Kevin and the Tank

February 27, 2007

Kevin's been working obscene hours recently (ie. since October), so he's rarely shown up for blog-worthy photos. But, at only 9pm (!!), here he is, hanging out with the dudes.

He nearly looks healthy in this picture, which must be a trick of the light. I started complaining insistently when his face looked white and purple.

Our bottom tank is a refugium and the lights run about 3 hours earlier, so Kevin was looking at everything with a flashlight.

We moved the green star polyps down to the refugium when they just were not thriving, and for the last few months, they've been healthy-bodied and a deep florescent kelly green at the tips. They blow about in the current and just generally look wonderful.

Almost Crocuses

February 25, 2007

Late Feruary seems to be bulb time in Seattle. The weather still hasn't evened out -- one day it's seventies and sunny, and they for the next two weeks it's deep clouds and forties. This weekend has been the latter, which doesn't lend itself to plant photos.

After giving up for two days, I finally decided to just take photos with a flash. The deeply exciting part is that these pictures were taken on a dark day at 5:15, and yet the sky is still light. We're making progress!!

Here are the almost-crocuses. I check on them every morning, and while they get closer and closer, they haven't quite bloomed yet. Soon!!

The front porch is doing better. My daffodils are sprouting more heads by the day. They do tend to reflect the flash, though, so sorry for the crummy lighting.

I'm ready for spring!!


Gardening roundup

February 18, 2007

Yesterday was in the lower sixties and gorgeous. It's been the first weekend day that I've been tempted to head out to the deck and spend time on the planters. Venturing out the back door was highly rewarded. My strawberry planter has been filled with moss since October. A lot of the strawberry plant died back during the December snow storm and the subsequent January hoopla, but there's still a strong little plant there. And, do you see the four surprises?

Namely, crocuses! I bought an almost-blooming crocus at the grocery store last year when Kevin admitting to not knowing what they were. In my New England world view, they're the emblem of spring, spiking through the oak leaves (and sometimes through the snow) to be the first flowers. Neither oak leaves nor snow are in vogue here, and the arrival is a good month or two too soon, but I was delighted to see the replanted bulbs sprouting! They weren't there yesterday, so in typical crocus fashion, they suddenly have an inch and a half on the world.

Also on the back deck, my irises bounced back from the storm (where they looked drowned and pathetic) and have sent up a zillion new shoots. These were a gift from Ava's garden (my boss times three), and I haven't seen them bloom yet. I thought they wouldn't get enough sunlight to grow, let alone flower, but a season later, they look so healthy. Here's to blooms! I can't wait.

The mystery plant in this pot has come to life. I suspect that it's mint. The stems look really strong, so I'm hoping it has a great season.

And, one of the first plants I bought in Washington was a little thing of chives. They just died convincingly in late December, but now there are a ton of spiky shoots. It lives! Can't wait to cook with this one again!



February 17, 2007

The teenieest sleeve ever...

More tulips

February 16, 2007

After a week, the tulips are ebullient, twisty-stemmed, and nearly 9 inches taller. We have a bonus room at the top of the stairs where I have all of my stuff: computer, books, files, yarn. Coming up the stairs after work, all you see is tulips.

The room has huge windows and gets tons of sun, so the cut tulips just thrive and grown and bend during the day.

Such great flowers.


One year = One batch of brownies

February 15, 2007

People at work tend to bring in n pounds of something for n years of being at the company. I think it's a neat tradition. This week was my one year anniversary, and so I brought in one pound of M&Ms scattered across one batch of brownies. The Valentines M&Ms come in three colors of pink plus white and red, so they looked pretty on the brown background. The picture came out harshly, since our kitchen is dark on cloudy mornings, but I wanted to mark the occasion with a post anyway. :-)

Speaking of work, I haven't posted about my herbs recently. The holidays meant over a week with no water, and most of them didn't make it. So, the first week of January, I planted new seeds. The basil (far right) is everywhere, and seems totally unphased when I pull leaves off for my sandwich. The lemon balm (next pot, clockwise) is going strong and the cotyldons are making way to real leaves. The chives actually made it through the break, and are also delicious. I finally have a good crop of lavendar in the next pot. I doubt my CF bulb is enough light for it, since it's so leggy, but it's actually growing, so that feels successful. The back pot has sweet peas, but they aren't expected to pop up for another week or two, so for the moment, I'm just keeping it watered.

