Wednesday, January 30, 2008

At least I paid for my crochet hook.

My first crochet class was last night, and looking at the image above I don't have to tell you that I stink at it. While everyone else rhythmically stitched their chains and proceeded to single crochet, my yarn was tangled in my clumsy hands as I tried to figure out a slip knot. It was that bad.

It didn't help that the fellow students can I put this delicately...rough. I saw one of the girls discreetly swipe a crochet hook into her bag! There were several 30-something bartenders that all had their hair completely bleached out or dyed a saturated black. Tattoos littered their arms (and probably everywhere else), and they were kind of mean! Maybe I was asking for it considering I was wearing one of those silky, secretary style blouses in the land of ripped t-shirts and black leather, but it was a crochet class!

I'm going to make myself return to class next week, but I honestly am not looking forward to it!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Personalized Woven Labels

I love these personalized labels from Charm Woven Labels, an early Valentine's present from Mom! She said she did a lot of looking around, and this company's offerings appeared to be the best. I've never had labels before, but these feel durable, look professional, and most of all they are pretty! I can't wait to sew these into some projects.

Part II, to be opened on February 14th!

Monday, January 28, 2008

New Rug and 100th Post

I love my honey-colored wood floors, but considering they extend up the walls for oh, about four feet, I could go with seeing a little less--that's a lot of wood! [here's where you make a wood joke] I've been hunting for a rug for several months, often backing out of purchases because of my unwillingness to commit to a color scheme and my paltry budget.

Finally, last week during a late night, wine-induced online shop-athon, I found a screaming deal on a rug from West Elm. It's big enough, blue is safe and livable, and the price was right ( 8'x8' and $90, down from $350!).



I didn't expose the photos right, so the colors in the rug don't appear as saturated as they truly are, but it is pretty, no? It is durable, as well. Three hours in, a full glass of Makers on ice was dropped and shattered right in the center of the rug (I won't name names, but he felt really bad). Cleanup left the rug looking new, however, so no friends were lost. Cheers to 80% wool and 20% cotton blend.

In other news, I finally hit 100 posts!

Friday, January 25, 2008

If your picture is on your blog, it can happen to you!

I use my lunch break to catch up on my Google Reader and today finished the hour by reading a post by Angela over at her blog, Tomorrow is Another Day. As soon as I finished reading I went downstairs to the UPS Store to mail those potholders to my grandmother, when the girl in front of me in line looked strangely familiar...

I am no mystery writer, so obviously, you guessed was Angela! We "met" during NaBloPoMo in the twenty-somethings group, and even though we found out we both work in downtown Seattle and both avoid the hills because we always fall, I didn't realize she works in the SAME BUILDING!

Angela is such a sweetheart, online and offline. So glad to have met her! Things like this make the whole blogging thing even more worthwhile, just when I was feeling down about it!


dying to try: Banya 5. I've never been to a Russian-style spa and furthermore didn't even realize they existed! Last week I tried the accompanying vodka bar, Venik Lounge, and am subsequently hooked on the Russian experience. Now for someone to go with....(T, I'm looking at you!)

cooking: I'm embarrassed to say, but dinners this week have consisted of fried eggs and sugar-free strawberry jello. I hope you're impressed. This weekend I'm thinking of cooking one of the two ducks I've had in my freezer since Thanksgiving, so wish me luck! I'm not sure if I even like duck, much less know how to cook one, but with a grim weekend forecast I'll need something to keep me occupied while I'm hiding out indoors. Well, either that or I'm going to starve because I am out of eggs and jello (btw I don't even really like jello).

contemplating: Chopping my hair off and dying it dark brown, but I've received mixed reactions so am thinking twice about it. I would just love to cut my drying time in half!

exercising: I have been doing it. I almost don't believe it either, but I have worked out a whole three times this week so far! Current motivations are a snowboarding weekend next month that will be sure to kick my ass as well as a potential week in Hawaii. I am definitely fearing the bikini right now.

trying: Joe's Goals. I'm tying it in with the goal planning book I read, and so far it is working rather well. Kind of proud of how I am putting the pieces together, so maybe I'll post about it soon.

learning: Programming. That's the plan, anyway. Next month I begin a class in C#, but in the meantime a friend has suggested to play around with Python tutorials. Heaven help me.

crafting: still need to finish that shirt... crochet class starts next week... there are some cross-stitch and embroidery ideas I want to get started on...want to make a few little gifts for v-day...lots of lovely, little things.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Mass Transit Flattery and Shoe Compliments*

I was sitting, waiting for the bus in the tunnel yesterday, when in no less than 90 seconds I had a strange man's jacket over my legs. Of course I protested (after all, I was wearing tights, wasn't cold, and umm...ew), but he insisted that he had "been thinking about it all day" and it was the "least he could do" in light of the sinking temperature.

