Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Coffee in NYC

I really love coffee but I only permit myself to have one (good) cup of coffee a day and will cheat with a second every now and then. So I had 4 mornings to check out the coffee scene and I decided to stay close to my older sister's West Village apartment.

The first day was dictated by my older sister since she did not want to walk far for a cup of coffee. I had done some prior research on coffeegeek about local coffee houses and also found this site. I decided since one branch of Joe the Art of Coffee was so close to my sister's we would go there. With high hopes of good coffee, no address written down and a call to the other sister for the address we found the Waverly Place location. It was packed full of people in a small space and definitely felt like a community coffee house. You could tell that most of their patrons were regulars and the service was friendly and efficient. The baked goods looked delicious too.

Since they are more known for espresso, we both got americanos, in hindsight I think we should have tried different things. I'm not really knowledgeable in espresso, but my americano tasted over extracted and a little sour. I appreciated the strong cup, but I'm used to ordering americano's to get a fresh coffee taste. But we were caffeinated and my sister found a nice community based coffee shop to hang out in.

That day we went up to Chelsea Market, did some grocery shopping, went back to my sister's place to drop everything off. Ate at Tom Colicchio's 'wichcraft restaurant for lunch (more to come on that), walked through SoHo to Chinatown and then back to my sister's via some small shops and tour of the area. It was a lot of walking but it was really nice to see places you've only heard about. The highlight of Chelsea Market was the Italian goods store that I had seen on a couple Food Network programs. Chelsea Market wasn't a huge open space like I expected but more of a meandering indoor pathway with all different types of food stores and a flower shop along the path.

But back to coffee. Based on a recommendation by my sister's friend the prior evening over great Italian food I went to Jack's Stir Brew coffee. It was busy but not crowded and again the staff was very friendly. This place had a much warmer feel to it and when I go back to visit my sister I could definitely see myself hanging out here. The coffee was fresh and yummy although not as strong as I make it at home. Still it was a great cup and I appreciated that the coffee was fair trade.

My last two mornings though I went to Cafe Grumpy in Chelsea which I did not realize was a brand new location for them. This place made me truly happy. The space is very minimalist which was refreshing because with space being at such a premium in Manhattan I was feeling claustrophobic by all the cluttered shops. It also meant that they were focusing on one thing and one thing only, coffee! This shop has the only Clover machine in NYC and I heard so much about it that it was high up on my list to check out. I've read that the coffee is comparable to an Aeropress coffee, which I own but am still not a fan of. The great thing about the Clover is that the coffee is brewed just for the individual consumer. So upon entering the coffee shop there is a menu of coffee varietals that you can order, and there is a different price point for each cup based on their price.

I had walked more then 10 blocks to get here, and I have traveled further for coffee but I could almost hear my sister saying, "you walked 10 blocks 1-way for a CUP of coffee???". YES.

And it was well worth it. M'Lissa helped me and I told her how excited I was to check them out and that I heard about them through coffeegeek and I roasted my own coffee, and I basically babbled because I was so giddy. I asked a couple questions about the offered coffees and it was clear that she really knew her stuff and she asked me a couple questions about my roasting. The Clover was acting up a bit that day but I decided on a cup of Bolivian coffee since it's not something I have tried. Even though she said she was pouring excellent espresso I came for the Clover. The coffee lived up to expectations and they were by far the nicest and the most customer oriented. As I left I saw M'Lissa pour a beautiful rosetta on a latte.

The next day I dragged my twin sister to Cafe Grumpy where I was able to get my own latte with beautiful rosettas on it. The coffee scene in NYC was exciting and I can't wait to visit again and check out some other places that were on my list but a little further away. I also now have the itch to go to Groundwork coffee and check out their Clover.

Monday, December 18, 2006

good to be home

I'm just back from an 7 day trip to the east coast and it is good to be home, although I had a great time. I was in lower Manhattan for 3 1/2 days and Philadelphia at a wedding for 3 1/2 days. Equal time with each of my two sisters and non-stop activities that I'll have to separate up in different posts.

A major highlight of the trip was being able to see people from my later college days and catch up with them. Many of the people I saw were only sophomores when I graduated and seeing how much they have all changed was really amazing.

I'm back just in time to celebrate my own wedding anniversary (tomorrow) and then off again this weekend to be with family. It's nice to have a lot of today to just sit at home leisurely and catch up with the fluffy cat.

More to come hopefully soon. I had many good coffee, eating and crafting adventures including a cup of coffee from the only Clover machine in NYC.

Monday, December 04, 2006


It's been a long couple weeks with family around and other obligations, and hopefully I'll get a little time to breathe before heading out to the east coast next week.

My secret pal sent me something again! Last week I received it, and I have not had time to even check my email. Again I'm sorry for being such a flake secret pal! I'll take a picture later this week, but I received a maple leaf cookie cutter, a set of 3 pretty pens and stitch markers! My sisters were very jealous!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


I think there is a slippery slope with siblings, at least in my family. We are a very close family and I'm so thankful to be so close with my sisters and brother. However, learning they will all visit for Thanksgiving with about 2 weeks notice is a little bit of a shock (a welcome one though!). First my older sister bought a ticket, then my brother decided to drive down from the Bay area and then my twin sister who didn't want to be left out, buys a last minute ticket. With all the scheduling and last minute tickets the only day all 4 siblings will be together is Saturday so that's when we'll be celebrating Thanksgiving.

As stated in my secret pal questionnaire, it is my favorite holiday, and I get to do a lot of the cooking, which I actually enjoy. My older sister will also help out a lot. It'll be really nice, although fitting 6 adults, a small boy and a furry orange cat into a little over 1200 sq ft, should be interesting.

We're lucky we're close :) I'm looking forward to it!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Coffee Package :)

As stated in my last post, I have THE BEST sp9 spoiler. This is the contents of the package I found on the doorstep Tuesday:

This package is the the most thoughtful gift I have received in a very long time. It's clear my secret pal took a lot of time and caring putting this together and I'm thrilled. The yarn is on-line Goby and is a cotton/rayon blend. The bar chocolate is dark chocolate with espresso beans and lemon essence. The coffee is from a local coffee roaster in her area, and she said she's a tea drinker, so I even more appreciate the effort she put into it and finding a local coffee. (I'm assuming my secret pal is a she!) There's dark chocolate covered espresso beans, double espresso soap and a beaded keychain that looks like coffee beans. I wanted to rip into many parts of this package, but I also wanted to get a good picture of everything first, it did take quite a lot of self control though! The package is just so very cool and the theme is so perfect with my renewed coffee obsession. So if I haven't gushed enough already, thank you secret pal!

On the coffee side of things, as Madge put it, I MacGyver'd my larger roaster together. Last Friday it had it's first roast, and I was fairly pleased with how things turned out. I had to tweak the order of nuts and bolt around so it would fit nicely. This is what it looked like before the final tweaks:

The only things my husband did was enlarge some washer holes for me and I had trouble disconnecting some wires that he did for me. This part of the center shaft fits into a metric socket that sits on top of the motor. The original piece is all plastic, and I didn't want to risk it melting. It seems a lot of people just cover the top of the plastic piece with a metal cap, but I just wanted to be safe. Plus it was kind of cool to do it myself.

I was a little too excited when I did the first roast and kept on lifting the lid to look, which resulted in a slowed roast, but the coffee doesn't taste baked. The oven top slid around on top of the spring form pan and wouldn't stay put, so my next purchase will be some high temperature gasket goo to prevent it from slipping so much. I also need to find a way to get rid of all the chaff. On the whole though, for a first run I was pleased.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Spoiled Rotten

I'm a bad sp9 recipient, but I have the best sp9 spoiler. I've been so busy with work, since I taught 2 new classes for me this weekend, among other stuff going on. There are literally hundreds of emails in my box from 2 busy lists I subscribe to. I also was on duty for a list I help moderate last week so was even more overwhelmed. But I'm finding time now before I pick up my mother in law from the airport.

