Friday, April 29, 2011

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

I should have gone to bed earlier last night. Then I could have watched the live coverage of the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Instead I went to bed so late that if I tried to wake up at 3:00 a.m., I would have only four hours of sleep—a bad thing for my extremely long commute this morning.

This is one time I wish I wasn't such a night owl. My inability to go to bed at a reasonable hour means I missed a truly happy moment in world history.

Oh well, at least I saw the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge riding in their carriage to Buckingham Palace. Although, I can't really say that I saw their first kiss on the balcony of the Palace because I wasn't exactly looking at the screen for that mega-quick peck. Fittingly, I saw their second kiss.

Ah well, it was all so, so very beautiful; and thanks to 24-hour news coverage, I get to watch the whole ceremony right now, and listen to the wonderful music and bells that make one's heart soar.

It is such a delightful thing to see two people looking so happy.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Kristin Cashore's Fire

Fire (The Seven Kingdoms Trilogy, #2)Fire by Kristin Cashore

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Initially I was a little wary of Kristin Cashore's Fire. I read her first book, Graceling in February, and it just didn't satisfy me. So why did I read Fire? Well, I already had a copy of it.

What a lovely surprise this was for me! The story follows the book's namesake, Fire, as she grows to accept her incredible power. For some reasons unexplained, she was a character I could relate to; not because I wield any sort of power, but in part because her struggle seemed more human, even if her abilities did not.

It is worth the read, even if you have not read Graceling. Fire is a companion book, and a character from Graceling plays a role in the story, but is not the central focus.

View all my reviews

Monday, April 25, 2011

Heart Hat and Blanket Square

Here are two knitting projects I recently completed. The first is a newborn beanie in red, with a duplicate stitched pink heart. I used Stitch Nation Bamboo Ewe yarn.

And here is a purple blanket square, made with Sensations Angel Hair yarn.

Both items may soon appear in photos by Mindy Metivier Photography.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cleo in Hollywood

Earlier this week I did something I rarely ever do in Los Angeles. I went to Hollywood.

What? I know. It's just that I used to live in El Segundo, and now I'm holed up in the OC, so I tend to favor places off the 405, or by the beach. Hollywood can be a bit of a trek. But, friends were in town from the Bay Area, and so we met for drinks at AOC on 3rd; which then turned into a late dinner at Cleo in Hollywood.

This is all about Cleo.

Cleo was amazing. Located in the Redbury Hotel, on Vine Street, this is one Mediterranean restaurant that I would classify as definitely trendy. But who cares? It's in Hollywood. It should be trendy.

It's all small plates, so you get to try a lot of different things; and I think we made our way through the menu pretty well. The food comes out as it's prepared, so there's no traditional appetizers-salad-entree order to your meal. There's also a fun libations list.

  • Lebaneh with feta—a yogurt cheese dip for this wonderful bread which comes in a brown paper bag. It was tangy, and so yummy. I would get this again.

  • Dolmades—Cleo's version of dolmas. I'm not a fan of dolmas, so I can't really comment here.

  • Chicken kebab—yum. What can I say? It's a kebab. The chicken was cooked perfectly, and tasted...well, yum.

  • Pumpkin—one of the best and more interesting salads I have ever had. There is a little bit of a kick to the salad thanks to the spiced pepitas. The rest of the salad consists of roasted pumpkin, shaved parmesan and hazelnut vinaigrette. I'm pretty sure there were also pomegranates, and I forget what type of lettuce was served.

  • Brussel Sprouts—our waitress told us that the brussel sprouts taste like potato chips, and she did not lie. I may have mixed up what part of the menu the brussel sprouts are from, as there are some that you can order under "mezzes." Just ask for the ones that taste like potato chips. They actually resemble chips because someone in the Cleo kitchen to the time to take the brussel sprout leaves apart. Thank you to whoever does that job because this dish is amazing!


  • Lamb Shawarma—another delicious dish. Not gamey at all, and tender.


