An Excellent Adventure

What a crazy few weeks it’s been. Where to start?

When I last posted, it was almost the end of August and Alex and I and the kids were off to the ocean for our summer vacation. Fast forward a few days with a rushed drive home from the ocean culminating in an emergency appendectomy (husband), in which we drove all the way back from our ocean trip straight to an hospital ER door. Follow that up with a last-minute, unplanned change of schools for our 7-year old (more on that some other time). Next was my trip to Los Angeles for Vogue Knitting LIVE! 2011 (more on that later, also). After that, I was home for 4 days before my husband and I flew to San Jose for a tour of the Tesla factory. Sometimes it’s just easier starting with the most recent thing first, so I’ll focus on the San Jose trip today, as well as some knitting..

So, Alex and I left the fall gloom of Seattle and landed in San Jose on a hot, sunny day—the sun felt so good. On our way to the hotel we happened upon a Japanese neighborhood festival and grabbed lunch. We had a hearty meal at Gombei.

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I had broiled mackerel—amazingly moist and buttery—with a side of cool tofu with green onion and bonito flakes, and Alex had soba noodles on a bed of ice cubes, which we found pleasantly refreshing on a hot day.

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Before we left the festival, I bought a beautiful pair of Big Sur blue jade earrings.

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Later that day, we left for the Tesla factory.

What is Tesla? I can’t possibly get all the facts right, but it’s a car company founded by Elon Musk, and is on the verge of changing the way we think about electric cars. Gone are the images of little puttering electric cars that drive about as fast as a golf cart and have a range that takes you not much further than the confines of your city.

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The sedan Tesla, Model S, will seat 7 people, will be completely electric, have enough charge to go up to 300 miles, and will be able to accelerate from 0 to 60 in 5.6 seconds. The current Tesla car, the Roadster, is a two-seat model, has a range of 245 miles, and accelerates 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds.

20111013-171627.jpgElon Musk, addressing the crowd.

It was quite an event, and we were there with a couple thousand future Model S owners for the tour and a ride in the Model S. The final version of the Model S has not been made yet and will not be available until 12 months from now, so we rode in a beta model. The test ride was fast, and demonstrated it maneuverability, low center of gravity (due to the lithium batteries on the bottom of the chassis), and responsive acceleration by taking it up to 70 in a short closed track. It was fun.

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Knitting. I been using-up my stash of Zephyr 2/18 in black, making Kozue, and I thought I’d have enough for it, but I don’t. Having bought the yarn about 10 years ago, I couldn’t possibly match dye lots, so I bought some in a different shade, Claret. I decided that it would be best to add bands of Claret in various placed throughout the shawl. I’ve put a sizable band near the end of it, and now I’ll add a thinner band to the beginning by cutting into the earlier rows and picking-up stitches. Why do I always have to do things the hard way?

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I’m trying to roll with the fact that final Kozue isn’t going to look the way I’d hoped it would, and find that inner easy-going me that never was, and love the new look.

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In The Black

Just to prove I am knitting, here’s photo of my newest work-in-progress, Kozue by Kristen Johnstone.

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It’s a super easy pattern and, other than a few rows of stitch pattern, it’s all stockinette. Nothing wrong with that, especially since it seems to fit my lifestyle these days. I would like to do something more challenging, but I just don’t have the time nor the concentration these days. Embrace the stockinette stitch, it is your friend, busy mom of two little people in the dog days of summer. Busy Mom. Busy, busy, busy.

Things I’ve been up to….
July was about summer camps for my son, though it’s up for debate whether he appreciated them and, truth be told, driving him hither and yon everyday just about did me in (thankfully, little sister had only one camp this summer). Upon remarking on just how busy we were, someone told me that this was just the way it’s going to be from here on. I maintain that not in my world will my children be so hyper-scheduled again, not if I can help it. Though I had a prescient moment back in June during the last week before the end of the school year indicating that I was in for a busy summer when I overheard another mom at a school event gripe that in a week her ability to accomplish anything would end until September. Wow. She was not kidding.

Pennsylvania sister-in-law and her daughter was in town for the first half of summer.

Cousin from France and her husband stopped by for a first visit. I’ve found that having small children in the family are a great lure for distant, long lost family members.

We made a family trip to see Thomas the Tank Engine at the train museum in Snoqualmie. The kids had a great time, of course, but my son enjoyed it more than he did three in 2008, and this was partly because with his sister along he had someone to enjoy it with. As a matter of fact, our 2008 trip was not very memorable, and thankfully this one was.

There were birthday parties, mine and my daughter’s (3!). Here are some pics from my birthday dinner at Mistral Kitchen in Seattle.

