Friday, January 27, 2006

A Minor Variation

The "rules" for the Olympic knitting competition say that we're allowed to do a test swatch of our project before the thing actually starts. I decided that it wasn't difficult enough to do a multidirectional scarf, I wanted to do it in two colors. :) The girls at KH warned me about weaving in lots of ends, but I'm brave! (By way of explanation, the yarn end of the first blue triangle is really far away from the end of the red triangle, so I will have to cut and re-start for each new triangle.)

So here's the test swatch. (I didn't feel like cutting the blue to start another triangle.) It looks really cool, I think. Of course, the final product will be wider than this, 5" or 6" across instead of 3".

In other knitting news, I finally finished the hood part of Sam's sweater, so all that's left is to put it together, create the drawstring parts, and block it. I'll post some pics of it when it's all one piece. (Soon - I'm giving it to her in Vegas in three weeks!)

Monday, January 23, 2006

Everybody Has A Dream

... whether it's an Olympic Dream or a knitting-related dream. ;)

A bunch of us have decided to participate in Yarnharlot's Knitting Olympics.

The idea is to start knitting something when the Olympic flame is lit in Torino, and be done with it by the time the flame is extinguished at the end of the games. That's February 10 to February 26, in case you were wondering. Of course, depending on your skill level, that could be a real challenge, or a straight scarf.

I'm going to make a multidirectional scarf. (much harder than a straight scarf, really.) Dani is still trying to figure out what she's making. There are three or four other girls (in Atlanta and DC) participating in our little group, and hundreds have signed up on Yarnharlot's page. I think she's even going to give out medals. :)

Unrelated - we had Yenta birthday dinner at TenPenh tonight, since Judy happened to be in town, and all three of our birthdays are in Jan/Feb. YUMMY. I am going to have to figure out how to make ginger sweet potatoes. The wasabi mashed potatoes were also excellent, along with the seared ahi tuna and endive tempura. (I know I'm gonna have to bring Jae and Teri here next time they come to DC!) They have a whole selection of creative cocktails, but I steered clear after spending most of yesterday hung-over from Saturday night's festivities!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Captain Jack will get you high tonight...

... or maybe it's just the paint fumes? For some reason, any time they paint or do any kind of re-furbishing work in the apartments in my building, MY apartment fills with fumes so bad it gives me an instant headache. Now that I think about it, I did see them delivering new kitchen cabinetry over the weekend.

(As Val found out the hard way, they won't re-do anything in these apartments until the person moves out. Otherwise, I'd have a new stove/oven by now!)

So, if you talk to me tomorrow and I'm a little loopy, this might be why. But I shouldn't complain - my parents lost power AGAIN tonight. bummer.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

"only the good die young*"

I am not the only one whose measuring sheepie died a terrible death! However, Phyl-phyl's take on the situation was far funnier than mine. :)

(Viewer Discretion is Advised)

* and many thanks to D. for coming up with the appropriate song lyric!

Monday, January 16, 2006

"You had to be a big shot, didn'tcha?"

Golden Globe Commentary so far -

Happy Moments:
  • Sandra Oh won for Grey's Anatomy
  • S. Epatha Merkerson won for Lackawanna Blues (and she got to bring Jesse L. Martin as her DATE! SO not fair!)
  • Hugh Laurie won for House
  • Mary-Louise Parker beat 4 Desperate Housewives for Best Actress in a TV Series-Comedy ("Weeds" on Showtime)
  • John Williams wins again! I can't wait to see Memoirs of a Geisha. I wonder if the other movie score-writers just write off the award whenever he is nominated?
Most touching moment so far - Mary-Louise Parker, in her acceptance speech, also mentioned what a wonderful man John Spencer was. This is probably the only time he'll be mentioned (except for the In Memoriam montage, which is basically a "who gets the most applause" competition...) since West Wing wasn't nominated for ANYTHING.

