Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Baby Blanket

This baby blanket is for the second son of a family friend in Hawaii. He was born on the same day in March as my sister. I am late with a gift, but between all the babies my friends have been having lately, my stash of blankets has been depleted.

The pattern is called blue tranquility and is from Leisure Arts Our Best Knit Baby Afghans.

Friday, September 25, 2009

In Search of That Which is Handmade

When I was little, my mom dragged the three of us to craft fairs on weekends. It was torture and so boring. Little did I know, in a couple of decades, I would be seeking out craft fairs as a part of my job.

I have been tasked with managing the holiday boutique at work, and even though I have been to many craft fairs in my life, I have never had to recruit vendors. Lucky for me, my friend from high school owns a business, Shop Toast, and participates in craft fairs. She had some useful advice for me and gave me some ideas on what kinds of vendors to seek out. The two that stood out to me were: gourmet foods and plants. I also was told by a couple of other sources that the best way to find new vendors was to get out and pound the pavement. In other words, go to fairs, boutiques and festivals.

Over the past three weekends, I have now been to three different fairs: the Castro Valley Fall Festival, the Lafayette Wine and Art Festival and most recently, the Walnut Creek Fine Arts Festival. While not all responses have been positive, I have met some very cool artists and crafters. These are my favorites:

  • i melt with you: purveyor of handcrafted candles made of soybean wax, lotion and perfume; her tuberose lotion reminds me of home
  • Yahzi Rose: natural, locally made apparel for children
  • Hoffman Designs: handmade ceramics from Eureka, California; no website for this one, but they made these wonderful bowls and various types of plates; designs include Redwood leaves, bamboo, fern and oceanic themes that symbolize California

This has been a tiring endeavor, but hopefully this helps us to accomplish our goal of having a wider variety of vendors. I should probably also admit that I am having fun.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hummus Done Italian Style

Lately I have been making a lot of hummus. It started with Giada De Laurentiis' White Bean and Roasted Eggplant Hummus earlier this summer,and then I tried her White Bean Dip.

Giada's hummus is made with cannellini beans rather than garbanzo beans, and it is yummy. If you have a food processor, this is a very easy dip to make. It is simple enough that I made the regular version the morning after a 12-hour work day for a co-worker's birthday lunch.

The only thing with making my own hummus is that now I think most of the store-bought type is too creamy, and I just want homemade hummus.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Party Plan

Since this is our first year celebrating our birthdays in the house, I decided it would be nice to put together a party for Seth's 31st birthday. It also happens to be football season, and Seth follows USC so we got everyone together in time to watch the game against Ohio State.

I took on too much cooking and not enough hosting, but Seth had a good time. Here's the menu of food that I made:

Main Dish
Char Siu Chicken

Caesar Salad
Pesto Pasta Salad

Edamame Rice
My Mom's "Spanish" Rice




Seth's mom made mac and cheese; his dad and step-mom brought sausages; his sister brought edamame; and his grandma made a fruit salad. There were some other dishes that people brought as well, but I cannot remember it all. The nice thing is that there was a huge variety of food for leftovers.

Also, don't be too impressed with the main dishes. I bought the kalbi meat and marinade from the Korean market in Concord and our friends sent us the char siu marinade that they get from Hawaii.

This one of two food picture I have from that night:

I am exhausted just thinking about having made all this food...I started cooking on Friday and did not stop until Saturday night.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Another Book: Speak

Speak ( Platinum Edition) Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak stunned me. The book takes you through one school year as seen and experienced by high school freshman, Melinda Sordino. Melinda enters high school as a shunned student—she broke up an end of summer party when she called the cops and everyone hates her, including her friends. She slips into a silent depression in order to deal with what happened on the night of the party, and no longer does she speak to anyone around her.

The book is about depression, and Anderson effectively conveys the painful loneliness and hopelessness of Melinda’s situtation. She does so through witty writing, but also writes her story using descriptions and viewpoints on high school life with which most people can identify. Not everything in Melinda’s thoughts swirl around depression, but rather silently pulse with a teenager’s attitude and outlook on the silliness and mortification that is sometimes high school. Early in the book Melinda thinks “Gym should be illegal. It is humiliating.” It it not a stretch to say that most P.E. uniforms and that alone is embarrassing, athletic or not.

Then there are Melinda’s thoughts on EspaƱol, “My Spanish teacher is going to try and get through the entire year without speaking English to us. This is both amusing and useful—makes it much easier to ignore her.” Exactly. I understand why language teachers adopt this strategy, but I also understand how it can have this effect on students.

Speak is considering a Young Adult book, but I think it is book for adults to read as well as teenagers. It might provide a parent or teacher with a new perspective, and maybe it will help a teen to realize that other people share their feelings and thoughts.

These are just moments I particularly loved from Speak:

The chapter title “Student Divided by Confusion Equals Algebra” is perfect.

"Ninth grade is a minor inconvenience to him. A zit-cream commercial before the Feature Film of Life.”

“Then Ms. Connors blows her whistle to stop and explain the retarded scoring system in tennis where the numbers don’t make sense and love doesn’t count for anything.” This is exactly how I feel about tennis.

There is also a movie, based on the book, starring Kristen Stewart (which I have not watched).

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Finally, I Read Interview with the Vampire

Interview with the Vampire Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was not what I expected; not that I can articulate specifically what I expected from Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire. However, I do know that she wrote a book that delved so deeply into the concept of humanity that I sometimes forgot it was about a vampire.

Of course there is plenty of vampire lore and gore, but this story goes much deeper than some of the other vampire stories I have read. While the elements of lust are definitely there, Anne Rice took me on a journey that included the search for knowledge, companionship and discovery. I can only equate the way I felt about Interview with the Vampire the way I did about Shadow of the Wind: this was simply a fantastic and well-written book.

I will have to revisit this one.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Friday Night Apron

Most of my projects are made as gifts for other people, but once in awhile I sneak something in for myself. I have been meaning to make this apron for a longtime, but just got around to it a couple of weeks ago. Unless you actually click on the picture, you cannot see the fabric--Angels for the bodice, and baseball for the bottom piece. Click on it, and you will see how I love baseball and the Angels.

This is the second time I have used this pattern (the first time I made my sister a purple apron as part of her bridal shower gift), and I forgot that I needed to modify the sash. Oh well, next time.

Hopefully I will have more time to make more things for myself. Mostly so that I can get through some of the fabric stash I have piled up in the closet, in various plastic and canvas bins, under my sewing table...maybe I should just go and sew.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


I do miss Southern California and I look forward to some quality time with Los Angeles. Life by the beach is the best, and I will pretend I'm back for a few days. Let's hope there's some sunshine and 80-degree weather. Oh, and there will be football at the Coliseum.