Avoiding eye contact and thinking about all the potential germs on the fleece that adorned my legs, I thought over my outfit and decided I was surprised that such a demure ensemble would garner a man's attention. I had a client appointment in the morning, so I traded my typical jeans and blouse work attire for an army green sheath dress that although figure-hugging, was hidden with a sweetheart cut black cardigan, further covered with a bulky North Face jacket. Pair all of that coverage with opaque black tights, and I wasn't even showing a square inch of skin! Hot.

My self assessment was cut short because luckily the bus arrived within two minutes, saving him from his feeble attempts at making conversation with me. Comments ranged from "I like your shoes." to "That's a nice dress." He was very interesting, obviously.

Upon sitting down for the ride to the Eastside I feigned complete interest in my cell phone, which failed miserably as he continued to talk to me though I barely murmured "mmhmms" in response. Ok, maybe I am exaggerating. I found out he is a brick layer (he specified "big bricks" because "old men lay small bricks"), and I did manage to answer questions about what I do for fun. I replied "sewing, blogging, cooking." You know...all the things that completely turn off a man. I was wrong about one of those. The blogging spurred a brief spark of interest.

Brick Layer: "Oh! Is it a LiveJournal?!?!?!? Where you write all your secrets about crazy things you do when you go out?!?!?!?!" His eyes were opened wide with intent interest and enthusiasm.

Me: "No." I probably scowled, but I can't be sure.

He appeared sorely disappointed and didn't talk for several more minutes, that is until he saw a Denny's and went on and on about how he used to hang out there all the time. I didn't respond.

Predictably uninterested and unimpressed, I made my exit and went to class.

*I got several compliments on these shoes yesterday. Yay for cheap Nine West shoes from at least four seasons ago.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Identity Crisis

I'm having an identity crisis. A blogger-identity crisis, to be specific.

I told myself when I began blogging again and started Life Tonic, that I would write about lifestyle. Though I didn't, and still don't, have much of a lifestyle to write about, I wanted to blog about cooking, photography, living in Seattle...pretty, sophisticated things. A blog where I could talk about what I have going on whilst sparing myself the embarrassment of divulging details about romances (past, current, and desired), vanity, wishful thinking, and pretty much all other thoughts I manage daily.

Other days, Internet, I want to tell you everything. The good, the bad, the really bad, and the no-one-cares-but-I'm-telling-you-anyways. I want to profess my love for Rock of Love and gush to you how elated I was when I heard news of the second season and other important things, like how Brett Michaels should really be with Heather from Season 1 and what is going on under that bandana??!?

I want to drink a bottle glass of wine with you and complain about all the things I can't stand about the men in my life and then have you forget so the next day I can tell you how wonderful he/they are and how I couldn't live another day without him/them. Repeat.

I want to reveal that I read Missed Connections on Craigslist way too much even though no one's ever written about me.

I want to post ridiculous pictures of myself and not care if someone disapproves.

I want to write without boundaries.

I'm thinking it's silly to keep my blog semi-focused because let's face it, no one really reads this anyway. On the other hand, how can a blog ever be useful to someone if they are reckless with topics? Are there people out there like me who like to read about someone's personal life as well as cooking and sewing, etc? Will people decide I'm not very sophisticated if I share all those random facts of life? Should I care?

Internet, sorry if I have disappointed and shared too much. Regularly scheduled programming will resume tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I finally got around to scanning some Polaroids I took this past summer at Olympic Sculpture Park in downtown Seattle. I wasn't lying when I said I was productive this weekend!

Here are a few of my favorites...
Glowing in neon at night, this ampersand is part of the Love & Loss installation, probably my favorite at the park.

I love the juxtaposition of the uniform polka dots with the random pattern of the clouds. This is part of an overhang that follows part of a walking trail.

I adore these red chairs, and since I was at the park early on a weekday morning, I was able to snap a photo without people sitting in them!

The park's centerpiece.

Photos also posted on my flickr page.

