Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Walking Home Along America's Main Street

I try to run or walk home as much as I can after work, and now that I've committed to walk home at least once a week in my 35 Before 36 list, I'm doing it even more.  It's only about 2.5 miles to my house on Capitol Hill, so there's really no excuse not to.

I realize that sometimes I'm in such a rush to get home that I don't appreciate all of the history and tradition, government and policy, and art and culture that I walk past every day.  I can't imagine many other people have that same wondrous walk home (although a walk home along a river or through a small town is remarkable in its own way). 

Obviously the specific view changes with the route I take.  Yesterday, I walked home along America's Main Street--Pennsylvania Avenue.  I took my Blackberry with me so I could share some of the scenery.  Here's only some of what I saw: 

The Old Post Office.  One of my favorite buildings in D.C.  It's hard for me to imagine that so much space was needed to process the mail:

The FBI Building in all of its Form Equals Function gloriousness:

The Navy Memorial:

The National Archives:

The Newseum.  A very cool tribute to what we consider news and how the news is communicated to the public: 

The Canadian Embassy: 

The National Gallery of Art: 

The Federal Trade Commission: 

YOUR U.S. Capitol:

The National Mall looking west: 

The U.S. Botantical Gardens.  Also on my 35 Before 36 list:

Statute of President Garfield.  I never figured out what he did to be recognized in such a prominent position in front of the Capitol:

YOUR U.S. Capitol again.  I think this building it so great that it warrants two a side view in addition to the front view we saw already:

The Cannon House Office Building.  There are two other House Office Buildings, but in the interest of showing some restraint here, I included only one:

The Library of Congress Jefferson Building.  Again, there are two other buildings, but I didn't include them all: 

And, last but not least, the Hawk 'n' Dove, a Hill institution, where Hill interns and staffers have talked politics since 1967.  
Thanks for keeping me company on my walk home!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

New Names for Old Sweaters

I've been wanting to rename my sweaters something more fanciful for a while now.  Somehow "Blue Striped Handknit Baby Sweater" didn't really speak to me, and frankly a picture is worth a thousand words.  I've thought about different naming ideas, but I kept coming back to my original one: naming them after D.C. Streets.  I think it's a nice tribute to the D.C. heritage of Yellow House Knits.

I know some of you must think I'm obsessed with the streets of D.C., particularly in view of my State Street Project, but I didn't go so far as to name the sweaters after the state streets (partly because I didn't want to run out of state streets before I run out of sweaters!).  [As an aside, look for an update on the State Street Project soon--I have BIG plans!]  And, while the set of street names I have to work with is somewhat limited, I did give some thought to the names for each sweater.  So, some of the sweaters for little girls now have names like "Jenifer Street," "Allison Street," and "Jocelyn Street."  One with Daisy buttons is now "Spring Street," and the former Seabreezes sweater is now "Beach Drive."  The striped sweater in a range of bright primary and secondary colors is "Appleton Street." 

Now, whenever I drive around, I look at the street signs and ask myself whether the street would make a good name for a sweater and, if so, what type of sweater.

OK, maybe I am obsessed!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tim Harmon 5K

This morning I ran the Tim Harmon 5K in Fairfax, Virginia.  My running has been a little off-kilter lately, so in truth I walked much of it with ((very) short) bursts of running interspersed.  At around mile 2, I remembered why there are so few road races in June in the D.C. area, but overall it was a fun time.

This is the second time I've run this race.  It is sponsored by the Alcohol and Drug Services program of the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board to raise awareness of Hepatitis C and substance abuse.  The race honors the memory of Tim Harmon who served as the Director of the Board's Alcohol and Drug Services Residential Services.

I appreciate being able to run road races like this one, but I also think they're important community-building events.  Every time I show up for a race, I'm amazed at the sheer number of people it takes to pull off even a small, neighborhood race.  The race directors and all of the volunteers deserve more recognition than they get.  So if you've ever helped organized and/or volunteered at an event like this--staffed the registration table, handed out water, directed traffic, or just sat by the side of the road and cheered for people you don't know, thank you!!

