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Monday, June 30, 2008

Short vest or long shrug?

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Mom's vest, almost done

I truly do believe I can see that light at the end of the tunnel. My mom's vest project is very similar to watching the grass grow.

The photo above shows my current progress. I have finally managed to seam the sides. I could not believe how long this took. Weaving ends afterward was a walk in the park compared to seaming the sides! I couldn't believe I actually enjoyed weaving in ends. I never liked doing that before. It's all relative I guess.

SIDE SEAMS


Vest left seam

I started with the left seam (above) then did the right seam (below). I've heard that it is better to seam going from bottom up. I did my seaming top down, since I had long tails at the arm hole end which I wanted to use for seaming instead of tacking on a separate piece of yarn and having more ends to weave in later. Seaming is tricky business when you want to end up with the same amount of on both sides when you approach the end.


Vest right seam

FRONT BAND SECTION

In theory, the front band should be straight from hem to the beginning of the neck shaping section and then it should form a "V" from there upwards to the shoulders. Now look at the two photos below and tell me whether anything looks straight to you.


Left Front band curvature


Right front band curvature

Both front sections have this annoying curvature to them. I'm hoping it'll straighten out when I block the vest.



Ruffling or flaring in the band

Why do I have this ruffling effect on the front band? It doesn't look flattering at all. I'm hoping to minimize this too when I block the vest.

The pattern said to pick up 50 stitches along the "V" sections. I wonder whether I should have reduced this number. Although I'm not sure how one is supposed to figure out how many stitches to pick up.


Button band section

The ruffling effect isn't as noticeable in the button band section, which is 58 picked up stitches.


VEST LENGTH

So we think we're almost done. Right?

Wrong.

Here's what the vest looks like when I wear it. Is it a short vest or a long shrug? I know it's hard to get an idea of how long it is with what I was wearing when I took this photo. I can tell you that the bottom of the vest doesn't even reach my belly button!



Short vest or long shrug?

I haven't yet blocked the vest. My only hope now is to be able to block it longer without adding too much width. My mom is petite like me, so if will most likely fit her if it fits me.

So far I find this the most discouraging knitting project ever. And I have an even greater respect for knitters who can knit perfect vests and sweaters.

Mental note: DO NOT attempt any patterns labeled "intermediate" level.

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On a happier note, our Dove Family is doing fine despite the dark brown neighborhood cat's interest in them. I've noticed more scrambling sounds on our roof, particularly at night. We hadn't seen the cat loitering around the yard since the Finch Family moved out.

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

My Fridge

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Love Tux? Then these Tux mitts are for you. Aren't they cute? Now wouldn't that be a great match for this Tux illusion scarf (English version here)? The scarf has been on my todo list for quite some time. I just haven't gotten around to finding yarn for it; it would have to be dk or sport weight cuz I think worsted would make the scarf too wide/long. The most challenging part would be to ask DH to enlarge the charts for me. I still live in the Dark Ages and do not have a printer. The next challenge would be to learn how do do illusion knitting. I've never tried that before.

Like stitch markers? Make them yourself! Michele describes how to make them here. She's made some more stitch markers which you can see here.

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I got this from Georgi.

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What Your Fridge Says About You



You aren't greedy, but you don't really deprive yourself either. You strike a good balance with the stuff you buy.



You tend to be a fairly thrifty person. You splurge occasionally, but you're mostly a saver.



You are a very adventurous person. You love to try new things, and you get bored very easily.



You are responsible, together, and mature. You act like an adult, even when you don't feel like it.



You are likely single - and spending many nights alone at home.


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It's Sunday night and I feel unfulfilled. Where did my weekend go? I didn't quite get all the free time or wind down time I was hoping for. It's not good when the weekend is ending and I'm thinking I could really use a vacation.

Anyhow, I did make a little more progress on the vest although I haven't gotten around to blogging about it. I'll try to work on that for my next post. I'm having attention span issues and can't focus on any one thing to finish it. Of course having the little people in the house talking nonstop or asking me questions every 2 minutes doesn't help either. A side effect of my (lack of) attention span was trimming only 9 out of 10 finger nails yesterday and not noticing until today! I don't think anybody else has ever done something like that before.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

DH is good with knitting math

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I finished the second arm band on my mom's vest. The next thing to tackle was the band going up the right front, around the neck, and then down the left front. This meant picking up 238 stitches around in five sections: 58 stitches (right front bottom), 50 stitches (right v-neck), 22 stitches (around neck), 50 stitches (left v-neck), and 58 stitches (left front bottom). It took me one evening to pick up all 238 stitches evenly within each section.

Ok, here lies the challenge. The pattern instructions say I need to place five 2-stitch buttonholes evenly spaced on the Right Front band, with the first one 1/4" from lower edge and last one at beginning of neck shaping This Right Front band is a 58 stitch section. How do you work out where to put the buttonholes?

I had to jot it down on paper. I wasn't sure what 1/4" would be, but I took a guess at 2 or 3 stitches, and fiddled around with this in mind. I wasn't sure what"last one at beginning of neck shaping" meant. Did this mean putting the topmost buttonhole an the 58th (or 57th) stitch in this section?

Anyhow, it took me a few tries to figure out how to space them out:

Try #1:

3 sts at bottom -- 2 st BH -- 9 sts -- 2 st BH -- 9 sts -- 2 st BH -- 9 sts -- 2 st BH -- 9 sts -- 2 st BH -- 3 sts at top = 52 stitches.


We're 7 stitches short here.

Try #2:
2 sts at bottom -- 2 st BH -- 10 sts - 2 st BH -- 10 sts -- 2 st BH -- 10 sts -- 2 st BH -- 10 sts -- 2 st BH -- 2 sts at top = 54 stitches.


We're still 7 stitches short.

