2011 Retrospective

It’s become a little tradition of mine to look back on the year just past as we start the new one – partly because I have a memory like a sieve (not helped at all by pregnancy brain), but also to take some time and appreciate all the good in life. Glass half full and all – though I feel like 2011 has been more like cup runneth over. This year has easily been one of my most exciting so far and I’d really like to remember all the wonders in years to come.

January we rang the new year in with our nearest and dearest and an Arkansas BBQ. There was some seriously competitive Wii table tennis and bowling amongst the cowboys and sheriffs. We got a waffle iron and found the best waffle recipe ever which we’ve been using ever since. My poor teeth from all that maple syrup! Cookie A and Anne Hanson crossed the pond to join the Socktopus Cornwall Retreat, and the first of the year’s Knit Love Club kit went out with the very first Club edition of Sokkusu yarn.

February the big news was Libya’s civil war, and trying to get my dad evacuated from Tripoli.  Working continued at a hectic pace for my book, reading, proof reading, rewriting, checking, tech editing…. not to mention all the sample knitters busily knitting all the socks to be photographed.  Signed a contract on a new dye studio space for Sokkusu.

In March was the terrible earthquake in Japan, the tsunami and Fukushima the nuclear melt down.  Photo shoots for my book, and my cousin J’s baby Scott coming into the world. Moved into the new studio space. Knit Nation class schedule went up.

April was the month we first had an inkling Hong Kong was on the cards. The Royal Wedding took place, giving us a whole lotta long weekends and myself a rather bad hangover from too many margaritas.

May lovely Sandy came from Sweden for a visit and a dye class at the studio.  I went for a quick jaunt across the channel to Paris with Michaela and Yuvee to visit L’Oisivethe our Paris stockist of Sokkusu-O.  Knit Nation sign ups went live.

In June Loopy Ewe had their first sneak-up of Sokkusu-O.  Days before DH leaving for Hong Kong, we found out we were expecting a wee one.  Deuce had a nose job in preparation for our move to Hong Kong in October.  Knit Nation preparation in full swing!

July Cookie arrived to help with the preparation for Knit Nation.  Knit Nation in a flurry of yarnie and knitterly fun came and went too quickly. I had an amazing team of volunteers for which I was truly grateful – though I had no morning sickness I was very very VERY crabby alot of the time, and strangely aggressive (my driving during that period is not something I am proud of).  Spent a lovely few days in Brussels with Anne, Cookie & Carole, eating way too many chocolates, peppered with 6 hour naps as I was crazy tired.  Had my 3 month ultrasound and blood test for Blueberry – which turned out fine. Huge relief.  Then off to Hong Kong to see hubby and flat hunt!

August passed in a whirr of house packing stuff – replacing worn carpets, getting estimates for packing, finding a stager to furnish the flat (since we took all the furniture with us when we moved to HK) – and naps. Lots and lots of naps!

September DH came home for the actual packing, then we headed off for a last baby-less vacation.  My brother-in-law got married in Columbus, and we followed up with a babymoon in Malibu and a few days in West Hollywood feasting on delicious sushi.

October marked my last weeks in London.  Two glorious weeks visiting favourite places and hanging with friends, and my book launchLing came on board as production dyer extraordinaire and keeper of the London fort – a welcome addition to the Socktopus team.  Then the big move to Hong Kong with four huge cases and Deuce in towAdopted Meimei a teeny rescue pup who against all odds lived when the vets thought she wouldn’t make it. We unpacked a lot of boxes. And then unpacked some more. I started to bake, alot. Comfort and all that, plus an awesome kitchen that begged to be used. My cousin Christine got married.

In November my goddaughter turned 6.  My mom came to visit (got lots of TLC!) and we flashmobbed Lan Kwai Fong.  There was a lot of furniture torture shopping and unpacking. Cookie came to visit with her hubby and we did a sponsored walk (for me a waddle) down from the Peak to Lan Kwai Fong in aid of Hong Kong Dog Rescue.

