Monday, March 30, 2015

2015 LA Yarn Crawl

Sometimes there are weekends where there are no plans and something exciting happens.  On Saturday I was fully prepared to blog today, about our drive thru the Angeles National Forest...that still had snow in some areas where as the rest of LA was baking.  But then something truly amazing happened on Sunday.

Let me start off by saying that Gonzo is truly the best guy a girl like me could ask for.  Sunday morning started off with me in a grumpy mood due to some unforeseen apartment problems.  Gonzo, being the guy that he is, wanted to put a smile on my face and do something that I wanted to do, even though it was a rare weekend off from work for him and he probably just wanted to sleep late and veg out in front of the TV.

I asked to go to 2 yarn stores.  I knew about the 2015 LA Yarn Crawl that was happening, but I hadn't pre-ordered a Yarn Crawl Tote Bag, or really read the rules.  I just wanted to visit a new store and go to the one I was already acquainted with (the yarn crawl is an event that 29 yarn stores in LA County were participating in, where you could get free patterns, enter in raffles, get free buttons from each store, and shop at a discount on certain items- all in 4 days). 

We drove all the way to Wildfiber Studio in Santa Monica.  Gonzo is a good sport in yarn stores, he always manages to find at least one skein of something and insists I make him something.  He found the last ball of Rowan Pure Wool Worsted in a beautiful blue color, which he has requested a hat from (I will have to come back here to purchase the Rowan yarn I need to make a sweater for my dad):
I was persuaded at the register to obtain a passport before I left the store so I could decide if I wanted to visit any other stores or just turn the passport in at Wildfiber Studio to be entered to win a gigantic basket full of yarn, books, knitting notions and all sort of goodies.  I opted to hold onto the passport for a bit.
Gonzo, again, being the guy he is, figured that since we were in the area that we were in, we should hit up some other stores instead of rushing off to Unwind.  So we made our way to Compatto Yarn Salon.  I looked around, received my Yarn Crawl Stamp on what I was now referring to as my bingo card; obtained the now coveted button (that should go on the Tote bag that I was so irresponsible to not pre-order).  I didn't see anything that I absolutely couldn't live without at that exact moment, so we got back in the car and headed to The Knitting Tree L.A. I may have gotten a little carried away at this store. 
Three skeins of Madelinetosh Hand Dyed Yarns that I am absolutely in love with.  The colors from left to right are: Citrus; Ophelia; Chicory.  I plan on making at least one pair of socks from this group using one of the colors (I can't say which because they will be a present for someone that I haven't already made socks for), the other two may be knitted into shawls for presents. 

At this point in the day I assumed that Gonzo was done with all of the Crawling that we had done and was willing to either stop at the final location of Unwind or get some food.  He had a different idea, since we were in the area he wanted to see what other yarn stores might be close so we headed to Needlepoints West. These women were so welcoming!  Extremely helpful!  Once in this store I was so very thankful that Gonzo had said we should go here, as this was one of the stores that had a yarn colorway that I had been absolutely in love with since I saw it online.
Delicious Yarns made this awesome colorway specifically for Needlepoints West.  It's called Two Sweets- Sport Weight Color: Yarn Crawl 2015.  It's a beautiful self striping yarn that is brown heavy with splashes of pink and purple.  It's absolutely gorgeous!  I also obtained the free Cowl pattern that came with the purchase of this yarn and was told to call them for "tech support" if I ran into any problems when knitting it.  I'm still not sure I want to make a cowl with this yarn, but I might!  I want to point out that had I just been driving by Needlepoints West, I probably wouldn't have stopped.  I thought this was a needlepoint only store- I didn't realize they had such an amazing selection of yarns.  So very glad we stopped here!

Since we moved to CA, I have been meaning to stop by the Yarn Over Truck.  It's a truck that has yarn and knitting notions and drives all over the place stopping at various locations to sell their wares.  I'm happy to report that we drove all the way to The Purl Side in Glendora to locate (and get 2 shops taken care of in one stop) the Yarn Over Truck.
I feel like I unbuckled my seat belt and jumped out of the car to run to this truck before Gonzo stopped the car.  I received my stamp and several buttons while on the truck and a couple of free patterns.  I knew I wanted to buy yarn, but the truck was getting crowded, so I headed into The Purl Side to check out what they had. I saw several things here that I might want to go back and take a second look at, but didn't purchase anything.  I received my stamp and button and a free knit pattern and headed back to the truck.  There was yarn I needed to purchase to go with the free pattern I picked up when I had boarded the truck a few minutes earlier.
I picked up a skein of Anzula Luxury Fibers Hand Dyed Yarn Cricket in Navy and Minty.  These will definitely be making two presents for people. 