Try #3:
2 sts at bottom -- 2 st BH -- 11 sts -- 2 st BH -- 11 sts -- 2 st BH -- 11 sts -- 2 st BH -- 11 sts -- 2 st BH -- 2 sts at top = 58 stitches.


Yay, this will probably work. I hope it will be OK putting the 5th button hole at the 55th & 56 stitch.

DH walks into the room moments after I figured this out and I explained to him what I was trying to do. I presented with the known facts and the desired result. He worked it out in his head and came out with my result from Try #3. DH is actually better at knitting math than I am! Who woulda thunk. He's like a black box when it comes to math. Input stuff. Mysterious things happen inside that head of his. Then out pops an answer.

After knitting the two arm bands, I knew that it would take me 6 rows to knit 1 inch worth of band. So I decided to work the button holes in that 58-stitch Right Front section as follows:

Row 3 (RS): K2, BH #1, K11, BH #2, K11, BH #3, K11, BH #4, K11, BH #5, K2.
Row 4 (WS): K2, BH #5, K11, BH #4, K11, BH #3, K11, BH #2, K11, BH #1, K2.
I feel like there is light at the end of this very long tunnel after finishing all the band sections.

Up next: Seaming the sides...


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Monday, June 23, 2008

Secret Project


Secret Project

Pattern: Hera Cable Scarf (link to chart here)
Yarn: Elann Highland Wool, Red Maple color
Needles: 4.0 mm (US6)

Do you remember that secret project I hinted about earlier, which I mentioned here and then showed you what the design looked like here when I gave you a sneak peak at my latest cable scarf pattern? I was going to wait a couple more weeks before I show you this and give you the details. However seeing that others have blogged their photos of the secret project without mentioning specifics, I guess this means I can show mine now and talk about it in more detail later.

So stay tuned for more details...

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Little progress on the knitting front over here. We've had a heat wave and the last thing I want is wool on my lap.

Saturday was the absolute worse. I think the forecast was in the high 90s. When I left the library at 12:45 PM and got into my car, the display told me it was 108ºF outside. It was probably a little lower than that. Regardless of what the exact number was, it is still honking hot!!!

It is much more bearable today. Miss M was thrilled that we could go to the park. The slide wasn't unbearably hot. There was a nice cool breeze. It was comfortable.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Got Tea?

I discovered a neato mosquito website, through Suzann, which will save your bookmarks on a website so you can access them from any computer. That's pretty handy! I keep all my bookmarks on my main computer but I also use other computers too from time to time so this is a pretty nifty tool for me. All you have to do is set up an account on Foxmarks then sync your bookmarks. Then you can access your bookmarks from any computer by logging in to the Foxmarks site. So far I have only found one downside. It doesn't seem to work with Safari (Apple's browser).

And since we're on a geeky topic, let me mention that Firefox 3 is finally out. Yay! I had been using 3 Beta for a while and it was working great. Now that version 3 has been officially released, all those Firefox add-ons should also catch up with compatibility.

One of my favorite Firefox add-ons is It's All Text. We've all been there, on a forum somewhere on the web, where we have to type up our message in an itty bitty text box or a very limited text box. I've always hated that. Well this It's All Text add-on will allow you to use a text editor of your choice. You can choose Notepad, Microsoft Word, or whatever you like.

My personal favorite text editor is VIM, which is an improvement on VI. There's a bit of a learning curve if you've never used a vi editor before, and I can't recommend it for everyone. However it can be a powerful editor if you take the time to learn all of its features. I have some vi tips links in my side bar under the "geeky links" section.

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Please send your thoughts and prayers to Chris and her husband Dave who has been experiencing heart trouble.

Please say a prayer for Claudia or wish her luck on her upcoming surgery on Tuesday.

Claudia, if you're ever near San Francisco, I think you'd really enjoy going up to Point Reyes (north of SF) and seeing the lighthouse at Point Reyes. I've taken out of towners up there when they visit, and we walk the 300-ish steps down to the lighthouse. The first time I walked down to the lighthouse I wondered why there was a bench along the way. Ha! I figured it out coming back up! Going UP those steps is a different matter. It's cold and windy there, so bundle up when you go.

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I went to Target in search of diapers and those tiny button batteries for one of Miss M's musical books. I never imagined that I would walk out with 6 new teas to try (one of them I have had before)! It does feel weird picking up so much tea when the weather is hot. Wonder if the cashier thought I was strange.
Celestial Seasonings Honey Vanilla White Tea Chai
Celestial Seasonings Sweet Coconut Thai Chai
Celestial Seasonings Chocolate Caramel Enchantment Chai
Celestial Seasonings Perfectly Pear White Tea
Stash Chocolate Hazelnut
Archer Farms Green Jasmine
Archer Farms Tropical

It's interesting how the tea selection varies at Target stores. I was elated to find the Celestial Seasonings Sweet Coconut Thai Chai tea (that was recommended by people on Ravelry) when I went to the Target in Cupertino, CA, this after not finding it at my local Safeway supermarket. However their tea selection in general was not impressive at all. I usually shop at this Target because it is on one level and thus easier to maneuver around with Miss M. The 2-level Target in Sunnyvale, CA is more challenging at times since I have to make certain I grab everything I want from the 2nd floor before I head back downstairs.

Anyhow, I hadn't gone back to the Sunnyvale Target in a while but I had to go there because I couldn't find the diapers I wanted at the Cupertino Target. Target stocks loads of diapers, but they're not always the flavor I'm looking for. Picked up my big box of pull-up diapers. Picked up a package of batteries for her book. Then wandered into the grocery store section. I never really paid much attention to that section of Target until someone suggested looking there for tea.

