Wednesday, March 30, 2005

'Tis the Season for Asparagus

Let's take a break from the knitting talk for a moment and ponder about the humble asparagus. Did you know that asparagus is part of the Lily family? That there are 2 pickings per year, spring and fall? There are two colors, green and white? That the spears are chock full of vitamins B6, A, C, thiamin? Are a good source of potassium, folic acid and fiber? Not to mention that it has no fat and is low in cholesterol??? Pick it up at your local grocery store, now!

But what about the smelly pee? You may ask.

I'm not going to spout statistics here, or least not right now...but trust me when I say there's a lot of documentation on the subject of asparagus-induced smelly pee (oh, ok,
check this article out from WebMD). Apparently asparagus has the same sulfur compound as rotten eggs, garlic, and skunk. When the compound breaks down in your digestive system, there are by-products that cause the stinky pee. However. There is a genetic link to this, as well as the ability to smell the pee. And you can have a gene for one but not the other. Fascinating!

I've been eating asparagus for many years with no odiferous urine. Then Karl yelped one day, running out of the WC, saying my pee stank because he could still smell it even after flushing (we had an asparagus salad). I argued fiercely that my pee did not stink. He insisted otherwise. Then, just a week later, an article appeared in Time magazine saying you have to have a gene to smell the aroma. I smugly showed him the article and announced that I did not have the offensive gene. Even if my pee did stink, I could not smell it. Ha!

So if you're one of the lucky ones with the cannot smell asparagus pee gene, the following recipe is for you. It is from Cooking Light and is my absolute favorite for this vegetable. It's easy, brainless and takes only a few minutes. Enjoy!

Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Browned Butter

40 asparagus spears, trimmed (2 lbs)
cooking spray
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet; coat with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until tender.

Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook for 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from heat, stir in soy sauce and vinegar. Drizzle over asparagus, tossing well to coat. Serve immediately.

Monday, March 28, 2005

2 Sheep

I was a nutcase last year when it came to cameras. I was on eBay for months buying up various compact film cameras - the Stylus, a really cool Fuji F2.8 zoom date, a Leica Minilux Zoom, an excellent Yashica T4 Super and the sophisticated Ricoh GR1s. I brought 3 of them to Australia and New Zealand and took about 24 rolls of film. The prints were great, the digital copies not so wonderful. I bought Photoshop Elements 3 and am finally getting around to editing my trip pictures. This is a trial. In Kaikoura on the South Island, we happened upon a sheep shearing show at The Point BnB. These little guys were waiting their turn to be sheared.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Sierra Scarf

Yesterday, Karl and I went to Sierra-at-Tahoe for what was probably the last ski trip of the season. I normally dislike Sierra because I'm kind of a ski resort snob. Once you've been to Whistler a few times, Jackson Hole, Alta, Snowbird, Mammoth, Vail, Squaw and Sun Valley...well, Sierra just seems a little small. However, I was humbled on the very first run - an easy black called "Castle" [could also be classified as a Northstar black] when I realized that I HAD FORGOTTEN HOW TO SKI. My last snowy outing was with Karl's cousins on a x-country adventure at Royal Gorge, and I swear that yesterday my legs wanted to do x-country motions instead of downhill. It was weird. I really had to think about how to ski downhill. On a black run, no less.

Back to the scarf. I normally knit something on the drive up to Tahoe. Yesterday when I was hunting for my ski clothes I was frustrated to discover that I didn't have a scarf to match my purple ski jacket. I knew I had one skein left of Lion Brand Chenille Thick & Quick in #245 Amethyst Prints. Grabbed a pair of size 11 US. Knit the scarf in 1.5 hours and wore it on the slopes. It's in seed stitch and only 7 stitches across. I am a big fan of skinny, kind of short scarves.

Booga Bag Fini

My booga bag is done!

Booga After the Wash

The booga was in the wash for what I considered a long time. There were 6 pairs of jeans along with it and they went through the hot cycle 4 times at the highest agitation level. The Kureyon didn't felt completely after that because the stitch pattern is still evident, but not in a bad way.

Booga Stretch

The booga after being thrown in the washer. I'm using a box from the US Post Office. I was concerned that I had stretched it too much.

