Wednesday, December 29, 2010

the Bitter and the Sweet

At the end of a year, you mostly find a lot of reflection. Sorry, but you won't get that here. With just two days left, I would like to say "so long" to the year that is 2010. Sure, there was a lot of great, along with a sprinkling of wonderful.

And then there was the other stuff. For some reason, this year seems to have been filled with the other stuff. And I mean filled, from Day 1 to Day 29.

In response I will:
  • Clean house (my parents' and mine) with extra vigor;

  • Find a way to pop some firecrackers in the mainland;

  • Appreciate more;

  • Take for granted less;

  • Find some patience.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mac and Cheese With Bread and Ham


The recipe is actually called Croque Monsieur Mac and Cheese. Basically, it is mac and cheese (gruyere and parmesan)with diced bread and ham. Hence, the use of "croque," which translates to "crumbs," or "crunch." But I have no idea what "monsieur" means other than "mister," or "master."

This is yet another yummy recipe for people who love a slightly fancier version of mac and cheese like I do. It's also easy.

I do have a few adjustments:
  • I would do is melt butter over medium low heat, rather than high. At this point in the recipe, you are pretty much making a bechamel sauce, and Giada's way has worked better for me. In other words, I don't burn my saucepan with her way like I did by following the recipe's directions.
  • The recipe calls for freshly grated nutmeg, and I totally missed "freshly grated" and used my regular nutmeg.
  • I added the garlic after the onion had browned because minced garlic cooks so quickly.
As for the "deli-boiled ham", this is something you can find at the deli counter. I worried that Safeway would not have it, but they did! The lady behind the counter even knew what I was talking about.

Enjoy all the cheesy goodness, and don't forget a bottle of wine!

Croque Monsieur Mac and Cheese
by Food Network Magazine

Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound ziti
  • 2 C milk
  • 2 C coarsely grated gruyere cheese
  • 1 C finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 slices white sandwich bread, roughly diced
  • 2 T unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 T all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 oz. thinly sliced deli-boiled ham

Directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the ziti and cook until al dente, about six minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl; toss with 1/4 cup of milk.

Meanwhile, combine both cheeses in a bowl. Beat 1/4 cup milk and the eggs in another bowl; fold in the bread and add half of the cheese.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over high heat. Add the onion and garlic, cook, stirring until just brown, about two minutes. Sprinkle in the flour, cayenne, nutmeg and one teaspoon Kosher salt; cook, stirring, about two minutes. Slowly add 3/4 cup water and the remaining 1 1/2 cups milk; bring to a boil; stirring until thickened. Remove from the heat and whisk to cool slightly. Whisk in the remaining cheese, then add the pasta and toss.

Butter a shallow casserole dish. Add half of the pasta, top with some of the ham and cover with remaining pasta. Top with the remaining ham, then cover with the bread mixture. Bake until golden and bubbly, about 20 minutes. Let rest a few minutes before serving.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Yikes December is Here


Here I sit, on December 10, 2010, and I realize that I have neglected the blog. Oops. I blame December.

This month is always crazy, and I think one of these years I may go on mental vacation and not give into the nuttiness that has become "the Holidays." This is not the year for my hiatus. I have so much to do, and on the long list of to-dos is to [finally] knit something for Seth and me.

As you can see, I have taken care of me. It had to be for me since this was my first attempt. Believe me, Seth does not want his name on the Version 1.0 (conveniently, this photo does not show the project in its entirety). He wants Version 1.2, the one where some bugs are worked out.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Near Focaccia Disaster

I would have taken a picture of the focaccia I made tonight, but I'm too irritated with the results. Three hours of kitchen time on a work night, and I seriously thought about tossing the bread and pan in the trash.

The recipe came from the America's Test Kitchen cookbook, and it involved using a russet potato and making the dough from scratch. The dough was quite sticky and a little difficult to work with, but everything smelled right while it was in the oven. Then I pulled it out of the oven after 20 minutes of baking time.

It was stuck to the pan.

Well, not all of it was stuck, but certainly the sides and edges were. The middle part was fine, and so I realize that either I should use a smaller baking pan or take it out earlier.

Turns out that it tasted good, so a complete and total disaster was averted.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Another Baby Blanket


My friends had a baby boy four months ago, and as usual, I lagged on the gift. The "inspiration" I needed to make the blanket came when I found out that they would be in the Bay Area during Thanksgiving weekend.


Here is a full view of the blanket. I love the blue and brown together.

Monday, November 22, 2010

My First Bunny Hat


I finally made a bunny hat! It was made using Dark Horse FA-30 Hot Pink Yarn. This was my first go-around with this brand of yarn, which is 50% Nylon and 50% Acrylic.

The Dark Horse Fantasy yarn line is quite soft, which make it quite nice; but it's also quite slippery.

The ears aren't perfect, but I don't think that rabbit's have perfectly symmetrical ears in real-life...hopefully my sister doesn't mind. We'll see how they do in a photo shoot.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Baby Pods (Formerly Known as Cocoons)

In case you are interested in seeing what my baby pods (a.k.a. "cocoons") look like with a baby in them, visit my sister's blog to see them in a photo shoot. You can see more of them if you view the slide show!

Hopefully these will begin making an appearance on my very own Etsy page sometime in the near future. If I only I could find the time to build up inventory!

For now, just check out Mindy Metivier Photography online.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gumbo for Sunday Dinner


A couple of weeks ago I tried making jambalaya. It was not so good. I then realized that I really wanted to make gumbo. Really, I've been wanting the gumbo at The Kingfish Cafe in Seattle, but that's just too far away. It was time to give it a go in my own kitchen.

The recipe I used came from Paula Dean. Seth liked it, as did my co-worker, but I'm not quite sure how I felt about it. The one at The Kingfish Cafe is just so good.

The recipe itself was pretty easy; although it is time consuming. It makes for some tasty comfort food. A couple of notes on the ingredients:
  • Instead of smoked sausage, I used Louisiana hot links, but if you like spicy, go for Andouille sausage.

  • The recipe calls for margarine, but I only had butter. It turned out fine with butter
One more thing, the picture above lacks the shrimp. I did not add the shrimp until the last moment because I didn't want to mix it into the gumbo itself. The recipe makes way too many servings (eight to ten) for the two of us to eat before shrimp goes bad.