Last week I received this:

I was so surprised to see another gift from my sp9 spoiler! The air freshener is hanging up near my desk, and the yellow package contains a quilt block. When I get around to it, it'll probably end up being a small pillow. And I love the card, so sweet for her to put Winston look alikes on the homemade card. In a really busy week it's so nice to get surprises.

However, yesterday I was heading out the door, slightly late for work when I saw a small box by the front door. And it was another sp9 package! I couldn't believe my eyes, and even though I was running late, I tore the box open to look what was inside. But that will have to wait for another day when I have more time. I don't feel worthy for all the care she put into this package, and I really like everything in it. THANK YOU SECRET PAL!

Friday, October 20, 2006

I'm so lame

I was heading to bed last night and suddenly I realized just how lame I was. So I apologize. I'm giving away a reject, that's really crappy.

So to sweeten the deal and make me feel better that I am not being so lame, I would like to add 2 balls of sock yarn to the little sock. You have your choice of 3 stash regia sock yarns:

The regia stretch on the right has been swatched a little bit, but the other two sets are untouched. They've been stored in a ziplock bags and have been kept preserved in a rubbermaid bin deep inside my closet and have a slight hint of lavendar on them.

So hopefully this will get me out of the feeling so stupid!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Miniature Socks

When I knit, I normally knit compulsively. Any sweater that gets finished is done within a month, anything that does not is languishing in various rubbermaid bins. Last week I received 6 sock blocker keychains from Felt Up Designs.

I have yarn bins in the garage and my closet, and after going through at least 4 or 5 of the bins, I finally found my sock stash. In the 2+ years we've lived in this townhome, I have not gone through my stash. It was a little scary. Anyway, the sock stash was much more substantial than I thought and I could not remember when I purchased some of this yarn! But I found many great yarns to use for the keychains. From Saturday night to Tuesday I made 7 miniature socks, here are 6 of them:

I don't think I've been this compulsive for a long time, and I rarely make the same thing twice unless I have to as a sample. It really surprised me that I enjoyed making these so much, and my fingers are itching to make more. But I ran out of blockers. The pattern included with the blocker was pretty good, however I had to change my needle size a couple times to get one that fit the blocker like the picture and I substituted ssk's for k2tog tbl. There was no gauge so I set my own. With size 2 needles, after the first 16 rows the piece should measure 1/2" wide and about 1 1/2" long. Some were exactly 1 1/2", a couple were approx. 1 row shy of 1 1/2".

I was originally going to make one for my secret pal, but after further looking through her blog, I realized she already had one :( They all will have good appreciative homes and I'll think of something else for her.

The lonely seventh sock is from some striped regia and looks like this:

Compared to the others, I did not find it very pretty, so it was not blocker worthy in my eyes. I showed my SnB group and some people did like it, so if anybody would like this sock, please let me know ( basicknits [at] yahoo [dot] com ) and if I have more than one person that wants it, I'll draw a name next Friday, October 27th.

On the coffee side of things, I'm really excited because I'm building a larger capacity roaster. I'm loosely using the tutorial from here. My Fresh Roast has less than a 2 ounce capacity, this new roaster will be able to roast 1 1/2lbs. We ate dimsum last week in Rowland Heights, and Sunpentown is only 5 miles away so we were able to pick up the oven (top only) from their offices. I'm going to use a different spacer and I modified the all metal shaft a little. I have all the pieces, I just need my husband's help enlarging the holes in some washers, disconnect the heating element and it'll be ready for a test run. Hopefully Sunday I'll be able to give it a try.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Thank you Secret Pal!!

The mail yesterday brought two packages related to secret pal :) One is for my secret pal, and the other was from my secret pal! I could hardly believe it when I saw "SP9 Pal" in the return address!

Here is what I received:

The card said, "Just a small taste of treats to come". The Verbena scent is really subtle and very pretty. The drink cozy will be great for work since I take so long to finish my sodas and now I'm wondering if I should make halloween sugar cookies. Here I'm still coming up with a game plan to spoil my own secret pal and I already receive a gift. :) So thank you Secret Pal, I really appreciate the gift and you definitely put a smile on my face when I received it yesterday!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Nieces and Nephews

WARNING: If you don't like cats, don't read this post.

Although my husband has two nephews, on my side of the family we have cat nieces and nephews. Winston was the first cat to enter into my family and as stated earlier, he has lived with everyone in the family, which is saying something since I have 2 sisters, a brother and my parents. About a year after I adopted Winston, my twin sister adopted Tabitha:
She is a petite cat that was a stray on the streets of Philadelphia. She was brought into the clinic my sister was volunteering at and she fell in love with her. She's a stereotypical cat that does what she wants but she does like people to talk to her. Tabitha also likes to talk, A LOT, we tease her that she's all eyes no brain. My older brother now has her and she has a happy life in the SF bay area.

A couple months after my sister adopted Tabitha, two kittens were brought into the same clinic. They were only a day or two old and were found in a plastic bag in a drainage ditch or sewer. Neither kitten were expected to survive, but they both did with a lot of human mom loving and not much sleep. My sister raised a black tuxedo cat named Malcolm:
He looks all sweet in the picture but he is a monster. He's over 15 pounds and is constantly cranky. His body is very big but his head, whiskers and paws are small. I think that my sister overfed him, although he's pretty much all muscle. As Malcolm grew bigger, he and Tabitha increasingly did not get along, which is why she found a new home. Malcolm doesn't realize that he is a cat and does not like when my sister has a man in her life.

The calico cat behind Malcolm was named Chai, but after her food obsessions were found out she was renamed Tummy. When she isn't begging for food, she likes to hunt and has unfortunately caught many small animals. My twin sister also rescued her from a clinic she worked at for my older sister.
This is Tummy in a dog sweater my twin sister knit for a friend's dog. She needed a model, and Tummy was the right size. Poor tummy.

And last is Rocco. He was rescued by my twin sister as well. For a little while he lived with a friend and was named Marley. However he now lives with Malcolm and they have their rough patches but mostly get along. This picture of Rocco is pretty much the expression he gives most of the time.
We also call him monkey, because he will wrap his front arms around your neck if you lift him up. It took a while for him to trust humans and was a little aggressive, but he's now a very sweet affectionate cat.

I will blame my twin sister for us becoming a crazy cat family. She falls in love with strays and then distributes them among friends and family. We tease her that she only chooses lemons because they all have issues, only Winston is normal. Or that's what I like to think!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Secret Pal 9 Questionnaire

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
I like to knit anything wooly, especially alpaca. I tend to use aran weight or lighter yarns just because they are easier on my hands and I like the feel of the fabric. I don't like yarns with a lot of acrylic or microfiber, and anything that catches on semi-dry skin irritates me.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
My circulars are in a BassPro soft tackle binder with most of my accessories in that binder or in a small pencil case. I don't own many straight needles and what I have are mostly contained in a toolbox.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
I'm a self taught knitter via books with some internet help. I learned in college but became a more serious knitter about 7 years ago after I got married. I would consider myself a more advanced knitter since I teach and frequently draft patterns for my customers. However, I do acknowledge there is always something new I can learn.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products, etc.)
I like light floral clean scents. Any scent that comes in a green bottle normally falls into that category. I generally don't like anything that smells like food, because I don't like to smell what I can't eat ;) However, citrus smells are on the ok list. Anything too strongly scented gives me a migraine.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
I like salty foods better, but I am addicted to Loaker chocolate wafer cookies. I also like most gummy candies and dark chocolate. I tend to like tart or citrus flavors over sweet berry like flavors. I just don't like things that are overly sweet.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
I bead when I don't feel like knitting. I have a spinning wheel that is neglected and a loom that is even more neglected. I also enjoy cooking and baking.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
I have a pretty eclectic taste in music from indigo girls to beethoven. Most of my CDs are very old. My friend made me a mix lately with Ben Folds, Travis, Jack Johnson, etc, and I really like it.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
Blues, greens, reds, and pinks are always safe. Orange, purple, and yellow are not so safe but like in smaller doses. Being Asian, I like the color yellow, just can't wear it, although when I was little my mom put me in a lot yellow. And she wonders why I looked cranky.. I look jaundiced!

