Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Godfather

Uncle Joe aka the godfather finally meets Cookie & Kiss. We flew in yesterday and Cookie & Kiss greeted us in high style. They were dressed up and looking cute as ever!

Q & Joe 1

Joe gets his hands on a little Cookie. The hubby is great with kids. No fear. I think it's the Italo-politico in him. Kissing babies is in his blood.

F & Joe
The hubby was right in there feeding a hungry Kiss. See...a natural.

Me & Q
I got some lovin' too!

the kids1
Yeah, we know we're cute. What you gonna do about it?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mashed potatoes and dessert

Thank you everyone for your kind words and support. They are very much appreciated and mean a lot to me. The dissertation process and writing, in general, can be a lonely place. This is why I started going to SnB. To get out and be sociable. Now I have some of the bestest friends of my life.

Just wanted to report that I have made progress with the writing. I have produced 5 pages in the last two days. For boot camp we are using this book by Joan Bolker.

Of course this book has been collecting dust on my shelf for years. I have even read most of it. However, this time I have been more attentive in my reading. I am going to attribute this to my new open and curious approach, rather than my usual digging in and resisting approach.

One of the methods I am trying is the many pages method. For this method you select the number of pages you are going to write in a day. This is supposed to promote fast writing. Of course, last time I read the book I picked 5 pages a day. Then I freaked out about writing 5 pages a day and never wrote a one. This time I have chosen to write 2 to 3 pages a day and follow some of the other guidelines outlined in the book.

1. Write first.
2. Make a mess.
This means ignore spelling, sentence structure, and organization. Make notes to self about the process. Don't hunt for words. List3 or 4 alternatives/choices/senses. Just keep the flow of writing.
3. Rewards
Use positive reinforcement

I have been getting up in the morning and writing first thing. Turning on XM Cafe (Starbuck's radio without the caffeine and crowds) and getting to it. I am usually done by 11-ish. I have been making a big mess. It is freeing to ignore spelling and to write crappy, convoluted sentences.

For a reward I have been going to yoga. Bolker calls this the Grandma's Mashed Potato Law meaning you can't have dessert until you have finished eating your mashed potatoes. This law means you can reinforce a desired behavior, like writing, by pairing it with another behavior that you love and will do for its own sake. So you are supposed to find something that you can’t live without and then not allow yourself to do it until you have accomplished your writing goal for the day. I love mashed potatoes and dessert. These two things are my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner. So I am embracing the mashed potatoes (writing) and the dessert (yoga). Yoga practice is great for reminding me to breathe, be in the moment, listen to my body, and to stay curious and playful. These are all things I am trying to apply to my paper too. Mashed potatoes and dessert is awesome!

The first writing challenge will come this weekend as I am traveling with the hubby to see Cookie & Kiss! The hubs has not met the babies yet. My strategy is to take advantage of being captive on plane flights for my usual2 -3 pages and giving myself a one page goal for Saturday and Sunday. I have to admit that I am scared to death to have other people reading my pages next Tuesday but it's too late now I am committed to the process.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Boot Camp: Week 1

For the next six weeks I will be engaged in a dissertation boot camp. I do not usually discuss my dissertation because to be quite frank I am ashamed that I still working on it these 10 years after doing my fieldwork. Yet I struggle along getting something done most years. This time I am not saying to myself that I will finish my paper in the next six weeks. I usually have very high and unrealistic goals so that I essentially set myself up for failure every time. Yes I have knocked my poor head on this wall many, many, times and have not learned my lesson. However, I think I might be in a different frame of mind this time.

One of my fellow boot campers said it best today when she stated, "I don't know anything about myself as a writer." Amen, sister! Neither do I. I have identified myself as a graduate student and yes I have written papers, loads of papers, but I have never called myself a writer. My intentions during this boot camp are to be compassionate towards myself and to explore and observe what and how it is to be a writer and to develop a writing habit. Apparently this professor, Robert Boice, does research on faculty productivity. He found that procrastinator and binge writers (hello! that's me) make tenure less often than productive writers. Well, I was never sure I would make a successful academic and apparently my bad habits are not in my favor.

Another thing I realized today is that I am a lousy project manager. To be fair to myself it never occurred to me to think of my dissertation in this way, as a project, in need of management. Duh. I am usually just focussed on my need to, or lack of, writing and that it would all come to together if I wrote something. I am always losing track of where I am and what I am doing. This also falls under being a procrastinator and unorganized. Although in class one person confessed to having her electronic files in a hot mess. She can't remember where she files her work. I do have a file system. Yay! I have also realized that parts of my dissertation are not in the first draft stage any more. Things are actually coming together and I am farther along then I give myself credit for. Why are we so hard on ourselves?

So I am giving up the critic/editor/procrastinator for a period of 6 weeks to explore new ways of writing and managing my time. This is a different headspace for me. A more open one. A curious place with room for thoughtful observation. I want to be open and willing and available to do the work. To show up and engage in the process and see what path it goes down. To explore being a writer. I will keep you posted on my new wilderness.