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This was some sort of heirloom tomato salad with some basil puree underneath it. Heaven.

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This was a scallop with beets, and it too, was delicious.

Birthday gift from my man: an external keyboard for my iPad 2. Love. It. Flip the iPad over and the keyboard becomes a hard protective case. Love. It. Love my man for thinking of this for me.

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Friend from California (NoCal, to be specific) came to town, and with her visit I realized how much I wished she and her family would move back here, but there’s no chance of that, they’re smitten with NoCal. She and her hubby are old friends of Alex’s from high school, and of all his friends, I enjoy them the most.

And if I didn’t need more to do, I volunteered to head our somewhat embattled neighborhood landscape committee; people are really passionate about our community gardens around here. Of course, for some reason I’ve taken the job so seriously that I’m actually doing some of the labor myself, including transplanting shrubs, pruning plants in-between visits by our landscape service and personally shoveling a 150 cubic foot pile of wood chips left to sit and moulder for the past 12 months. Call me crazy.

Not that it’s been all bad, because with August I’ve really enjoyed not rushing out the door every morning now that camps are done, and taking the kids to some fun stuff has been a blast. Although I could do without another trip to the zoo for the rest of my life. It’s a great zoo, don’t get me wrong, but a zoo is no place for elephants, giraffes, hippos, lions, tigers and bears, and I really saw how unhappy these big animals are, even in a modern, “humane” zoo. The trips to the parks and play areas have been fun and it’s been fun watching the kids really develop a relationship and enjoy one another’s company. Soon we leave for a few short days at the ocean, and we’re looking forward to it. It’s our only vacation this year, since although our kids loved our spring trip to Kauai in 2010, our daughter proved to us that we should’ve waited longer before traveling in a plane, because she pretty much screamed in terror much of the flight to and from. But we have our sights set on 2012, just you wait.

Still, not much time for knitting or blogging, but this will change, I think, when my son goes into first grade this fall and my daughter starts preschool. And with September comes my very first knitting convention. Yes, I will be going to Vogue Knitting LIVE this September, so this should be interesting. I’ve already warned Alex, knitters don’t leave these events empty-handed; he beginning to have nightmares about how he and the kids will have to move out if I bring more yarn home…

Final pic: One of our resident frogs hanging-out on the front porch window box.

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Switcheroo

I’m making progress on Jacob’s Delight, but not as quickly as I’d hoped. Time is at a premium, and these days knitting time is shrinking.

Soon after starting with Lamb’s Pride, I just couldn’t stand how bright it looked, so I made my latest change to the color scheme, swapping-out the orange (Lamb’s Pride Autumn Harvest) for Lamb’s Pride Bittersweet and I sighed a sigh of relief. I just can’t fathom walking around in something that is really bright, you know? I mean it was looking downright collegiate, and I don’t want to play favorites. I could hear myself say, “These two colors together look like University of Washington colors and these two together look like University of Michigan colors, and…” I just couldn’t stand it. It doesn’t matter what college I went to, or whatever, I just didn’t want to feel like a walking sports booster. I’ve seen enough of that stuff in my years of work with a collegiate licensing department and I just don’t want to go there in my knitting. So, out went the orange and in went Bittersweet to tone it down.

Before the switch.

After the switch.

Rather than ripping back what I’d done, I just removed the offending orange and replaced the now vacant stitches with the new color using an embroidery needle.  I’m sure there’s some technical term for doing this out there, and if you know what it is, let me know.

This whole issue of bright colors wouldn’t be a problem if Lamb’s Pride were produced in more natural colors, like more heathers and such, because I like the yarn, but I just want a better range of colors to choose from. Anyway, now I feel better, and I think I can live with my color choices pretty well…although there is that bright yellow I’d like to tone down….

I’ve been having fun lately in my real life.  Let’s see…. Sunday we got a fraud notice on our primary charge card, so we shut it down.   Monday I discovered a sizable puncture to one of my car’s tires; it was so big that when I got out of the car I could hear it blowing out and by the time my daughter and I made it to a tire repair place (4 miles away) the tire was completely flat and we missed her Kindermusik class, to boot.  Today in downtown Seattle, Pioneer Square, without my handy VISA credit card (because of fraud) I found that paying for parking was practically impossible, plus I had only $10 on me in the form of two $5 bills, so I couldn’t even use a city parking machine; I finally found a manned garage that would take my American Express and arrived for my appointment 30-minutes late, but not before my open purse flopped out of the open car door at one point and into a 2″-deep disgustingly black puddle of God-knows-what kind of city skum in a Pioneer Square street (I wiped it down with anti-bacteria wipes), losing only a stick of lipstick.

