Wednesday, April 30, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Cute in progress

In the last six months, I have worn my contacts for two reasons: to go skiing and to get my hair cut.  Those are the two activities that really make me grateful that I can set my glasses aside.  For skiing, it allows me to put on goggles comfortably, and for getting my hair cut, I'm able to see something more that just a vague head-shaped blur in the mirror.

Otherwise, I tend to just be lazy and put glasses on.

So in honor of this special, non-glasses day, and in a transparent display of my so-much-more-nicely-blown-out-than-I-would-ever-do-myself hair, here's me with my work in progress:

Mini Fox Stole My Heart is a body with a tail, and a head.  The next step is adding some legs.  I can sort of see how it's going to be an adorable little fox, but it's going to take a bit of seaming.  Then it will look a little cuter around my neck.

For more WIP Wednesday posts, go to Tami's Amis.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Cubicle kitchen: Mocha Cream Pie

Baking for someone can sometimes be as tricky as buying them a present, in that it's hard to know what they really want.  And all they can offer you is that they'll love whatever you give them.  So when one of my coworkers announced that he was going to leave, I had to do some thinking to figure out what kind of dessert to bring to his going-away lunch.  Because obviously I was going to bring something.

The only hint I had as far as flavors was that he had headed straight for some java chip cookies at a recent event where we had all been lured in with cookies in exchange for participation.  So I knew that I needed some kind of coffee buzz.  And then, because it was a lunch event rather than the usual coffee klatch, I decided that it was the perfect time to whip up a pie.  People would already have their own plates and forks, so all I needed was the pie and a server.

From there, I took inspiration from a couple of places, like the Kraft recipe for Fudge-Bottom Candy Crunch Pie and Cupcake Project's How to Bake with Coffee post.  After putting various ideas together and playing around with what I had in my pantry, I ended up with something unique.  It's a give and take of shortcuts (pudding mix, pre made pie crust) and techniques that make it special (steeping the coffee beans, whipping the cream).  And adding a bar of chocolate never hurts.

I wouldn't want to send anyone away from the team hungry, after all.

Mocha Cream Pie
Makes 1 pie

  • 1 prepared pie crust, cooled*
  • 2 cups milk (I used 1%)
  • 1 cup coffee beans (not ground)
  • 1 Tablespoon instant coffee
  • 1 4-serving package of non-instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 bar Chocolove Coffee Crunch in Dark Chocolate, chopped and divided
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 4 Tablespoons powdered cappuccino mix

* You can use your favorite recipe, buy the crust to roll or already in the shell (mine was in the shell).  You could also substitute a graham cracker or cookie crumb crust if desired.

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine milk and whole coffee beans.  Over a medium heat, bring to a simmer.  Then turn off the heat, cover, and allow beans to steep in the milk for about 15 minutes.
  2. Strain the milk, discarding the coffee beans and returning the milk to the saucepan.  Put the heat back on low.  Add the instant coffee and pudding mix, stirring.  
  3. When the pudding is thick, add about 2/3 of the chopped chocolate bar to the pan and stir until the chocolate has melted.
  4. Pour the pudding mixture into the pie shell and allow to cool.  Place in the fridge to set for a few hours or overnight.
  5. Soon before serving, pour the whipping cream into a bowl with the cappuccino mix and beat until soft peaks form.  
  6. Cover the pie with the cream, and sprinkle the remaining chocolate on top as a garnish. Serve immediately or chill in the fridge.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Inspiration Saturday: Knitting And Crochet Blog Week 2014

You know how I was saying yesterday that weeks can sometimes fly by with the time between Monday and Friday?  It's scary how that can scale up to an entire year passing by, because it's almost time for Knitting And Crochet Blog Week 2014!