Worst dressed -
  • Virginia Madsen is about to pop out of her dress (Mariah Carey is too, but that's not unusual)!
  • Harrison Ford needs to shave, as does Jeremy Piven (even though I love them both, Harrison looks old, and Piven just looks scruffy). What's with the furry-chinned men this year? Paul Giamatti has a thick beard, and Colin Firth, too. Neatly trimmed is nice (see Jesse L. Martin, for example)... but this scruffy thing, eh.
  • And Gwynnie, I know you're preggers, but please. What's with the fru-fru? (At least it's not as bad as that horrible goth outfit from 2002)

Blech, DH won the award for best TV Comedy. But Felicity looks lovely.

I'm sure I'll have more to say later.

"You may be right, I may be crazy"

As Dani pointed out, I am going to try to use Billy Joel lyrics as blog titles for the foreseeable future. (Or at least until after the concert.... but we'll see how it goes.) Fortunately, there are plenty of songs to choose from! :)

I went to the gym this morning (third time this month! yeah!) and then D and I went for lunch/brunch. The thing about trying to eat healthy, at least at the Metro29 diner, is that it's much more expensive than eating junk food. It was very difficult to avoid ordering the fries... but D was nice and gave me 2 small pieces of her giant french toast. Yum.

Saturday, we wandered by Knit Happens. I had to replace the sheep measuring tape that Marc surgically disemboweled in LA (see photo), and D needed help with her sock knitting, from resident guru Holly. I bought a book about "Modular" knitting. I've always liked geometric shapes and angles -- that's what I usually draw when I'm doodling during a conference call -- so this really appeals to me. I particularly like the scarf pattern on the book cover, although I'd do it in different colors. I'm still working on Samantha's hood and starting my own sweater... but if there's a nice sweater pattern in the Modular book, maybe I'll use that.

Now, with the CSI: marathon running in the background on SpikeTV, it's time to do some house-cleaning. Last night I was reorganizing the closet, and I found a bunch of bottles of vitamins, old shampoo, and other crap with expiration dates starting in the late '90's. Blech. (Plus, house-cleaning also counts as WW activity points! yay!) Then I'm going to Fairfax to see Hannah-banana and give her the little gifty I got for her at Harrod's. :)

Saturday, January 14, 2006

"I don't care what you say anymore, this is MY life..."

The ticketmaster site was very busy, but I managed to get two tickets to Billy Joel! Whooopeeee!

Now, of course he'll have to announce a second show in DC -- he's playing 7 times at Madison Square Garden in Jan/Feb, three times in Philly... and he always plays at least two nights in DC.

He's also playing at the MGM Grand in Vegas in April - anybody up for a road trip? :)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

"It's nine o'clock on a Saturday..."

I am so excited! I heard on the radio this morning that Billy Joel will be playing at the MCI Center on March 16th! YAY! I have seen him every time he's been to DC since I was in high school, from the now-defunct Caps Center/USAir Arena, to nosebleed-level seats at the MCI Center -- and every time, I've gone with my MOM! We love Billy. :)

He hasn't produced any new music recently, but the tour is to promote his "My Lives" 4-CD (plus DVD) set. Don't know if I'll buy it, since I pretty much already own everything he's ever done! heh

(So as long as he doesn't drive into any trees between now and March 16th, it ought to be a great show!) He's so much fun in concert.

Monday, January 09, 2006

time to b*tch a little...

Today I am experiencing some form of mild depression - or maybe just mad-at-the-world? or maybe the winter blahs? I feel like nothing went right this weekend. I'm finally over the jetlag from London (they say it takes as many days to recover as time zones you pass through), but maybe it's some residual disappointment because USC lost the Rose Bowl. :( hmm... and Verizon cut off my DSL over the weekend because I owe them a whopping $1.94... I just feel like everything is going wrong and there's nothing I can do about it. And I got stuck at mom & dad's until 11pm last night because somehow the network printer doesn't seem to want to print anything and I can't figure out why. The blah's are probably also tied to the fact that I seem to have gained 10 lbs or more last year, and am not making it to the gym after work, so nothing fits right. UGH. On the one hand, it's a bummer that I gave away my larger clothes when I lost weight. On the other hand, it means I MUST get going on the diet thing!