I picked up another box of the Sweet Coconut Thai Chai, now I have 3 boxes of that in the house. This one is yummy and I love how it is decaf especially since Miss M requests this tea by name. I'm currently expanding my chai tea bag horizons. I've never tried the Honey Vanilla White Tea Chai or Chocolate Caramel Enchantment Chai, but picked them up because I had not seen them before at Safeway. So that makes 4 flavors of Celestial Seasonings Chai Tea in my house, the other one was India Spice Chai, found at Longs Drugstore.

I saw the Perfectly Pear and couldn't recall whether that was the tea people recommended. I recalled a pear tea on the list, but couldn't remember the exact name. Anyhow this sounded interesting, I haven't had many teas with pear in it.

The Stash Chocolate Hazelnut and Celestial Seasonings Chocolate Caramel Enchantment Chai are my introduction to chocolaty flavored tea. Although I love chocolate, chocolate tea is not something I've gravitated towards in the past.

The two Archer Farms teas are a Target brand item. I've never tried them before and just threw them into my shopping cart on a whim. I think I have become incredibly lazy when it comes to brewing tea. I'm reaching for tea bags more frequently than loose leaf these days.

I haven't had a chance to try all these teas yet, just the Perfectly Pear, Chocolate Caramel Enchantment Chai, and the Jasmine. I like the first two. Yay! The Jasmine loose tea was nothing to write home about. If I don't like the other loose tea, then I will avoid all Archer Farms teas in the future.

Since I've started adding honey to my teas, I decided to pick up that ginormous bottle of honey from Costco. It is 2.3 kg (5 lb) of Sue Bee Honey, which is 6 or 7 times the size of the little bottle I picked up from Safeway which I went through so quickly. I hope honey has a long shelf life; I didn't see any expiry on the big bottle.

Anyhow, after all this talk about tea, I actually have not made any tea today. Yet I did make one cup of coffee using the coffee I picked up to make these cookies. I actually gave up coffee some years back for various reasons. I only have coffee as a treat now and then, and that is usually from Peet's, Starbucks or some other coffee shop. I was actually surprised at my cup of coffee today; it was pretty decent for an instant. Of course it has been decades since I last tried this stuff, so I can't be relied on for my impressions on instant coffee. And do you want to know the absolutely best part about my coffee this morning? I actually managed to sit down and drink half the cup UNINTERUPTED by Miss M. :-)

And about those cookies, I was a very very bad girl and ate five of them on the day I baked them. There are a few left now. We seem to have plenty of dessert in the house now. Cookies from Thursday, kahlua pie from yesterday, and some banana nut bread I baked earlier today.

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The following are just notes to myself for where I can buy specific flavors of tea bags:

Longs Drugstore in Sunnyvale, CA (El Camino, somewhere between Mathilda and Fair Oaks)
-- Celestial Seasonings India Chai Spice

Safeway in Sunnyvale, CA (El Camino near Wolfe)
-- Celestial Seasonings Honey Lemon Ginseng
-- Celestial Seasonings Wild Berry Zinger
-- Stash Chai Spice

Target in Cupertino, CA (Stevens Creek near De Anza)
-- Celestial Seasonings Sweet Coconut Thai Chai

Target in Sunnyvale, CA (Somewhere near Mathilda and the train station)
-- Celestial Seasonings Honey Vanilla White Tea Chai
-- Celestial Seasonings Sweet Coconut Thai Chai
-- Celestial Seasonings Chocolate Caramel Enchantment Chai
-- Celestial Seasonings Perfectly Pear White Tea
-- Stash Chocolate Hazelnut

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This flew in as I was picking up the mail one day. She landed on me and then fell onto the check I had just received from the Camino Medical Group (copay refund). She walked around the front side then disappeared to the underside. I was happy and excited about being able to show Miss M a ladybug up close. She found it interesting too. I managed to take some photos of her before I let her out into our back yard. She seemed reluctant to step off the paper, eventually did and then flew off...

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I got this from Barbara. Which side of the brain are you using? I can only see her rotating clockwise, so I'm using my right brain.

Getting a head start on Christmas projects? Check out Melissa's skein ornaments. Aren't they pretty? I wonder how hard it is to get the yarn to twist that way.

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This is just a tree I saw as I was at an intersection waiting for the light to turn green.
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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Do what I mean, not what I tell you

We've all heard the saying, "Do what I mean, not what I tell you." Apparently this also applies to knitting patterns. And boy did I find this out the hard way. Yes, I am talking about none other than that vest I am making for my Mom.

The vest instructions said to bind off all three pieces (back, right front, and left front) and that is exactly what I did. Then I did a gawd awful job of seaming the shoulders.

However I have since discovered from more seasoned knitters that I should have seam using kitchener, 3-needle bind off, or mattress stitch. Every example of the kitchener and 3-needle bind off shows it worked with both pieces still on needles, so this would mean I should not have bound off any of the vest pieces (as per pattern instructions) before doing either of these. And the examples of mattress stitch I have seen show seaming up the side of the knitting, and I couldn't figure out how to apply the mattress stitch to seaming the shoulders where you are working across the knitting. Then I stumbled upon this site showing how to knit stitch seam, which looks like the thing to do if both pieces have already been bound off and you're seaming across the knitting. However I still don't really grasp this technique and wish I could find better (more close up) step-by-step photos.

Oh well, it is too late to redo the shoulder seams since I have already knit the band around the arm hole. And I am NOT undoing that.

I'm still working on the band that goes around the front, from the bottom right section, up to and around the neck, then down the left to the bottom. That's 238 stitches to be picked up. I also have to figure out how to evenly space 5 button holes across a 58-stitch section.

If I ever finish this vest and if I ever decide to knit another shaped garment, I will probably try to find a pattern that does not require any seaming. Is there such a thing?