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
Happily married for almost 8 years. We have one very spoiled and very loved fur cat child and many cat nieces and nephews.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
I wear scarves, but not that much, it really is not necessary out here. Don't wear any of the others either, it's just too warm for hats and mittens, and although I made ponchos, I didn't wear any of them.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
If I had more time to knit for myself it would be sweaters. But I do like to knit smaller warmer items for my sisters and as gifts. Although we live in Southern California, I was born and raised outside of NYC and I have a lot of family out there. I make a fair number of purses but don't really use them.

13. What are you knitting right now?
Beaded purse and a double knit coaster, both as samples. I want to start an alpaca Michael Kors sweater from an older Vogue knitting magazine, or the Herbslied pullover from a Japanese knitting book. One of those will probably be my next major project for myself. Darn, should finish the ribby cardigan. ooops.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
I use mostly metal circular needles. Some bamboo and plastic are ok as long as they are fairly slick, although I own all types because it can change with the yarn or stitch pattern. For double points I like Brittany's the best.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
yes to both.

17. How old is your oldest UFO?
More like a TOAD at this point. About 7 years old, started soon after I really took back knitting again. Top down striped raglan sweater.

18. What is your favorite holiday?
Thanksgiving. Turkey, mashed potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce and oyster/sausage stuffing. Oh and my mom's tacos for lunch. Yum!

19. Is there anything that you collect?
Other than yarn, probably beads and coffee pots ;) I also have a weakness for things with an orange cat on them.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
I subscribe to Interweave Knits and Vogue Knitting, although I need to renew soon. I always look at new handpainted yarns, but haven't ordered any other than the socks that rock yarn. I just feel like I'm on yarn overload and don't have time to knit my own stuff these days.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
I'm always looking for new little tricks to make better finishes on items, whether it's a cast-on or a selvedge edge trick.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
I knit socks every now and then, but don't wear them that often. Although I think I finally found a pair of shoes that I can wear my socks in. I wear a size 6 shoe.

23. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Moka Pot

I love finding something I've wanted but don't need at a good price. Finding such a bargain is the perfect excuse to buy the unnecesary object. Yesterday I stopped by the local Tuesday Morning and found this:

It is a stainless steel Moka Pot, aka a stovetop espresso maker. Most moka pots that you find in Target and local coffee houses are aluminum, which can give a metallic taste to the coffee. The stainless steel ones are a little tougher to find and can be pretty pricey, especially for a Bialetti which this is not. I have always been intrigued by these since you place the cold water on the bottom, the grinds in the middle, and the coffee magically steams itself up to the top through the grinds.

I was really excited when my husband got home from the gym and he asked why we needed another type of coffee maker. To which I answered, "she who has the most ways to brew coffee wins." He really didn't like that answer. Hidden in various cupboards and in the garage are, one 8-cup bodum chambord french press, one 8-cup lexan french press (for camping), three 3-cup french presses (daily use and tea), an aeropress (that I'm still trying to like), a Capresso 10 cup electric coffee maker, a small stainless ibrik, a medium stainless ibrik, 3-4 vietnamese coffee contraptions and an old krups pump espresso machine that I purchased when I worked at a coffee shop. So, as you can see, I really needed the moka pot. Although my husband is responsible for the ibriks and the vietnamese coffee drip through makers, just had to add that. I could say that this will be my last type of coffee brewer, but I know that I would be lying.

I made a sample pot last night using purchased (?!) beans. It actually made a pretty nice strong but mellow brew that I slightly watered down to make us hazelnut americanos. I would not add hazelnut syrup to my own roasted beans, but I don't consider the beans I purchased quality.

I forsee a lot more decaf americano's in our future as an after dinner treat. Turkish coffee after dinner is nice, but I think this will be a little more satisfying, and cleaner on the palate.

And just because I had the camera out, a picture of Winston:

How can you not love a face like that??

Saturday, September 30, 2006


Annette started this line of posting that she got off of Grumperina's blog, so I'm jumping on the bandwagon like everybody else in my SnB group. Although, I will admit I had to look up the word meme and got thoroughly confused for a little while.

10 Knitterly things you didn't know about me - a meme:

1. I really dislike stockinette in the round. Out of 3 or 4 in the round projects, I barely finished one because I would get so bored just knitting. I also have not finished the one garter stitch sweater I started for the same reason.
2. I do like the look and simplicity of simple stockinette sweaters and when I've made them I normally knit them flat and then seam it. For some reason the switching from knit rows to purl rows is very relaxing for me.
3. I probably have more TOADs than UFOs in the various bins of yarn around the house. However, I don't have the heart to rip them out even though I know I won't finish the items.
4. My sisters are truly my best friends and being able to share knitting with them makes our bond that much closer.
5. The first sweater I knit for myself was way too thick and warm to wear in Los Angeles, so my twin sister has it. She wore it instead of a winter coat when she lived in Ithaca, NY.
6. The first sweater my twin sister made is the same color as the first one I made. However hers was too small for her and I have it.
7. Like many people I hate weaving in ends. In fact, my grey cabled vest the ends are still not woven in and I finished it years ago. When I wear it I just make sure no ends are sticking out.
8. I don't like wearing long sleeve cotton sweaters because they just feel heavy. I think I'm a wool/alpaca girl at heart. However, I do have quite a bit of cotton and cotton blends in my stash. I keep on picking up quantities to make short sleeve cardigans but it gets ignored for softer woolier yarns in the stash.
9. I have a ton of sock yarn but only wear my socks when we go camping once or twice a year.
10. I am a terrible perfectionist about my knitting and can not stand to have mistakes. So I do a lot of ripping.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Socks that Rock

As promised from yesterday's post here are some pictures of the Socks that Rock group order that Madge so graciously organized. Here is Madge with the booty:

And here are Marie and Annette with their purchases:

That was a candid shot, but I thought it was cute. There's another picture, but I will not subject Annette and Joan to an unflattering photo! I got a skein of lightweight Seal Rock and here is what it looks like:

There is actually a little more of the bright yellow showing on the other side of the skein. The colors are a little out of my normal comfort zone, but I really liked the colors.

It wasn't the only sock stash enhancement I did this week. When I arrived into work on Tuesday I noticed that the sock yarn had been restocked. I had heard a lot about the new bamboo regia, so I had to pick up 2 balls to try it. I also had an extra skein of koigu from my flower basket shawl and decided to trade it in for another color. I see socks being cast-on soon!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The search for glue.

I teach a felted bag class for my advanced beginning knitting class. In around 150 yards worth of knitting my students learn how to increase (M1), use paired decreases (k2tog & ssk), pick up stitches, work in the round and read an imperfect pattern. They do all this in the first class and have to repeat much of what they learn for homework in the body of the purse for the second class. Even though to an intermediate knitter these are all pretty standard techniques, for a knitter that has only made scarves it is not an easy project. However it is definitely attainable and once they finish it helps to build confidence to try other types of more advanced knitting. When they finish and felt the project, I make a deal with the students, that if they buy the materials, I'll make a specific swarovski beaded button for them. Sometimes finding the perfect closure for a purse can be difficult, so I help give them an option.