See you at the next race!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Needlepoint Bracelets

When I'm not knitting (given how much I talk about it, it's probably tough to believe there are times when I'm not knitting!), I really like to needlepoint.  Needlepoint is a good outlet for my compulsive attention to detail because it gives me something concrete to focus on rather than obsessing about all of the uncertainties of life.

Lately I've been addicted to these needlepoint cuff bracelets.  They're a quick project and have proven to be a good use for all of those scrap threads that are left over after other projects.  Some even have added accents, like the blue stone in the striped bracelet below, but I actually think I like the ones best that just show off a fun fiber--like the metallic threads in the butterflies below or the nubby ones in the "sushi" bracelet--or a novelty stitch--like those in the striped bracelet.

I've accumulated quite a collection of these bracelets, and I get tons of compliments every time I wear one.   Here are some of my favorites.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Flowers in the Front

A couple of weeks ago, I posted before-and-after pictures of my back patio.  At the time, I promised that I would be back with pictures of the front of the house.  So here is the before shot:

(You may recall that the back of the house was pink.  And the front was brown.  So, yes, the front and back were different colors.)

And here is the house after some "modifications": 

How did I do?

Monday, June 21, 2010

To Cruise or Not to Cruise?

In keeping with my credo that I should always have a vacation planned, I'm starting to think about my September vacation.  Part of me wants to go back to Hilton Head, which is one of my favorite places on earth and has the advantage of being a known, reliable quantity.  But part of me thinks I should do something different. 

I've been thinking for a while about trying a cruise, but something keeps holding me back.  I worry a lot about being stuck on a boat with lots of people I don't know, but many of my friends who are seasoned cruisers tells me that the ships are so big that I shouldn't worry about feeling trapped.  And I also worry whether a cruise is the best use of my vacation dollars and time.  I'm not a big tour person--my idea of a perfect vacation is a beach chair, book, and fruity drink.  So I would likely choose the beach excusions at most destinations.  But is one beach really so different from another?  Should I just go to Florida instead?

And then if I do decide to go for it, how do I know what to book?  The whole Cruise Industry is overwhelming.  What cruise line?  What accomodations?  Do I have to eat dinner with people I don't know?

Have you been on a cruise?  Would you recommend it?  What should I know if I decide to plan a cruise?  Help!!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Top Chef D.C.

I'm something of a TV-aholic.  If I posted about every inane television show that I'm currently obsessed with (I can't wait for new episodes of Undercover Boss!), this blog would quickly quickly spin out of control.  So I work really hard to limit my TV commentary.

That said, I can't resist telling you how excited I am about the new season of Top Chef, which is set in D.C.  I love Top Chef, no matter the City, and I really love going to the cheftestants' actual restaurants.  Zaytinya and Good Stuff Eatery, here in D.C., where you'll find Mike Isabella and Spike, are two of my favorites.  I also really like Perilla, in New York, which was opened by Harold Dieterle, the very first winner of Top Chef.  And I'm dying to try Volt, which is Bryan Voltaggio's restaurant in Frederick, but I haven't been able to get up there yet. 

But I digress.  I hope this season of Top Chef shows off D.C.'s great culinary scene.  And I hope viewers get a "flavor" for what a dynamic, beautiful city this is.  And I predict that Angelo will take home the win. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Question of the Day

I took this picture in the cafeteria at my office.  It's a little bit hard to read, but the question is:

When, exactly, are fried chicken sliders "in season"?  June must be a particularly good time to take the chicken patties from the freezer and pop them into the deep fryer. 

Who knew?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fire Treasury

I am LOVING this gorgeous treasury, featuring a Yellow House Knits sweater.  It's ironic that just the other day I commented about how popular that sweater is. 

