Wednesday, September 10, 2008

flirty skirty

When I got up on Saturday morning, I headed straight for my sewing machine to finish this Flirty Skirty apron. I had to get it in the mail that day in time for my sister's birthday today.

We all flew out to Austin for her graduation from Texas Culinary Academy in July. We were so surprised when we read on the program that she was graduating as Suma Cum Laude! Way to go! She's starting a new job with a bakery soon. I thought it would be nice for her to have a bright, cheery apron to wear to start off her work 4 a.m. Baker's hours, yuck!

This is my first hand-made gift. I'll definitely make this apron again, but will have to rethink how to apply the pockets. Hope she likes it. Happy Birthday, Sis!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

press and sew

Even pressing the seams before sewing will take more practice for me. For this project, I had to press 1/8" seam, followed by a 1/4" along the waist and bib of the apron. The curved area was a bit forced and I the seam wasn't consistent in width. I thought it wouldn't matter too much, but when I used my machine's guide lines for 1/4", the fatter part of the seams didn't catch the fabric turned over for the 1/8" fold. In the future, I'll keep an eye for all straight lines for the pattern.

I completed the body and attached the pockets yesterday. I decided to minimize the rick rack to the top of the pockets. I was planning on lining the perimeter of the apron with the rick rack but when I laid it out on the table, it looked a bit too crafty.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

how sweet it is

After a long break full of distractions, I'm finally getting back on the sewing track. During my weekend-long birthday celebration, my family and I found ourselves in Carlsbad and I had to show them the fun fabrics at Sowing Sisters. Barb, my instructor for my first quilt was there and got me excited about taking another class. The others were also caught with the bug, but delegated the projects to me and my mom who are the only ones who know how to sew (though I'd barely call myself a sewer yet). We left with patterns for an Amy Butler purse and two aprons with fabulous fabrics to work on the projects, of course.

Yesterday, my Sowing Sisters sewing sister, Linda (we were in the same quilting class), and I went to the San Diego Quilt Show. We spent the entire first half of the day at the show, leaving with more projects for ourselves. I found an easier apron kit and she's going to take on an Amy Butler quilt kit. We were walking down the aisle commiserating about our rookie quilting woes of lining up seams, so we were both so excited to find the quilt pattern she chose which didn't require lining up any seams! I was tempted to buy one as well, but figured I had plenty on my plate already and needed to get started on those took a lot of restraint to pass up the fabrics/kits I saw. After lunch a yummy garlicky shrimp burrito from Tin Fish across the street, we headed into the scrapbooking event back at the Convention Center which she had passed for.

I'm going to start cutting the fabrics for the Flirty Skirty apron tonight, after my next bass lesson from B. Learning how to play the bass is about as on track as my sewing progress...

I indulged in a summer day of plans to nowhere with B (it's Labor Day weekend after all!) before jumping back onboard the sewing train. We started the day hunting at the swap meet, then found ourselves on a long country drive to Julian. One of our great finds was this original painting titled "How Sweet It Is"...very fitting for our day!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

fair henna

Last weekend, we went to the San Diego County Fair with B's parents who are annual visitors to the garden, wood working and fine arts exhibits. They seemed a bit disappointed with the garden exhibit. Maybe they were less elaborate this year due to drought concerns? I really liked smelling the roses (so fragrant!) and was surprisingly drawn to a red rose with just five petals, the Paul Ecke, Jr. rose. It looked delicate, yet vibrant. Not a very rosy name though, eh? I later found out that he was a local horticulturalist.

We wandered by the animal pens -- floppy-eared bunnies, hornless baby goats and cows, lots of cows -- and were headed toward the wood working exhibit when I saw the henna booth. I've always wanted to have this done at other street fairs, but the lines were always too long. Luckily, my timing was right and I was able to sit in right away. I was really impressed by the symmetry of the free-hand design the henna artist completed. I think it looked better than the picture in their sample book!

They suggest you keep the henna paste on for at least 6 hours. I made it through the fair, then as we sat down to wait for the shuttle to take us back to our car in Solana Beach, I crossed my legs at my ankles and yup, you guessed it, I smudge some of the paste off. Fortunately, it was dry and that part of the design was already absorbed into the skin. I'll just have to wait and see if that area fades sooner than the rest. I'm sure it'll be fine. It's survived about a work week now and is still looking good!