After fighting thru some bad traffic to head to Burbank to get to Unwind we finally made it.  I'm on their mailing list and was well aware of their Hello Kitty yarn colorways that would be in the store during the Yarn Crawl...I just prayed I wasn't too late to get a skein.  One of the particular yarns was gone...which is what happens when you wait until the last day and nearly the last hour of the event to shop...
But I did purchase the above colorway.  This is by Ancient Arts Yarns called Unwind Hello 1 Speckled.  I have a very special niece who will be getting a sweater out of this.  Originally I had intended on dropping off my passport at Unwind to be entered to win the giant basket full of goodies, but the kind women at Needlepoints West had told me there was another yarn store not too far from Unwind that I might want to checkout.  So we opted to head to The Altered Stitch to see what they had and figured that if I didn't like their basket, we could just go back to Unwind so I could drop the passport off.

Well things changed once we arrived at The Altered Stitch.  I was in love with this store from the minute I walked in the door.  The staff was very friendly (truly all of the yarn stores we visited had friendly staff, don't get me wrong- there's just some places that you instantly click with people, this was one of those for me).  They showed me all of their Crawl yarn specials; stamped my passport; gave me the button; gave me a class schedule; didn't hassle me when I couldn't make up my mind and wandered the store so many times I looked like I was casing the place.  I had promised Gonzo that Unwind was the last store I was going to buy yarn in...but there was a skein I saw and fell in love with.  I have no idea what I'm going to do with it.
Republic of Wool Hand Dyed Yarn for The People in the color Wild At Heart.  Again, I have no idea what I'm going to make with it, but I'll be happy to stare at it on a shelf until I figure it out.

Good news was right around the corner at the checkout...I qualified to have 2 raffle tickets put in the bucket for the 5pm drawing for a basket of yarn goodies (not the large basket that the passport would enter me in for, but a smaller just as awesome basket).  I almost said no.  We had been out since 11am and it was nearly 5, surely Gonzo would want to eat some food (since we hadn't stopped at all), or go home and rest.  But they said "there's only 6 other tickets in the drawing" I said "yeah, do it!  Put me in!".  I hung out for the next 20 minutes or so, while Gonzo went across the street in search of food.  I could tell there were regulars in the store, and I made some small talk with a few of the people both employees and yarn crawlers and touched nearly every skein in the place.  Gonzo made it back in time for the drawing and lets just say, I'm sure there are some Altered Stitch store regulars who have now painted a target on my back.
Because I won it!!!! 
This post is already becoming a little long, so I'll just list out what was in it instead of posting individual pictures:
- 1 "Comforts of Home: Simple Knitted Accents" book
- 1 bottle of Eucalan wool wash (laundry soap)
- 1 bar of luffa soap (smells delicious)
- 1 bottle of hand lotion
- 1 bottle of bath salts
- 1 bottle of bubble bath
- 1 wicker bee purse
- 1 pair of US 10 sized ChiaoGoo knitting needles
- 4 skeins of an unidentified self striping pink/purple/yellow/red yarn
- 3 skeins of an unidentified self striping blue/green yarn
- 2 shawl pins (could be stitch holders)
- 1 set of red gem stitch markers (5 total)
- 1 set of green gem stitch markers (5 total)
- 1 Black Tie Affair yarn in Costume (pinkish)
- 1 Black Tie Affair yarn in Aria (blueish)
- 1 Art Yarns Regal Silk in color 502 (stripping yarn in blue, yellow, green, pink)
- 1 Anzula Luxury Fiber Vera in Irene (light purple)
- 1 Stitch Cafe skein in color 5011 (light soft!!!)
- 1 Stitch Cafe skein in Coral
- 1 set of Double Pointed Needles in a fabric drawstring bag.  Size US 3

Oh and I dropped off my passport at The Altered Stitch, so fingers crossed!  Maybe I'll win the grand prize basket?

So Sunday, for me, was AMAZING!  8 of the 29 stores visited in 6 hours, too much yarn purchased and a basket full of stuff I don't know what to do with (at the moment).  I feel like it was Christmas.  I kept doing a happy dance in the car on the way home while singing "I won the basket! I won the basket!"  and I only sang that to myself because I haven't won anything in so long it feels like a different lifetime ago.  

Next year I'll be better prepared.  Maybe more organized, like a certain woman Unwind video'd showing her tabbed binder with maps and what free pattern was going to be at what stores.  Truly a work of art in itself.  I just wasn't prepared for the amazingness of The LA Yarn Crawl.  Hope you all had fantastic weekends too!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Goodies for my first Niece

The package arrived for my sweet little niece who has finally made her grand entrance.  I've been told a photo shoot is taking place involving some of the goodies I sent.  Can't wait to see how they turnout.

