Creativity and Ramblings from the heart of NYC and around the World

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Fun knitting contest from
knitting thriller author
Karin Slaughter!!

Get knitting - less than a month left!! Deadline for photos is August 20th (time stamped by Midnight Atlanta, GA time!!)

Photo below is snagged from her contest page. Knit one of these, send her the photo, win cool stuff (knitting goods, a book and chocolate.)

The prize basket is nice!

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Out before Midnight!

Last night wasn't TOO late. We dashed out around 10:30 and Ho drove us to the DVD store that he uses so that I could see if they MIGHT have a few of the DVD series I've been looking for.

Did. They. Ever. I'm not used to watching too much TV when I'm home. I never seem to be around at the same time every week to catch a show. I end up Netflixing them at the end of each season, often bringing them along as I travel for background noise and unwind time. I went perhaps a little overboard. I kept well beneath my targeted goal for how much to spend...but I may go back and get Nip/Tuck and Lost (all seasons up until now.) I think I'll consider picking up the big set of the Sopranos next trip. (I've never seen a single episode of the Sopranos.)

So what is on the list to watch on this trip now? Weeds was released today!!! (I'd seen season 1 but have been waiting baited breath for season 2!!) Firefly (series) and Ally's been a long time but I box the series box set. That show had some GREAT moments!

Dinner last night was YUM!! Some of the best I've had here yet (although it didn't beat lunch yesterday which I'll state again was YuuuuuM! Fu can make that fish head anytime!!)

The next collection is rolling along nicely. I wish I could show you photos (some things are SOOO NEAT)...but...can't sut my nose of despite my face now can I! I've got some new things in the works and I'm **HOPING** that they turn out as nicely as they look in my head. It would be nice to shake the collection up a bit.
It's always harder to shake up the fall/winter dressy hats than the spring/summer. Folks seem more willing to go a little more fun and crazy in the warmer weather when they aren't laden down by heavy suits and coats. Here goes nothing!

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Welcome Girls!

Fu's daughters (ages 5 and 10) are in town visiting. It's been an exciting adventure already. They got to fly on airplanes for the first time! They've never been to this region, or even out of their own region AND they haven't ever been to visit their mother before.
Traditionally here in China, when you have a child, you often leave the child with your parents to raise while you go to where the jobs are and send money back to your family. This situation is a bit more complicated in that Fu's husband died and his family immediately got rights to her children. She left to find work to show she was capable and has worked here at the hat factory for the past 4 years. This means she was forced to leave her youngest with them before she was even 1 year old.

She spends time knitting them sweaters and making them things in her spare time and goes there to see them whenever she can -- this journey being a 7-day round trip just to get there and back.

THIS is a CELEBRATION! The girls are visiting for the rest of the summer!

The big sister had been in charge of Mom's mobile phone yesterday. She was so proud as she'd never held one before. When Fu got to the office, she borrowed Mag's phone and called her daughters. They were SO EXCITED to get a real phone call on a REAL mobile phone.

I have never seen Fu smile so much and walk so tall as she has this week. It was a treat and honor for me that she brought her girls today, Sunday, for lunch at the factory with Mag and Mossie and I.

The girls made the dish they are holding. Pineapple and small sausages pinned together on toothpicks. (It was Yum too!)

Fu made my NEW FAVORITE DISH (it was my first time having it served to me!)

A delicious spicy and refreshing fish head dish (watch out friends in NYC, I've gotten directions on how to make it and I'll be trying it out myself in NYC!!!)

It is SOOOOOO tasty!!! A steamed fish head with a light sauce of red chili peppers, ginger, scallions, soy sauce and sesame oil on top, finished with chopped fresh mint leaves. It's served over plain white "Lah Mien" noodles. Be sure to pour a little bit of the spicy sauce over the noodles too. Ooooh so good!


What? You want to learn how to make it too? OK! I videoed Mag's translation, posted below or you can find it HERE. **UPDATE - video upload keeps crashing the computer...I think the internet connection isn't strong enough. I'll post it later.**

What was it that the girls were most excited to try for the very first time? CHICKEN! They had their first chicken cooked stir-fried with vegetables. Their second chicken was today's lunch time roasted chicken... they liked it cooked this way better than stir-fried. The grandparents are vegetable farmers and are quite poor, so meals are most often all vegetables with rice. Once a year, at Chinese New Year, they buy a whole pig and cook it. They enjoy the pig for as long as it lasts and then no more meat until the next year at CNY.