Well I was just finishing one of these buttons and I couldn't find my jeweler's glue that I use to attach the button bail to the bead I use to stabilize the button. I searched all the places I normally put my jewelry making stuff. Then I remembered my husband.

A couple years ago the fabric on the door of my car partially fell down. My sweet husband fixes my car and went through 2 pricey spray-on adhesives that were apparently made for automotive problems like mine. Neither worked for more than a couple days. He was ready to retry one of the adhesives when I told him that I was not convinced that a spray on adhesive could possible be strong enough. I handed him my jeweler's glue and asked that he humor me and try it. Worked great. Since then when he's needed a stronger glue for miscellaneous car and household projects I find the glue here:

Right on his workbench, where it obviously belongs! I think I'll need to get him his own tube so I can keep mine ;)

Now that the button was done I could cook a simple dinner for the glue thief. I don't cook a lot of Korean food, but this is a dish we call daddy's one pot chicken dish. It's one of the few dishes my dad cooks, although my mom makes it most of the time. It's comfort food and something I know my husband will enjoy. It's an easy dish of chicken fryer parts, onions, garlic, soy sauce, black pepper and potatoes. Here it is before the potatoes:

Not pretty, but very tasty over short grain sticky white rice. Normally I dislike onions, but the onions make all the liquid in the pot that the chicken braises in and flavors the potatoes. Somehow it just works and I hardly even know that I'm eating onions. If you want the recipe, just let me know!

Tomorrow I'm hoping to post some pictures from today's knitting group. Madge organized a group buy to Blue Moon Fiber Arts for some Socks that Rock yarn and she distributed the yarn. Many happy people and great pictures!

Monday, September 18, 2006


So I know that in my little description it says that I will discuss good food, and I've never even discussed food. If it were not for good food, I think my husband and I would not have lasted the first couple months of dating; aside from our last name, we do not have a lot in common. Fried chicken saved the day many times when we got into arguments, because no matter what, anything deep fried will appease most of my bad moods. Food was so important to us that my older sister wrote our wedding toast to Holly Jolly Christmas (our wedding was right before Christmas) but all the lyrics had to do with food. It ended with something about having a Rolly Polly marriage and be careful of what we eat because we want to recognize you next Christmas. It was really cute and well fitting. One of these days I've meant to dig out the wedding video and write down what she wrote.

I was trying to think last night of what restaurants would be worthy of my first mention on the blog and I could think of three that are all at the intersection of Baldwin Ave. and Duarte Rd in Arcadia. The three are all Asian, but very different in styles.

The first is May Mei, which is a Hong Kong style restaurant. It is not a dirty place, but not pretty or pristine either. The decor is stuck in the 80s and service is not always great if you don't speak Chinese. They don't like to call numbers in English so you have to keep checking, and they will give the good tables away to people who are pushy, not people who necessarily came first. If 2 or 3 parties get called at the same time, it pretty much is the first person to the booth gets it. My husband and I are generally very courteous people, but at that restaurant where we've been burned a number of times, if we were called first we'll insist on the table we want. They've gotten used to us since we eat there often enough. What does bring us back though is the food. My favorite dish there is the pan fried noodles, which they call chow mein. Thin egg noodles that have been probably first boiled then pan fried so they are crunchy. Then a light (no soy) seafood sauce with vegetables and seafood is poured over the top. We usually get the house chow mein which comes with chinese broccoli, bok choy, chicken, shrimp, white fish, scallops, and squid. I'm probably forgetting a couple ingredients. We also like the pork and salted fish hot pot. This is rice in a stoneware container that has large pieces of minced pork, really salty fish (sardines or mackerel) and chinese broccoli that has been placed on top to steam with the rice. Then when it comes to the table, they take the pork and broccoli out on a dish and add soy sauce to the rice with some of the fish and mix it up. The fish in this dish is very strong, so it is definitely an acquired taste. We also like the mongolian beef and kung pao chicken, which is similar but not quite like what you would get at other chinese restaurants. I think the restaurant is known for its salted fried chicken wings, which are also pretty yummy.

The second restaurant is Din Tai Fung, which is in the plaza next to May Mei. May Mei is more off of Duarte, while the plaza for Din Tain Fung has entrances on both Baldwin and Duarte. Whereas we go to May Mei for a good tasty dinner, we normally go to Din Tai Fung for lunch. This place is a Taiwanese dumpling house and gets very crowded quickly. Actually both restaurants can have long lines. Din Tai Fung uses a special process to make juicy dumplings. My favorites are the juicy pork dumplings and the juicy pork and shrimp. The Shio mai are pretty to look at, but the shrimp sitting on top is usually overcooked and dry, they are also too big to eat in one bite. A co-worker has told me her daughter swears by the special soup dumplings only served on weekends, but we have not tried them yet. We also always get the string beans which are stir fried and have the perfect amount of garlic and salt. I like the shanghai rice cakes, but that's only for people that like starchy foods, it reminds me of a Chinese version of Korean dukbohki. Same oval rice cakes as koreans with a chinese flavor and vegetables. My husband has been to the original Din Tai Fung in Taipei and had to brag about it, however he did say that the one out here does come pretty close. They will be expanding soon into a new location around the corner. The one thing I don't like about this place is that they do not put prices on their menu, and if you come later the dumplings can be less juicy and even dry.

The last place I will mention, because this is making me hungry is across Baldwin from Din Tai Fung. It is a sushi place called Maru. Of the 3 Japanese restaurants we tend to go to, this is more expensive but nothing in comparison to prices on the west side and San Fernando valley. I like this place because they stick to traditional and authentic sushi but sometimes with a little bit of a twist, and of course very fresh. It's been a while since we've eaten there, but my favorite dish I think is called albacore pickiri. It's albacore sashimi with some sort of very light japanese lemon sauce, a light soy based ponzu sauce, a thinly sliced jalapeno topped with a garlic chip. We also like the miso marinated black cod that has been broiled. It has a great flaky texture that has a perfect balance of sweet and salty. For a real treat we sometimes split an omakase dinner which is a chef's choice multi-course meal with items not on the normal menu. It can be something like a salad, sashimi, yakitori, grilled fish, a special sushi roll and the savory portion always ends with a fish broth and rice with beans. Then you have your choice of ice cream for dessert. The service is always great and the staff is super friendly. They are animal lovers that feed a small cat family in back and have pictures framed along the front desk that are not to be missed if you love cats.

I recommend all three of these places all the time, and we feel fortunate to live so close to so many good restaurants. I'll be upgrading the phone to a picture phone soon, so hopefully I'll be able to post some pictures and more accurate menu names. For those of you that are local, please feel free to let me know if you'd like more information, I've tried to be brief, but it's so hard with such good food!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

50th Roast

Yesterday afternoon I roasted my 50th batch of coffee in my Fresh Roast+. I don't know if I have the roasting down yet, but I'm starting to feel more confident of my coffee roasting skills. To celebrate, I roasted 2 coffees that I'm hoarding, my Sweet Maria's Harar Lot 19 and Sweet Maria's Costa Rican La Minita. I roasted both to just under second crack. They'll be rested well enough for Saturday's cup. I'm really looking forward to it. My Sidamo this morning was very fruity and it's silly but I love waking up knowing I'm about to have a great cup of coffee.

