Friday, August 29, 2008

Meet Lucille


Lucille is a Bernina 830 that I picked up a couple of weeks ago. She was posted on the SnB group and I was intrigued. I read more about Bernina 830's here.

Here's a great quote, "The Bernina 830 is one of those rare and happy mechanical occurrences where the manufacturer simply got everything right (kind of like a 1957 Chevrolet!). These metal and mechanical marvels purr along as smoothly today as when they first left the dealer showroom."

An email was sent out to inquire more and, well, here she is.

Her former owner & I found out we were kindred spirits from yoga practice, years long dissertation struggles (she finished! It can be done.), to dachshunds. In our half hour encounter, we never even got to talking about sewing and knitting, except about the sewing machine. She only had Lucille about a year and hadn't been sewing in the last 4 months and never had any troubles. She did mostly quilting on her. I took Lucille home. The name came to me on the ride home.

Lucille got a check up at Tanner's Sew N Vac She had a little gunky spot that stuck her on the straight stitch but she is ready to run. Johnny told me while the paint might be faded a bit on the outside, her motor was pristine and like new. YAY!

Lucille, welcome to your new home!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I am knitting something

Before I kicked out of the Knitter's Union, I thought I better post about something on the needles.

This is the Feather and Fan Comfort Shawl. It is still a work in progress with maybe one skein to g0. The yarn is Noro Silk Garden and, boy, is it lovely. This is my first real big outing with Noro and now I know what the Noro mania is all about. I find the Kureyon pretty scratchy but the Silk Garden gives you the fabulous colorways without the scratchiness. My inspiration for the shawl came from through the loops If you are into sock patterns you have to check out Through the Loops. Really, you sock knitters go there now

What I really want to talk about is my new needles.
Yep, Knit Picks Options
They are great. I am a big fan of the Addi's but I was needing lots o' needles lately and that adds up. Carlita Dee bought some Options and told me I needed to get some. She is wise in these matters so I got my Options. I LOVE them. Really and truly.
The tips are sharper than the regular Addi's, which makes knitting faster and easier. I started this shawl on Addi's and then switched over to the Options on a 60-inch cable. Whoa, there was a noticeable difference in the ease of knitting due to the fabulous tips. You can also buy extra needles and cables for the sizes you use most. No more switching out projects to stitch holders when you need that size 8 needle, just snap on the extra needles to the extra cable and start knitting. It's genius!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

6 Random Facts


1. My favorite candy bar of all time is Annabelle's Big Hunk. Basically I am a fool for some nougat, but the Big Hunk has the nostalgic taste of childhood in it's favor.

2. I got suspended in 8th grade for fighting with a boy. His name was Dwight and he was hurling racial slurs in my direction all semester in P.E. class. One day I didn't dress for class because Aunt Flo was in town and I was all crampy. Dwight sauntered by the bleachers and called me a "nip" or a "jap". I forget which it was, probably both. In my PMS-ness I told him to shut the f-up. So he came up to me and slapped me in the face, I slapped him back, he slapped me again and walked away. It was on. I was off the bench and we were rolling around on the soccer field. Brock, another student, big stoner, was also on the bleachers and I could hear him saying, "Dude, get off of her" but that was the extent of his help. Eventually Mr. North, noticed the fracas and sent us both off to see the counselor. Even though Dwight was the instigator, I was suspended for a day because I hit him back. In my nerdy, this is going on my permanent record, kind of way I was devastated. Mom worked too far away to pick me up. Home was almost 2 miles from school and I cried as I walked all the way home. I had to call my mom when I got home. I thought I was going to be in so much trouble. She completely surprised me when she told me she was proud of me for sticking up for myself. Her reaction and words of support turned a really rotten day into a much better one. Thanks, Mom. Love you!

3. I taught myself to read music and play the piano when I was in 4th grade. My 4th grade BFF DeLynn and her 3 sisters took piano lessons. I was so fascinated. DeLynn taught me a little bit of Ode to Joy and I wanted to play more. I begged and begged my mom for a piano. We couldn't really afford one but my mom found one in the Pennysaver for one hundred dollars. This piano had seen better days It was a an old bar piano clad in yellowed white vinyl and the b-flat was busted. But it was my piano and I taught myself to play with a silent b-flat.

4. If I were stuck on a desserted...ha that's funny. I meant deserted island, but a desserted island sound much better with chocolate waterfalls and licorice rope vines for swinging on to banana popsicle trees. Oh yum. But if I could have one food on the deserted island it would be ice cream, so my island would be desserted too.

