Sunday, July 31, 2011

Murder by Numbers

Okay, the title is appropriate because I have numbers to discuss, in addition to the Cape wrap up.

While we were at the Cape we celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary and nearly 8 years of being together, by going to the Brazilian Grill and eating 14-15 different kinds of meat. Brazilian barbeque's are Shawn's favorite type of restaurant.

While we were at the Cape we managed to ride approximately 23 miles on the bikes over the course of the week, which was the only time we've been able to ride this summer due to rain, heat, and our schedules.

While we were at the Cape, I finished knitting 3 feet of the cruise clutch strap which included knitting in approximately 130 beads.  I also worked on the Mad Color Shawl Knit Along, and discovered that, upon finishing the main part of the shawl that it appears too small and I need add another 1/4 to 1/2 of the current total number of stitches. So far for 2011, I've knit 4,145 yards or 2.35 miles, only counting completed skeins and/or projects.

While we were at the Cape, I managed to write another 3,817 words for a new grand total of 106,507 words and 351 pages of the novel. I managed to write 9,205 words out of my goal of 15,585 for July which included 7,585 words to make up June, and 8,000 words for my normal July goal or finish the novel. Well, I made up June, but fell 6,380 words short for July and I didn't finish the f-ing book. I'll just keep plugging along and maybe the thing will be done soon.

Okay, done with the numbers, Cape wrap up time!  I'm going to sprinkle some pictures in, but to see all of them go here.  We left Manchester on Sunday at about 9:30 am and got to Bridget M's lovely little house in South Dennis, MA around 12:30 pm.   We got situated and then decided to go to Stop & Shop for groceries for lunches and breakfasts so as to conserve some cash.  We hung out in the hammock for a while, and then decided to investigate a place for dinner. 

Due to the review on we decided to try Not Your Average Joe's in Hyannis, MA.  Unfortunately, they did not live up to the hype whatsoever.  When I asked the waiter if the bread had milk or eggs in it, he offered me a gluten free roll. I explained that gluten had nothing to do with milk or egg, and asked if the gluten free roll had either of those ingredients in it.  He didn't know and said he'd check but never got back to me on it. Then I asked about the falafel crusted haddock, and he said he had to check with the chef.  When he came back, he said it wouldn't work.  I asked if the chef had any suggestions about what I could actually eat, and he got aggravated and said he would send a manager over.  I replied that I thought that'd be a very good idea, in my sweetest bitchy voice.  At that point, I think he got the idea that he was endangering his tip.  Which he was.   The manager came over and helped me basically order a plain haddock with nothing on it because they couldn't allegedly put anything on it that would be safe.  So they agreed to switch out the side with grilled asparagus because I couldn't have mashed potatoes.  So the fish came and it was completely overcooked and dried out  and I'm pretty certain there was butter on it anyway, which I figured out about halfway through, and based on my reaction afterwards.  And the idiots served it with tartar sauce, which I can't have because of the egg in the mayo, but at least it was in a separate container.  But needless to say, I sure as hell won't be going there ever again.

On Monday we found the Cape Cod Rail Trail and biked almost seven miles.  We didn't want to push it too much as it was our first ride of the season.   We were kind of tired out and due to our experience the previous evening, we decided to do dinner in.  Also, I had biked in my fake cheapo Keen shoes and my feet had been more tired than my legs.  So we decided to go look for sneakers and go shopping for food.  I bought a new pair of Asics gel sneakers. (I was planning to join a gym anyway when I got back so I needed some.)  And then we managed to get some milk free hot dogs (Pearl's, really good) and shot dog buns and some condiments and relaxed at the house.   And drum roll....I found some six packs of Goslings ginger beer, so I could make dark and stormy's with Gosling's Dark Seal Rum.  I just about cried.  I bought two six packs so I could bring one home with me.
On Tuesday, we went to visit the Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory as they had a free tour, and it sounded like it would be cool. Unfortunately, they wouldn't let us take pictures, so this is the only picture we have. (Well, technically, there is one of me in front of the sign, but it is god freaking awful, and I'm not showing it to anyone.  Shawn really needs to learn to take a decent photo of me.)  It was interesting but it was self guided and only lasted about 15 minutes. They gave out sample bags at the end of the tour, but they were flavors I didn't like or they had milk in them.  Yes, some surprising flavors of potato chip have milk in them.  Like freaking Salt & Vinegar.  So Shawn got my chips.   After that we went to the Cape Cod Mall to check it out, but we really didn't find anything interesting.  We're not really mall people.  Later that night, we went to see the last Harry Potter movie, which we really enjoyed.  And then, we got some lobsters!  Yay!!

