Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Skiing in Maine

While I love winter for its sweaters, I love winter for another reason: skiing! Unfortunately, I don't get to go as often as I want to - skiing is a very expensive hobby to have (I guess my other hobbies of knitting and eating is too, depending on how often and how much you indulge)! This year, my first ski trip was a belated x-mas gift from a friend to Butternut, which is a little-known mountain in Massachusetts. The trails aren't steep at all, but they are very long and leisurely. A good mountain to start the season with! My next mountain had to be more challenging - turns out that my boyfriend's relatives in Maine all work on a ski resort and had mounds of ski passes to give away - all we had to do was find a way to get there and we could ski as many times as we wanted. Yes! The trip to the ski resort was a bit long -the infamous Fung Wah Bus to Boston took 4 hours (no crack smokers in the bathroom, nor an accidental viewing of the driver's porn collection on the bus' movie screen occurred this time), then a bus to Portland was another 2, then about another 3-4 hours to Rangeley, where Saddleback Mountain is. While it sounds horrible, it was totally worth it. While New York doesn't have a lick of snow left, Rangeley looked like a winter wonderland - when you get to the top of the mountain, you can see even see Canada. The winds from the north were pretty brutal - I thought my face was going to fall off, even with a ridiculous face mask on. Luckily, we were invited back to visit in March, when the weather is more temperate. Hurray!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Asymmetrical Cabled Cardigan

A very short knitting project - this was was done quickly, using frogged yarn from a failed project using KnitPicks worsted weight yarn. The frogged yarn resembled ramen noodles, and it was twisted around while I was knitting; I didn't bother straightening it out very much after I unraveled, and so the texture of my finished product was not as smooth as I would have liked, even after a harsh blocking! I got the pattern for this cardi here. Minor modifications: I casted on 16 stitches less on the body than what the pattern called for so that I would have a tighter fit. I didn't change anything for the sleeves. My yarn wasn't stable enough to support button holes or a stand-up collar very well, so I cheated: I sewed the sweater closed so that I would have to pull the sweater up over my head in order to wear it. Doing so limits my ability to wear the sweater open in front, but since it's asymmetrical, it looks a little funny if you wear the cardigan open anyway. If I were to make this again, I would use a sturdier yarn so I can actually get usage out of my buttonholes, or find a better way to make buttonholes. I'm very happy that I now have a sweater that I can wear after normal sweater season is over, and I love having a project that didn't require me to make long sleeves! Sleeves, while functional things to have, are so so boring to knit! I needed a break.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Having Fun with my Diana F+ and Epson Scanner...

... the only thing I haven't gotten a hang of is keeping the pesky dust particles off of my negatives as they are being scanned. Also, while my Epson Perfection 4490 has adapters for both 35 mm negatives and medium format film, I haven't figured out a good way to scan the entire 35 mm negative, sprockets included. Any advice on that would be much appreciated, as the inclusion of the sprockets are what makes the pictures interesting in a lot of the shots... Below are some test shots with the Diana while I was visiting my parents in Ohio during New Years. It took me awhile to figure out that people shots with my Diana didn't turn out well at all (it's hard to tell how well you're doing, because you obviously don't see the results until you develop the film!), but I think that my future usage will be restricted to landscape shots for the most part.

The double exposure feature on the camera was fun to play with.

See the dust particles above? Annoying! I don't know how to get rid of it...
Taken with a fish eye lens.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Pad Thai

My love of Thai food started during my sophomore year in college, when I would eschew cafeteria food in favor of take-out pad thai. Little did I realize then that the dish I dearly loved was not an entirely authentic experience. When I went to Thailand a couple of years later, the first thing I did after checking into my hostel was stop at a street food vendor. Since then, I've been to a lot of restaurants in order to relive this street food experience - while New York is one of the best places to find a good plate of plate of pad thai, they haven't come close to what I got while I was there. It's hard to put a finger on what's different - the best way I can explain it is that the food is less intense here - the essence of what makes something pad thai as opposed to something else has been diluted somehow. Being DIY type of person, I started to look for my own recipes. I found a very good one here. Buying everything (ingredients, supplies) to make it was pretty cheap, given my proximity to Chinatown - Kam Man, Bangkok Center Grocery, and Hong Kong Supermarket come to mind. I even ended up investing in an iron wok, as well as a pair of tongs (makes serving much easier). While I've used oyster sauce before, I have never worked with fish or tamarind sauce. Let me just say that fish sauce lives up to its name. Actually, it's pretty unbearable, really. I almost lost my appetite while making the base sauce, but when you take the finished sauce and mix it in with the noodles and meat, it miraculously transforms into something magical and delicious. Hard to explain. I imagine it's like making cheese (not that I ever would in a million years, not in my Brooklyn apartment anyway) - very smelly in the making, but with addictive results. The picture above was my clumsy first attempt. I've done it at least 10 times since then - once you get the hang of it, it's really simple to do. Much recommended.