Monday, September 30, 2013

Dear Wil Wheaton....

Dear Wil Wheaton,
In three days, you will be in my hood. No, really. The Birchmere is within walking distance of my house. And I intend to walk to the show on Thursday evening.

Art? Or Vajayjay?
I mean, really? Who are we kidding?
Del Ray is an awesome neighborhood and there are some places you should visit while you’re in town. I can even take you around if you want. No strings attached. I don’t need a ticket – already bought mine. I’m not looking for a date – no offense, but you’re not really my type (i.e. you’re not single). Hell, I’ll even pay for dinner. All I would ask is a photo (potentially by the “it would be obscene if it wasn’t art” statue in the ‘hood) and maybe for you to sign my Bazinga shirt. And I reserve the right to sing and/or hum the song Butters sang about Awesome-o/Cartman, but with some changes to the lyrics. 


Some restaurants to consider:
1.       Holy Cow – gourmet burgers. They’re addictively good. And they have waffle fries! The sweet potato waffle fries come with marshmallow fluff for dipping. Seriously. Plus, they give money back to local charities/organizations – they have a list and you can choose which one you want your $1 to go to (I would suggest the Alexandria Citizens Band, but I’m biased).
By the same folks that run Holy Cow are Pork Barrel BBQ and the (in)famous 18+ Sushi Bar. Holy Cow is, by far, the best of the three.
2.       Los Tios or Taqueria Poblano. There are two kinds of people in Del Ray. Those who prefer Los Tios, and those who favor Taqueria Poblano. I’m a Los Tios girl, myself. It’s family-run, bigger on the inside, and you can ALWAYS count on a great meal. It’s Mexican/El Salvadoran.
3.       Del Ray Pizza is great if you’re looking for pizza. Hell, if it’s good enough for President Obama, it’s good enough for us. Amirite.
4.       If you absolutely, must, without a doubt, eat lots and lots of cheese, go to Cheesetique. It’s a little on the expensive side, but you can eat all the cheese!

For dessert:
1.       There’s really only one thing to say: The DairyGodmother. Again, if it’s good enough for Barack, Sasha and Malia… The flavor of the day for Thursday is Mint Chocolate Chip. This place is a cornerstone of the community. The only reason you shouldn’t go there is if you hate everybody and everything. 

2.       Throwing a bone to The Happy Tart – a gluten-free pie place across the street from Dairy Godmother. But honestly, custard is already gluten free, so why bother?

Other stuff:
Rikku is way cooler than I am.
1.       Del Ray has a great shop that is an “Exotic Planterium and Card & Comic Collectorama” Seriously.
2.       Del Ray Variety, a relatively new general store that has anything you could ever need, plus some.
3.       Tarot Card reader. Used to be a baby things store. Ha.

So yeah! Welcome to town! Let me know if you want a guided tour, or if you just want to come hang out at my boring little apartment with my super cool dog.
Love, Emily

PS. You will also be within 20 miles of ThinkGeek's headquarters. It's a pretty fun place and if you have a rental car, you should head out there (not during rush hour) and say hi to them!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Nerdy Knitting

Another few months between posts. Someday I'll get the hang of this blogging thing. I do notice that some people stop by, though. I hope they enjoy the old stuff.

My main knitting projects over the past few months have been for something called "Nerd Wars." It's a game on Ravelry, the social network for fiber artists. People join teams based on their favorite fandoms and work on projects every month. The tournament leadership picks topics for challenges each month and people have 28 days to make something that relates to the challenge and the fandom. There are three rounds - one each month - and each contains five challenges. People can choose to participate any or all of the challenges. Some people even completed all 15 challenges over the tournament. I wish I had the time to do that. I completed one challenge in the first round and two in both the second and third rounds. Each project is scored based on relevance, challenge requirements and creativity. The points go to the team and the team with the most points at the end wins.

This tournament was my very first and I enjoyed it. I even won a lottery for one of the things I made and got a skein of pretty sock yarn. I was on Team TARDIS (shocker!), so most of the projects I did tied into the Whoniverse.

A few of the things I made:

Round 1 Challenge: A Nerd's Dream/Food (Other Challenges: Simple Machines, Carnival, Whatever the Weather, Giving)

For the first challenge, we had to make something that we would eat on a first date with a character from another fandom. I chose to have a slice of pie with Emerson Cod from Pushing Daisies.

Round2 Challenges: Water, Architecture (Other Challenges: T-Shirts, Turn Back Time, Giving)
For "Water," I made socks from a pattern called "River Rapids" in a colorway called "Blue Lagoon." I noted how water, specifically rivers, can have a great impact over time. They carve out landscapes and encourage civilization. Another river with an impact through time is River Song from Doctor Who. She's the Doctor's wife, the daughter of two companions, and half timelord.

For Architecture, I chose to make an art deco-inspired hat to match the architecture prevalent in New York City. The Empire State Building and Chrysler Building are both featured in Doctor Who.

