Thursday, April 7, 2011

birds and jars - together!

my new glass bird jar - from Pottery Barn. 
detail of the silly bird on top.
Those of you who know me - either personally or through reading this fluff bucket of a blog - are aware that I have an odd obsession with glass jars and strange birds. I even have small glass birds that I keep in large glass jars. It drives my husband crazy.  But I guess he loves me because for our 6 year dating anniversary (April Fool's Day) he gave me the ultimate glass jar - a bird jar! That's right - it is a glass jar with a bird on top. Boo-ya!!
I'm not sure what I am going to put in it yet - I just know that I love it and I love him.

Happy Spring.


p.s. - I gave him tickets to see David Sedaris on Easter Sunday. We always listen to his books on tape when we go on long car rides so it will be quite a treat to see him in person. I really really hope he tells more stories about his time in France....

Monday, April 4, 2011

Spring Cleaning.

It finally stopped raining! In fact - it has been unseasonably warm and sunny. Adam is out of town this weekend (at a funeral - it's been a rough year) so I took the opportunity to do some spring cleaning and house maintenance. Here are my accomplishments - feel free to applaud - I'm pretty pleased with myself.
Biscuit enjoying the sunshine.

1. Washed Biscuit's bedding. Good lord that dog has a lot of designated places for sleeping! I washed the cover for his couch (also his special seat for the car so he can see out the window on long trips - it looks like this). I also washed his crate pad and his bed that he keeps in front of the radiator. Shhhh don't tell Biscuit but that bed is actually a cat bed.
2. Did all of our people laundry - including sheets and towels. 4 loads - done and done. 
3. Processed and bagged up an online return that has been sitting in the laundry room for weeks. That's $86 back in my pocket.
4. Put away all the shoes. Every last pair. This required getting rid of 4 pairs of shoes. Buh bye running shoes from three years ago.
5. Cleaned out the fridge. Then washed the five gross Tupperware containers with expired food in them. By the way - the Rubbermaid stain guard food storage containers are amazing. We have had the same set - with gray lids - for four or five years now and they hold their shape, never stain and never take on the odor of what you stored in it - regardless of how long you let it fester in the fridge.
6. Washed the garbage can - outside in the sun - with Biscuit. Obviously this turned into a water hose fight since Biscuit tries to bite at the nozzle whenever I use the hose.
7. repotted a plant.
My gorgeous braided trunk tree - before re-potting. Notice the bird in the back from a previous post?

8. Emptied, loaded, ran, and emptied again the dishwasher (I did have all those tupperware leftover containers from the fridge).
9. Swept and mopped the kitchen and bathroom.
10. Cleaned and organized the laundry/sun room. This included getting rid of (or hiding in the garage) a random assortment of games, old yoga mats, a vice, expired soda water and bloody mary mix, a dead plant, numerous empty cardboard boxes and on and on.
Ugh - this was the biggest and most time consuming project since this is the room we squirrel away purgatory items - all in neat stacks and such but still it is all crap. It is where everything we do not need but feel guilty throwing away goes to die. It is also the room where most people enter and exit our house so it is kind of embarrassing to have it be such a crap free-for-all space.
Look! A flat surface in the laundry room uncovered in crap. Such a beautiful site.

Here are a few examples of the treasures found during this flurry of weekend cleaning activities --
1. We had four board games we never even opened. Plus 6 decks of cards and 3 decks of Uno cards.
2. 4 of Biscuit's tennis balls under the laundry table.
3. An unopened pack of bobby pin also under the laundry table.
4. A parking ticket from November that I really hope one of us paid. 
5. 4 spray bottles of Method all-surface cleaner - all partially used.
6. Two dozen half full mini bottles of shampoo, conditioner, lotion etc. from fancy hotels. You would think we were running a hostel for dwarfs with the amount of these bottles we had on-hand. 
7. A box sent to us from Adam's parents at Christmas that we somehow never opened. It contained a Superman Snuggie for Adam, a festive Christmas print one for me and some sort of Christmas cat plush toy for Biscuit. Seriously.
8. A jump rope. Eh?
9. A Dora the Explorer kite and a container of bubbles. I'm hoping these were from my niece and not how Adam entertains himself when I am out of town.
10. We have three tool sets. None of which have a standard sized Philips head screwdriver in them. One did however have a Transformer arm in it. 