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I'm a bit frustrated with the disorganization of my yarn stash at the moment. I know I have a bag of Highland Wool in the Ruby red color (same color as these mitts). And although my Ravelry Stash is not quite up to date, I did take a lookie and it shows I had 14 balls with a few used for some projects. So I'm not smoking crack. I should have a good bulk of this yarn somewhere in the house. So where is it? I've looked in my Yarnmoire and all the plastic bins where I store overflow yarn. I went through these places three times over the past 2 days. Nothing. That bag of Highland Wool yarn is in hiding the way some of Miss M's toys do.

I was so intent on finding this a couple of days ago. Now I can't even remember why I was lokoing for it. Perhaps it'll come back to me when it's not past midnight and I am more awake.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Blogged

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I can't remember how I spiraled in. I was randomly web surfing, clicked here, clicked there, saw someone's nonsensical (non-knitting) blog and a widget in his sidebar, clicked on it, which brought me here. Ok, I'll check it out. They apparently rate blogs, I'm not sure what their criteria is though. I did a search for knitting blogs just for shishabobs and giggles. Did a quick scroll through the first few pages, recognized some blog names, and then this blog jumped out at me. Way to go Joan, you're 7.3 on their radar. :-)

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Chocolaty heaven

Miss M and I made a trip to Safeway today to gather the remaining ingredients we needed to make the cookies I mentioned yesterday: brown sugar, instant espresso powder, unsweetened cocoa powder, and semisweet chocolate chunks. I had some difficulty locating instant espresso powder. I perused the coffee section several times; everything labeled "instant" was regular coffee. Not being an instant coffee drinker, I had no idea which instant regular coffee to choose. I ended up picking up a bottle of Nescafé Taster's Choice Gourmet Roast. (Would you believe they sell this stuff on Amazon? Who woulda thunk!)

Miss M loves helping me in the kitchen, especially when baking is involved. She helps me measure and mix. The only thing I don't let her do is crack the egg open. I do have a bit of a challenge with making sure some ingredients get into the mixing bowl. She was eating the walnuts as I was removing them from the bag and trying to break the apart before throwing them into the mixing bowl. She was also tempted by the chocolate chunks. Who wouldn't?

I picked up the only kind of chocolate chunks available at my Safeway, so making a choice there was pretty easy. Everything else they sold were chips. Although they did the job, there was something contrived about having most of these chocolate chunks identical in shape and size. I think next time I will have to pick up a big block of chocolate and chop it up myself.



Double Chocolate Mocha Cookie dough

The dough smells so good! Miss M even shoved her face into the bowl to take a whiff of it. The dough is so chunky after folding in the chocolate chunks and nuts.

About that table you see in all my photos... it is Miss M's table which we picked up from Ikea many moons ago. It is the Minnen table. We also got her two matching chairs, although it looks slightly different from the one pictured on their website now, and hers are red. The set used to live in the family room, but then it eventually moved to the kitchen.



Double Chocolate Mocha Cookie dough on cookie sheet

Miss M likes to help me drop rounded teaspoonfuls, or tablespoonfuls in this case, of cookie dough onto the sheets. She isn't very critical about placement, just plopping them down where ever she feels like. I have to go back and rearrange them so that they're somewhat evenly spaced apart. I only managed to put 8 cookies on these 12" x 16" (40.6 cm x 30.5 cm) sheets. I made 24 cookies, plus one oversized 25th cookie.


Double Chocolate Mocha Cookies on plate

The photo above shows you most of the cookies. I'm afraid some cookies didn't make it to the plate. ;-)

These cookies are scrumptious. Make some for yourself. And if you don't like these cookies after taking your first bite, then you are more than welcome to mail the rest of the batch to me. I'll gladly take them off your hands... ;-)

Thanks Trish for a great recipe!!!

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cornish hens

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Last weekend I made Nigella Lawson's Cornish hen recipe and thought the birds came out too dry. I pretty much followed her recipe, except that I also threw in some poultry seasoning on the inside. I felt all the flavor was on the skin and the meat underneath was on the bland side. The dark meat (drumsticks) were ok, however the breast meat was dry as the Sahara. I still have 2 more birds in the freezer, so my current goal is to try to make these Cornish hens come out more palatable. Perhaps baking at a lower temperature for a longer time would work out better than 45 minutes at 425ºF (218ºC) ???

I'm trying to gather ingredients to make Trish's Double Chocolate Mocha Cookie recipe. Miss M likes to help me with baking. I'm pretty sure these cookies will be a hit with her. I need to find a place in my new town to get some unsweetened cocoa powder and semisweet chocolate chunks. In my old city, I would have walked over to the Ferry Building and stopped by the Scharffenberger or Sur La Table.




Gas station at El Camino & Wolfe in Sunnyvale, CA

The insanity continues, $4.79 for super unleaded. Unfortunately my wagon uses super unleaded.

Ever since birth, Miss M has never been a very good sleeper. She never liked being in her infant carrier, and unlike most babies she also hated riding in the car. I can still hear the wah wah wah! from those days. I believe one of the deciding factors for choosing the wagon we have is that Miss M fell asleep during our test drive. Yup. Miracles do happen. It was sort of a pain to have to redo the car seat base whenever we test drove a car, however I don't think any of the people at the dealerships minded the extra time it took for us to get situated.

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Ok, I've got Miss M napping today. I'm gonna go work on a little knitting now. I need to fix something I was knitting last night. I got carried away while chatting with DH that I overknit by several rows. It's an easy knit/purl pattern, so it will be a cinch to fix the error.

Then maybe I'll lie down and close my eyes for a while. My left eye has been bothering me for over a month now, and it feels like it needs a rest.

And perhaps I will finish up the 2nd arm band on my mom's vest tonight.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Our new bird family

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When I mentioned whoo-ing sounds in my neighborhood during daylight hours and thought they might be from non-noctural owls, Michelle and Melanie informed me that they are more likely mourning doves. I think they are correct because I do have some birds outside that look very similar to the one pictured in the Wikipedia article.


