Saturday, January 24, 2009

I might even be a rockstar

Januray 20, 2009 was a day for celebrations, and celebrate I did. I met up with this group I joined, Drinking Liberally, at a bar/restaurant in New Brunswick called Delta's. Being of the Tri Deltas, the name intrigued me even though I'm pretty sure it refers to the Mississippi River Delta, not the Greek letter and best sorority ever. This place specializes in Southern cuisine, and it was great! Of course, I only ate about two pieces of cajun calamari, but it was delicious. I know my calamari, and this stuff tasted fresh or very high quality and well prepared frozen. The martinis and wine were good too. The atmosphere was also more multi-cultural or at least multi-racial than most of the places around here, which was very nice.

I met a bunch of new people, and they even ADMIRED MY KNITTING!!! No, I was not actually knitting in the bar. It was far too crowded and dark for that. At one point during the evening, I was sitting with a bunch of DL buds and some new people. This guy who I had been talking to for a while asked me what my hobbies were. I sheepishly told him that I knit a lot, and instead of running away or making some joke about how I looked a little young to be a grandmother, he asked me what kinds of things I make. Rather than just telling him, I pulled my Bella Mittens out of my bag. This got the attention of the whole group. Of course, I know my mittens are beautiful, but I don't always expect a bunch of hipster 20somethings (Some people might say that I fall into this category, but I don't think so. I'm a little too Future Homemakers of America to be hip.) to admire them too! I mean, they are gorgeous...don't you agree?


The peekaboo finger slots really won the crowd over.


Since the flood gates had already been opened, I pulled more of my woolies out of my giant purse, and soon everyone was passing around and trying on the above mittens, my Jacqui Hat, and my Jacqui Scarf.


Two people were practically begging me to make similar hats and mittens for them. It made me feel like a rock star instead of a freak with lots of wool in her large purse. It was so nice to be myself and have people intrigued and engaging instead of just polite. I wonder if I can maintain this kind of celebrity when the mercury creeps above 50 degrees. I guess time will tell!


This week went by in such a blur. I had a wonderful inauguration day, as I am sure most of the country did. One of my favorite lines from his speech was in regards to hostile countries. I can still hear the words echoing in my head, "We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist." I even quoted him a few nights ago when my dad and sister were having a big argument. It's interesting to see what lines stuck with people, and I think it says a bit about who we are. There was my favorite line, about resolving conflict and building bridges. Here are two of my friend's favorite lines:

Worldy Mili, who has lived in and traveled to more countries than I can keep track of: "Our patchwork heritage is a strength..."

Practical Jane, who is studying for her Ph.D. in psychology at Brandeis: "We will restore science to its rightful place."

What was your favorite line? I'd love to hear about it.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Level 5 Mitten Alert!

Level 5 Mitten Alert! [Side note: I stole that phrase from a New Jersey 101.5 caller. It is the sort of silly phrase I'd come up with, but I guess I'm just not that clever today. Oh, and 101.5 isn't my usual radio station of choice, in case you're wondering. I was in the car with a coworker. That's my excuse.] That's how cold it is today. In Bridgewater right now it is 16 degrees and sunny. Doesn't sound so bad, right? Oh, well, I forgot to tell you about the wind chill factor. It feels like it's 4. Just 4. 4 degrees. Lonely little 4. Ok, I guess you get it. It's cold.

Luckily, I finished knitting my new favorite mittens last night. Let me tell you, these are some Serious Mittens. A full 14" long and knit out of lovely Malabrigo Chunky Merino with some nice whale spine cabling detail, these babies are warm and cozy to the max. The pattern is Bella's Mittens (ravelry link) by fellow blogger subliminalrabbit. I highly recommend it! I knit mine on larger needles though, cause I just can't imagine chunky yarn on a US 8. I cast on fewer stitches for the cuff, but the hand has the same stitch count as the pattern. Full mods and deets are on my ravelry page. I'd LOVE to show you a picture here and now, but when I went to turn on my new baby camera (it's a baby cause it's only 17 days old), it didn't work! It just won't turn on, and yes, I'm sure the batteries work. Camera-breaking problems aside, the next place I'd turn for a picture would be my cell phone, but alas, i abandoned it outside last night after a few drinks (I was drinking, not my cell phone) and it is still warming up. Of course, i did not do anything as irresponsible and reckless with my brand new camera. That young'un just up and died on its own...

