Saturday, June 28, 2008

Vacation, part 2: Tastiness of yum, etc.

Another reeeeeally long one, with a mess of photos to boot. Hang on, here it comes...

Tuesday: Always on the lookout

I'd considered heading out to some botanic gardens, but the Too Damn Hot (high 90s, fully saturated air) state of the city made that sound like crazy talk, even in the early morning. So I took my time getting up and around, shot the hell out of my birth-daisies, and finally stepped out for lunch at Thai Bistro.
It's a small, beautifully decorated, quiet place with shy, friendly wait staff. I picked out my standards – tom kha gai (milky chicken soup) and pad see ew (flat rice noodles with broccoli in brown sauce). Everything was incredibly tasty, and while my server seemed a bit bemused at my camera, she was unfailingly nice and I was sure to tell her I'd bring Bryan back with me.

My own little slice of heaven:
From there, it was on to the Center for Contemporary Craft to check out the Craft Texas show. No photos were allowed; the best I could do was in the garden outside:

As for the show, I'm left to imitate Unphotographable a bit. There were quite a few unique, stunning, and fascinating pieces – here's the three that stuck with me the most:

- Game Table – a carnival-colored table that first made me smile, and then made me laugh out loud. The artists made use of dice, double-nine dominoes, and much more to give the feel of a family game night. The best part? Tongue-in-cheek sayings spelled out in Scrabble letters. "NO FIDDLE FARTING" was my favorite, but I think "ALWAYS BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR NEW ADVENTURES" summed it all up.

- Earth Robe – a seven-foot-high mobile suspended from a bamboo pole, created out of origami sheets (some printed from photographs by the artist) and bookbinding thread. This was the first piece at which I gasped out loud – scale, detail, and color left me simply in awe.

- Crossover – a subdued but colorful quilt that drew the fiber artist in me right over to it, but initially made me wonder what it was doing here. At length, there was an optical impression of a cross that appeared to be composed of semi-random patchwork pieces – advanced quilting, sure, but why Craft Texas?

It didn't hit me until I moved closer...and when I saw, I nearly fainted from shock. Every millimeter of the fabric – I think it was about 3 feet x 4 feet – was covered in small hand stitches.

The patchwork appearance was created solely by color changes in the embroidery. I got a mental image of long days spent planning, longer days spent threading and rethreading and putting every color in just the right place. It's enough to make a hobbyist want to take a knee.
After a spin through a gift shop filled with more wonders (including some awesome charm jewelry made in part from drink cans), I headed to Café Rustica for sweets and blogging, plus free wi-fi. It was at this point that I decided to start photographing my iced tea*...
...and that I was finally going to join in on 365 (this is day 2).
After a couple of glasses of Blackberry Sage and a few bites of a tasty chocolate chip bar, I headed back home for Bryan and we trekked out in a rainstorm to Phoenicia. What with the rise of Spec's and World Market, there was quite a bit that was actually familiar – and even more that wasn't. Spices, legumes, grains, convenience don't realize how small your world actually is until you branch out.

Since I suffered camnesia at Phoenicia, I tried to make up for it at Raising Cane's.Some of the best chicken fingers anywhere, and what we're convinced is crack-laced Cane's sauce for dipping. (Completely addictive, and a bit of a mystery.) Sometimes, there's nothing wrong with sticking close to home.

Wednesday: Casual

This day was spent doing something I like to call "knocking around." I gave some further thought to my 365, had some quality time working on the Lace Knitting of Semi-Mystery, and enjoyed plenty of mutual cat harassment.

If I wanted to remember in more detail, I probably should have blogged it sooner.

Thursday: Toes and thunderstorms

This day started out with further knocking around of a more productive nature. I made a tres leches cake** that had been planned for the previous weekend - narrowly avoiding disaster, but getting the crucial message that my oven runs a bit hot.

Some time later, when the cake was finally cool enough to cover, I made my way out under gathering clouds for a long-overdue pedicure. Hooray!