My brother and his wife are fairly big Harley Davidson fans, and several months ago my sister-in-law requested a helmet, diaper cover and boots in black with HD could I pass up the opportunity to knit that?

Using this pattern I managed to fashion the adorable little helmet, complete with Harley orange flower to distinguish that she's a girl.
Sewing the patch on was a bit of a challenge, but it didn't turn out too bad, if I do say so myself.
The diaper cover was an entirely different beast.  Several years ago I picked up this ebook from, promising myself that the minute one of my family members had a kid I would make the pig diaper cover and bonnet...that didn't exactly happen- The diaper cover pattern came in handy for making the Harley pants.
Again, the patch was a bit of a pain to sew, but it made it on the back side.  I made it a little large, since I knew my brother might have to put it on his new daughter and I didn't want him to feel like he was going to break her or anything.  So it's a tad on the large size for her...give her a few more months to enjoy it.
The booties were my favorite part of the whole outfit.
There's a bunch of crochet patterns out there, but I was determined to knit them.  So using the same ebook as the diaper cover (diaper soaker is what the pattern calls it) I managed to knit some cute little black boots for her.
You can read about the blanket I made for her here.
I managed to knit a larger version of the helmet as well, so if they want, once she grows out of the smaller version, they can remove the patch and attach it to the larger helmet.  Hopefully it'll be a bit before she grows out of the small one though.
She already has my heart and I haven't even met her yet.  Soon though. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

San Diego- Oh What a Time! Part 2! (also known as the BEST DAY EVER!)

To see part one, please look here.

San Diego is a magical place.  It really is.  The weather seems to be perfect.  All the time.  The people are friendly.  Walking is easy to do to get places.  It's just an all around great place.

I've mentioned it before about our amazing times in San Diego.  I feel like I'm becoming a spokesperson for their city.  But seriously, if the opportunity presents itself for you to go, please don't pass it up.

On our most recent trip to San Diego, while we did visit the Maritime Museum in the bay, that wasn't enough.  It was Gray Whale migration season and the previous time we were in town Gonzo and I had both said we wanted to go on a Whale watching tour.

So we did.

The Hornblower Whale and Dolphin Watching Adventure was just what we did.

Keep in mind, if your tour does not see a Whale during the outing they will offer you a "Whale Check" for you to come back at another time to try to go out and see one.

I highly encourage you to do this as opposed to going to Sea World.  #1, the Whale watching is cheaper.  #2, you actually get to see them in their natural habitat- which I think is a much happier way to go about seeing wild animals.  No, your kids probably won't be as impressed because they aren't trained to jump out of the water to put on a show, but it's a better alternative to witness a creature in it's natural habitat than crammed in a tank and forced to perform (In my opinion). 

Just keep in mind this tour does go out into open Pacific Ocean waters.  Which I was scared of.  Prior to being out there.  Now I can't wait to go back.  Gonzo has always wanted to go on a cruise- now I can't wait to join him!

Some things to remember.  Bring a jacket.  The Pacific Ocean is a lot more chilly than you think.  Bring Sunscreen.  I forgot.  My face is now paying for it.  Take your motion sickness meds if you need to- the boat will be-a-rockin' at times.  

I want to first start off by saying that I would have been perfectly fine if all we had seen were the sea lions in the bay and the dolphins in the ocean.

That is not all we saw.

I do apologize for the lack of photos I took.  Keep in mind, some of the whales are fast.  Running from the Starboard side to the Port side and back just for photos didn't always work out.  In fact I didn't even get photos of the first two whales that seemed to be playing with the boat within the first 40 minutes of the tour.

2 Minke whales, which according to the captain were rare sightings in the area, kept popping up for us to see, but they were quick!  I have no photos of them.

The second rare treat that even the Captain was amazed with, was the Humpback Whale that put on a fantastic show for us.  We figured out it's pattern of up for a few seconds to breathe; up for a second time to breathe; and then up for a third time to breath and do a tail flip before going back down for 5 minutes.
Let me enhance that for you (we never got close to the Humpback whale for various reasons.  In fact the other ships that were close didn't get as close as this.  We all kept our distance)
Sorry this one doesn't want to be blown up without getting pixelated.  So I've drawn a circle around the tail here:
I know we followed this Humpback for a while, until it started to head for the warmer Mexican waters (which we could not drift into for various legal reasons).

I lost all track of direction while in the Ocean so I have no idea if we were heading west or south or north, but after our meeting with the Humpback we started making our way in some direction and came upon a school of dolphins.  The dolphins were referred to as common dolphins by the Captain of the ship and some had been with us since we had transitioned from the bay into the open waters.  We could see them in the distance from the bow of the boat and I didn't think much of it

...until we got closer and the Captain said it was the largest school he had seen this year.  There was at least 500-1,000 dolphins. (in the second video- all of those black spots that keep popping up are dolphins- I promise)

  Apologies if the video's aren't working, I'm attempting to get that fixed. Also apologies for the shaky camera...wind was blowing; boat was rocking.  I also want to apologize for the fact that I video'd my finger in that first one...I didn't want to drop my camera and held on wrong.