This will be my second year participating, and I'm already excited to take Eskimimi's daily prompts and hopefully turn them into some fun blog posts for all of you.  You can read more about them on her blog, but here's the basic timeline:
  • Day One (Monday): A Day In The Life.
    • Describe a day in the life of a project that you have made, or are in the process of making.
  • Day Two (Tuesday): Dating Profile.
    • Write a dating profile for one of your past finished projects.
  • Day Three (Wednesday): Experimental Photography And Image Handling For Bloggers.
    • Refresh your skills at creating attention-grabbing pictures.
  • Day Four (Thursday): Conversations Between Workers.
    • Start by writing a few short paragraphs from the point of view of one of the tools you use for your craft...Then, write a dialogue between yourself and this item.
  • Day Five (Friday): Something A Bit Different
    • It’s the annual challenge to blog in a way different to how you normally blog.
  • Day Six (Saturday): Views Of Others, Views Of Yourself.
    • Write about another knitter or crocheter that you admire.
  • Day Seven (Sunday): Looking Back, Looking Forward
    • If you took part in last year’s Knitting & Crochet Blog Week, look back on your Day Seven post. 
I'm loving how the prompts for Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday have such a slant towards creative writing.  My Twitter feed has been chirping with prompts for the 'campers' who are doing NaNoWriMo in April, and honestly writing ideas are always in the back of my mind even though I don't sit down and turn them into drafts very often.  So it's nice to have an excuse to do something like that for the blog.

KACBW5 runs from May 12-18, so if you want to participate, there's plenty of time to join in.  There aren't any sign ups, and if you can't post for all seven days, that's fine, just pop in and out as needed, and use post tags and the hashtag #KACBW5 to spread the word.

Is anyone else planning on participating?  For more inspiration, go to Woolen Diversions.

Friday, April 25, 2014

FO Friday: Fully en-Gauge-d

It's Friday yet again!  It always seems so far away on Monday, but then before I know it I'm serving up baked goods and eating Indian food on Wednesday, and from there it's a countdown to how many meetings I have until the weekend.  Today I just have just one in the afternoon separating me from the Friday evening ritual of frozen yogurt and grocery shopping.

Another Friday ritual that I don't always get to enjoy is posting about a finished project.  This week, it's my quick cowl, Pretty Pink Plaits:

Ever since I first saw the yarn and buttons at Gauge, they just went so well together I had to make something to show them off.  It didn't hurt that the buttons were half off, and I'm a sucker for bright colors, especially pink.

All in all, I'm happy with how this turned out.  The bamboo is so soft, it's perfect for keeping warm in the office without roasting once I step outside into the warm Spring weather.  The buttons and yarn are so complementary that it might be easier to see the buttons in a close-up:

You'll notice that the three buttons are in a triangle when worn but a row when not.  I didn't knit any dedicated buttonholes into the cowl, instead I'm using the holes created by the cables.  At first I lined up the first 'row' of holes with the buttons straight up and down, but because of the floppiness of the bamboo and the cables, I prefer playing around with it.  In the above picture, the top button goes into the top-second cable hole, the middle button is in the middle-second cable hole, and then the bottom button is in the top-first cable.  Does that makes sense?  The technical documenter in me feels like I should draw you a diagram:

I guess that's how you know it's not really the weekend quite yet.

But once it is, I get to meet a Ravelry friend from Canada who is in town for a wedding.  I love meeting other knitters that I know already.  My mom and I have when-we-win-the-lottery plans of going on a world tour to meet all of the fabulous friends we've never gotten the chance to swap stitches with in person.  For now, though, we'll take a fortuitous weekend and an opportunity to take them to Kerbey Lane Cafe tomorrow for pancakes and the just-released Tomato Menu.  Yum!

Do you have any fun plans for the weekend?  For more FO Friday posts, go to Tami's Amis.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Tis better to give

I might not be able to pinpoint too much progress in the meetings that I've had at work for the past few days, but there's one accomplishment I'm very pleased with: my iron levels were high enough to donate blood today!  After being turned away for being one point shy, and missing the last drive because of my then-upcoming marathon, I was kind of looking forward to being able to give blood.

Not that it's particularly fun, being poked with a needle and feeling a little woozy for the rest of the day.  I'd rather be wielding needles myself in my knitting.  But now that I've skipped my yoga class and had dinner, I can just sit on the sofa and knit without going against the mandate against 'strenuous  activity'.

I actually finished my Pretty Pink Plaits the other day, so I'll have another FO Friday this week.  But at my coffee klatch this afternoon I cast on something new which will almost certainly take more than a week to finish.  But it's going to be adorable, even though it doesn't look it now:

What it's going to be is a mr. fox stole my heart, the mini version.  This is going to go in my swap box, assuming I can bear to send it away.  But, as with my own blood, I'm always happy to give!