Round 3 Challenges: Equinox, We Are All Made of Stars (Other Challenges: Color Therapy, Chuck Norris, Giving)

For Equinox, we had to make something that represented either autumn or spring. Being a big fan of spring and a resident of the DC area, I chose to make a scarf inspired by cherry blossoms. It came out a lot better than I expected and I've received a ton of compliments on it. It's definitely unique. It kind of reminded me of the flowers from the episode "Amy's Choice."

For "We're All Made of Stars," we had to either recycle something into a project or use scraps/leftovers to create the project. A few years ago, as a member of a yarn club at my local yarn store, I got a couple skeins of pencil roving (unspun yarn in long strands), and knitted it up into the pattern included with that month's kit. It wound up being a super-bulky cowl - something that added unnecessary bulk to my already bulky figure. I've never won it and had no idea what to do with it, so I "frogged" it (ripped it out) and spun it inot yarn. It made about 200 yards of super-bulky yarn. I think I'm going to make a laptop sleeve from it, since I had to give up my neoprene one when I left my old job.

And that brings me to the last bit of news: I started anew job at the end of April. Actually, I went to one of my former projects with a new company. I left Arc Aspicio after almost four years and went to a larger, but not too large, defense and homeland security company. I'm back at immigration, with former clients and received a hefty salary increase. It's going extremely well and has been like a homecoming. One of my former/present clients has just taken up knitting, so we're always chatting about it. She even shops at my local yarn store. I try to help her when I can.

While I wait for the next Nerd Wars tournament to begin, I'm working hard on my Beverly cardigan. It's going to take a while, but I'm cranking through. It's so soft and will be very cozy. I'm hoping I can make a significant dent in it before the end of June!

Oh, and as a bonus, I also made these during Nerd Wars, but not for a challenge. They're based on Rose Tyler's mittens in Army of Ghosts/Doomsday in the second season of the new series. Love them!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Out of commission

Happy New Year! I know it's belated, but I decided that February 1 would be my mulligan on the New Year. 2013 didn't exactly start well for me. I'll put more about that at the bottom. It was pretty nasty.

The title of this post has a double meaning. The first relates to the health problems I experienced at the beginning of the year, which knocked me on my ass and literally put me out of commission. The second meaning relates to my latest commission and having finished it just in the nick of time.

Emily: 1; PB&J: 0
Before I get into the commissions, I do want to celebrate the fact that I finally finished my PB&J socks. They had been on the needles for over a year. I finished one sock over Thanksgiving, then promptly started on the second. Being sick for the first few weeks of the new year really helped me get the socks finished. I'm extremely happy with the way they turned out, but I'm a little disappointed with the yarn. It stretched way too easily when I first wore them (even after blocking) and I'm a little nervous that they won't shrink back into shape. I might have to run some elastic through the cuff if they don't tighten up.

Take home hat & ladybug.
 After finishing the socks, I immediately delved into a commission for a friend. One of the girls I worked with at USCIS was expecting a baby and had asked me to recreate some things that she found online. After negotiating some of the patterns (the ones she found were crocheted, so I proffered some knitted versions), and having her pick out the yarn, I was ready to get started. She basically wanted an array of hats, including a "take home" hat for when they went home from the hospital. Since I didn't get these going until I got out of the hospital, it only gave me about three weeks to get everything done. Thankfully, baby knitting is quick and easy because the items are so tiny. I still have one hat to go, but it is less of a critical item as I'm having trouble finding the right shade of orange (it's a hat in school colors...Gator colors).
Owl Hat
Bunny Hat

For now, I've decided to get started on the Beverly Cardigan kit I ordered from
KnitPicks in the fall. It's alpaca lace, which was a little daunting at first, but it's held double, which makes it go faster. It's going to be so soft and warm. I'm still only about 1/8 of the way there, but I think I'll probably get it finished soon.

Of course, I've put my Yankees sweater out of sight and out of mind. I know where it is, but I don't look at it much so it's not getting the attention it needs. Maybe once baseball season starts again.....

My January:

 On Dec 28, I wound up in the ER with back pain and vomiting. Hooray. Another kidney stone. This one was only 8mm (the one I had last year was 2cm), but still huge given that the average diameter of the ureter is about 4mm. I wound up needing to get it surgically removed. But when the doctor went up to get it, it was nowhere to be found. But there was a lot of swelling and infection, so he put a stent in. The next day, I experienced the worst pain I've ever had. I battled with it through the first weekend of January, until Monday when my mom finally insisted on taking me back to the ER. Of course, it was the busiest day the ER had ever had because of the massive flu outbreak, but I finally made it into an ER bed and, after 8 hours, a CT scan. Turns out the stone had gone back up into my kidney, but had dropped back down and was pushing on the stent. Talk about PAIN! They weren't going to be able to do anything about it until the following Wednesday, so I was admitted to the hospital so they could manage the pain with weapons-grade painkillers. They did the sound wave treatment on Wednesday evening, then I had the stent removed the following Friday. I'm not 100% sure that the stone is gone. I need to figure out a time to get back to my urologist and demand an x-ray. That whole experience decimated my paid time off. Then, to add insult to injury, I wound up having a really bad cold toward the end of the month that took me out of commission for a few days. Hence, February 1 was my New Year redo.