LA Story & Pinkberry

Ahhhhh the sun, the sea, the sheer niceness that is LA. It was truly a scrumptious couple weeks in LA. We came, we saw, we ate…. oh boy, did we eat. Cookie was with us all the way in our gastronomic hedonism and was a great guide to all the yummy sushi places! After our incredible sushi at Echigo, we continued our sushi odyssey, concentrating on traditional sushi places (places that eschew the fancy spicy tuna rolls and california rolls, and even go so far as to instruct you when not to use soy sauce, or how much to use!). On Tuesday we went to Sugarfish – Kazunori Nozawa’s ‘diffision line’ of restaurants. His motto is ‘Trust-me’ – and so has only 3 menus to choose from – all omakase (chef’s choice). Wednesday we went to Hama – a little place in Little Tokyo which, for atmosphere and sheer enjoyment was our favourite pick. We sat at the sushi bar in the tiny wood panelled room, and gobbled up all the sushi that the chef made then passed over the counter onto our waiting plates, all the while chatting to us about this or that, and surreptitiously passing us extra cuts of fish!  The quality of the fish at Echigo was by far the best (it literally melted in your mouth – when I am a gummy old woman I’m going to eat there every day since I won’t need my teeth!), but Hama gave the best warm fuzzy vibe and had killer handrolls.

We finally did make it to the Getty Centre – an absolute gem of a place. It’s like entering another world – ride the free tram up the mountain to this gorgeous estate – sweeping views, grand vistas, sky gardens… lots of lawn to have a snooze. Lovely place to while away the hours. Afterwards, we headed to Melisse to eat, again. Cookie’s brother Rick joined us; we had a 10 course tasting menu, each dish beautifully presented in its own artful landscape… which we gobbled up rather greedily! I wish I had taken photos. Josiah Citrin, chef/owner came out to greet everyone in the restaurant, though he looked a little harried.  I had to forgo the foie gras (sigh) but had lots of other yummies to make up for it.

Wednesday we left our Malibu hideaway and headed into West Hollywood where we stayed for our last few days in LA. There was knitting, shopping, sitting by the pool, eating peanut butter pinkberry, ordering room service (I had a chicago hot dog – delicious!), OD-ing on too much meat (korean Japanese BBQ and Texan BBQ the next night really wasn’t a great idea, my poor stomach!), and even getting the treat of shaobing youtiao and sweet doujiang – taiwanese breakfast speciality at Huge Tree Bakery in Monterey Park. We met with knitters, and even got to spend a fun evening with my friend Tricia’s brother A and his wife S sampling the beer and having yummy burgers at a place called Stout Burgers and Beer in Hollywood.

We made a trip to Joshua Tree National Park and saw LOADS of Joshua trees, but alas did not see the specific Joshua Tree from U2’s album cover. The park was pretty amazing – DH has a load of gorgeous photos which I’ll share once I’m in HK and have access to the camera’s SD card. The park had been having problems with  ‘aggressive African bees’ which swarmed cars as soon as they stopped, and chased people as well… which meant at the Key View point with huge gorgeous vistas all the way to mexico…. I stayed inside the car, with the windows shut and engine off in 90 degree heat. Thankfully DH didn’t linger too long or I think I would have passed out. I really really REALLY don’t like bees.

DH spent Sunday properly kart racing in an outdoor kart that goes from 0-60 in 3 seconds, while I spent the day in LA hovering around the knitting conference and taking in a last indulgent trip to Intelligentsia – a fantastic coffee place. Ahh the coffee was sooo yummy – had a caramel aftertaste like well made cinder toffee.   The whole LA trip was such a lovely ‘babymoon’- one of the most fun holidays DH and I have shared, and though I was really sad to leave, it was lovely to come home to Deuce who I have sorely missed. His pugginess is snoring out in the hallway as I type.

We had our five month scan when we got back which was pretty exciting. First time DH has actually seen the little one – who incidentally is a little girl blueberry, or pinkberry if you will.  We were given a couple 3d scans, which were rather finicky to take since pinkberry kept holding her hands in front of her face.  The photos are a little creepy and alienesque since the image is bumpy, but it’s still quite fascinating to think that little being is inside me hopping around and doing somersaults (which i can feel on a more regular basis now).

DH left yesterday to head back to HK, so it’s just me and Deuce in the flat now… which doesn’t even look like our flat anymore since all our furniture was sent to HK and we now have rental furniture.  Stupidly we also packed our broadband router which is on its way to HK now, so there has been TV, no music and no internet (sad, eh?).  Thankfully I got my replacement router today, and found my service provider also offers live TV via their website.. so now I have TV and internet. And a mini speaker is on its way so I’ll be able to listen to some music too.  Little things in life can give so much pleasure, no?

Sandy – we are definitely around for Xmas, make sure you get in touch. Will be great to see you and your little one!