Do you give blood?  What's your favorite post-donation cookie?  For more WIP Wednesday posts, go to Tami's Amis.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Cubicle kitchen: Lemon Poppyseed Pound Chicks

Did anyone hunt for Easter eggs yesterday?  We had a mini-hunt in the living room for four Cadbury Cream Eggs and eight Lindt Chocolate Carrots.  All the fun without the dirt or the actual eggs.

And no Peeps.  Ever since I figured out how to make my own marshmallows, they just don't hold the same mystique they used to.  And to be honest, they were always sort of like candy corn to me.  One was festive, but I didn't really crave more than that.  But they still look darned cute, so when I found a Chicago Metallic Chick Silicone Mold in Target, I kind of had to.

You could probably half this recipe to just make a dozen chicks, but I made the full batch with cupcakes and mini baked donuts for the remainder to make sure I had enough to bring into the office.  I'll have to think of an excuse to make more bird baked goods, because the only problem I had with these was people's reluctance to eat something so cute!

Lemon Poppyseed Pound Chicks
Adapted from Sweet Pea's Kitchen: Lemon Poppyseed Pound Cake
Makes 12 Peep cakes and 12 cupcakes


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar 
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup poppy seeds, plus additional for sprinkling
  • A few cups powdered sugar and a few tablespoons lemon juice for glaze (your needs will vary)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. In a bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Mix in eggs, zest, juice, and extracts.
  3. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add to wet ingredients, mixing until combined.  Mix in poppy seeds.
  4. Fill cake mold according to directions.  I filled a plastic bag with batter and cut the tip off to pipe it in 3/4 of the way.  If desired, remaining batter can be used to fill about a dozen cupcakes and be baked at the same time.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes (the cupcakes will take less time).  Allow to cool before attempting to remove from mold.
  6. When cakes have been released from the mold, place them on a wire rack set on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Mix powdered sugar with lemon juice to get a glaze consistency.  Drip and spread the glaze over the entire top of each cake, sprinkling with additional poppy seeds.  Allow glaze to harden before serving.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Inspiration Saturday: A day with friends

I'm slipping this post in right at the it's-still-Saturday deadline because I spent all of it out with friends having a sort of Easter get-together.  I say sort of because the holiday was just an excuse that we didn't really need to cover the countertop of the kitchen with a spread of fruits and vegetables to nosh on and spend the day knitting.

Even though knitting is an individual craft, I don't feel like it's really meant to be done alone.  No, it's meant to be done while lounging on a sofa with other knitters, watching Billy Connelly and 'To the Manor Born' on DVD.  It's meant to be fueled by baked eggs with spinach and mushrooms a la Smitten Kitchen and Reese's.

So I hope everyone has a happy Easter, and that if you're a knitter, you have some fellow knitters to craft with.  For more inspiration, go to Woolen Diversions.

Friday, April 18, 2014

FO Friday: It's a great Friday

As I teased on Wednesday, I have two projects to share with you today.  Good Friday?  Pshaw, it's a great Friday!

First, let's take a look at my Affection-ite.  With as many stitches as there were in those last few rows, it's not surprising that it ended up so long.  It took four large squares to block it, and taking pictures of it that capture the entire length is a little tough.  I draped it around the Wildflower Center:

I'm not sure why Color Affection seemed so daunting to me before I started knitting it.  I had already tried every technique in it at least once: knit lots of shawls, done stripes, and short rows.  Maybe it was the sheer popularity of it, like each knitter that had completed it before me would somehow make it take longer.  But it was actually a pretty easy knit.  My mom may hate garter stitch, but I love it.  This is definitely not going to be my last Color Affection.

Now, my cardigan, that project definitely took as long as I thought it would!  But I think it was worth it, because I sure do like wearing it:

Especially in the wildflowers, because the buttons are so appropriate:

The buttons are a little fiddly, so I haven't been undoing them when I take the cardigan off, I've been taking it off more like a sweater  But other than that, it's been very easy to wear, so far with three different outfits, so the color was definitely a good, versatile choice.  And the beading adds a little something extra to the ruffles.