Monday, June 23, 2008

First Bounty
1st bounty
3 Roma tomatoes from the garden.

vernon ware
This is a Vernon Ware platter that I picked up for $3 at Out of the Closet, a local thrift store, last week. I love retro dishes with turquoise blue on them.

Tyler, my nephew, came over on Saturday. We went to the movies and saw Kung Fu Panda. I really enjoyed the story and the animation. It was one of the best animated movies I have seen in a long time. The movie was a great escape from the heat this weekend too! Later Ty and the hubby went into pizza production. They made whole wheat pizza dough & shredded up the mozzarella and parmesan and threw some pies. We used the fresh tomatoes from the garden and those pizzas were elevated to a whole new level. The tomatoes were sweet and juicy. It was like having candy on top of my pizza. Ty puts Ranch dressing on his pizza. Where do kids get this stuff? Joe found it profane. He likes to put on airs and forgets how funny kids are because they are kids!
Ty & Bodhi
Later we watched some TV with Bodhi.

On Sunday I had some sort of attack. Not as bad as Carla's attack, but an attack none the less. It started with some cramping during yoga class and then by the time I got home I was achy all over. After my hot shower I crawled under a blanket with the chills while the temperature soared outside. It was too hot to have the chills. I was under the weather as they say. I did manage to do some knitting on my February Lady Sweater.

But then I discovered that I dropped a stitch.
dropped a stitch
DANG! I was too sick to try and figure it out. I am pretty good at picking up the stitch when it's stockinette but not so good with the garter and I said phooey until later.

Feeling better today & ready to fix my stitch!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Party Train to February

The famous Zimmerman February Baby Sweater.
This is a darned tootin' cute sweater.


This one is knit in Artyarns Supermerino (2.5 skeins) in a color called Monet's Garden (501) on size 7 needles.


I love the buttons. They are from Michael Levine's, which I bought on one of many excursions with Carla. They look like high gloss Skittles. Just perfect hard candy buttons. They really make the sweater. Funny how buttons have the magic power to transform a garment. This sweater was originally made with Kiss in mind, when she was just a tadpole really. But now what is a baby going to do with a wool sweater in the sweltering heat of Texas? Going to have to play with some cool, light and breathable cotton for those cute god babies of mine.

Now the current rage is the February Lady Sweater. Everyone is casting on...Ellen & Carla & me too.


This is the yarn I will be using. It's Takhi Donegal Tweed in wine. I picked up 10 skeins in the Black Sheep Knittery blowout. I was contemplating what I was going to buy when Carla asked me what was in my stash. Holy Cow...a pile of tweedy delicious yarn at my disposal! I have wound the yarn into nice yarn cakes and I cast on last night at SnB. I am on the party train to February.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tag I'm it

This is the first time I have been tagged for a meme. Ellen got me.

Here are the rules: The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

1) What was I doing 10 years ago? Full time grad student & part time front desk at an office. Didn’t know how to knit or crochet. GASP! I know it’s hard to believe. I feel like I have been doing this my whole life.

2) What are 5 things on my to-do list for today? Go to market & office; start abstract; cut fabric for didgeridoo; watch EuroCup Germany v. Portugal

3) Snacks I enjoy: Cookies; ice cream, especially mint chocolate chip; raw almonds; farmer’s market trail mix; chocolate covered goji berries; chips and salsa. This list could get really long, really fast.

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire: The usual things like pay off debts & send nephew to college. Buy a villa in Umbria with some land and olives trees. Go to culinary school, but which one? Cordon Bleu or CIA? Attend Penland School of Craft. Cook, craft, & do yoga in my artist loft in Umbria. Visitors are welcome.

5) Places I have lived: I am a native Angelena. A year in Las Vegas (fieldwork). Four years in Raleigh, NC.

6) Jobs I have had: hair model for Sebastian (Does anyone remember Cassandra 2000? Did anyone carry a big can of Shaper in their purse?); bartender; casino cocktail server; PBX operator for Nordstrom; retail whore for Benetton & Nordstrom. As a joke I once said I was a fluff girl on my 10-year high school reunion questionnaire. That backfired on me when it was printed in the reunion program. I don’t think it helped that I showed up looking like a big tranny (picture navy blue chiffon dress like Marilyn’s but shorter, platform shoes, Shirley Temple curls, false eyelashes and ultra-tan after a trip to Cuba) and my date was a woman.

7) Friends I want to know more about: We all run with the same she-wolves so come on girls get your howl/meme on. Of course anyone else that would like to share is more than welcome.

This is a picture of my sugar pup, Tank, sleeping with her Bobo.

I love this dog.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Knitter's Block is the new blocking tool on the block. It works really well. I have always been a little afraid of blocking due to lack of space and critters running around. I have been blocking of late and have had great results.


