Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Confessions of a Pinterest Monster

This week has been, well, better, to an extent. I still haven't made friends here or really accomplished much of anything, but I haven't cried in frustration or anything like that. I've been trying really hard to be productive, but I find myself falling into a schedule that leaves me bored and lonely at around 2:30/3 each afternoon. The sadness of realizing that it was exactly a month ago that I left my Philly life, one of the happiest points in my life, is kind of dragging me down today.

My aimless internet wandering has increased tenfold towards moving to California (thanks, Pinterest!), and I've been really trying to stick to the non-knitting goals I made before moving here. I'm actually using the recipes that I pin to my "concoctions" board and most of them have lived up to their pinning hype. What are some awesome things I've made these past 2 weeks?

Tomato Basil Chicken
This one my mother actually recommended to me. She made it while I was home visiting and it was delicious (and Weight Watchers approved)! I've been a fan of SkinnyTaste for awhile and absolutely love her Spaghetti with Chicken and Grape tomatoes. But all that chopping takes so much time, so I like to think of this as a much faster version for one of my favorite diners.

Prosciutto wrapped melon

One great thing about Philly is that they have a TON of good recipes. When I left home the first time, it was safe to say I was one of the pickiest eaters I knew. We spent last autumn living in a crapped studio "apartment" (ok, it was a swanky hotel), so we tried to go out as much as we could just to avoid wasting away/killing eachother. We settled in as regulars to a few spots (Wrap Shack, Bards, Tria), but when we wanted a fancy night out, we sometimes opted for Tapas. And one of my favorite Tapas places, Amada, served up Jamon con Melon. Even though this dish isn't the same (the Amada version was a piece of melon with ham, like, infused into it), this was a delightful afternoon treat I made for myself. And you'd better believe I cracked up a beautiful red wine to go with it.

Cashew Chicken
Whenever I find an Asian recipe that I might be interested in, I almost always see the ingredient list and run away. This cashew chicken was no exception, but I pinned it awhile back and thought maybe I should just go for it. Add to equation that I'm (currently) unemployed and cooking makes me happy and you've got a winner! And that's exactly what the recipe was. Sure, there are a lot of ingredients. But now that I have purchased all these oils/spices/etc., I can make so many other recipes! 

Sesame Noodles
Like these super simple (and yummy) sesame noodles.

Oven roasted cauliflower
And this delicious cauliflower. 
(I'm not going to lie. I fried half of my cauliflower to make fried cauliflower ala Zahav, another amazing Philadelphia restaurant. It was pretty spot on)

So, yes, I've tried all those new recipes in two weeks. Because life is too short for boring food :)

Becoming a California foodie isn't the only thing I've accomplished. To cancel out all the good food I've been making (and all the good wine I've been drinking), I have managed to amp up my workouts. I spend at least 45 minutes every morning doing something active. My foot has just about given up completely on running, which is heartbreaking since I love it so much, but I'm trying not to let that get me down. If I have to walk most of my half marathon, then so be it. The weather here has SWEATER WEATHER almost every evening and some mornings, so it's been great for being outdoors. 

And we brew our first beer tomorrow! A summer ale kit we bought after taking a homebrewing class at Steinfillers last weekend. If we manage to do that right I think the next beer will be either an Octoberfest or a Pumpkin Stout.

First one of the season last night (JULY 30)

Still working on this whole designing thing. Spent some time brainstorming and researching last week. I've been glued to this swatch for the past two days and need to swatch another idea sometime this week. Crossing my fingers I can finish up a few things before Plucktember.

Pretty sure this is Primo Fingering

Excited about all the new things these comings weeks will bring. In dire need of an adventure, though. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Surviving Week 1

It's been hard being here, but I'm adjusting, I think.

I joke that living in Seal Beach is like a prison because, really, it is. Not in the hard times kind of way, but in that tongue in cheek, "I get to work out/read/learn new languages/listen to good music every single day!" kind of ways. And I should appreciate that ( it slowly drives me insane :D).

But really. I have no excuse to not get things, aside from me being a lazy little lady. I've been forcing myself out of the apartment every morning by 10am & not allowing myself to retreat back to my little fortress until 1:30/2. I've managed to work out every day this week, granting myself this weekend off; my muscles HURT. I finished two books, with my mother alleging I'll be "well knowledged" by the time I leave here. I assure you, based on what I've been reading, I will not be.