Thank you too for everyone’s suggestions re bras! Very helpful… will be heading off this weekend to find myself some comfy bras.  Wheee!

 

 

Sun, Sea & Sushi

It’s been really idyllic here in Malibu. Going to sleep to the sound of the waves and waking up to them is surprisingly soothing.  We lucked out in our apartment – rented sight unseen from a vacation rental place.  It’s right on the beach – this is the view towards Santa Monica:

The inside is simple but cozy and perfectly functional. The kitchen table sits by the window which lets us enjoy the view at breakfast too.

The view to the other side is of the pier. During the day there are alot of surfers and paddle boarders about.

We drove down to Irvine on Saturday, stopping at The Coffee Cup Cafe in Long Beach for a hearty breakfast before continuing down to Irvine’s Diamond Jubilee mall for some yummy ramen at Ajisan with my cousins and their kids.

It was such a treat to meet some of the new additions to the family (wee Z and H) and for DH to meet members of my family he hadn’t yet had the chance to. So I think now DH has pretty much met every single member of my family on both sides.  After lunch we headed to Newport Aquatic Centre where J, DH, C and A  rented kayaks and a paddle board and spent a couple hours in paddling around.

Sunday Cookie arrived and we went off to an indoor karting race track with Cookie’s brother.

Here’s DH coming out of the start

It was a pretty busy track and we saw a couple crashes (no one was hurt though).  DH was in his element talking cars and races with R – who is into racing in a big way.  Cookie said it was the most she’d ever heard DH talk! I think he looks pretty happy here:

After the karting we headed to Shin Sen Gumi, a robatayaki place nearby that specialises in grilled stuff on skewers.  Every customer who enters is greeted by the staff, in Japanese, in unison, then when seated again, and then finally as you leave. It’s pretty loud, but also quite fun.  You can pour a glass of beer for the staff and they down it in one.  Cookie’s brother spent the evening trying to get our waitress tanked – but despite chugging four of five glasses of beer she was cheerfully sober. Pretty impressive.  I wouldn’t want to get into any drinking games with the staff!

Today we indulged in sushi at Echigo – I have never had such incredibly fresh melt in your mouth sushi.  Heaven!  We had the omakase which included instructions for each dish as it was presented – eg. ‘no soy sauce’, or ‘only a a little soy sauce’ etc as each nigiri was paired with a specific sauce. Butter fish had a miso dot on it that combined perfectly with what really was a buttery tasting fish. Tonight is Korean BBQ with hopefully kobe beef. YUM.

We tried to got the Getty Museum afterwards, but our GPS took us on a wild goose chase through some very pretty streets in Brentwood, but ultimately in circles. We finally got there after about an hour….. only to find the museum is closed on Mondays!  Doh! Still it was so nice to see a little slice of normal life – such pretty homes and neighbourhoods.  And I love the Dr Seuss palms – they are so tall and thin!

Deuce meanwhile is doing really well with his walker. He and his new little mini-me Luigi are bonding.  They seem to constantly be together, and even sharing Deuce’s favourite bed.  Sigh. I really would like a little brother for Deuce! How cute would that be?

Lastly – here is a pseudo belly shot… it’s definitely there, and growing.  I think it still just looks i’m sporting a pot belly and not really pregnant, but I’m sure that will change soon enough. I think I felt my first kick on saturday morning – and then again earlier this afternoon.  It’s reassuring but then since they are so fleeting I’m never quite sure if I just imagined them…. again, I’m sure that will change soon enough and I’ll be begging the Blueberry to let mamma have some peace!

The Blueberry

As you know, I’ve got a little bun in the oven.  19 weeks today!

DH and I found out on the 11th of June… since he was heading off to HK rather soon we decided to get a dating scan done to check the age and just assure ourselves that really the two lines meant what we thought they meant.

They did indeed. At 6 weeks, the wee Blueberry was 3.1mm long from crown to rump. We were able to hear a nice strong (fast!) heartbeat. It looked like a featureless armless legless sea monkey.  That finger like thing is Blueberry on the right side of the uterus. It sort of waved at us in time with its heartbeat.

Scan number 2 was at 12 weeks. Sadly DH wasn’t able to be there with me (he got updates via iphone) but my good friend B joined me and we both marvelled at the now very clearly baby shaped being inside me.  It bounced around, kicking with its arms and legs, and we saw cross sections of its head, and watched the blues and reds of blood flow in and out of various places. Wild stuff.

So far the pregnancy has been great.  I was super tired in the first trimester but that’s gone away now in the second trimester.  Luckily I’ve experienced no morning (or evening) sickness, no nausea. I have noticed I have a lot less tolerance and patience which is exacerbated if I don’t get enough sleep.