On Monday, I dyed two more sections of the self striping yarn. I've been keeping the excess dye in the fridge and just adding to what's there for the next stripes. Here's the dyeing in action:

As you can see I've folded up the two yard section onto saran wrap and then used a sponge brush to tap the dye onto the yarn. I presoaked the yarn for about 5-10 minutes in warm water and a surfactent type of detergent, although a mild soap would also work. Then I squeezed out as much water as I could before adding the dye. I learned the hard way that if there is too much water, the water will boil and felt the yarn or roving, so the less water the better. Also, don't leave white spots thinking the dye will migrate before it sets. Where the dye is on the yarn when it goes into the microwave is pretty much where it will set. So be careful to turn the yarn over and make sure you got everything.

So far 5 sections are dyed, just 7 to go.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Happy Birthday Winston

My cat officially turned 11 today. I've had him since he was 3 days old and he has lived with every person in my family for at least a week, so he really is a part of my family. I adopted him from a woman that worked at the Filene's near the coffee shop I worked at. She was moving to NY and could only take one of her two cats (male and female). She had already found a home for the female, but since the kittens were born (surprise!) they no longer could go to that home. So I had the luck of adopting the mom and two kittens.

This is a composite picture of the two kittens when they were probably around 2 months old:

I made a verbal commitment to adopt the cats before my roommate or landlord were aware. So I named the grey kitten Sabia, and told my roommate to name the orange kitten, hoping it would reduce the shock of cats suddenly invading the apartment. I always knew that I would keep just one cat and would find a home for the 2 I decided not to keep. For a long while, I assumed that I would keep Sabia because I thought she was so pretty. However, when the time came to find them homes, I realized that the mother and daughter were very attached. I found a great home for both girls, again from someone that worked at Filene's. He would update me on how they were for as long as I worked at the coffee shop, although he did rename Sabia, Dora.

Winston has lived all over Boston, New York and 3 years ago came to join my husband and I in California. He has adapted to living out here really nicely, partly because his dad spoils him. We call him King Winston in the house. We think he likes being the only child.

So last night I gave Winston his first gift. I have a friend in the bay area who gifted him with what was supposed to be a handmade strawberry catnip toy, but it looks more like a radish, so to us, it's a radish. I have rarely seen him play with any other toy since he has received it and decided for his birthday he needed another one. Of course, he went crazy over the toy last night and here he is:

I hope this works!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Kool-aid dyeing experiments

On Sunday afternoon I did a little bit of mixing and blending, inspired by this tutorial on blending, I started dyeing the 24 yard long loop I made the other day. I only did 3 sections, and here is what they look like so far:

The photo is a little blurry, but on my monitor it is pretty accurate for the colors. I did a lot of blending and of course wrote very little notes, but I'm pleased so far. Each color represents a 2 yard length of the loop. I'll probably try to dye up 2-3 sections at a time, when I have time. Next color I'm going to try to get is a nice bright lime green next to the turqoise on the left. I think it'll be mostly blues with some greens and maybe yellow. I'm still deciding, and with 12 sections I have a lot of options.

I did get an ok picture of the Flower Basket Shawl. I used about 1 2/3 balls of Koigu on a size 8 needle and added 2 or 3 extra repeats from the original Interweave pattern. The Interweave version definitely has better charts then the newly revised Fiber Trends pattern. But it's nice that the Fiber Trends pattern has many weights of yarns and different sizes. I'm glad I made the shawl, not sure if I'll wear it. For now it'll reside at one of the stores I teach at as a sample.

Of course as I was blocking the shawl, fatty had to supervise and later was found sitting in the middle of the shawl. Shoo-ing him off did not help, neither did my husband laughing.

Monday, September 04, 2006


My blog has been my own diary of sorts, but I'm ready for people to see, so I thought I would add more pictures. Since I share the digital camera with my husband, and it mostly resides in his home office downstairs, I don't use the camera too often. However, my lazy ass is realizing its not really that inconvenient to find it and use it myself. I somehow can move to take a cute picture of fatty but don't take the effort for my knitting.

Here is a picture of part of my disorganized craft center:

It has a total of 3 sections, greatly enhanced by my husband's great score off craigslist, that gave me more shelves, the cabinets on the bottom left and the drawers on the bottom right. I did have all my books organized by type, but after we took care of 2 fish tanks and kept them here, I never put my books back in order. Another item on my to do list.

With it being Labor Day weekend, I thought I would do something fun for myself since I blocked the Flower Basket Shawl (pictures were over exposed) and finished the awful repair job. I started winding a 24 yard loop to make my own self-striping yarn. I have a loom that isn't getting used because if I unfold it, we would have very little floor space in our bedroom. However, I thought I would use my warping board for this experiment. Here is the beginnings of the winding process:

I had to restart a couple times. It's been so long that I forgot how to use the board. Typically when you warp you want to make a cross so that the threads stay in order. I was trying not to do this because I wanted one continuous loop. Unfortunately, I made a cross even though I checked at one point, but I was able to push the cross out. I forgot that keeping an even tension throughout the winding process helps immensely and would just let go. If you see in the picture, the end is wrapped around the peg a couple times so I can maintain tension.

Here is the finished photo:

I ended up tying figure 8 ties every 2 yards and may dye it tomorrow if I have time. Not sure if I'll use Wilton's cake dyes or Kool-aid. I'd love to use real dyes, but don't have the space to have pots and utensils dedicated just for that. Also, I so seldom dye that it doesn't seem worth the investment. I know a lot of people say kool-aid and food coloring is light fast/wash fast, but I'm not convinced. Well, I guess we'll see in a couple years.

This morning I brewed the FC+ Harar, and my husband actually liked the C+ we had yesterday better. That completely surprised me. The C+ was roasted 2 minutes less than the FC+, I might try a roast right in between the 2, it might be optimum. Then again, neither roast was really rested enough.

We went to Coffee Klatch tonight just to hang out, and I was surprisingly a little disappointed with my latte. I'm not a big espresso drinker, but I do like my latte's strong. Rather than asking for an extra shot, I asked that they not add too much milk. The woman at the register told me then I should order a cappucino, but I told her I didn't like a lot of foam, to which she looked completely confused. She then asked, "well then the cup won't be full", uhm, yes, that is ok, that is what I'm asking for. Even though the cup was only about 2/3 full with the right amount of foam, I couldn't really taste the espresso. A little disappointed, but I didn't feel like being high maintenance and let it go. I think I'll just get an Americano next time with the extra shot.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

And I tell my students to count!

I always remind my students to count every once in a while when they are working on a project. You never know when you might have accidentally lost or added a stitch, especially when working with a more complicated pattern.

Here I was working on the Artyarns zigzag modular scarf, and I only have 33 stitches. I should have 34. Somewhere I probably didn't increase and I have no idea where. I'm using such slinky yarn too that ripping has to be done slowly and carefully. This will be a store sample so I want it to be perfect, plus the sections are now 2 rows off per section I goofed on. I was about to start the last repeat and the ending triangle too. I put it aside in disgust not wanting to know how much I'll have to rip out. The sad part is that I was thinking this was such an easy/boring project and was just waiting to start something new. I'm kicking myself for being so complacent, but I'll fix it and finish it, hopefully soon.

On the coffee side, I roasted two batches of Ethiopian Harar Horse, one at City+ and the other at Full City+. Had the City+ this morning, and although better than the Guatemalan at C+, I have a feeling I like my rut of just going into second crack. I'm glad I'm experimenting though because I am seeing different characteristics of the coffee. I have major coffee lust for the Sweet Maria's offerings right now, but it'll have to wait, even with a gift certificate waiting to be spent.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Time Off

I had unexpected time off the past couple weeks from one of the stores that I teach at. I had such high expectations for my time off, and, well, I didn't really do as much as I had expected.