Gumbo
by Paula Dean

INGREDIENTS
  • 3 large boneless skinless chicken breast halves

  • Salt and pepper

  • 1/4 C vegetable oil

  • 1 lb. smoked sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices

  • 1/2 C all-purpose flour

  • 5 T margarine

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 8 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

  • 3 stalks celery, chopped

  • 1/4 C Worcestershire sauce

  • 1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley, stems and leaves, coarsely chopped, plus chopped leaves for garnish

  • 4 C hot water

  • 5 beef bouillon cubes

  • 1 (14-oz.) can stewed tomatoes, with juice

  • 2 C frozen sliced okra

  • 4 green onions, sliced, white and green parts

  • 1/2 lb. small shrimp, peeled, deveined and cooked

DIRECTIONS
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken until browned on both sides and remove. Add the sausage and cook until browned, then remove. Sprinkle the flour over the oil, add 2 T margarine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until brown, about 10 minutes. Let the roux cool.

Return the Dutch oven to low heat and melt the remaining 3 T margarine. Add the onion, garlic, green pepper and celery and cook for 10 minutes. Add Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, to taste and 1/4 bunch parsley. Cook, while stirring frequently for 10 minutes. Add 4 C hot water and bouillon cubes, whisking constantly. Add the chicken and sausage. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Add tomatoes and okra. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Just before serving, add the green onions, shrimp and chopped parsley.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Host

The HostThe Host by Stephenie Meyer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Take those four stars with a grain of salt. The grain of salt being that I would have given this three and a half stars if I could have, but that is not an option, so I rounded up.

BTW, SPOILER ALERT.

Stephenie Meyer's The Host intrigued me to the point where I did block out time to read, but then the story wrapped up too cleanly. This is coming from a person who happens to like happy endings, and seeks escape when reading.

I thoroughly enjoyed the premise of the story—aliens, a.k.a. "souls" have taken over most of Earth. There is of course, a pocket of resistance, but it's really the human spirit that prevails. My problems entirely lie with the very neat dénouement. The conflict resolution can be summed up as everyone, and I mean everyone had their own happy-ever-after.

It was just too clean! I kept waiting for the Seeker to find them, but she just ended up being captured by the human rebels. And then they saved her?! I find it all to be a little incredulous.

But, it was an interesting read, and I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. I have actually had this book in my possession for at least a year, and I dragged my feet on reading it. After all, this book is Ms. Meyer's follow-up to my beloved Twilight Saga, and I was quite worried that I would hate it. It turns out that I did not hate or dislike The Host in the least bit. In fact, I liked that she spent so much time focused on the life Wanda/Mel. I just wish there had been a little bit more conflict.



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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Baby Quilt


There's also been some sewing going on lately, and here is a baby blanket I recently finished. I even hand-quilted it.


Most of the fabric is from Jo-Ann Fabrics & Craft, but the football print is from Bolt's End in Castro Valley.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Johnny Flynn Came to San Francisco


In the four-plus years that Seth and I have been together, there has been exactly one artist that I played for him that he: A)Didn't know about; and B)Really liked. That artist is Johnny Flynn, a British musician of the folk rock/indie rock genre; and frontman of the band Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit.

Last night, Seth and I finally got to see Johnny Flynn perform live, and it was so very cool. He played a solo show at The Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco. As the headliner, he didn't go on until 11:00 p.m., after Cheyenne Marie Mize and Goh Nakamura. It was a bit tough getting motivated to get there on a Sunday night, but it was worth every sleepy moment I dragged through today.

The venue was perfect. As one of my friends said, The Rickshaw Stop is "very hipster" and it provided just the right atmosphere. It is an 18 and over place, but that made for a pretty empty bar scene, and it was quite easy to get a pint of Speak Easy IPA. In such a relaxed, intimate atmosphere, with a British musician about to take the stage, how can you get anything but a pint of beer? By the way, there is also a full bar.

The opening acts were easy on the ears, and I really enjoyed Cheyenne Mize's performance. Her voice is quite nice, but not unique to me. Then she broke out the violin and the banjo. I was sold.

Just before Cheyenne's performance I decided to go downstairs and find the bathroom. It was a good thing I did, because when I walked by the bar I noticed that a young blond man was selling stuff. The young blond man was Johnny Flynn himself, hawking is own CDs and t-shirts. Of course I jumped in line before I headed back upstairs, and Seth joined me so that we could buy the new CD, Been Listening, get it autographed and take a quick picture.


Johnny Flynn is such a nice guy. Okay, and he's good looking. He was patient with all the fans—even the girl who locked onto his arm and gushed "Oh my gosh, I can't believe I'm touching you!" She looked like she might gobble him up right there.

All right on to the performance.

It was amazing. Seth and I didn't quite know what to expect because part of what makes the A Larum album so good is the band, and we knew they wouldn't be there. I'm glad we got to see Johnny Flynn perform on his own. He has such a rich voice for someone of smallish stature (he's not super tiny, but he's not a big guy either), and he is fantastic on the guitar. Cheyenne Mize performed with him at one point, but most of the songs were done by Johnny on his own. He sang stuff from the new album, and he did my favorite song, Brown Trout Blues. Unfortunately for Seth, there was no guitar-only rendition of Leftovers, but we understood that perhaps there's just too much of the band in in that one.

I hope that one of these days we can see the whole band perform, but I think we might need to go to Europe for that kind of show.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sewing Questions Not Yet Answered

A little over a year ago, I blogged about the struggles I had with using using double fold bias tape to make a square neckline. Included were some tutorial-type photos because I could not find step-by-step instructions on the internet.

You have no idea how pleased I have been to see that it's been helpful for other sewers.

Sorry, I just had to say that because I appreciate all the comments people have left for me. Which leads me to today's post.

The following two comments were left for me in October:
    I am a 13 yo. seamstress, and I like to sew jumpers. I made one, (with a square neckline), and it turned out fine. Then, I made another with the same pattern, (I made the pattern) , and I ended up with funny wrinkles at the corners. Where did I go wrong? The first time I used cotton/denim, and the next I used 100% cotton material... Any tips?? Thanks!
    October 21, 2010 11:04 AM

    How do you do corners without getting scrunchy? also- how do you thread and use a serger? Could you write a post about that? Thank you!!
    October 21, 2010 8:23 PM

I'm sorry it's taken me so long to respond, but I've been a bit busy lately, and I also haven't really been able to come up with what I think is a suitable answer to either question.

In answer to the "funny wrinkles" and "corners without getting scrunchy" questions—I have another question. Do you have any photos of these wrinkles and scrunches? It would help me if you could send me photos (please reference the blog in your subject line). I don't think it was the material you were using since both are made out of cotton. My guess is that you somehow pinched the fabric under the bias tape, or that fabric was pinched at the "v" part.

And now we've arrived at how to thread a serger.

