Friday, October 28, 2011

Reading hiatus

Earlier this year, I watched Game of Thrones, and since I'd never read the books, I decided that this was a good time to start. And now, after treating the first four volumes of the A Song of Ice and Fire series as one gigantic, 4080-page book, I don't want to read anymore. At all. Anything. I'm taking a break from reading for fun, for the first time since I graduated from college. It wasn't that I disliked ASoIaF, overall, but it was too much slogging with the only real payoff being more misery, suffering and death for everyone. I am quite content, for a little bit, to fill my free time in other ways.

I usually read at multiple points in the day, and I've found new things to fit in most of those slots. Breakfast is a good time to check Reader. During my commute, I've been listening to podcasts, for the first time in my life. Looped Yarn Works' DC Unraveled has been fun to listen to, although it's hard to ride to work listening to someone talk about knitting projects and then have to sit at my desk for hours before I can get back to my own projects. I've also just started listening to the BBC's A History of the World in 100 Objects, which is wonderful, and makes me really want to go to the British Museum. Speaking of museums, my normal lunchtime reading is a good time to go explore the museum I actually work in. Exhibitions aren't as interesting when they're always there, but lately I've been regretting how little time I've spent in the galleries compared to how long I've had this job. So, this works out pretty well!

The only reading-time I haven't filled in yet is before bed, but I've been meaning to go through my cookbooks and mark recipes I want to try. I think the pleasure of having a book to read before going to sleep is what will end my hiatus, but for now I'm okay with lurching slightly out of my rut. But I have to say, I'm looking forward to reading Haruki Murakami's and Neal Stephenson's latest books, once the idea of starting a new book doesn't overwhelm me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

First scarf finished! On to the second

My Old Shale Scarf is finished, just in time for mid-fall weather that's perfect for a lightweight scarf. I'm so glad it's finally done - it took me since May (to do this iteration, not counting the one I ripped out after I messed up eight or ten inches in) and while I didn't find the pattern difficult, really, it probably wasn't the most satisfying choice for my very first real knitting pattern, ever. I had a hard time keeping track of where I was, partly because the yarn I bought is so dark and fine (it's really beautiful, though), and I would get bored after two repeats of the pattern. I am very proud of it though, and I was so excited to wear it for the first time this weekend.

As soon as that scarf was finished, I cast on a new one: Bias, using this wonderful cashmere sock yarn by Tanis Fiber Arts that was made affordable by a Groupon at a local yarn store. I love this pattern, especially after Old Shale - I can go so fast! And while it's a simpler pattern, for some reason it feels less boring. I was happy to spend a three-hour car ride working on this and it's nice to be able to see my progress. Hopefully I'll have another new scarf waiting for me in time for early-spring lightweight scarf weather.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Challah French toast

I already posted my standard French toast recipe so I didn't think I'd really need to post a variation, but then I made challah French toast on Sunday morning and my live-in taste-tester said it was quite possibly the best French toast he'd had, and that seems worth recording. So:

Challah French toast
adapted from Ina Garten
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 challah loaf
And you know what to do from there.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Crafty Bastards 2011

On Saturday I went to Crafty Bastards, which is the annual DC craft fair. My first and only other trip to Crafty Bastards was in 2008, and I wasn't that impressed then, because it seemed like it was mostly mustaches and bicycles and octopuses and owls as far as the eye can see. Not that there's anything wrong with that, necessarily, but it's not really my thing, and I didn't feel inspired to buy or make anything after that visit.

Crafty Bastards has grown in the past three years, and this time there was a much larger variety of vendors, including a few of my favorites from the Ballston Arts & Crafts Market like Yummy & Company, Katharine Watson, and Ashley Buchanan Jewelry. A few other vendors that made me wish I had tons of talent, or cash, or both:

  • Fernworks: resin jewelry and paintings. I especially love her amazing, ethereal hand-painted resin jewelry: beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
  • Seeing in Fabric: "paintings" made from fabric scraps and machine and hand embroidery.
  • Inedible Jewelry: teeny tiny food! I remember them from the first Crafty Bastards I went to as one of the more unique and fun vendors.
  • The Oak Leaves: incredibly teeny clay buildings. Something about these was really fascinating - they're just unpainted little houses, but they seem like tiny homes.
  • My Paper Crane: cute plush food. As with real donuts, the only donuts left by the time I got to their stall were the cream-filled and crullers.
  • Zooguu: plush toys. I love the squids!
  • Tasha McKelvey: pottery and ceramic jewelry. Her little bird bowls are wonderful.
  • Cotton Monster: plush monsters may be a staple of craft shows, but these are really unique. There's something definitely creepy as well as cute about these guys.
  • NeedleNoodles: I was so excited to see NeedleNoodles and her little guys in the flesh (or in the yarn)! I hadn't seen her squids before but I loved them - might have to buy the pattern.
So, yes, definitely worth the trip, despite the drizzle and the cold weather. The only thing I bought was a falafel sandwich from Amsterdam Falafel (yum) but I saw lots of things that inspired me, and lots of vendors whose sites I'm bookmarking for Christmas shopping ideas.