5. Like Paige, I almost drowned when I was about 4 years old. Four adults poolside, two being my parents and me floating at the bottom of the pool. Dad jumped in, me all blue, everyone freaked out, me spitting up loads of water and returning to life. How I recall it, I was trying to touch all the steps down to the bottom and then nothing. However, this maybe a made up memory, as I was so little. My mom's memory is that I liked to hang on the edge of the pool and walk my way around the perimeter with my hands and then must have slipped in.

6. My favorite lunch as a kid in elementary school was a bologna sandwich with mayo on white bread, Lay's potato chips, and a red apple.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cookie & Kiss' Baptism

Our fabulous weekend in the Midwest ended with the baptism of Cookie & Kiss. The ceremony & brunch was in Kenosha. We had a great time. Cookie & Kiss got to meet lots of family & friends who ventured out to Kenosha to share in the occasion. It was a real debut for them. They were complete angels through the baptism. We also got to meet lots of family and friends that we have heard about over the years of our friendship with Charissa & Joe. Really great people. Those kids are surrounded by love and good wishes. That kind of love and support just warms my heart. Being with family, even by extension or association, was an absolute pleasure.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Country Roads

The United States is a beautiful place. We have amazing cities like Chicago, which offers lots to explore and do. But drive out of the city and there is land to behold. We got a chance to head up to Wisconsin. After navigating out of the city we hit I-47 N and out of the city.

I 47 corn fields

I 47 more corn

I 47 farm house 2

I 47 horses
Gorgeous, right? Rolling green fields of corn, quaint farm houses, red barns, horses, ponds and wildflowers dotting the landscape. It makes you have a conversation with the hubby about if you could live in the country. We lived in Raleigh, NC but it was a definite suburban experience even though we were surrounded by lots of green country & loblolly pine trees & had a creek running through the backyard. I sometimes think I could when I think if I had a country house I could have a herd of dachshunds, a craft room, and a barn to stow my stash and the peace and quiet to make things. Nice fantasy until I need to eat a gourmet meal like at Avec or I need to run to Michael Levine's to buy some unneeded fabric.

dream over.

Hebron DQ
Then you drive by the small town Frosty Freeze & *POP* fantasy back on. Ice cream always does the trick. You can't see the sign in the tiny picture, but in the window it says, "Keep the summer alive, EAT HERE." The summer was alive and well with loads of people enjoying a taste of summer and the perfect weather.

The fantasy was alive and well when we arrived at a very cute house where the family of Cookie & Kiss have gathered for the week near the shores of Lake Geneva. (Really the lake was a mile away but that's a small detail.) We were all enjoying each other's company (8 adults & two adorable babes), catching up & having fun, watching some Olympics. I was stretching, doing a couple of chaturangas and downward dogs when I noticed some movement in the carpet. I thought it was a spider, but no, the was a TICK! Ticks freak me out!

*POP* fantasy over.

File in memory banks...not to move to country. Ticks live in the country, along with chiggers, and other nasty beasts. Yep, the city girl comes shining through in full force when faced with a prehistoric insect that sucks blood.

I am sure the party that was responsible for bringing a tick into the house were one of these two rascals.


Meet Maddie & Maxx. These are Grandpa & Grandma's pups. Maddie is a scruffy new addition that was rescued about an hour before the gas chamber opened. Close call for such a cutie. After the tick incident we had a good long talk with them about not bringing hitch hikers into the house. They said they would try but that the hitch hikers could be very persistent in these parts. We told them all about stranger danger and the dangers of bringing strangers home so they agreed to leave hitch hikers at the curb.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Taste of Chicago

chicago style
This is a Chicago style hot dog, which consists of an all beef hot dog on a poppy seed bun topped with mustard, onion, sweet pickle relish, dill pickle spear, tomato wedges or slices, peppers, and a dash of celery salt. We opted for one sans onions. It is super delicious but messy. We hear the best place for a Chicago style dog is either Gold Coast Dogs (on Wabash) or the Weiner's Circle (near Lincoln Park).

Both of these locations were north of where we were staying. The Air and Water Show was going on this past weekend in Lincoln Park. The hordes of humanity were moving in that direction so we rented bikes and went South. We still managed to be impressed with the jets flying overhead.
Air Show1
Air show 2
Air show 3
and AWAY!
Air show 5
four in formation
stealthy stealth bomber, which was much more impressive in person.

Of course, this song was going through my head the entire time I road my bike along the shores of Lake Michigan. Please press play and enjoy the following photos.
Bike ride - fountain
And we're off...
Bike ride - marina
Along the shores of the deep blue lake
Bike ride Soldier field
a stop at Soldier field.
O & N - SF
the new stadium rises out of the old...impressive
we went this far and turned around.
goof ball
the hubby looks cute on his bike
Buckingham Fountain
baby & hot dog
the hubby looks even cuter delivering a dog.