Booga Pre-Felt

I meant to measure this but forgot. It didn't shrink that much, actually.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Blogging or Knitting?

Ever since I started this blog, I have become just as obsessed with it as I am with knitting. So many things to learn, so many cool things to do. I work with computers all day long - email, projects, presentations, testing - that I usually can't stand touching a computer when I'm at home. Yet, for the past few weeks, here I am at home after work and on the weekends neglecting my duties as girlfriend (I think that means cooking, laundry, etc., you know) and working on THE BLOG. Learning about xhtml and css. How to post pictures with Hello and Flickr. Thinking about finally getting my web page set up. This is taking away valuable time that I would normally use for knitting! I already gave up reading time for knitting time. Now look. I'm reading about blogging about knitting. This is crazy.

OK. To start another rant - I was on the
Blogger Buzz page this afternoon and saw a "plug" for the blog XiaXue. The author of this blog has won awards! As a blogging ambassador no less! Now I realize that by mentioning it I too am somehow adding to the readership but what to do. So. I took a look at this blog. She's right, she's a bitch. A very confident and self-assured bitch. I don't hold this against her, it's just the way she is. What I do mind, though, is that she is trying to manifest the Asian sex kitten persona. From the comments I've seen, she's doing a very good job. There's already this concept out there that Asian women are easy, promiscuous, manipulative and mercenary (oh, and bitchy). Why would you perpetuate that? Why would you advertise that on your blog and expect anyone to take you seriously? Or maybe that's the point - that this girl is easy, promiscuous, manipulative and mercenary (not to mention bitchy) and doesn't expect anyone to take her seriously. But that troubles me. She reminds me of an Asian Anna Nicole Smith (without the Trim Spa, baby!) and the planet doesn't really need any more of those to waste our time.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Rainy Day

The dismal view from the kitchen through the screened sliding door, looking out to the backyard. It's been a perfect weekend for knitting, blogging, watching the NCAA hoop tourney and woodworking.

Woodworking?? Scroll down the next few posts.


Karl has spent most of his waking (jetlagged) hours in the garage/workshop making corner shelves for moi. Because I asked him to. And now, as I blog he is removing the strip of wood underneath the the kitchen island cabinet. I don't know watchacallit. He says, "Kitty-wrecked strip of wood."

It is Little Kitty's fault. She has the very, very bad habit of taking my socks (and only mine, preferrably dirty) from the laundry hamper and dropping them into her water bowl. Not only does that render the water toxic and completely undrinkable, one end of the sock usually hangs over the side, sucks up water and creates a puddle on the floor. Said puddle then soaks the baseboard of the island cabinet.

Karl removed the molding and found rot, absolute rotted wood. Bad Kitty!

My First Felt

I started this on Friday and am really enjoying it. The colors in the Noro Kureyon #95 are saturated, deep and bright.

Booga Sides

Progress over the weekend. I was hoping to finish this, but basketball got in the way. Oh, and rearranging the sweaters in my closet. Not to mention laundry. Crap, don't forget totally re-organizing the stash in the yarnmoire and cleaning out that room.


This is the progress on Diane. Front side, just completed the initial shaping (decreases on either side of the stockinette panels). This is coming along well, although slowly. I like the twisted stitches, I like knitting and purling through the back loops. Umm, don't read too much into that.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Knitter "Look"

Henri Matisse

The other day when I gave Chris and Renee the baby blanket for Caden, Chris said, "Oh that's right, you're the Mad Knitter!" He sort of sat back in his chair appraising me and then said, "You know, I never would've thought of knitting as your hobby. You don't look like a knitter."

Now what does that mean? Of course I asked him and he said he pictured knitters to be older and, well, larger. I also suspect he meant that considering my other interests, knitting is very different. Most people know me as a pretty athletic and outdoorsy person who is a little uptight about schedules, watches Sportscenter religiously and likes things to be perfect the first time. Plus, to quote Barbara Walker, "numbers make me sleepy."