How did you know that it's been more than a decade since I've actually used a serger? We had a serger at my grandma's house, and I remember failing miserably at trying to re-thread it. The first place I learned to use a serger was in Mrs. Iki's sewing class, and we never changed the thread without just tying the two colors together and letting the machine stitch until the new color was threaded all the way through. The best I can do is share with you two Google finds:

Thanks for asking the questions. I do wish I could give you better answers, but send me some photos and I'll see if any of my resources can provide more help. And you know, my photographer of a sister was actually the one who was better with a sewing machine. Yes, that's right before there was Mindy Metivier Photography, there was a seamstress who made a lot of clothes.

Monday, November 1, 2010

I've Been Knitting


Here's a bunch of stuff I recently finished for my sister. Most of the pieces are cocoons, and hopefully they work for her photo shoots, and the babies are snug. There is one blanket square mixed in.


A cocoon in pumpkin.


A cocoon in yellow.


A cocoon in fig. In person, the yarn looks a little darker than it does in this photo.


The blanket square. This one is already in Hawaii. The other pieces will soon be on their way.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Kind of Hallowe'en

For some reason that I don't quite get, people love Halloween. I have never really been into it, and don't really enjoy the dressing up part. It might be because it's always so cold and Halloween costumes for women tend to leave little to the imagination, but I think it's also because my costume ideas tend to just become a a big pile of FAIL.

This year I was sort of saved from Halloween because my mom was visiting. Even though she left on Halloween, and left me time for some fun, I am just too tired. Plus I didn't have time to even think about a costume.

So, for Halloween, I put on my The Graveyard Book t-shirt and I wrote a short review on Charlaine Harris' Club Dead. Lame? Yes. But it's better than nothing. After all, Neil Gaiman wrote The Graveyard Book, and he recently proposed that we should all give each other scary books for Halloween; and Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series is about vampires.

Oh, and thinking it would be scary, we watched Let the Right One In to start off the Halloween weekend. It was not scary at all, but it was a good foreign film, and a very interesting portrayal of a vampire.

Who am I kidding? My Halloween "celebration" was less than half-hearted. At any rate, Happy Halloween! There's still time to go out and find a scary book to give. I recommend Mr. Gaiman's Coraline. The Other Mother is spooky-ooky no matter how old you are.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wooden Gate Quilts


Yesterday my mom and I were challenged to control our fabric-shopping impulses at Wooden Gate Quilts in Danville, California. It was my first time in the store, and I might already heart the place.

Wooden Gate is a cute little shop on Railroad Avenue, and it has the best fabric selection I have seen yet. They even have a good sized sale section (30% off of selected fabric) with some neat finds.

I don't really follow fabric designers, so I can't really tell you who they carry, other than from the cuts I purchased. The yellow flower print is by Tina Givens, the green one is by Amy Butler, and I also picked up something by Moda. Sorry, no sample of the Moda fabric as it is a surprise for someone.

If you are ever on the East Bay and are a fabric lover, I highly suggest you stop by the shop. The ladies who helped my mom and I were just the kind of friendly retailers I like, they merchandise really well, the shop is cute and the fabric selection is so hard to pass up.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

When I Had a Bad Day

Sometimes Seth and I don't make proper use of our Netflix account, and movies sit at our house a little too long. There have been times when I have given up on ever watching the movie, and just returned it. Then there are other times when someone out there in the universe must have known that I needed to wait for just the right moment.

The right moment for us to watch Temple Grandin came last week. I had a particularly bad day, and was just not happy. It was an evening to park it on the couch, and just veg; so we put Temple Grandin and gave into the laze.

Not only was that one of the better movies we have seen in a longtime, but it was just the right feel-good movie for me at that particular moment.

Temple Grandin is one cool woman.

I don't want to ruin the story for anyone, but in case you have no idea who she is, Temple Grandin is a 63-year-old woman with high-functioning autism. If you want to know more, rent the movie. I know I want to know more about her, and so I will be looking for a book about her at the library.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Breaking News Worth Watching

Did you have a bad day today? Then watch these Chilean miners be rescued. It is one of the most unbelievable things I have ever seen.

I just watched Miner #2 come up from from more than 2,000 feet underground. He was so exuberant after 69 days of trapped life in a collapsed mine. I feel for Miner #33, and the last rescuers.

Thank goodness for tenacity. Thank goodness for technology. Thank goodness for humanity.

Monday, October 11, 2010

On Overload

Lately, everything seems to be broken or a mess. From the car to the cell phone to ear phones...it never ends. It's got me a little discombobulated.

On top of that I haven't had much home-time recently, and I've got a project that I want to finish before my mom gets here. She gets here in about a week. The project is still in pieces. Some of them have been sewn together, but some of them have not. It still counts as being in pieces.

And then I want to clean the house before my mom gets here (it's really embarrassing for "guests" to see how we really live). This is something I would normally do over the weekend, but this weekend also happens to be one of the only weekends for us to go tailgating in SoCal. So, we're tailgating in SoCal. There will be no cleaning of the house this weekend.

On top of all this, I am still grasping onto my books. Yes, I must read. I need something to occupy my mental hamster. It's too bad I'm struggling with the book. So now I'm reading two.

This makes no sense. But, sometimes, this is how I roll through the mess. Burn the candle at both its proverbial ends.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Seattle in September


About a week ago, Seth and I were in my favorite city-to-visit, Seattle, Washington. We were there for a wedding, and unfortunately couldn't stay for very long because of my work schedule. However, we made the most of it, and enjoyed our weekend in the Pacific Northwest.

One of the most memorable parts of our trip was the dinner we had on our first night. Thanks to a last minute recommendation we headed to The Kingfish Cafe for some Southern food. I will admit that we were starving, but I have had plenty of unsatisfying meals while hungry. This dinner was de-li-cious! Seth got the gumbo and I got the buttermilk fried chicken. They were both yummy, and the chicken was cooked perfectly. Then there were the mashed potatoes and collard greens. Yum.

After dinner we had the red velvet cake (at the recommendation of our server). This cake was amazing. This extremely large piece of cake was served on a dinner plate, with three dollops of whipped cream, strawberries, and drizzled in some sort of butterscotch heaven. The cream cheese frosting was divine. Seriously, if you're in Seattle, look this place up. The atmosphere was relaxed and hip, and it's not a touristy spot. And save room for the cake.

Oops, almost forgot about the rest of the trip. On a beautiful and sunny Saturday we walked down to Pike Place Market and stumbled upon the Artisan Food Festival and a wine and beer garden. Then we traipsed over to the Fox Sports Grill in time to see UCLA hook those Horns. Sunday ended up being totally overcast, but we walked to the International District for dim sum at Honey Court; stood outside of Qwest Field and debated trying to get tickets and watch Seahawks vs. Chargers; and took the Seattle Underground Tour.