(Gone Girl & The Fault in Our Stars)

With everything that has happened this week (proposals (not mine), babies (again, not mine), winning contests that I can't enjoy (finally, mine)), things could be so much better. But they could also be so much worse. I've signed up for a homebrewing class (tomorrow) and a wine tasting Meetup (also tomorrow), meaning I will have at least one social day this week.

Things are looking up?

Instagrams from week 1

On a side note, I've only spent *$5 this week. I can be a frugal person when I have to be!

*aside from those horrible student loans that will, no doubt, plague me for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

This is a Post About Knitting (mostly)

I wanted to leave for California with a "clean" slate, which had been easy enough in the beginning. Working at a knitting shop is both the best and worst thing a knitter can do. I've (mostly) loved working at the two LYSs I've worked at, but, at the same time, it has caused the textbook definitions of Knitting First World Problems.

1. I have WAY too much yarn.
2. I never get anything done because OMG! Did you see that sweater in the new Knitscene/Knitty/Jared Flood?

The first is only an issue when it comes to relocation (because oh. my. god. Last week. What a mess.), but the second makes me feel overwhelmed in a different way because I never seem to finish things.

I was home in Chicago for about two weeks and managed to finish three WIPs and two new projects.

Color Addiction
Pattern: Color Affection
Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light
Colors: Nassau Blue, Ink, Grasshopper
The last class I taught at Rosie's was the Color Affection class and I had a great time. In hindsight, the class was a bit too spaced together (nobody finished it in the allotted 3 weeks), but everyone had a great attitude about it. I finally finished mine last week and I really like the results. When I started out,  I intended on using Vintage Sari as my third color, but when I started knitting with it, it looked like something (bad) out of the 80s. I hemed and hawed over possible skeins from my stash, but nothing looked right. I pulled out a skein of Pashmina in "Grasshopper" from my stash and set out to finish my shawl. I'm very pleased.

Iceland Shawl (my design)
Yarn: Manos Alegria
Color: Carnaval
I wanted to finish this shawl before my trip to Iceland, but I was so dead set on getting SO MANY THINGS done before then that I just couldn't do it. This serves as a first draft to something that I hope to reknit one of these days. I absolutely love this yarn (Alegria, the newest yarn from Manos del Uruguay) and this colorway didn't blow me away right off the bat, but after staring at it for weeks, as you do when you work at your LYS, I needed to have it. Right then and there. But I've already discussed those problems (1 & 2) above. This shawl would have been better if I had two skeins of yarn, but I will use the notes I took along the way to make the version 2 even better. 

Autumnal Habitat
Pattern: Habitat by Jared Flood
Yarn: Rittenhouse (RIP) in Cinnamon
Oh this hat. Oh this yarn. I have wanted my own Habitat since I knit one for Matt's brother two Christmases ago. I started it sometime back in 2012 and left it sitting in my yarn room with the ribbing & first chart completed. Why didn't I just finish it? I picked it up during my stop off at home and finished knitting it in an evening. Was that so hard? I guess not.

Brewery Tour Hat
Pattern: Rikke
Yarn: Madelinetosh tosh dk
Color: Firewood
Wanna know a secret? I love beer. Want to know another secret? I love Autumn. Ok, those aren't really secrets, but this hat is the perfect hat for beer touring in Autumn. Mmmhmm. Living in Philly was great, but when you earn your "beerlegs" in the Midwest, where you can buy beer almost anywhere and at a good price, it kind of sucks. So, when Matt & I would visit home, we would make sure to drink all of the beers we loved since we just didn't drink as much beer in Philly. 

Ok, that was kind of a boring story.

Anyway. Rikke has been on my list for awhile now. My friends Sara & Kristin have both knit beautiful versions, but I just never got around to it. Looking for a good one skein project, I cast on for this hat during my trip home and knit the first stitches at one of my favorite breweries: Solemn Oath. SO is located in a suburb of Chicago, maybe 20 or so minutes from where I grew up and 10 minutes away from my college. Matt and I agree that it's a great thing they didn't open until after we graduated because, let's be real, it would have been a hot mess.

