Thursday, October 28, 2010

Daily Craft - Ooh...Pretty!

I got these fabric packs and Joanns and I'm coming up with a quilt concept in my head.  Picture these with black for contrast so that the colors pop.  Pretty no?  ;)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Daily Review - Cold season strikes

Please excuse my absence for the past few days.  I've been sick and the majority of my time has been spent creating an ass-groove in the couch.  Go figure that husband got a "cold" sometime last week, which consisted of mild sniffling and a complete rebound 36 hours later.  So, when I started feeling it myself, he was happy to tell me that it was minor and would be gone shortly.  Wrong.  Somehow, for me it turned into a full blown cold involving double-digit cups of green tea and strong cravings for soup - despite not really being able to taste any of it. 

After the umpteenth hour of dozing on the couch, I did take a minute to google some at-home remedies and was bored enough to try a couple.  

Thyme tea - this involved steeping 2 teaspoons of thyme in boiling water for about 5 minutes with a little bit of lemon juice.  It's supposed to help with respiratory problems and removing mucus (yummy!)  In terms of taste, I rate this as pretty foul.  Then again, it might have helped if I'd strained the thyme leaves before drinking it so it didn't feel like I was drinking a mouthful of dry dirt with each sip.  At the same time, that was an extra step that this sickly being didn't have the energy to take.  In terms of feeling better?  Nothing noticeable, although perhaps doing it more than the once would help...but that would involve drinking that repulsive mixture again, which I wasn't willing to do.  I find that to be kind of amusing seeing as I'm only just starting to get my sense of taste and smell back!

Tumeric in milk - I found this one to be interesting as apparently tumeric has all kinds of fun healing properties, in particular anti-inflammatory (useful for arthritis) and has been proven to have promise for cancer treatment.  I always just figured it was tasty in Indian food, as if I need more excuse to eat/cook Indian!  Anyway, this involved making a mixture of tumeric with hot milk and a little honey.  It didn't taste too bad either - a little odd at first but I quickly got used to it.  I found the flavor of this mixture to be a lot more tolerable and once I drank it, I did in fact feel quite soothed.  

I think I'll probably keep sticking to green tea with honey for the main part, but the tumeric mixture wasn't bad and is one I'd do again.  In the meantime, husband is currently cooking me pasta sauce with a ton of cayenne pepper, onion and garlic in it; all of which have great healing properties and will hopefully get me up and going like a normal person soon!

So, as cold season is upon us, what are your favorite remedies?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Daily Chuckles - This could save your marriage

Last night, while watching the DVR recording of my only daytime TV guilty pleasure, The Doctors, I found out about what is possibly the best new product ever.  It's called the "Better Marriage Blanket".  Now, you might be wondering what about this blanket could improve your marriage, and quite simply it's designed to absorb and eliminate the odor caused by your spouse's middle of the night flatulence.  Genius.  

What makes this quite possibly the best marriage saving product on the market right now is that it is made from military grade materials, designed to protect against chemical warfare.  That really puts a new spin on what it is to sleep with a gassy spouse (or pet, I should add).  I mean, you will never have to fear that "silent but deadly" dutch oven ever again - and if that's not saving marriages, I don't know what is.       

While this sounds like a ridiculous hoax, it's legit folks!  For a moment, I considered ordering one of these blankets for the holidays, but they're apparently a highly sought after item and the company that makes them is out of stock until December anyway.  Perhaps I'll have to arm myself with a flak jacket and tear gas instead.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Daily Craft - Quilting: Where do I begin?

Before I begin my ramblings today, I would like to give a shout-out to my parents.  Last week, they celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary (yay!) and yesterday it was my mom's birthday.  I figure it is well deserving of a mention!

As you may recall, I made this little patchwork blanket not too long ago.  It was delivered to the intended recipient this weekend and very well received by parents and child (despite the wonky, mismatched corners).  I'm also half way done with the simple quilt design I'm working on for my nephew.  I can confirm that I've got the quilting bug. 

Joann Fabrics has their Moonlight Madness sale going on right now - which is dangerous as far as I'm concerned.  Last night, I headed over there armed with a plethora of 50% off coupons to get myself a good bargain.  The challenge, of course, is that the coupons can't be used on sale items so I end up with the personal challenge of making sure I find something good that's not on sale to use them for.  Husband doesn't quite understand this logic, but I'm sticking to it!  Anyway, after arming myself with some awesome sale priced flannel for baby blankets, I then proceeded to search out non-sale fabrics for quilting purposes.  Seeing as I'm a total quilting novice, I ended up with 3 coordinating fat quarter bundles and figured that I can go from there. 

Now that I want to make something a little more complex in design, I'll readily admit that I am ridiculously overwhelmed as to where to begin with the quilting thing!  It's like a chicken and egg to me - do you decide on the quilting pattern then buy the fabric, or the other way around?  How much fabric are you supposed to buy if you don't know what you're going to do with it yet?  Having already purchased fabric intended to go together, how easy is it to modify an existing pattern to make those fabrics work?  The list of questions goes on and on!

