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

Sunday, September 30, 2007


These past few days have zoomed by! Not only have I spent a little time poking through Ravelry (which if you haven't gotten on the list -- GET ON IT -- this site is FANTASTIC!) Such a cool organizational tool by way of a neato community!! Come on over you Happy Hookers too!! It's for both Knit and Crochet!!! (I wonder if they'd ever add quilting...or sewing...or...I could go on and on here eh?)

Firstly - Stipety Sweater update from this morning's commute!!

It's-a-growing (slowly but growing!!) I've nearly finished the first section of the body. Portions are about to reside on holders while I hop over to make the two sleeve. I think I'm going to knit them at the same time on two DPNs. It's just faster/easier for me since I'm used to knitting my socks that way. Thank goodness Dan went into my Knit Library for me and sent me those pages! Looks like I'm actually going to need them!!! (I still can't believe I didn't photocopy the entire pattern before I left! Glad I'd put it back on the shelf for easy finding!)

I may get a little time in tomorrow to knit.

I'm not sure if I have a morning meeting at my hotel or not. Tomorrow is National Day here in China (China's birthday basically.) The factory is closed and Mag will be returning to China from her trip to the exhibition in Russia. She'll meet me at the hotel at 1pm for lunch and then I suppose I'll head to the factory to wrap up anything further before Bernard arrives from New York on Monday night. Tuesday and Wednesday will be the review. If there is a need, still waiting on what the thought is, one of my Hong Kong vendors may come on up via train to Dongguan tomorrow to go over the new samples that have been finished so that I can make face-to-face comments -- I think as much as I'd love a relaxing morning of paperwork and knitting in my hotel room, it'd be best if he comes up. Things work faster in person any day of the week!


As promised to me, yesterday we had the spicy frog dish - YUM!! We also had a DELICIOUS ground pork stuffed tofu dish. I've had A spicy frog dish before - but both of these were new to me from the kitchen of Fu. Add the Choy Sum, rice and a dish of shredded cooked cucumber and that's a lunch fit for a KING!!! See the slide show below for all of the juicy visuals. Oooh, it looks so good - must almost be lunch time here in China!!!

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Friday, September 28, 2007

It's 12:42am here in China and I can't tear myself away! I'm just going to set up my profile...and maybe my recent FO...

Find me there under: madhatrk

Sent from my Blackberry

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Food Update in China

New Dish Alert! New Dish Alert!
Fu made this today -- it's an omelet, but she put in that spice (whose name I still can't find in English) that she brings from her home town. You have to pull them out before you eat the dish they're in or it tastes SUPER bitter.

This was just too pretty not to take. Love the orange. I'm in a real orange mood lately (oh, and purple!)

Lunch! Add the plate of cabbage, some rice and voila! YUM!!

I'm not the only one who travels through Asia focusing on the FOOD!! I ran across the NH Bushman on Flickr. Check out his site for more YUMMINESS!!!
Make me it just coincidence we're both from New Hampshire?

Stay tuned -- tomorrow I've been promised spicy frog! (YUM --Love me some frog!!!)

I even got a few rows done on the baby sweater on the way to the office today! Too bad the new highway is done -- my commute went from 45 minutes to 20! 25 minutes of blissful knitting gone -- all in the name of a better infrastructure. I guess I can give them that. {grin}

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

End your Ravelry Wonder

Wondering where you are in the Ravelry admittance line?

Wonder no longer! Go here:

I love the link -- um yah -- antsy.

If you leave the page open, you can see the counters move as more people sign up!!! Cool eh?

Where am I in line?
You signed up on July 21, 2007
You are #19209 on the list.
731 people are ahead of you in line.
17301 people are behind you in line.
50% of the list has been invited so far

Last quickie post today - I SWEAR!!!! Nighty Night!


Rockin' Girl Blogger

How fun! On a brain-clearing break today I got a nod today from Delia at Wine & Needles.
Thanks Delia! You made my day!!! I always love reading what your up to out there in CA! I might be out your way in the spring! Perhaps some Wine and Knitting if I do? who do I pass the nod on along to?