Anyway, this one was made my Dana as an entry in the Treasury Challenge over at Claire and Janae.  Janae picks an item for sale on Etsy and those who enter have to design a Treasury that includes the item.  This week's item was the beautiful lemon drop pendant in the top row.  I think Dana did a fantastic job (and not just because I'm included!).  The winner gets a nice prize--this week a $20 Target gift card--plus a bonus if the Treasury makes the Etsy front page.  I took at look at the entries thus far and there are some other stunning ones. 

Good luck Dana!  Thanks for including my sweater!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

June Special Offer

Escalating savings!  Through Friday:
--buy one in-stock sweater, save 10%
--buy two in-stock sweaters, save 20% on both
--buy three or more in-stock sweaters, save 30% on your entire purchase

Mention coupon code ITHY-JUN in your convo or email (yellowhouseknits@gmail.com) to take advantage of this offer. Orders/emails must be received by midnight EDT on June 18.

Have fun!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

5Ks and Half Marathons and Marathons, Oh My!

I am a terrible runner, by even the most generous standard.  But I like running, and I LOVE races.  Ever since I ran my first 5K--which was a huge deal for me--in Oxford, Mississippi, a little more than five years ago, I've been hooked.  I love the sense of camaraderie and the way runners of all skill levels can compete together. 

One side effect of my obsession with races is that the race T shirts really pile up.  For some runners, the shirts are just tokens, but for me, each one represents a real accomplishment.  Running doesn't come easily to me, so each time I cross the finish line, no matter how slowly, I'm grateful.  I also keep a journal of all of the races, so I can remember anything that's novel or special about any particular race.

To preserve all of those memories, I decided to have the T shirts from my first five years of running made into a quilt.  I did a lot of research into who should make the quilt, and I decided to go with Too Cool T-Shirt Quilts. I like that Andrea at Too Cool T-Shirt Quilts makes the quilt to fit the T shirts, rather than trying to make the T shirts fit the quilt.  That way, she can accommodate designs of vastly different sizes, odd numbers of shirts, and designs on different parts of the shirt.  

This afternoon, I pulled all of my T shirts--46 in all--out of the closest and spread them out on the floor to get a sense of what the quilt will look like.  I wish there were a few more colored shirts; instead most of them are white, but that's what happens when the shirts are free.  But otherwise, I think the quilt is going to look so great.  It's going to be ginormous!  Over the next few days, I hope to get them washed and packed up.  I'm so excited to see how it turns out!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Dreamy Nature

For this edition of Who Hearts Yellow House Knits, I've decided to feature Shannon Blue Photography.  As Shannon explains, "My photography is about simple subjects and breathtaking tones . . . .  I'm a self-taught photographer obsessed with capturing all the beauty around me."

And capture the beauty around her she does, choosing stunning subjects and memorializing them in photographs with a dreamy, vintage cast.  To me, her images look like my childhood memories--sherbet-colored, soft and hazy, yet evoking strong feelings. 

I particularly like the greeting cards, which can be made with your choice of image.  What a lovely keepsake for the recipient of one's good wishes. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Favorite Sweater

This red, orange, and yellow sweater was one of the first designs I introduced to Yellow House Knits, and it's still one of my favorites.  Customers seem to really like it as well--it's one of the most popular sweaters I sell.  I just made another one for a very good customer and thought I would take a few shots of the sweater displayed on my new dress form.  It's perfect for fall babies.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Birthday Cupcakes

I took these cupcakes to work on my birthday last week to bribe people to come by my office to wish me happy birthday (I'm a little delinquent in posting them on account of my trip).  My cab driver seemed to think it was a little odd that I had baked cupcakes on my birthday, but I likened it to bringing cupcakes for the class in elementary school, which he thought was just hysterical.