The question of "what does a knitter look like?" can't be answered easily. For example, knitting isn't limited to primarily women anymore. One of the most inspiring knitters I know is a guy at work who does the most incredible colorwork, all of his own design. The grandmother stereotype is out the window too. The woman who taught me to knit is only a few years older than me, doesn't have kids and is skinnier than a twig. I've seen teenagers at the store buying yarn and patterns. And you don't have to live in cold European climates to want to knit, either. Heck, I'm an Asian-American living on the edge of a desert climate and I still knit. When knitting became a hobby rather than a necessity, it opened itself up to new cultures and different generations of people to discover.

I like being different from what people think is a "typical" knitter. I hope it makes them pause, consider what it means and then prompt them to ask questions. I don't mind enlightening them at all.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Manic Progressive

Thinking back over this past weekend, I realize I was a wee bit manic. On both mornings, I was up and out of bed by 6am. I went for a long run on Saturday, did all my chores [does anyone use that word anymore? it makes me think of Little House on the Prairie], ran a bunch of shopping errands, made dinner, worked on the baby blanket. On Sunday I finally did my taxes, filed the bills, worked on my photo albums for Australia, spent the afternoon with a friend, finished Caden's afghan. I felt like I was multi-tasking the entire weekend. Even when I was working on one thing, I was thinking about a zillion other things and planning my next step.

I want to sit still and relax but how can I when there are so many projects to be done? And not just projects...I mean, there's life, the other maintenance tasks you have to do - laundry, eat, get the car fixed, mow the lawn, call your mother. I am but a single person with relatively few responsibilities and yet here I am feeling overwhelmed. How is it that I don't have the staying power of, say, a supermom who juggles kids, a job, a home and soccer games? Maybe it's a matter of priorities. Maybe it's a matter of maturity.

Or perhaps it could be because I've got too many things on my "have to do before I'm 40" list.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Caden's Afghan

Instead of working on Diane over the weekend, I was sidetracked by Caden's Afghan. My friend Renee just had a bouncing baby boy and I promised to knit a baby blanket. Here it is in Plymouth Encore Color and Colorspun. As you can see, I'm knitting this with 2 strands of yarn on size 13 US needles which makes it go very fast. Fast when I have time to work on it, that is. It needs to be about 20 blocks long and I'm only up to 8. The basketweave stitch is a simple matter of ribbing that you reverse after a set number of rows. Post a comment if you want the pattern, I'd love to share it with you. This is a great beginner's project.

In other news....

K has been in India for a week now, but it seems forever. I know it's important to him and important to the company - he has directly helped the bottom line - but it's tough to be without him. The poor kitties miss their Dad. They pad after me around the house, hoping for attention. These cats get a lot of love when both of us are home. We are constantly talking to them or petting them or playing fisher-cat. It's hard to be a single parent *sniff*

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


All the members of my family are huge Carolina basketball fans. My father is intense about it, watches every game, shouts from his easy chair, coaches the TV and is in a bad mood when the 'Heels lose [fortunately, that's only been 3 times this season]. My mother is very nervous about each game and cannot watch them. She tries to distract herself by reading or practicing on the piano, but she can hear the TV and my father in the other room, both loud and obnoxious. I love to watch the games. Actually, I love to knit and listen to the games even when they're on TV. During the last 5 minutes I usually put down my knitting and just watch the end.

This past Saturday was the second meeting between Carolina and Duke. It was close the entire game, with several lead changes.[If you were raised in North Carolina, you know that you cannot be a fan of both schools. It's an either/or. Some may say they are, but they are lying.]

My mother called in the middle of the second half. We had the following conversation:
Mom: "I can't watch the game because it makes me too nervous. Your Dad is always yelling."
Then she said, "Well, how did it go?"
I asked, "How did what go?"
Mom: "The game."
Me: "Mom, the game isn't over yet...they're still playing in the second half."
Mom: "Oh, I thought that since it was playing early on the west coast that it would be over by now."
Me: "Um, Mom, the game is on right now, it's just that we're in different time zones."
Mom: "Oh. All right, I'll call you back later."


Monday, March 07, 2005

Yarn Stash Sale

My "yarnmoire" is overflowing. K refuses to build me another one so I must go through my stash and part with some much-coveted yarn. See which ones are ready to go to a new home in my knitting gallery.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Starting Diane


This is the humble beginning of "Diane" from Melissa Leapman's Hot Knits. The yarn is Debbie Bliss Cotton Cashmere. The textured stitching is a 1x2 twisted rib along the border, sides and center panel. "Diane" is a kicky, shaped tank top with a v-neck.