  • Seasonal Mushroom—this came out at the very end, and it did not disappoint. It was similar to a flatbread pizza, and the remains of the lebaneh with feta was a good compliment.


  • Grilled Octopus—normally I am not a fan of octopus as I have had too much of the rubbery stuff, but this was delicious and not at all like I have had before.

  • Mussel Tagine—these mussels come in a broth of saffron, tomato, chickpeas and spinach. Another tasty dish.


  • Sticky Toffee Pudding—this was described as a toffee pudding with a bread pudding-like consistency. It came out exactly as described, and it was so, so good. I actually voted for this over baklava (which I love).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mindy Metivier Photography Casting Call for Newborns

My sister, Mindy, just went to Texas for a photo-mentoring session, and she learned some new baby posing and soothing techniques. So that she can put these new lessons to practice, she is offering free photo sessions for five to twelve-day old newborns.

Visit the Mindy Metivier Photography website for more details and photos from her mentoring session.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Hooked on TV Recaps

I blame my minor addiction to reading TV recaps on my [former] co-worker, Mrs. G.

It started last summer. We realized that we both religiously watched Mad Men, and probably could be classified as Maddicts. Every week, we puzzled over Don's behavior, the fate of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, and guessed at the show's next move. At one point Mrs. G. told me about these TV recaps she reads on the Entertainment Weekly website. And then she had to go and send me the link.

Now I have yet another website to visit on a regular basis.

The thing about these TV recaps is that they are so cleverly written. And the recappers catch so many things I miss—I can't even begin to tell you about the level of detail that is caught and discussed after an episode of Mad Men. Truth be told, I am not a simultaneous TV watcher and analyzer, so I immensely appreciate that someone else does this and writes about it. The other thing (and this is the biggest "thing" for me) is that reading these recaps allows me to enjoy just a little bit more of my favorite shows.

I am enabled by TV recaps. Enabled to obsess further over characters like Eric Northman and Damon Salvatore. Enabled to dig out more hilarity from shows like The Big Bang Theory. Enabled to think that maybe my TV watching habits aren't that bad if I read some analysis afterward.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Twisted Knits

If you're a knitter who knits the traditional way, I'm sure when you look at the picture above, you think what I first thought, "That looks a little off..."

It took me forever to figure out, but what threw me off was that the stitches were twisted—on purpose. Once I had my little aha-moment, it was time for a search on the internet. It took some digging, but I finally found the Freia and the Knitwhit Blog, complete with pictures and tips on dealing with and/or accepting twisted stitches.

For the look above, you wrap the yarn around the knitting needle clockwise for every knit and purl stitch. It is actually quite a nice look for Lionbrand's Thick and Quick yarn.

I love the internet.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pain in the Ear(s)

There are few worse things than flying while you are sick. If you have any sort of sinus related issue, it just gets more horrible. Then there's having an ear infection while flying. It's just not fun.

I have been flying quite often as of late, and in one week, I was on a plane five different times. Four of those times, I also suffered from an ear infection. The pain was awful. In addition to the pain, my ears were completely stuffed up and everything was muffled. This lasted for two and a half days. I was beyond uncomfortable, and really bothered by my hearing.

On the day of my fifth flight, I could hear a little better, and there was significantly less pain, but I was highly worried about flying again. Luckily, I had read somewhere online about special ear plugs that you can purchase for about $7 at the airport.

This was the best $7 I have ever spent. This got me a pair of special ear plugs, known asnEarPlanes.

While I could still feel a change in pressure, my discomfort was significantly less, and my plugged up ears didn't fill up even more. I followed the directions on the box, and since my flight was only one hour, I put them in just before takeoff, and kept them in until after we landed and the cabin door opened.

I just wonder why my doctor didn't tell me about the EarPlanes. She knew I was flying, and all she recommended was that I take Sudafed (to help dry up the fluid) and Motrin (for the pain) 30 to 45 minutes before my flight.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bye Bye Bay

There have been some massive changes afoot, and one of them is that I recently relocated from the San Francisco Bay Area back to Southern California.

