Thursday, November 29, 2007

Before and After

Ross learned how to knit at Lisa Diane's New Year's party and I got into it too (he said I had to get my own needles and quit playing with his). I'm not thrilled about the price of yarn and had read about yarn recycling on the Internet. I found a knitting pattern that I wanted to try and it required like 9 skeins of yarn or something. I decided to try and find a sweater to recycle. This is a Banana Republic 100% wool sweater that I bought at Goodwill for 3.99 + tax. I took this photo 1/29/2007. Ross thought that the recycling was a dumb idea, but he sure had fun unravelling the sweater. Bailey thought it was a game and wanted to play too.

As we unravelled the sweater I wound it up into balls, which I then wound into hanks. The yarn was kind of kinky and had to be washed. When wet it looked like ramen noodles. I hung the hanks up in the guest room to dry. It looked and smelled a little funny.

When they were all dry I wound them up into balls again. I weighed the yarn and got just over 600 grams. A lot of yarn is sold in 50 gram balls for about 5 dollars a ball (conservatively speaking), so I figured I'd gotten a pretty good deal. I got all the yarn ready in just a few days. The worst part was going from the dry hanks back to balls. We had one hank that we worked on for at least an hour because it got knotted up. Rolling it into balls in the first place (instead of just hanks) seemed like a waste, so on the next sweater I just wrapped the yarn into hanks.

So I think sometime In February I started using the yarn to make a shawl. I modified the pattern. Instead of just regular stockinette stitch I decided to try seed stitch. Also, I decided to start with the longest row (410 stitches) and decrease instead of starting with two stitches and increasing. I worked on the shawl off and on throughout the Spring. At some point it got shoved in the closet and I didn't touch it for quite a while. I think in September or October I was determined to get to the 100 row mark. I figured it would really be downhill from there. I took the shawl to Italy with us and knitted on the plane and on the train. I got quite a bit done. I was even envisioning finishing it by the end of November because I could knit on the plane to El Paso for Thanksgiving. I didn't knit again until that trip (I was too busy baking). When I got home I had something like 170 rows completed. The rest was a breeze and I finished it yesterday. I just washed it and it's lying flat on the bed to dry. Its huge! It's also nice and soft. I think its not a bad transformation, and I think 4 dollars was a deal!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Desert Snow

We had a good time over the Thanksgiving weekend. When we got to El Paso it was around 80 degrees. By Saturday it was snowing! It was really neat to see the snow on the rock lawns, palm trees, and sage bushes. It seemed like there was more snow up on Westwind. Everything was coated with a thick layer by Saturday night. We were supposed to come back to DFW on Saturday afternoon, but the power went out at the airport and our flight was cancelled. It was a good thing that we got on one of the earlier flights on Sunday, cause the power went out again Sunday just after we left and flights were delayed about 3 hours. We went shopping downtown on Friday. That was just a good walk. I only spent 3 dollars. We didn't do too much shopping. Mostly, it was laying around the house and eating. The ususal. I think I ate half a sweet potato pie all by myself. We came home to dessert party left overs and Tejal gave us some pound cake. It's so hard not to eat it all, but I'm managing. Now if i could only manage to work out....

Monday, November 26, 2007

Dessert Party 2007

Well, I think that this year's dessert party was a success. We had 13 home made desserts, and I think that 12 of them were good. The yellow cake with chocolate fosting was popular, as was the mint cake. I actually think the mint cake was my favorite. I just couldn't wait to give Ross his birthday present, so I had everyone sing Happy Birthday to him and I gave him the wii. He was really surprised. After the party we played wii with Tejal and Tim. It was a good party and at the end I was exhausted. The next day I just layed around. Its been a week and I still haven't recovered. It's been go go go since we left for Italy. Maybe in the Spring we will have a ghetto dessert party that will actually happen....we'll see. At least that won't be nearly as exhausting cause i'll only have to make one or two desserts....and ghetto desserts are easy by definition.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Italy 2007

Where do I start? Our flight over was totally full. I was uncomfortable, but managed to sleep while Ross watched the Mr. Bean movie. Ha! The Frankfurt airport is F-ed up. We had to go through passport control and then through security again even though we had a connecting flight.....confusing and strange. And along the way (the whole trip) we met some very unfriendly and rude Germans. We got to Florence just fine and wandered around a while looking for the hotel. Ross was so good about navigating last time. This time his instincts were all wrong, and I had to continually check the map. Our fancy hotel: Well, the first three nights we stayed in a 4 star hotel. Now, here is where I'm going to bitch. The room we were in goes for like 330 euro a night! We were there on a package deal that included a free night (which we didn't use), a welcome drink, and 2 free tickets to a museum in town (we had four choices). First of all, we didn't get our welcome drink. Second, while walking down the hall ross opened a window--it smelled like a sewer. Luckily when we opened the window in our room it didn't smell bad, but later on it smelled like sewer in the hallways without opening the window. Third complaint, the shower door seal was ripped and created a lake on the bathroom floor. Its not like they didn't know that there was a problem--they cleaned it up. Fourth complaint--although we chose a museum and told them when we wanted to go they did not get us tickets (as they said they would). They told us to just go and that they would reimburse us. The whole point of a concierge is so that you don't have to stand in line. When we walked to the museum there were two huge for the tickets and the other to get in. I said screw it. I wasn't going to stand in line for hours in the shade. Fifth complaint--the bathroom was very nice, but it took a whole hour to fill the tub. And we didn't really fill it up. A whole hour! Basically there was no water pressure. Lastly, the towel warmer didn't work! At least the breakfast there was really good. I got to have yoghurt every day--without the added sugar or HFCS. It was my kind of breakfast food...pastries and jam and cheese.