Andrea over at Mellowtrouble. We 'met' because I was her Secret Pal. Boy were those months fun! Check out her blog. She's always got her hands in something crafty, tasty and fun!

Dani over at YeaIKnit. Now moved from NY on down South, she's rolling along! She'll be moving into a new house in a few days! Exciting! She always has such fun projects working!

Celia over at Unraveling. She's just neat. I was happy to meet her on her trip to NYC last year.

Mrs. Pilkington because I love her writing. Her topics always grab me and I end up spending time clicking through every link she posts. Perhaps I'm in luck that she doesn't post so often! {grin}

That's a start. Perhaps more tomorrow! Back to work I go!

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My dear friend Jan owns and operates a Plus Size ladies clothing store in Rhode Island.

She's JUST started a blog:
"I've created this blog to post thoughts on how to best navigate the waters of plus size fashion industry & other ramblings that rattle through the brain of a young-ish woman trying to change the fashion industry's pre-conception of plus size women one vendor at a time."

I like yesterday's entry: 5 Urban Myths of Dressing for Plus-Sizes

Pop on over and wish her a hello! She's still figuring out her sidebar etc...but I think comments will give her the push to persevere!

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FO and WIP updates!! (knitting content)

Here is a proper photo of the now complete Undulating Rib Socks (Pattern from Interweave's book: 25 Favorite Socks).

You can only see the cool rib when they're on. But as I took them out for their inaugural wearing today, and I happened to have this lovely white wall/shelf handy...I took them off for a few photos.

OK, so that's not 100% true. I copies the FIRST PAGE (duh) and didn't turn the page...and had Dan snap a photo of the next two pages and email them to me so that I could print them out and continue the pattern.

Thanks Dan!

What's now on the needles?

Child's Placket-neck Pullover -- I've so many friends having babies this next year (again!!!)

I photocopied the pages to carry along with me and I cannot recall which "Quick weekend knits" book it's from at this very moment.

I've been knitting it mostly on public transportation and van rides to and from factories. On the MTR (subway) in Hong Kong and on the plane from Milan to Shanghai.

The funny thing is that I didn't realize my continuation of knitting colorscheme until I was on the plane!! I had just pulled two colors that I liked and voila!

I love making kids clothes in fun colors!!!

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mid-Autumn Moon Festival Celebration

Looking over last nights mini post from the dance club I figured I'd fill in the entire night. Let me start out by saying that this was a VERY fun night!! The sights, smells and sounds -- sometimes were overwhelming -- but always interesting if you look hard enough.

The new restaurant, Yan Shui Chai Xin located in Changping, China, was delicious! There were over 13 dishes with 11 adults and two children. They ranged from pork and pigeon to zucchini and bok choy. Mushrooms and fungus were plentiful as were prawn and beef. Choy sum was perfectly paired with just the right amount of garlic and the squid was elegantly and artistically sliced into beautiful shapes. Serving plates were garnished with stems of flowers and the fruit plate finished with a beautiful, as always, carved rind. I took photos of most dishes but definitely missed a photo of the steamed fish, one vegetable dish and the plate of both steamed and fried bread.

Here are the ones I did get! For more information, on each dish (Chinese name, ingredients etc) go here.

The wine, a 2001 Chateau Dauzac Margaux (see photo left) was wonderful. Part of me was pained to see the gents at the table toast repeated "compay" (bottoms up) and see their 1/4 full glasses drained of this wonderful grape with it barely passing over their tongues...the other part of me didn't mind at all since that's the culture and they were having so much fun!! The two bottles were enjoyed by most ( a few gals didn't care for it) and thus it was split amongst 8 adults...or really 3 of the men doing French shooter with a the rest of us enjoying it slowly. :-)

This is the first time I'd been out with everyone where Mag was not there with her near-perfect English to translate. Min stepped in to help me understand the conversations...