On the plus side, after my appointment I followed the lunchtime crowd to Hole in the Wall BBQ on James between 2nd and 3rd and had a nice bowl of chili to make up for all the nastiness.

Happy Ending

What a week! This week I discovered that I’m allergic to something in bloom around our house, probably a tree, and I’ve never considered myself a person afflicted with seasonal allergies before. Teary eyes, sneezing, and a nose so drippy I couldn’t keep enough tissues around me to keep up with it. By Tuesday afternoon I got my hands on an homeopathic remedy and things have been improving ever since, and by Wednesday I was actually able to put mascara on again.

Last night, in celebration of my sister-in-law’s birthday, my mother and I met her at La Taberna Del Alabardero in Seattle for an evening of Spanish food and flamenco. However, not before arriving an hour late because we live across Lake Washington, east of Seattle, and I made the unfortunate choice of the wrong bridge, and chose the one with the even more unfortunate car-flipped-onto-its-roof which meant that all lanes of traffic were down to one. The evening ended well with a wonderful performance of authentic flamenco and singing by the Jesus Montoya Flamenco Company, despite a being served a very poor example of Spanish food by La Taberna.

Any unpleasantness this week was vastly improved by the sale at So Much Yarn in Seattle, conveniently located near Pike Place Market. Yes, I broke my yarn diet, but all because I fell hard for a skein of Pagewood Farm Yukon Hand Dyed Sock Yarn in Harvest colorway. I spotted this one skein the week before the sale and kept dreaming about it all week long. Being the first customer at the sale, I was relieved to find my one skein exactly where I’d left it during my previous visit.

The other deal-breaker for me was the 3 skeins of Dream in Color Classy (worsted) in Gothic Rose colorway. I dreamed about it almost as much as I dreamed of the Yukon yarn, and, yes, I dreamed in color.

And since I was off the wagon, I added 2 skeins of Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine in a warm golden brown.

Oh! I was so bad today… What’s knitter to do?

Whew! Back to school.

Heavenly trio: marocchino, Perrier, and croissant

I popped into French Bakery in Kirkland today for a quick bite to eat and a marocchino (an espresso drink), which Ms. Adventure’s in Italy so aptly called “Heaven in a Cup”. My son YM started preschool this week, and although I’ll miss him, it is a relief to me that he will be someplace to expend all that almost 5-year old energy in a safe, loving and supportive environment and under the guiding, patient and capable hands of his teachers, each of whom are my rock. You know, I think I learn more from his preschool teachers than he does.  So I took my daughter MR shopping at Sur La Table for a wedding gift for a friend: a Bialetti Moka Express.

Of course, the reason I went to French Bakery was to get a package of pre-ground Attibassi coffee to add to the wedding gift…or maybe that was the excuse to go there and have a croissant and a marocchino…okay, that’s the real reason I went. It was a lovely break, with YM in school and MR asleep in the Ergo carrier, it was 2:00 and I still hadn’t eaten lunch so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take a rest during a busy day.  To the gift package I added a copy of the cookbook Pasta Harvest, by Janet Fletcher, which I bought gently used (really never used) through a seller on Amazon.com (I guess it’s out-of-print, because new books aren’t available).  As some of you may be familiar, I have used my copy a few times, and I am sure that the foodie groom and his bride will enjoy this book too.

The day ended well with Alex and I leaving the babysitter with MR and YM crying as we made our escape to a parent orientation meeting for preschool.  While there I was able to put in a few more rows on Shawl Neck Cardigan.

I don’t know, this thing is taking too long for me. My fingers are getting itchy to move onto something else. You know, something I can see finished before next summer. Maybe some gloves or a sweater in something truly satisfying like a nice bulky wool.

[Sorry for the cell phone pictures, but sometimes you have to make due.]

Out and About

(I tried to post this on my phone last Saturday, but for some reason the WordPress app. for my iPhone was acting-up and wouldn’t let me post it after I’d written the whole thing.  These apps. that developers create for iPhone seem to be a bit unstable to varying degrees, and it just makes getting things done on the device kind of unpredictable (think: roll of the dice). I was relying on my phone to post because we had to erase everything off of my Mac and re-load it all, and so I couldn’t use my Mac until recently. So here I am a few days after my intended post date, re-typing (because iPhone doesn’t do cut and paste or copy!) the post onto my Mac and finally posting from my Mac instead of my iPhone, which was supposed to be my back-up for posting.  Go figure!  And then while trying to post from my Mac a couple of days ago, WordPress was acting-up and wouldn’t let me post again!  It just goes to show that the very devices that are supposed to make our lives easier, just make it harder to accomplish much.  So here’s my post.)