The little one didn't speak to anyone but her sister, even when addressed directly. She'd look at her big sister who would answer for her. Even to their mother. It will take time for her to get to know her mother. I think when she finally starts talking to everyone, they won't be able to stop her.

I asked the big sister if there were any people in her region that looked like me (fair skin, auburn hair, blue eyes.) She said she'd never seen someone that looked like me. Never seen blue eyes before (both girls kept staring when they thought I wasn't aware.) I told her that very often the little babies cry when they first see me because I look so strange and funny. That I suppose they find it all a little scary.

She replied, "Yeah, you look a little scary. But you are very pretty." This made me laugh.

After lunch I started making silly faces for the little one. She was pouting because she's STILL furious that her grandmother cut off all of her hair! After about 5 minutes she was DYING to smile but held it back. Finally she took her big sister by the hand and began talk-talk-talking her head off half under the lunch table. It was good to see her smile ad hear her laugh.
Time to get back to work. We may head out and shop a little bit late tonight. Time will tell!

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Food Glorious Foooood

No, have no fear...I will never starve on one of my trips through China. How can I when they make me delicious food like this:

Work is going well. Things are starting to fall into place! Yeah!

And - It's almost time to start turning the heels of my Undulating Rib Socks!! Back to workI go!

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

It's a Seven

So now that the New Seven Wonders of the World have been selected, how has this changed your travel to do list? In case you missed all of the hub-bub in Lisbon on 07.07.07, they announced the New Seven Wonders of the World that have been "elected to represent global heritage throughout history." They are, in random order:

The Great Wall, China**
Petra, Jordan
The Statue of Christ Redeemer, Brazil
Machu Picchu, Peru
The Roman Colosseum, Italy
The Taj Mahal, India
Chichén Itzá, Mexico**

The project has an interesting history and was an ambitious effort indeed.

In 2005 the 77 innitial nominations were narrowed to 21 and the voting began.

What didn't get selected for the final 7?

The Acropolis, Greece
Alhambra, Spain
Angkor, Cambodia
Statues of Easter Island, Chile
Eiffel Tower, France **
Hagia Sophia, Turkey
Kiyomizu Temple, Japan
Kremlin/St. Basil, Russia **
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
Statue of Liberty, USA **
Stonehenge, United Kingdom
Sydney Opera House, Australia
Timbuktu, Mali

(Those with the ** I've visited - yeah!)

Did you vote?

Now's your chance to nominate a wonder to be considered for the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. The website lists says, "The nominations will continue through 08.08.08. Then a panel of experts will create a list of 21 candidates from which voters worldwide will elect the 7 wonders of nature."

They list the criteria, catagories and examples there too. Click on over and start nominating!

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Click HERE to see the NBC Weekend Edition hat spot.
Be sure to rate the spot...they likely use those numbers to decide on future spots and it would be nice if we were invited back next year!!

Cheers from China!

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It Finally Happened!

I found a dish in China that is - Ewwwwwe! We went out tonight for 4th meal to our usual local diner. They suggested two new dishes -- one - the Tofu with Pork was YUUUM...but the other... YUCK!!! The sauce - burned - and the orange stuff on top... who knows what it is? We couldn't decypher what it was.

Socks are rolling along as is the work!

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NYC Yarn Shop Reviews
(and fabric...and trims...and...)

As requested...
Links to reviewed lists of shops in NYC. Just click and it'll take you to my list. Note that there may be some shops in other cities on these lists...and if I've found a shop to be particularly BAD, I've also listed it here.

Yarn Shops

Not on the list yet but worth a visit is School Products! I'll try to hit that one with a review after China!

Trim Shops

Fabrics Shops

Steinlauf and Stoller for Notions (thread, zippers of ANY length, scissors, underwires - you name it!)

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Update - progress! Since the flight over here to China was on a brand new start-of-the-art entertainment packed flight...I thought I might be distracted and get sucked into a movie or two...