It still amazes me that this strong leader of a team is the same girl that was so shy and nervous even 2.5 years ago. Her English is quite good now, though sometimes I need her to speak a little more loudly to hear her over others that are talking. You GO GIRL!

After we were all so stuffed, we piled into a few cars and drove 15-20 minutes to the Sunday Club. The photo at the left is the one I took as the security guard nudged me to not take photos. The one on the right is the one I took when I fained stupidity as my team stalled him a moment. This is the last photo from the night --- taking out your camera inside would cause nothing but trouble. This is indeed a flashy Vegas style building both inside and out!

There would be no photography inside...where as in the US it is sort of expected that someone in each party will be taking photographs, in China I haven't been to an establishment yet that allows them. Why? I have a few theories, the top two being:

1) The management/owner is afraid you will steal their amazing and uncopyable-by-visiting decor and ideas and open up a competing club.

2) There are too many men there with their mistresses and they don't want to handle the problems later if photos arise.

We even asked the staff...and no one knows why. It's just company policy.

Because there aren't any photos (which I can't stress how much of a bummer that is), I'll describe it all to you as best I can. As you walk up the stairs you're flanked by 20 people. Most of them standing in a line in uniforms to greet you I suppose. (This is a big practice here in China. Hiring multitudes to stand there and greet you -- I suppose it makes the establishment look affluent and it also helps the government with their "we have little to no unemployment" talk.)

I'd been here before, but had never been to the private rooms that over looked the dance floor from above. Ming decided it might be nice to check out these rooms, so after all of our purses were poked through (barely) at their faux security table, we all climbed the grand curved staircase, only to be greeted by 20+ MORE gals in a DIFFERENT uniform all standing there. Dressed in bright turquoise with the gold and red flashiness around them this is a very beautiful photo in my mind.
We were brought down a long hallway to one of the two "Presidential Suites" and we took a look. Couches and stools all covered in leopard print, a red carpeted floor... at first glance you might picture it as an old brothel lavishly decorated like you'd see in the movies.
At second glance you notice the shmeer on the windows from the months of cigarette smoke coating them since they were last washed, which obscured your expensive view of the dance floor below, as well as obscuring our sense of smell from the years of cigarette smoke in this room without the carpet or couches ever having been cleaned.
The room was outfitted with everything needed for KTV (Karaoke) and the gal showing us the room began her sales pitch. She must have thought that Ming was there as the only man with all of these women with him at first...but then Min's husband came in and the look on her face and tone in her voice changed. Even though I couldn't understand her Chinese I could tell from her tone and sales pitch that she would get commission if we booked this room.
Ming left to check out the availability downstairs along the dance floor before we'd make our choice.

We decided --- Along the dance floor it is!!! She looked none to happy and waved us away from her room. Back down the grand staircase. Past the bag check and the first 20 greeters to the entrance. Here we had to each buy a ticket into the club which we handed to the security guard before passing though the metal detector (which I was shocked didn't go off with everything I was schlepping in my huge bag directly from the office -- it would certainly go off at any airport!) Made me wonder if the thing was actually plugged in or a decoy there for show.

Next stop -- floor side to find our tables. We'd need 3 tables with all of the gals that were coming. If there was a candle lit upon the table it was taken/reserved. We quickly picked out 3 tables and had the candles lit as we paid for them up front. Next came the drink girls. Each vendor of alcohol (beer, vodka coolers etc) has a different gal working the place dressed in a t-shirt with their logo and tight jeans. She has a menu of glossy photos of her drinks and she gets commission if you buy HER drinks. If you're a gal she tries to be your best friend. If you're a guy she flirts like hell! (Funny to watch as the two gals tried to decide who was the one in our group who would make the ultimate decision and lay the money down. They both stopped in their tracks when someone apparently told them that I'd be making the choice (I would?) as I was their guest, which frankly I didn't care what we drank...but it was all worth it to see the two gals try to figure out how they could schmooze me when I didn't speak Chinese.
Who won? The Tsing Tao girl hands down! Her pantomime and go-gettiveness far out shown the other gal who seemed to give up as soon as she saw my blue eyes. Too bad, I've yet to try one of these Vodka Koolers here in China. :-)

Text messages with our in club location were sent out at rapid pace and before long the team rolled in. Our table was brought a rectangular plastic bin (16"x10" approx) filled with 2 dozen beers on ice. Glasses were provided to everyone and a few beers were opened and poured by our waiter (not the Tsing Tao girl -- her job was to seal the deal only and she was off shakin' it to a table full of men a few tables away.)