I just knew that I should have listened to the negative reviews on Best Buy's site, as the problems that several other consumers have had appear to be exactly what I'm experiencing. I am very afraid that Best Buy will screw me out of a refund or even exchange, as their website states that refunds may be given for digital cameras within 14 days. I'm going to enlist the help of a very level-headed friend (thanks, Scott) to try and exchange this silly little Kodak at Best Buy. You see, when things go my way I'm as sweet as a barrel of honey, but when someone tells me I can't have or do something, I am either a total pushover or a scary bitch. And I can often go from sweet to bitch or even pushover to bitch in about two seconds flat. Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Book Review: The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken by Laura Schenone

I have had the luxury of knowing my family history on my mother's side back to 1621 or so when, ten generations ago, Thomas Jenkins and his family arrived in Baltimore from Wales. One of my great uncles, among his many accomplishments, traced our family geneology back to his parent's native Wales and Ireland. I haven't had that good fortune on my father's side of the family. I know my great-grandparents' entrance papers from Ellis Island are somewhere in my aunt's house, so I could embark on that quest for family answers if I want to. That bug still hasn't bitten, but after reading about Laura Schenone's own personal quest for family history, I have definitely thought about it more. Overall, I enjoyed Schenone's memoir, Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken. At times I found her pretentious and ungrateful for the living family members she had, but her acknowledgement of these weaknesses tempered my annoyance.

The book began with Laura making Christmas ravioli alone in her kitchen. She and her husband had chosen to forgo the big family Christmas that year. At first I found this bold decision refreshing, but the more I thought about it, the more I wondered how you can justify cutting your living family out of Christmas while you are grasping at ways to be closer to the great-great-greats that you never met and a land you've never seen. This sense of dissatisfaction with her "family of today" was even further illustrated when she scoffed at her Great Aunt Tessie's ravioli recipe because it contained cream cheese, not a traditional Italian soft cheese. However, her dissatisfaction did launch the quest for her own personal grail, without which we would not have this book.

I was intrigued by Schenone's questions about the origins of a person's predisposition towards a particular cuisine or natural setting. For example, she has a strong affinity for chestnuts and the seaside. Her Italian ancestors hail from Genoa, a coastal community rich in chestnut trees--so much that many residents make their own chestnut flour instead of spending hard-earned money on typical wheat or grain flour. Can culinary preferences or tolerance for a certain climate be programmed into your genes? These questions yield inconclusive findings, but it's great food for thought, especailly for this evolution-loving girl.

At times the book was saved by the majestic, delicious descriptions of Northern Italy and its generous, hospitable people. More redeeming qualities include further explanations of Schenone's relations with her immediate family and eventual reconcilliations. The narrative's flaws were not enough to keep this reader away, and they even taught me a lesson. If you feel like you are missing something in your life or your family, you are probably not going to find it halfway around the world with people you've never met.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

First FO of 2009

Originally uploaded by jacquiknits
Well, here it is: my first FO (that's finished object for all you non-knitterly folks) of the year! Being that it's January 7th, I know it's really not that spectacular that I've finished one Amanda Hat being that it's such a quick and easy pattern. However, I actually had this baby done in the wee hours of the morning on January 2nd. I took a looong nap on New Year's Day and subsequently could not sleep at all that night, which was just perfect considering that I had to go back to work the next day. That's probably why I look stoned in these pictures, taken in my office the next day.


Anyway, here's the pattern info:
Pattern: Amanda Hat by Gina House
Yarn: Multi: Araucania Aysen in colorway 803
Solid: Malabrigo Worsted Merino in colorway Dark Earth
Needles: US9 16" Addi Circular
Modifications: accidently did an extra crown decrease, which makes the hat a bit boxier and roomier (a happy accident!)