Old Timers
The Old Timers (Lake & Michigan) is a great place for yummy pancakes and a mean breakfast club sandwich. Yeah, a club with egg, bacon, lettuce, tomato stacked on three high toast. De-lish!

For the serious foodie, you have to try Avec. This place is so good we ate there two nights in a row. They do not take reservations, the place is small and there is always a wait. On Thursday we went at 10pm and had no problem getting a table, which you often share with other patrons. On Friday night, we arrived at 10pm but we weren't seated until around 11pm. Yes it is worth the wait.

Thursday's dinner

Peaches with pancetta vinaigrette, celery & pine nuts
Peaches with corn vinaigrette, basil, corn, chili flake & haricot vert

Large plates

Rasmussen cheese curds, sausage, fennel, apple & arugula pizza
Wood oven-roasted half chicken "panzanella" with bread, heirloom tomato, kalamatas, golden raisins & mint


Il Brecciarolo 2003


Polenta cake topped with tart cherries & creme fraiche

The antipasti was absolutely refreshing, inventive and full of flavor. Peaches and corn? Peaches and celery? It sounds like two strange combinations but they were very, very good. It totally opened my mind to how fresh and fun a summer salad can be. I can't wait to get to the farmer's market this weekend to try my hand at recreating them. Now, let me wax poetic about the pizza and the bread. The bread comes hot to the table and has the most buttery and creamy flavor and texture without any actual butter. I believe the pizza crust is from the same dough and makes a delicious thin, yet bubbly, wood fired crust. The Rasmussen cheese curds come by way of a farmer in Michigan who has five special cows. The cheese melted to a consistency of hollandaise and was super creamy. I love sausage and fennel on a pizza. It's my favorite pizza here at home, courtesy of Cheebo. But the addition of apples, arugula and a peppery vinaigrette was sheer genius. This was a transcendent pizza. The chicken was very moist and flavorful, surrounded with bits of chewy bread, tasty tomatoes and olives. Can this dinner get any better? Oh yes it can with polenta cake for dessert. I have to admit I am not a fan of polenta. Polenta seems like a food stuff that would be right up my alley, but I am not crazy about it. This polenta cake was impressive to my not so lovin' the polenta palate. It was a sweet and crusty cornbread but with amazing savory aspects like a hint of rosemary and salt. The tarty tartness of the cherries and the sour taste of the creme fraiche created a perfect balance. I could have licked the plate. The wine was a mix of montepulciano & sangiovese grapes. It was a perfect, drink everyday type bottle of wine.

Friday's Dinner

Cauliflower, ancho chili, pine nuts & pancetta vinaigrette

Small Plate

chorizo-stuffed madjool dates with smoked bacon & piquillo pepper-tomato sauce
pan roasted flank steak with rapini, roasted corn, lima beans & smoked paprika butter

Large Plate

"deluxe" focaccia with taleggio cheese, truffle oil & fresh herbs


Il Brecciarolo 2003


Raspberry sorbet with shortbread cookies

The antipasti was not as exciting on Friday as it was on Thursday. Cauliflower is not my favorite veggie but I thought maybe they could change my mind. Not so much. However, the stuffed dates were out of this world. Really out of this world. The steak was a great combo with the bitterness of the rapini and the sweetness of the corn all yummy in smoky butter. Now I have already describe how good the bread and pizza was and the focaccia did not disappoint. This is a definite must try if you visit the restaurant. We had the same wine because it was great and affordable ($38). We went a little lighter for dessert and it was perfect. The sorbet was light and not too sweet, with thin, tasty shortbread cookies for crunch.

This is a great place to eat. It is very hip and small, which translates to loud and tightly packed. You do have to wait to eat so don't come too hungry. It is completely worth the wait.

Now if you want the best gelato in Chicago you gotta get outta town to Cicero.
Freddy's Pizza & Grocery
1600 S. 61st Avenue @ 16th Street
Cicero, IL

It's about 20 minutes from downtown in what used to be the Italian neighborhood but seems to be in transition with Elena's Tacos across the street. Was this the best gelato in Chicago? YES! YES it was. In fact I haven't had gelato this good since I was in Italy last September. No joke. There is not a great gelato place in LA. I tried them all when I got home. They all lack the remarkable creaminess of gelato. Freddy's had it hands down. So good and brought back a flood of memories from last summer. That's how you know something is good. It takes you places. We also tried the pizza. It was Chicago style pizza, which means deep dish. But it was not too deep and had an amazing sauce. If I could have I would have tried the Italian ices because they looked and smelled amazing. But you can only stuff yourself so much. Lord knows I tried. Why do you think we went on a bike ride?! We certainly did our best tasting our way around Chicago.