Things I did do:
1. Signed up for Friendster but only because my best friend sent me an invite. I think it's really silly, but it's always nice to be more connected.
2. Spent far too much time outside in the heat taking pictures of jewelry, which leads me to:
3. Opened a small etsy store for my residual earrings. I used to sell to a boutique in South Pasadena, and this is stuff that was originally destined to them, but decided to try it solo. Again, we'll see, but it has been fun. And if you're curious click here.

Hmm, and that's about it. I thought I did more.

What I should have done:
1. Written up the pattern for my beaded purse and taken a picture of it for the stores I teach at. Will likely sell the pattern.
2. Finish second sample of the beaded purse.
3. Finish an ill fated repair that has given me fits in more ways then one can count.
4. Block the Flower Basket Shawl.
5. Stock the fridge. With all this time, I haven't even been cooking. Our fridge is a pathetic mix of condiments and leftovers from eatting out. Oh, and thawing young coconut juice.. mmm...

I did do the mundane house stuff, like pay bills, dishes, laundry, etc., but then I have to do that or it's just kind of an issue. My husband does a lot of the house cleaning though, because he gets upset over clutter much faster than I do.

So no knitting to talk about and no new beading. I did roast 2 batches of the same coffee (Guatemalan Dos Marias from Jones Coffee) at 2 different roast levels. Since the FR+ roasts so quickly I usually take the roast just into second crack. I decided to stop one roast about 30seconds to a minute before I thought second crack would hit. I'm not sure if I really like it. The flavor is far less full, a little flat even. My husband said, "you didn't brew this coffee as strong as usual." Today after a little more rest, I liked it better, but I think I like the coffee in general more at FC+ than C+. I will definitely try the experiment again now that I'm more confident in my roasting skills. I didn't get any grassy taste like the last time I tried it, so at least I'm learning. I'm afraid I'm roasting to the same level all the time, so I need to learn to vary it and not get stuck in one place.

Obligatory cat photo. This is of fatty sitting next to the catnip I'm growing for him in the backyard. He actually chased the ratty white cat with an orange tail out of our backyard when it invaded his territory. The white cat was going straight for the catnip, and fatty wasn't going to take that. It's big news in this house because fatty isn't known for moving very much if he sees no need to, which he doesn't see a need to most of the day. In this pictures he is only mildly high.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Parents should never get sick.

I think I'm really naive in thinking that nothing will ever happen to my parents. I'm in my early thirties, and I should know that occasionally things will happen, and much to my child like view, they are not immortal. For that matter, my cat is not immortal either. However my brain does not want to comprehend that at all.

My mother and father went hiking at Bear Mountian, New York, and my mother ended up breaking her ankle. They got her to the community hospital that we know quite dearly because I was born there and my father worked there for 35 years. It was pretty bad, so she was in the hospital since Sunday and was not able to get surgery on the ankle until today due to swelling. She'll be there until early next week.

However, I had a very impractical reaction to this whole ordeal. I just kept on thinking, "my mommy is in the hospital!" Apparently, my twin sister had a similar reaction, so I am not alone. Neither of my parents have ever been hospitalized except when us kids were born. I know we are fortunate that they are so healthy, but at the same time it really screwed me up when she entered the hospital because it was such a foreign thought. With my parents being across the country it makes it a little more difficult because I don't want to bother them on the phone and I can't help in any way.

Meanwhile, my twin sister had a biopsy procedure due to a possibly cystitis, and I had absolutely no fear for her. Jenny, I love you, but I just don't understand myself sometimes!

On the knitting front, the flower basket shawl is done and needs to get blocked. I've been knitting quite a bit lately. I started a modular scarf and that is almost done. I'm making it out of Plymouth 24K in a green/brown/cream and of course gold colorway. It is coming out nicely and is very subtle, not as overtly zig zag looking as another yarn would look. A bit of a waste of time to do it with this yarn because it is so subtle, but I actually like it, where as I'm not fond of the whole modular look otherwise. It'll be a sample at Needle in a Haystack. Also making a larger beaded evening bag for the same store, and for pattern writing. I really need to put more pictures up.

Here's one my husband did of fatty:

Sunday, July 30, 2006

First Novelty Yarn

I've been talking so much about coffee I thought I would share something from my knitting past. I taught myself how to knit back in college but re-taught myself and more seriously after I got married. We lived back then in a gorgeous apartment down in Redondo Beach with a partial ocean view, just on the other side of the street from the ocean. Partial, because we could only see the ocean if we leaned out of our balcony and peered between the buildings across the street. We had all the advantages of beach living with the cool breezes, the ocean air and a pier with the churros, ice cream and seafood within a 5 minute walk. It was a pleasant two years, and a time I look back on very fondly.

However, my husband was a dot com-er who was looking for a new job and he had an interview in silicon valley. I went with him, and to celebrate the job offer, we took route 1 back home and stopped for the night just north of Cambria. In Cambria, we stopped at Ball, Skein and More since I had just started to become more passionate about my knitting. My patient husband came in with me and was impressed by all the colors and different yarns. He happened upon a table of really soft scarves and made me touch the scarves. I had not ever bought any novelty yarn or even considered it. I was still just using Joann's and Michael's yarns with the exception of yarn for a pair of socks. I bought two balls of black Trensetter Zucca to make a simple garter stitch scarf. It was the softest yarn I had touched up until then and at something like $7/ball it was the most extravagant yarn purchase I had ever made!

The scarf ended up being a Christmas gift for my best friend. She was finishing up her last year of medical school near New York City and needed more scarves. Last time I visited her at her place, she still had this scarf although it looks pretty ratty. I've had the intention in the last two winters to replace the scarf, and I'm really happy the gift was so appreciated. She's one of the few people that I will always knit for since she appreciates what I make for her.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


So the Fresh Roast and I have made a compromise without having to send it back and without further complaint. I'm still not as pleased with the roasts as I was with the first roaster, but I think I'm getting pretty close with some changes. The roaster now gets connected to a 100ft extension cord borrowed from my husband's shop. Then I make sure the a/c, 2 fans and the tv is on. For some reason when the roaster is set up to the extension cord, the fan works a little better and the heating element is a little less hot. I'm now getting roast times up to the 9-11 minute mark. I still think anything under a FC roast will be too grassy, but the coffee is getting tasty again.

I picked up some Guatemalan from Jones coffee in Pasadena, and it already smells great from roasting yesterday. It'll be really convenient to have a local source of beans without having to stress about shipping rates and availability. I'm so hoping it won't disappoint.

I'm having a lot of fun with the beading books my husband brought home. I made an alligator for the wife of the couple that took care of my husband in Japan as a thank you gift. We are sending some other things as well, like coffee from Jones coffee.

I also made a flying piggie for my older sister and it has to be one of my favorite beaded projects so far. She is also getting 3 necklaces that we collaborated on while she visited. One is from a Tiffany bracelet given to her by an ex-boyfriend. It was oval pearls that was only knotted between the last 2-3 pearls and although pretty, was not really her style. So it is getting reincarnated into a long necklace with oval czech glass beads in the Tiffany blue opaque with a delicate chain in between the beads. It's simple and will be very pretty. The nice thing is we'll incorporate all the original bracelet's components, and if she gets bored down the road it can get done up a different way again. The gift that keeps on giving.

On the knitting front, I should finish my flower basket shawl, but in typical style, I already have my eyes on another project. The Japanese knitting book my husband also gifted me with has a great sweater with an acorn and oak leaf cable up the front. I already have yarn set aside and have started to play with swatches in another comparable yarn. I really need to think about getting pictures up!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


My older sister is visiting this weekend, a short visit, but that's ok. She lives in Manhattan and I don't get to see her very often. We talk a lot on the phone and she is someone I can always rely on to give me a mostly unbiased opinion. If I'm complaining about my husband, she usually takes his side! But she's usually right.. darn.

