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Monday, September 21, 2015

The Yellow Sauce

This week's blog post is all about my adventures this week in canning some tomato sauce.  And yes, you read the title right - the tomato sauce was yellow.

So here's some pictures and details of what I did and how I ended up with yellow sauce.


After picking what was left of the tomatoes in my garden I brought them in and washed them thoroughly. Most of what I had were these pear shaped yellow cherry tomatoes - hence the yellow sauce that I ended with. 

After cleaning them I cut them all in half and scooped out the seeds and membranes.  The tomatoes went into a clear glass cake pan: 


(That's not all of them, the pan was loaded by the end). And the seeds went into a mesh strainer where I drained all the juice out. 


After draining the juice I poured it into the cake pan with the tomatoes. 

Next, I roughly chopped an onion and added it, peeled and tossed in about 15 whole cloves of garlic, poured in a good amount of olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, parsley, and an Italian seasoning blend. 

I then placed this all in the oven at 425 degrees and roasted it for 45 minutes. 

After it was done roasting I let it cool for about 10-15 minutes. 

From there into the blender the vegetables went with about a table spoon of tomato paste and about 1/2 a cup of the broth from the roasting pan. 

And out came this beautiful and very tasty sauce:


I think I'm going to go to Luigi's (this merits its own post entirely) and buy their rainbow striped lasagna noodles.  Yellow sauce deserves its own colorful pasta





Monday, September 7, 2015

Restaurant Review - The Belvedere Room at the Padre Hotel





This week we're sharing yet another restaurant review.  This time though, its in regards to an upscale dining establishment located in the historic Padre Hotel in downtown Bakersfield.

The hotel was originally built in 1928 and stood empty for many years.  Within the past few years it has been revitalized and is now a full service hotel with multiple dining places right in the heart of downtown.

So the Hotel's dining places include Brimstone, which is a bar area that is open for brunch and dinner.  The Farmacy - a coffee shop.  Prairie Fire their outdoor dining area on the second floor and the Belvedere Room, a high end steak house.

We recently were able to visit the Belvedere Room and it did not disappoint.  Parts were restored to their 1920s glory with some modern twists on the decor.

Our waitress, Lindsay, was very nice and attentive.  She was able to make a wine recommendation and made sure to check on us regularly.  Our meal took a while to prepare, but we were in no rush.  Both Lindsay and the manager apologized to us for the wait, but like I said it was no issue.

I ordered a steak, so did my husband.  They had several options for rubs and sauces as well as sides.  I chose blue cheese on my steak with a side of mashed potatoes and wild mushrooms.  The mashed potatoes did have the texture of the kind that come in a box but not the flavor of that so that was a-okay.  The steak was PERFECT and the wild mushrooms were both tasty and interesting.  They most certainly were not regular old button mushrooms or portabellow.  They were wild mushrooms of various sizes and they were seasoned and cooked very well.

After our meal our waitress again apologized for the wait and even gave us a free dessert because, despite waiting, we  were really nice about it.  As most of you who have ever worked in food service know - waiting customers become impatient customers and then become rude customers.  We didn't and it earned us a free dessert.

Moral of the story - always be nice to the people handling your food ;-)

The dessert was excellent by the way.  I dont know what it was called but it was a chocolate cake with a banana cream and carmel drizzle. It also had some type of sprout on top which neither added too or took away from the flavor.  And it was served with vanilla ice cream

See how pretty dessert was!





Our dining experience with the Belvedere Room was great and I will definitely be back.  Its nice to find a white tablecloth restaurant that has excellent service. 

By the way, as far as dress code goes - we saw all kinds from business men to teenagers in tank tops - that being said though the business men looked like they belonged there so for the Belvedere Room I would recommend dressing it up a little.  And yes, I was dressed up.


Monday, August 31, 2015

Restaurant - The Hidden Cafe


Time for a restaurant review because we all like to eat and we all like good places to eat at.  And this time, its a local place for me!