The recipe is Martha Stewart's One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes with Meringue Butter Cream frosting.  I was actually a bit worried about the cupcakes because about half of the recipe didn't come out right (literally, they didn't come out of the cupcake pan, even with the liners).  But they were outstanding--the cake was moist and chocolate-ly, and the tops of the cupcakes were slightly chewy.  And the frosting was a great complement to the chocolate cake--sweet but not too sugary.  The shaved chocolate on top added a nice extra touch of chocolate.

I had thought I was going to retire this recipe based on the problems I had baking them, but based on the RAVE reviews, I think I'll be making them again and again!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Where I Spend My Summers

In the summer, I spend as much time as I can on my back deck and patio.  I've worked really hard to make the back area an inviting space, with lots of color and comfortable places to sit, read, work, and eat.  The patio is shady enough that even on the hottest D.C. summer day, it's still quite pleasant.

When I moved into my house, my back "yard" was in a sorry state.  A previous owner had poured concrete where there was probably once some grass.  The rusted fence and abandoned ladders were the only ornamentation.  (Do you recognize a certain four-legged someone in the second picture below?)

I have grand plans to put an addition on the back of the house, so I don't want to put a lot of time, money, and/or effort into landscaping the back patio until I have a better sense of what's going to happen to the back of the house.  But obviously I had to do something with the back to make it a space where I would want to spend time.

So I had a temporary deck built, planted some trees and shrubs, and got some furniture and great cushions.  I'm super happy with the overall result, given the minimal investment on my part, though--like the rest of the house--it continues to evolve.  My latest and greatest ideas are to stain the deck a fun color or to have a couple of pieces of old metal furniture painted PINK.  And when I look at that concrete slab, in my mind, I already see a lovely brick patio . . . .

I particularly like the black and white cushions. Note that there are three different black and white patterns, but the stripe is definitely the dominant patterns.  I think black and white complements all of colors in the flowers, rather than completing with them.  

But what I love most of all are all of the potted plants.  Each year, I go crazy buying plants for all of my flower pots, and I usually buy a few new pots each year, which of course means I need to buy more flowers.  (There must be a support group for people who buy too many plants.)  Probably even when I have my beautifully landscaped back patio, I'll still fill up any empty space with flower pots.  

Coming soon: pictures of the front!  (Hint: there are lots of flower pots there too!) 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

A huge THANK YOU for all of your suggestions on how to spend my day in San Francisco.  I had a really great day and loved the city.  Although I barely scratched the surface of all San Francisco has to offer, I saw enough to make me want to go back.  Soon.

My picture of the Golden Gate isn't quite the same as the one a few posts below because the weather was at times uncooperative (but lovely other times), but I got to experience that authentic San Francisco fog!

As a bunch of you suggested, I made a beeline for Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39, and browsed the shops and ate chowder.  I stopped for a long time to see the sea lions--not surprisingly, the sea lions were one of the highlights of the day!  (As with most animal attractions, I LOVED them!)

I also walked through Chinatown and spent some time people watching in Union Square (during one of those times when the weather was perfect).  I had dinner at a charming Italian restaurant near the Square.  It was a great day!  I fell asleep tired but happy, after looking out at the fantastic view of Union Square from my hotel room.

I think I may be back in Santa Clara again for work later this summer, and I may just stay over in San Francisco again so I can explore more of this great city.  There's so much more to see!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Big Sis T

One of my dear friends just had a baby, her second daughter.  I of course took the new baby a welcome-to-the-world present, but I wanted to get something for my friend's first child so she wouldn't feel left out.

I know Big Sister and Big Brother T-shirts are all the rage right now, but I do think they're a sweet gift to give to a child who needs to feel special now that Mom and Dad are preoccupied with someone new in the house.  I love these personalized T-shirts from Smitten & Company.  I ordered one for my friend's daughter and was not disappointed.  The T-shirt itself is heavy-duty cotton, with gentle shaping and capped sleeves.  The printing is adorable, and the colors vibrant and fresh.

My friend tells me that Eve is "so proud" of her shirt, so I think this may be my new go-to present.