I was enjoying an episode of Anthony Bordain telling me all about the food in Indonesia when they announced they'd need to reboot the system because 10 seats didn't have working TVs. After the reboot, neither did anyone else. No radio. No TV. No games...and no lights. Well, not exactly, if you had your light on when they rebooted then it was ON...if not it wouldn't come on... for 5 hours. Then suddenly, all of the overhead spotlights came on...for the next 8 hours! Then, just as they were serving our meal...the lights went off. THe poor staff in having to deal with the situation. I know they had someone working on the problem for the entire 15 hours of the flight! We kept seeing our screens reboot...bad Red Hat for making a program that is so difficult to get to work!

What's a girl to do but knit, right? So, progress was made on my Undulating Rib Socks! I'm 6 rows from starting on the green heels!

I was also seated next to two swell fellas. One 10 years younger and the other 20 years younger than myself. Our conversations were often and entertaining and ranged from what to do in China and Hong Kong to Mandarin lessons from our youngest seatmate. Thanks guys!! It certainly wasn't a dull flight even with the lack of electronic entertaiment.

Mid-flight I peeked out the window and snapped a stream of photos of the polar ice up over the North Pole. Sooooo coool! Below are a few...more can be found HERE.
After landing, Mag met me at the airport in Hong Kong and we headed into China. First stop, DINNER!!! We had many of my usual favorites as well as a new steamed pork dish that was delicious!!!

If you want to see any of the food photos in a higher quality they can be found HERE.

When my head hit the pillow, it was ready for sleep!

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

San Diego on Approach

I didn't have time to post these Friday...
a few shots from my approach at sunset into San Diego...

More can be found here.

Sadly, I didn't realize that I had my camera set for really tiny photos. Grrr.

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Respect the Brim!!!

Tara dashed me into town for the NBC spot (which I'll post a link to as soon as I get one) and then we popped over to the Parkhouse Eatery. The Chilaquiles was pretty good, but the iced coffee was BAD! Burned. Really bad.

Next stop? The Village Hat Shop where the trunk show was! We were BUSY!! People had seen the TV spots and brought in their suits and dresses to match a hat to. Fun!
SignOnSanDiego can by and ran about 45 minutes of film...this is what they made from it. It's quirky and entertaining. Respect the brim!

After a nice relaxing afternoon where we all sat down to relax and what Who Killed The Electric Car (a movie you all should see BTW!), we readied ourselves for dinner in La Jolla.

We popped on over to Trattoria Acqua for a delicious evening. Their executive chef and the beverage specialist had been on Fox 6 just after me and they'd strongly suggested I come out and try their restaurant. I think we were all glad we did! It was voted one of the top 10 restaurants in the US by USA Today.
Thanks to their PR whiz Beck too for helping us get a reservation at such last minute notice!!

What did we eat? This and more...

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Fox TV online

They've posted yesterday's interview online...

see it HERE

If it's like most other TV websites, it'll be up for about a week then gone so look now if you're curious.

I'm off for nother one this morning! Fun! I'll be on NBC 7/39 San Diego between 8:30am and 9am.


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Friday, July 13, 2007

San Diego!!!

After this mornings FedEx mess and Fox 6 spot, I spent the middle of the day prepping for tomorrow and the upcoming trip to China.

After a lovely late lunch with Tara, we headed back to her house to dead-head plants, chat and get ready for the company that would come by for an easy meal of wine, pizza and sundaes. Who doesn't like a good homemade peanut butter brownie, vanilla ice cream sundae with whipped cream, strawberries and dinasaur sprinkles!!
A simply lovely afternoon an evening. Thanks Tara and Brian!!!

Tomorrow it's NBC and SignOnSanDiego as well as the trunk show!! Let's sell some hats!

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Ready? Set? TV!

I've just arrived in San Diego tonight! Yeah!

I'll be doing a Fox 6 TV spot this coming morning (some time between 7:55 and 8:45am) and another on NBC 7/39 on Saturday morning around the same time, followed by a trunk show on Saturday at The Village Hat Shop here in San Diego.


Unfortunately I've arrived to find that the HATS I'm supposed to show in 8 hours are not here due to a "Mechanical Error" with FedEx's airplanes. No, I got no notice and even their website had them as "on time for delivery at 3pm" today when I checked it from the office and airport.

So - I'm now off to bed to start making more calls (on top of the45 minutes already in to FedEx) at 4am to have them get the hats from the airport ramp here in San Diego to ME in time!!!

Keep those fingers crossed!!!
Atleast I got some sock knitting in on the plane -- that was relaxing!