And then, they've been letting me manage a project, so I have a huge chart up on the board and a highlighter to fill green for the spots where we're done. The little things...

But given that both of my previous year's one-year-anniversaries have been the day I've quit, this is an exciting landmark. To many more!

My wedding planning spot

February 13, 2007

This has been my frequent after-work spot for several weeks. Feed the dudes, fix dinner, kick off my shoes, turn on my daylight compact florescent lamps, and pull up the foot rest. Then research things on the laptop and send out emails to Kevin, who's been working late for ages. Note the huge pile of post it notes on one side, and full pages of notes and photocopies on the other. There's even a ubiquitous Maui guidebook on the arm of the futon. They're littered all over the apartment.

I just realized this week that we're down to three and a half months before the wedding. How terrifying. Not from a joint-life-together standpoint (I'm *totally* ready for that), but from a planning standpoint. It's really not that many workdays to make all of the calls to east coast businesses during work hours. Scary.

Speaking of planning, I know from my link tracker that there are a few Boston-area readers. Do any of you happen to know of any great DJs? We're looking for someone who can play quiet, ambient music during dinner, and get people to dance after, but won't be an emcee. Most of the cross-country planning has actually been going very well, especially given my Mom's organization, but this has been a stalling point. Non-Boston crowd, if any of you have thoughts where to look, I'd be very open to suggestions. (We're leery of Craigslist since we can't meet or screen ahead of time, but everything else is on the table.)

Teeny knitting

February 12, 2007

When the project is this tiny, a little bit of knitting goes a long way. Here's the knitting after day two:

Can you believe that the split for the armholes came after only 3 and a quarter inches?

Here's a closeup of the shell edging at the hip -- totally worth the effort. :-)

The exciting part is that decreasing at the end of every row is conforming perfectly to my 45-degree graph paper slope. Very cool. I've divided for the upper body, and just have the back, two fronts, and very teeny sleeves to go.


Tulip season: post one of many

February 11, 2007

We've hit my favourite time of year. Starting in late January, the grocery stores around here have bunches of gorgeous tulips at three bunches of five for ten dollars. In a few weeks, they'll be even cheaper. During my errands this weekend, I bought a new littler vase and pretty pebbles from Crate and Barrel in honour of the season.

The flowers are still wrapped tight, but the stems have grown several inches overnight. I love tulips.


Suddenly, a new project

February 10, 2007

Friends from my Brown dinner group just delivered a baby eight and a half weeks early. I'd been plannning a sweater, but when she arrived so early, the need became a bit more pressing. The baby seems to be doing incredibly well (even if all of my news is filtered through a pair of very proud parents), but at 2 lbs, 12.5 ounces, she's tiny. The parents are also amazingly positive -- I've been so impressed. I want Kathy and James to have some sort of girly, cute baby clothes to put on her (regardless of whether they're really useful in NICU -- I called the hospital to ensure that they'd at least be allowed), so I've been researching and designing. The internet resources are sparse -- I've never encountered that before for knitting patterns. So many of the patterns and clothes available online for premies are burial gowns, which made most of the research phase sad and depressing.

Given how lively she is, and the lack of great patterns online, I decided to design Claire her own sweater. Lots of research on premie sizes and NICU recommendations for clothing, and I'm still not sure I have the perfect mix. She seems very tall for her height at almost 15 inches.

My plan is a wrap cardigan that will be fastened by a cute plastic button and have a fancy edge. I find it's hard not to put a million details into everything when I make my own version, so I'm trying to exercise restraint. I designed it on graph paper (4 squares = 1 inch), and have been knitting off of that. I underestimated the complexity of the knitting. It's the Lacy Shells pattern from Knitting on the Edge, modified to have only one row of eyelets. I was planning for it to take about 45 minutes, but it took nearly 3 hours. Oops. Here's a picture of the progress before I head off to bed.


All my projects are red

February 05, 2007

The fantasy of finishing a pair of socks in a month was dashed by the week-plus hiatus imposed by the sprained wrist, but sometime between the end of the Superbowl and the mid-point of yet another viewing of Finding Nemo, I finally reached the stockinette portion of the second sock. See?!