I wanted to have some homeroast ready for her when she arrives this weekend so roasted two batches yesterday that should be perfectly rested for her on Saturday morning. I put the Fresh Roast on a 100ft extension cord with the 45gms, and I was finally able to replicate my times with my other Fresh Roast. Still marginally on the fast side, but I'm happy that I can get the slightly deeper roasts again. I'm not a big fan of bright coffees but I'm trying to learn to appreciate them.

My husband is back from his business trip. YAY!! He brought back many gifts and I got quite a haul of japanese beading books, as well as one knitting book and one crochet book. I keep on looking at them over and over, not knowing where to start. I will try to take pictures of them. No knitting going on, although the house looks great. My husband came home and wanted to do a complete reorganization which drives me crazy on one hand but I know is necessary. The house does look great and he did 90% of the work. We have my childhood piano coming in soon so we now have room for the piano. I hope I don't drive the neighbors crazy playing it!!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Fresh Roast try #2

So I tried the Fresh Roast again with only 45gms of coffee, with the premise that a smaller batch size will mean a longer roast time. The fan still felt a little anemic to me, but at least moved the beans a little better. My standard resting rate did not prolong the roast time to what I could do before on the old roaster, so I will definitely notify Fresh Roast.

I wish it wasn't so hot out here so I could use the poppery II. Lately, when the sun sets it's still around 80 degrees out. Waking up early is out of the question since I'm so used to staying up to at least 1am, usually 2am.

On a happier note, my 10lbs of Ethiopian coffee came in the other day, and my 45gm roast was the Sidamo. I'm already looking forward to it and its starting to smell great already. I need to stop opening up the containers to smell them, but I just can't help myself.

My knitting is at a stand still too. I'm supposed to finish this sweater from hell and I feel guilty if I work on anything else. However, the yarn is very old and squeaks, so I really hate working on it. I only have a little sewing and two bands to do, so I should just suck it up. I'm never, ever, taking in a repair again. I really would like to work on the Flower Basket Shawl.

Hubby is in Japan right now on business and he's picking up beading books and a knitting book for me. I'm really excited. The Japanese patterns are so great and the charts makes things so easy. The materials are a little harder to interpret but using a little common sense and educational guesses I've been ok so far. If all else fails though, my brother is dating this great Japanese woman that can translate. My brother is awesome, he is reliable and is always there to help when needed.

My little 3-d chihuahua is done except for some ends to weave in. I won't be able to take a picture since the camera is with my husband.
Cover of Japanese dog book
The chihuahua is on the cover. I made mine with light colorado topaz. I'm hoping that is the right color for her dog.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Stand Still

I'm at a coffee stand still and I'm a little upset, but I'll get over it. Fresh Roast must have sent an entirely new base unit in the mail to me because my roasting chamber does not fit into this base the way it did into the one I sent back. I did one roast I think on Wednesday and it was already at 1st crack in less than 2 minutes and the entire roast was done in less then 5 minutes. I noticed the fan was not strong at all. Using the Sweet Maria's tip sheet, I made the fan stronger. Tried another roast today, and again, even with tipping, my 65 gms of green beans did not want to move. I ended up manually stirring them for the first minute or so, and by that point they were ok, but chaff was all over the place. Did my usual stopping the roast for 30 seconds every 2 minutes or so for the first 6 minutes, but again, the roast was very rapid and I had to pull the entire roast at 7 minutes. Prior to this I would stop my roasts from anywhere from 9 minutes to 11 minutes. Now I have to start the whole process over and possibly make more modifications, most likely in batch size. That, or send the whole roaster back again. My fan could have died before because it was too strong, but at the same time it was perfect for my needs, in terms of quantity and timing. I was just getting comfortable with the timing of the roaster.

In the mean time, I picked up a West Bend Poppery II at a thrift store in my search for a cheap convection oven top to make a SC/CO. I turned the popper on, and the fan worked well but it didn't seem to generate much heat. Opened up the bottom and the wire to the main heating element is disconnected. I'll probably solder the wire to where it should be in the next day or two and try this set up verses the Fresh Roast next roast day if its cool enough.

My Ethiopian Sidamo and Harrar are also not here yet, they are somewhere either in the USPS system or possibly was a miscommunication and was not sent yet. I was really looking forward to that too :(

So all in all a bad coffee day.

On a better note, I'm making a 3-D crystal chihuahua for a friend who works at the bead shop I go to. She had a pretty bad stroke a couple months back and I've been meaning to make this since she fell ill. Hopefully I'll have it done by my class at the bead shop on Friday. I'm so excited because I haven't taken a bead class yet at this shop, and I finally jumped in. I'm taking a beginning glass fusing class. I'll definitely take pictures.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

I am a hamster


My last post I mentioned I might have hoarding tendencies, well it isn't might anymore, I am officially a hoarding hamster. Specifically dry processed African coffees. I just purchased 10lbs of dry processed African, half Sidamo, half Harrar. Yum!

I won't be afraid to roast my African coffees now that I have enough. My husband used to tease me because when I would eat sushi, I would eat in order from my least favorite to my favorite if I ordered a set sushi dinner. By the time I got to the last piece that I was salivating over, I would not enjoy it as much because I was already full. I think I'm doing the same with coffee, roasting and drinking the coffees I like, but don't love first, and even though I have more of my favorites, I'm afraid to roast them. I just don't want to run out. However, with this new order, I'll be able to roast with no fear.. hopefully!

In the mean time, roasting is on hold. My fresh roast fan decided to die mid-roast of a Colombian coffee, thank goodness it wasn't the Aged Sumatra that was due to go next. The roast was ruined even though I tried to pan roast the rest, the bottom beans were already burned, and I was too panicked while doing the pan roast that it was just awful.

However it was a blessing in disguise. I went to the coffeegeek forums and looked up some local roasting companies to buy roasted beans from while I wait for the fresh roast to get fixed (under warranty). I went to Jones Coffee in Pasadena and was pleasantly surprised and really excited at their shop. The owner was so sweet to me, even though I was nervous and shaky. It was just such a cool space and you could see the roaster and green beans behind the counter, and it made me so excited that I didn't know what to say. I picked up some Sumatra and am drinking it right now. Very tasty, and they sell green beans too! A local source of green beans is always welcome and I read their story on-line and they really are an asset to the coffee community.

I also read on-line that there are a lot of great coffee place in our area. We hit Coffee Klatch in San Dimas on our way to meet friends in Rancho Cucamonga. Yummy espresso and also a great space. My husband liked the space so much he wants to just go there to hang out.

On the knitting front, I have no right to start a new project, but I started the Flower Basket Shawl. My coworker is already well into the second repeat, and it looks great. I'm playing with the double decrease, whether to do a centered double decrease or the right slanting as specified in the pattern. I think I'm going to do what is in the pattern, because it might turn into a class. If it does, I really should stick to the pattern. I'm doing it in color 514 which is a combination of mostly greens and a little yellow. Not sure if I'll wear it, but it's a fun knit and will look great displayed at the shop. I also have to get my beaded purse written up for the store. So many things to do, and all I want to do is surf the web about coffee!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Obsessing over coffee

Posting has slowed down, I think I'm obsessing over coffee lately and the blog is getting a little skewed, I had hoped to balance things out, but the coffee has become really important. I'm up to 15 batches in my Fresh Roast, and I'm pondering what will go in today. I'm a little bummed that I didn't jump fast enough on some Harrar on one of the coops, but at the rate of my consumption, it's probably a good thing. I guess these things will come up from time to time. I'm surprised though at how fast Sweet Maria's sells out of beans, and my hoarding tendencies are getting a little nervous.