Monday, June 16, 2008

gaucho grad

This past weekend, we drove up to Santa Barbara for my nephew, Nic's, graduation from UCSB...but not before hitting a few thrift stores in the surrounding area. I found more vintage flower pins and need to get crackin' on projects to actually use them. I also found a small vase with blue birds on a birdhouse which I'll use as a pen holder on my desk at Chumby where I started a new job last week. The vase is a bit much, but I am working at a place called Chumby now...

We took a stroll along State St. and popped into Off Leash, a pet apparel store we saw on an episode of The Dog Whisperer. Leave it up to Cesar Milan to let the humans know that they need rehabilitation just as much as the dogs. Turns out, the dog was just being a dog. Neither of the whippets were in the shop...maybe they were napping. We couldn't resist buying a potent smelling catnip cigar for Kirby (I'm a sucker for fun packaging!) which he rolled around with in the backyard the following day. He was surprisingly calm post-catnip, unlike the time my nieces' cat, Pikachu, who ran laps throughout the house during his catnip high.

The marine layer burned off just in time for the graduation which allowed us to enjoy the sun on the beautiful campus grounds as the young, hopeful, talented College of Engineering graduates sat patiently through a less than inspiring commencement speech by Wes Bush, CFO of Northrup Grumman. I'm certain this write up on Nic's senior project for ATK Space Systems is a sneak peek of one of many successes to come in his future career. (okay, just a smidgen of Proud Auntie coming out...)

Following the ceremony, we all hopped onboard the Sunset Kidd which cruised along the coast. Our guesses of the long, single-story structure next to the coastal mansion of the Beanie Babies creator (as we were told by the crew) ranged from an extravagant garage to ballroom to greenhouse. Guess we'll have to wait to be invited over to confirm.

The evening ended with dinner at Olio e Limone where the graduation crowd waiting outside for tables were surprised by a Baldwin brother stumbling into them. Sorry, none of us had any idea which Baldwin he was and were more interested in our celebration and menu choices.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

my little pony party time

I've been wanting to fly a kite for the past three weeks or so. One afternoon, I was determined to buy a kite at the next dollar store we passed. I saw a Big Lots, doubled my budget to $2 and walked out of there with a My Little Pony kite with a long pink tail and "Party Time" printed on it. (Looks someone else has the same kite.) Today was the day for it's maiden flight.

On our way to Balboa Park, we decided to stop in at the zoo and take a peek at the elephants since we hadn't visited them yet. Zoo membership is nice 'cause you can stroll around, see a few animals and come back another day. We stayed longer than expected and checked out Cat Alley, but left before we got tired. There's still kite-flying to do...

We headed down the dirt path in the canyon between Park Blvd. and Florida Dr. just across the street from the zoo. Surprisingly, this was a great place to fly a kite. Lots of wind and no power lines or tall trees to get tangled in! With little effort, it took off and we quickly let up the 50' string. Our first nose dive landed close to cactus and the string got tangled in the tall, dry grasses, so we moved down the path a little ways. Too much of a good thing would've given us neck aches and called it quits after a short while. The kite will stay in my trunk on the ready for future impromptu kite adventures.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Yesterday, I walked to my hair appt. and noticed the price of gas at the station around the corner. $4.45 per gallon.

Here are other items $4.45 can buy you today:

Sunday, June 1, 2008

rock 'n' roll marathon

Of all days to wake up "late" on the weekend, it had to be today. I woke up and took a look at the clock and it was 6:37 a.m. Darn, I missed the start of the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon! I was really looking forward to seeing the running Elvises -- or is Elvi? There was supposed to be a record number of 'em this year.

I heard the T.V. helicopters and screaming just out our window and quickly got dressed. We live just blocks from the start line. When I reached University Ave., the source of the screams were evident...a bunch of, um, cheerleaders in front of Flicks bar. If I was feeling nostaligic for being back home in San Francisco, this would've done the trick to cheer me up. I wasn't feeling nostalgic nor needing to be cheered up and was purely amused by the start of my morning.

Our dragon boat practice was earlier than usual this morning, so I wasn't going to be able to follow the marathon or check out any of the bands. However, my path seemed to follow the course. It was strange to drive down the freeway and have the Southbound lanes of Hwy 163 filled with runners. (ha! caught some Elvises.)

We had quite a workout today. We've never been past the basin in our practices and our substitute coach, Susie, took us twice around the island just off of the Youth Aquatic Center. She mentioned that if we're paddling right, we'll feel it in our muscles tomorrow. great, something to look forward to as reinforcement of doing something right.