So Bakersfield, California has a new restaurant - The Hidden Cafe.  No lie on the name, its kind of in an out of the way spot.  I'm thinking its actually busy during the week though since there are nearby businesses like Hall Ambulance and Channel 17 News.  We went and ate there on a Saturday and it was very quiet which made it very pleasant.  I'm not a fan of long waits and my preference is for intimate dining experiences, which is exactly what I got.

I'll get the picture of the phone booth in a moment.

So when you walk in you see some very secluded booth seating, which is a little ironic since they are right by the door.  As you make your way into the restaurant there's counter seating like an old fashioned diner would have.  You get to pick your spot too, no one seats you.  The further into the restaurant you get you see more booths and also tables, its a small diner.

Its decorated with some very retro items, like that phone booth - which by the way does not work, however, they do keep current phone books in it - and old movie posters but its not overdone.  In fact, I think they could have gotten away with adding more items but it was fine how it was.

The food was great.  We were there for breakfast but they are open through dinner, have a bar, and traditional restaurant gimmicks like Happy Hour and Taco Tuesday.

Online reviews for it are very good and well deserved.  The service was excellent, staff was attentive, and the food was really good.  I had the french toast and my husband had the pork chop and eggs.  They offered selections for sides too so you weren't stuck with just regular hash browns or a side of bacon if you didn't want those.

Definitely worth a try if you're in the area.  I'll be stopping by again, but for lunch or dinner, the best way to rate a diner is actually by the quality of their burgers and for those of you who know me well, you know that I view a burger as the perfect meal.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Places to Visit - Getty Museum





I've been meaning to write about this for a long time - in fact check the date stamps on these pics - but seriously one of the best museums ever to visit is the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.  For those of you who have never been there, or even heard of it, it's specifically an art museum. Not just modern art either, but they carry original art from the old masters like Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, and Rembrandt to name a few.

I'm a museum freak for sure.  I've been to a lot of them.  When I go on trips I go find museums to visit and the Getty does not disappoint.

A lot of people avoid museums thinking that its a costly visit but its actually not depending on the museum you are going to.  In the case of the Getty Museum you pay $15 (at least the last time I was there) per vehicle for parking and that's it.  There's no admission cost.  For a large family this is actually a great, inexpensive and educational day trip. 

When you arrive you are directed to a vast underground parking structure.  Its deep and cave-like and kinda scary but worth it to get to the museum.

Once you park you take an elevator to the surface - see how scary - and from there you actually get to take a little train/tram whatever you want to call it up a steep hill to the actual museum itself.  The tram runs all day.  Here's a shot of the waiting area:





The tram drops you off right at the entrance of the museum.  You'll want to wear comfortable shoes by the way.  You can see the entire museum in one day - it will take you 6 to 8 hours and its a lot of walking.  Here's the entrance:

The buildings are modern which seems odd considering all the old artwork they have.  One building will be set aside for their current art display.  These displays include things like modern art and photography.  The rest of the buildings are dedicated to traditional and classic art.





The courtyard area is very large and has food stands and eating areas so no need to leave for lunch.  The main building (see next picture) has the largest of the gift shops.  You'll see little gift booths in random areas but the main gift shop is in the very first building.





And then comes the art.  Each type of art is separated by section.  Some is by country, so there's a section for Italian art.  Others are by time period so there's even Baroque rooms which are actual rooms you would see in a Baroque style home.  They'll even tell you where each piece in the room originally came from.

There's an impressionist's room which houses Van Gogh's Irises as well as a variety of Monet, Degas and Renoir paintings:


There's also areas for specific artists and their contemporaries like Goya and his circle and Rembrandt and other Dutch masters:

And through out the whole museum there's very impressive statues:

For art lovers out there this is one place that should be on your list to visit.  Most of us will never get to see the Louvre in Paris so the Getty Museum is an accessible way to be able to study and see classic art up close and personal.  Also, since it is in Los Angeles you'll be able to also visit and experience plenty of other things as well.






Monday, August 17, 2015

Rebranding and a Second Etsy Shop

So, you may have noticed, I'm no longer Stitchy Impressions.  I'm now Sixth and Durian.  I'd like to take the time to explain the reason behind the change, why I chose Sixth and Durian and some fantabulous suggestions if you ever choose to rebrand and/or start another Etsy shop.