At one point there was even a sea lion who kept poking his head out of the water as if to either say "don't forget about me!" or "Is there a dolphin show happening?"

On our way back to the bay the Captain was notified of the Gray Whales that were migrating in the know, the ones we originally took the tour to see.  We did not get close enough for any good pictures or video, but there were two adults and a baby gray whale migrating north.  We tried to follow them for a bit, but they can hold their breath for so long our tour was running out of time (but believe me, the Captain followed them for quite a while before finally deciding to bring us back).  

But that's not all!

As we were reentering the bay we found out we had an Atlantic bottle nosed dolphin playing with the front of the boat.
Why an Atlantic Bottled Nosed Dolphin when we were in the Pacific?  Those are the dolphins that the Navy trains in San Diego.  I couldn't help but think that these dolphins must think they are on some sort of awesome vacation every day that they get to hang out in the Pacific ocean. 

It was really one of the most spectacular days I have ever had.  Gonzo and I both got to take "Seeing a whale in real life" off our bucket lists, and I got to take "getting over fear of open ocean water" off mine as well.

After all the excitement it was time to leave.  Leaving San Diego, for us, has become what leaving Austin was like when we lived in Dallas.  We don't want to leave, and we can't wait to come back.

But our brief stop in Temecula, CA made leaving San Diego completely worth it.  They have a Rosa's Cafe and Tortilla Factory.  For those that may not be aware, this place has Tex-Mex food.  Something we haven't had since leaving Texas.  They have liquid gold- otherwise known as queso.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, just freaking order it and try it- you won't be sorry- unless you are lactose intolerant. I've missed it so much we brought two large orders of queso back with us.

Now we are back in our obnoxiously loud apartment, just awaiting the next adventure we can have.  

Monday, March 23, 2015

San Diego- oh what a time! Part 1

As I said before, in this post- we had to go back to San Diego.

So we did.

And it was EPIC!

Let me first start off by saying that this place is addicting.  There's so much to do.  So much to see.  To be outside in this town is magnificent!  I love San Diego!

Ok, with that out of the way...Gonzo and I went back to San Diego this past weekend.  There was no plan in place.  We have a bit of a noise problem in our current living situation, so we just knew that we wanted to be out of the apartment and hopefully have some piece and quiet for a few days.

I won't bore you with the tedious details of where we ate (at least not in part 1), I will share with you a little gem that is just hanging out in the bay of San Diego, though.

It's the Maritime Museum.  You can look up a complete list of details here, but I'm just going to share with you our little adventure.
(Let me warn you that some of these photos are courtesy of Gonzo and some are courtesy of me...the more artsy- professional looking ones belong to Gonzo)

For the low low price of $16 per person you get to take a self guided tour of 6 ships (2 of them are submarines).  Honestly $16/person is a steal for this place. I think we were there for over 3 hours taking it all in.
Oh, as a word of warning- if you get sea sickness, or motion may want to avoid this place or pop some motion sickness meds before coming here...they are the water.  They do sway with the waves.

We wandered the first ship, The Star of India for a good while.
I didn't really know anything about this ship going in, but by the end of the entire ship tour I learned more than I probably needed to know as a land lubber.  Worth noting: Gonzo learned that this ship is haunted by a man.  A stow away actually.
While he attempted to tell me of this ghost, he told me the man had died of scallywags.  I asked if he meant scurvy.  Pick your poison but I have now decided that a death by scallywags is a much more hilarious way to go.  
The second ship we went aboard was the San Salvador.  Gorgeous pirate looking ship.  I believe this was the ship that we could see sailing in the bay on Sunday.  This ship has cannons on board (pics below).  
I have lots of pictures, so I'm not going to bore you to tears with them, you just have to go to see for yourself.

After that ship we climbed into the first of 2 submarines.  The B-39 Submarine is an old Soviet Era Diesel Electric sub.  I will warn you...this is tight.  If your claustrophobic avoid it.  If you can't squeeze yourself thru the demonstration hole prior to climbing aboard then you will find yourself stuck once inside.  My back decided to play games with me going thru the second one...I believe there were 2 or 3 more I had to climb thru- I thought I was going to die.  Everything is in Russian inside- except for the museum explanations.    
While it was pretty neat, I have a bit of claustrophobia and my back felt like it was breaking, so I was very thankful to be out of it. 
There are some other boats that you can climb on and, like I said, another sub to go into (the USS Dolphin is much more spacious and there are no holes to squeeze thru).  Gonzo managed to get an amazing shot of the sunset thru the para-scope of the USS Dolphin (above). 
Meanwhile I'm over taking shots of the compass on the Star of India to get the reflection of the San Salvador...
Once you've seen all 6 ships, in order to exit the museum you have to go thru what looks like a building but is actually a boat.  There is an art exhibit currently that has some of Ansel Adam's photographs, so that was an added bonus. 

