Saturday, January 28, 2012

Convertible Mitts

 Convertible or Texting Mittens!
Pattern: Heavily modified from a number of mitten & fingerless glove patterns
Yarn: Berroco Jasper Sport (100% Merino Wool)
Started: November 18, 2011
Finished: December 13, 2011

Yep, convertible!  I wanted a pair of mittens because I find mittens keep my hands much warmer than gloves.  However... I play with my smart phone too much.  And now that I stand at the bus stop or metro station I get bored and play with the phone.  So I thought making a pair of convertible mitts would be perfect.  

 And they are perfect!

 Perfect colors for me (red, black and grey).  Oh so soft (100% merino wool). Warm and functional!

I've been wearing the mittens for about a month now and I can tell they are starting to pill and felt a little.  I actually don't find felting... they will keep me even warmer.  But the pilling?  Hmmm... but still I love these mittens and wear them almost every day.  They might only last this one winter season... only time will tell.  The yarn is soft but might not have been made for such wear n' tear like mittens.  Oh well, like I said, I love these mittens.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Lunar New Year!

This weekend marks the celebration of the Lunar New Year.  Most people know this weekend is the Chinese New Year, but it is also known as Seollal, the South Korean New Year.  The official day this year falls on January 23rd and is the year of the Dragon.  Seollal is one of the most celebrated holidays in Korea -- it is typically a long weekend so people can go home and spend time with the family, honor the family ancestors and elders and eat lots of yummy food!

For the past couple of years the hubby and I have been trying to honor my family and have started to incorporate some of the Korean holidays and traditions.  While living in Indiana this meant eating traditional foods (yum!).  But now that we live in a larger city that has lots of diversity, we are lucky to celebrate by attending a Chinese New Years parade!  We had one this weekend right in our town square and next weekend we plan on going to DC's China Town event.  

As I said we watched the New Years parade right here in our town center.  Here are some of the pictures from the event:

After the parade there was a small market with local Asian vendors selling products and services (I was very impressed with the number of local attorneys, doctors, accountants and such that are geared to helping the Asian community).  We meandered around, looking at the foods, jewelry and kids games.  I was also impressed with the local arts center... for the next month they will feature Asian arts.  The dragon below caught my eye!

 Later that evening we made some food.  Rather than making the traditional New Year's rice cake soup (I looove this soup, but the hubby isn't a big soup fan) we opt'ed for dim sum and mandu (egg rolls and dumplings).  We had some friends come over and hang out.  Overall a fun weekend.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Homemade Body Spray

I have a difficult time finding bodyspray/perfume.  Most perfumes just smell too cosmetic/synthetic to me. Which is funny because I usually like how perfume or body spray smells on others, but I have a difficult time finding something that smells nice on me.

After a long search I found Avalon Organics Deodorant Spray.  These are all natural deodorant sprays that use essential oils and give a nice, light, natural fragrance.  They also claim to kill odor-causing bacteria (apparently essential oils kill bacteria -- I need to see the science behind these claims... but I digress).  I have this obsession with rosemary - I have a mini rosemary tree, I use rosemary shampoo and conditioner and then I found the Avalon Organics Rosemary D/O Spray - I fell in love.  I didn't use it as a deodorant but just as my body spray or as an afternoon pick-me-up.
Avalon Organics Deodorant Spray

So I've been using the rosemary scent for a couple years now and after searching for weeks for a replacement I have come to find out that they have discontinued the product.  Travesty I know (yes a first-world problem here).

After searching for a replacement product turned up nothing I have decided to make my own.  Because it's really just the rosemary scent that I love I decided that it really shouldn't be too difficult to make my own body spray.  After searching the interwebz for ideas on how to do this I combined various methods and have my own recipe.  Because it was relatively simple I thought I'd share it with all of you.

Homemade Body Spray
2.5 oz distilled H2O
1.0 oz witch hazel (apparently you could use vodka, perfumer's alcohol, etc).
0.5 oz Polysorbate 20 (also called Tween 20 for you science peeps - this is the emulsifier)
0.5-1 tsp. fragrance oil or essential oil (I used rosemary essential oil and a couple drops of peppermint essential oil)
0.5 tsp liquid glycerin

Combine all ingredients into a spray bottle - top off with additional dH2O if needed.  I used my empty Avalon Organics Deodorant Spray bottle (a 4.0 oz bottle).  I figured it's already labeled and a great way to reuse something rather than throwing it out.  Side note: I'm so used to using milliliters but everything on the internet shows ounces - so I complied and found an oz measuring cup.  Very odd this measurement of volume/weight... the ounce.  Someday we'll convert to the much easier metric system... but again... I digress with a rant!

I'm pretty happy with the results.  It smells like me -- which is a bonus.  But really you can use this recipe to make room sprays -- I'm thinking of making another scent for the bedroom - maybe a nice relaxing lavender scent.  Hmmm... that sounds really nice - I think I'm going to go make that right now!


Friday, January 13, 2012

Love From a Friend on the Day I Needed It

We all have THOSE kind of days.

You know what I'm talking about.

A couple days ago I had a heck of a morning.  First - I woke up to find my bed SOAKED.  My hot water bottle had leaked ALL night long.  I love my hot water bottle, it keeps me nice and warm.  But it has been leaking lately so it might be time to purchase a new one.