TV Stand

I feel like I had a productive, long weekend. Case in point? I finally got my cable box and DVD player off of the ground, which is quite the accomplishment when you consider it's been there FOR. A. YEAR.

I spent a good chunk of Saturday going from store to store, not happy with any of the huge media consoles and tables that were of crappy quality but still cost $200+. By the time it got to Saturday evening, I was thinking I'd just give up, but Sunday morning I realized that I had one last option--Cost Plus World Market. A-ha! And what do you know, I get there, find a simple, no-frills table, and it was on sale, no less!

My temporary solution put together when I first bought this TV a year ago. It's a storage basket with a flat tray on the top to keep the top from sinking. My modest DVD collection is kept in wire baskets, courtesy of a Method Products package from Target purchased about two years ago. Modem, router, DVD player, and cable box....on the floor. Fancy.

Off of the floor! No basket! DVDs hidden in a drawer! This is called the "Chase Nightstand" from Cost Plus and only cost $80 on sale. I'm not smitten with the handle on the drawer, but that is easily changed. The wires in the back could use a little straightening, but other than that it is the perfect, simple table I was wishing for.

I think I have caught the decorating bug, because I also bought a huge rug this weekend online for my living room. Heck, at this rate, I might even hang some pictures this year! (Yes, a year in this apartment and not a single thing hanging on the walls.) To be continued!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Oven Mitt

I promise I will soon blog about things other than potholders, but in the meantime here is one that I gave to my mom for Christmas, an oven mitt from Simple Sewing. I didn't know how to hand stitch the bias tape at the opening, so I tacked on the bias strip with plenty of needles and essentially gave her homework for a Christmas gift. Luckily, she was a sweetheart about it and accepted the project with a smile. She just finished it and sent me the lovely picture. Thanks, Mom! It looks great!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Zippity do da...

It's a zipper ya'll, and I did it all by myself! With some help from this tutorial, I mostly figured out how to make a zipper pouch. The good: it opens and closes and everything! The not so good: the top corners are rounded, lending it that homemade-but-not-in-a-good-way look. To give me a little bit of credit, I couldn't tell from the tutorial the proper way to sew over the zipper. The instructions said to "sew along the three sides" of both the lining and the outer fabric separately and never mentioned anything specific about what to do with that pesky zipper in the final finishing steps.

Many, many more zippers to come.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Yesterday I sewed up a couple potholders from Simple Sewing to send to my grandmother. For Christmas I made my mom the ones from Stitches (need to gets pics of those), but they were quilted, involved lots of bias tape for binding and plain just took me a long time. The good news? I found out I never have to worry about learning quilting. Not interested. At all.

These potholders, on the other hand, were a breeze, so much so that I think I need to make her two more because I felt it was just too easy. In retrospect I wish I had not done any embroidery because my vision for it didn't exactly pan out, but I guess it's ok. Also, I didn't have any ribbon for the loops so I cut up a new, unused shoelace. Resourceful! Another trip to the fabric store avoided.

On another note, I am disappointed with the Insul-Brite, the insulated batting I sought out over a month ago especially for projects like these. It has a layer of aluminum (or something), which ruined my "self-repairing" cutting mat, which is not repairing those lines at all! Needless to say, I didn't use the Insul-Brite this go-round (it's too slippery to sew with anyway) and instead used two layers of the standard cotton batting. My mom said she hasn't burned herself yet, but consider this the warning!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Best Leftovers Ever, Maybe?

I went out for dinner Friday night and had prime rib for the first time. Holy moly was it good, if not in dinosaur proportions. No complaining from me, though, because these leftovers are, dare I say it, better than when I had it at the restaurant?

I seared the edges to slightly heat the steak through and served it atop a bed of tender baby greens that had been liberally tossed with a homemade sherry vinaigrette and a generous handful of crumbled blue cheese. YUM.

I originally bought sherry vinegar to make ratatouille, so I was glad to finally get around to making something else with it. Move over favorite Caesar dressing, because this one is quickly climbing the ranks.

Sherry Vinaigrette
Note: As with most dressings (well, and with anything), this one was made with what I happened to have on hand. I imagine a lot of people would add fresh herbs, garlic, and whatever proportions of vinegar:oil. I tend to like a 1:2.

About 1/4 c sherry vinegar
Lots of black pepper, or to taste
salt, to taste
1 packet Splenda or equivalent
About 1 T dijon mustard
About 1/2 c olive oil

As always, first whisk together all ingredients except oil, then slowly stream in oil while continuing to whisk until you reach desired consistency.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

To my sister

Good luck in the Houston Marathon tomorrow!!! Love you!