Having spent some time at lunch today looking for quilt pattern ideas, I have found a couple ideas that I think will work, although doing all the math based on how many cuts for each fat quarter, and what other fabric supplies I need just might be doing my head in!  I also think that I want to make all of these designs by Jinny Beyer.  For now, I guess I'll keep doodling and calculating until I come up with something that makes sense.  If I get it right, I suspect it'll be pretty though!

So, any experts out there that have tips to share?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Daily Dish - Fish 'N Chips!

In preparation for my upcoming trip to England, I recently decided to make some fish & chips.  This is a super simple recipe and, overall, healthier for you than regular fish and chips.  The traditional thick breaded batter, while disgustingly delicious, does somewhat detract from the benefits of the fish.  In this case, the fish is pan fried instead of deep fried.  Also, the chips are baked.  I went all out and added some peas on the side - both tasty and can be used as non-lethal projectiles as necessary!

Generally, the fish used is cod or pollack.  In this case, I used catfish because that's what we had in the house.  Any nice and meaty whitefish will work.

- Sprinkle breadcrumbs onto a plate.  I like to mix in a tiny bit of cayenne pepper for a spicy kick, although that is optional.
- In a shallow bowl, mix together one beaten egg with a little bit of milk.
- Dip the fish in the egg/milk mixture until completely coated on both sides, then cover with the breadcrumbs until there is an even layer.  Set the pieces of fish aside.
- In a deep pan, pour a nice thick layer of vegetable oil until the entire bottom of the pan is coated.  That way the fish will cook evenly.  The oil needs to be nice and hot before putting the fish in.  I like to test whether it's hot enough by flicking a little water off my fingers.  If you hear sizzling when it hits the pan, it's ready.
- Pop in the pieces of fish and cook for 4-5 minutes per side.  How long you cook it will depend on the thickness of the fish.  I like to stick a fork into the thickest part of the filet to see if the fish is flaky.  If not, add another minute or two on each side.  If it's flaky, pull it out of the pan and onto a plate!!

I can't wait to eat the "unhealthy" version of this when I get back to England because for as many times as I've eaten fish and chips at restaurants out here, it's not the same as standing on a sidewalk (or should I say "on the pavement") pulling off chunks of battered fish from a big wad of paper, piled on top of a stack of greasy chips.  Yum!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Daily Deuce - Because it's cute

While going through some pictures on the camera, I found this one that my husband had taken of Deuce that I just have to share because it's so damn cute. 

It makes me laugh to think that Deuce somehow managed to stretch his 6.5 lb (but incredibly long) body across three seats on the couch, and 2 cushions. 
There are times when he's undoubtedly taking up too much space for one so small, but I'm pretty sure it's illegal to disturb him when he looks so comfortable!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Daily Ramblings - Oktoberfest!

For several years now, husband and I have been planning to go to Oktoberfest, held at Alpine Village.  Several of our friends have been going for a few years now and this weekend we finally made it.  Think gigantic tent, a ton of folk, an Oompah band, singing and swinging of beer steins.  It's about the only place where I'll accept doing the chicken dance more than once in an evening...or should I say doing the chicken dance at all.
2010 happens to be the bicentennial celebration of Oktoberfest.  It began in Munich in 1810 at the wedding of the Bavarian Prince.  Now, that's one way to celebrate an anniversary every year!  I'm not sure what the history is surrounding the chicken theme but these chickens look like they're having a good time!
Beer drinker or not, it's certainly a fun celebration and a good way to spend time with friends...but don't forget the designated driver, or at least money for a cab!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Daily Shape - Not just for retired folk

There seems to be a stigma about aqua aerobics that it's intended for old arthritic people in retirement communities.  My gym offers "aquafit" classes 6 times a week and last year, on a whim, my co-worker and I gave it a shot.  It has to be said that our first impression was not great, but that had more to do with the instructor showing the same enthusiasm for the class as one might expect upon discovering a fungal infection.  Fast forward many months and I figured out which classes that particular girl teaches, and decided to try a class with the other instructor.  Let me tell you, it's fantastic!

You may remember me saying that I like I swim.  Swimming is my fitness sanctuary.  Listening to my own breathing and the movement of each stroke, I get the same feeling of calm and focus that others describe when jogging or doing yoga (neither of which are fun to me).  So, it figures that I'd be comfortable splashing about in the water.  I was also concerned at first that aqua aerobics wouldn't be enough of a challenge, but what I've discovered is that it's up to YOU individually to decide what level of difficulty you want from the class.  The instructor will guide you, but it's up to you to jog faster, jump higher, push harder...  We generally do a lot of exercises up and down the length of the pool, such as jogging, as well as using plastic weights for resistance training.  Pretty much everything uses your core muscles to stabilize against the movement of the water, and even if you are pretty fit - if you jump up and down the length of a 25yd pool repeatedly you're going to feel like you're body is getting a good workout!