We stayed at the awesome Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina again.  Walking distance it's a little over a mile to the Maritime Museum.  By the time we finished at the museum it was dark so we made our way back, enjoying the night sky and the sounds of the bay.
The USS Midway was lit as usual.  We'll have to come back to do that tour.  And one of these times, I'm going to get my picture taken with the Tom Cruise Top Gun impersonation guy who hangs out on the sidewalk.  He looks and sounds just like the real guy (only taller).  
And that's the view from our hotel room.  It was a great day in San Diego.  I couldn't imagine that it would get any better.  But then again, I had never been whale watching before Sunday either.  But that will have to wait for another post.  Stay tuned to Part 2

Thursday, March 19, 2015

California DMV

I've been a little preoccupied lately, so I apologize in advance for the lack of excitement in this post.

Recently I was tasked with obtaining a California Driver's License.  Yes, please insert, with your imagination, all of the terrors of enduring the DMV here.

In the state of California you have 10 days to obtain a driver's license once you move here.  Crazy I know.  Who is thinking of driver's licenses in those first 10 days after moving?  The drivers manual alone, is long enough that it will take more than 10 days to read and study it.  Which is why I was way past that 10 day mark in getting mine.

For anyone who has just moved to California from another state I'm going to give you the breakdown of how to make your time at the DMV less stressful. At least at the Glendale, CA DMV office.

#1. Read the manual.  Review the information that maybe seems like it won't be on a test because it seems like common knowledge.
#2. Go to and complete the practice tests for drivers licenses.  You may or may not see the same questions once you get to the DMV.
#3. Schedule an appointment online.  You won't get to pick your date, it just randomly generates one about 10 days from the day you schedule it. So in all actuality this could be #1, it just depends on how much time you will need for studying.
#4. Arrive at the DMV at least an hour before your scheduled appointment.  It will take you roughly 15 to 20 minutes just to find parking.  Then it will take at least 15 minutes if not longer to wait in the appointments line. 
#5. Obtain a number and proceed to the colorful and exciting people-watching, cattle call area.  This part reminded me a bit of the waiting that took place at The Price Is Right...only this was much less waiting, and much more entertaining in a completely different way.
#6. When your number is announced, proceed to the window instructed. Promptly.  Be patient.  Be Courteous.  You will be treated like a number; like an idiot; like a criminal; like they don't really care.  It's how it is.  They have a thankless job at the DMV.  Sure, there are probably a few bad apples that enjoy pissing people off, but it's very rarely their fault if you fail the test.
     a. You will have to submit a thumb print.  It's very easy, you place your thumb on a piece of technology and it scans your thumb. 
     b. You will have to provide them with proof of ID, using something other than an out of state driver's license...I used my Birth Certificate (original, no copies); you can also submit your passport.  But if you have an out of state driver's license you will also have to submit it to them here.
     c. This is where they will administer the vision test.  Unless you have really poor eyesight everyone should be fine here.  If you need glasses to drive, then for heaven's sake, wear them here.
#7. Once you verify all of your information at the previous window, they will send you to have your picture taken (still in the same building, just a different window).  You will have to submit another thumb print at this point and then have your picture taken.  They'll print out a black and white copy of what your photo looks like and staple it to the stack of papers that are in your hands from the previous window.  My lovely smile did not come across for my picture, so I looked like a serial killer.  This should be a super awesome adventure if I get pulled over in the future.
#8. You go wait in another line, that is right next to the picture taking line, to take the dreaded written test.  Once called up, the person at the counter does some typing, tells you which station to go stand at to take the test.  The test is on a computer; 36 multiple choice questions on a touch screen.  If you read the manual and retained any information, or have been driving like a decent human being while being licensed in another state, the test should be fairly easy.  I personally still remembered most of the traffic laws from my time in Wisconsin, thankfully.  The laws are very similar in CA.
#9. Once your computer screen says "Congratulations, you passed!", don't forget to read the rest of the instructions.  You don't have a license yet (don't leave like the poor sap next to me...even if you fail you have two more chances that day, but you have to return to the previous window for it to count).  You have to go back to the person who told you which computer to go to, where they will do some more typing; punch a hole in your out of state driver's license; attach a sticker to the back that indicates it's only for identification purposes now, and then she will hand you back your stack of paper (minus your black and white mug shot), and instructs you to carry that piece of paper and your out of state license with you in order to legally drive in CA.
#10.  In 2-3 weeks you will receive your driver's license in the mail. Although the person told me it could take up to 60 days, but it was highly unlikely.  Once that has happened, you can exit the building and go home and get as far away from the ill mannered Californian's that are at the DMV, as humanly possible.