All of a sudden it was time to go back to the Bay. And I didn't even get to drag Seth to Forks.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Grandma. In Her White Car.

Yesterday, my dear friend, author of the Footprints blog, shared a story about the car her dad drove. This immediately reminded me of my most embarrassing moment with my grandma, and this is something Mrs. S. wants me to share.

My story also involves an oh-so-shame car.

Let me start with this: my grandma is freaking awesome. She is one of the nicest, kindest, most generous people I have ever known. My grandma epitomizes the word, "grandma." From elementary through the early parts of high school, she picked us up from school everyday in her white 1960s Plymouth.

The embarrassing moment came on one of those days, in that car.

So the car was this huge, white, 1960s American behemoth. As a kid, it was embarrassing because it was so old. On top of that, my grandma drove extremely slow (she got her license late in life, after my grandpa's incapacitating stroke, and she never drove on the freeways). I always felt bad for the people behind us. Of course, my grandma was oblivious.

Then one day, someone did something that made her mad, and out the window she yelled, "DAAAMMNN YOU!!!" She may have shaken her fist out the window.

Are you sinking down a little in your chair for me? Maybe covering your eyes? I know I did. After all, she was driving so slow that you could see all the people on the sidewalks turn and look.

Can you even imagine my sweet grandma bellowing those words out the window of her car? Well, she did.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Come On People

There are days when all I can do is roll my eyes, sigh and angrily grumble, "People suck." Unfortunately, it feels like these days happen on a much-too-frequent basis.

Yesterday was a "People Suck Day" after I read a high school friend's status update on Facebook. Some people broke into her grandma's house and robbed it. Included among the stolen items was the urn containing her grandpa's ashes; which also happens to be the one and only thing they want back. Their story is making it's way through the news reports in Hawaii, and hopefully the thieves see the story and the message sinks in. Just give back the ashes and the urn.

It is awful enough to be robbed. Not only are you missing things of value, you are left with a tumbling mass of helpless frustration, anger and emptiness. It would be infinitely worse to have something of such great sentimental value stolen. People really need to start thinking about other people and how they would feel if the roles were reversed.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mindy Metivier Photography

My sister posted her first blog last week, and I neglected to mention it. I blame it on a hectic work schedule (we were in week-before-event-mode) and a throw quilt project that I had to finish in time for a September 25 wedding. Excuses, excuses, I know.

At any rate, the Mindy Metivier blog is running, so please check it out. She is posting some of her work, as well as telling you a little bit about herself. What I like best is that her blog is so Mindy. From her "!!!" (she is enthusiastic and dedicated) to her post about her prior life as a teacher, you truly get to know my sister.

She is doing what I think we all want to do &mdash work that we love. And Mindy undoubtedly loves babies, kids and photography.

Friday, September 24, 2010

And It Only Took 42 Hours


Truly, I have embraced the art of "just-in-time" manufacturing when it comes to making quilts for wedding gifts. This particular quilt is for a wedding in Seattle, and let's just say it's very soon. It took about 42 hours, but I finished.

Just in time.

This is actually the first time I have ever timed myself making a throw-size quilt. I am still a little amazed at the amount of time it took. There were some glitches along the way, but the big one occurred when I struggled with quilting the border. If only I had figured that out sooner, I would have finished this last night. After trying variations of circles and then hearts, I finally settled on making leaf-like shapes using a circle template. Since most of the fabric patterns contain plants or flowers, I felt like a leaf or vine motif would complement this best.


Since the quilting was all done by hand, I had to draw directly on the fabric with a disappearing ink pen. On the purple border I tried out the white marking pen by Clover (the ink disappears when you iron the fabric). It was a bit pricey at $6.99, but with a 40% off coupon from JoAnn, it was a great investment. The pen worked out well--the ink did not rub off, and it disappeared just fine with the use of my iron.

All-in-all, I am pretty happy with this project. Which is pretty amazing considering that I was very worried when I cut the squares. I was not pleased with my fabric selections (the black background fabric had more green in it when cut down to a 6 1/2" square). I am still not loving the fabric, but basting the quilt top with the batting and backing went well, and because of that, so did the hand-quilting. The basting and quilting are what I am most satisfied with...well, other than finishing it.


By the way, the wedding colors are green and purple, so that explains the color scheme. The fabric came from The Cotton Patch in Lafayette, JoAnn stores in the Bay Area and Bolt's End in Castro Valley.

Monday, September 20, 2010

So What's the Penalty? Excessive Blocking.

The Blind Side: Evolution of a GameThe Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


For three months I sat on my library's wait list for Michael Lewis' The Blind Side. To say it was "worth the wait" does not sufficiently describe how I feel about this book.

It is one of the best sports-related books I have ever read, and I am quite dazed by Mr. Lewis. My first thought while reading this was that any football fan should read it. But now that I am done with the book, I think everyone should read it.

For football fans, Mr. Lewis did the incredible job of researching and telling readers about the "Evolution of a Game" (the book's tagline). His story takes you through the changes football went through during the 1980s, and the arrival of Lawrence Taylor, a linebacker for the New York Giants. Mr. Lewis ties his historical analysis to the personal story of Michael Oher.

For me, it was magic. I have always been a fan of football and the passing game. While watching the University of Hawaii as a child, I could never understand why they would ever run the ball. Maybe UH had a poor running game; I do not really remember. What I remember is Garrett Gabriel, the UH quarterback who led them to a win--a win after a 15-year drought--over then-arch-rival, BYU in 1989.

Garrett Gabriel could throw the ball, and he was a hero in Hawaii for beating BYU, so I grew up on the passing game. What a shock it was for me, 21 years after that win, to read that not only was the pass an illegal play until 1906, but a bias against the pass lasted through the 1960s.

Intermixed with all the football history is Michael Oher's amazing story. It was so amazing, that I will seek out a Baltimore Ravens game this season, just to see this man play in his second NFL season. It was so amazing, that I think anyone who has seen the movie, should read also read the book. Michael Oher, and his Tuohy family are the kind of people that give you hope for people and for this country. Times may be bad, and there maybe a lot of negativity in this world, but it all gets a little brighter when you read The Blind Side.


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Monday, September 13, 2010

Car Watch 2010: Two Weeks, Post-Fax

Oh look, it's been two whole seeks since I complained about my wretched car.

Today is not about complaints. It is about updates. On Friday, September 10, Ms. H. (the woman from the Western Region Consumer Affairs department) left me a message at home. Since I picked up the message after 4:00 p.m. (she works from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.), I had to wait until today to call her.