Friday, January 11, 2008


studying: technical writing. I started working on my certificate this week, and I'm so excited to be back in a classroom again. Current reading list: Reporting Technical Information and The Chicago Manual of Style.

signing up for: crochet class. I want to crochet a blanket!

crafting: loving ideas from The Left Bank Look found via decor8. I cannot wait to try the Polaroid transfers!

sewing: a shirt, view b from simplicity 3751, which I have made before in the tank version. This time I lengthened the shirt by 4 inches and am adding in the sleeves. Hope to finish this over the weekend.

also sewing: some patchwork potholders for my grandmother. I'm incorporating some embroidery work of my own design, just for fun and added interest. These are so much fun to make!

cooking: seekh kabab, my favorite Pakistani dish. I was introduced to seekh kabab back in college from one of my good friends and was lucky enough to have him teach me how to make it. Though it's not the most photogenic meal, you know I can't resist photographing and writing about food and cooking. Look for it next week!

new beauty find: Nivea eye makeup remover. Darlin' T and I were just talking about how we couldn't find a drugstore eye makeup remover we were happy with. Well, I spoke too soon, because this one is great!

photographing: I have started a monthly "photo challenge" with someone, and this month's goal is to capture movement. I've been busy all week but hope to get started on this over the weekend (if it will stop raining!).

watching: Starting this Sunday, Jane Austen movies will begin to show on PBS. I've seen the BBC version of Pride & Prejudice maybe 8 times, but I still can't wait to see it again!

listening: Challengers, by The New Pornographers. Since T gave me this CD to copy a few weeks ago, I have listened to it oh, maybe 50 times. Obsessed.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Cleaning out the closet

...and here is the proof! In the corner of my bedroom is a growing pile of clothes that I'll be donating to Goodwill. I usually just dump the things off without doing anything with that little receipt they give you, but this year I looked up how to value your donated goods and so far I'm up to the conservative amount of $284.

Sites that give you parameters about how to value your used clothing and housewares abound, but I used this one and this one.

I didn't really make a resolution to get organized, but if I did, I'd be well on my way! Now to tackle the piles of fabric and sewing notions taking over my living room...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Small change will make you happy.

This post over at The Happiness Project today really resonated with me and talks about an idea I have been trying to adopt over the last several months. The blog's author, Gretchen, breaks the idea down into two parts (or happiness "traps"):

1) "The first trap is deciding to make a tiny change when a big change is needed."

2) "The second trap – and I think the more common trap – is believing that a small change won’t make a difference, that only radical change can make you happier."

In the past I have been a victim and slave to the notion of "radical change." In almost all areas of my life, I was an all-or-nothing person. Instead of working on a relationship, I would ditch it. If I was watching my figure, I was either watching it 24/7 and obsessing about it or eating pizza and drinking beer. If I was worried about money, I would pinch every last penny and if not, I would satisfy each and every fleeting want. End of story, I have never honestly considered small changes as a means to getting to a goal.

These past several months I can happily say that I have changed a lot of that. I have been budgeting better, I researched ways to increase my skills to prepare me for a career change, I have spent less time in bars and going out and instead staying home doing things that are important to me (i.e. sewing, cooking, etc), I have been making regular efforts to keep in touch with my family better, I have worked on growing friendships that are important to me and phasing out those that are not positive,I haven't blogged every day but I have kept up with it for over 6 months....lots of things!

I also like that Gretchen of THP points out that sometimes fixing that one little thing that bothers you will make a huge difference. Cleaning out my closet is still a work in progress but is making a huge difference in the amount of stress I'm under in getting out the door in the morning, receiving some new nice pans for my birthday back in November has made cooking fun instead of an hour of complaining about my crummy pan and tools, eating clean and mostly whole foods has helped me shed some weight but not feel obsessive or stressed out...again, lots of things!

Making all of these small changes has had a huge impact on my general outlook and well-being. Incorporating small changes into areas of my life that are important to me have helped me to feel better about myself and my life across several areas. Sure, if I was only focusing on my weight I would be thinner, but I can guarantee you I would be feeling deprived and unhappy. If I never bought anything for myself or spent money going out, I would likewise feel deprived and jealous of people who do. All in all, I have been becoming quite a happy girl...all thanks to small changes.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Eyelash Perm

Am I the only one who didn't realize this exists?!?!? One afternoon over the holidays my sister, Kelly, and my mom and I went to the salon to get manicures together. While being pampered, we couldn't ignore the crowd of people circling around a girl sitting in a chair in another part of the room. Those confined to their chairs were straining the necks to see what the fuss was about, and then finally our nails dried and we got a look too--you guessed it, she was getting her eyelashes permed!