So there they are!  A quicker-than-I-thought shawl and a not-so-quick cardigan.  One for a swap and one for me.  How about you?  Are you doing anything fun for Easter?  I know I don't usually respond to comments, because I generally assume that people won't realize whether I've replied or not, but I promise I read all of the comments and I love hearing what you think!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Empty your mind and think pink

I went to yoga again this week before meeting my dad for the usual Indian dinner.  I'm liking it as a compromise between working out and worrying about everyone that I'm working out with.  In most strength training classes, there's always the fear of being the one that completes the reps last and holds everyone back.  But with yoga everyone is very inwardly focused and encouraged to do whatever their body allows.  And it ends with a few minutes of just lying on the ground and breathing.  It's as close to nap time as I think I'm going to get post-Kindergarten.  I know I'm supposed to be clearing my mind during it, but I find it difficult to not think about whether I want Channa Saag or Aloo Ghobi.  Or planning my blog post.  Speaking of which...

This Friday's FO post will be chock-full of finished objects because I finished Affection-ite last week.  I also finished my Lexe-Me cardigan before last Friday, but waited until my trip to the wildflower center on Saturday to take photos.  So stay tuned for floral FOs.

Until then, I have a WIP to share with you.  In fact, I think I only really have one WIP going on.  The only in-progress knits I can think of are in deep hibernation.  It's a strange feeling.  It made me very anxious to cast something on.  So I turned to my trusty queue in Ravelry and picked something relatively quick.  You know, so I can be anxious again in a very short time.  My logic there wasn't the best.  But maybe after I finish this I'll have decided on something else to knit for my long-term swap. Either that or I might start another cardigan.  I have the yarn stashed and pattern selected for at least two others.

This project started with the buttons.  I found them half-off in Gauge and had to have them, especially when I found the perfect yarn to go with them at the same time:

The yarn is bamboo, so it's got a nice shine as well as being a bright pink.  To show it and the buttons off, I found this pattern on Ravelry for a cabled cowl.  Although it doesn't originally have buttons, I saw that some people had used the holes behind the cables as buttonholes.  All I needed to do was add a third braid so that I could use all three of my buttons.  Like lace, cables always take a few rounds to really show their true colors, but I'm starting to see how this is going to turn out, and I like it:

I'm calling it Pretty Pink Plaits, because when I can't think of anything witty to name my projects, I go with alliteration.

How do you name your projects?  For more WIP Wednesday posts, go to Tami's Amis.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Cubicle kitchen: Citrus Mint Slice and Bake Cookies

How did orange juice become the go-to breakfast beverage, despite the pretty much universal agreement that nothing tastes worse than that first sip right after you've brushed your teeth?  That toothpaste mint and super-sweet citrus is just...not a good start to the day.  And yet, it's become a cliche part of 'this complete breakfast.'

Now, that being said, the combination of fresh mint and fresh citrus zest in this cookie is a totally different story.  The mint was care of one of my mom's coworkers who had some growing in her garden, and the zest came from the extra large grapefruits that have been my go-to dessert fruit since pomegranates have gone out of season.  Rather than clashing, they complement each other to create a totally light and refreshing cookie.  The citrus comes first, thanks to the lemon extract backing up the zest, but the mint leaves your mouth feeling clean and ready for another cookie.

Most of my treats are eaten with coffee, but I think these were made for an elegant tea.  Pinky out!

Citrus Mint Slice and Bake Cookies
Adapted from smitten kitchen: a slice-and-bake cookie palette
Made about 5 dozen

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons grapefruit zest
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2-1 cup granulated sugar, for rolling
  1. Cream together butter and sugar until smooth.  
  2. Add egg yolks one at a time and combine.
  3. Add salt, extracts, zest, and mint and combine.
  4. Mix in flour 1/2 cup at a time, just until combined.
  5. Gather dough into a ball, divide in half, place in plastic bags or wrap in plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for half an hour.
  6. On a smooth surface, roll each half of dough into logs about 1" in diameter.  Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least two hours, or up to a few days (can also be frozen for longer).
  7. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°.
  8. Roll the logs in sugar, and slice cookies about 1/3" thick.  Coat both sides of cookies in sugar before placing on parchment-lined cookie sheets.
  9. Bake for about 12 minutes.  The cookies should be set, but not necessarily golden.  Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Inspiration Saturday: Wildflowers

I hope that those of you living in more Northerly climes are starting to experience the thawing powers of spring, because otherwise this post might be a bit provoking.  Here in Texas, spring has announced itself not just in the sunny warmth of the afternoons, but in the glorious color that speckles all of the highways and byways.