Other than the short fuse, in general my hormones have settled down a fair bit since the first three months – the occasional bursting into tears  brought on by odd things like commercials with fluffy puppies has thankfully stopped.  No weird cravings, and no desire to stuff my face either.  In general I’m totally off sweet things/junk food.  I just find I’m not all that keen on it – unless it really is amazing (Jeni’s salted caramel ice cream did hit the spot).

I did a cartwheel (mentally at least) when I found official support for my conclusion (based on research – I do try to make informed decisions based on facts and logicrather than simply pulling info out of my butt or parroting hearsay) that it was fine to eat sashimi (scroll down to the sushi bit – I LOVE sashimi. SO happy).  Rare steak gets a green light too which is just as well – growing up in cattle country has instilled in me a great aversion to grey meat.  I’m pleasantly surprised at how unlike being pregnant the pregnancy has been so far.

Our next scan is on the 27th of Sept when we find out if it’s a little boy or little girl. Very excited.

Men stop reading now.  Or anyone who does not want to hear me talk about boobs and over the shoulder boulder holders…..The one thing that I am NOT excited about is the constant buying of bras. I find those things are danged uncomfortable now, and I seem to need a new size every couple of weeks!  My rib cage has expanded 6 inches already.  I expected my belly to grow, and the boobs (and they are doing that too) but I did not expect my rib cage to accordion out so quickly, so buying bras is a pain in the …. boob.

 

Brussels!

As part of the KN tradition, after the event we usually take a few days and chill – this year Anne Hanson, Cookie, Carole & I headed to Brussels for a few days of beer and chocolate.

Here are Cookie and Anne, with a bag of chocolate in the main square. We’re pretty happy and hyped up on chocolate.

Carole and Mousie (both of whom were part of the Paris party last year) also enjoying a dose of chocolate induced endorphins.

We did what tourists ought in the lovely city – we had fries with ketchup and mayo.

Saw the little mannekin pis. Apparently people gift him clothes and he has multiple sets to change into every week.

Dominique (to the left of Cookie) met us in Antwerp where Cookie got all fashionista on us and tried on some lovely hats. This one so suited her – sadly she opted not to take it home.

We also visited Momu’s Unravel exhibition, which examined the changing relationship between fashion and knitwear.

These socks were designed by Vivienne Westwood – interestingly they were knit flat and seamed up the back, then embroidered and embellished.

The garments pushed boundaries. Some were plain weird, some innovative in structure, some were risque.

Some were just downright gorgeous.

Dominique took us to eat proper belgian waffles – apparently the old fashioned waffle houses are few and far between. Waffelhuis Van Hecke Ijssalon has been in the same place for more than 40 years, and is the oldest waffle house in Antwerp! The business itself was established in 1905.  The waffles are not the liegeois waffles that you find everywhere on the streets of brussels – those weird sweet cakey waffles.  These guys are yeasted (not too dissimilar from the recipe I posted a while back), and baked in a hot iron.  The batter itself isn’t very sweet – it was light and fluffy and came fresh of the irons piled high with strawberries. A generous dollop of whipped cream finished the dish off. I polished the whole thing off myself (hey a pregnant woman’s gotta eat, right?) and I was rather sad when I came face to face with an empty plate. I wish it had lasted longer!

Wedding Bells

This is the second time I’ve visited Ohio – the first was a while back for a visit to my BFF Susan and a visit to TNNA a couple years ago.  I was super impressed back then with Jeni’s ice cream but didn’t have much impression of Columbus apart from some super cocktails at Martini and a great array of food at the North Market just opposite the convention centre.

Well this trip we’ve been able to see a little more, and explore a little more around Columbus. I tell you this city rocks.  The food scene is amazing – alot of slow food, great produce, some amazing restaurants and even more amazing restauranteurs (like Elizabeth Lessner, Columbus’s ‘Queen of Green’ whose family of restaurants have as their aim to be ‘zero waste’ business).

And lots of artisan root beer!!

This morning we had breakfast at North Star Cafe in the Short North district – and I had the best pancakes I have ever had, hands down. Ricotta pancakes – fluffy, light, tasty.

David had a dish with buttermilk biscuits that were what I dream scones to be like, but which so often aren’t. Rich, buttery, light and crumbly inside, lovely crust outside… delicious with jam and sinful with butter.  Yummm….

The Short North district was a great place to stroll –  a mere few minutes walk from our hotel – it’s a great example of urban revitalisation. Lots of independent business – restaurants, cafes, galleries, home decor shops,  and beautiful public art murals.  There were artists dotted around the area just painting on easels – it had such a nice laid back vibe.

Tree made of plastic bags:

And I just love the architecture – there is something about homes built during the 1860s-1920s – Victorian, Colonial Revival, American Foursquare… there’s just something so beautiful about them – like they are full of promise and hope.   One of my favourite houses in the world was a big old house on Elbow Drive in Calgary -it had this huge wrap around porch… sadly it’s been completely renovated. I wish I had taken a photo before the outside had been completely revamped.