Each table juts out from the wall - giving two long sides and one short curved end to sit around. I'd say they are 16" across and 36" long perhaps, with 6 leopard fur covered stools (that have definitely seen better days.) The stools are packed in and you definitely have NO personal space both next to you or behind you as the table behind you is really leaning right up upon you. Personal space is not something always understood in China.

Besides the trough-o-beer on the wall end of the table, there are 6 sets of Liar's Poker, 6 glasses and a candle. Liar's Dice/ Liar's Poker -- In China you often see this game in bars. You can find it EVERYWHERE. Beer manufacturers often provide unlimited cups (usually with bottoms) and dice as promotion items. Why? According to the common rules of game, the loser has to drink (anywhere from 1/4 to 1 of your glass or bottle of beer). I must admit it's a fun game! After a quickie refresher course on the rules and how to do the hand signals for numbers 1 through 10 the Chinese way, we began. The hand signals are very important because they allow you to play without having to hear each other speak - which would be IMPOSSIBLE!!! Thankfully the beer we got was like water with a low alcohol content because I played for fun instead of to win!

As we started to play, the performances of the night began. Each song either a man or woman dressed in ripped T-shirts (think 1983) and tight jeans with super pegged legs, belting out an apparently commonly known Chinese tune, as those with me all sang along under their breath as we played the game. The food began to arrive. More food? Trays of fruit (oranges, tomatoes, melons and mini apples) and steaming hot boiled peanuts to crack open and slurp out or their shells. You put the shells right onto the table in random piles, and the waiter randomly goes from table to table sweeping the piles into a bucket.

Suddenly and without warning -- I had yet another reminder that I'm not 25 anymore.

BMM BMM BMM BMM --- it began. THE BASS!! So low and so loud that not only did it shake your tables but for a moment I thought I was having a panic attack as it shook me to the core.

Hello, My name is Kimberli and I forgot my earplugs at the hotel. The music was loud!! I can't believe I'd forgotten just how loud the music was at this place. :-)

It was time to dance. The young 19 year old girls came over to collect me and I was whisked onto the dance floor. This was the first time that I'd been dancing with these new young office gals. My old team (as in I've worked with them for almost 8 years) was there too! FUN!!

The dance floor is rectangular with the DJ booth along one of the long sides. There's a little stage/landing in front of the DJ booth where the singers had been and where they sometimes have dancers (usually of an androgynous nature). There are four best described as barrels, out on the dance floor itself, about 3 feet high where I've seen other dancers as described above dancing for the crowd. Tonight I saw no dancers upon them, but instead I saw young boys leaning against them - facing them - holding on arms out - as they swayed and danced with the barrel as though it were a partner. The young women, most with a cigarette in their hands, all danced in groups and seemed to ignore any advances made by the occasional brave man.

The women were in all manor of attire. There was the Disco Queen with her chiffon style dress and metallic belt/shoes and flipped hair. The Sport Gal in her best track suit. The I wear my own style gal with the 12" frizzed Afro and white halter top. The gaggles of girls in matching tops and jeans. It was a fascinating sight to watch.

After a few hours of non-stop dancing, it was time for me to be the first to leave and see if I could make up for the lack of sleep I'd gotten the night before. Leaving the club I found I had that not-at-all-missed ringing in my ears that I haven't heard likely since the last time I came here dancing.

What's next? A shower to get all of that unfiltered cigarette smoke off and a nice long sleep!
Back to long days at the factory tomorrow where I guarantee everyone that was out until 4 or 5am dancing will roll in fresh as a daisy. Why? Because most of them are 19!

