Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Fake Gyro

Dinner tonight was a thrown together affair that ended up fairly successful. I warmed up some pita in the microwave and put in two different kinds of TJ sausages (spinach feta and basil pesto, 1 kind in each pita), sliced in half. I tossed in some cubed English cucumber, grape tomatoes sliced in half and generous handfuls of Italian parsley. I didn't know how to make the gyro sauce so i just drizzled some plain yogurt on and it was quite tasty and refreshing. I found a recipe from Alton Brown for real gyros, found here.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Poodle's Birthday

Last night we finally celebrated Poodle's birthday (her birthday was actually in November) and it was extreme amounts of fun. As usual, everyone except the birthday-ee contributed to a potluck. Ferret made spring rolls and fried tofu with a spicy sweet peanut sauce. Mr. and Mrs. Tortoise brought the most delicious little bruschetta - chopped portabello mushroom with goat cheese, halved grape tomatoes with basil and garlic, salami with a cheese i forget and caramelized onions. And I made peasant caviar on toasted pita with some TJ sausages and profiteroles with vanilla ice cream and chocolate fudge sauce. It was a really excellent time, I only wish I had taken some pictures.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ferret's Cozies

After some badgering by Ferret, I produced this cell phone cozy by adapting the Technicolor cozy pattern from Stitch n Bitch. His cell phone was teensy weensy so I cast on 14 stitches and then knitted in stockinette stitch until it was long enough to fold over and cover the phone and bound off two stitches on each side (leaving ten stitches) and continued knitting until I had enough for a flap. The button here is decorative, the flap is held closed with velcro. I kind of dislike the velcro because it is forever catching on to the yarn so for the goggle cozy I made two buttonholes and the flap actually closes with buttons!For this cozy, I cast on 28 stitches in the same yarn (Berroco Comfort, worsted weight, 50% superfine nylon, 50% superfine acrylic: I don't really like this yarn b/c it splits easily and fuzzes up quite quickly) and carried on as before. For the flap though, I made a little border in seed stitch to prevent curling of the edges. I used the instructions from here to make the buttonholes. They came out quite pretty (honestly, my second was much prettier than my first) and better yet, they are functional. No more sticky velcro.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Resident Evil: Extinction

The Resident Evil movies aren't much like the video games I remember (different characters different stories) but they are still vastly entertaining because they don't have to make a whole lot of sense. In fact, the lack of any attempt at sense make these movies more awesome than they would be if they took themselves at all seriously. Take this one. Alice is found by the Umbrella Corporation because she was emitting intense alpha beta waves, which were detected by the computer. What does this mean? Who cares! In this movie, they have the ability to clone people with the memories of the original person, but are in danger of running out of food becauase I guess they haven't figured out how planting works. I am only sad Jill Valentine didn't make it to the third installation, but despite this I am excited about the next sequel which I anticipiate will be even more absurd than the ones previous. Rate ***** (awesome meter)

Monday, January 14, 2008


Something peculiar has been happening to me recently. It all started here and it seems to be ending here, although it is probably too early to tell yet. Here is the trail:

1) My mom has a serious problem with hoarding and cluttering. I worry she will be found buried underneath stuff one day. Here is a representative picture:

2) Oscar Wilde wrote, "All women become like their mothers, that is their tragedy; no man does, that is his." I am very much afraid of this coming true.

3) I read the Well article on cluttering along with every single comment, and became increasingly frightened at the possibilities. Anyone who knows me for >1 day could describe how messy and prone to procrastinating I am. I also tend to accumulate things, although at this stage it is nowhere near the scale of my mom. And I hate cleaning.