Here's how the whole thing went for me.  My appointment was at 2:15 on a Tuesday.  I arrived at 1:05pm to find parking.  Obtained parking by 1:15 (after observing 2 cars nearly being rear-ended in the parking lot; one person becoming impatient with people waiting for spaces to open and nearly side swiping an entire aisle, just to go down another row, and one person driving the wrong direction).  Went inside the DMV (ignoring the massive line that extended outside the building- please do yourselves a favor and make an appointment!), to find the appointments only line to wait in.  There were about 6 other people in front of me.  By 1:30 got to the first window to get my assigned number.  By 1:55 my number was called.  By 2:34 I was done.

What I don't understand with driver's licenses is this: What is the point of reading the driving manual, then taking a 36 question test if, once the fine folks in California receive their licenses, they drive like completely insane people?
I believe in the state of Wisconsin, if you are a returning resident, you do not have to take a new test, you just have to provide them with your previously held driver's license number.  Although, for the sake of the sane, normal people there, I highly encourage people to revisit the WI state drivers manual- because they are nice, decent people- your honking and tail gating is not appreciated.  If you're out of state coming to WI, you have to take a test, I'm just not sure of the details.
In Texas, if you are coming from another state, the only thing that is required from you, is to register your car with the state first, then apply for a new license.  Show them your out of state license, then bam! You'll get your Texas license in the mail (it's strange to me how decent the people in Texas drive if nothing is really required of them to be a legal driver in that state). 
Having read the California drivers manual, cover to cover, I can assure you most people in California forgot everything they read- or simply don't care.  The honking, the tailgating, the general lack of courtesy everywhere is maddening.

Anyway.  I passed my test the first time.  Now to register my car...  

Monday, March 16, 2015

San Diego- First impressions

Gonzo and I go on some pretty spectacular trips.  Our best ones are the ones that aren't planned.  For instance, Christmas this past year, since we couldn't go back to Texas to see our families, we decided at about 9:30pm the day before Christmas Eve that we should go to Vegas.  It was only for two nights, but we had a pretty good time.

Recently, on a Saturday after Gonzo had been working all day, around 4:30pm when he arrived home, I asked if we could have an adventure in San Diego soon- preferable the next day (Sunday).  He seemed to accept my proposed time, and reiterated to me that he was hungry and needed to we got in the car for what I thought was a search for food.  Keep in mind, I was wearing my over-sized Las Vegas shirt that I had acquired during our Christmas trip; a pair of gray workout pants and a cheap pair of plastic Old Navy flip flops.

Gonzo put in the GPS a destination and began driving toward Pasadena- which is not a route we usually go to find food.  After we had been on the highways for over 30 minutes I began to assume that our San Diego trip was happening right then, instead of the next morning.  The further south we drove the more apparent it was that we were definitely going right then. 

By the time we reached Oceanside the sun was beginning to set, but from the highway we could see the beautiful teal waters.  That was the color I always felt the ocean should be, mixed with the sunset it was absolutely breathtaking.

I had thought that we would just be driving down to San Diego, making a loop around the city and driving back that same night- why I thought this, I have no idea.  Gonzo checked us into the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina so we could stay overnight.  Our view the next morning was absolutely breathtaking.

We had talked the night before, about maybe going on a boat tour around the bay, or going to the zoo before we made our trip back to LA.  We decided to grab a bite to eat at the hotel restaurant and then take a walk around the little marina since it looked so gorgeous outside.   

I would like to reiterate my foot wear for the day.  Cheap. Plastic. Flip Flops.  The blisters came on fairly quickly.  We learned that there was the Busker Festival happening (Street Performers at Seaport Village), and looked at a few of the sites then decided to make a reservation for a trip on the Seal Tour (which is essentially a Duck boat tour if you have ever been to the Wisconsin Dells or taken a site seeing trip in Grapevine Texas or perhaps even places in Florida), and made our way back to the hotel gift shop (which was more like a store), where Gonzo purchased a more comfortable pair of flip flops and a San Diego shirt for me.  Honestly it wouldn't have mattered what kind of shoe I was wearing, the blisters were around to stay.

Once aboard the Seal Tour they took us on a 15 minute land drive around the bay explaining some of the buildings and touristy sites.  The USS Midway is stationed fairly close to Seaport Village, which we definitely want to go back to tour.