I'll admit it. There was a little bit of hope in my fingers as I dialed the phone today. Those miniscule molecules were easily squashed when Ms. H. answered. She just had questions for me because she wasn't clear on what was going on with my case.

Huh?

I thought I was pretty clear in the letter I sent to them. The short version of it is that I seek a "goodwill" gesture from the corporate office and seek repayment for the cost of the condenser and crankshaft sensor repair work. Of course these questions made me a little incensed, so I proceeded to explain everything to her that has occurred since March.

Ms. H. could not get me off the phone quick enough.

She did apologize for the slow process. That was nice of her. Then she said she needed to speak with the district manager about my case and said she would call me back.

I was so close. It felt pretty hopeless at that point.

Amazingly, she called me back right away. It may have taken her less than an hour. I have been offered partial compensation.

It's better than nothing.

It will take four to six weeks.

It's better than nothing.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Happy Birthday


Today is Seth's birthday! Two or three years ago I decided to start making him breakfast on his birthday (I am not a morning person, so breakfast in this house is an every-man-for-himself kind of meal). So far he has had muffins and pancakes, but I decided to make something a little more involved this year because we were not going to be having birthday dinner together. This year's birthday breakfast was sticky buns.

And what a baking adventure it was. First, I had to warm buttermilk in order to get the dough to properly, and this required the use of an instant-read thermometer. This happens to be a cooking tool I do not have. Nor have I ever warmed buttermilk on the stove. It was a little weird because the buttermilk started to separate and I had no idea if things were going right. Still, I plodded along.

Then I realized the dough had to rise for two to two and one-half hours. It was already after 9:30 p.m.

Before I knew it, the clock was closing in on 1:00 a.m. I have never rolled dough before, and it was a little difficult. I also used too much flour on the counter, so it was tough to pinch the rolled dough closed.

I woke up at 6:00 a.m. to take the unbaked dough out of the fridge and let it rise. Unfortunately, I did not follow my instinct and warm the oven at 200 degrees for 10 minutes so that the dough could properly rise. Let's just say I waited for an hour before finally realizing that I should have used the warm oven technique.

In the end, they came out pretty tasty, but the pecan topping was a little hard to eat after the buns cooled down. Frustrating time in the kitchen, but good practice. And I learned my lesson. Complicated birthday baking should only be done on the weekends. Otherwise it's muffins or pancakes for birthday breakfast!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Radiant Shadows

Radiant Shadows (Wicked Lovely, #4)Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


For some reason I held off on reading Melissa Marr's Radiant Shadows. It was published in April, and I know I was really looking forward to it...I blame it on the huge pile of library books I had to get through. That and the fact that I have been trying to read outside of the Young Adult fiction genre once in awhile.

How silly of me to wait. I enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed the other books in the Wicked Lovely series. But, I need to say that I am always a little disappointed.

No, not because the writing is bad or the story is predictable. Rather it is because the main characters change with each book. I always want to know more about these characters, but by the time the next book comes around, the story changes focus onto someone else. So, while there is the disappointment, I do find myself really enjoying these "new" main characters.

Come to think of it, it is a really interesting way of writing a series. Lately I have not been into long book series, but it works for Wicked Lovely.

I'm really looking forward to February 11, 2011. Otherwise known as the scheduled release date for Darkest Mercy.



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Monday, September 6, 2010

Baked Manapua


One of the things I miss about home is the food, and that includes manapua. Of course I can find manapua here in the mainland, but usually only at Dim Sum (and then it's called char siu bao).

Needless to say, I was pretty excited to see this recipe for baked manapua on the My Food Affair blog. It seemed manageable enough, so I tried it out tonight. Oh my goodness was it yummy. This is the first Chinese food I have made that actually tastes right.

As far as the recipe goes, I had a little bit of a hard time with the dough since it was so sticky. It probably should have been mixed more in the bowl...guess I am too used to using a food processor to make pizza dough. And then I had a little bit of a hard time with stuffing the char siu filling into the dough and making nice little bao. Tip for anyone else trying to make this recipe: don't worry too much about making the manapua perfect because the dough smooths out a bit when you let it rise for 30 minutes before putting it in the oven.

I did not know what is in an egg wash, so I checked the internet and found several examples. I used an egg wash of one egg yolk and one teaspoon of water; a mixture that I found on The Pie Maven blog. Finally, I was concerned about making the char siu tough/dry since it's already been cooked but the five minute saute was perfect and the filling turned out just fine.

I'm not posting this recipe, but you can find it on the My Food Affair blog.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Welcome Back College Football

Today is September 2, 2010 and it's also the beginning of one of my favorite times of year: the college football season. To top it off, my team, the University of Hawaii, is playing on national TV. Then to top it off again, UH is playing the most competitive game I have ever seen them play against USC.

I am liking what I see of this UH team, and I hope Bryant Moniz stays healthy. He looks super quick and he's got a gun for an arm.

Go Bows!

And yes, I know they are the Warriors now, but they will always be the Bows to me, dressed in Kelly green.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

For the Littlest Angels Baseball Fan I Know


Here's another very late 1st birthday present for my college friend's daughter. This happens to be a big baseball family--my friend, Mrs. G. is an Angels fan, while her husband, Mr. G., is a Dodger fan. I do have fabric for both teams, but since I love the Angels, their daughter gets an Angels blanket. Sorry Mr. G.


The pattern is a Single Irish Chain Block, with four-inch blocks. It's pretty easy and quick to make.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Car

On Saturday my car went back to the dealership to have its crankshaft sensor replaced. They took care of the work in just over half-a-day, so I got my car back on the same day.

It is driving better; and by "better" I mean that the rough idle has lessened (although it still does not idle as smoothly when the AC is running). So far there have been no points where the idle runs low to the point of stalling. Unfortunately I am still scared that my car will stall, and I experience slight moments of panic whenever I am turning in an intersection. I am also maniacally turning down the radio to listen for any hissing noises coming from the AC.

There is no update on anything from the car company's Consumer Affairs department. I called them back as instructed now that the crankshaft sensor work has been completed, and they asked me to go through the same process of submitting paperwork. However, they are not sure if they received the fax I sent on the morning of Friday, August 27. Ugh.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Car Watch 2010

Today was Business Day 3. I gave the car company about half the day to call me, and then I called them myself. Of course the associate who I spoke with on Monday was not available, so I talked to yet another person in Consumer Affairs.

Shockingly, there was a new development: They asked me to fax a proof of purchase (receipt), the repair order, and proof of ownership (current DMV registration). These three items will serve as a request for reimbursement for the condenser. The crankshaft sensor [supposedly] cannot be addressed until the actual repair is completed. As this was a new development, I asked why they only asked for these items now. Besides the remark "We need to see a receipt because you could be making up any payment amount," I was told that they were only instructed to collect this information on August 24.