On Wednesday, we went to the West Dennis Beach, after eating lunch at the house.  It's a pretty neat beach in that you can park very close to the beach so you don't have to walk to hell and gone with your stuff.  It had a lot of seaweed, but once you were out about 15 feet or so you were clear of it.  I somehow forgot to bring a book or knitting or something, and Shawn didn't bring anything so we got bored pretty quickly.  We did swim and sit in the sun for quite a while, but I'm not one to be idle.  That night we tried to find some Chinese food using   Generally I find the reviews to be pretty accurate, but this wasn't the case for the Golden Fountain Restaurant in Hyannis.  It was edible and fairly inexpensive, but I wouldn't go there again.
On Thursday, we headed back to the Cape Cod Rail Trail, and we were able to go bit farther this time.  Having decent footwear really helped, so we were able to do ten miles.  There were also some nice water features we got to ride by.  For our anniversary we had made dinner reservations at the Brazilian Grill in Hyannis.  In this case the reviews were accurate.  If you've been to Gaucho's in Manchester, NH, this place blew it out of the water.  There was a buffet/salad bar that was about three times the size of Gauchos, and it had 14 or 15 different kinds of meat circulating.  There wasn't much on the buffet I could have because it all had milk, mayo or cheese, but I was able to put together a nice salad, and there seemed to be a lot of fabulous things to try if you are unafflicted with allergies. Also, one of the meat options was steak with cheese embedded in it, so I couldn't have that, but it was fine, there was way too much other food to eat as it was. We had a really lovely time, and the restaurant was in a really cool and groovy area with lots of neat little shops.

On Friday, we had decided to park at spot on the Cape Cod Rail Trail that was just before where we had left off the last time, so we could see more of the trail, without having to bike past all the stuff we'd already seen before.  We had planned to try for 12 miles, but that didn't happen.  We parked at the Headwaters Drive lot, and then did the next 3.3 miles almost all uphill, before we gave up and turned around.  So we did a total of 6.6 miles, but it felt like twenty with the hills/grade.  I'm proud to say that I never got off the bike and walked it, but I was feeling it a bit the next day.  The rest of the day we just lazed around, as the ride had taken it out of us.  We grabbed a roast chicken for dinner at the Stop & Shop and worked on finishing off the rest of the food we had bought for lunches, since it was our last full day there.

On Saturday we got ready to leave and cleaned up the house, and headed back to Manchester around 11:00 am.   We got back around 2:00pm and Shawn headed out to go pick up Kiwi at the foster parents. (Bird Supply of Nashua, we always tell her she's going to the foster parent's when she's being boarded.  Yes, we have a sick sense of humor.  We also like to tell her she's adopted.)

My plants did fairly well.  Mom didn't kill them. I actually have quite a few cherry tomatoes, and I have two regular tomatoes the size of a pea. My regular tomatoes plants are huge and if they were not lounging all over the window boxes, I think they'd be 8 feet tall if they stood straight.  It's so weird.  The habanero pepper has minuscule baby peppers and is still blooming, and the other pepper plant has some that are ripening.  I have a couple of cukes too.  All in all, not bad.   The zucchini plant is completely dead though.  I'm not really sure what the heck happened with that. 

Today, I balanced the checkbook, paid some of the last bills, although I had already paid almost everything before we left.  After I finished that, I headed over to Planet Fitness in Manchester to join as planned.  My health insurance covers the cost as long as I go 8 times a month.  If I don't, it's $35.00.  The gym is open 24/7 which fits my life better, so I'm pretty sure I can manage it twice a week.  At this point, I'm just looking to strengthen my back, as I'm tired of dealing with it.

When I got back from signing up, I had to wind some yarn for knitting, and then headed off to guild.  Mary S brought me some lovely cucumbers from her garden, since she's overwhelmed and mine are minuscule.  When I got home I made refrigerator pickles, bread and butter from Alton Brown's recipe and then I used his Kinda Sour recipe and added a ton of dill to see if I could get dill refrigerator pickles.  It's an experiment, we'll see. 

And that's about it.  Stay tuned for further updates as I get around to it.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Add It Up

This is sort of an interim post before I start posting about the Cape.  Try to get everything done before we went was a bit crazy since I spent the day with Laura V in Boston the Saturday before the week we were leaving.  I mean, I did need to shop because I desperately needed shorts.  Too bad I couldn't find any I could stomach buying.  Seriously, they all sucked.  But I did find a suit, a suit jacket and some shirts, and some makeup that I shouldn't have bought at Sephora, but let's just pretend that didn't happen.  We saw a hilarious Coach bag in purple sequins that I would have bought if it had been say, $37 dollars instead of $378.  If anyone sees it on deep discount or as a knock off, let me know.  It was just too funny and it's the right shade of purple.  Laura V and I had a good lunch at the Cheesecake Factory.  Their treatment of allergies wasn't stellar (get a damn allergy list  will you, instead of making me ask about fifteen individual things), but it was pretty decent.  After we finished shopping, we headed back to Allston, and had Vietnamese at Le's (formerly Pho Pasteur).  It was a great day. 