Mourning dove in back yard

The photo above was taken over a month ago. At the time I had no idea what kind of bird this was, just that it decided to visit my yard and stood still(ish) long enough for me to attempt to take a picture of it through our sliding door. Please excuse all the plant matter debris on the ground. The bird was standing underneath our huge overgrown orange tree which had been flowering(?) at the time in addition to dropping leaves and oranges. I normally sweep under there, except that during this period there was intense ginormous black (carpenter?) bee activity in my yard and around this tree, and I was deathly afraid of going out there let alone stand underneath the tree with all these buzzing bees.

Let's fast forward to this morning...


Mourning dove tail, seen through kitchen window

For some unknown reason, I was particularly aware of bird noises outside my kitchen window this morning. This is what I saw when I tilted the blinds. I think I startled them when I raised the blinds, because I saw one fly away towards the fence. However this one above remained with the nest, and presumably eggs.

Side note: A few months earlier, there had been another nest up there, and a smaller bird family had set up their home until their baby was born. I never managed photos of this family, they were smaller flighty birds, of a brownish color and one of them with a bit of red on his head and chest. The nest was already there when we bought the new house, although it was vacant at the time. Then this bird family moved in, remodeled a little bit (debris on ground), and lived comfortably there for a while. As time passed by I noticed that their nest seemed to sag a bit until one day it actually fell down. I found it when I went outside to sweep. Well that would explain why I hadn't seen them for a little while. I had wondered whether the neighborhood cat (or other creature) might have gotten to them. The location is actually pretty ideal, since they're sheltered underneath the roof overhang, and then there is the latticed section covering a small part of the area adjacent to the house. I just couldn't imagine it being very easy for a cat go up onto the roof and hang off the edge while trying to take a swipe at the birds. I do know that I have heard the cat climb up the side of our house by the fireplace, and DH has actually seen the cat do this. And the cat had often sat outside our kitchen/family room, staring up at where the nest was located. So perhaps this did happen after all. I don't know.


Twiggy debris on ground underneath nest

When I went outside this afternoon to do a little sweeping, I found some twiggy debris underneath the nest area. I know it's difficult to see the debris with the shadow of the lattice cover. This debris was not there on Sunday when I last swept that area. So they must have moved in after that. The wall on the right is where my kitchen window is located.



Mourning dove on left

I'm surprised I actually managed to get photos of these birds through the lattice. It was very sunny and bright outside, so I could not see the camera LCD well at all. I was using the force and hoping I'd get something. I know it's dark and hard to distinguish the bird, you may get a better look by clicking on the photo to enlarge it. I avoided using the flash lest I startle the birds.

Looks like the pair of them were home at the time. The photo above is the one on the left (head is in the center of photo). The photo below is the one on the right.


Mourning dove on right

They look virtually identical to me from where I was standing. How do you tell which is male and which is female?
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Mourning dove tail

This is looking upwards from the back side. I was pretty much standing in the corner looking upwards. Moving away from the corner I could see that one of them was looking at me curiously, wondering what I was doing and probably wondering whether I was a threat. I said, "hello," and then, "goodbye," before returning inside.

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Mom's vest, right side armband

On the knitting front, I've made a little progress on my mom's vest. I feel as though I have been knitting this vest for an eternity, it's only been 7 months (since November when I started). And this is for a simple knit/purl type pattern too!

The photo above shows the right side armband. I had to pick up 108 stitches along that edge and knit in garter stitch for one inch. Sounds simple enough. OMG, I couldn't believe it took me a half hour just to pick up those 108 stitches! I was very pleased with myself when I bound off this arm band because I remembered to leave a relatively longer tail for seaming the side seam later. I did not feel like tackling the other arm band after finishing the first one.

Are you as sick as I am at looking at this yarn color? It's called Allspice, however I'm started to associate the word "puke" with it. I know, it's awful. And that's just a boring way to describe it. I think there are some interesting color descriptions in Chinese. One I've heard my mom use many times (in Chinese) is literally translated as "duck shit green".

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I do have a couple of other WIPs...

One is a cable scarf knit in Elann Luxury Merino Superwash DK yarn in a lovely purple called Viola Phlox. I haven't taken a photo of this yet. It's my TV knitting scarf because the pattern is very easy.

And I'm also slowly chipping away at my HUGe 2008 swap project. I'm working on #4 of 10. I want to tell you about all the details. Unfortunately you'll have to wait until October or November. I think I need to finish all 10 items by Sept and mail them in Oct. I have to verify the details.

I also need to finish the scarf for my mother-in-law.

And hopefully before the next Ice Age, I will type up row-by-row instructions for my Hera Cable Scarf, although the chart is already available for download (and I notice that there have been 11 downloads of the 3-cable version and 9 downloads of the 5-cable version).

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A few weeks ago, Vicki suggested that I spice up my blog header by using one of my own photos instead of the default mundane banner you see above. She made this as an example:



I love the font she chose, however I think the issue I have with the background photo is that there is too much green color. I hate green. Well, I don't really. It's just not "my" color, yet I always seem to end up knitting with green more often than I would like.

I've been meaning to go through some of my old photos to find one I like better, preferably something with a little more... purple? What would be a good background for my blog banner?

Of course, I've also been meaning to sort through my old photos which date back to December. Most of them are of Miss M, which I post on another personal blog which I set up mainly for the in-laws to look at. I guess I'm less inclined to post photos there since I know they seldom visit that blog. Regardless of this, I do still need to sort them before they go into our permanent photo archive.

It takes (me) a long time to type up a blog post. There are times when it feels rewarding to blog, and other times when it feels pointless.


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Sunday, June 15, 2008

An easy contest

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Go check out Georgi's blog for a really easy contest. All you need to do is leave a comment. It can't get easier than that, can it?