Just over four years ago I made the trek from El Segundo to Walnut Creek, and now I'm back. I can't honestly say that I loved living up in the Bay, but I did enjoy my time there, and I will miss my Walnut Creek life.

I know I should be talking about the wonderful people I left behind, but that's just too sad. Instead I'm going to talk about places to go and food to eat because others can easily enjoy those same things.

Wait, there is one person I want to talk about. My lovely hairstylist, Priscilla. She works at Tribez in Danville, and I love her. She almost never overbooks, she always accomodated my need to come in after work, and she cut my hair wonderfully. If you are in need of a hairstylist, go see her. The salon is fun and trendy, and Priscilla is a very calm person amidst the chaos of a hairstylists, clients and various personal care professionals. Just know that you need cash or a check.

Onto the other stuff I love:
  • Nordstrom Rack, San Leandro—maybe one of the best Racks I have been patroned, it's off the Marina (East) exit from the 880.

  • Wooden Gate Quilts, Danville—I am so sad I went here only once! Initially, I found this place online when I was looking for a quilting shop between work and home, but they were closed for renovation. When my mom visited in October, we stopped by. Wooden Gate Quilts was wonderful. I'll make it a point to visit when I'm next in the Bay...if I can manage to lower my fabric stash by then.

  • Lafayette Library and Learning Center—this place is brand new, and it's like being in someone's big, beautiful home. There's a used bookstore (operated by the Friends of the Lafayette Library) just outside of the parking garage, and you can get a used hardcover for $1. In fact, I finally found a copy of Katherine Neville's the Eight there (and I have been looking for this book for years). The Lafayette Library is open on Sundays, and a wonderful place to spend an afternoon.

People in the Bay Area take their food seriously, so food deserves it's own little section today.
  • Zachary's Chicago Pizza—I love and will eat all kinds of pizza, but this place is a favorite. I'm not sure how it rates against the real thing in Chicago, but I love Zachary's. I like the San Ramon location because there is parking, but I think the one in Oakland is the original.

  • Lococo's, Piedmont—What you see on the menu, is what you get when you order, so please do not try and add chicken to a dish without chicken. I can't help but love my favorite little Italian place, Lococo's in Piedmont. You can bring your own wine, and please bring cash or a personal check (no credit cards). My go-to selections are the tortellini con sugo (tortellini stuffed with prosciutto and chicken) and Gilberto's Special pizza (all meat). Yum. I miss it already.

  • Cha Cha Cha—I get my tapas and sangria fix here. It's all good, so I'm not even going to bother telling you what to get at Cha Cha Cha. The Haight Street location is the original, and has a totally different vibe from the one in the Mission, but both are fun. If you're on the Peninsula, there's also a new location in San Mateo, on Second Street, I believe.

  • Saroor Indian Cuisine—Great samosas here! I drove by Saroor quite often, and finally decided to try it. I'm so glad I did because they are generous with the portions for takeout, and it's a nice little neighborhood spot on North Main in Walnut Creek.

  • Hubcaps—I know it's a diner, but this is my favorite breakfast spot in Walnut Creek. It's my favorite because I love the eggs benedict at Hubcaps.

  • Swiss Delices, Castro Valley—What a wonderful place for baked goods, coffee and lunch! Swiss Delices is a European bakery with locations in Hayward and Castro Valley, but I only know the one in CV. Everytime I went in, I pretty much always left with one or two of the following: an apricot or raspberry bird nest (macarron with jam); an apricot or raspberry humentachen; an Italian danish; and almost always, a peanut butter cookie.

There's actually a lot more that I love and like about the Bay Area, but that's for another time and future visits.

Monday, April 11, 2011

This Tree Grows in Redwood City

I am struggling to find any sort of words to say, but I am stuck. All I can process is that after Saturday, ginkgo trees have special meaning for me. Particularly, a young ginkgo tree recently planted in Redwood City. You see, it was planted for and dedicated to the little guy I wrote about in January.

Thank you to all the wonderful people who got together to make sure the tree was planted so that we could all gather together for the dedication.