First of all, even though Stitchy Impressions was a cute name, it was something that was decided on in haste during a moment of frustration.  Goodness knows I carried that name for five years.  Marketing, promoting, listing stuff, growing my inventory, ordering business cards, ALL with the intention of making the name Stitchy Impressions into a great empire of handmade and vintage goodies.

It didnt happen.  Meh, sometimes things just don't work out.  But I decided it needed to work out.  I wanted my Etsy shop, not to replace my day job, because seriously I love my day job, but I wanted the supplemental income of it and that's what I didnt have.

So I dug in and did my research.  I discovered that I like whimsical names, but that doesn't necessarily make them successful.  Names have to also be memorable - Stitchy Impressions doesn't roll of the tongue.  Weirdly it was hard searching Etsy for inspiration in a new name, so I turned to Instagram and looked at the names of shops that I liked and I noticed that the majority had a This and That name - Otter and Fox was one, Pen and Thimble another, so I thought that may be something to actually look into.

Here's the part that took some doing though, in addition to wanting a This and That name, I also wanted something that had meaning to me.  And was representative of me in a way.  Stitchy Impressions didn't have that.  I also felt it limiting because really, who's going to go to a store called Stitchy Impressions and hope to find vintage items?

My first step was to tap my aunt, Robin, for ideas.  She's the really creative one in the family, for sure.  No such luck though, however, it did give me the ability to easily brainstorm which led me to Sixth and Durian.

So obviously Six is a number, but what the heck is a Durian?  A Durian, and despite the meaning behind the name which you'll find out in a moment, I did have too Google it, is a smelly yet very tasty fruit.

So why would a number and stinky fruit matter? Well, it just so happens that the corner of Sixth and Durian is the closest intersection to where I grew up.  And by grew up, I mean it.  We moved to that intersection when I was in the first grade and my parents are both still there.  And since my Mom is one of the makers for my Etsy shop, the name Sixth and Durian made perfect sense.

After deciding on the name I made a series of mistakes trying to get everything all set up and then a couple days later made the decision to separate out all of my vintage stock into a secondary Etsy shop - 6thanddurianvintage.etsy.com was born!




But, like I said, I made a series of mistakes.  So, in an effort to assist those of you Etsy sellers out there who may be interested in changing shop names or opening a second shop, I've got a checklist here of stuff you ought to keep in mind for it:

  • Make a list.  Ironic right?  The first item on my checklist is telling you to make a list, but seriously do it.  List out everything you need to do to make this transition and then date every item.  That way, if you're busy you have a good schedule put together for it and you wont feel under the gun.
  • Pick your name and dont settle on anything.  Give it your all.  This step may take several days even.
  • Google search your new shop name and also search on Etsy.  You dont want to get accused of trademark infringement
  • Create your banners and logos.  Whatever program you choose to use for it, that's your next step.  Take care of your graphic design right away, you'll need it later.  I did a shop banner and a square image with my new name centered on it - its important for further steps
  • Change your shop name.  You're more likely to do it and not suffer from cold feet if you take the time to make your banner and logos first.
  • Update ALL of your shop announcements, Etsy About page (and if its a secondary shop, take the time to create your About Page), shipping notifications, coupon codes etc.
  • Upload your banner.
  • Now, take your square shaped logo and hit the rounds on all your other accounts - Facebook, Twitter (you may end up needing to create a second account), Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, your blog etc.  And dont forget to go updating your bio for all of these too.
  • Shop photos - if photos for any of your items have your old shop name in them, whether it be watermarked or a picture of your packaging, you'll need to re-shoot. This though wont happen over night so again put a date on it.
  • Start printing - any of your tag labels that have your name on them are going to need to change. That's everything from the tags showing your fiber content to thank you notes you include.  This is another time consuming process (at least for me) so put a date on this.
  • Tagging - most Etsy sellers will use their shop name as a searchable tag.  I used 2 forms of it myself - StitchyImpressions and Stitchy Impressions.  All that is going to need to change BUT not anytime soon.  I started just including the new shop name on new and relisted items because people dont know Sixth and Durian yet, but they know Stitchy Impressions - this way my buyers will still find me and by the time everything has the correct tag people will know of the new shop name
And one final step for anyone who's creating a secondary shop - make at least 20 draft listings first.  I made 3.  Then I listed one.  And I had a lot of Shop Views come in and not as many Item Views.  So while that first item was bringing people to my shop, they had nothing to look at while there.  I suggest starting with 10 on the first day and then one or two items a day after that.  