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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Hera Scarf sneak peak & vest progress

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Vest seamed at shoulders

I discovered two things as I seamed the shoulder sections of my mom's vest last night. The first was simply purblind. I should have left much longer tails when I bound off the vest sections so that I could use them for seaming the shoulders. The second was forgetting a fundamental property of 100% wool yarn -- that it can be spit spliced! Ok, can you see how these two slip ups can go hand in hand?


Vest seamed at shoulders

I started seaming the left front section first, using the tail from the outer edge and working inwards towards the neck. Unfortunately I only had enough tail to knit about halfway across. Since the other piece had a tail on the inner (neck) edge, I used that to seam from neck edge towards the outer edge. I had enough yarn on this second tail to reach the point where I left off with the first tail.


Left shoulder seam

Here's a close-up of the left shoulder seam. You can see where the two ends met in the middle. It seems quite noticeable to me. And I don't think I seamed properly. I need to learn how to seam. I had the pieces with wrong sides facing in when I did the seaming. I wonder if I was supposed to do it the other way around, with right sides facing in. It's entirely my fault, I should have looked up how to seam before I started.



Right shoulder seam

Here's a close-up of the right shoulder seam. I think it looks a bit neater than the left shoulder seam. This is because I seamed in one direction. I did not have enough yarn to seam the entire section, however a light bulb finally turned "on" and I realized that I could attach more yarn to this end by spit splicing it. Oh, should I mention that I had already cut an extra long piece of yarn to start seaming from the opposite end before this light bulb turned on? Yeah, that happened. So dim witted of me.

Even though I cut off a few plies before joining the two ends, I can definitely tell where the spit splicing occurred. You may be able to see it in the photo above.

In a previous post, I expressed concern about the vest being too short. My mom is petite like me. I decided to drape this over my shoulders to get a feel for how long it would be. The bottom edge reached to my belly button. Perhaps a tad too short. I still have hopes of blocking the vest later and stretching it longer just a wee bit.

In retrospect, I probably could have knit an extra repeat (4-rows) for each block. This would have made the vest longer by 16 additional rows. Oh well, too late now.


Hera Cable Scarf

Here's a sneak peak at my latest design, the Hera Cable Scarf. It is the same pattern I used for that secret project I mentioned before, which I can't blog about until next month. However you can see what it looks like in my Flickr photostream.

I designed this a while back and made 2 versions. One has 3 cable patterns, the other has 5 cable patterns. I prefer the 5 cable version, however I haven't yet been able to find an appropriate yarn to knit up this version. Vicki saw both designs and told me she preferred the 3 cable version.


Elann Luxury Merino Superwash DK yarn, Irish Moss color

I wanted the Hera Scarf knit in Elann Luxury Merino Superwash DK yarn. Unfortunately it didn't work out in the 5 cable version of this scarf, where it ended up being over 12 inches wide. I thought this was too wide for a scarf. So I used this yarn in the 3 cable version instead. The color is Irish Moss, a very pretty green that is better represented by the photo above of the 2 balls.

I am still trying to find an appropriate yarn for the 5 cable version. Elann Baby Cashmere is so soft (perfect for a scarf) but doesn't provide crisp stitch definition for cable patterns (something I learned when I knit the Osiris Cable Scarf). I thought I would try Elann Highland Sport. The stitch definition was better with Highland Sport, unfortunately I thought this yarn was too scratchy to wear around the neck. So I'm still trying to make a good marriage match between my Hera Scarf 5-cable version pattern and some nice next-to-skin-soft yarn in an appropriate fingerling weight or sport weight. Any suggestions?

I haven't had time lately to type up row-by-row instructions for my Hera Scarf, but I do intend to someday. However I did upload the charts last month to Box.net, where both 3-cable and 5-cable versions can be downloaded.

Hera Scarf Chart downloads:

Hera Scarf Chart - 3-panel version from Box.net
Hera Scarf Chart - 5-panel version from Box.net

The cable pattern is a bit "yarn thirsty", as most cable patterns are. But this one seemed especially thirsty compared to the other cable scarves I made.

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Today is World Wide Knit In Public Day. As I was driving down El Camino Real in Sunnyvale, CA, around 12:10 PM, I noticed a Purlescence sign in the "park" by Mathilda(? sorry, not exactly sure what the cross street is), and 3 people in chairs under a canopy covering. They didn't appear to be knitting though, perhaps the event hadn't officially started at that the time I was passing by.
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One word only

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I saw this on Grace's blog and decided to give it a try too.


ONE WORD ONLY!Not as easy as you might think. Now copy, forward, or post this and change the answers to yours and pass it on. It’s really hard to only use one word answers.


1. Where is your cell phone? ………….. bag


2. Your significant other?………………….. DH


3. Your hair? …………………………………….. brown


4. Your mother? ……………………………….. O


5. Your father?…………………………………….. W


6. Your favorite thing?……………………….. quietude


7. Your dream last night?………………….. unremarkable


8. Your favorite drink? ……………………….. tea


9. Your dream/goal?………………………….. happiness


10. The room you’re in?…………………….. office


11. Your ex?……………………………………….. none


12. Your fear?…………………………………….. spiders


13. Where do you want to be in 6 years?…….. Hawaii


14. Where were you last night?………….. home


15. What you’re not?………………………….. successful


16. Muffins?……………………………………….. absolutely!


17. One of your wish list items?………….. air


18. Where you grew up?…………………….. San Francisco


19. The last thing you did?………………….. imbibe


20. What are you wearing?………………….. shorts


21. Your TV?……………………………………….. antediluvian


22. Your pets?…………………………………….. none


23. Your computer? …………………………….. laptop


24. Your life?……………………………………….. prosaic


25. Your mood?………………………………….. fatigued


26. Missing someone?……………………….. yes


27. Your car?……………………………………….. Subaru


28. Something you’re not wearing?…….. footwear


29. Favorite Store?……………………………….. multitudinous


30. Your summer?……………………………….. sweltering


31. Like(love) someone?…………………………….. M


32. Your favorite color?……………………….. purple


33. Last time you laughed?……………….. yesterday


34. Last time you cried?……………………….. March


35. Who will re-post this?…………………….. unknown

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Please leave a comment with your blog addy if you're playing so I can read your responses.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Vest Sections Done, Yay!