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Happy Mid-Autumn Moon Festival

After the wee hour calls last night (this morning) from my dear boss, and missing that sleep window, I dragged ass all day...

Then at 6pm the staff (and me as their guest) all headed to dinner at a fab new Chinese restaurant and we ate our fill & then some! We also drank the 2 bottles of Chateau Dauzac Margaux that we'd picked up at customs on our way into China.

Now we're at the dance can probably here the pounding base through this post!

It is only times like this that I wish I had a camera phone to take photos... Camera's are not allowed out of your bag or they take the film/card. It's like frickin' Fort Nox!

I was yelled at (again) for taking a photo of the BUILDING from the outside!

This place is always so...Chinese! LOL!

Not just the music, but the buying of tables, the Liers Poker on every table and the 1980's clips that get mixed into 95% of the songs!

The random performances by a gal singing along with a recorded soundtrack on a staging area in front of the DJ on the far side of the dance floor.

I think I just got my second wind!

An ice-filled trough (literally) of bottles of Tsing Tao has been ordered and we expect 16 more gals to show up from the factory soon.

Oh geesh- the girls just arrived and so did the trough of beers...and they've begun to hand out whistles!

Happy Tuesday! Extra Long work days resume tomorrow for the balance of the trip!


Sent from my Blackberry

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Monday, September 24, 2007


In a break to clear my head I popped over to avaD's blog and saw this:

'Popular singer Sarah McLachlan stars in this video, which highlights with graphics and music the normal cost of producing a contemporary video and some alternate ways that money could be spent. For instance, the hair and makeup expenses for a video shoot would cost about $5,000 for a day in Los Angeles. Or, that money could provide a year of schooling for 145 girls in Afghanistan. By the way, this video cost $15 and the bulk of the normal expenses was spent on schools, orphanages and meals in several developing countries.'

Watch the video:

WOW. Thanks for posting it avaD. Double Wow.
I always have this feeling that I should be, could be, doing more. Doing SOMETHING...

More info found at

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Exhausted But Energized
2:45am China time...just leaving the factory. I had all good intentions of leaving at 11pm. Then at 11:30pm I spaced out for a minute (or was it 20?) Almost like sleeping with your eyes open...I snapped out of it with a fresh burst of energy and...well...worked!

I'm psyched -- the line -- it is Planned! I'm not usually this mentally "planned out" for a few more weeks!

When I'm designing a new line, there are weeks where all I do is consume information. Books, webpages, magazines, trend reviews. Mentally exhausting! I spin through what feels like all of the stores in NYC and sometimes other cities. Then, all of a sudden, like a game of Tetris, the ideas twist, spin and fall into place, usually one at a time. It's a process that takes months... but tonight the bulk of it came rushing head-on and I was able to not only get it all down on paper...often difficult when the ideas come too fast (like remembering your dreams), but it all FIT. The ideas are whole, not pieced, and I'm hoping they will recharge my sales team in a time when business across the fashion industry and across the US is difficult. After all, we're all holding a little more money in our pockets than usual aren't we?

I also took a few minutes today to pop around to a few blogs -- I've gotten so behind on reading them!! So many of you are doing, reading, making and eating such cool things!

I don't have the links here in my blackberry...but I did bookmark a few and I'll try to get them up tomorrow! Thanks for sharing!!!

Sent from my Blackberry

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Saturday Night in China

It's quarter to 1am and I'm heading back to the hotel from the factory. Last night wiped me out a little. I worked until 2:30am. Why? Well, when you get a creative second wind, you run with it! I would have pushed through tonight, but I feel like I may be fighting off the start of a cold.

It was quite warm my few days in Hong Kong, but those days don't compare to the weather in China yesterday! Walking across the parking lot at the stop we made along the way...I was SURE that I really would melt! It's been so long since I was in China for weeks in that sort of heat -- I'm sorely out of practice!

On our way up to the factory we stopped in Lo Wu, otherwise known as shopping heaven!! First stop? Silk scarves!! I was not going for brands but quality & 100% silk, soft large scarves for my friend who's battling breast cancer to wear through chemo.