Some interesting facts about aqua aerobics:
- This type of exercise is good for both muscle tone, as well as a cardiovascular workout.
- Being in the water reduces stress on the body, but adds resistance.  It offers resistance from all sides (as opposed to on-land activity where there is higher impact and omni-directional resistance).  This is great for people with weaker joints or injuries that need rehabilitation.    For example, I get horrible shin splits when trying to run on land, but I'm happy to jog up and down the pool repeatedly!
- As the water is low-impact and supports a significant amount of your body weight, it's great for pregnant women.  My instructor actually said that there was a lady who came to class every week until about 10 days before she gave birth!
- You do not have to be a swimmer to enjoy the class as most of the movements are done in water shallow enough to allow you to stand.  The pool at my gym is 4ft at the deep end.
- It is estimated that in a 45-60 minute class, you can burn anywhere from 300-600 calories.  That's not bad if you ask me.

One of my favorite things about the class is that I can get in that pool and feel my body working hard, but walk away from the class completely energized.  The muscle recovery seems pretty quick, which may also have something to do with the massaging motion of the water as you're working out.  All I know is that I went into class last night with a stiff back/shoulders and came out feeling great.  I'm hoping I can stick with the Thursday class because I've really been enjoying it.  I'd love to know if anybody else has given it a try!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Daily Craft - Well how about that?!

I haven't designed any knitwear for a LONG time and I'm horribly ashamed of that fact.  I've got great ideas somewhere jumbled up in my head.  My problem is getting the time to put them down on paper, knit up swatches, gather test knitters etc.  Recently I've been really getting the itch to get back on the designing band-wagon, so to speak.  I also know that I'm a pro when it comes to the best of intentions going unfulfilled though!

Anyway, to give myself a little inspiration, I decided to check on Ravelry to see how my other designs have been doing.  I was thrilled to see that other people have actually made these things!  Even more exciting is that people have given my patterns very decent ratings and seem to be liking them.  There's actually people out there in the world that are making my designs.  It's so much fun for me to look through the photos of their projects and see what they thought of the pattern, check out their yarn and color choices, etc. 
Harpa Socks
Knit up by 23 Ravelry members so far!
Roman Holiday Mitts
Knit up by 43 Ravelry members so far!

I also get really excited when I think about the fact that there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of non-Ravelry members out there who have pulled these patterns from my old blog, linked through from, or other sites where these free patterns ended up.  It's hilarious to imagine that there's tons of mystery people wandering the streets with fingerless mitts of my design keeping their hands warm, but alas I'll never know for sure.  ;)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Daily Travels - I made it!

In September 1997, I was an 18 year old with a suitcase, a plane ticket and a thought of an adventure. I left my home in the tiny little village of Oxshott (Surrey, England) and started my new "adult" life in San Diego, CA. OK, so I didn't really become an adult until more recently, and sometimes still don't act like one, but I digress!

In the past thirteen years, it's amazing to think of all the things that I've done - graduated college, become accomplished in my career, created my own family of friends, married the love of my life, bought my first home....and there's so much more.

With my little brother, Warren, who also moved to CA.
The reason for now thinking back over the years since moving to California is because I finally made it. The light at the end of the tunnel just became a reality as my permanent green card, that beautiful little piece of plastic, finally arrived! I've been on a variety of different visas since I moved here, from my initial student visa to a work sponsored visa to the temporary green card that was issued when I was married. I've had my fair share of visa related issues - like the time when I took my (now) husband home to England for the first time and wasn't allowed to board the plane at Heathrow to return to the U.S. I ended up stuck in England for a month with nothing but ill-fitting high school clothes and my brother's soccer shorts to wear.

I'll say that staying here legally is hard work. Even after getting married, the immunizations that are required in order to file for the temporary green card seem crazy. I had to pay an INS approved doctor $500 to give me 6 shots, a TB test and draw blood. It's not hard to think of a million FUN things that $500 could be used for instead!

At the end of the day though, I'm finally done and can breathe that sigh of relief knowing that it was all worth it. I no longer have to worry about visa expirations, having to turn over my passport to the U.S. Embassy in a foreign country so they can stick bits of paper in it, worry about not being able to board a plane to re-enter the country... Life is good! The final step in my process will be applying for citizenship and while I will be doing that some time in the next couple of years, the pressure is off and I no longer have an immigration clock ticking over my head.

I've never been so grateful for all the support I've received from my family, close friends, and co-workers throughout this process. They've provided unconditional love and belief that I could do it, even when it just all seemed like too much. I'm a lucky girl indeed.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Daily Ramblings - Blogtoberfest?

I just heard about the Blogtoberfest phenomenon today and while I don't know if life will permit me to actually blog every day, I figured I'd give it a shot to see how much I can blog this month (although I'm not officially signing up for fear of being an epic failure).  Also, I'm not really sure how interesting I am and whether or not I can come up with something to share with you all every day, but I'm down to see what happens. 

My calendar says it's Rocktober (of course, I work at a record label) so I figured I'd kick off the month with a little music for you.  Earlier today, I was outside my office and being greeted by gigantic explosions of rumbling thunder with the occasion flash of lightning visible above the nearest mountains.  The weather this week has been a little strange to say the least and made me think of this song - "What Else Is There?" by Royksopp. Hope you like it!