Mom's vest, front sections
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If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.
If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.
If you're happy and you know it, and you really wanna show it,
If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.

Miss M used to sing this all the time. I am clapping my hands. And although I haven't finished mom's vest, I can tell you that I am extremely happy about finishing the Right Front section. Finally!

I actually miscalculated how far I needed to rip back. It's not where the lifeline is pictured in my last post about the vest. I had to rip back to the block before it, another 20 rows back.



Mom's vest, all three pieces together

Here are the three pieces side-by-side. There's Miss M on the left, always eager to "help" when I'm trying to take photos. I'm glad that the Left Front and Right Front sections aren't terribly different from each other. I was afraid one might be much larger than the other.



Front sections placed on top of Back section

The photo above shows the front sections placed on top of the back section. (Miss M thought her butterfly piece enhanced the photo) It looks like they'll fit together OK. The only thing I'm worried about now is whether the vest is long enough. It seems a bit short. I wonder whether I should block these three pieces before I sew the shoulder seam.

I was thinking of possibly blocking the vest after I finish it. I still have to knit the band around the arm holes, and the band that goes up the front and around the neck. I'm not sure how this would work out if the vest sections were blocked and then I knit the (unblocked) band.

I will need to put in 5(?) button holes while knitting the front band. I have to figure out how to space them out and where they'll go. And then comes the fun part of shopping for buttons.

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I did recently finish a little something. Unfortunately I can't blog about it until next month. Well, I probably can because it is going to someone who doesn't usually read my blog. I'm still gonna wait. All I'll tell you is that it is rubescent and has just a few cables in it.

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V brought back lots of neat stuff from her recent trip to Shanghai and Hong Kong. The necklace in the photo above is one of them. She tells me that the red stone is coral. You can read about her trip on Pixels from the Orient, and see all the photos from Shanghai here and photos from Hong Kong here.



So that small square transparent plastic thing (seen here) is a stand for the iPod Touch. I don't see myself using it much so this piece will most likely get lost. The mystery white piece is for use with a docking station. I don't have one of those, so this little white piece will just follow the little clear piece into some black hole in our house.

I really like using my iPod Touch. I use it for listening to music and audio books. It's cool to be able to web surf but it is sooooo sloooooow, and has its quirks.

I love the no frills sock I made for the iPod. I just realized that I should knit one for my digital camera too. I've been throwing my camera into my purse lately and just yesterday noticed that the LCD is slightly scratched.

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Ok, it's time for me to figure out what to give the guv for dinner...

She's been having a bout of diarrhea since Friday, and everything got worse on Monday when there were cries/tears of pain while using the potty. I could tell they were real cries of pain and not the cries of fussiness. Otherwise, there were tummy pains and complaints of it being itchy down there. There's definitely lots of discomfort, I could tell from how she sometimes walked and how she even refused to climb up onto her car seat.

I was very worried until I managed to get a same day appt with her pediatrician. I was wondering whether this had anything to do with the salmonella scare in tomatoes (affecting Roma, plum, and round tomatoes) that has recently been in the news. We have been eating lots of salads lately. From the news articles I've read, tomatoes "on the vine" are safe. And a more recent news article says California grown tomatoes are safe. I had 2 different batches of Roma tomatoes on the vine. One box says "grown in USA" and the other says "product of Canada". I wasn't sure whether either were safe, so I'm tossing the lot. The other thing on my mind was a possibility of Urinary Tract Infection.

The visit to the pediatrician was somewhat reassuring. We were advised to try some ointments, and also try eating or avoiding certain foods. Another thing we had to do was take a urine sample. I know it sounds like a simple task, but try asking a 3 yr old to pee in a cup! lol. DH & I managed it though. We received negative results yesterday. We're still waiting on "culture" results. Not sure what that is about. Anyhow, I'll take the negative.

So one of the things we're to do is follow a BRAT diet. BRAT = bananas, rice, applesauce, toast. Crackers, soup, and noodles without sauce is also OK. Yogurt is ok, otherwise avoid dairy. Soy or lactose free milk is OK. Increase fluids. Now that is a challenging one with Miss M. Cranberry juice was given the OK, and Miss M seems to like it.

I think I'll give her chicken noodle soup, with some added rice.

We applied 1% clotrimazole on her and things seem to be improving. Vitamin A&D ointment, Aquaphor, or Vaseline was also recommended. Well I already have Aquaphor (great stuff!). The Vitamin A&D is just diaper rash cream. I decided to use what we have at home, Desitin in the original 40% zinc oxide flavor.

On the upside, Miss M napped yesterday and today. She did not nap on Monday, which was the reason why I couldn't finish my little red cable project (mentioned above) until yesterday.

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Gathering HUGe supplies

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HUGe supplies, containing "software".

I'm excited. I want to tell you why. But it's a secret, for now. However I can tell you that it has something to do with the upcoming HUGe swap. I have never participated in a HUGe swap before. It was started by T in the Elann chat room. She groups participants into groups of 10. Each person makes 10 items for the swap and sends them to T. She gathers everything and places one of each item into boxes and sends them back to the participants. So you make 10 items for the swap, and you'll receive a box back with 10 items other people in your group made. If you didn't follow that, then it's best to wait for T's post about HUGe, she can explain it better. ;-)

The little bag you see above contains some of the supplies I think I will use to make the items for the swap. I can't show you the contents. Sorry, no peeking!!!




HUGe supplies, "hardware" in Teavana bag, "software" in Lupicia bag.