***UPDATE 9am***

I called back FedEx at 4am and tracked down their District Engineer at the facility, when it opened to start searching for these boxes.
I called. They looked. I was told to call back at 5am. I called they were looking.
I was told to call back at 6am. I called - and now looked like they "found the can (container)" it's in and were "peeling the top off now" and I might have them by 7am... According to the manager at the site.

At 6:50am they called & had just dispatched someone with 3 out of 4 boxes.
7:15am - FedEx truck pulls up...I got the hats but no hat stands, hopped into the car my friends were loaning me and dashed to the TV station. Zooooom!

Arrived JUST in time and before I knew it...voilá I was done.

Hopefully the stands will arrive today for tomorrow's spot!

So, 3-4 hours of sleep an upset stomach and a TV interview later... I'm sitting, having my coffee.

Worst case I guess I would have pulled all the dressy hatsi've passed to my friend over these years and used them. I certainly wasn't about to show up empty-handed!

Back to work! Time to plan out the next collection...Autumn/Winter 2008!

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

What I Want These Days?

I am trying to decide when to buy the iPod with Video. I really think I'd like it when I travel especially. My current "ANCIENT" iPod is, I believe, version 2 that had come out only 4 or 5 years ago (which we all know is a decade in technology years.)

I would like to get the big one - 80G - so there's room to use it as a back-up hard drive if I go too photo crazy while traveling. And I like the's pretty what can I cay? It would also be nice to have the option of some short TV files or a movie if I can't sleep (there are few chanels, sometimes none, in English at 2am!)
Anyone have any warning or cheers about their iPod with Video?


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

More FUN

With my new camera at the ready, I've been taking more and more photos! My Flickr Page is getting increasingly full (and I have so many photos from my March/April journey still to edit and add!

These past few days I've been playing with taking Macro photos in the garden.

I love looking at the little things from the garden, blown up to a large size!

More images can be found HERE.

Back to the garden before I head to work! Only 2 more days in town! Oh, and they should have my apartment back together with the furniture moved in before I dash to China on Monday! This means I can move back in after I return from China!!! Yeah!!!

I'm dying to get to my sewing machine! I've lost so much weight that I have a TON of tailoring to do so that I can make use of my clothing!!!!

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

The took. Cloudy head, stuffy nose. Thankfully we'd brought back a few boxes of Samahan from Sri Lanka.

I LOVE that stuff!!!

Dissolve into hot water, and drink! It doesn't taste bad either and it gets the cold moving right along.
5 days later I'm left with that linguring dry cough but not much else. Yeah! What have I been up to (aside from planning my next trips -- San Diego & Hong Kong both for work starting later this week...more on that later.)
In no particular order...

I bought these:
plants for my garden after finally singing up for Zipcar! My first experience with Zipcar was stellar indeed! I rented Terry the Toyota Tacoma pick-up truck for 4 hours and dashed up to the Matterhorn Nursery thirty some miles up the Palisades and back, unloaded and returned the truck to the lot from where I picked it up.

Friday night we checked out a French Caribbean restaurant called "A" on Columbus between 106th & 107th streets. I popped my head into this wee little spot (seats perhaps 24 people?) and was greeted with a smile. I reserved a table for 15 minutes from then and dashed to the liquor store up the block for a nice bottle of wine.

Let me state here how MUCH I like BYOB restaurants!!!

If you go, also note that it's also CASH ONLY so hit the ATM before you arrive! Upon my return, Sebastian, the owner, greeted my smile with a big one of his own and showed me to one of the four open seats in the small room. Upon popping open my wine he suggested a few dishes on the petite but lovely menu that would go well with my wine selection. Dan was running a bit late while he wrapped up a school deadline and encouraged me to order a little something while I waited. So I did...the baked Shrimp with rum curry special.

Let me interject here and say there will be no photos of the food as the lighting was very dim and I couldn't get a single one that did the food justice. The kitchen is very tiny and part of the dining room.

The music, mostly 80s favorites, came from a stereo atop the fridge and everyones heads bobbed as you looked around the room. Smiles too. No one looked at me oddly when I pulled out my knitting and sat knitting and people watching until my dish arrived.

Upon Dan's arrival, we ordered two more appetizers, the baked pear with raw honey and Gorgonzola and the pate. Yums all around! We followed that with the chicken and duck entrees, bith served with a nice couscous - yums again!