One last look at the marathoners at Mile 22 as I turned onto SeaWorld Dr. back onto Hwy. 5 on my way home.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

last-minute pincushion

Over the weekend, I decided to shorten the Barcelona skirt I made last week. I'm 5'3" and the extra length from the pattern was making me look shorter. I sheared off about 6", most of the last tier. I think it might be too short now...part of the learning process.

I had lots of scrap fabric from it and felt like being productive, so I pulled out my Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts book. I'm in need of a pincushion, especially since the plastic magnetic case I've been using has been slowing falling apart. The feet which keep it upright have both fallen off and the case rolls whenever I pull a pin out of it.
During my grocery run, I was pleasantly surprised to find my fave, PEONIES!, greet me in the floral buckets near the store entrance. I do miss buying bunches of these for a buck or less each at the Nicollet Mall Farmers Market in Minneapolis. Since I'd buy them during lunch, my desk looked like a mini floral shop every Thursday afternoon.

Peonies at the market were an indicator that summer is just around the corner. Throughout their blooming season, practically every room in my house would be filled with peonies. The best is seeing them bloom in my yard...I wonder how they're blooming this year. I hope the new owners are enjoying them as much as I did. Almost summer!

Monday, May 19, 2008

skirt of choice

It was a good thing we went to the beach on Friday 'cause this weekend was a scorcher and the beaches were packed. On Friday, we had a large surrounding area all to ourselves...maybe it had something to do with being in the flight path of the military base nearby. We actually thought it was cool to be able to see the underbellies of the jets flying by.

I retreated to the air-conditioned shop at Sowing Sisters for the Skirt of Choice workshop yesterday. Great instructors and service at this shop! Plus, they carry lots of Amy Butler fabrics. I chose the Barcelona layered skirt and used the fabric I picked up last weekend in L.A. I wear A-line skirts all the time and figured it'd be more fun searching for fabrics for a skirt rather than the skirt itself. This skirt is so easy to make especially since the dark printed fabric was so forgiving of not showing any of my stitching flaws.

I don't have a zipper foot (that I know of), so Kerri showed me how to put it on using one of the shop's Janome machines. I want one! They're so smooth and quiet with so many stitch options. I figure I'll learn a bit more on my Brother XL-5600 I picked up at Target a couple of years ago, then upgrade my machine when I can actually put all the bells and whistles to work.

We simply followed the instructions for the zipper from its package and on the pattern worked! My first zipper installed and demistified. Kerri also showed me that my machine has a built in threading system. No more squinting to get the thread through that needle. whoo-hoo!

Making the muslin lining was a cinch! It's the same pattern for the A-line skirt. I don't think I'll have a shortage of skirts this summer.

Friday, May 16, 2008

coronado beach day

While watching the morning news yesterday, we heard that today would be the hottest day of the week and would reach the mid-90s. We decided to have a Beach Day and take our boogie boards out to Coronado Island. It took a while to get acclimated to the 65 degree water sans wetsuits. After a few dunks underwater, we were hanging out past the surfline for any rideable, though smallish, waves. We left when our sand structure was engulfed by the incoming tide. I called it an oceanfront spa since the water pooled behind our sand wall was warmer and relaxing to wade in, but B called it a fort with spires. Imagination at work! It sounds like the heat wave hit up North, in the Bay Area, more than it did here since it was only in the low 80s, but it was perfect beach weather for me.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

give a hoot

The early bird catches the worm. In our case this morning, we caught the first couple heats of the Crystal Pier Surf Classic in Pacific Beach ("PB"). We were just heading out for a morning on the beach in search of breakfast along the way. The road we took today ended at Crystal Pier which conveniently has Kono's Beach Cafe on the corner. We sat on the patio above the beach as we filled our bellies with tasty breakfast burritos. They're generous with their portions and we could've easily shared one...doggie bags for lunch, I guess.

While waiting for our breakie, I walked around the corner to Pacific Bean to grab some coffee. I looked at the menu behind the counter and asked the guy if they make mochas. He pointed to a black board which covered the side wall which listed about a couple dozen different mocha flavors and said, "It's kinda what we're known for." d'oh. I tried the Mexican Chocolate mocha. It was exotic, but safe enough...and good.

They make their mochas with two shots of espresso, so I had a lot of energy left even after our beach playtime. When we got home, I came across this tutowlrial (Thanks Moonstitches!) and put my energy to work. I drafted a quick pattern and in a bit over an hour finished this little guy. I used a couple vintage buttons which give him a spooky look. I also added a few top feathers on his head.

