[travel] San Diego

I'm in lovely San Diego this week. It is truly lovely here- the sky is blue and the constant breeze off of the ocean is keeping the temperature lower than at home in Vermont. Crazy.

I haven't done too much sight-seeing but this is the town of Sea World, a huge zoo, beaches, a large Naval Station and more. I've only been to the Convention Center (wish it was for the Comic Con and not a GIS con), the Gaslamp District, Old Town and Little Italy. I had surprisingly disappointing Mexican food in Old Town. My hotel is right near Little Italy and I'm loving it. Pasta pasta, num num num. The Carbonara was too heavy for this weather (although I enjoyed the panchetta in it- I've only made it with bacon) but the 'capellini amore' (angel hair with shrimp, zucchini, spinach in a light tomato sauce) was perfect. A dinner at a British pub yielded an okay burger and fries but the beers I had were excellent- Hobgoblin and Smithwick. A high class Italian eatery brought me a $15 smoked salmon sandwich and I have to say... It was worth every penny. Now I can make it at home (just smoked salmon, brie, capers, red onions) for much cheaper.

Anyway, I've been going food crazy here but I don't care since I'm walking a mile to the convention center every morning, walking a mile in/around the convention center for various talks and exhibits, walking a mile back to the hotel and walking a little more to forage for food and drinks. My legs are sore and I've got blisters on my feet. Who cares when the food is this good?


[knitting] Finished: Socks

Socks for Dollar's step-father:

Ankle socks for me:

These were knit mostly during my Columbus, OH trip: waiting for planes, riding on planes, in my hotel room. I used leftover yarn from other socks: Lion Brand Wool Ease and Plymouth Encore Worsted.


[knitting] Finished: Interweave Knits Lace Nightie

Here it is. It's a little boxy/potato-sacky but it's cute. I need to check the washing instructions for Webs' Longmeadow yarn but I'd love to machine wash/dry it.

I used 5.2 balls of Longmeadow in 'Lilac'. I did a single crochet around the entire upper edge and knit two straps that cross in the back. I don't know if the straps will be too short after I wash it or stretch out of shape after wearing the nightie a few times. We'll see. Right now they're the perfect length.


[cooking] Herb Garden

I went to the farmer's market on Saturday to pick up some plants. I don't have a green thumb and haven't really planted anything before. The lady from Four Springs Farm was very kind and helped me out after I asked her, "I'd like some herbs... What, uh, what should I do?" I bought several, went to Longacres Nursery for the windowbox, soil, and a couple more herbs. At home, after assembling:

Left to right: Basil, Rosemary, Thyme, Flat Leaf Parsley, Oregano, Cilantro

Basil Bush. This is a weird little bush. I don't think it's going to be the regular pesto-making Sweet Basil, rather it will mostly be something I add in small doses to.. I'm not too sure what I'll add this to.

Rosemary and Thyme. I'm hoping this small little Rosemary plant will get HUGE. Thyme is one of my favorites.

Flat Leaf Parsley, Oregano, Cilantro. I've already snipped and used a little bit of the cilantro.

Chives. Not enough room in the box. I'll have to pick up more herbs next weekend and another box...


[knitting] Links

I do have much knitting content to show this weekend. I finished the Interweave Knits Nightie in time for the Puerto Rico vacation, but didn't end up wearing it there because the cotton was a little heavy. After that, it was all socks, socks, stash-busting socks for me. In the meantime, I've been catching up on free patterns...

Judith hoodie.

Cascade Hat, made with Bernat Cottontots yarn (not Cascade). Hm. I like the schlumpy cloche style but might choose a more linen-y yarn (if it's going to be a summer hat).

Fly Away Home socks. Nice lace pattern, pretty picot cuff.

Mohair stole. And the yarn used, Cascade Bollicine Etoile, is a closeout at Webs.

Pop Tart cell phone cosy. So cute.

Jaunty Jar Covers. Cute! How about a picot cuff at the top? That would be so pretty.

Bluebonnet Socks. Interesting stitch and texture.

Lace Chair Seat.

Vintage Lace Stockings.

Bumble Bee cat toy. Awwww...

Cool: Rune alphabet dishcloths. Yes she has posted the pattern for each individual cloth.


[movies] Recently Viewed

Pan's Labyrinth: 4/5 Stars. I really liked this movie but didn't love it because, from the trailers, I thought more time would be spent in the magical world (a la Mirror Mask). Really, it's about a little girl performing magical tasks while in the real world, guerrillas are fighting a fascist regime in 1944 Spain. The special effects/costumes are creepy and wonderful. There's quite a bit of graphic violence in this film.

The Devil and Daniel Johnston: 3/5 Stars. It took a while for this documentary to pull me in. Plot Outline: "Daniel Johnston, manic-depressive genius singer/songwriter/artist is revealed in this portrait of madness, creativity and love." The whole movie was about this crazy, creative guy who is... crazy. You get to see all his achievements but also all the people he hurt along the way. In the end, I'd say that he is a talented song writer, an okay singer, but he cannot play the guitar for shit.

Breach: 2/5 Stars. I'll watch anything that has Chris Cooper in it and he carries the entire movie. Based on a true story about FBI operative Robert Hanssen, this movie ended up being quite boring. Ryan Phillippe gives a lackluster performance (but when has he ever given an inspired one?).

Shortbus: 2/5 Stars. Best review I read that summarizes the movie succinctly: "A movie that's not quite porn enough for the skin-flick fans and not substantial enough for filmgoers who seek a film that somehow combines sex, heart and intelligence."

