Saturday, November 29, 2008


I'm back into knitting and tried out some new stuff - new patterns and Fair Isle knitting, which is difficult (especially when you're teaching yourself and have no idea what you're doing!). Here are my three latest projects.
This is a wool soaker, which is used as a diaper cover for cloth diapers. I followed this pattern - Soaker Knit in the Round - and found it pretty easy to follow. Luckily, my mom is a knitting genius, so she helped at one tricky point. Had to try out the Kitchener Stitch which joins the two sections together. See the seam? That's supposed to be invisible. Not so bad for my first try though (and I don't think the baby will care). The dark area at the bottom is there because I thought I was going to run out of yarn so I added a little section with some other yarn I had. Mom says it looks pre-stained :-) The matching I-cord drawstring makes it look a little better, I guess.

I made these two hats this weekend. The left one is my first attempt at knitting in the Fair Isle style. It's very satisfying to see the design emerge, but also very tricky. You have to make sure that it doesn't end up too tight, which unfortunately is what happened for me, I think. I have yet to try it on a baby head (hopefully within the next week or so I'll be able to!), so it might be okay, but right now, it doesn't stretch too much. So, it looks sweet, but may not be wearable! I adapted a pattern from here. It's newborn sized, so if it does fit, it won't for long! It's made of two yarns - the red is Sampa Organic Cotton by Mirasol in Red. The white is Bebe Cotsoy by Queensland Collection (50% cotton, 50% soy) in Ecru.

The hat on the right I made by following the original pattern (that I adapted to make the hat on the left). It's made of some dreamily soft cotton, bamboo and silk blend (Louisa Harding Jasmine in Cypress).

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What We've Been Up To...

The baby has not arrived yet - 9 days till the due date!! We've been spending our time in a variety of ways - mostly relaxing, getting ready for the baby and wondering what the hell we're going to do with it! Ha ha...actually, we're feeling pretty good about welcoming a little one into our lives. It's scary as hell, but super exciting at the same time. The diapers and covers are ready to go, the clothes are all washed and waiting, our freezer is packed with food for the first weeks, our neighbors are on call, the midwives are ready. It's very exciting!! Other than baby stuff, we've been up to this:

Eating Passionfruit - they look absolutely disgusting, but they taste amazing!

We spent a night at El Capitan Canyon Campground (which is a fancy resort "campground"). We got upgraded (for free!!!) from a Safari Tent to one of their nice cabins. It was fabulous! We made s'mores and sat by the campfire. What a cozy and fun way to spend a day off together!!

This is not our cabin, but it was like this.

After our night there, we went for a lovely walk at El Capitan State Beach. Here I am sitting on a picnic table.

Today we went down to the Santa Barbara Harbor to see a replica of Colombus' ship, the Nina. It was surprisingly small - definitely NOT something you'd want to use for sailing off to a new land. Apparently, it worked for them, though. I did not take this picture, but if I had, I'd be very proud of it. When we saw the Nina, the sails were furled (can sails be furled?) and it was docked. The tour was six bucks each, so we passed up on that, but it was still cool to check out from the dock. Then we went for a chilly walk on the breakwater and watched tiny ducks go diving for food. Rosie came with us and smelled everything.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

What 33 and a half weeks can do to your midsection

I'm feeling good and enjoying my pregnancy. Eric and I are getting the house ready for our new arrival. We had our shower last weekend and it was a blast! Many of our friends came and we enjoyed Mexican bbq and fabulous weather. December 2 is fast approaching!!!

April 10, 2008

October 18, 2008

Thursday, October 9, 2008

My sister Maria





Monday, July 7, 2008

Gap Fire Update

Everything ended up working out for us. We were allowed to return home yesterday. Other than the light dusting of ash, it's hard to tell anything exciting happened here. It's been such a surreal experience. I can't believe it was only four days ago that we packed up our lives in our cars. I'm so thankful to the firefighters for saving our property, to Eric, Serena and Michael who packed up all our stuff and to Susan for letting us crash with her. And, to Rosie for being the best dog anyone could ever ask for. Oh, and of course, to all our friends who called us concerned and offered their homes to us. Thank you!!!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Evacuating is no fun

We had to evacuate from our house last night. It was really scary because the hillside above our house caught on fire. Eric happened to go home right after it caught fire. He, his cousin, who is visiting with her son, packed up his car with our valuables and booked it outta there. We met up and went to my coworker, Susan's house where we spent the night. We're now down in Huntington Beach with Eric's family. It's very odd to distill your life down to a carload of *stuff*. Makes you realize how unimportant stuff is.

