that I'm always excited when we find someone who already knows how to play. Anthony won the first game, Max won the second game. For dinner, we went to Yamazoto for some yummy Japanese and Thai food. As we drove Anthony back to his parents house, we made tentative plans to get together on Friday while Max and I are in California.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Diet Date Night

Max and I have been working hard on getting fit, going to the gym almost every night and watching our diet (counting calories) for the past month. We're so pleased with the results, about 10lbs each, that we took the night off and went out. But we didn't just go crazy. Before we went out, I went online to find nutritional information for the restaurant we were going to - you'd be surprised how many places do not have any kind of nutritional information available(CPK, Fuddruckers, Austin Grill, Cracker Barrel).

In the end, we had dinner at Ted's Montana Grill. Max had eaten so little that day and so he was able to order whatever he wanted... Coke (232), a bowl of bison chili (500), pot roast with gravy (335), mashed potatoes (206), parker house rolls (180), and broccoli (83). I still had to be careful and so I had water with lemon, Bison Delmonico (395) without the lemon butter, broccoli (83) and sauteed mushrooms (96). We snacked on the Half Sour Pickles (2) while waiting for the main meal. The meal was fabulous and, except the broccoli, very very tasty. Afterwards I was full. I haven't felt full very often in the past month. In fact, I've been perpetually hungry and tired. But I'm losing weight! Can't stop now.

After dinner we went to the movies to see Clerks II. Very funny! Although if you're having doubts about getting married, you should not see this movie right now. Seriously.

As you might guess, there was no knitting last night.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Thanks Ner!

I got this package in the mail yesterday from Kristina. Lots of fun stuff!

I've been knitting but aside from knitting Lady Eleanor for my Mom, I've been working on a present for someone and so I'm going to wait a little while to blog about it. Looking ahead I've found something in the Handknit Holidays I want to make - the Candy Cane hat. I love that it comes in so many sizes... for my purpose it will be perfect. Though I think it will probably just be plain, not stripey. It's so insanely hot and humid, 110 with the humidity - I can't believe I'm thinking about Christmas... but there you have it.