Rationally I know that this doesn't mean that I'll hit the heel turn tomorrow and the toe the day after, but it still feels like progress, and converting half of each row to simple knits from attention-requiring lace makes a big difference!

A crafty present pouch

While I've always considered myself an unusually structure-happy person, time management in the conventional sense isn't really my thing. Master of procrastination, to put a positive spin on things. I run five minutes past fashionably late, I post in batches every two weeks, and I hate going to bed because I feel like I've squandered the evening. In some ways Kevin is the opposite. He likes getting up and being busy all Saturday morning so that he can relax in the afternoon, he likes leaving the house when he says he will, and he's probably the most efficient worker I've ever seen. On the flip side, a list of 15 things can take him an hour and a half at the grocery store, and he's more into the "season" of important days than the date itself. So perhaps it's not surprising that we didn't open each others' Christmas gifts until Febrary third...

Part of it is that we didn't celebrate at home, and we'd make a conscious decision early on to celebrate when we got back, rather than lugging, security-checking, and flying gifts to Florida and back. Then Kevin was busy at work, then we were wedding planning, then I sprained my wrist and couldn't finish cutting out the pieces of his homemade gift book, and all of a sudden, January was gone. Kevin was at work all day on Saturday, and since I was in need of a project, feeling guilty about the delay, and realized that we were straddling Christmas and Valentines day, I decided to sew him a gift pouch rather than wrapping.

I bought this fabric a year ago -- red with fireflies and a gorgeous white and taupe speckled pattern. I used pink thread to sew it and gold embroidery floss to tie it, as a nod to the holiday-straddling.

And here it is tied up:

It took all of 10 minutes to make, including winding the bobbin and sewing in the ends. I placed the two fabrics right-side-together, and cut so that there was 3/4" on each side of the book, and so that the fabric was a little under 2.5 book-lengths long. I ironed both pieces. Then, holding them right sides together, I sewed a U down the long right side, across the bottom, and up the long left side. Cut thread, turned rightside out and pressed the edges with my fingers. I folded the top edge like wrapping paper (corners folded in as small triangles, rolled the edge around twice) and I seamed that. Then I folded the bottom edge up to make a big enough pocket for the book, and seamed both long edges. I like that you can see the white lining on the side seams. It looks so pretty and polished.

For finishing, you'll have six ends to weave in -- pull or sew the thread to the same side, knot, and sew the ends in between the layers. Fold the bag in half horizontally, and sew in ties (embroidery thread? Fine ribbon? A snap? A button and elastic?) at the crease.


The girl who never posts

What a waste of a week, blog-wise!

I made the enormous mistake of upgrading to the new Blogger (I've been putting it off each time the offer pops up), and have found the results paralyzingly difficult.

I've had gmail for almost three years, and have always been wowed by their customer service, attention to detail, and proactive attitudes. I've written in with suggestions or annoyances and seen the software change within days. The Blogger/Hello software has never been as exciting, but I've never had an issue with it either and it was free! So rock on. However, now that I have two and a half years of my life recorded here, change makes me leery, especially when poorly executed.

First of all, Hello (the program I've used to post photos) has been retired. It served its purpose, but I'm not sorry to see it go. Unfortunately, the next-gen Picasa 2 is best-case buggy, and more frequently fails to work at all. Such a time-suck. I applied my software testing skills to developing consistent repros and logged about 5 bugs, only to get an "interesting, but whatever" response back from google for each of them. Quite frustrating. Second, the new blogger dashboard does not let me log in consistently. The fix they emailed me was to stop using Internet Explorer (clearly not a good option, especially given how much I like IE7) -- frankly, not helpful. I'm very disappointed.

For recent & unhappy blogger/hello converts who are in the same boat and can't post pictures anymore, I'm recommending Flickr. It's not the best site, usability-wise, but once you get it set up, it works like a charm and the tech support is great.

You can create a flickr account here, then once you're logged in, go here for instructions on how to add flickr to your blogger account (follow the "head over to Google now" link). Once you are all set up, download the Flickr Uploadr client (despite the dumb name, it's much better than uploading one picture at a time through the website). Once you have pictures uploaded, click on the picture you want to upload, and then click the "blog this" button above the photo.

Equivalent to Hello, without the new harddrive-rearranging tendencies of Picasa2.