The ranch and our house are fine as of now. Luckily, our neighbor happened to see the plume of smoke and called 911. 4 or 5 big trucks came blasting down our road and up into the woods. The firefighters did an amazing job and put out the fire there. Oz's investment in widening the roads on the ranch really paid off. But, what's really scary is that the main fire is moving towards the hills above the ranch. So, we'll see what the next few days bring.

What we learned:

1. Make a fire list - what valuables and other things would you want to bring with you? Keep the list out where you can find it easily. We did this last year during the Zaca fire. Eric, his cousin and her son found it extremely useful and are sure they would have not been able to pack as well without it.
2. Have a meeting place set up. I was trying to get home and couldn't get in because they closed our road. I couldn't call Eric because we have SUCKY AT&T and there's little to no coverage in the area around our house.
3. Have a disaster kit ready with water, food, batteries, candles, flashlights, battery powered radio and corded landline phone. Know where this is!
4. Keep all your important papers together in an easily moveable container.
5. Remember that pretty much everything is replaceable.
6. Even if a wildfire seems far away, it can jump to where you are in seconds.

Life on a ranch is wonderful, except for the evacuating part. Two and a half years ago we had to evacuate due to too much rain. Sure would like to have some of that now.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I'm a Believer

My dad got me into "hypermiling". This is a strategy for driving that aims to increase your miles per gallon. Let me tell you - IT WORKS! I tried a few techniques on my last tank of gas and was blown away by the results. I normally get 26 in town and 30 on the highway. This last tank of gas was half in-town driving and half highway only (drove down to L.A. for our friend's memorial - more on that later). So, you might guess that I'd get about 28 MPG for this tank. Okay, so....wait for it.....I got 34 MPGs!!! Woo hoo! So cool. This is what I did:

I drive a stick shift, so that makes some of this easier.

1. Accelerated slowly
2. Short shifted
3. Approached red or yellow lights slowly (downshifting when necessary) so that I used my brakes as little as possible
4. Coasted down hills when possible (slightly scary, but fun, too)
5. Went the speed limit on the highway (this was hardest to do - everyone speeds here in Cali)

I didn't think these actions would make that much of a difference, but apparently, they do! I did the math twice just to make sure I really did get 34 MPGs. So cool.

If you're interested, here is a site that I found very useful:

I must say that many of those ideas I think are pretty freaking crazy, like turning your car off to coast or drafting off of a big rig. No thanks. I'm not that nuts, just a bit.

Oh, one more thing - I love how these gas saving techniques have made me drive more slowly and calmly. It's nice not to feel like I'm in a rush. I just cruise along, comforted by the thought that I'm saving gas ($$$$).

Big Ben chillin' at Figueroa Mountain

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Summer Vacation on Cape Cod! Ooooh la la!

Looking for something to do this summer? Rent our beautiful, brand new home in Eastham, MA on gorgeous Cape Cod!!! Go here for more details:

Contact us for rates and rental info.

It'll be lovely, I promise!!!!

Thanks to Donna, Maria and Dan now shower with a bucket

Who else will join the Bucket Brigade??

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Thanks to Donna, we shower with a bucket

To lower our water usage, Eric and I now shower with a bucket. Sounds funny, but it's actually pretty cool. We got a nice blue 10 qt. bucket and stuck it in the shower. Since our shower takes forever to warm up in the morning, the bucket catches the 5 or so quarts the shower spits out before the water gets warm. Then, we leave the bucket in there and stand in front of it so it catches any residual water bouncing off our rock hard muscles. It is usually full by the end of the shower. Then, we use it to flush the toilet or water the plants outside.

