January 2012


New BikeThis weekend I got a new bike! I’m so excited about this. It’s an Electra Amsterdam model. It’s a great little cruiser bike that I can ride to work and the grocery store and the library and the farmer’s market. Which is great exercise for me, and a great for the environment. I spend a good portion of my life traveling within a five-mile radius of my house and the weather where I live is great, so there’s no reason for me to drive as much as I do. And with the saddlebags I bought to go on the rack in the back, I can carry a ton of stuff home from the market and stuff.

It’s a beautiful bike that rides really smoothly. The gearshift is like butter, and the coaster-break works really well. I took a seven-mile ride around my neighborhood today after the rain cleared up this evening, and I remembered how much I love riding a bike. I haven’t ridden one since I was a kid, but it’s so nice to be flying along. The fruit trees in the tract are blossoming all white, the air was so clear after the rain, and the clouds were just beautiful, especially once the sun started setting.

I love it when life lines up so that something you really and truly enjoy is also good for you and good for the environment. One of my goals this year was to reduce my ecological impact, because as I said in my first post, I have some bad habits. In addition to reducing the driving I do, I’ve started shopping more locally (farmer’s markets are awesome) and completely stopped using the disposable cups at work for my tea (seriously, they’re freaking styrofoam–ick!). They’re small changes (especially the cups), but I’m thinking of this as the beginning. And it feels like a good one.

Love at First Sight!Last night I went to my knitting group for the first time in years. I’ve been doing tons of shows, so a Wednesday night where I don’t have rehearsal or something is rare. But last night I was free, so I headed out to the Stitch and Bitch. It’s really fun to sit around and talk about knitting and yarn with people. Because non-knitters really do not understand the obsession. It’s nice to know that some people don’t find it crazy to look at pictures of yarn online and to want to squish yarn and to have a knitting to-do list and to spend sometimes 30 dollars on a ball of yarn. (Admittedly, that is a splurge for me, but for some of the really lovely cashmeres and silks and mohairs, it is so completely worth it).

Speaking of expensive yarn, that is the dangerous part of this knitting group. The restaurant where we meet is right next door to an absolutely wonderful yarn shop. As I said before, I don’t usually buy really expensive yarns–I find a lot of perfectly good yarn for relatively little money online. But I can spend hours in a yarn shop, just browsing. And looking is dangerous. I, of course, walked out having spent more than I should have on some lovely Kidsilk Haze, a mohair-silk blend, and some Pediboo sock yarn, which is super soft and will make some great socks. There’s something so wonderfully satisfying about wandering around a knitting store and hunting for the perfect yarn. I can’t wait to make a pretty airy scarf out of the Kidsilk Haze.

My wristlets are progressing nicely as well. The knitting time last night really helped. (It’s easy to be super-productive when everyone is knitting around you.) I should finish one tonight and cast on for the second one.

Other than that, it’s been rehearsing for 42nd Street and prepping for two more auditions. I’m still trying to get over this icky cold, so I’m not super interesting lately. It’s nesting and knitting and not much else.

Finished cozy socksI’ve been sick for the past week. I started feeling under the weather on Monday, and by Thursday, I was seriously ill. So I haven’t been doing much blogging. But I did get to wear my nice new socks. I love these socks, especially because they aren’t identical. I purposely didn’t make the colorway line up on each sock. And I love that the lace pattern is offset to the outside of each sock.

The other thing I did this week was audition. I just closed a show last month. I mostly had a wonderful time doing the show, but the last few weeks, some of the actors made some nasty drama. I love theatre. I love acting and singing and performing. I HATE the nonsense competition, one-up-man-ship, constant self-promotion, and general diva behavior that people seem to think go hand-in-hand with being an actor. I like doing the work and constantly getting better and coming together with people to make something that an audience enjoys. That’s what I love about theatre. And while it would be great if I could become a “working actor” and not have to go to a job I don’t love every day, if I end up never making another penny from acting, that’s okay.

So I decided I needed to do something to cleanse my palate. I went to auditions for a show at a theatre company where I’ve worked before, where the director always makes it feel like a good experience. As I was warming up in the car on the way to the theatre, I realized that I didn’t have the range to sing what I was planning on singing for my audition, due to getting sick. (This was right before I came down with the full-blown illness and was just kind of feeling icky.) I had to change my song at the last minute to another in my book that had a lower range. It definitely wasn’t my best audition, because I hadn’t practiced that particular song in a while, but it wasn’t my worst either. It makes me feel good, because I feel that I’m getting to be a better performer. I’m getting to be better at doing things I haven’t rehearsed a million times. I’m not a believer in “over-rehearsing” but it is nice to be able to speed up my “process” and pick things up a bit faster than I used to.

And then there was the dance call. I do not dance. I am terrible in dance calls. I was going for a non-dancing role though, and I knew I was going to suck, so I decided that I was just going to go in and do whatever I could. It didn’t matter how I did anyway. And it was fun. I’m sure I looked like an idiot, but I enjoyed every minute of it. I didn’t get the role I wanted, but I got another small role, so it’s all good.

But then I woke up the next morning sick as hell and have spent the past few days in bed watching United States of Tara and knitting. It’s back to work tomorrow, and I’m hoping that I’m well enough to get through the day. I was totally stir-crazy today though, so I did go out for a bit and sat in the car, looking at the ocean. And then I went to the bookstore and got some new knitting magazines, just because. Even those few hours out tired me out, so I guess I’ll take it easy the next few days.

I had one of those incredibly productive and domestic kind of days today. First I headed out to the farmer’s market for the week’s shopping. Then we all put away all of the Christmas decorations, which took forever.