Lupicia is one of my favorite tea shops. I had one not far from our old house in San Francisco and I was so thrilled to discover that they also opened one in San Jose, which is closer to our new house. So I can easily stop by and pick up more tea. I love the setup of their store, very sniff-friendly, and the staff is always very helpful. I mentioned the type of bags I like to use for my WIPs in an earlier post. This particular bag above is a bit on the larger side for my typical WIP. The Teavana bag is more like the size I usually use for carrying my WIPs around. To give you a size reference, the water bottle is 500 ML / 16 oz.

Thanks Theresa for the project idea!

Oh BTW, my HUGe project has nothing to do with tea...

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Miss M likes to ride her tricycle around the neighborhood. Her latest thing is to look for houses with wind chimes. They're fascinating to her. There is a house nearby that has at least half a dozen out front, some by the front porch, some by the rose bushes. I wonder if they ward off crows, cuz I'd put them up if they did! Well, I'd think about it, but probably wouldn't. DH doesn't like wind chimes so it's not likely we'll ever have one. :-(

On these rides/walks around the neighborhood we often run into some of our our little neighbors. One day we were challenged to find a safe way to cross without crushing any of the 4 snails that were trying to cross. Here's one of them:



While passing the same house on another day, we saw only one snail:



Miss M thought it was neat to watch these guys. Brave fellows, they don't know what kind of danger they're in while crossing the sidewalk!

There was one day when we spied this little guy:








Yeah, I know. Not very exciting photos. Until I pick up some photography skills, I will just blame it on my camera. You've gotta check out Michele's neighborhood squirrel. I could never take such a beautiful shot of this dexterous fellow. Isn't he cute?

We often hear owls in our neighborhood. Whoo, whoo, whoo. In the daytime. I thought they were nocturnal. They're out there somewhere. I've never seen one.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Can't walk and chew gum

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This pattern is kicking my butt. I'm trying to knit this Patchwork Textured Vest for my Mom. It is my very first attempt at knitting a shaped garment and it is proving to be more of a challenge than I ever imagined it would be. I chose this vest for two reasons. The main reason is that it met all of Mom's criteria. The second reason is because it looked like a relatively easy pattern to follow. I must be extremely dense because I cannot even finish this simple pattern.

I had finished the Back and Left Front sections of the vest a little while back. I started the Right Front section and set it aside for a while, but managed to pick it up again during my trip to Monterey. I was moving right along and thought I was ready to bind off. Then I noticed the little note on the side where I wrote "22 sts". Ok, I clearly had more than that on my needles. I had 42 stitches! Ok, what happened here?!


Right Front section

The photo above shows the Right Front section where I was ready to bind off. I hadn't really looked at the piece last night, but after laying it out to take this photo I can clearly see that it lacks the shaping it should have. It is so obvious when you compare it to the photo of the Left Front section. This piece is too rectangular. What went wrong?



Close up of stitches on last row

The photo above shows the last row before bind off. Yup, definitely more than 22 stitches.

I know I cast on 47 stitches when I started this Right Front section. I somehow only managed to decrease 5 stitches in the shaping section. I clearly could not follow instructions. I think I was too focused on following the 4-row repeat of the block patterns, and forgot I needed to do some sort of decrease every 2 or 4 rows. I also noticed that I didn't even do the "bind off 7" that begins the shaping section. Sigh...

If I had to guess, I'd say I just knit the first 24 rows of the shaping section without any decreases, and only applied the 5 decreases in the last 20 rows.



Lifeline added to a row below where shaping begins

I took a slightly smaller 4.0 mm (US6) needle to work a lifeline through a row below where the shaping section begins. You can read about lifelines on Knitty. I will rip back to this point and start the shaping section again. Hopefully my forehead will have healed (from banging my head against the desk) by the time I hit my next snag...

Any bets on when I will actually finish this vest?

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Carmel

This is just a continuation of my previous Monterey/Carmel post with a few more photos from my recent trip. I think Miss M really enjoyed the road trip because she asked where we were going next, as in our next little road trip or vacation. We'll have to see whether DH can take some time off again, perhaps around July 4th. I wonder if she would get bored if we went up north and stayed at Sea Ranch.

We had a nice little stroll along the main strip in Carmel, viz. Ocean Avenue. There are lots of cute little shops and restaurants in this area. It is the main tourist attraction here. I should have taken photos of the shops on the street so you can see it. I've come here so many times in the past that I don't even think about doing that.

We sometimes stop in at Flaherty's restaurant when we visit Carmel. Decent food at reasonable prices, and the Oyster Bar side of the restaurant is casual and kid friendly. But then, I'd also be perfectly happy getting pizza from Mountain Mike's Pizza further down Hwy 1 near Carmel Valley Rd, lol.





There is a mall at the corner of Ocean Ave and Junipero Ave which mostly contains the same sort of stores you would find in Any Mall, USA. There used to be a Saks Fifth Avenue many years ago, it is gone now. Sharper Image also closed some years back. I find the landscaping part of the appeal here. It's just a nice pretty place to sit down and have a cup of coffee or tea.





Miss M gets a kick out of anything fountain-like than spits out water. This one looks like a dog's head.






After walking around the shopping area, we headed down to the beach at the end of Ocean Ave. We drove down there and found parking. We didn't think Miss M would have made it back up the steep incline if we had walked down there. She loved the sand here.


Pacific Ocean



Looking North-West



Looking South-West

This sure beats the sand we had in San Francisco!

We thought the drive back home would be a breeze since the holiday weekend had past. There was still a bit of traffic, and then we slowed to a crawl on Hwy 17 behind the CHP who stopped to pick up something off the road. It looked like a sledge hammer to me. Who would put such a thing on the highway?

I did knit a little more of Mom's vest during this trip, but then I had another major disaster with it. I'll tell you about it next time...


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