Every year around this time, some of the most gorgeous scenery can be found by driving along the interstate, where thick patches of bluebonnets, Indian paintbrushes, Indian blankets, pink evening primroses, and other native wildflowers cover swaths of land.  Driving out to Yarnorama the other week for their anniversary party, we saw some amazing color combinations, but even just between leaving my house and exiting the neighborhood there are little bursts of blooms.  You'll see people stopped by the side of the road with their kids (or their dogs) taking annual portraits in the bigger areas, the same way my mom took me out every year to sit and smile in the bluebonnets.

Visually, the wildflowers are stunning.  But there's something else that I love about them as well.  For one thing, they reappear every year all by themselves.  Yes, the seeds had to be spread initially using a tiny percentage of roadway budget thanks in large part to Lady Bird Johnson, and the success of their blooming depends on the weather each year.  But otherwise, nothing really has to be done to cultivate this garden show.  And it's not some manicured exhibit that you walk through once and then leave, or a beautiful bouquet you put on your dining room table for a week before it wilts.  You pass it every day on the way to work, along with everyone else.  It's something you all share each day in the midst of your mundane commute for a few weeks.  It makes me smile not just because it makes me smile, but because I know it makes other people smile, that it makes us smile year after year.  It's a communal experience even as you're alone in your car.

Of course, it's also great to go visit places like the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, which we went to today, to take a leisurely stroll through the flowers and get information about them.  It also gives you a chance to take lots of photos without cars speeding past.  Here's a little montage:

I have a few other shots I'm saving for next week's FO Friday post, because aside from being an inspirational starting point for knitting, wildflowers also make a great backdrop for photos of finished knitting.

Do wildflowers blanket the sides of the road where you live this time of year?  For more inspiration, go to Woolen Diversions.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Cubicle kitchen: PB&J Hand Pies

Yesterday I would normally have run a few miles on the treadmill and then gone to dinner at Tarka with my dad.  But he's out of town this week at a work conference, so despite still dreaming of the food in 'The Lunchbox', no Tarka for me, just a couple of miles on the treadmill and a yoga class.  Hopefully that will just make the aloo gobi taste that much better next week.

I still envy those hot, delicious lunches being delivered to the office workers in the film.  My lunches are most certainly not anything a coworker would trade me an apple and a banana for a share of.  But maybe Saajan would offer me a spoonful in exchange for a baked good?

While the complex dabbawala system is norm in India, on this side of the world, I feel like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are one of the staples of the American lunch, at least for kids.  I'm not sure I actually ever had one for lunch, I'm more of a savory lunch person.  But I have had my fair share as afternoon snacks or dessert.  So when I was putting these tiny little hand pies together, I decided to go with this traditional flavor combination.  They look so cute, and are just the right size for dunking in a mug, whether it's a mug of coffee at the klatch or a mug of cold milk.

PB&J Hand Pies
Makes about a dozen


  • Jiffy Pie Crust Mix, plus water*
  • About 1/8 cup jam (I mixed grape and blackberry)
  • About 1/8 cup creamy peanut butter
  • Egg wash or water (for sealing edges)
  • Optional: sugar for sprinkling on top

You can, of course, use your favorite recipe for crust from scratch, or buy a refrigerated crust that's already rolled out.  This recipe uses the same amount of crust meant to make a double-crusted pie (top and bottom).


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Prepare pie crust dough as directed.  Divide in half and roll out on a floured surface to about 1/8-1/4" inch thickness, a little thinner than a normal pie crust.  Using a 2 1/2" cookie cutter, cut out as many circles (or another shape) as possible.  Repeat on the other ball of dough.  Gently re-roll the scraps and repeat.  Remember: you need to have an even number of circles.
  3. On half of the circles, place 1/2 a teaspoon of peanut butter and 1/2 a teaspoon of jam in the center.  Resist the urge to add too much, or it will make a mess when baking.
  4. For each hand pie, brush an egg wash around the edges and place an un-filled circle on top, pressing to seal.  Use a fork to crimp the edges further.  Make a small slit on top for hot air to escape while baking.
  5. Place the hand pies on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  If desired, brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes, when the crust starts to turn golden at the edges.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Stripe suspense

What's more suspenseful than the final wickets in a cricket match, or a budding romance between strangers exchanging lunchtime letters via Tupperware?  Starting a row that you aren't sure you have enough yarn to finish.  Between watching cricket and seeing a movie on Sunday, I finally answered a question that has been plaguing me since I ordered the yarn for my Affection-ite: would I have enough gray?