August 24? That was two days ago. Why am I only finding this out on August 26? Why do I have to call them to find this out? The associate had no answer for me as to why no one from the car company could call me back; that is except for, "Sorry." Haven't they heard, "sorry" isn't good enough?

Unfortunately, it was clear that we would go round-and-round if I asked why no one from corporate ever contacts me. Instead, I took the instructions down, confirmed them, and asked questions like:

Q: When can I expect to hear from you?
A: In one to five business days from the time we receive your information.

Q: Does this mean I'm getting reimbursed?
A: There is always a chance you will not be reimbursed.

Q: Will someone really call me back?
A: You should receive a phone call in one to five business days regarding the status of your case.

Ugh.

Of course I did not have my registration on-hand as my car is sitting at home in its currently unsafe-to-drive state. So, I called back to ask if I could submit my title instead (I keep my car stuff in a binder, and had a copy of my title). The answer was no. The title is insufficient, and I must submit the current registration. Things are delayed yet another day.

The most interesting part of this call was that this associate let it slip that the crankshaft sensor is being considered for partial reimbursement. The previous associate had told me that the crankshaft sensor would be dealt with once I had the car repaired, so I tried to question this associate about her statement. She deflected my inquiry and brushed it off as, "I misspoke. I read through your file quickly and misunderstood it." Hmmm...

"Hmmm" is right. Guess what corporate office? I was supposed to get a phone call from the dealership this morning about the part that should have arrived, and naturally the call never came through. I am tired of this lack of communication, so now I just call and find out what's going on. The dealership informed me that the part was not yet in (of course it's not), and they also shared that they spoke with the corporate office. Turns out that the corporate office is considering a partial reimbursement.

A partial reimbursement? A partial reimbursement?! Really?

From what I have read, the crankshaft sensor is an "integral" part of an engine. Gosh, it's even referred to as the "most important sensor in modern day engines." It seems fair to say that this major component should not fail right after a car reaches its 100K/5-year warranty. Especially if a car company has less than 5% of the US auto market cornered.

It seems appropriate to want to bang my head against the desk just like Mad Men's Peggy did in "The Rejected" episode.

My car still gives me a headache. I have not been able to safely drive it for nearly a week. My car and I (and Seth) have been to the dealership every month since March, except for April. I have been calling the corporate office since the beginning of July, and despite repeated declarations of "Someone will call you back in X to Y business days," neither X, nor Y ever happens. Headache after headache, after headache.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I Lament Over My Car, I Gush Over Mockingjay

Business day two has come and gone without a phone call or email from the car company. Guess I will have to call them tomorrow, and soon start calling them by their actual name.

Despite this chronic headache induced my car troubles, the bright spot in my day was finishing Suzanne Collins' Mockingjay. It was wonderful! Okay, really it was intense, totally made me anxious, it and made me cry; but it was exactly what I wanted from the last book in the Hunger Games series. Suzanne Collins wrote a fantastic story, and she kept my attention the entire way through.

I love her writing style. Ms. Collins is concise and witty, and she holds nothing back. I mean nothing. It makes for some harsh realities, but without the difficult moments, Mockingjay would not be the great book that it is. I found it to be a refreshing change from the usual young adult fiction book.

Thank goodness for the August 24 release date. It certainly helped to have Mockingjay as a distraction from the dreaded car. I actually might go and wallow in the Hunger Games a little more just for the welcome relief.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Car Watch 2010 and Two Better Bits of News

First, an update on Car Watch 2010: It has been one business day since I sent faxed my letter to the car company's corporate office, as well as since I spoke to someone in the Consumer Affairs department. There has been no response on either front. The person I spoke to in the Western Region Consumer Affairs department gave me no timeline of when I could expect to hear from them. However, the person I spoke to via the 1-800 number said I should hear back from someone in one to two business days. Business day one is down, so that leaves them with one left. The dealership did call me back with a new quote for the parts and labor for my crankshaft. It's not the restitution I seek, but it's better than the initial quote.

And now for the two bits of better news.

My sister launched her website! That's right, Mindy Metivier Photography is on the World Wide Web, where you can see her work online, read a little bit about her, and hopefully book a session. She will soon be launching a blog as well.

Finally, August 24 has arrived! In other words, it's the release date for Suzanne Collins' Mockingjay. My copy from Barnes and Noble arrived right on time, and I have put Ender in Exile on hold so that I could read the final installment of the Hunger Games trilogy. If you will excuse me, Mockingjay calls.

Monday, August 23, 2010

My Car is Sick

My car makes my head hurt. Since March of this year it has been on 11 trips to the dealership--11 because for every repair it must first be diagnosed. Most of the problems were related to the air conditioning; except for one time in June when it was in the shop because of the AC and because it stalled twice while I was driving it. Now it's a crankshaft sensor issue. Did I mention that my car is five years old?

My head hurts. What makes it worse is the lack of response I have received from both the dealership and the corporate office. Initially the problems were covered under warranty, but when the problem was identified as a major component the dealership decided they would no longer cover repairs. So, I turned to the corporate office. Since I initially filed a case with them in July, I have received one phone call back, and that woman left a message. I returned her call but never received a call back. Today, I finally caught up with her.

Don't think that she called me back. I called her this morning to try and talk to someone about the crankshaft issue and to find out if any decisions have been made about my AC. I got her voicemail, left a message and then realized that I should probably get her last name. So, I called back a little later (she says her full name in her message), and she actually picked up this time.

She said I could fax her the letter I wrote; a letter which outlines all my trips to the dealership, my concerns and frustrations...so I faxed the letter. And I mailed one to the corporate office. Now I guess I'm in the proverbial holding pattern, and we'll see how long it takes for them to get back to me. I hope it's not long because I'm near the end of my patience, and I'm trying really hard to be polite and non-threatening.

Let's face it though, it's a monumental task to maintain my composure when my safety was at risk three days ago because my car stalled twice while I was driving it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wonder If She'll Like This One


I'm not going to lie. My hands kind of hurt. I don't usually knit this often, or for so many hours in a row, but I'm having fun with these cocoons.

This one is made with Bamboo Ewe yarn in Lipstick, and is 55% viscose from bamboo and 45% wool. It has a decent feel, and just the right amount of stretch.


The opening bugged me because I didn't care for the way in which it lay, and I almost took this apart and started all over again. Then I thought about adding some sort of embellishment to keep the flaps open in a nice way, but I changed my mind. I decided not to do a little extra because I think my sister will want to be able to manipulate the cocoon in whichever way she pleases. Well, she can for this one, but I'm definitely adding something fun to future projects!