Here are the blocks at work. They fit like puzzle pieces so you can make all kinds of configurations.
This is the Mossy Jacket on the racks. This little sweater is very sweet. It is knit from the top down and has an off center button band. It was a very quick knit.

Oh and a little beret too.

Pattern: Mossy Jacket
Size: 6 months
Yarn: di VĂ© Teseo orange 28222/ yellow 28221
Needles: 10 & 10 1/2
Buttons: Stash
LOVEd it. Would do it again.

Beret: I made it up.
Would do it again & take better notes.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

DIY: Dinner

This past weekend we went down to Carlsbad to visit our friends Michele & Jeff. The boys planned out the menu and had some big things planned like cheese and sausage making. Oh yes, you heard right. This was an eight hour jam session of non-stop kitchen stadium action for one delicious meal.

First up 30-minute mozzarella from the book Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 Homemade Cheeses by Ricki Carroll. The hubby ordered the book and a cheese making kit from Wine, Beer & Cheese Making Supplies in Woodland Hills, CA. This is the only place in Los Angeles where you can buy rennet.

The hubby did call the only water buffalo dairy in Southern California and tried to get Buffalo milk but he was unsuccessful in trying to charm the old Italian woman out of a gallon of milk. He had to settle for regular milk.

Joe separating the curds from the whey.

Time to shape the cheese


Three lovely balls of fresh mozzarella.

Now it's time to make some sausage.
Jeff is grinding the meat: pork shoulder.

This is going to be spicy Italian sausage with a blend of pork, chicken, and turkey. Jeff had a special sheet with the careful calculations of herbs and spices. This sausage was made with lots of love.

These are the tasting patties to make sure the spice blend is perfect. These tasty bits were a welcome teaser of things to come.

One cheese isn't enough. It never truly is. Now Joe is making ricotta.



Time to stuff the sausage.
The sausage casing is pretty gross so I didn't take a picture of it. This was pretty labor intensive. The boys were at it for an hour or was it two? There was a lot of sausage to be made.

Meanwhile, I was called upon to make sauce. Michele & I were previously told to get the heck out of the kitchen. Ladies, when does that ever happen?! I LOVE IT! We just have to sample most of the time when these two get together, which we are very happy to do. But now I had a job to do.

Here I am adding some bay leaf to the sauce.

look what we did
the sausage is done! Here are the men and their meat! So proud!

Joe also made bread.
A bendy baguette.

And a beautiful focaccia made with fresh herbs from Jeff's garden.

There was fresh pasta to be made and tasted.
freash pasta
Michele could hardly wait. Fresh pasta...yum!

Eight hours later and dinner is finally ready.
Caprese: Made with Jeff's first of the season tomatoes, basil, homemade mozzarella & Michele's vinaigrette.

Herbed focaccia

spicy italian sausage
Grilled spicy Italian sausage

Rapini (gotta get your greens)

Ravioli filled with ricotta and herbs.

Dinner was sooooo delicious. We ate every morsel on our plates. There was talk of making green tea frozen yogurt for dessert. But after the labor intensive dinner, we all opted for some lounging, snoozing and watching Iron Chef on the couch.

The feasting never ends. Here is breakfast the next morning.
This was a jerk sausage made with pork, chicken, and jerk seasonings. Scrambled eggs with mozzarella topped with fresh tomato and avocado.

I haven't eaten anything since Sunday morning.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Circus for Breakfast

Well I left town for four days and came home to some animals that have completely lost their manners. I made a little breakfast and was coming around to sit at the dining room table when what do I see.

Tank catching a sunny spot on the table! I admit I was absolutely tickled by this and, instead of chasing her off the table, I took a few snaps and then told her she could sit in the chair.

She thought about it for a moment and tried to give me the "look" but she decided the chair had a bit more sun upon it. This dog takes her tanning very seriously. If she were a human she would be unnaturally orange and have and an oh so Sunset Tan.

Meanwhile...back in the kitchen

Koi is skulking around the countertops! This is a cat that rarely comes out of the bedroom.

I have paused from my breakfast to take more snaps.

Look at the face of innocence and bold defiance. I wonder what else they were up to while I was gone? No good that is for sure.

I went to Texas to celebrate my friend Charissa's birthday.

Here she is wearing the locket I got her for her birthday. Yes, it has pictures of Cookie & Kiss inside. You thought I went to Texas just to get my hands on those babies, well, that was only half the story. HA! We had a lovely day celebrating her birthday. We went and had a casual gourmet lunch and then had mani/pedis at Pretty Nails. We figured out that I frequent Pretty Nails more than I do any place in LA. Afterwards we grabbed a Jamba Juice and went to Target for some shopping. Later at home we had some friends come over and we had Sundaes to celebrate and to top off her day with a cherry!

Here are some of the more rambunctious guests for Sundaes. Freddy & Robert are twins (they have the same eyes) and Sam is wearing red.

What? You are expecting some cute baby photos?!
Oh all right, just because you asked.

This post was so long I am sooooo sleepy.

Yep, That's all folks!