I’m waffling – apologies my brain really isn’t working properly anymore. I forget what I am babbling about halfway through sentences and fumble fingers have started (I dropped a full glass of water today… for no good reason. Sign of things to come i guess).  The main reason we are here in Ohio is to celebrate my brother-in-laws wedding today.

The ceremony was held at Kelton House in the garden.  The weather was perfect – sunny and warm.  Photos were taken at the Topiary Garden nearby – where the topiary is carved into a 3d scene of Georges Seurat’s painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grand Jatte.  After the photos we headed back to the house for a BBQ fest – pulled pork, pulled brisket, and amazing BBQ sauce, hickory smoked chicken, baked beans, corn bread…. heaven.  I had a pulled pork sandwich slathered in BBQ sauce… if Blueberry (what I call baby to be) hadn’t been taking up half the space my stomach normally is in I so would have had seconds!

The day was just perfect –  lovely people, great convivial atmosphere, relaxed, laid back, and just.. well, full of love.  The marquee tent was strung with fairy lights, and as the speeches got underway it started to rain. There is something so cozy and romantic about being under a tent lit by fairy lights and candles, with a group of friends and family.  Kind of like that scene in Sound of Music with Liesl and Rolf when they get caught in the rain and run to the veranda and of course, as you do, sing to each other (“You are sixteen, going on seventeen”). Warm fuzzies.

Sadly DH came down with a cold (bound to happen, first holiday of the year) a day after arriving, and so we left early; but not before I met Esther who has been reading my blog for a couple years now! So wild. Hi Esther! :D

And because I miss him so much, here is a photo of Deuce (red harness) and his new little friend Luigi (black harness).  Doesn’t Deuce look so happy?  I think I really must get him a little friend when we get to HK.

Knit Nation 2011

Ahh long lost blog – I’ve missed you!  Jet lag, that is, waking at 5am in Ohio (I’m here for my brother-in-law’s wedding) is a blessing in disguise. What better time that to catch you all up on my slightly crazy last few months?

Our biggest news is this (found out on the 11th June 2011):

Oh yes, the two lines do mean what you think they mean. We are expecting, due 8 February.  So far so great, except, well, pregnancy hormones wreak havoc with day to day life… and bigger events! Which brings us to Knit Nation.

This July we had our second Knit Nation at Imperial College.  I need to thank several people and businesses – the first of which, and the most important, are our volunteer Crew.  Due to the above, I was crazy tired and incredibly cranky.  Michaela, who deserves special mention as the ultimate organiser ever, was the person who marshalled the forces and made sure everyone knew the where whens and whats of their volunteer roles.  The crew – who were amazing, kept me sane, kept me awake, and kept me from bursting into tears when I couldn’t have my morning breakfast baguette (yes I was also rather unreasonable and a bit of a drama queen as well as a total crankypants).  And of course, most importantly, they did a fantastic job of making sure the attendees, teachers and vendors were well looked after. A big huge thank you and sloppy kisses to all of the crew!

From left to right, back row: Sandy, Tina, Jaq, Lisa, Judith, Lucy, Carole, Saira, Tash, Michaela, Nora, Mel, Cookie. Front row: Mel H, Kerri, Jen, Ali, Koki, Alice.  Missing are: Tricia, Ling, Kate, Hattie, Nick, Dee, Marja, and our break down and build up movers and shakers Luke, Melissa & Paul.

And again from the back. ;)

We also want to thank our incredible sponsors Knitting Magazine and Ysolda for their continued support for Knit Nation. Thank you!

Our bingo night raised over £1600 for Refuge – which we could not have done with out the support of our generous sponors: Qiviut sponsors The Knitter & Knitspot, Cashmere sponsor The Little Knitting Company, and Merino sponsors Old Maiden Aunt, Signature Needle Arts, and A&C Black publishers. You can join us in raising more money for Refuge by picking up one of the bingo souvenir bags here.

And here are some random and fun shots! Lucy (our Wollmeise expert and *ahem* slight addict) with t-shirt she hand embroidered. It’s true too!

We had our very first Sokkusu Original stand – with all our lovely colours!

Queues outside for the Marketplace.

Even the local cops were curious – we didn’t get needles in their hands… next time!

The cutest little owls! I thought I tweeted it but drat I didn’t so here is a big thank you to KnitIam’s talented son Keane (12 years old) who crocheted these lovely little guys as gifts. Talented!! And oh so sweet. Thank you!

Happy Judith with cooooffeeeee!

There were also alot of Spritelings out and about – I didn’t manage to take that many photos but here are a few with details when I remembered to ask!

Elisala knitted hers in Sokkusu Original, HB2