So next -- I managed to spill my coffee all over myself and all over the bathroom floor.  Yes, this is always the danger of multitasking - taking a shower, doing my hair and makeup and all the while trying to consume enough coffee to wake my sorry butt up.  And clearly this was one morning when the caffeine really needed to be ingested rather than trying for the absorbed through the epidermis method.  So with this mishap I had to change my suit -- and then I realized I was running late for the bus.  So I quickly got my stuff together and ran out to catch my bus (mind you I can either take an earlier bus or the later bus and still make it to work on time... I was running late for even the late bus).  As I ran outside to the bus stop I realized I didn't have my bus pass.  I started fumbling around for my metro pass and realized... yep I left that in the apartment as well.  So I sprinted back up to the apartment as quickly as possible... and...  I missed the bus.  Luckily we live close enough to the metro so I walked over there and boarded the next train to work.

Luckily by the time I got to work the world of bad luck decided to move on to the next poor soul.  Nonetheless, after work I decided to do a little shopping therapy.  Thank you Mumma Roy for the Victoria's Secret gift cards!!  I was able to hit the semi-annual sale and scored some sweatpants and big, comfy sleeping t-shirts.

Finally -- when I got home I found a cute package addressed to me in the mailbox.  The packaging was perfect  -- recycled (and recyclable) shipping packaging.  I quickly opened it and out pops a cute little handwritten notecard (card handmade by a local artist).  My friend (who authors an amazing blog that you crafty peeps would love) sent me a little thank you for some yarn that I gifted her.  Also in the package.... handwarmers!  She knit these from the yarn I had gifted.  The yarn is from Frontier Fiber Mills (I first wrote about the yarn here) - it is a beautifully soft alpaca & merino blend.  One thing that I noticed - simple and elegant garter stitch fingerless gloves -- oh my so nice!  Seriously every stitch is perfect.  Briney Deep is such a good knitter -- her homemade gifts are better than homemade.  Seriously.  Crafted with excellence.

So thank you Ms. Briney Deep, your gift was a wonderful surprise.  It would have been special regardless, but after the hectic morning it was truly special to receive such a nice gift.  Thank you!

And yes... it reminds me to always pass it on  :)

Happy Birthday Wishes

Happy Birthday to my best friend in the whole world. 

Love you! 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Cabled Pillow Cover

Once upon a time there were these adorable bunnies that liked to wreck havoc wherever they roamed.  Those bunnies were known as Kyle and Gwen Bean.  
These two cuties like to jump on couches, run and hop around freely and cause mass destruction.  One of their favorite past-times: chewing on couches and pillows.  

Good thing they are cute little buggers -- huh?  But it is true, one of the poor couch pillows had such a gaping hole and I thought it was time to fix the problem.  Since tossing the furbabies out is not an option, I decided to knit a pillow cover instead.  One pillow done thus far - at least one more to go.  Here is the first attempt at the bunny-destruction-cover-up.  

Pattern: The cable is called Open Trellis and is from the Vogue 
Knitting Stitchionary 2: Cables book.  
As for the pillow... I just kinda winged it.  Followed the cable pattern as stated 
and added a five row garter stitch as a border.  The backside is knit with a 
stockinette stitch (although the garter stitch border is the same).  
Yarn: Loops & Threads - Impeccable Worsted in Soft Taupe
Needles: 7US (4.5mm)
Started: November 19, 2011
Finished: December 24, 2011
Ravelry Link here

As for the pillow... I just kinda winged it.  Followed the cable pattern as stated and added a five row garter stitch as a border.  The backside is knit with a  stockinette stitch (although the garter stitch border is the same).  

I'm not a huge fan of the yarn, but overall I'm pretty happy with the outcome.  The acrylic doesn't really have any give so knitting hurt my hands a bit.  But because these are toss pillows on the couch the toughness of the acrylic will probably stand the test of time better than some other yarns.  Or at least... maybe withstand a couple months of the destructive beasts Kyle and Gwen Bean....

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy Holiday Images

**Edited to add pictures -- clearly I've been away from blogging too long and have forgotten how to add pictures!

Our first Christmas in Washington DC would not be complete without a trip to see the National Christmas Tree and National Hanukkah Menorah.  Here are some pictures from the visit.  

National Menorah

National Christmas Tree

Picture of the Ellipse with the Washington Monument in the background. 

White House. 

 I tried to take a picture of the Pageant of Peace... all the mini trees with the decorations decorated by artists and children from the various states but unfortunately my pictures came out too blurry.  But believe me when I say the Ellipse, the grassy area across from the White House, was beautiful.
Christmas tree at the Canadian Embassy in Downtown DC.

Christmas Tree in front of The Capitol Building.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday.  

Last night I was reminiscing about my 2011 -- I finished a second masters degree, beat cancer for a third time, moved out of Indiana and back to the East Coast and live in a pretty cool city, landed an awesome fellowship, met and made lots of new peeps and strengthened the bond with some close friends and family.  And of course I was blessed to be able share all of these experiences with my hubby.  I had a great 2011 and I'm totally looking forward to the many adventures 2012 will bring