We wanted to check out this place...
red head
but we never made it.
We had to leave something to look forward to the next time we visit Chicago.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My kind of town, Chicago is

The hubby and I got away for the weekend to Chicago.

A friend let us borrow her corporate apartment for the weekend.
Check out the amazing view.
Room with a view
Millenium Park
Room with a view 2
Michigan Avenue

It's nice to have generous friends who live in high places.

On Friday morning we went on an architectural river cruise given by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. I highly recommend this 90 minute tour. It's a great way to get acquainted with the city and see it's phenomenal buildings.

After the tour you really start to notice all the amazing architecture surrounding you throughout the city. This is truly an amazing city.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hitting the Road

The hubby and I are flying out tomorrow for Chicago. We are going to explore the city for a couple of days and then head up to Kenosha for Cookie & Kiss' baptism. Today I embroidered their names on their christening gowns. I took some pictures but they didn't turn out very well. I'll have to post pics later. Still have lots of things to do in order to get out of Dodge.

Here are C & K as teeny tiny tater tots.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Late night

Wow...super tired today.
Those dang Olympics go on for hours and into the wee hours.
Off to take a nap so I don't miss anything tonight.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Just because

Friday the hubby came home with these just because.
They are so beautiful

There is even a bird's nest in the arrangement.
I love love love it. It was such a surprise. I am loved.

Speaking of birds nests. We have had a hummingbird nest under the eaves of the house in the backyard. The baby bird took it's first leap from the nest on Friday morning. I just happened to see him take his virgin flight while I was sitting at the dining room table writing a post. Here he is none the worse for fly/falling out of the nest.
He is teenyweeny. That is a bamboo leaf next to him. Since we have dogs I gathered him up and put him back in the nest.
The nest is about the size of an egg cup. This is the second time we have had a hummingbird nest in this spot. He made his second flight later in the afternoon and I let him buzz are the ground in the backyard until it was dark and bedtime. He didn't really have any lift yet. I made a bed for the night on a back yard pillow. He was there in the morning, but I was starting to worry because I hadn't seen the mama bird the day before. She showed up though and then started teaching junior the basics of flying with lots of feeding between attempts. It seems you burn a lot of energy flapping your wings. It was better than watching the Olympics. Nature is so intriguing. I could have watched these two all day, but we were off for dinner with friends.
When we got home later that evening the baby bird was no where to be found. I checked before letting the dogs out. The baby has successfully flown the coop or at least our backyard and into the wilds beyond.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Sew Obssessed Apron Swap

Here is the apron I made for the swap. My swap partner lives in the land down under. Hopefully she likes it. I love it. The recipe fabric was perfect for a kitchen apron and the bees just knock my socks off.


I made a pair of potholders to go with it.

Here is the bias tape in action.
bias tape
I love the way it turned out.
Can you see the recipe print on the fabric? Custard cream. Add butter. That sounds loverly to me.

apron 7 potholders
It makes a nice little set for a busy kitchen bee. Swaps are so much fun. Can't wait to see what my swap partner creates!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Adventures in Bias Tape

The Ravelry group Sew Obsessed is having an apron swap. The swap was organized by my BFF Carleetle-D. While at Bolt I found my apron pattern and fabric. The pattern called for bias tape so I figured this would be a good time to learn how to make my own. From the wide world of internet I found two tutorials that were very helpful. This one for great written instructions and this one for the photos.

bias tape1

bias tape 2
It's very important to cut on the lines.

After a whole lot of ironing this is what you get.
bias tape 3
Loads of bias tape.

My practice bias tape was in purple batik.
purple bias tape
I have to admit that I was too afraid to start with my super cute fabric. Yes I did buy a bias tape maker but I didn't really like it. It didn't run smoothly over the joins so I had to bust it out the old fashioned way. With the iron.

Just a word of the bias tape in front of the iron not behind.

Ouchy. I reached around the iron to move the bias tape and GOTCHA!

Making bias tape is fairly easy. The hardest part for me was the ironing. Mostly because I don't like to iron & obviously I shouldn't be handling such an unwieldy tool. I once burnt my stomach while ironing naked. Ironing is for the clothed and heavy handed. Oh yea, and the patient too. I love sewing and will make friends with my iron in time. I hope. But it is so satisfying to learn something new and have a new stash of stuff to show for it & to sew with.
bis tapes 2
Woohoo! Look at all that tape!