We were out and about Saturday doing a few errands, which included going back to the Genius Bar at Apple Store to out why my iPhone Calendar and Contacts weren’t syncing very well with my Mac.  And because we’re driving around, I have a hodge-podge of stuff to cover.

I saw a cute sweater at Nordstrom, in fact there were a lot of cute sweaters, all of them synthetic blends with great styling, but ridiculously overpriced for synthetic, even despite Nordstrom’s Half-Yearly Sale prices.

Err, well, take my word for it, despite the photo this sweater coat looks cute.

While riding in the car during our errands and knitting Veste Croisee, I lost one of my stitch markers, so I made a new one using an emergency seatbelt cutter (there is a practical application for that otherwise useless stocking stuffer from Christmas past afterall!) and a plastic straw.

Just-made stitch marker.
New stitch marker in action.

We found the first Carl’s Jr.® we’ve seen in this state in North Renton, Renton Highlands to be specific, and my husband was beside himself with joy (apparently, it’s one of three in Washington State).  Recently opened, the place was packed.  We can only hope that an In-N-Out Burger will soon follow suit.

We wrapped-up our drive with a stop at Newcastle’s best kept secret, Sweet Decadence Chocolates, which opened earlier this year in a storefront in an office building on Newcastle Way. Located just off Coal Creek Parkway and a couple of miles south of Factoria, this place is worth seeking. Although I will succumb to Milky Way bars and Junior Mints I am a chocolate snob, and often avoid such small start-up chocolatiers around here, because honestly, many of them just don’t understand good quality. Sweet Decadence is an exception, and my second visit proves that it’s worth visiting. In the ten minutes I was there, there was a steady trickle of regulars and the two women behind the counter were very enthusiastic about their product. Heck, their kitchen is covered in granite countertops. I think they’re serious about their product, don’t you? I came away with truffles flavored with port, raspberry, blackberry, pumpkin spice, and my new favorite, raspberry with habanero. If you ever find yourself on Coal Creek Parkway, stop in for some chocolate to sweeten your drive.

Papa’s got a brand new beard.

Went to my favorite noodle place for lunch the other day, Samurai Noodle. Located in Seattle’s Uwajimaya Village in Chinatown, or really just outside Uwajimaya next to the store’s loading dock on 5th Ave. S., so you have to enter from the outside (yes, they validate parking for the Uwajimaya lot), this place is among a handful of cool new places that have recently opened—surely, you’ve been to Unicorn Crepes (Japanese crepes) at 421 6th Ave. S. already. Samurai serves great ramen, and though it seats only about 18 people, it doesn’t keep the faithful away and they wait quietly and patiently, often outside, for a place to sit. Yes, but this isn’t about Samurai or Unicorn, it’s about the new kid in town, Beard Papa’s.

For years I’ve listened to my husband go on about this place and when he caught wind that Beard Papa, which can be found in California, Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Canada, was finally opening in Seattle, I knew that it would put an end my having to hear about their cream puffs. Little did I know that I would go to desperate measures for the puffy balls of cream-filled pastry my husband so craved.

So, after lunch I head into Uwajimaya to discover that the object of my husband’s gastronomic desire was open for business, and I take my place in line. What to order? Beard Papa’s made it simple, offering cream puffs in three flavors, vanilla (original), matcha, and chocolate, so I decide on one of each. But then the little handwritten sign at the cash register stops me short: cash only. I have $1 and some loose change in my wallet and they are $2.15 each plus tax, I’ve come about 20 miles in from the suburbs so who knows when I’ll be back next, I’d already texted my husband that it’s open, I’m now beyond the point of turning back and I can’t go home empty-handed now. So harkening back to the day when as a kid I would deplete my savings to buy a new toy, I emptied the contents of my wallet into my hand and counted every cent, but still came 20-cents short of one cream puff. Aaarrrggghhh!!! To make it more frustrating. it was now 1:45 and I had to be home by 2:30 to relieve my mother who was babysitting my son, and at this point I could still make it home in time, but then my husband and those blasted cream puffs!!! Bank machine was out of the question, since I make it a point to not remember the PIN or keep the PIN with me so I don’t use it. So I run out to the car and dig up my meter money and come up with just enough for two cream puffs (matcha and chocolate). Well, it made a good story as I explained to my mother why I was 15 minutes late, although somehow “late due to cream puffs” didn’t seem to impress her much. Oh, and the cream puffs are quite nice.

Behold: The Cream Puff