I made it for B since he's been cuckoo for owls since he saw the video of the shape changing owl, but might end up keeping him for myself as a pincushion. His belly is perfect for it! I plan on making another one with some alterations on his belly so that it's not so angular...that one can be his.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

my first quilt

Something I started about a month ago is now done. My very first quilt! I love it!

When I first started cutting out the blocks, I thought, "This is going to take forever!" In this case, forever took about a month of three hour sessions at Sowing Sisters and about a couple of hours working on it on my own.

There are so many fabrics out there catching my eye. I'm tempted to go out and buy more fabric for a new quilt, but think I'll try to get that monkey off my back and make that A-line skirt from Sew What! with a zipper instead.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

borders without boundaries

I'm gettin' there with my quilt. Last week, I added the big border to the top panel and it's coming together. I'm still surprised of the color scheme and fabrics I picked out for this quilt. They're muted, but bold. The stripes add an interesting contrast, but again, not something I would typically put together. This weekend, I did some homework and sewed the back panels together. I chose the seagreen coriander, surprised again! I've always liked this fabric. I keep hearing that if you choose things you like, they'll come together well.

It sounds like all but one person will be taking the optional extra class session this week. We're the "late bird" group as one of the ladies put it. Hopefully, we'll all be done by then.

This morning, I went out for my first paddle with the Team Survivor San Diego Dragon Boat team. I'm glad to have found a local affiliate and can totally relate to the growing pains (of slow growth of the group, that is) the founder, Angie, is going through since I experienced it while putting together the Minneapolis affiliate.

The San Diego Dragon Boat Team was in the water before us, running heats for qualifying times for the upcoming National Dragon Boat competition. We met three women from the Long Beach BCS Dragon Boat Team who were up for the trials. In between heats, a few of the members paddled with us as we learned how to stroke...doing it in rhythm will come later, I'm sure.

I came home feeling refreshed and enthusiastic, mostly because it was such a fresh breath of air to be around positive, fun people. Work's been a big downer for me lately. Today was a nice reminder to do what you love, focus on things that are important to you and don't sweat the small stuff. I've been missing a connection with a community -- not being involved in diving, hockey or Team Survivor this past year since we've been on the move -- and am looking forward to rebuilding it here, with this team.

Friday, April 11, 2008

last stop, magnolia

It was my first time to fly JetBlue to JFK and was glad to hear that their seats are bigger than most other airlines 'cause I was flying the red eye. Too bad their seats are harder too! Youch, not so kind to the tush when you're trying to get comfy for some shut eye before arriving in the big city.

Linda and I are here for our girls weekend celebrating Virgie's birthday. We started the day with about 5 hours of sleep collectively, so our expectation of crashing midday was close to our actual schedule.

We had a good Spring walk through SoHo (blossoms in bloom throughout the city!), stopping for lunch at Manhattan Bistro (not was just the closest door to The Mercer Kitchen where we weren't able to get a walk-in table) our final destination before crashing from lack of sleep to the famous Magnolia Bakery for cupcakes! We scooted in and out of small boutiques to work off the lunch calories which will soon be replaced with our upcoming tasty treats. The little bakery was abuzz with after lunch cupcake frenzy and had a line out the door.

We were too tired to bite into them right away, so Linda packed 'em up in a box where they stayed safe during our jerky, stop and go cab ride home. Our doorman noticed that our cabbie had a newspaper laid out on his knee and asked if we saw him reading while he was driving. That would explain the less than smooth ride. Only in New York!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

melted idea

Whenever I'm heading up North toward L.A., I'm reminded of the cupcake specialty store, Sprinkles, in Beverly Hills. I keep meaning to make it out there, but by the time we make it to P.V.E., the traffic keeps turns me off.

I've always been a big fan of cupcakes and am excited that the recent cupcake craze is making them easier to come by. My favorite cupcakes are still the chocolate ganache cupcakes from Franklin Street Bakery, with lemon vanilla bean a close second. (Oh, Minnesota, who knew I'd miss you so much?) One of my favorite last-minute birthday gifts was a small assortment of cupcakes from there. I ordered a bunch and set them on a tiered stand for my pal, Ann's, wedding rehearsal I hosted last year. They're that special.

The last time we drove past BabyCakes Baking Company, I thought it would be a fantastic idea to create ice cream cupcakes. It seemed like the next natural progression in the trend. They'd be great for parties! I really thought I was on a roll with "my idea", but it looks like they've been out there for years, from Maggie Moo's.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

gummy pancakes

The search continues for a good neighborhood breakfast place. (I sure do miss Birchwood Cafe! I was so lucky to live around the corner from it.)