4) Several comments in the Well article referred to a site called FlyLady. It seemed daffy but I was curious. After signing up for their group, I realized that it was run by a group of fearfully cheerful and annoyingly optimistic women who thrived on inventing cutsey names and acronyms. They appeared to cater to the Walmart housewife crowd and enjoy the use of exclamation marks.

but but but...somehow their group has gotten me scrubbing and washing and dusting and cleaning. I started doing this two weeks ago and have managed to maintain the whole process without any pain at all. I've thrown things out I didn't need, I've kept my sink shiny (they rant and rave about this all the time, very scary) and just now I windexed my toilet, sink and counter. Sadly, I am guiltily going through quite a few paper towels but I don't think I would be able to keep this up if I had to be washing rags constantly. I wiped down my microwave and discovered a long lost tupperware and two recipes.

I'm still a little confused about the whole thing and what kind of person I might be morphing into, but so far I feel pretty ok.

Tablecloth --> Curtain

This Saturday I rearranged a bit of furniture (pushed bed and nightstand over) so I could move my keyboard from the living room underneath the windowsill (a prime launching and sight-seeing spot for Tony) to my bedroom between closet and bed (a spot Tony would not be caught dead in). And when I did so, I admired how pretty the keyboard looked without the red Ikea tablecloth draped over it and resolved at once to leave the cloth off and remember to dust often. And then my eye moved over to the window which was hideous and covered by 1000 year old black dusty grimey blinds (impossible to clean, I really have tried) and suddenly, 2+2=4. Within seconds I was speculatively holding up folded tablecloth over the window and within minutes I had all of my safety pins out and was making a loop in the fabric (nothing permanent in case I wanted my tablecloth back with few holes). And 15 minutes later I was back from a trip to the hardware store (on the corner of Pine and 20th, home to one very large but pleasant dog and presided over by tattooed and large and nice punk men) with a set of curtain rods. And then came the swearing and banging of hammer and fists and screwdrivers and head as I took down the blinds somehow, and screwed in the hooks to hold up rod (executed as my mother taught me: before attempting to screw anything into walls, one should first make a starter hole by hammering in a small nail halfway and pulling it out). And then the curtain was up and my house is just a little bit more livable than it was before.

Note: The penguin to the left is an Adorable Humidifier. It really does say that on the box.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Reversible Cabled Scarf

I got this scarf pattern from Poodle who got it from Lion Brand. Actually it was the project she was working on when we first started our now defunct Knitting Club a year or so ago. I'd never seen anyone cable before and she showed me how it was done. It wasn't until I was home over the holidays this winter that I decided to try it out for myself. Despite the fun of cabling, this is going to be my last scarf for a while because I've realized that: 1) scarves get boring and 2) scarves take forever. This was right after I made Bee's Ribbed Scarf so I am quite scarved out. The yarn is the same superwashed wool (50% merino, 50% wool) from Nashua Handknits that I used for the Kitty Hat. I knitted two balls of the stuff into this scarf and whatever I had left from Kitty Hat. It's long enough to wrap around twice and thus is warm enough for a cold Philly day.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

I found this considerably darker and gallons more disturbing than I expected, even though I had been warned by Mr. A.O. Scott's review in the Times. Most of the throat slitting occurred with me holding the collar of my sweater to my face and whimpering with distress; the last third of the movie had me sitting terrifed and anxious. Johnny Depp is as far from Jack Sparrow in this movie as one can be. While one was all frolic and fun, this other one is all black insane rage. Helena Bonham Carter looks pretty much the way she usually does on a normal day (actually, so did Johnny Depp aside from some additional shadowing around his eyes and a white streak in his hair), but her practical Mrs. Lovett brought necessary bits of lightness even as she shares in the madness. I'd never heard any of these songs before today but I found myself humming "Johaaaaaanaaaa, I'll steeeeeeeal you, Johaaaaaaaanaaa" on my way to lab afterwards, even as I was clutching my scarf protectively around my throat. I never thought musicals could be this gruesomely brilliant, but I am happy (and worried) to find myself wrong. Rate *****

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Anatomy of a Murder

This movie was excellent. It started off a bit slow and I was afraid I wouldn't be able to understand a word Jimmy Stewart said without the help of subtitles, but once the case was introduced it really took off. Some of the jokey corny one-liners during the courtroom scenes made me cringe; however, those scenes were also the most gripping. Although I knew Jimmy couldn't lose, I was breathless with worry at how the prosecution would attack. George C. Scott played his role as Stewart's foil to perfection. That all said, I have to note that the ending was kind of abrupt and sucked. Rate *****

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Random dork: "I saw you over here and I just had to find out if there was more to you than meets the eye."