Florence: We had a good time in Florence. We walked a round A LOT. It was crouded because apparently it was a holiday weekend. The street vendors were everywhere. It was kind of annoying. It was fun to watch them pack up and run when they saw the cops. We generally just wandered around. And of course we ate. We didn't have as much gelato as I thought we would. It was kinda cold. We had a really good meal at some small place the night before we left. The potatoes were divine. We considered ordering another plate. We ate a lot of pizza for lunch. We found a good bakery that had pizza too. It was worth fighting the crowds to get our pizza (12,46 euro/kilo). I got to have pizza with eggplant and mushrooms. We did make a couple of purchases before heading up to the lake. Ross bought an awesome leather sportscoat at the leather school behind Santa Croce. I bought a watercolor painting of poppies from an artist in front of Pitti Palace. It was 14 euro. I practically threw the money at her and ran. It was a good deal. We also went to the Medici chapel (again). It was under renovation, so not as nice as before, but I guess in the future it will be nicer. And as always--relics of Saints are creepy.

Bellagio on Lake Como: We had a little trouble getting train tickets to Como. Apparently it was because it was a holiday weekend. We hussled our asses from the fancy hotel to the train station just to wait and wait and wait. The train to Milan was delayed. I had a little meltdown because we were going to miss our connecting train. I eventually managed to trade in our ticket for another...and we got on our very late train. Because the train was late we missed the last afternoon ferry to Bellagio. I wanted to ride the hydrofoil. We had to wait 4 hours for the next one. It was a holiday, a weekend, and the off we had to wait. So, anyways, we walked around Como for a while. It was dark when we finally got on the ferry. Bellagio was nice, but nearly everything was closed. The town is a lot of steps, but nothing we're not used to. It looked like the gardens at one of the villas were beautiful, but we just had to look from the locked gate. The gardens, along with just about everything else in town, were closed. Dinner the first night was pretty good. I think I had beef stew. Tasty. Lunch the second day was exceptional. The pasta I had was awesome. Fresh buckwheat pasta with local veggies and local cheese. Ross liked the lasagna and also enjoyed his anchovy pizza. That night I had a cheese course instead of dessert. I liked it. It came with honey and some sort of jam...I think it was fig. There was only one cheese I didn't like. Some sort of local soft cheese. It was too strong. I'm getting hungry thinking about all this food! We left Bellagio on the bus and the trip back to Florence was a lot better than the trip there. We had a direct train from Como back to Florence. I did some knitting and some napping.

Our hotel in Bellagio: A small family run hotel. Breakfast was good. No tub, but plenty of water pressure--and the towel warmer worked. Ross had fun playing with the french doors/windows (and me). We also had an electric shade over the window in the ceiling that he liked to play with. We watched some Italian TV. Strange.
Last day in Florence: Well, we got back to Florence at like 2:30 pm. That gave us the rest of the day for shopping and stuff. Well, first we had to check into our hotel. That was a bit of a fiasco. The owner (that we knew) sold the place about a month ago to a bunch of idiots. We finally checked in. We went to the duomo and for at least the 5th time tromped up the stairs to get to the top. It was the least crowded we'd ever seen it, and we were able to take our time going up. The switched the up and down routes and that was a little disorienting. I am used to holding the center pole with my right hand on the way up. This time the center pole was on the left. With very few people going up/down it was quite pleasant. We took a few pictures on the way up and in between the layers of the duomo. Even at the top there were'nt very many folks, and despite the clouds the view was great. We got all of our gift shopping done and walked around a lot more...I did the duomo steps and all that walking in boots! Our hotel room faced the street, so it was really noisy, but we went to bed early so we could get up for the 5:30 am bus.

Trip back: We managed to get to the airport on time. Ross got his tax refund stamped by customs and we checked in. Through security and onto the plane to Frankfurt. I was so tired I passed out while we were delayed on the runway and slept for almost the entire flight. This time in Frankfurt it was downstairs....down a hall...then back up the stairs. F-ed up. The plane started boarding an hour before departure. More rude Germans. Ross bought some gummies in the airport. (Then he ate too many on the plane and got the gollywobs.) The plane wasn't totally booked, and I was a bit more comfortable. I was able to sleep a bit. Man, it was more and more and more food. Snacks, drinks, and meals. We watched 3 episodes of Rome on Ross's archos while I knitted. We got home at a decent hour. Had a short nap, then had some dinner. We went to bed early, and I think we're back on track with the time already.