December saw my cousin Ed married to Shau-ru.  I really hate missing weddings – they are important rites and a rare opportunity for family to get together.  Luckily we have a family reunion already planned for next year so I’ll get a chance to see all the cousins I missed in December, plus new additions to the family.  We had our first Christmas in Hong Kong. Did some crazy last minute gift knitting and churned out a a jumper for DH in 6 days. Deuce & Meimei began properly playing with each other.  Good sign for next year when Blueberry joins us. And my friend J had a baby girl! What a lovely way to end the year.

Resolutions

As 2011 draws to a close and a shiny new year opens up before us I thought it would be a good time to have a look at my New Year’s resolutions for 2011 and see how I did:

The Good:

  • ::eek:: update my stash page on Ravelry which is now about 2 years out of date:  I updated my stash page (after a serious culling before I moved to HK) so it is up to date.
  • add projects I’ve knit to Ravelry along with photos: Along with updating my stash page, I also photo’d and listed all my WIPs and cleaned up all the WIPs that I no longer have or were frogged.
  • cook more: since moving to Hong Kong I definitely bake more. That counts, right?
  • read more blogs more regularly: This is my part of my morning ritual now, though come February next year I’m afraid my morning ritual is likely to change significantly!

The Bad:

  • create (and use!) a gift knits schedule to avoid 3am crazed and blurry eyed last minute knitting: Um, I did avoid 3 am blurry eyed knitting for Xmas, and I did create a gift knit schedule… but it was completely crazed last minute knitting (only one, but it was a jumper that I finished a day late).
  • be more diligent and less hedonistic about working on and finishing personal knitting projects. Have less than 5 knitting works in progress (WIPs) at the end of the year: Oops – I have 12. But I ::feel:: like I’ve been more diligent on finishing personal projects… does that count? AND all the WIPs I have are ones that I want to finish….
  • give my post titles better names – makes the retrospective slightly easier! Some of the post titles were easier for me to identifiy, but not all since I totally forgot about this resolution. Oops!
  • do my taxes on time Um, they were submitted, mostly on time…

The Ugly:

  • blog at least 4 times a week: Epic fail. April, May, June I didn’t even manage once a week – and July and August not at all! I sort of picked up again in the fall after moving here…
  • no more missing people’s birthdays! Make a list and use the thing: Epic fail. I don’t even know where that list is.
  • ski more Another epic fail – but for good reason! Can’t be skiing with this huge belly. Next season though I’m on the hills for sure! I just hope my Strolz boots still fit.
  • make it to Monday knit nights more Bleh.  Didn’t do so well on those….
  • cycle more so I can go on cycle trips with hubby! Another bleh.  Still, I feel like I have a pretty good excuse!  LOL Blueberry my scapegoat….

My 2012 Resolutions:

Apart from the usual resolutions to try harder, be better, do more, these are my resolutions for the coming year:

  • Blog at least 4 times a week.
  • Finish my 12 current WIPs by the end of the year
  • Make a Gift Knits Schedule BEFORE the 18th December. In fact, plan the schedule by the 1st September, buy yarn in September and start knitting by 1 October
  • Keep Rav stash up-to-date.
  • Keep Rav projects page up-to-date.
  • Knit 3 pairs of socks for myself
  • Stay me when Blueberry comes into the world.  I’d hate for her to think I’m someone else.
  • Remember birthdays and key dates. I’m going to have to print my own calender for this….

 

Danishes and Musical Beds

Have I told you yet how much I love our kitchen? As soon as the estate agent showed me the kitchen in the flat, I knew I wanted to live here. It has a great big island in the middle – nice & long so there is space for a fruit bowl and random bits, while still leaving more than enough work space.  When you have the work space it’s hard not to want to use it. I’ve rediscovered my love/obsession for baking and experimenting in the kitchen. Last week I wanted to make a coffee cake – but not just any coffee cake, a danish braid coffee cake. Which led me to do a bunch of research and reading on laminated pastry and making danish dough.

Sunday I made the dough (don’t ask how much butter. It was LOTS), which was quite an exercise. First you take a couple blocks of cold butter and beat it (literally) into submission and roll out a square block of it.  Then you take the dough, roll out a slightly larger square of it, and put the butter block on it.  Fold it like a letter, then roll out out again.  Fold again, roll. Chill in fridge, then repeat the folding, rolling, folding, rolling process again. Repeat the entire process twice more – for lots and lots of layers- hence the name laminated dough.  Boy are my arms sore!  You can sort of see the layers in the cross section above. I didn’t have a danish pastry recipe so used a brioche recipe instead. I think I need to do it properly next time.