I made the order from KnitPicks while they were having a sale.  Sales are good because saving money is always good, but they are also dangerous because yarn can sell out from under you.  I originally had wanted to get two skeins, or 100 grams, of all three colors just to be on the safe side.  The system would only let me order one skein of the dark gray Hawk colorway, though.  After much anxious project stalking, I determined that I might/probably/hopefully have enough for the first contrast color in just 50 grams.  But it was going to be close.

And oh boy, was it.  I considered just not doing the final trio of stripes in the short row section.  But looking at the hollow remains of my yarn cake, I thought that maybe, just maybe, there was another row in there.  I tried to quantify those chances by weighing the yarn, but once you get to such a small amount, my digital scale, which is about twenty years old, ceases to be entirely accurate and there was little difference between the weight of the yarn and the margin of error.  I did the right side row of the gray stripe on Friday night and looked anxiously at the little pile of yarn.  It's so hard to look at that and judge how far it will go, isn't it?

Thankfully, my dreams were not plagued by visions of running out of yarn halfway through the row.  And the next morning, neither was my waking self.  I completed the wrong side row with let's just say a few feet to spare.  Now I'm just a few more rows away from being finished with the final section.  I would show you a picture, but the stitches are so scrunched up on the needles that you won't really get the full effect until I cast off.  So the suspense continues!

For more WIP Wednesdays, go to Tami's Amis.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Craving love and aloo gobi in 'The Lunchbox'

Monday Movie Madness may have fallen by the wayside, but I still find myself wanting to share some cinema time with all of you.  Especially because yesterday I went to the movies, and I want to let you all know that if 'The Lunchbox' is in a theater near you, it's worth seeing.  But I'm going to start from the beginning.

All in all, it was a very Indian Sunday.  As I was doing a little late-morning channel surfing I discovered something rather unusual for American television: a cricket match!  I have caught highlights of cricket matches every once in a while as part of SportsCenter's Top 10, and I knew that ESPN had been including matches as part of their online coverage.  But this wasn't a highlight, it was a live match on ESPN2.  My mom was as pleased as I was surprised.  She may not like tea, but in her love of cricket at least she shows her Britishness.  We watched Sri Lanka beat India in the T20 by six wickets with 13 balls remaining.  Yeah, I only sort of know what that means.

After that we went up North towards the lone theater presenting our desired feature.  That meant, of course, that first we would have a lunch of frozen yogurt at Yogurtland.  While they didn't have anything particularly Indian, they are doing another round of flavor passports that did include Spanish flan, Geneva chocolate, French black currant tart, and Florida orange sorbet.  We could have had some Indian food at Tarka just around the corner, but Mom isn't a big curry person, so we stuck with froyo.  We also stopped by Sea of Beads, and I was tempted to pick up some seed beads to add to the final blue edge of my Affection-ite.  But in the end I decided that just finishing those final rows is going to take long enough, and I think the striping will be interesting enough without the additional sparkle.

My mom had been wanting to see 'The Lunchbox' since she had heard something about it on the radio.  These days, I end up putting more movies on my to-watch list from listening to NPR, and then from seeing the trailers when I go to see those movies, than from commercials on TV or Oscar buzz or things like that.  Anyway, we had to wait a few weeks for the film to come to Austin, in the meantime I had found the trailer and concurred with Mom's assessment that this looked like something worth seeking out:

This is one of those movies where it is truly cruel to only have overpriced buttered popcorn available to eat.  Even with a stomach full of froyo, I could practically smell the paneer and the aloo gobi.  It was so unfair.  This movie would be perfectly paired with a dinner party of Indian food, whether attempted at home or brought in from a take-out place.

Just like the layering of flavors in Ila's lunches, the film's story is a perfect blend of emotions.  It shows rather than tells, and adds depth to characters in daily details.  It's not too schmaltzy, but it's not depressingly cynical, even though Saajan begins the movie that way.  I simply cannot spoil the ending, but it similarly balances realism and the kind of optimism that I like to leave a theater with.

If I've whetted your appetite, I hope 'The Lunchbox' might be playing nearby you!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Inspiration Saturday: A tutu tirade

Today's post is part inspiration, part rant.  I'm warning you now.