Once we made it to the launch site it was only a few moments before a Sea Lion greeted us in the water (didn't get a picture because he was on the opposite side of the boat from where I was seated).
We began our slow tour of the San Diego bay and it was gorgeous.

The water was the exact color I believe the Pacific ocean should be (keep in mind, my reference point for large body of water color before moving to CA was Galveston TX...if you've been you know that the water there is brown...nothing like what one would expect).
Part of the Seal Tour takes you by the the Fish Bait floating shop that is in the bay.  What I didn't realize is this is also a place where a lot of Marine animals hang out.

From the large harem of Sea Lions sun bathing, to the many different species of birds there was lots to ooh and aah about.  Outside of a zoo, I have never seen a Sea Lion in person and so up close.
The end of the tour was 15 more minutes of land driving to get back to our original Seaport Village launching point.  However, did I mention the Busker Festival?  Since it was also happening that day the traffic was nearly as bad as LA traffic.  While we were stopped a few hundred yards from our final stop, we actually all witnessed a man on a bicycle swipe an older woman's purse while knocking her to the ground.  There was a wonderful stranger who ran after the bicyclist but we don't know if he managed to get the woman's purse back or not.  After that all of us women held our purses a little tighter to get thru the crowds.

After all of that excitement, we went to lunch at a little place with no parking called Kansas City BBQ.  Prior to this trip I didn't have a clue that any of Top Gun was filmed in San Diego...but the scene where Goose plays Great Balls of Fire on the Piano was filmed at this fine eating establishment.
This is a word of warning to anyone from Texas who comes here to eat BBQ...Do yourself a favor and order the Brisket.  The ribs seem to be a little over cooked, but the Brisket is good (once out of the fine state of Texas it is a struggle to find good BBQ).

Shortly there after we began to head back to LA around 4:30pm, which made for some gorgeous sunset pictures on the way home.
Oh, if you were wondering where Gonzo finally got dinner on Saturday night, he waited until we had gotten to San Diego.  We ate at the Fishmarket close to Seaport Village and the USS Midway.  The Bob Hope memorial is there.  The salmon was fantastic!  Gonzo had a lobster tail that was larger than the steak he paired it with.

All in all our first impression of San Diego is that it's amazing.  It's beautiful, sunny and welcoming.  The people are friendly (minus the idiot purse snatcher), and the only horn we heard honk was from the Seal Tour vehicle to prevent another vehicle from driving underneath it.  The traffic was minimal (granted we were there on a weekend, can't verify what it looks like during the week).  If it was possible to live in San Diego while Gonzo kept his job in LA I think we would totally try to make it work.

San Diego will definitely be seeing us again.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Baby Groot Knitting Pattern

-->At long last the knitted Baby Groot Pattern!!!
For those of you who maybe don't know what a Baby Groot is, you have 3 options.  #1.  Watch Guardians of the Galaxy; #2. Google images for Baby Groot or #3. Crawl back into the rock you live under and ignore this post completely.  
Please keep in mind a few things when knitting this: 
#1: This is the first knitted pattern I am sharing, so if there are errors that you find, feel free to let me know in the comments below.  
#2: This is a free pattern- however that does not give you permission to sell any Baby Groots that you might create from this pattern. Unless of course you would like Marvel or any of the companies that hold the copyrights/licensing to the character to come after you for selling their characters likeness on merch without a license/express written consent.  That's kind of why I'm giving the pattern away for free here. 

I created this because I wanted a baby Groot of my own and prefer to knit instead of crochet.  If you would like to crochet there is an excellent pattern here.  Don't be fooled by links on google telling you that the pattern in that link is a knitting pattern- I assure you it is not.  Yes I completely agree that the crochet version is much cuter than my version...pick your poison.  Like I said above, I wanted my own Baby Groot.         

Baby Groot Knitting Pattern
By: Amber L. Uphoff

Items you will need:
Yarn: Using a Lion Brand yarn (or whatever type yarn you prefer) and knitting needles suggested for your type of yarn. 
Also use a thinner Green yarn for vines and leaves and such.
For this example I am using Vanna’s Choice Lion Brand yarn in the color of Grey Marble.  Groot is more of a grey color than brown, but choose your color how you like it.
For the Green I am using Patons Classic Wool DK Superwash in Apple Green
Circular Knitting Needles: Per the suggestion on the yarn, I am using US 9 (5.5mm) circular knitting needles (long enough so that I can use the Magic Loop method)
Tapestry Needle
Double Pointed Needles (one to two sizes smaller than your circular needles)
Stitch Marker
Polyester Fiber Fill 
Safety Eyes (9 or 10 mm)
Embroidery floss - black  

Magic Loop: Instructions on how to do Magic Loop can be found here
I-Cord: Instructions on how to do I-Cord can be found here

Terms used:
CO: Cast On                                              sts: Stitches
K: Knit                                                       M1: Make 1 stitch (either using left or right method)
K2tog: Knit 2 stitches together                  P: Purl
P2tog: Purl 2 stitches together                   BO: Bind Off
PU: Pick up stitches                                   DPN: Double Pointed Needle
Feel free to YouTube search any of the terms for directions.