I was FULL...but when they threw in a dessert I had to eat it up! YUM! He had gotten the Chocolate creme brulee (which he commented was less cremey and more puddingy but good none-the-less) while I enjoyed my French apple tartin - very buttery and not too rich. I can't believe it's been in the neighborhood for seven years (as I have too!) and this was my first visit. Shame on me! I'll be back! Yum!

I also had a lovely meal at Mama Mexico's, after our mani-pedi date, with Jennifer and a tasty meal with Linda and Michelle later in the week at Gennaro. It was a good eattin' week!

Back to that fun word above... KNITTING... I have cast on a new project for my weeks of travels ahead. I'd stopped into Yarntopia this week and decided I HAD to have this beautiful BRIGHT TURQUOISE (#204) yarn - Artyarns Ultramerino4 and a hank in a bright apple green too!

What am I knitting?

The Undulating Rib Socks (pg 93 in the Favorite Socks book from Interweave.) I'll do the heels and toes in the green. Yum! The photo doesn't do the color justice at all!! I'm knitting them both at once on two Addi-turbos. Weeeeeeee!

I also found out from Dona at Yarntopia that I'll be teaching a class on Intarsia in August at the store, and likely one on socks in the fall. So, hop on over to the store website and sign onto the email list and she'll email out the entire class schedule list later this week. Oh, and her downstairs knitting lunge is NOW OPEN! Yeah! It's a great color too! Walls are a Raspberry and the floor is a pretty rusty orange. Fun!

Cooking -- I think I've perfected the steamed Chinese fish. Yum!! I've made it a few times these past few weeks.

It was amoungst the dishes of July 4th. Also Mango Salsa (yum!) and a stone fruit cobbler of sorts. Although I've been enjoying trying out many new restaurants, our wallets and tummies haven't been as happy. So I've been trying to fit in cooking some meals...difficult when I can't use my own kitchen... although I've been told the job will be DONE Tuesday...I have hope!!

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Last Day Away

Today was the last day away, returning to the city in the evening.
A fun day though!! Relaxed with the Sunday Times, sat at the beach for a bit, enjoyed the chicken wraps (the ones I showed cooking from yesterday.) Not bad at all! I always use dark meat because it tastes better, but the chicken I bought on my way out was spoiled when I opened it! Thankfully Allegra had some chicken breasts in the freezer which I substituted!

As promised, here's the chicken recipe. I've adapted it from a recipe I found years ago on the Food TV website. I'm sure it's still there if I took the time to look. There's recipe was a bit more fussy.

serves 3-4

1 14oz. can either whole tomatoes (you chop them) or chopped tomatoes
1lb dark meat chicken (thighs, legs) *Using chicken on the bone provides better flavor!*
1-2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon Cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne dried hot pepper flakes (or liquid) to your taste
Hot pepper flakes or liquid to your taste
*I often use a spicy chili powder in place of the cayenne AND hot pepper

Wraps (I like whole wheat)

Melt the butter and brown the chicken a little. (Cook for just a few minutes.)
Pour the contents of the can of tomatoes, including juice, cumin and cayenne into a pan with the chicken and left it cook for about 40 minutes. Add the hot pepper if you are going to add it...a little goes a long ways! Cook a further 10-20 minutes.

Turn off the heat. Remove chicken parts. I use two forks and shred the chicken off the bones, returning the chicken to the pan. Cook down a further 10-20 minutes, watching as the liquid cooks off. It will disappear suddenly, so keep an eye on it. When liquid is gone, remove from heat and add salt to taste. (I use very little.)

I cook this up a day in advance and put it in the fridge overnight to let the flavors mix.

To serve, I mash up an avocado and juice from 1/2 of a lime and spread it on the wrap. I peel and thinly slice the cucumber, lengthwise, and toss it in a bowl with the other 1/2 of the limes juice.

Put some chicken mixture in the middle of the wrap. Add some cucumber strips and some cilantro leaves. Wrap it up (the avocado can also be used as the glue to help the wrap stick together.)


After lunch and some beach time, we wandered to the next town over for some ice cream and chatting while Dan wandered around taking photos. I really like this photo Dan took of Allegra and I.
Now it's back to city life and work! (Which in iteself isn't all bad either!)

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