Wednesday, June 29, 2011

WIP Wednesday: baby surprise

I am friends with a lot of great people, and a number of them have produced children over the years. In fact it seems like there's a never-ending supply of pregnant people in my life!

One of my favorite persons is having a baby later this summer. She's a knitter and has a lot of knitters in her life, so I want to make something special, but a little different. I think this is just the ticket. I'm going to remain vague about the specifics until it's completed and mailed off. (which is a hint in and of itself!)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

WIP Wednesday: cookie socks, continued

I've made good progress on this sock! Too bad I need to make two of 'em. On the plus side, it's an interesting, complicated pattern. On the minus side.. yeah, it takes some serious concentration!

Actually, considering how busy my spring/summer has been, this is pretty decent progress after about a month.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Honduras report: The days after

The trip to Honduras was divided into two parts: Thursday-midday Sunday was wedding stuff; midday Sunday through the following Thursday was bonus vacation time! Four friends and I booked a three-bedroom condo at Infinity Bay, on the other side of the island from our first set of lodging. (In addition, five new friends from the wedding were also staying in the area!)

Infinity Bay was quite nice - vastly bigger than our first place, but it has an infinity pool! And a swim-up bar! And beach access for snorkeling!
To be honest, they had me at "swim-up bar" - some part of me has always wanted to experience this! That little hut to the left if the bar - accessible via land on three sides, and from the pool on the side facing us in the picture. And yes, drinking in a pool is kind of awesome, especially when it's hitting 100 degrees.

An unexpected benefit of moving to the other side of the island is that we got to see the sun sink into the ocean each evening - it was different and amazing every night.

There was also a bit more variety of things to do on that part of the island - for example, we met an eccentric Canadian guy who sold everything and moved to Roatan to build and operate a floating bar. Of course we had to check out the Reef Rider!
 Note those clouds - they are not threatening, they are promising a rain storm. Sure enough, we got massively dumped-upon as we water-taxiied back to our beach. Fortunately we all found it quite hilarious (but all had to change before going out to dinner...except the birthday girl, who was kept dry by the overhang on the taxi!).

Our wedding hosts hired some fire dancers to give us a private show on the beach. I was delighted to see them doing a weekly performance one night, so I could actually get a chance to take some pictures of them working their magic.
I was ready to leave when our week was over - mostly because I was tired of continually applying sunscreen and bug repellent - but it was a wonderful week of swimming, snorkeling, hanging out with friends, seeing a lovely couple unite in marriage, and, of course, drinking a billion monkey la-las!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

WIP Wednesday: oh yeah, that sweater

So yeah, I started a sweater around the beginning of the year, and ripped it all out at the end of March. I got right back on the needle (or something!) and have made decent progress.

This is the body, take two:

And here are the arms, so far:
Decent progress, if I look at it objectively. I really really really want to get into new territory with this project, but that's a while away, because I'm also knitting at least two other projects, and sort of stumbled on a yarn sale recently. I love when that happens!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Honduras report: Wedding

As I mentioned in passing, I went to Honduras to attend a wedding! It was my first real tropical vacation ever and I highly recommend them.
Location of the Friday-afternoon beach wedding.
We all went to the island Roatan, 30 miles north of mainland Honduras. It's super easy to access - there are flights from Houston several days per week. The wedding party was the perfect size: the 28 or so of us fully booked the resort, Barefoot Cay.

I think all of us enjoyed the fact that we were all somehow associated with the bride & groom, and we easily fell into conversation at meals or in the pool; no one felt like a stranger for long!

The staff at the resort were super nice and they added all sorts of personal touches, from the couples' initials in the salsa (which no one wanted to disturb!) to cute little towel decorations in our lodgings.
Possibly best of all, I went scuba diving. Repeatedly. You may recall that I found it stressful (to say the least) when I was learning, but I am SO glad I put in the time and effort.
This is "my" boat - I went out three times while staying at Barefoot Cay, and was the only paying guest each time. If you look closely you can see that the seats on the boat are designed to hold many air tanks, so they could take out an awful lot of people if they wanted! My dive master (Delphine, who was awesome) said the policy at Barefoot Divers is that they take a maximum of 8 people at a time - so I was so lucky to be the only one going out. Delphine was especially helpful in giving me quick lessons in how to control my buoyancy better. It's really really interesting to spot something ahead & below, and to navigate down and over it just by exhaling and exhaling some more, lessening the volume of air in your lungs, and sinking accordingly. Scuba diving really is like flying, but it's a bit trippy if you think about it too hard (60 feet below the surface ... breathing through a piece of plastic hosing...yikes!).

All in all I went on seven dives when I was on my trip: it is a world of difference to dive off the back of a boat in warm waters. I still wore a wetsuit, but it was only 3mm and was shorts & shortsleeves, with no (claustrophobia-inducing) hood required. Plus stepping (or, later, falling backward) off a boat into the water made me feel like a rock star!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

WIP Wednesday: Nocino 2.0

Do you remember when I was obsessed with making nocino last year? I don't seem to have reported on the eventual outcome: despite my skepticism, it actually came out pretty tasty! I didn't intend to make any more, though, at least not this year - until I was at the Ferry Building and saw a stand selling blueberries, cherries, ...and green walnuts. Score!!!! When happenstance beckons, I certainly answer.

Since I haven't begun to get through last year's triple batch, I bought enough green walnuts (30) to make ONE BATCH. And I decided to go nuts (heh) and buy some really good vodka this time around. (I bought the $7/bottle crap at Trader Joe's last year.)

I will use the same recipe as last year, but based on my blog-notes, I will also use the technique recommended by this one.  I will tone down the volume of sugar a bit, as I'm only using 750 ml, not a full liter of vodka.

1) quarter the walnuts and add to a glass jar
2) sprinkle sugar over and let sit for a day or two
3) cover with the sugary walnuts with booze
4) add the following spices: 2 cinnamon sticks, 5 whole cloves, 1/3 vanilla bean, 1 star anise, 1/4 tsp grains of paradise
5) let steep for a while, shaking occasionally (I'm going to be away for a while and feel silly getting a booze-sitter)

I've got the spices sitting out right now and wow.. .they sure smell like the end product. I wonder what the walnut-infused vodka alone tastes like?

Monday, June 6, 2011


Hello June! I'm back from an amazing trip to Honduras - I highly recommend a visit to Roatan if you're looking for a sunny tropical vacation with amazing snorkeling!

I took June's calendar picture after a steep walk up into the hills a few miles from my place. The views up there are amazing for sure, and the yards are full of flowers. I'm not sure I would want to be quite so far from a flat place to walk though!
Long after I took this picture, I realized there was a teeny tiny worm in the center of the daisy!