After resting the dough in the fridge over night, this morning I made danishes. Lots and lots of them. My favourite kind of danish is the one with bright yellow lemon curd. I made the curd it in the microwave – and it turned out fantastic.  So easy. 5 minutes total.

My first danishes were too small and I baked them too long – they ended up really crunchy, like pie crust. Nice and flaky, but not quite what I was after. I made chocolate chip ones and lemon curd ones, and glazed them with icing.  Despite not being what I was after I still managed to eat four of them!

I made another one which would have been much better if I hadn’t forgotten about it in the oven. It was still tasty, not as crunchy as the first lot since I’d made the second one bigger, but definitely crunchier than I wanted. So now I’m onto attempt three with the last of the danish dough.  They turned out okay, but I think I didn’t work the detrempe (the dough bit of the butter and dough laminate) properly – the finished products look sort of lumpy.  I made a pain au chocolat and some more lemon curd danishes and cherry jam one.  I’m sure though they’ll be fine for breakfast with a cup of coffee. Ugly but tasty. Will work on the aesthetics when I try again later in the week with a proper danish pastry recipe, once my arms have recovered from the work out on Sunday!

Seeing Meimei day to day, I know she’s growing and can see that her legs are longer and sturdier than they were, but it’s only when I look at photos that I see  just how much Meimei has grown. This is how big she was when I got her just over a month ago.

And this is how big she is now! She is well on her way to catching up with Deuce in size.

I’m finally getting into a bit of a routine at home with the little monkeys.  Morning we play – well, Deuce and I watch Meimei do circuits around the living room stopping here and there to play with toys and random things she finds, then running off to another toy, or running to her potty area to do a lap inside then run out again. It’s amazing how much energy she has! Then after lunch she and Deuce both nap the afternoon away while I do my knitting and catch up on emails etc.  Lately the monkeys have been playing musical beds.  This is the bed I got Meimei a couple weeks ago, which Deuce likes to think fits him.

I think Meimei knows how ridiculous it is for Deuce to wedge himself in there.

This is where I usually find them in the morning when I’m in the kitchen (the beds are right outside the kitchen door) when Meimei takes a break from her busy schedule racing around the living room.

Then in the afternoon, they swap. Meimei seems quite smug about getting the bigger bed. The second ring shrunk when I washed it so it’s just a wee snug for Deuce. I don’t think he minds much.

Sometimes if I’m working in the kitchen, they’ll come and join me there.  This was the first time I’d seen them both lying next to each other by choice.  It was in the evening while we waited for DH to come home.  I missed the shot of Meimei lying sprawled on her back sleeping next to Deuce, also snoozing.  DH came home just then and Meimei woke up and ran off to greet him followed closely by Deuce. I wonder if they’ll ever snuggle up next to each other? Will have to keep the camera at the ready just in case.

From Fitflops to Uggs

Congrats to my cousin E who is getting married today in California. Sadly couldn’t make the wedding (a long haul flight at 30 weeks would have been torture!) but sending him and his soon to be wife the happiest of wedding wishes.

Yesterday I was walking Deuce in jeans and a zipped up fleece and I was cold. Could have also been the flip flops I was wearing! The weather has continued to cool – just last week was flip flop and sleeveless top weather, but we’ve moved beyond that now.

Time to break out the Uggs and my warm wool/cashmere/alpaca cardi-coat. DH kept telling me I’d have no need of it in Hong Kong… glad I ignored him and got the coat anyway. Also ordered some shearling slippers  in preparation for when the flat starts to cool down inside as well. 

I got a pair similar to the one above from a Finnish market about 12 years ago and have always had a pair since – LOVE them!!  Seriously, wearing shearling against your bare feet is absolutely the best way to keep your toes warm and toasty.  Wearing cotton socks, especially if your feet tend to perspire, will just result in cold feet.

Say hello to my old friend Joe.  Mmmmm hello old friend, how I’ve missed you!!