Me: "I really have to go"

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Banana Leaf

Tonight, Poodle and Ferret accompanied me to Banana Leaf, a Malaysian place on 10th and Arch and one of my favorite places to eat in Philly. It is unique in that usually, when I find a place I like I will order a small number of things religiously and refuse to try anything new. For some reason I find myself more adventurous at this restaurant. I had the Nasi Lemak (Coconut rice flavored with cloves and screw-pine leaves. Served with chili anchovy, curry chicken and hard boiled eggs) which was pretty tasty and stole some of Ferret's Roti Telur (A traditional indian pancake filled with egg, onion, served with curry chicken with potato dipping sauce) and Satay Tofu (Crispy fried tofu stuffed with cucumber and bean sprouts, served with peanut sauce). Poodle, as always, got the Curry Chicken with Rice, which is delicious, and as always, I envied her dish and vowed to get it next time.

In previous outings, I've gotten their pad thai (part of my desperate search for New York quality pad thai in this god-forsaken hole) but it wasn't up to my exact standards. Had better luck with Chow Kueh Teow (Malaysian famous stir fried flat rice noodles with fresh shrimp, squid, bean sprouts, eggs, soy sauce and chili paste) and various appetizers. To qualify as a favorite restaurant, the place must be a perfect balance of food and price, and Banana Leaf definitely meets this metric.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Kitty Hat

I finally finished it! Three movies and many episodes of Arrested Development later, I've got the cutest hat in the world. I wore it to lab today although it was 55 degrees and I had to peel off sweater and scarf along the way (East Coast weather has been INSANE recently). By the time I made it in I was sweaty, but still proud of hat. With this project, I learned how to make an I-cord (Stitch 'N Bitch instructions were not at all clear, I had to resort to this helpful video to figure it out: Knitting Help) and pom-poms. It was a really fun project. Since my fourth size 7 needle was in the process of being mailed to me by nice Jess, I decided to go with the size 6 for this project instead. I still can't quite decide if it is a tad small or not. I'd go with the size 7 next time...

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Broken Flowers

Broken Flowers: This was an entertaining movie although Bill Murray's deadpan non-expression got tiring and old after a while. Jeffrey Wright was awesome as his friend Winston and the interplay between the two characters was probably the best part of the movie for me. Overall, I enjoyed it and liked how the plot wasn't so much finding his son, but reconciling past and present. Rate ****

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Thick Brown Socks

This was my first project knitting in the round and so much fun. As it was my first non-scarf project, I learned how to pick up and decrease stitches. I followed the directions from Sock 101* and miraculously emerged with a pair of socks! They're much too thick to wear with my normal shoes but I was able to wear them the one and only time I went skiing.

*This site was great because it had detailed, step by step instructions and, more importantly, pictures. Jess and I taught ourselves to knit from various internet sites so everything we know is based on the help of books and websites. I've found that it's impossible to understand anything written without some visual clues.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


M: I was dragging my feet about seeing this for some reason so it was sitting in its red Netflix envelope forever BUT I'm so glad I did. This movie was pretty amazing and it seems unbelievable that a movie like this was made in 1931. Peter Lorre kind of overacted (bugged out eyes) but his monologue at the end introduced a smidge of doubt that such a person should die. Rate *****

The Company of Wolves

The Company of Wolves: Pretty hilarious special effects. I love fairy tales but I think the little stories in the movie would have been a great deal better if I had read them instead of watched them. Rate *

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Purple Mittens

I combined a couple of patterns I found on the internet and came up with these:

Cascade Yarns
220 Tweed-7610-purple
90% Peruvian highland wool
10% Donegal (Tweed)