We headed out to the Big Kitchen in South Park. Last time we drove around in that area there was a long line to get in, so we figured it was worth a try. The big kitchen spans across two separated eating areas which have respective entrances from the street. The first space is a U-shaped, cramped bar and the other is lined with tables...both with kitschy photographs and paintings. Unfortunately, the Big Buttermilk Pancake, which we hear is supposed to spill over the plate, was rubbery and a bit sour. B seemed to salvage it with a good dousing of syrup. The best breakfasts are still the one which are homemade.

On our drive out, we saw a sign for an estate sale in Kensington and headed out there after our so-so meal. The sale was in a small, Spanish-style house which recently sold. Our finds were a pyrography Flemish Art wooden box, which I'll probably use to store sewing notions, vintage hen and rooster souvenir salt and pepper shakers, cherub-adorned pill box and birds perched on a branch shakers. They had so much stuff in there, it was like entering an antique store.

We saw a guy in there with eBay up on his phone. He had a few Murano lamps stashed in the hold area. Kinda takes the fun away when you know you're competing with people who make hunting into a living instead of adding it to their own personal collection or use. Seeing the prices for some things, I guess that's who the owners were hoping would attend. One lamp we saw was over $900.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

belle rows

My new motto, "If you're having a crappy day, sew!" If I'm loyal to that motto, I have a feeling I'll complete many projects in the near future. I've been taking my job too seriously lately...correction, I've been allowing negative events (read: dealing with people) from work linger in my mind after I the leave the office too often...and it's really wearing me down. Why? Hmm, no good answer. So, I'll try to stop and refocus on things I like and spending time with people I like after the whistle blows at the rock quarry and I slide down the dinosaur's back. "Wilma!" I've put the blocks together and here are my first two rows. Yay!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

las floras

After a maze of freeways to avoid the big Dodgers 50th celebration, and a U-turn in Glendale for missing the 5 North, Tracy, Bob (B's parents) and I made our way to the Glendale Quilting Guild's 2008 show at the Marriott in Burbank yesterday.

Tracy noticed that there were a lot more quilts displayed which were quilted professionally than in past shows. She also noted that the quilts appeared to be more complex as well.

By far, our unanimous favorite quilt was the "Las Floras" quilt by Pat Rollie. It seems we weren't the only ones in awe because there always seemed to be a crowd in front of it, trying to comprehend the amount of work put into the piece. The judges must've also agreed since this quilt won First Prize for Large Applique. A lot of attention was put into the backside of the quilt as well, which we were able to see with the assistance of a white-gloved quilt show volunteer.

Monday, March 24, 2008

for pins and things

Yesterday, we were off to our usual early start on the weekend. I don't know why it's so much easier to wake up and get out of bed at 5:30 a.m. on the weekends. I wish I could sleep in, but it just doesn't seem to happen any more.

Since our plans to go hunting at the flea markets were foiled on Saturday morning due to matching pounding headaches from a long-needed margarita night at Baja Betty's a few blocks from our apartment, we headed out to be among the first arrivals at the swap meet on Sunday. Of course, there were lots of folks already there, but we were still part of the Early Bird crowd, getting there before 8 o'clock.

My find for the day were a couple of saucer-type ceramics from Japan. I like to use small dishes when crafting to catch loose threads, scraps or pins. My work station is still the dining room table and it helps to have something on the table to collect the loose threads which would otherwise find a new home underneath the table.

The only tasks I have left before my next class is to cut the strips for the inner border and binding. Can't wait until we get sewing again. I don't mind the free time though...had my first bass lesson yesterday. My pinky is supposed stretch how far?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

first blocks

What a day I had on Thursday. Work has been really been demanding the past few weeks and I decided to treat myself to a leisurely lunch at Whisknladle in La Jolla Village. At the top of the hill, on Torrey Pines Rd., my clutch lost pressure for a split moment. At the bottom of the hill, my car halted when I tried to go when the light turned green. uh-oh. Turned the key and it started up again, so I continued driving to the village. Thought I'd let the car settle in a parking spot while I ate lunch. I didn't quite make to my destination...the car decided to stop running right across the street from the restaurant. I barely made it out of the line of traffic and into a red zone.