There were a few bright spots over the weekend:
  • Getting my first pedicure with Dani -- my toes look so cute in candy-apple red. I'll definitely get another pedi someday... probably when it's warmer so a) I don't have to wear flip-flops in 40 degree weather, and b) I can show off! :)
  • Getting a Chanuka present from my little brother, who ordered two books on my Amazon wish list and sent them to the house for me. :)
  • Finishing (finally) the second sleeve for Samantha's hoodie sweater and starting on the front pocket. The final challenges are going to be the hood, and putting the whole thing together. Stay tuned, I will post a pic of it when it's done... hopefully in time to give it to her in Vegas in February.
  • The Redskins managed to hold on and win in Tampa to make it to the 2nd round of the playoffs. Seattle, here we come!
ok, I'm done bitching. It's my life, and I have to take control. I haven't really made any New Year's resolutions, but clearly the weight loss/get in shape idea is there subconsciously. Other than that, I resolve to go out and meet new people (maybe some nice Jewish boys?), save some $$ so I can buy an apartment, and find a job that I really love. Reading the Fast Company Social Capitalist awards has really made me think about philanthropy and education.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

London pics posted

Here's a link to my Kodak Gallery album of pictures from last week.

Skype is cool!

So I went to Radio Shack today and picked up the $9.99 earbud for Skype so I could call my brother in Australia. It's not that I didn't think that it would work... but I just didn't know what would happen. Clearly, so many people are using it that they must be doing something right. I signed up (my ID is MelyssaF, for those of you who are interested) and found Bryan online, and decided to call him. What the heck, it's 1:45pm on Friday there!

Well, it works -- We are chatting as I write this. It's very cool! I'm definitely going to have to set up mom and dad to do this. I remember thinking it was funny when people first got telephones and they used to say that it sounded like the person they were talking to was "in the next room" - but this little headset works that well, too! And when he called me back (just to test it), my computer rang like a telephone! Funny.

He's off to the gym now, as it's Friday afternoon and he doesn't have a job (yet).

Hey, I may not be on "the cutting edge" but at least I can say I've tried it. :) And it's a lot cheaper than calling him directly, either on my cell or land line.

The little earbud came with a voucher for 30 minutes of free skype-to-landline calls, so I'm gonna try calling some other people with it now, just to test it. :D

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Farewell to London

Monday night, we went back to the Gaucho restaurant for dinner. Mom was smart enough not to order the fish this time. ;) I had a burger. Yes, it seems silly, but it was a tremendous sirloin burger, with a big slice of shaved parmesan on top, and marinated mushrooms underneath. Yum. Mom also tried their beef empanadas, which were very tasty. This time, we didn't have dessert. (we stopped at Tesco and bought ice cream instead -- we had to replace the stuff in the house that we had eaten during the week!) That night there was a Fawlty Towers marathon on TV, with commentary from the actors and other news people and comedians. I haven't laughed that hard in a loooong time. :)

Tuesday was a long, busy day. Mom & Dad got up at 6am to get ready to leave. The car service was coming at 7. After they left, I tried to go back to bedp, but that big creaky house got the better of me. I went downstairs and turned on the tv (we never did figure out how to get the bedroom tv to work!) but the sofas are so short, I couldn't really nap on them, although I tried for an hour. I went back upstairs -- by this time, the sun was starting to come up -- and actually dozed for a bit.

Then I remembered that the "house boy" was going to show up at 9:30ish, so I had to get moving. I thought about taking the tube down to London Bridge to go to Betty's, but Dad had given me 12 packs of holiday cards to carry home for him (for next year) so the stuff was far too heavy. I called a minicab, and it cost me all of 20 pounds to get across town. I was there by 10am. (ok, so that's a $35 cab ride... it was worth it!)

I had some tea with Betty (she was on conference calls all day, poor thing!) and came to the realization that I forgot one thing at the house in Hampstead: my digital travel alarm clock (with the date and temperature). DAMMIT! This thing has been with me around the world - Chile, Spain, Australia, all over the US... I hope they can send it back to me. (eh, I could just go to Brookstone and get another one.) But that pissed me off all day long.