I don't know how many of you might have heard about this already.  My sense of what I read about online and what is actually water cooler conversation to the rest of the world is not that sharp.  But I first found out about it last week, and it continues to irk me.

Self, a women's fitness/lifestyle magazine, included this nugget in a feature called 'BS Meter' next to a photo of two women running a marathon wearing superhero t-shirts and tutus:
New Running Tulle: A racing tutu epidemic has struck NYCs Central Park, and it’s all because people think these froufrou skirts make you run faster.  Now, if you told us they made people run away from you faster, maybe we would believe it.
Let's completely set aside the horrific detail that one of the women photographed, a cofounder of a company called Glam Runner that sells these kinds of poofy running accessories, was running the LA marathon having been diagnosed with brain cancer.  Because obviously making someone who has cancer the butt of your joke is not generally a great PR move.  Let's assume that these had just been two healthy women running a marathon with complementary Superman and Wonder Woman outfits.  Because even if that were the case, I would still be fuming.

I love tutus.  When I was a little girl, there was nothing better than a frilly skirt that would fly up to my waist when I twirled around.  If it were not totally contrary to the generally accepted dress code of adult society, I would probably still wear tutus in public.  Because they are fun and irreverent, and they make me smile.  Like anything else I put on my person, whether it's shoes, jewelry, or makeup, a silly or colorful detail lets me feel like a kid and a grown-up at the same time.  Like this amazing linen skirt my mom knit for me for Christmas:

It's colorful and fun, and the best part is that because it's linen, the more I wear it, the softer it will get.  I love hard-wearing knitwear.  Especially when it's pink and evokes those wonderfully-spinning skirts of my childhood.

But wearing an actual tutu while I'm out, say, grocery shopping, would make me feel kind of self-conscious.  So I refrain, and save the tutu-wearing for some of my races, like a 5K turkey trot a few years ago:

It's not a full-on tutu, but there is tulle, and a bright pink bobble hat to complete the look.  And you know what, I don't think anyone has the right to try and make me feel ashamed or ridiculous for it.  Because when you are running, at any distance, you have earned the right to wear whatever makes you feel comfortable and gives you the motivation to cross the finish line.

No one wearing a tutu really thinks that it's going to make them run faster.  It's the kind of smart aleck comment that a cynical observer makes while runners pass them by.  It's the kind of comment that keeps some people from going out and doing anything, because they feel like someone is always going to be there to make fun of them, because they aren't fast enough or skinny enough or wearing the right thing.

And it's not the kind of comment I want to read in a magazine.  I'm offended not just by the judgements they are making against me, but by the sheer stupidity of casting this kind of aspersion on a not insignificant percentage of what should be their target market.  I've seen many women at 5Ks, and some at the marathon as well, wearing what might be better described as costumes than outfits.  And given today's publishing environment, I wouldn't have thought that Self could afford to alienate these women.

So while I decide on what magazines I will be starting up subscriptions to, because I still enjoy reading while running on the treadmill at the gym every week, I know Self is never going to be on that list.  Maybe I'll read some knitting magazines instead?

Were you a tutu-loving kid?  Do you still like to add girly frills to things?  Like some of these projects, perhaps?  For more inspiration, go to Woolen Diversions.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

WIP Wednesday: A meeting is better than no knitting at all

Sis hours of my workday yesterday was spent in meetings. One of my dad's favorite quips is, 'A meeting is better than no sleep at all.'  In my case, it's better than no knitting time at all.

I'm so glad that my coworkers understand that I can listen and contribute to a meeting while knitting at the same time.  Because really, it's no different than doodling, and there's actually been research that that can help improve your concentration and memory in a meeting (or anywhere else for that matter) so you retain more information.  Instead of using a pen to make pretty swirls or checkerboards (my two most common doodles), I use my needles to knit something pretty.

At least that way I know that something productive came out of all of that time.  Just kidding!  Sort of.  Anyway, while I hope that we're a few steps closer to the elusive dream that is configuration management, I know that I'm nearly done with the three-color stripe section of my Affection-ite:

Let me tell you, those short rows are really not all that short anymore.  But I'm about half a dozen stripes away from just needing to knit the final block of blue border.  And I really like how this is turning out.  It certainly evokes the inspiration malachite and azurite:

Unlike work projects, this knit project might actually finish up earlier than expected, yay!

For more WIP Wednesday posts, go to Tami's Amis.