Lo Wu is fun! After you pick out what you'd like, you begin to play paying ping pong! The store clerk punches in each item's price into a calculator. You look at it, laugh and cut it in half. Their serve. This continues back and forth until I get my agreed price. Even then I know they are still likely making a ton of cash! (You can tell by their smug grins as you leave their shops.)

Scarves? Check!

Next stop was to peek at a great angular earth toned fall jacket/blazer we'd passed on our way in. It. Is. YUMMY! I picked up a few nice pieces, but Mag scored an amazing wool short wool coat (that I hope she packed to bring to Russia tomorrow!!) We scored 5pc ranging from that Georgous wool short coat and an A-lined interestingly seamed Elizabethan collared coat (perfect for the opera!) to a beautifully buttoned bolaro length satin jacket that will look perfect over a little black dress (also good for the opera!!) for 1800 RMB (down from the original offer of 2800 RMB). That's $240 USD. Considering the Wool coat Mag got...between the quality & workmanship...well, I could see it going for $450-700USD back home!

Lastly I popped around to a shop for a few Christmas gifts...shhhhh.

Then we dashed over to BBC for a bite. It's more of a Western styled cafe that offers up interesting takes on Western food and quick options of Asian food.

I had a chocolate milk. In the 7.5 years I've been coming here I've never seen chocolate milk (fresh milk + chocolate powder) offered on a menu. It was a yummy treat!!
After gobbling up our plates of Asian food we made the long hot walk back to the car and melted into the smokin hot leather seats for the final leg of the ride. It had warmed up since our pre-lunch arrival. The car read an outside temp of 38C (104F+/-)!! An hour-and-a-half later we arrived and I started into work.

Things are looking great so far as work goes!

I've a few surprises for my sales staff up my sleeve! Weeeeeeeeeee!

1:30am here in Dongguan, China! Time for bed...tomorrow comes all too soon!!

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Guilty Pleasures...

OK...for anyone out there who needs a reminder round-up of the end of the season of Ugly Betty... Enjoy these 3 minuts and 57 seconds and await the premier this Thursday...
which I will miss being that I'm in China. (Hopefully Dan will be taping it for me on one of those ancient machines called a V.C.R. since I haven't yet joined the world of cable TV!) Enjoy!

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Typhoon update

The winds came, along with VERY heavy rains last night...
This morning was windy too. Now the rain is taking a momentary rest and the winds have died down as the typoon crosses north of here heading towards the Yellow Sea (I think) were it could pick up more power before hitting Korea. (They've postponed the next matches at the Women's World Cup (soccer) -- the US is doing well too at last report!!)

The worst seemed to skirt the area of Shanghai that I was in.
Schools may be closed but the airport is open!!
(So no Typhoon Day (off) for us! <Grin>)

Marilyn (my vendor from Taiwan who is returning home today) and I are on our way to the airport a bit early. Roads were empty near the hotel but have picked up more cars as we approach the airport.

Now we ready ourselves for the possibility of the worlds longest (and most unorganized) free-for-all passport control/immigration line... (I have spent 3hrs to 20min waiting in that line!!)

The Pudong airport is in site!
Hong Kong here I come!
Sent from my Blackberry

Super Typhoon coming my way in Shanghai!

Yeowza - we're preparing for what could be the most destructive typhoon in a decade.

I'm hoping we can find out if airport is closed and just ride it out at the hotel!

If my flight is cancelled...I'll have my knitting...but I finished Harry Potter 7!

I'll keep you posted! Maybe it'll turn around?

Sent from my Blackberry

Sunday, September 16, 2007

House Elves in Italy?

After a wonderful nights sleep, I awoke to a little tap at my door that the shower was available.

After readying myself I walked into the kitchen - had the House Elves been up for hours?

No, Tatiana and Jesus had laid out every delicious option they had!!! Wow!! Eany meany miney month! Amazing!!