For your enjoyment I included some photos of the gorgeous spring time weather this weekend. I assume y'all will find these more entertaining that an interior shot of the dishwasher.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

YARN - the perfect hat.

I love knitted winter hats. They are cozy and warm and there is something very delightfully wintery about them that seems almost festive. Living in San Francisco also means that unlike a city like say New York - hats are never required to avoid frostbite on the way to the subway but are just nice to wear to feel and look bundled up. I lost my favorite North Face beanie a few years ago while visiting New York and immediately replaced it with the same one - then lost the replacement somehow. I guess it was just not meant to be. This past fall - I started my hunt for the perfect hat. A hat that was super soft, not the least bit itchy (my forehead turns red immediately with itchy hats), looked casual and (holy grail) could be taken on and off all day without any negative hair ramifications. Why not a beret do you ask? This was the suggestion of my mother and two different yarn store staffers. Well - the answer to that is that despite my sometimes unhealthy love of stinky cheeses, croissants, baguettes and red wine - I am not French and certainly not old or eccentric enough to pull off a beret as a statement piece. Plus - I think they are dumb looking - like a yarn mushroom fell from the sky and landed on your head. Plop plop. 
the inspiration hat from purlbee.

I found my perfect hat on my all time favorite knitting/sewing blog the purl bee and is called - aptly enough - the simple pleasures hat. It is made with silk and cashmere and is divine.

Can we stop for a moment and just give an appreciative contented sigh for cashmere?? How is it that yarn spun from the underbelly of some special goat can be so scrumptiously soft and warm and light and silky? Anytime I am feeling meh and don't want to go out to the grocery store or to work or to anywhere besides on my couch with my sweet puppy - I'll wrap myself up in a cashmere scarf. Living in San Francisco - I can pretty much do this all year round without giving myself a heat rash or looking like a crazy person.

Back to the hat...what totally sold me on the pattern was the first photo on the post. In the photo - the hat is obviously very casual and soft but it is also perfectly loose in the crown, making it unable to smoosh hair! I made a special post-work trip to my local boutique yarn store - Greenwich Yarns and picked up some wonderfully silky smokey gray yarn to make the hat. Given that I was flying to New York that week it was going to be a great plane project - something portable that did not require too much counting. Besides running out of yarn less than an inch from the top (arrggghhh!!) meaning I could not finish until I got back home - the pattern was super simple and the hat turned out great. For awhile this winter - I was wearing it close to 50% of the time I went outdoors. It was really obsessive but I loved it so...
my much used and loved (and stretched out) hat.

I got a lot of compliments on the hat. My favorite one being "Where did you get it?" This means it did not scream HOMEMADE which I am always afraid of. I want things to look unique and hand crafted but not like some sort of shoddy home-ec project. I think it is one of the many many reasons I splurge on the better materials (Irish linen, cashmere, alpaca etc.) and stay away from anything acrylic. My mom loved the hat - despite it not being a beret - so I made one for her for Christmas to replace the one I made last year that she destroyed through overuse and love. Here she is below wearing it proudly with a great coat I got for her 10 years ago when I worked at Gap. It has lime green silk lining (the coat, not the hat). I always regret not having purchased one for myself...

my mom wearing her christmas hat.
Anyhoo - there are a few things to note about this project in case you want to try one on your own. Here it goes --
1. splurge on the materials noted in the pattern - cashmere and mohair with silk. It really makes all the difference - especially if it is going to be your winter staple.
2. If you are even a slightly loose knitter - you will need to go down a needle size or two. The first hat I made was straight to the pattern and it is super loose now. If I shake my head - the hat falls down over my eyes.
3. While you are knitting the pattern will seem odd. While 6 inches is usually half a hat with most patterns - with this one - it's just the ribbed brim. Then the crown seems to go on forever. But do not worry - it will all come together and make sense in the end.

Happy knitting.


p.s. - I'm making a navy cashmere version now too! It will probably be my stand-in for the gray one now that it is so stretched out. The gray one will become part of the always gorgeous dog walking uniform. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Aloha and mahalo.

doesn't Adam have great teeth?

view from our room.

Ahhhh - a little end of year bliss. After a long year of triumphs (new babies to love, marathons run, weddings, journeys abroad) and trials (bad car accident, sick parents, too much work traveling) we rang in the new year in one of the most relaxing places on earth, Kauai. Here are some (very) belated New Year's vacation photos from our trip to Kauai.