Welcome to Sixth and Durian - Handmade and Vintage Goods!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Restaurant Review - Stone Brewing Company


So as I'm sure you've all noticed, I like to eat.  A lot.  In fact when I travel, that to me is one of the best parts of the whole experience, eating at places that I wouldn't get to and then telling everyone how awesome, or not so awesome it was.
A few months back I was in Escondido, California.  Its near San Diego for those of you not familiar with California.  Escondido happens to be the home of the Stone Brewing Company which was recommended to us by the place we were staying (that's a separate post on its own).
For those of you who like your restaurant reviews really quick and short - it was flipping awesome!
For those of you who like details as to why - keep reading!
When we arrived it was late, and dark, otherwise there would be more than the 2 pictures in this post.
The parking lot was also full so there was a wait, but it wasn’t long.  When you walk in to the building, it takes a while.  The walk I mean.  You enter a garden path which has stones and trees over head and it winds around and during your trek you hear voices and music and see glimpses of fire.  All in all the entrance into the building was pretty cool.

The waiting area itself was plain-ish.  There were cement walls, the hostess booth, a bench, and chains hanging from the walls.  For those of you unfamiliar with Stone Brewing Company, they are responsible for Arrogant Bastard Beer which features a chained gargoyle on the label. 

Adjacent to the waiting area is the gift shop.  I like gift shops, a lot, so that was really fun.  They had glasses, t-shirts, beer, tickets to tour the brewery, cookbooks and other average gift shop items.  Yes, we went shopping while there.

Then we got seated.  We did not end up in the garden which would have, I think, been better but since it was so hot outside we opted for indoor dining.  It was packed but still enjoyable.  The tables had cement blocks with succulents in them.  There was a separate beer menu and the dinner menu made suggestions of what beer was best for what meal

The meals themselves were really really unique.  I had the pulled chicken and boar sandwich while my husband had the buffalo steak.  There were also things like duck tacos.  For me that type of thing is actually really fun, trying foods that I wouldn’t normally have access too, however, if you are traveling with people be sure to keep your companions in mind when selecting a restaurant like this as not all people are open to trying things like that

The food by the way was excellent.  And you could see the brewery itself from the restaurant through big glass windows (see top picture).

I tried the first beer on the list.  It was good.  It was also the only beer I had.  Sometimes I’m fussy with beer but it was one I would definitely have again. 

Our waitress, who’s name I forget, was also a great waitress.  She was very personable and knowledgeable about the menu and beer options.

All in all, dining at the Stone Brewing Company was a great experience.  Despite the crowd, it was relaxing, which we needed since that day we had not only each spent a full day at work but we had the car trip all the way down to Escondido afterwards.

Also, Escondido itself is a great place to visit and the proximity to San Diego, Carlsbad and Julian make it a really good destination.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Easy One Pot Chicken Dinner

 I didn't really have a good picture of a recent and very tasty dinner I made so you get to stare at this steak for a little bit. You're welcome. 

Anyway, the other night I had about 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs and some mushrooms that needed eaten so here's what I came up with. It's kind of like a cocquo vin and kinda not. Let's pull a que from Hollywood and call it "Based on a Cocquo Vin"

Ingredients

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/2 lb button mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, whole
3 tbsp butter
Some olive oil
4 strips of bacon
A bottle of chianti
Herbs de Provance to taste
Parsley to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup long grained white rice
2 cups of water

So here's what I did with all this: Heat some olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of a frying pan, once hot brown the chicken thighs on each side. Take the chicken thighs out and set aside. Cut the bacon strips into about one inch lengths and cook in the same pan until crispy. Remove the bacon and set aside with the chicken. Put the onion and whole cloves in the pan and cook until the onions are soft and have a little bit of color on them. Pour in half the bottle of chianti and add the butter. Place the chicken and bacon back into the pan and season with the salt, pepper, parsley and herbs de Provence. Add the mushrooms to the pan. Stir everything. Put a lid on it, turn down the heat and let simmer for 40 minutes. 