I  finally got the urge for a morning latte again and did a thorough clean of our old Gaggia machine yesterday. DH made some mean lattes this morning for breakfast. Frank the Tank had it right:  “Tastes so good when it touches my lips!” Paired with the cinnamon swirl coffee cake I made yesterday and the morning paper on our dining table made for quite a civilised breakfast! I love sitting at the table – this is the first time we’ve had cushioned dining chairs – so comfy!

There has been knitting… but alas it’s all suuuper sekrit stuff. Will be able to show pics in a few weeks time. :)

For Meimei & Deuce fans – another short vid. I love the bit where she runs and hides behind the stuffed bear under the table, then peeks out to see where Deuce is at.  Such a mischievous imp! If you’d like to donate to HKDR there still two days before the next draw from my book. :)

Flashmobbing & Round the Island Race

Have had a busy but fun filled weekend. Saturday my mom, hubby and I joined a flash mob in Lan Kwai Fong – learning a set of dance moves to go with “Who Let the Dogs Out” as a promotional event for next weekend’s Hong Kong Dog Rescue big fundraising day Peak to Fong.

We arrived at the amphitheatre tucked away behind Lan Kwai Fong and set to practising the moves – which were rather complicated! It was quite alot of fun though – a whole group of people basically doing aerobics in the Hong Kong heat. I totally didn’t think that perhaps being almost 7 months pregnant maybe I should have brought some water to drink? LOL like I said, I often forget I’m pregnant. Thankfully Lisa one of the organisers noticed my bump and brought a bottle of water for me. So sweet!

We practiced for 2 hours, which was itself quite alot of laughs. DH found himself facing the whole group when he should be facing the other way quite alot, and of course all the fast moves were totally lost on me! I just could not move that fast! At the end we were split into groups – very coordinated to less coordinated. We opted for the less coordinated group, which was also the last group to enter the mob and the group which had the fewest moves to remember. Suited us just fine.

We had to wear jackets or tops to cover up the promo t-shirts we were given to wear… and the only things we had were our fleece jackets for me and David (navy and black) and a beige trenchcoat for my mom! Boy were we hot. We had 20 minutes to kill after practice (and had to wear our jackets the whole time) so we went to Haagen Daaz and had some ice cream to cool down. We found ourselves a table on the pavement outside Stormies, which was just opposite all the action, and settled in for our cue – a DJ move and then a dog howl – when we joined the mob and promptly forgot all our moves so basically just jumped around and enjoyed the vibe.

Here’s the video – can you spot me?

Today DH rowed the Zoke Round the Island Race in a four man scull. The quad switched rowers half way round so DH rowed the second half. My mom and I went to meet them at the Middle Island club house. We walked along the seafront promenade and there is a pick up point where you stand, and the club house ferry comes along to pick you up. Very James Bond! You can see the pick up point on the left of the photo (where the handrails go into the water) and the club house on the other side, sort of looks like part of a cruise ship embedded in the rockface.

There weren’t very many rowing boats (I think only 4) but there were something like 19 outriggers – sort of like canoes but with a stabilising arm thing attached to the boat. You can click to embiggen the photo to see some of the teeny outrigger boats and sculls.

Then there were the sail boats which all congregated in one place for a while, I think while waiting for the wind to pick up. Sadly it was hazy this morning so the photos aren’t super clear (this one is from my mom’s camera). Still, you can definitely see all the sail boats and dinghies.

My two berries are doing well – Blueberry is growing crazily (my belly button hasn’t yet popped but in another month I am sure it will) and I think I am close to the waddling stage, if not there already.  Meimei has grown to twice the size she was when I first brought her home and has started to run here and there finding things to play with and chew on.  I love watching her run – she looks a little like a rabbit since she sort of hops more than runs.  Today she had a bit of a scare when she tried to play with Deuce as he was eating dinner.  I don’t think she’ll be doing that again any time soon – he was quite fierce when he told her off and she ran out of the kitchen whining and crying.  It took a little while to calm her down. Of course, as soon as Deuce came out into the living room she was back to her old antics and trying to lure him into playing with her, nipping at his balls (which are the perfect height for her to bite, poor Deuce) and trying to nip his ears. Deuce, ever the cool cucumber, sort of puts up with her and just let her get on with it.   Another check up tomorrow for Blueberry – at which I hope there will be no more blood tests!