The treatment takes a little over an hour, so I didn't get to see the results, but Kelly and I promptly made an appointment to do the same later that week.

The eyelash perm, touted as a budget-friendly alternative to extensions (which are upwards of $100-$150 and have to be redone every 2 weeks), costs about $35-$40. The process is rather simple and is nothing to be nervous about. Once all of your makeup is thoroughly removed, the technician puts in rollers and brushes on perming solution as they would for an ordinary perm.

The rollers come in three sizes--small, medium, or large. My sister has long, thick lashes and was able to use the large rollers. Me? I squeezed by with the medium, though sadly I think the small ones would have worked as well. The rollers are a dense foam, slightly sticky and felt awkward but did not hurt at all. Your part of the deal is simply to keep your eyes shut for the next hour or the whole process will need to start over from the beginning. I imagine since I wear contacts and thus have no problems with my eyes being touched and overall messed with, I had no problem keeping them shut (except for the flinching when I got my eyebrow wax done at the same time!).

Then wait, wait wait...for about 75 minutes, part of that time with saran wrap over your eyes. They took Kelly and I out from the back room into the main room with all of the massage chairs. I could feel the gawking stares but I pretended like it was completely normal and just enjoyed the massage. Once time was up, one more solution was applied to our lashes and then a quick rinse over the sink and ta-da! Lashes are permanently curled for the next 3-4 weeks.

No one noticed that my lashes were any different, and though our dad feigned a "They look good!" I imagine he only said as much because he knew we were having them done (aww). Personally, I do think that it opened up my eyes, though nothing more drastic than if I had curled them the old fashioned way. I want to say that an eyelash perm is the best kept beauty secret and you should run out to your salon and get one done today, but I have to say you might be the only one who notices!

A special thank you to Kelly for allowing me to post her picture!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Asian Steak (or Chicken) Salad with Cucumber and Napa Cabbage

Despite cold winds and dreary skies, there's nothing like the end of the holidays to get me craving foods that are healthy and fresh. Anticipating such, the January issue of Everyday Food included a recipe for Asian Steak Salad with Cucumber and Napa Cabbage (p. 97). Chicken breast was a no-brainer substitute for the steak, and the only other change I made, anyone could guess--a lot more heat.

I like this recipe, and many others like it from Everyday Food, because of the short ingredients list, quick cooking times, and easy adaptability (I say this every time, but it still holds true!). Though I liked the bright acidity of the dressing, next time I would like to add lots of chopped cilantro, a few freshly sliced jalapeƱos and additional toasted sesame oil. Even better! As a final note, I should add that this is a great meal to take to work for lunch. I can always appreciate a meal that travels well.

From Everyday Food, January 2008, p. 97

1/4 c. fresh lime juice
1/4 c. rice wine vinegar
2 T vegetable oil
1 T toasted sesame oil
red pepper flakes (I used over a teaspoon)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 pound flank steak (or chicken)
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/2 pound napa cabbage, thinly sliced crosswise
English cucumber, thinly sliced
Unsalted roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped, for garnish

Whisk together ingredients lime juice through garlic to make the marinade. Place chicken or steak in ziploc bag and pour in half of marinade mixture and the soy sauce. Reserve remaining marinade for dressing. Marinate in the fridge for one hour up to overnight.

Once marinated, cook chicken over medium heat on the stovetop. Meanwhile, slice cabbage and cucumber and toss together with peanuts and reserved marinade. Top salad with cooked chicken. I drizzled additional toasted sesame oil over the top as well.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

...and I'm back!

Wow, has it felt odd to be away from a computer for so long. I have really missed keeping up with everyone, not to mention the outlet to share my own two cents. The bad news about my Christmas is that Cassie didn't make it--she died the morning of the day I flew to Houston. The good news is that we all got to spend quality time together.

On a more positive note, I am really excited about this year. I have been making a lot of changes and decisions these last few months, and I feel like everything is starting to come together. I can't wait to share all the new happenings I have going on. I will begin blogging regularly again tomorrow!

I miss all of you!