I left Betty's and went first to the Queen's Gallery shop to get dad another one of those Charles & Camilla heart ornaments. And took a picture of Buckingham Palace while I was there, just for good measure. (Like you all needed proof that I was actually there or something...) ;) Then I found a bus to take me to Knightsbridge for the Harrod's pilgrimage. I think if it hadn't been slightly drizzling (typical English weather), I might have walked.

I stopped at ZARA before going into Harrod's. When I lived in Spain (Oy vey, 13 years ago?!), ZARA had just arrived, and it was a big deal because it was the first clothing store that let you touch the clothes, instead of having them behind the counter. The scarf that I wear in the winter is from ZARA in Salamanca in 1992! I bought a cute sweater, and moved on to the craziness that is Harrod's. The food hall always amazes me. I walked through the teas and chocolates section (and tried not to drool) and went downstairs to the Harrod's logo shop. BIG SALE! Woo hoo! The prices didn't look too bad but every time I calculated the equivalent amount in dollar$, it bothered me. So I didn't buy much.

Quick lunch, and then I was going to go to the London Aquarium or Westminster, but as I was getting on the tube, there was an ad for Mario Testino's photographs of Princess Diana, at Kensington Palace. Never been into Kensington Palace, so off I went! Plus, I got to visit another of the big shopping areas, Kensington High Street. :) The palace is beautiful. My only complaint is that there are NO placards or labels on the displays - if you want to know anything, you have to get the (complimentary) headset and listen to the guide-people babble on about each room's contents. UGH. I hate that. The shop there had some beautiful stuff too, but too expensive, and by then I was getting tired.

So I trundled back down to the High Street and remembered that I had to find a post office. Yes, there is a post office in Kensington - two, in fact. Unfortunately, the one I chose to visit was at the far other end of the road :( That done, I decided to call it a day and go back to Betty's. I got there at about 5:45pm. Poor Betty was still on conference calls, so I sat on the bed, read the paper, did some sudokus, and ended up passing out for an hour. I didn't really intend to pass out, but... there was no stopping it. Fortunately, I woke up in time to go to dinner. :)

We had a nice dinner at an Italian place right on the waterfront called Ask. It was soooo nice of her to let me stay over! The car service came for me at 7am and I was at the airport at 8:15! I was so happy to be coming home. It felt like I had been there for way more than 10 days.

We landed early, and I'm glad to be home! :)

Now I have to psych myself up for the Rose Bowl tonight!!!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Lazy start to the New Year

The only problem with sleeping late in the house is that, to save money, the heat automatically turns off after 10:30am. So by noon, it was a little chilly -- then again, it's only just above 60 degrees when the heat is ON! We decided to venture out into the world and see what was open. Some of the shops in the high street in Hampstead were open and having sales. We looked at boots again, but nothing really caught our attention.

We walked down to Belsize Park and had hamburgers at the Gourmet Burger Kitchen. It's sort of like an upscale Fuddrucker's... excellent huge burgers and fries with all kinds of toppings. But really, that was the extent of our time out. We went back to the house and I decoded the fancy-shmancy washing machine and did some laundry. (at least it wasn't one of those washer-dryer combo machines, those scare me!) I watched Muppet Treasure Island and Annie, and then had to relinquish the remote to Mom & Dad for the Poirot Mystery.

I have done a ton of sudoku puzzles while I've been here... they print multiple puzzles in the newspapers every day, and special sections on Xmas and New Year's. I am now on the interlocking multi-puzzle ones, and even did a few that were marked as "fiendish". I really need to get a life! ;)

We also got to watch American Football yesterday, so we stayed up late to watch the Redskins win. Woo hoo! We're hoping that they show some of the bowl games tonight on a non-pay-per-view channel.

Today (Monday, bank holiday so people are still off work) it was back to the market at Covent Garden. This time the little CG shops were also open - I got socks with the London tube map on them, and some other cute stuff. I was going to go to Harrod's today, but I think I'll put that off til tomorrow when I won't have my parents tagging along. Mom is SO glad to be going home! I am going to stay with Betty at her apartment near London Bridge (see Boxing Day story) and do some last minute shopping, and leave on Wednesday.