Lucky Number Slevin: 3/5 Stars. Would have worked better as a book (if that book was written by Elmore Leonard).

The Departed: 5/5 Stars. Perfection.

Little Miss Sunshine: 4/5 Stars. Funny, sad, slightly uncomfortable ending. This movie has it all.

Nacho Libre: 2/5 Stars. Only funny parts are when Jack Black tries to fake a Mexican accent.

Run, Ronnie, Run: 2/5 Stars. I love David Cross but this Mr. Show skit stretched into a movie is a little thin. Surprising number of cameos.

Cars: 5/5 Stars. I've said it before, I'll say it again- You can't go wrong with a Pixar movie.

Fifty Pills: 2/5 Stars. Stupid. Tries to be Go meets Half Baked. Fails.

Beerfest: 2/5 Stars. Lots of boobs and beer. Perfect for boobs-and-beer-loving men.

Stranger Than Fiction: 4/5 Stars. I love movies that play with plot AS you're watching the movie (a la Adaptation). Great movie. Interesting to watch, clever story, you care about the main character and you don't know how it's going to end.

Bongwater: 1/5 Stars. Beyond bad. I felt disgusted at the self-centeredness, lack of motivation and stupidity of the characters. And then I felt disgusted that I wasted 97 minutes of my life on this movie.

Running With Scissors: 2/5 Stars. I actually read this book back in the day and I feel like many of the characters were mis-cast. The book was more raw and real. One of the few performances by Gwyneth Paltrow I've enjoyed. Annette Bening's performance is off the charts impressive- so angry, sad and manic.


[cooking] Simple and Delicious

I pick on Dollar for his love of bland food. He would be happy with buttered egg noodles for supper. Or a bowl of white rice. I prefer more complex taste sensations. But I realized last night that my favorite "boring" meal is chicken and bread. Particularly Thomas Keller's Favorite Simple Roast Chicken accompanied by No-Knead bread. A slice of the crusty, rustic loaf dipped into the chicken drippings is heaven for me. And it really doesn't get any better than juicy chicken meat with crispy, salty skin.

While on vacation, I made Dollar watch Food Network (I wouldn't give up the remote). One recipe that caught my attention was this Farfalle with Broccoli. Feeling the itch to cook as soon as we unpacked, I made it from memory. It was a simple recipe but turned out rather... bland (guess who liked it?). I will say that I forgot the Parmesan, and that might have pulled the whole thing together. I would make this again (without black pepper- I only added 5-6 turns of the grinder to the whole thing and it was overpowering).

I tried making a frittata again- this time in a mere 6 inch pan. Perfecto. Nice inch/inch and a half thick wedges. This is going to appear regularly during weekend breakfasts.

Food from the farmer's market has been recently cooked. I can't remember the particular vendors but here's what I thought:

1. Buffalo Burgers: two thumbs up

2. Elk Sausages- Guinness version, Harpoon IPA version: one thumb up, one thumb down. I didn't particularly like the taste of either, but I'm not sure if it was because of the elk meat or because they were "flavored". I'd be willing to try the plain.

3. Pork Tenderloin: two thumbs up. Although mine was small (0.58 lb) it was tender, delicious and just the right size for two people to share.

4. Asparagus: One thumb up, one thumb down. Tasted good but the stalks bundled together ranged from one inch in diameter to 1/8 inch in diameter. I'm not kidding. Some as thick as a young tree and some thinner than a pencil. This totally messes up how to cook it. I not only had to slice the thicker ones lengthwise and start cooking them sooner (and add the thinnest ones only at the very end of cooking), but the ones early into the pan got over-seasoned (or even all the seasoning), while the ones added later barely got any at all. Like I said, it was good but the size differences made even, uniform cooking more of a challenge.

Tonight will be rice and beans. They served beans at every place we went to eat at in Puerto Rico and Dollar loved them. We'll see if this recipe (which looks like the ones we had) comes close.


[travel] Rincon, Puerto Rico

Back from Rincon. Pronounced "Rrrrrin-kon". I was saying "Rin-son" for the past four months and was promptly corrected once we landed in San Juan.

We went to the beach every day:

Sandy Beach was a two minute walk from our cabana. There were some surfers, boogie boarders, wake boarders, sun tanners around but never more than 20 people at any given time. It was the off season so this area of Rincon was slow and sleepy- perfect.

We rented a couple boogie boards. I had fun with it but preferred to stay close to shore and just float on the rolling waves. Dollar was completely at home in the water and I had to drag him out periodically to apply more sunblock. There was a strong rip current that noticeably pulled you to the left or right. The only time I got a little frightened of the ocean was when I was trying to walk out and the waves literally picked me up, smashed me down, dragged be back in, pushed me toward the sand, pulled me back, etc. I ended up crawling out of the ocean on all fours.

After a hard day tanning and swimming, we'd walk up to the Tamboo bar for drinks:

It rained every afternoon, which cooled things down. We usually played cards or chilled on the porch:

On the porch, you could see and hear tons of lizards. We didn't mind them because it looked like they ate all the bugs:

Long story short: we went for a moonlit horseback ride, went driving/shopping in town, ate tons of good food, took a boat ride to Desecheo Island and went snorkeling in the reef, got tattoos, drank too much Medalla and brought home rum and coffee. My pictures (not many) are here.

I shot lots of video that I'm currently trying to figure out how to put onto the laptop, to edit into a short film.