My first thought was, "what a pain". For twisted stitches, you have to knit into the back loop. Actually this has turned out to be engrossing in a good, almost meditative, way. When I knit in stockinette, I become impatient and I just can't seem to finish the project fast enough. Cables are different - I enjoy being preoccupied by the breaks in the pattern. These twisted rib panels are similar.

I've been told that knitting is good exercise for the mind and I truly believe that. Knitting, reading, doing crossword puzzles, learning in general all help to keep us sharp, focused and aware of what's going on around us.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Miss Big


I don't want to seem like I'm playing favorites, so may I introduce my other cat: Miss Big Kitty. Big is actually smaller than Little K. At one time this was not the case but Big decided to go on a diet - we really worried about her but the vet assured us she's healthy. Apparently it is common for the dominant cat to be plumper.

Miss Big is a sweetie - once she gets to know you, she wants to hop onto your left shoulder to cuddle. It has to be your left shoulder only. And she chirps like a bird.



One of Little Kitty's quirks [and she has some doooozies] is to quietly wiggle her chubby body underneath blankets, throws and comforters. She lays there without making a sound or even twitching her tail. According to her, she is invisible. She is stealth.

Most of the time my boyfriend and I [we'll call him K] know she's there - after all, there's a big lump at the foot of the bed - and we giggle to ourselves and say things like, "Little Kitty has disappeared again" or "I wonder where in the world Little Kitty is?" in loud voices.

However, there are other instances where we're just going about our morning routine and get a shock when we try to make the bed or accidently sit on her while we put on our shoes. Her wiggling body reminds me of how it feels to step on a fish.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Bloomin' Orchid

one of my first blooming orchids Posted by Hello

My first orchid was a gift from a Christmas party 5 years ago. It was your standard "white" one - a large, white Moth or Phalaenopsis orchid. I promptly tried to kill it by watering it twice a week in its foil-wrapped pot. After a month of this torture, I picked up Sunset's orchid guide and realized with horror that I was doing everything wrong. I repotted Sarah, named after the woman who had given me the plant, by trimming the dead roots [very many black writhing spongy things], placing her in a sunny spot and restraining myself from watering her for several weeks.

She didn't bloom again for 2 years.

I blame it on the light conditions at the time. I was living in an apartment which received afternoon light from one large western window, not enough to brighten Sarah's corner of the room. Other orchids acquired during those years didn't bloom after I brought them home either.

The apartment was too small and dark for my orchids, 2 cats and my sanity. Finally, I bought a house. I specifically chose one with a very sunny location, even if it meant being fried to a crisp in the summer. The orchids love it here! They bloom like mad, making up for all the time they were repressed. My cats magically began getting along, playfully [or so I think] swatting and chasing after each other.

As for Sarah, she is the hardiest and healthiest of all my orchids, of which there are many now. They are scattered all over the house and on the front porch. Its's been said that orchids are hard to grow. I disagree - mine are very accomodating now. They just need a lot of light and regular watering just like every other house plant.

However...there is something to be said about an orchid that is willing to bloom for you year after year. It usually only blooms once. When it does so, you feel quite special and very, very smug.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Phooey On My Professor

In 1995, when I was a graduate student at the School of Information and Library Science at Carolina, I took an HTML class with a newly-minted professor. The assignment was to create a web page [mind you, this was 10 years ago...ancient times for the Internet Age...remember the term "Information Highway"?].

My Web Page, as it was titled, was a journal. I thought I was quite clever. Believing that no one had yet published personal material on the web, I copied several entries and scanned pictures from my real journal, tinkering well into the midnight hour to complete my assignment. I truly thought I had a winner - unique! intriguing! creative!

Imagine how crushed I was when Professor D. gave me a passing grade [pass or fail, all you get] with the comment "interesting idea, but I don't think it will catch on...too personal".

I want so badly to take some small credit for the blogging concept, but I can't. I let that opportunity pass me right on by with just a single deprecating opinion.

Now I join the ranks of all the bloggers out there who have the audacity to share their private side, creative secrets, happy days and melancholy moments.

Phooey on you, Professor.