Finally, in the "How accident-prone can one family be?" category, there's the story of my aunt Gloria, who had been on a cruise to Barbados with my uncle and cousins. She fell down as she was getting off the ship when they returned to San Juan, and broke her left arm. She will need surgery as soon as they get back to New Jersey. I mean, really. What is it with this family?! I promise, I will be as careful as can be tomorrow. :)

See y'all back in the States on Wednesday afternoon! (Where I will immediately head over to Bailey's to watch USC-Texas in the Rose Bowl, at 8pm!!!!)

Happy New Year!

Well, we made it to 2006. I can't believe 2005 went by so quickly! Amazing.

Friday afternoon we did go to the British Museum, but we were so exhausted and it was so rainy and gross outside, that we did a quick run-through of the money exhibit and the early greeks & romans, and then had to go sit down for a while. Dad came and found us and we all went to dinner at the Punjab (I knew we'd have Indian food at least once, and we just happened upon this place, between the Museum and Picadilly, where the theater was.) It was YUMMY. Top notch. And we're lucky we got there when we did - by the time we left, it was very crowded!

Phantom was wonderful. I am glad I finally saw it, and now I understand why Sarah Brightman became such a big deal when she appeared on the scene ... the vocal range of the soprano part is in the upper stratosphere! I might have to get the original soundtrack. And the theater was absolutely beautiful (Her Majesty's). There were a few points when the orchestra was louder than the singers, but overall I really liked it. Even dad walked out and whistled the "Music of the Night" all the way home.

Saturday morning we had to go to Portobello Road market, to check out the antiques. I hadn't been there in a few years. At least it wasn't raining... the weather has finally started to improve. The influx of eastern Europeans, particularly Russians and folks from the former Soviet Republics, is amazing. They're everywhere. You hear more Russian than English spoken at the markets across the city. Dad found some nice stuff, and I got a penguin pin by Lea Stein (I get the feeling my mom is going to start me a penguin collection because of the whole DreamWorks thing we did at work last year...). Lea Stein pins are gorgeous, they have a bunch of them on eBay. I might start collecting those instead -- just what I need, another collection! ;)

From there, we took the bus across town to Waterloo. While the tube is faster, the bus is nice (especially the upstairs on the double-deckers) because you get to see what's above ground. From Waterloo station, it was a short walk to the Old Vic theater [Artistic Director - Kevin Spacey], where we saw the last 'panto' on Mom & Dad's schedule, "Aladdin" with Sir Ian McKellen. I bought the program for this one. :) It was rated the #2 pantomime of the season.

Apparently a key feature of the panto's every year is a man in drag. In this case, Ian McKellen played Aladdin's mom, the Widow Twanky. (The story is a wee bit different from Disney's Aladdin, but it still involves the cave of wonders, the lamp and the bad guy engaged to be married to the princess that Aladdin loves -- although her name is not Jasmine.) But panto's are something that we don't get much in the States - they're all about audience participation. When the bad guy comes out on stage, everybody boos and hisses. The actors would be looking for something and the audience would yell, "it's behind you!" and stuff like that. The jokes are very topical (they don't like Prez. Bush much over here either!) and scatalogical. It was a blast! But by far the most amazing thing was... Ian McKellens LEGS! He has GREAT legs! You should have seen him singing and dancing around in the little short skirts and glamorous gowns. Too funny. They even did a joke about "the Ring" that sent him off into a Gandalf moment.

They do fireworks in London for New Year's, but we weren't sure what tube stations would be open, and it was going to be super-crowded, so we stopped for a drink at the Firehouse pub next to the theater, and then went back up to Fitchley Road and had Chinese food. Also very good (although we were definitely hungry later!) :) Someone across the street was shooting off (very expensive) fireworks, so we got to see those from our front door -- but they were a little early, around 10pm. We watched the London countdown and fireworks on the big flat-screen tv... they were shooting fireworks off from the London Eye - it was really incredible. It was both a New Year's celebration and a "we got the 2012 Olympics" celebration. They showed the fireworks display from Sydney - I'm sure Bryan got to watch from a good spot - so we decided to call him... after all, it was already almost 11am there. Turns out he hadn't gone to bed til 6am, so he was a little groggy on the phone. poor kid. ;)