Sadly, I am not drinking Dashing Moustache
But yes. If you are ever in Illinois and happen to see a Solemn Oath beer on the board of your selected watering hole be sure to order it. I haven't been disappointed and, for somebody just passing through, I've managed to try my fair share of their beers. Oh and knitters? They sometimes have a beer called Yarn Bomb. Get on that.

Black Tops & Moon Man
And I finished that hat on July 5th during a trip to New Glarus with Matt & his sister. New Glarus is only available in Wisconsin, so we must drink it up while we are there. And it doesn't hurt that the brewery is beautiful.

Pattern: Molly
Yarn: Madelinetosh tosh dk
Color: One of a Kind
My final project of the trip home was another one that lingered in my queue for quite some time. I cast on for this hat on the way to the airport (to drop Matt off) and finished it the very next morning. That's the great thing about hats. The yarn is a skein I picked up during my first second trip to NYC and it's a one of a kind colorway from The Yarn Company. It's hard to tell in the photo, but it's a beautiful green/brown with flecks of purple. It looks almost like a misdyed and slightly lighter Kale/Lichen crossbreed.

I packed up for California with only 2 WIPs (My third Color Affection & a lovely test knit for Thao) and yarn for 5 new projects. My WIPs and next project are all either lace or fingering weight, so don't expect to see too many FOs from me. After I finish up my test knit & Katie's Wedding Shawl I plan on focusing on designing a few things. What's the saying? Creativity is born from boredom?

Let's hope. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Packing (sucks)

O-Wool Legacy dk for "the perfect cardigan"
3 skeins Neighborhood Fibre Co for Pop Spots
3 skeins purple lace for Katie's Wedding Shawl
10 skeins of Ella Rae Classic for Matt's old man cardigan (perfect for Alaska!)
Smooshy for lightweight cardigan
Plucky Bello ""
Silk Blend for hat design
Plucky aran for hat design

The 1 pair of shorts I own
Sundresses (sans cardigans)
bathing suits
Running gear(!!)

Yoga Mat
Coral Lipstick
French press

Miss Clementine

P.S. I still hate everything.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Leaving Pt. 2

I kissed my boyfriend goodbye last night and put him on a plane to California. Knowing I would make it there eventually, but the lack of a set reunion date on my calendar was the hardest part. I'm starting from scratch (again) in Long Beach, so that struggle of how I'll fill my days is keeping me here. At the end of the day it will just be the same type of existence in a different place. Why not just go?

I matured a bit while I was in Philly. I still don't feel how I imagine an adult to feel, but, as a person, I grew. It was my first time living away from home and I really didn't know anybody (aside from Matt) when I moved there, so I was forced into becoming more of an adult than I'd ever been before. Eventually I made friends, great friends, and discovered that the shy girl of high school didn't exist anymore. Being afraid of putting myself out there didn't get me anywhere and I was "rewarded" me with fake relationships and friendships of convenience. And ain't nobody got time for that.

In moving forward I need to realize that I will make friends again, I will find my way in Long Beach, and I shouldn't put off moving there because staying here is safe. This is still my home, but Chicago has become more of a place to visit than anything else, a place to pass through. New things are scary and heartbreaking (sometimes), but isn't that the way life should be?

As scared as I am, good things will come. The great thing about this not being a permanent situation is that I'm forced to live in the now because we might not be living there after six months. In the year and a halfish I lived in Philly I traveled to 3 countries (2 of them new) and 10 new states, not including those I just passed through. The goals I've set for my California months might be ambitious, but I'll be happy with whatever I may accomplish.

July: Ghey date with my Austalian penpal of 8ish years. I will have met all of my penpals IRL.
August: Visit Sedona, AZ//Weekend in Vegas?
September: Sheep & Wool festival in Portland, OR//Weekend in San Francisco
October: International Hot Air Balloon Festival in Albuquerque, NM//Friend's wedding in Chicago
November: Visit to Philly for the half marathon
December: ALASKA//Home for Christmas

Get back on track with running. That half-marathon isn't gonna train itself.
Try yoga. It's free, it's on the beach, it's everyday.
Write, in some form. No other requirements
Home brew.
Try cooking new things.
Learn more about wine & wine culture.
Design a new pattern every month.
(...don't buy a car full of yarn...)

I leave on Saturday.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Post-Philly Slump

The past week has been hard.

It seems like it will only get worse before it gets better.