Creating the base:
1. CO 6 sts, join in the round, being careful not to twist the stitches.  Place a marker at the beginning of the round.
2. knit around
3. *K1, M1, repeat from * around (12 sts)
4.  K all sts
5. *K1, M1, repeat from * around (24 sts)
6. K all sts
7. *K1, M1, repeat from * around (48 sts)
8. K all sts
9. *K1, M1, repeat from * around (96 sts)
10-14. K all rows
15. (K2 k2tog) around (72 sts)
16. K all sts
17. (K2, K2tog) around (54 sts)
18. K all sts
19. (K2, k2tog) around (end with k2) (41 sts)
20. K all sts
21. (K2, k2tog) around (end with k1) (31 sts)
22. K all sts
23. (K2, K2tog) around (end with k3) (24 sts)
24. (K1, K2tog) around (16 sts)
This is a good time to double check that ½ of your sts are sitting on one needle and the other half on the other.
Go ahead and stuff the base- don’t over stuff- you want to stuff it so the bottom is flat, and pliable in case the pot you use is smaller than the base you just created- you can "stuff" the base into the pot.

Creating the trunk:
1-16. K all rows
17. K6, K2tog, K6, K2tog
18-21. K the next 4 rows
22. K2tog, k5, k2tog, K5
23-28.  Knit the next 6 rows
Go ahead and stuff the trunk- don’t over stuff.  Play around with it so that it is standing up straight.  Or maybe you want your Baby Groot to look more like a tree in which case you can bend him however you want.

Creating the head:
29. *K1, M1, repeat from * around (24 sts)
30-38. K the next 9 rows
39. k2tog, k10; k2tog, k10
40. K all sts
41. add safety eyes (9 or 10mm) and begin to stuff the head- do not over stuff.
42. K2tog around (11 sts)
43. K2tog around (end with K1) (6 sts)
44. cut a 6” yarn tail, thread with tapestry needle and pull yarn thru the 6 sts.

Creating Arms (make 2):
I’m not nearly as creative as the motion crochet Baby Groot you can find here, at least not with this example…but I’m sure you crafty people out there can figure out how to make moveable arms if you wanted to.
Switch to Double Pointed needles for this…you will be using the I-Cord method for this part.

Switch to DPN's...using needles roughly 1-2 sizes smaller than your circular needles.
1. Pick up 3 sts, roughly 5 sts below the head, on either side of the body (you will repeat these instructions on the other side).
2-13. Knit 12 rows using the I-Cord method- which is basically you knit your stitches, slide them to the end of the needle and start knitting again.  It forms a sort of tube.
14. BO 1 st, K1 st
15. K2 sts 2 times, cut a 10” yarn tail and pull thru sts.

16. Using a tapestry needle pull the remainder of the yarn tail thru the length of the arm and then wrap it around the trunk in a spiral pattern.  Secure the yarn tail and cut.
Repeat on the other side.

Creating “foliage” on the head:
Using DPN’s:
1. Pick up 3 sts on top of the head.
2. K 3 rows in the round, or using I-Cord method.
3. BO 3 sts, pulling thread thru last loop.  Secure the tail end.
Repeat as much as you want or as little.  The pictures of Baby Groot online all seem to have a healthy head of “hair” though.


Creating leaves on arms and head:
Cut a 12” piece of green yarn.  Thread the tapestry needle.  You will be creating knots at the end of the “hands”, while threading the green yarn thru the arms so the trail is not visible.
You can also trail the green thread down the trunk in a spiral fashion to create “vines”.
Also, don’t forget about the head and the new “foliage” you just created- make sure to add knots of green up there as well.
Secure all loose ends.

Using black embroidery thread, carefully create a smile or smirk that would be fitting for a Baby Groot...clearly my example got a little carried away with the smile.  

Now you have a baby tree (Baby Groot)

With the base we created he can stand up by himself, or you can put him in an appropriate sized pot.  Feel free to go crazy with the Green at the base if you want it to look like he’s really potted.
For those that maybe don't understand the interest or realize there is a need for baby Groots in the world, I encourage you to do a google search (or whatever search engine you prefer to use).  I found this handy model while surfing the good old internet today. 
Baby Groots...they're awesome.  Now go watch Guardians of the Galaxy...especially if you haven't seen it yet.