By the way, I realized that I skipped a couple of rounds in the pattern I included in the Knitting Adventure post from last week, so I made some edits. Sorry about that, but I guess that's what happens when you don't write the pattern out before you type.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Angelology

AngelologyAngelology by Danielle Trussoni

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Two stars for being predictable, but three starts for being interesting and for spooking me out.



Danielle Trussoni's Angelology had so much potential. The angelology itself was intriguing, as well as new to me. And, then there was this amazing secret world that she created, filled with magnificently frightening beings; gone were my preconceived ideas of benevolent and glorious angels. Trussoni's don't conjure up verses of Hark the Herald in my head.



Between the religion, the historical fiction and theory, I started to feel a little supernatural terror, and Trussoni grasped my attention so that I hoped she would take the road less traveled. Unfortunately, she did not. Instead, she took the obvious path, and now I'm not sure if I will read the next one (oh, there's got to be a next one). I think I'll read Katherine Neville's the Eight again instead.







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Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Knitting Adventure


My sister has more faith in my knitting abilities than I do. Several months ago she asked if could make her a baby cocoon because she loves the ones she has seen other photographers use in their work.

I immediately began looking online and in yarn stores for patterns, but there are very few to be found, and almost entirely in crochet. Crochet does notwork for me because I just don't get it, so that was not an option. I found a baby stork sack pattern from the kipknitzed blog, and I did try the pattern out, but it was still not quite what I was looking for in a cocoon. Ultimately, I decided I could venture out of my knitting comfort zone and piece together a pattern since the cocoons look like really big and extra-long hats to me. It seems like the prototype worked out okay, but we'll see what my sister says when she gets in the mail.

Here is what I did for this particular cocoon:

Supplies
Yarn (Serenity Chunky Weight in Almond)
Size 9 Circular Needle, 16"
Stitch marker ring
  1. Cast on 64 stitches (or gauge to get a cocoon with an eight-inch diameter).
  2. *R1: Knit; R2: Purl
  3. Repeat R1/R2 until work measures 6 1/2" from the edge
  4. Knit in the round (use stitch marker to mark the beginning of the row).
  5. Continue until work measures 18" from the edge.
  6. Round 1: *K6, K2tog (repeat from * to end)
  7. Round 2: Knit
  8. Round 3: *K5, K2tog (repeat from * to end)
  9. Round 4, 5, 6: Knit (all remaining even number rows)
  10. Round 7: *K4, K2tog (repeat * to end)
  11. Round 9: *K3, K2tog (repeat * to end)
  12. Round 11: *K2, K2tog (repeat * to end)
  13. Round 12: *K2, K2tog (repeat * to end)
  14. Round 13: *K1, K2tog (repeat * to end)
  15. Cut yarn and weave through remaining stitches. Pull to close top of the hat.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Saturday in Mendocino


Usually I don't do hiking, but one day Seth came home from work and told me about how one of his co-workers went hiking in Mendocino and saw this place called the "Pygmy Forest" where the trees were dwarfed because of the acidity of the soil. This sounded like something neat to see, so I immediately looked it up online.

The Pygmy Forest is located in Van Damme State Park, which is in Mendocino County, California. The park's website said it would be a seven-mile hike, roundtrip. Still, I was intrigued, so last weekend we went out to Mendocino.

The hike itself is really pretty, especially if you like trees and ferns. The trail splits off about a mile in and you can take a path that's about 1.2 miles to the Pygmy Forest, or you can take a 2.3 mile hike on the Fern Canyon Trail. Since both trails lead to the same spot, we ended up taking the shorter route in, and then the longer route out. The shorter trail is steeper, while the longer trail has more bridges and stairs (yes, stairs in a forest). The trees are dense and tall and block out most of the sun, until you get to the Pygmy Forest. Then all of a sudden you can clearly see the sky, and there is just a different kind of foliage.


The forest itself is a bit of a letdown. I think we were both expecting smaller trees covering a large mass of land. Don't get me wrong, the trees are small and skinny, but my mind processes them as just being young trees. It helps to read the posted signs which talk about how tall Bishop Pines normally grow, and just how old the trees are (some of them have been around for a century). The Pygmy Forest does not cover a huge tract of land, and apparently other such forests existed in the area, but we humans have destroyed them.


All-in-all, it's a great way to get some exercise and see part of the California coast. After you finish the hike (it took us about three and a half hours), you can drive to Mendocino or Fort Bragg and enjoy a nice lunch. We ended up grabbing a quick bite at the Mendocino Bakery & Cafe (try the clam chowder, but skip the deep dish pizza), and then drove back on the 128 to Handley Cellars for some wine tasting.

They were having a wine and food pairing that day, so it was too bad we had just eaten a late lunch. We did enjoy the wine tasting part (it's free by the way), and we ended up picking up a bottle of their Riesling to take home. The tasting room has a neat atmosphere, and you should definitely ask about the decor (a nice story, and a bit of family history I think).

After Handley, we stopped at Meyer Family Cellars and tried their Syrah and Port. The 2004 Syrah was nice, and we came home with a bottle of that as well. By now we were ready for a shower and a relaxing dinner, so we tried Healdsburg. Unfortunately, everyone else was staying in Healdsburg last weekend, and the only rooms available were $250+, and we ended up driving back to the East Bay. Maybe next time we'll stay out in Mendocino and Fort Bragg and visit their breweries.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mindy Metivier Photography






My sister has done something I am too much of a chicken to do. She started her own business, Mindy Metivier Photography. She has always loved being behind the camera, and she's finally taken a break from her job as a teacher and gone all-in!

Mainly she plans to focus on photo sessions for babies, kids and families, but she does have a fine art collection. I am totally biased, but I love her work, and a canvas print of the Golden Bridge photo hangs in my home.

Her website and blog will soon go live, but for now you can find her on Facebook or send her an email for her prices.

Congratulations Min! I'm proud and I'm jealous. Ganbatte!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

For My Summer Vacation I Went to Pennsylvania


Part of my summer vacation was spent in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mainly, the trip was for Seth's cousin's wedding, but we also squeezed in a day trip to Bernville so that I could meet my paternal grandfather's niece.

Prior to last week, I have never had the chance to meet someone from that side of my family since my grandpa was from Reading and no one ever came out to Hawaii while I was growing up. It was a very cool experience, and we actually spent six hours at their house! Hopefully they didn't mind that we stayed so long. Because Mr. and Mrs. G. live in Bernville, Seth and I were able to drive through a part of the state we would have otherwise never seen. We also got to see what a farmhouse from the 1700s looks like since Mr. G. restored it when they moved in decades ago.