On Monday there was much cleaning.

Tuesday I met up with Lisa E and we went to XO on Elm in Manchester.  It was wonderful.  While they didn't have an allergy list, the chef came out to meet me and discuss different dishes and he offered to make me something that wasn't even on the menu.  I ended up just having him modify one of the dishes by swapping out sides, so I had braised lamb shank in New Castle Brown Ale sauce.  YUM.  I also had the Far East tini, which was a ginger liqueur with cranberry and orange juice.  Lisa and I had a great time as always, which is why we can't go out to dinner and have it take less than 3 hours.

On Wednesday, there was much cleaning and paying of bills.

On Thursday I met some friends and knit for a while, and then came home, and there was much cleaning.

On Friday, there was grocery shopping for the cape and for the meeting of the Misplaced Modifiers taking place at my house, and even more cleaning.  I did lose a hermit crab to the big aquarium in the sky on Friday (I think) so I ended up also having to clean their whole setup that evening as well.  Out of the original six I bought sometime in February or March of 2008, I still have two left.  That's pretty good for hermit crabs I think.

On Saturday, there was much more cleaning before the meeting of the Misplaced Modifiers, and for my mother coming down to stay while we're at the Cape.  (I tend to clean pretty much only when people are coming over, so it can become a Herculean task to shovel out.) The meeting of the Misplaced Modifiers went well, but we were a little lackluster as we were all exhausted from the heat (and in my case, cleaning). After the meeting I had to finish the laundry, pack my knitting, pack my writing, and my clothes for the Cape.

Before I left on Sunday, I took pictures of the garden, just in case Mom kills everything.  Haha, just kidding.  I just want to compare the difference after a week when I get back.  Yeah, that's what I meant.  Totally.

So the topsy turvey with the peppers in it has one jalapeno, but it's blooming.  The habenaro is finally starting to bloom and the long red peppers have lots of little green peppers but no  red yet.

 I have about eight little green cherry tomatoes, and I finally got some flowers on the big tomatoes that have grown taller than I am.

I also have one little baby cucumber.  Not sure I'll get any more as there really don't seem to be enough bees about.

I worked on my Mad Color Knit Along Shawl thing this week too.  Have not touched the purse strap mostly because I think I'm going to redesign it.  It's not quite what I want.

I also decided that I needed an emergency project for the Cape in case I didn't have enough to do, so I'm doing the Absinthe sock from with some Iris Miss Babs sock yarn. As it's just in case, I haven't actually started it yet, but I did wind the yarn.

So that's it for last week, the next post will be about the Cape vacation.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Any Colour You Like

It's been a busy couple of weeks since I last posted.  I've been out and about quite a bit, but I've also gotten a lot done in the last two weeks.  So, here we go to the numbers.

In writing news, I'm working on making up for June and trying to do July at the same time and/or finish the fricking book.  In order to make up June and finish July, I need to write 15,585 words this month or finish.  So far I've written 5,388 this month.  It is my hope that while I'm on vacation at the end of the month that I can finish while Shawn's sleeping in in the mornings and when I wake up at 6:00 am like I always do.  And...drum roll....I hit 100,000 words on July 9.  So I met my goal, but the book's not done.  As of this writing, I have 102,690 words and 338 pages in manuscript format.  I'm also hosting the Misplaced Modifiers' meeting on Saturday before I leave for vacation, so I'm hopeful that the meeting gives me a jump start of motivation before vacation.

In fiber news....drum roll...the Kyoto jacket is done.  It's still not blocked and I think it will look better once it is, but I'm not going to have time to do it until after vacation. I think it will look a lot better after it's blocked, but the thing is done.  As those of you who have been reading this know, there were a lot of modifications and issues I had with the pattern.  To see those, go here.

After finishing the Kyoto, I started a little cutesy purse for the formal night of the cruise we're going on in December.  I'm using Berroco Lumina.  I couldn't find a pattern I liked, so I'm making it up.  I wish the pictures did the yarn justice because it is really, really shiny.  I'm doing a beaded strap, and I intend to use a magnetic snap closure with a dummy button over it for show.  The picture shows the purse folded how I intend to assemble it, but I haven't actually done so yet.  I'm also considering using the remaining yarn to do a lining to give the purse a bit more body and strength.

I'm hoping to finish this up relatively quickly, but the strap is going to take some time.  I need 35 inches of it, and the beading slows it down considerably.