Ta da! Saving at least 20 quarts a day! That's at least 7,300 quarts a year.

My Eating Life is Changed Forever

I'm currently reading "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan. It's truly an amazing book and will open your eyes and mind to what goes on before the food you eat reaches the grocery store or your local farmstand. Today, I went to Vons for the first time since starting the book and I realized how much it has affected how I think about food. I had wondered (and worried) if I would never be able to shop the same again after reading the book. My fears were confirmed after wandering through Vons thinking, "What the hell am I going to be able to buy and eat with a clear conscience???" I felt like I was letting my body and the animals down by buying the shredded mozzarella and ricotta in a plastic container for the manicotti I plan to make later this week. And, that was just dairy products!!! What about the chicken we bought? How can I eat it??? But, I know I will. There aren't any options for locally raised chicken, so I'm stuck with the store bought birds. Even "free-range" means nothing really. Yikes...what to do, what to do. Luckily, our neighbors have a turkey and a chicken, so we get eggs from them. I'm going to have to start raising chickens, growing my own garden, milling my own wheat. Shit...I better get going....I have a lot to do.

Seriously, though - how do you find a balance? Obviously, due to time, space and monetary restraints, I can't be fully sustainable so that I can eat with a clear conscience. Maybe Michael Pollan will give me some suggestions at the end of the book.

This is an amazing book that will make you take a serious look at what you eat and where it comes from. Your eating life will never be the same. So, read it, and let me know if you come up with any solutions.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Travelin' Jones

Eric and I have been doing lots of traveling lately. After our Maui trip (more on that in a bit) we headed out to Miami for five days. Eric had a conference to go to and I tagged along. Miami was very bright. Quite a gaudy city, actually. I heard a quote that I think is very appropriate: "Miami is where Neon goes to die". This seems to be most true in the Art Deco district in South Beach. We spent three of our four nights there exploring South Beach. We didn't join the kids at the multitude of crazy clubs, but we did spend our evenings strolling up and down Lincoln Road, which is a wonderful promenade with lots of shops, fabulous restaurants and even more fabulous people watching. Pooches were everywhere and welcome in the outdoor dining areas. Made us miss Rosie :-) After one night out, I decided that I don't fit too well into the Miami lifestyle for three reasons: 1. I haven't had plastic surgery (although I do have silicone implants in my eyes!), 2. I don't wear heels every day, and 3. my clothes cover more than just my tits and ass. I spent an afternoon at Bill Baggs State Park on Key Biscayne. It was a beautiful beach with awesome swimming. I kept my eyes out for sharks - yikes! Downtown Miami is basically one big skyscraper with more and more additions being built on every month. The city just approved another 93 storey building with two more impending approvals. It's really unbelievable. Not a place I'd move to any time soon, but apparently there are many people who think otherwise!

On to my Maui review:

The places we stayed were awesome. We ate breakfast and lunch in using the full kitchens in the places we rented. We were shocked at the prices for food at the grocery store - $7.99/half gallon for Organic milk, same for OJ. Amazing! We spent every morning exploring some part of the island and spent the afternoons on the beach. The most incredible part of our trip was when we went kayaking with humpback whales! We joined a small tour group and spent an entire morning cruising around the waters off of the southern side of Maui in kayaks. Eric and I shared a kayak and actually did very well. We no longer call them "divorce boats" :-) The whales swam right near our boats. I knew they were huge, but until you're next to one, you don't realize how big they actually are. We didn't bring our camera on the kayaks, but there are some shots on Flickr taken by folks who've done similar trips click here to see.

I'll upload a few pictures from the rest of our trip:

We drove 1.5 hours to the top of Mt. Haleakala at 4:00am to watch the sunrise. It was awesome and well worth the early morning.

This is the NeNe bird. There are only 250 left in Hawaii. We saw three of them!

The Iao Needle in the middle of West Maui.

Some beach near Ka'anapali in West Maui.

The blowhole created by a hole in the roof of a sea cave. The waves splash in and poof up through the hole.