By the time I'd finished the toast and special butter (packaged in a fancy tin can) and jam, homemade banana shake and yummy coffee that Jesus had made me stove top, I was FULL! YUM YUM YUM!! I did enjoy looking at all of the packaging of the products. Always interesting to see what other countries use to market their products!

They also have one of these in their kitchen... Tatiana tells me it's called a "Jamonero" and it's holding a ham called "Jamon Iberico"...
You can take a Spaniard out of Spain...

They said sadly the leg was finished, but it had been delish!!! I want one! Being that they were going to drive to pick up a kitten after dropping me made me will they keep the cat away from a leg like that? My cats stay off the kitchen counter, but I wonder if they would if they smelled THAT!!

They kindly drove me to the airport and then left to pick up LuBlu. I forget the breed, but similar to an English Blue. I'll likely see them in Italy again before they can make it to NYC. I look forward to their NYC visit!!

The flight to Milan from Florence is quick. Ahhhh-Milan. I've now been to it's airport, but not the city yet. Add it to the list with Rome, Frankfort and Amsterdam!!

I can say that the Milan airport DOES at least have some decent food!! A glass of Prosseco and a lovely Caprese salad. MMmmmm MMMmmmm!

On my way to my flight I saw THIS:
Lego has made a Harry Potter! It was quite interestingly designed (yes, the technical geek came out as I looked at the choices of colors used for shadows etc.) Fun, no?

If only I knew what my flight ahead held for me! OY!

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

FO's and Knitting and eating and laughing OH MY!

After a long week (OK, so weeks in Italy aren't the same type of 'long' as in China...but I was up until 4am doing paperwork!!) here in Florence, I hopped into a taxi today to dash over to Tatiana and Jesus's home for a visit before heading onwards to China.

Let me stop here and apologize for the junk quality of some of my photos from this day...I had my camera on a bad setting and didn't realize it... Blah.

In case you forget who Tatiana and Jesus are... Tatiana and I met last April in Florence in a yarn shop and voila! :-) I arrived at their apartment in Scandicci (a close suburb of Florence central--- a mere 15 minute drive) and we lugged my bags, which really weren't that heavy, to the top floor. They live in the PENTHOUSE {hee-hee}...or at least on the top floor! After a quick tour we began to discuss knitting. For a gal who has just picked it up...Tatiana has taken to it as though it were a sport! It was as i love to see...knitting projects out in more than one room (just in case you have a moment for a few stitches!) She pulled out this fabulous sweater that she'd picked up at a local market and we dissected it...I'll hopefully write up a pattern for it later this fall --- it's a smart pattern and would be easy to make on big needles.

Jesus was out having a ride on his motorcycle...and when he arrived I nearly didn't recognize him -- he's shaved off his beard!! Both with and without, he still shows a lovely smile whenever his wife walks in the room as it should be!

They both are settling into the Florence area nicely, seemingly enjoying it more than their year in Milan. After a brief chat we three were off to the pizzeria for lunch! Being that it was fairly close, we were able to just walk on over. Upon walking into 'All' insegna del gallo', I began to laugh... I'd been there before!! They were surprised. Of all the restaurants OUTSIDE Florence they took me to one I'd been to before... I was NOT upset!! Not only had I been there before with my agent Carla (who lives around the corner from it herself), but on that trip, we went here 3 nights in a row because it was her favorite restaurant and the food is so tasty!!!

I was so hungry when the food arrived that I dove right in without taking a photo of the crisp crusted thin and delightful pizza. You see I'd chosen a few extra hours of sleep and waking up to finish my work so I could leave the laptop in the bag rather than eating breakfast! (Wise choice I think!!)

From here Jesus dashed to tinker with some treats he'd bought for his motorcycle and Tatiana and I gathered our knitting and walked to a local park. Grown mean and their young daughters were playing football (soccer)...teen age boys were revving their engines, showing off their radios and squeaking their tires as they left in the nearby parking lot...and old women walking in pairs were strolling along in the perfect afternoon air.