After all that work and hoopla, I decided we needed some dessert tonight, so I made the world’s easiest key lime pie ever.

Recipe:

1 14-oz can of sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks
1/2 c of key lime juice.

Mix these all together and then pour into a 9-inch graham cracker pie crust. Bake for 15 minutes at 350F. Let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes, then put it in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve with whipped cream.

Dinner was shrimp tacos with black beans. I just cooked up some shrimp in a skillet with salt, pepper, chili powder, lemon juice, and lime juice. We ate the shrimp with fresh cabbage and mango salsa on corn tortillas. The black beans were easy–just heat a can heated on the stove with some salt and pepper. Yummy and easy.

I didn’t any take any pictures of dinner or dessert though; I was too busy.

Other things I did today:

Finished and blocked my socks
Cast on some matching wristlets of the leftover yarn from the blackrose socks
Laundry
Cleaned my bathroom
Made fried rice for tomorrow’s lunch.

Bento BoxFried rice is one of my favorite ways to use up leftovers. Day-old rice works best, so I usually only make it if we have leftover rice. It’s too much planning to make rice a day ahead. Tonight I used the leftover brown rice from the Chinese takeaway we had for dinner last night. I also used leftover veggies from last night, leftover cabbage from tonight’s dinner, leftover egg whites from the pie, and some carrots I bought today. I followed this basic recipe, but I only used egg whites instead of whole eggs, because that’s what I had. Then I packed them up in my bento box with some grapefruit slices, raspberries, and pomegranate seeds for lunch tomorrow.

The socks are blocking now, and once they’re dry, I’ll post pictures. I can’t wait to wear them.


This is my current favorite song. Amanda Palmer is one of many artists who embodies an aspirational quality for me as an artist. She has this “I don’t care if you like it, here I am” quality about her. She just does thing that are so raw and real and honest and doesn’t seem to worry about what people think of her.

I’m sure she does have her insecurities and doubts–we all do–and I’m not trying to idolize or idealize. But she’s always seemed so fearless. For instance, this story makes her one of my fucking heroes. So what if she can’t play a concerto–she still wins at life and she makes the whole thing work for her by virtue of owning herself.

I am a timid perfectionist. Which is a shitty way to be if you want to be an artist. Learning to play instruments has been particularly difficult for me. I read music and I understand a fair bit of theory. But my clumsy fingers just won’t do what I want them to do. And I don’t want to practice. Not because I don’t like playing, but because I’m embarrassed that people can hear me play so badly. I’m kind of afraid to take lessons, because it means playing for someone on a regular basis, and that is fucking terrifying.

Which is why I like the “Ukulele Anthem” so much. It’s good for me to hear “Stop pretending art is hard” and “Play your ukulele badly” and “Even if your grades are bad, it doesn’t mean you’re failing.” It’s a reminder that there is so much more to life than seeking perfection and trying not to look stupid and worrying about what people think. It embodies what my former partner-in-crime used to tell me. “You can’t get better and look good at the same time.” I probably need to write these things on blackboard over and over, like Bart Simpson.

Part of what I want with this project is to find the joy in what I love again. I’ve had a hard time with my art lately, because so much has not been enjoyable. And a lot of that is due to the pressure I put on myself to be perfect. I want to be more open and specific and fearless and to just do what I love, without worrying so much about how I am perceived. And now, I’m going to quit bitching and go play my ukulele.

Veggies all cut up and ready to roast

All Cut Up and Ready to Roast

I have been craving roasted vegetables lately. Roasting veggies with olive oil is one of my favorite things to do on a chilly winter night. The days have been unseasonably warm for wintertime these past few weeks, but evenings are still pretty cold, so I knew dinner wouldn’t be too heavy for the weather. I chopped up butternut squash, rainbow carrots (yellow, orange, and purple), a variety of fingerling potatoes (gold, red, purple, and orange), and golden beets. I tossed them with olive oil and a little butter, salt and pepper, and some rosemary and roasted at 375°F for about 45 minutes.

Kale

Gorgeous Kale

I also had some beautiful purple kale; it looks almost like a bunch of flowers–almost too pretty to eat. I was actually looking to get green kale, like I usually do, but all of the green kale in the supermarket looked really icky and wilted, while the purple kale was just gorgeous. So I decided to try something new. I braised about half the bunch I bought in butter and veggie broth, and seasoned it with salt and pepper. I’m going to use the rest to make kale chips, one of my other favorite ways to cook kale. for the last touch of dinner, I cooked up some red quinoa in veggie broth then tossed all three together and voila:
Dinner!

Dinner!

Delicious. Paired with a white merlot, it hit the spot on this chilly evening.

Almost a pair of socks I started knitting this sock pattern a really long time ago. Like a really long time ago. And somehow in the middle of the second sock, I just got side-tracked by other projects and the first sock only ended up with a half-completed mate.

It’s a shame, because I love that pattern; I shouldn’t have let it wait so long. I’m a big fan of open-work in socks, and I really enjoy this lace pattern. And I love, love, love the colorway of the yarn I’m using. Lots of pretty rosy-reds, some gorgeous blues, and yellows. Unfortunately, I lost the ball-band for the yarn, so I have no idea what yarn this is or what colorway it is.

Picking up a pattern after you’ve been away from it for a long time can be an awfully frustrating experience. Genius me, I put these socks down in the middle of the gusset set-up, which is not an intuitive place to restart a project. And on top of that, a bunch of stitches slipped off a few of the needles, necessitating some tedious picking up of stitches. It took some patience, but everything is now back where it belongs and I’m on my way to a new pair of cute socks.

More pictures to come when they’re done.

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