On my way out, I was very nearly felled by a massive thunderclap, as the sky opened up just before my toes were dry. Fortunately, I survived long enough to make it to Thai Pepper (my third Thai meal of the week) to meet Bryan, then stopped to grab a cupcake on my way to SnB.

Laura offered me a belated birthday brownie, but I was too stuffed with pad see ew to accept; still, it was summertime, and the knitting was easy. So worth it...and so vacation-worthy that I suffered camnesia (except for my 365) all day long.

Aaaaand, part 3 (the Fort Worth portion), coming sometime. (Since obviously "soon" means nothing to me.)

* Hell yes, I'm weird. But on a side note, it turns out that June is National Iced Tea Month. Why didn't anyone tell me this sooner?

** Verdict: very easy, but waaaay too sweet. If you do this one, I would strongly recommend cutting or eliminating the added sugar. Still, the sweetened cream topping is perfect (especially when your husband adds Bailey's to it), and ripe strawberries made it heaven.

Friday, June 20, 2008

...but not a dollar short

Obviously, I'm behind on the blogging of the vacation goodness. Guess I'm a bit too busy actually enjoying the damn thing. :)

But I thought I owed y'all something to tide you over. I've been doing a half-decent job of photo-ing things. And also, this:
1/365: i'm so blogging this - part of this set on flickr.

Ah, bandwagon. How good to be on you.

Off to lunch with my honey, and then...the open road. (If I45 is ever *really* open.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Vacation, part 1: 35 and counting

Warning: quite wordy, but not too pic-heavy

Apparently, as time goes on, I've become more and more of a trend follower. The latest symptom of this is my perfectly-timed vacation, a (mostly) stay-at-home affair timed to coincide with my turning 35.*

Also apparently, this is frequently referred to as a "stay-cation." I could take or leave the term, but the exercise itself is pretty much turning out to be the Best Vacation Ever. I'm going to spend a bit of time chronicling it over the next few days - partially as evidence (mostly for myself) that my life is really not as boring as it looks on the surface.

Today, I'm covering the weekend and Monday; tomorrow, I'll catch today. (Confused yet?)

Saturday: Shindig of Awesomeness
I'm going to gloss over the parts where I make myself (and a handful of people who love me anyway) completely crazy in fits of perfectionism. I'm also going to shorten the saga of my car totally dying in the Central Market parking lot (after I shopped, with ice cream in my cart, and Amy coming to my rescue), and just cut to the fun part.

I invited a whole slew of folks (and their SOs) to our place for a day-in-advance b-day party. Much enjoyment ensued, what with work peeps, knitters, and a couple of random loved ones in attendance, plus Kirk's barbecuing prowess (Bryan helped, I swear) and Amy's mad chopping, skewering, and keeping-my-head-from-exploding skills. (Also, there may have been inhaling of some very tasty cupcakes from Kelly.)

I'm not sure why, but I'm always surprised (not to mention terribly pleased) when the different parts of my life come together and all goes fantastically. Everybody seemed to hit it off, there was plenty of mingling, and I was once again reminded that I need to just remember to kick back, and the awesomeness of all my peeps will make everything perfect, in all the right ways.

It may have been a *touch* of vodka with my cranberry that got me on the road to relaxation. Maybe.

This was all so much fun that, unfortunately, the daisies are the only photographic evidence I have.

Sunday: Tired, but happy...and also, 35

Got up early to shoot the breeze with Amy, and then, it would seem, there was a lot of sleeping. Woke up just in time to start preparing Father's Day dinner for the PlumParents and GameDad...steaks of pork and beef with mushrooms, scalloped potatoes, and kabob veggies. It was a rather different experience to have a dining room dinner (at a real dinner table, no less) with our folks in our place, and certainly worth repeating.

You may also have noticed that it was my birthday. Not that I've mentioned it three dozen times, or anything...