We sprawled out on the grass and dove into our knitting!!! Well...Tatiana dove into her knitting...I dove into the Kitchner Stitch and finishing up my Undulating Rib Socks! See!! Done!! It's been a while since I was able to post a FO!

Get a good look...the next project on the needles was inspired by these colors (actually I didn't realize I'd picked the same exact colorway until I arrived in Italy!!!)

Lovely chatting and hours later we walked to meet Jesus for some gelatto. Yum!!! From here we walked back to the homestead for some relaxing before dinner in Florence. Jesus was eager to try out the new helmet to helmet communication system he'd bought!!!

On the way there we stopped on the hillside above Florence for a view of the city at night. Always breath taking!!

A friend of Jesus's has recommended they try Semolina L'Osteria (50122-Firenze, Piazza Ghiberti 87r - Zona Sant'Ambrogio Tel: 055.2347584). A lovely suggestion indeed. Although we'd booked a table, there was a wait to be had...not unexpected on a Saturday night in a city where people actually sit and enjoy their food! We were seated outside between a few bustling parties. Pasta for everyone!!! Tatiana the duck pasta and both Jesus and I got the Lobster pasta which arrived at the table in one giant bowl for us to split. It was very tasty --- and a little spicy (which it didn't mention on the menu!) Thankfully both Jesus and I like spicy food!!! See that smile (and no beard!!)

We decided that it would be a better restaurant to attend on an early weeknight when it wasn't quite so bustling. That's not to downplay the food mind you...just the hustling atmosphere!

Before I knew it were were soaring through the mountains outside of Florence...apparently they close the easy way back into Scandicci every night around 11 or 12 so they can do road work. This means you must literally drive around the mountainside to come into Scandicci from another side...and you must take in even more beautiful views of the valley lit up at night.

When bed arrived...I was ready...what a fun day!!

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Think Good Thoughts

Life...Life rolls along with a speed that increases the older we get. There are no brakes that we can control, just marginal steering.

This summer has rolled along at top speed. Partially because I shared it with an energetic 8-yr-old...and partially because I have had so much upon my plate (by choice for the most part.)

My brakes were pulled. Monday morning. Labor Day.

My dearest friend called to let me know she had been told a few mere hours before, on Sunday, that the results from her lumpectomy were received by her surgeon on Sunday and...she has Breast Cancer. I. Am Still. In Shock.

Like any of you out there who have been touched by this, I'm sure you know the feelings.

I want to fix it. I'm a fixer. It's what I do. I want to look at it logically and break it down and fix it. Find the solution. Make it stop. Bring it back to where things were before.

It's not fair. She is 34.

Helpless. I feel helpless. Not only can I not "do" anything -- but she lives across our dear country in California so even simple things like a cup of tea and a hug in person won't be possible for another month.

I leave Tuesday for a month of traveling. A month. So much can happen in a month.

There are added complications and stresses involved which I won't get into...a month is a very long time. I can tell you I have planned my fall to be able to make as many trips out to California as I can.

Life here in NYC is still rolling along. Work is busy. Books are being read (I'm 1/2 way through the 6th Harry Potter determined to wrap it up and only bring book 7 along on the trip.) Socks are being knit (I'm almost done with the Undulating Rib Socks!!) The garden is being harvested -- this weekend looks like pesto time! (I make pesto and freeze it in ice cube trays - crack the cubes into a ziplock and voila - pesto for one or two all fall long!

Dan and I went to see the Mariners vs. Yankees game here in the Bronx last night. Sadly his team was beaten...well...spanked in the 7th inning...but it was an enjoyable night none-the-less!
I'm looking forward to tomorrow night (Taking Allegra out for her birthday dinner), Saturday night (company coming to town and we're going to a fashion show under the Tent in Bryant Park followed by a soiree WAY WAY uptown), Sunday (hopefully an opera matinee) followed by an organic wine tasting later that night...
So much to squeeze in before I leave for 27 days of working nearly straight (one day off in Italy to spend with Tatiana - yeah!!)

Life rolls along... but I still wish I could FIX it.

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