I've not had the best coffee education in the past, and I thought I was not an African coffee fan. However, my first sip of Ethiopian Harrar was a wow moment, and I'm starting to rethink the whole African bean phobia. I just did not like the level acidity but I see there are so many other types of beans and maybe I just tried ones that were very pronounced for the region. Not all African beans are overwhelmingly acidic I'm starting to learn. It may have to do with wet verses dry processing, and I think I'll do some research on that today.

On the knitting front, I'm nearly done with a cashmere scarf for commission work. It'll be nice to get that over with. Also have some finishing I've been putting off far too long that I'm hoping to get over and done with soon. My next project I think will be the Flower Basket shawl, the smallest version from the Fall 2004 Interweave Knits. A co-worker and I will start it this week and I picked up yarn at the store's sale yesterday. I've already started the same shawl on a thicker weight yarn, but I just don't like lace in a dk weight yarn or heavier. Especially for a shawl, it just seems bulkier than it should be. This attempt will be Koigu.. mmm.. Koigu.

I'm hoping at some point to get the husband up to my computer so I can fix my Dreamweaver issue and get pictures up on this blog.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


The key for me to being organized, like many people, is to come up with a plan of attack to begin with and stick to it. It also doesn't hurt to be super obsessed about said thing.

I have officially done 9 roasts in my fresh roast. I now have an excel spreadsheet with important roasting data, notes about the roasting and notes about how it tasted. I also have the same information in a binder but with a little more detail. The spreadsheet is so I can sort the data if necessary, the binder because I know myself and I know that I process information better when I can flip through something physically. I think I perfected my roast sheet, and am feeling very smug. I can bet in a couple weeks it'll all change, but I feel good so far. My binder is separated by coffee, in alphabetical order, with an index of what is represented in front. I'm also sorting my roasting by batch number.

I'm feeling a little guilty though. After reading through the coffeegeek forums, I'm now coveting a Stir Crazy, Convection Oven set up. I read the forums before and couldn't figure out what a SC/CO was, but now I see it could be an answer if I want to have longer roast times and bigger batches as gifts.

My twin sister's birthday gift to me, is on its way, and shortly I'll be the proud owner of a Capresso Infinity grinder. My Braun is not so good, produces a fairly even grind but mixed. The grind I want but an additional third of my beans ends up as powder. The waste of the powder is starting to bother me and the new grinder is going to be very welcome. I've started to strain my grinds to get rid of the powder, so now I don't end up with sludgey coffee in my french press. At the same time, the waste is really showing.

On the knitting front, at knitting group on Wednesday I pretty much finished the second half of the beaded purse. I grafted it last night and started to sew it up. Hopefully I can finish it today so it can go into the case and I can be done with it for now. It'll still need a liner, but that can wait. The important part is done. I don't know what I'll work on next. hmmm :)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Birthdays and Coffee

This past Wednesday was my birthday. I've been telling people that I think once I hit 30, I stopped being excited about my birthday, and definitely am more apprehensive about telling my age. I feel old, even if I don't look old. My only wish is that I look as if I'm out of college instead of in highschool. I know looking young is a blessing, but sometimes it's just a pain in the ass! I used to teach near a highschool at around 3pm just as they were getting out. I once overheard a woman say to another woman that Patty didn't work before 3 because she had to go to school. Not that I want to go back to highschool, but it would certainly be nice to not have as much responsibility that I do more than 10 years later!

But onto the good stuff. I have many memories of regional coffees through college. India Monsooned Malabar reminds me of a time I spent in Scotland, while Costa Rican La Minita reminds me of Coffee Connection in Boston, years before Starbucks bought them out. Doing a little research on replacement parts for my french press, I found that you can buy a personal coffee roaster for under $100, and I was so excited. I miss those coffees that I have not been able to find roasted in years and they were all available green (unroasted) .

My Fresh Roast Plus 8 arrived on Monday and within an hour I already had it out and was roasting. I wanted to have fresh roasted coffee on my birthday, and doing a lot of research learned that coffee needed to rest before it was brewed so received it just in time. I did a sample roast of a Colombian coffee and a Costa Rican. I was in for a little shock, I naively did not realize that roasting coffee smells like you are burning wet hay. The whole house smelled.

This is a picture of my first roast and the difference in volume of unroasted verses roasted. The picture is a little dark, and I roasted a little dark because I'm used to Peet's coffee, but since that roast I'm going lighter.

I have a lot to learn about roasting, but have already done 4 batches and am pleased with my results so far.

On the knitting front, I'm working on a beaded evening bag, and had to rip it out, but it'll be worth it. The pattern is my own design and it just needed some tweaking, the width I envisioned just wasn't proportionate to the handles, so had to make it a little wider. I'm also making a baby hat to look like an acorn. I made one before, and of course can't find my notes for it, so am starting from the beginning again. Oh well, at least it's just a hat!

Saturday, May 06, 2006


My husband and I went to Scottsdale for a couple days. He had some business to do out there, and I decided to tag along with him. I only had to cancel 1 drop-in class to go, so it was a good opportunity to get out of town. We had not been on a vacation together since our first anniversary that did not involve family or friends going with us.

First impression was, HOT! Yes Los Angeles has its very fair share of heat, but it was just the beginning of May and I was already sticky. However, other than that, we felt that people were very friendly. It definitely had a different feel than Los Angeles which was a nice change.

My husband very graciously went with me to a bead shop and a yarn store. Scottsdale Bead Supply was small compared to where I get supplies here in Los Angeles, however they had a huge selection of beads. The beads went from floor to ceiling and was well organized for a small space. They are currently building a new space and looks like it will be a lot larger. If we go out there again, I will be curious to see how it looks. I'm currently on a severe beading diet, but I could have easily spent some money there. They had a great selection of silver and semi-precious beads.

We also went to Arizona Knitting and Needlepoint. From the outside it looked like this little tiny house, and I didn't expect much from it. But the house was very long and it was filled with yarn, including lots hanging from the ceilings. They had a great selection of basics, which is always nice to see, as well as standard novelties. I was impressed by their Ironstone collection too, I don't think I've seen that much Showstopper and Pizzazz in one place! Since I had knit most of a baby hat on the way to Scottsdale, I picked up some yarn for more baby hats to knit on the way back. Just some cotton classic, since that is my standard for baby hats. It knits up nicely and wears well.

The trip overall was not as successful as we had expected mostly because the hotel was just awful. Smoke filled with a sleazy looking massage parlor next to it. However, we were glad to get out of town and see something new.

Monday, May 01, 2006


My name is Patty and I'm not sure why I'm doing a blog. I've always thought of them as kind of silly but at the same time was a little envious of those that had the organizational skills to have them! So I'm going to see if I have the persistance to do this.

What is spurring this blog is my love of two things, and by the name of the blog that is kind of obvious. Since highschool I've had an obsession of coffee that only got worse when I worked in a coffee shop during college. We were such geeks at the store that we would test one another on where a coffee was from by smell. It wasn't a quality store by any means, but we had fun and it was a good experience.

Knitting is a hobby that has turned into a job. I teach knitting at two different stores in the Southern California area. I'm in a little bit of a rut with knitting because I don't have much time to actually knit for myself. So in the time I give myself, I bead. But calling the blog: coffeeandknittingandbeading would just be a little much.

So if you decide to read my ramblings, it'll not be a pure knitting blog, but more about all the hobbies I don't have time for. It will be a little bit of knitting, some beading, and talk about coffee with food mixed into it.