This was supposed to be a break to relieve some of the stress, right? Plan B. I got on the phone to arrange for a tow truck and also let my mechanic know that I'd be dropping the car off. I was getting hungry, but couldn't leave my car, so I stalked one of the servers at the patio of Karl Strauss Brewing and basically created my own take-out window. Great buffalo turkey burger!

I was determined to still make it to my second quilting class. I arranged for a rental car and later that day was on my way to Carlsbad with my sewing machine and supplies. I arrived an hour late, but made good time catching up cutting my blocks for my Just Can't Cut It quilt.

The fabric patterns looked good when I was picking them out, but now that I'm sewing them together, they're throwing me off a bit. I did get some help from my instructor and the helpful staff at Sowing Sisters, so maybe I just need to be patient and see it all come together.

Oh yeah, the first time I got back in battle mode with Slash, I "rocked."

Sunday, March 16, 2008

waking up to hail

We were woken up by loud, clanking noises against the window at 5:15 a.m. It was hail! We realized this would be a short-lived passing during the storm, so we headed down to the pool to check out the layer of ice pellets on the ground.

Back on the crafts front, I've started taking a quilting class at Sowing Sisters in Carlsbad. Choosing fabrics for our project (anchored by an Amy Butler print, of course) was a nice diversion from the "unfun" past few weeks at work. I'll be washing the fabrics this weekend to remove any residual dyes on the fabric before starting the project during our next class.

I haven't started my bass lessons with Brian yet, but we did put in about three hours by his estimate of Guitar Hero III yesterday afternoon. I stopped after being knocked out of a guitar challenge against Slash. How does he keep the same hair style for decades? What if he wears one of those hats with fake hair attached -- like the caps with attached dreadlocks at the tourist shops?

Friday, February 15, 2008

snowy valentine

Be careful what you ask for. I've been mentioning how much I've missed winter living here, in sunny San Diego. Yesterday, I was rudely faced by the cold weather after a record-breaking warm weekend. Okay, relatively speaking, it was the 40's, which is a drastic change from the high 70's just two days before.

About an hour East of where we live, Palomar Mountain was covered with snow which stranded drivers and caused many accidents. No snow plows around here, I guess. A good excuse to stay safe and warm at home with your Valentine.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

winter morning in la jolla

Surprisingly, I miss the cold weather -- thinking it's a nice day to play broomball when it's zero degrees, rushing into the ice rink to be warm, shoveling myself out of the alley after a snowy night and of course, my favorite, frozen car locks because I insisted on regularly washing my car even when it was below thirty degrees outside.

I have no concept of winter this season. Headed out for Saturday morning breakfast in La Jolla Village this morning wearing shorts and flip flops. It's supposed to be in the 70's today.
My down jacket and shearling boots are still in the boxes they were packed in from my first move in April and won't get any wear for a long time.

Sending warm thoughts to my North Country (and East Coast) friends and a picture from La Jolla Cove to remind you of what unfrozen water looks like.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

happy 2008

It seems my crafting has been placed on the back burner, but cooking has been in full swing for the holidays. Spent a week back in the Bay Area during Christmas and learned my mom's version of pancit palabok and igado. I'm not a big fan of liver, but she had me try the igado before adding the liver and it definitely made a difference in the flavor. She skips the other organs in traditional recipes I've seen online (thank goodness!), but adds pimento stuffed olives. It's so good! We made a big pot of it and had leftovers for days. It's one of those dishes which seems to get better each time it's heated up.

Rung in the new year (well, almost...only made it to 11:30 p.m.) with more of my fave choc-oat chip cookies. We brought our last batch to the parents in PV, so we had to replenish our freezer supply. We also tried out a new recipe for chewy chocolate gingerbread cookies from MS. They're a bit too gingery for me, but I'll probably make them again.

Today was my first attempt at char sui bao, Chinese steamed barbecued pork buns, out of the never failing Chef Chu cookbook from my mom/sister. They turned out really, really, really good! I can't believe I've waited this long to try this recipe. I thought it would be a lot of work, but it isn't much more effort than other special dishes I've made. Just have to be patient and wait for the dough to rise. So, it's similar to when we made pizza (another first!) last Friday.

We were planning on visiting Zhen Zhen, the new panda cub at the zoo, but the parking lot was, well, a zoo. So, we closed off the year by playing tourists along the San Diego embarcadero at the Maritime Museum. The Star of India is probably the more popular ship to visit, but I thought the B-39 Soviet submarine was just as interesting to check out. Such cramped quarters next to torpedos! I haven't quite figured out who's on this poster in one of the compartments.