Mr. and Mrs. G. generously shared with us tickets to the Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square. It was amazing! The grounds are beautiful, and it was a nice way to spend the afternoon. The Conservatory was my favorite part of Longwood, but I also enjoyed the Idea Garden and the Italian Water Garden. It doesn't seem like you can walk through the Italian Water Garden, but it's quite an amazing sight from the bridge.

Now for the important part of the trip: the wedding. This was not your usual hotel ballroom type of wedding; rather it was a camping wedding! Seth's cousins were married at the Brandywine Picnic Park in Coatesville, and after the ceremony and reception, everyone was invited to camp overnight. We hardly knew what to expect, and I think it's fair to say we were all pleasantly surprised. It was a beautiful, outdoor setting, and they had tents set-up in case of rain. Dinner was served family-style, and it was delicious! The camping part was okay, but anyone who knows me knows that I am not an outdoor kind of girl, so my take on the camping (especially when there's no running water) is always skewed negative. All-in-all, it was a great experience. I think what I liked best is that because this was not your usual wedding, and it was a little difficult to get to, you knew what everyone there have a special love for Seth's cousin and his wife.

Three final things about this trip:

  1. I had my most intimidating dining experience ever when I learned how to order a cheesesteak properly at Pat's King of Steaks. You don't say "Can I please get..."; you say "Whiz wit" if you want onions or "whiz witout" if you don't want onions. You pay quickly, and the short way of ordering keeps the long line moving and the cheesesteaks coming.

  2. The beers were excellent. My favorite was probably the Victory HopDevil.

  3. If you're wondering how the Eagles quilt was received, the bride and groom loved it. They had the best reaction ever, and I am so glad I took the time to make them a quilt.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Quilt for a Wedding


I honestly thought I would not make this deadline, but somehow I did; and I just finished making this quilt. The quilt is a wedding gift, and amazingly, I cut the fabric, sewed the squares, and stitched-in-the-ditch by hand in a matter of two weeks.

There was a slight break in the action because of Comic-Con. The basted version came to San Diego with me, but I was too exhausted every night and just could not work on the quilting. As a result, my fingers are a bit numb and slightly callused after some mad sewing over the past two days!


As you can tell, the bride and groom are Eagles fans and like beer and music. Picking out the fabric was a little difficult, since I was trying to steer away from anything to feminine. Then there was the beer fabric. It was difficult finding something, but I searched online and found The Craft Connection. They are a great online source for fabric, and they have reasonable shipping prices!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Linger

Linger (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #2)Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Oh my.

That was intense.

And now I have to wait for what seems like forever for Forever.

I don't even know what to say right now. Except that the intensity I felt when I read Shiver is completely different from the intensity I felt while I read Linger. This was definitely a darker, more roiling story than Shiver; and my brain is just humming, no thoughts, just buzzing.

I was able to meet the author, Maggie Stiefvater, yesterday during her book event at Barnes and Noble, and she said "I hope you cry." Well, Maggie, cry I did.

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Linger at a Bookstore Near You


Holy cannoli, what a day! Usually my brain is in a constant state of thought. The mental hamster runs and runs while thoughts mill around in my head. But today is not a usual day, and right now my brain is spewing a steady stream of "!!!!!!!"

Giddy is what I am. Giddy, because this morning, I drove back from Orange County to get back to the Bay in time for an appearance at Barnes and Noble by Maggie Stiefvater. Her newest book, Linger, was released earlier this month, so she's on tour. The drive took me six hours and 45 minutes, and I arrived 30 minutes late; but I was able to hear some of the question-answer session, listen to her read a chapter from Linger, and get my book signed.

I actually wasn't sure what to expect with this event, and I was pleasantly surprised. Maggie is a great storyteller, and very funny. She is also friendly, and took the time to talk to each one of us who stood in line for her autograph; she even asked us questions! She thought I looked familiar, and asked if I have ever attended a convention. Unfortunately, this is when I had an attack of nerves, and I think I accidentally cut her off. At least we got to talk about which book of hers is my favorite (Ballad), and she took a picture with me.


This was a wonderful experience, and a great way to end my Comic-Con trip. If Maggie happens to be touring in a town near you, and you enjoy her books, make the trip to see her! She truly has an endearing personality, and I laughed at her stories. The crowd is also more than manageable, and actually quite intimate in size. Perhaps due to the size of the group, Maggie was willing to sign more than one copy of her books per person. The greedy part of me wishes I thought to bring Shiver with me, but really, having Linger signed is enough.

Thank you Maggie!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

30th Birthday Blanket


This blanket has been a few years in the making. I have been meaning to make Mr. U. a blanket for a few years, but never got around to it, and since he turned 30 this year, I made it a priority. As you might guess, he likes sports, so it has football, baseball and golf on it. There's also some dart-beer-themed fabric.


I hand-tacked with embroidery stitches. The main body of the fabric is stitched with a fly stitch.


The border is stitched with a knot-stitch, but I forgot what it's called; and I can't refer to my book as I am writing this from Comic-Con.

Here's a full picture of the quilt, and you can even see our freshly stained deck. Next time I'll take this picture earlier in the day when the deck's not shaded.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Anrui (Tears in the Darkness)

Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its AftermathTears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath by Michael Norman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Michael Norman and Elizabeth Norman wrote an incredible book when they wrote Tears in the Darkness: the Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath. The surrender of more than 76,000 American and Filipino troops on the Bataan peninsula is not a part of World War II that I learned much about in history classes, and I am so thankful that I stumbled upon this book at the library.

Captivating and well-written, this book also dredged up academic memories from college experience at Whittier College. Initially, I found some of the facts so horrific and disgusting they were nearly unbelievable. And then, I found myself intensely disappointed with a four-star general; so disappointed that I started to think about the classes I took on history and theory. This general is so celebrated, and when I read what he did, I wondered why this bit of his military career is kept so quiet.

Then I remembered how history is an account influenced by a historians experiences, the questions they ask and the answers they seek (something I learned at Whittier). Even now, after I finished the book, I wonder what made the authors chose to tell this particular story in this way. Tears in the Darkness is told from the American point of view, I found that the Normans also give you a flip-side perspective, so you cannot help but question our own country's actions.

It was a humbling and emotional experience to read this book. I cannot even begin to understand how American and Filipino prisoners of war endured, nor can I wrap my mind around the inhumanity we humans inflict upon one another. Then there was anger, shame, and pride. Anger and shame for both the Japanese and the Americans. Pride in how these POWs withstood the degradation, helped one another and most of all, survived.

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