I probably shot myself in the foot, but my friend Heather S (proprietor of Mad Color hand dyed yarns and fiber) is having a shawl knit along, and I decided to participate. It starts tomorrow.  Instead of a traditional knit along where you all knit the same pattern, the only requirement is that we knit it with her yarn. So I've chosen the LazyKaty shawl, and I'm going to knit it with some of Heather's Sock Options Merino I had in my stash. We can start it no later than July 18, 2011, and it must be finished by 10 pm on August 28, 2011.  Can we all just start laughing now?  There is, of course, a prize involved.  I think those that actually finish and post a picture in the Ravelry thread by the 28th get entered for a drawing.  Because you know, I really need additional yarn.

In garden news, the herbs are going great guns, there's lots of flowers on the cukes, and I have five little baby cherry tomatoes.  However, the zucchini plant is dying for some unknown reason and the regular tomato plant is taller than I am, but no flowers.  And the dill snapped in half in a storm (it was four feet long in a window box, not really surprised) so I harvested them and I'm drying out the seeds and leaves.  Also one of the basil plants snapped too, so I made my own home made pesto for dinner with it one night. 

Last weekend, we had a purge of the office.  We got rid of the sewing machine table I have not used once since we moved in (I always use the machine on the dining room table), my old circa 1994 desk, Shawn's desk and a printer stand.  I really wanted a u-shaped work station, but since I wasn't willing to fork over the bucks to buy one, I constructed one out of tables from BJ's.  Although it's not really attractive, I'm very happy with it.  It does what I want it to do, and I'm getting more work done because I actually have space to work and spread out documents.  I'm going to go with function over form every time, which is probably why our space is more utilitarian than House Beautiful.  (Plus, how much writing and knitting time would I lose if I decorated and then had to clean regularly?  I shudder in horror at the thought, seriously.)

One more week until vacation down at the Cape.  We plan to check out the Cape Cod Rail Trail with the bikes and check out the beaches and generally relax.  I'm looking forward to it.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Starting Over

Last weekend we had a meeting of the Misplaced Modifiers, which was fun as it always is.  I'm always amazed by the things we come up with even when we're goofing off.  Everyone's haikus were wonderful.  And although I bailed on the haiku thing, apparently writing my little bit of doggerel verse got me back on the wagon.  So I revised the Purple Calendar of Doom, applied the extra words I had done in previous months, and figured out that I needed to write 15,164 or finish the novel to make up for May and June.  So I wrote a lot last week.  I managed to pound out 7,579 words from Sunday to Thursday evening.  I was three words short of making up May (15,164 divided by 2 for May and June), but that's close enough.  I declare May complete.  The plan for July is to write 15,585 words or finish the novel to make up for June and complete July.  I intend to write quite a bit over the holiday weekend, and when we go on vacation to the Cape at the end of the month (thanks Bridget M!!), I'll bring the laptop and write before Shawn gets up, because my body feels it necessary to wake me up every morning at 6:00 a.m.  So here's the stats:  June's word count brought me to a overall total of 97,302 words and 320 pages double spaced in manuscript format.  Good news - I'm only 2,700 words away from reaching my goal of 100K.  Bad news - There's no way I'm going to finish the novel before I hit 100K. 

In fiber news,  I had spun more than required for previous months (according to the 2011 Yarn & Fiber Stash Reduction Plan, I have to spin 4 oz a month this year), and so have been using the overage to credit months ahead.  June was covered as a result so I didn't spin last month with everything else going on.  I have a credit of 1.26 oz for July, but that means that I'm going to have to get my rear end in gear and spin a few ounces for this month.  I'm also considering taking my wheel to the Cape, but I'm not sure how much stuff I want to lug.  I'll have to see how it goes.  I'm also thinking that I want to take my wheel apart and clean it, but I'm not sure if that's a good idea.  I have noticed a difference in the treadling, so I think some thing's up with it.

In knitting news, I'm reaching the end of the Kyoto jacket.  I have about 6-8 inches left to knit, and then all that's left is putting it together.  There's a possibility I may finish by the end of the weekend depending on my writing schedule.  After I finish this jacket, I want to do some knitting for the cruise in December with some stuff in my stash.

In garden news, the pepper plants in the topsy turvey were growing up to the next balcony.  Since the plants come out the sides, I took it down and I've set it on top of a table.  I have a lot of little peppers, the zucchini plant has one flower, but the regular tomatoes still have not flowered, nor have the cukes.  I don't think I'm going to get any tomatoes at this point.  The one year I decide to have a garden and it rains for two months.  Sigh.  Oh well, some peppers will be nice.

We're keeping it fairly low key this weekend, other than me attempting to write a boat load of words. We have dinner plans with friends tonight, but that's pretty much it.  Shawn does not have Monday off, so I plan to write a lot that day.

 Stay tuned.