A field of cairns in West Maui.

A pretty bay, also in West Maui.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Aloha! We're off to Hawaii!!

Eric and I are leaving on Thursday (Valentine's Day!) for Maui! I'm super excited because 1. I've never been, 2. we're using frequent flyer miles so our tickets were only $10, and 3. I don't believe that turquoise water really exists, so I'm ready to be proven wrong. We chose Maui because we're going in the winter and that island is supposed to have the driest, warmest winter weather. Then, we chose to stay in Kihei for the same reason. We rented a little cottage on It looks perfect for us - check it out. The owner has been really great to deal with and he cut me a deal, eliminating the cleaning fee in exchange for my proofreading services (I pointed out that no cleaning fee was listed on the site). That saved us $100! Then, we're heading to the northern part of the island to stay one night at Mama's Fish House and Inn, a famous place in a funky little town called Pa'ia. We'll post next week with pictures!

Our friends, Donna and Jon will stay and share Rosie duty with our duplexmates, Lara and William. Thanks guys!

I hope we see sunsets like this!!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Rain in Spain Falls Mainly on Maria Ignacio Ranch

It's been raining here a lot. We had a nice break from it all week, but it started again last night. I love it! Last weekend was quite an adventure. Saturday night, we got a billion inches of rain and the mud took over. Check out these shots.

A very wet Rosie.

A mini rock slide.

This is the creek we cross every day to get in and out of the ranch. As you might guess, we did not leave the ranch that day. That mud is not supposed to be there.

What We're Reading

I've always loved going to the library. When I was little, we used to go every week. After carrying my tall stack of books home, I'd look through them, wanting to read them all at the same time. I'd excitedly choose one, and spend the rest of the day reading. I was a true book nerd. I think I still am. What makes me think this? The other day, I said out loud at work, "I have so many books I want to read right now. I wish I could read six at a time." It's a good thing I'm very comfortable with my nerdiness. As an adult, I still go to the library. Eric and I are probably two of their most frequent patrons. We use it for discovering new music, watching movies we'd never pay to rent and BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS. I know of someone who doesn't borrow books from the library because of all the germs that they carry. What do I have to say to that? Stop licking your books and wash you hands when you're done (if you're really that concerned).

Here's our current reading list:

Eric: Currently reading "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand. He's only read a few pages so far, but he likes it and it kind of reminds him of Harry Potter. It's about a young boy who's sort of an outcast but the difference is that he doesn't care and he enjoys being different because he's very confident in what he wants and what he knows he's good at. It's very long and he has quite a ways to go, so perhaps we'll update his review of the book when he's read more of it. He's reading it because it's supposed to be a classic and someone at work suggested it.

Hannah: Currently reading "I Capture the Castle" by Dodie Smith. It's a delightful book told in first person by a 17 year old girl who decides to write down her life in a journal. The heroine, Cassandra lives in a ruined castle with her gloomy older sister, depressed father, beautiful and kind stepmother, and sweet younger brother. Also living with the family is Stephen, a young man whose parents died. They are very poor, but find ways to live a happy life anyway. They meet the neighbors who have just moved in. Simon and Neil are two young men who have just inherited the property on which the castle sits. They live in a large house a ways down the road. The story reminds me of Pride and Prejudice. It's been a lovely read so far. I stayed up till 3:30am this morning reading it. It's the perfect book for me - no violence, no death (so far anyway) and no sneaking around. I found out about it on NPR in a piece with librarian Nancy Pearl about books that are under the radar, but way too good to miss. Here's a link to that list:

Rosie: Just finished "Marley and Me" by John Grogan. She can't believe how misbehaved that dog was. She got a little teary eyed at the end when he died (and was reminded of her own mortality, but she didn't dwell on that for too long). She's glad she's not a lab. She didn't care for Grogan's writing style, but enjoyed the story anyway.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Paint by Number

Over the Christmas break, Mom, Julia, Maria and I discovered the world of paint by number - known as "PBN" by fanatics such as us. Thanks to Ocean State Job Lot we now have quite a gallery! Check out our masterpieces (messterpieces?).