Monday: Relaxation + getting crafty = now THIS is a vacation

Yesterday started reasonably early, with a breakfast of cereal covered in fresh strawberries (food of the deities, I am convinced). I took my time cuddling cats, watching home improvement shows, and generally kicking back before meeting my hubby for lunch.

Then, inspiration struck me. I've had a project in mind for a couple of weeks, and decided I'd head over to open studio night at Sew Crafty for help executing it. Little to my chagrin, this involved trips to Hancock and JoAnn for supplies:

(In addition to my very-much-on-sale purchases, I scored a fantastic little modular craft storage box that served as the perfect $2 solution to my earring storage problem. $2!)

Sew Crafty Sarah was awesome, as seems to be par for the course, and almost certainly helped me keep my head together. It made an incredible difference to have someone there for the bouncing off of ideas.

Further to Sarah's greatness, when I mentioned the b-day festivities, I was presented with a bag of MYSTERY. Inside...
All this, *and* the Charms Blow Pop is my favorite flavor! How lucky is that?

Once I am fully successful with the idea, I may post a tutorial, post some on Etsy, or both. For now, a tease:
While I don't have a finished sample, I did get the basic concept ironed out; I left feeling pretty accomplished, and planning to sit down and blogitall right away.

Instead, I conked out in the middle of a wonky flickr upload. (Plenty to see at the link anyway...)
That brings me around to today, which started slow but turned out rather lovely. I started blogging it this afternoon - patience, grasshopper fans, it will show up sometime tomorrow.

Two last things in the meantime:
Recognize this bloke? A little difficult, since you usually see him in quite a different getup. No matter. Eddie Izzard was as unbelievably funny as ever on his stop in Houston last week. This was my real, honest-to-God birthday present, and while the entire day around it (not to mention this photo) was pretty craptastic, Eddie was worth it.

Finally, if you were at my home anytime this weekend, a thousand thanks for making this event a truly happy one. If you brought a completely unexpected gift (i.e. all of them), ten thousand. And if you were one of the two people who kept me from melting into a puddle of perfectionist goo...I can't ever repay you, but I'll certainly try.

See y'all tomorrow!

* Note: Yep, June 15. Which is, by the way, the same day that Kelly turned 31. :)

Saturday, June 07, 2008


Today was the day - I got up early to head over to Sew Crafty Houston for my Intro to Sewing class. The place is adorable, as is the owner, Sarah. She did a great job walking us through this:Sucky photo, cute apron, right? Now, for the record, the ribbon trim and buttons are glued on - but the seaming and topstitching are totally real. It's not going to win any awards, but I am inordinately proud of myself anyway.

At any rate, I discovered that I know a lot of the language of sewing, and that I don't suck as much as I thought. Sarah gave us the step-by-step and was really good at lending a hand when things went awry.* (Not to mention a whole lot of fun. :) )

I enjoyed it so much that I signed up for the next step up - a class for a lined tote bag - before I left today! I'd recommend Sew Crafty to anyone - not only is Sarah the best, but Mo teaches the Knitting 101 classes. You can't go wrong with that! (P.S. It's walking distance to Onion Creek Cafe, which served me one of the best soy chai lattes I've ever had.)

The title gave promise of multiple FOs, so:
Here's Sharron (blogless), with her baby blanket from the Stitch 'n' Bitch group. It's a lovely lavender creation - squares made by several members of the group, assembled and finished (quite beautifully, I might add) by Kelly (who has a better photo of the whole thing here).

Not sure if the baby herself is an FO quite yet - Sharron is due on the 15th. Kelly and I were rooting for that day, since we both figure it was a pretty good day to be born (*ahem*). Alas, I missed SnB due to a serious case of mush brain and sofa shopping, in that order.

Fortunately, the cure for the common blehs approaches quickly. Nine lovely days of rest will be mine in just a week! I should really get a better idea of what I'm doing...but I'm sure I'll think of something.