Cast on 44 stitches and divide among 3 size 3 needles (12, 16, 16)
Knit 2, purl 2 for about 2.5" (to make cuffs)
k8 rows
on 9th row k2, inc 1, k1, inc 1, k to end of row
k next two rows
on 12th row k2, inc 1, k3, inc 1, k to end of row
k next two rows
on 15th row k2, inc 1, k5, inc 1, k to end of row
k next two rows
on 18th row k2, inc 1, k7, inc 1, k to end of row
k next two rows
on 21st row k2, inc 1, k9, inc 1, k to end of row
k 4 more rows (~2.5" from end of cuff)

Then slip 2 stitches from #3 needle over to #1 needle
then k3 drop 13 sts on pc of yarn
Then knit until you get to last joint of middle finger

To narrow or decrease:
Begin decreasing for the mitten tip. For the next 4 rounds, knit 4 stitches and then knit 2 together, repeating throughout the round.
For the next 2 rounds, knit 3 stitches, and then knit 2 together, repeating throughout the round.
For the last round k2tg, repeat leaving 7sts

draw end of yarn thru the 7 sts and pull inside and finish off.


put the 13 stitches you dropped on 2 needles
Pick up 4 stitches and distribute stitches (6, 6, 5)
knit around to desired length

For one row, k1, k2tg
For last row, k2tg until there are 6 stitches left
draw end of yarn thru the 6 sts and pull inside and finish off.

Lucky Number Slevin

Lucky Number Slevin: Surprisingly entertaining. I've never seen Josh Hartnett be interesting and granted this movie didn't ask much of him but the whole thing was witty and fast-paced and fun. Rate: ****

Floppy Hat

Jess made this first and I was so enamoured with hers that I grabbed a ball of nubby yarn (Bernat Soft Boucle, black) while vacationing at home in CA and followed Wendy Bernard's Le Slouch pattern more or less exactly. Jess's hat was a bit too big on me so I made the ribbing (k2p2) using size 7 double pointed needles and switched to size 8 needles for the main body of the hat. WB recommends size 8 and 9. You can see, my hat isn't as floppy as hers but I still love it extremely. This pattern is awesome.

Cabled Hat

I made this hat originally as a practice hat. I was in the process of making the Reversible Cabled Scarf and thought a matching cabled hat would be cute. This practice hat turned out well but I think I will use the rest of my other yarn to make a kitty hat instead. I think I'm cabled out for now...

[picture to come]

Patons Yarn (worsted weight, 100% wool, blue)

Pattern from


Cast on 88 stitches on 3 double pointed size 8 needles (28 stitches on first and second needles, 32 stitches on last)
Round #1: knit 3, purl 1 for the entire round.
Repeat Round #1 until 2" are completed.

Start Pattern:

Row 1: P2, K6, P2, K1 (repeat for entire round).
Rows 2 - 4: repeat Row #1 three more times.
Row 5: P2, slip next three stitches onto cable needle and hold in back of work, K3, knit stitches from the cable needle, P2, K1 (repeat for entire round).
Rows 6-8: Repeat Row #1 three more times.

Repeat these 8 rows for pattern until hat measures about 5" from beginning of pattern (7" from beginning of cap)


Row 1: K2 sts together, K9. Repeat across entire row.
Row 2: K2 sts together, K8. Repeat across entire row.
Row 3: K2 sts together, K7. Repeat across entire row.
Row 4: K2 sts together, K6. Repeat across entire row.
Row 5: K2 sts together, K5. Repeat across entire row.
Row 6: K2 sts together, K4. Repeat across entire row.
Row 7: K2 sts together, K3. Repeat across entire row.
Row 8: K2 sts together, K2. Repeat across entire row.
Row 9: K2 sts together, K1. Repeat across entire row.
Row 10: K2 sts together across entire row.


Cut the yarn, leaving a 10" tail. Thread it through the remaining stitches and draw up tightly, weaving in the end.


I followed the instructions exactly and felt the cap was a little too long for my taste. In any case, it didn't look so flattering on me since my hair is so short. I think I'll give it to Jess if she likes it. The cables are quite pretty though.