For the rice, bring 2 cups water with a little bit of olive oil to a boil in a medium size pot.  Once boiling add one cup of long grain white rice and stir briefly. Turn the heat down to low and put a lid on it. Let simmer for 29 minutes. After 20 minutes just turn the heat off and leave the lid on until ready to serve. 

I served the Based on a Cocquo Vin over the rice and you know what? It was delicious. I did get a picture of it and I am by no means a food photographer so it actually looks really unappetizing so no picture for you. But give it a shot. It's well worth the caloric intake.  


Monday, July 13, 2015

The Best Used Book Store Ever


I like books. A lot. Seriously. Growing up there was literally a book case in every room of the house each filled with books and before you say "Yeah right, like you had a bookcase in the bathroom" well no we didn't but the linen closet wasn't full of linens. It was full of books. 

And we had all kind of books too. Kids books that were my sister's and mine, old text books, instructional books, mysteries, and westerns. Lots of westerns. 

We weren't uppity either. It never mattered where the books came from. Retail bookstores, used bookstores, yard sales, and thrift shops. If there were books to be had my family was there sorting through them all. 

When I was really little we used to go to a really awesome used book store in Morro Bay, California called "The Book Peddlar". It's no longer there but that was one of the best places ever. 

As an adult this hasn't changed. I still like bookstores. In fact, every year on our wedding anniversary my husband and I will go out to dinner and then go to Barnes & Noble and buy each other a book. 

When we go on vacation I go hunting for bookstores too. So now I'm going to take the time to list some of the places I like to check out and then I'll tell you of the best place to go for used books. 

Cambria, California - a local impressionist style artist, who's name I cannot remember, shares her studio space with her husband who just happens to run a little book store called The Bookery. The last time I was there he had several antique book volume sets including a very old set of the works of James Fenimore Cooper (Last of the Mohicans for those who prefer the movie over the book). 

Julian, California - I didn't get the name of this book store but it's just up the street from the Miner's Diner in Julian. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Julian, it's a very rustic old mining town in Southern California. The bookstore was small and really really great. Also, you could tell the owner pretty much spent all his time reading. 

Taft, California - the small town of Taft (the town actually was originally called Moron, but that's another story) has a very good used book store called Ben's Books. Ben is an older gentleman who sells books. The front of the store has rare and vintage books while the back of the store has your average used book store findings. 

Kennet Square, Pennsylvania - this was, I feel, one of the best bookstores ever. One thing about the Eastern regions of the U.S. is the fact that the best antiques and vintage items tend not to find their way West. As with a lot of these stores, I didn't get the name, but Kennet Square is small so it wouldn't be hard to find the book store. In addition to vintage and rare books there were also old maps and magazines, books on every subject imaginable and even books in foreign languages. 

Random Monuments of Washington DC - so places in DC like the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial which are famous for their architecture surrounding the statue of whomever is being memorialized actually have little book shops off to the side. They are tiny but are just wall to wall books of the subject of that memorial. While not used book stores, they are pretty neat. 

Now for the best place to get used books. 

Ready?  

It's actually the Book Sale periodically held at the Coalinga District Library in Coalinga, California. But why would a random book sale at a library be the best place?  Many reasons. For starters, it's good memories. My mom always took us to the library when we were kids. I had a library card before I could even write my own name. On an interesting side note the Coalinga District Library is part of the San Joaquin Library System which means  that same library card I got when I was young is still in my wallet and works at all the libraries here in Bakersfield. 

There are other reasons though. They sell more then just library discards, they also sell books donated from various places. This means that if you have a pile of books and no time to hold a yard sale you can just donate them like you would to any old thrift store except the proceeds from that donation go to the library. 

Another reason is all the interesting things we've found there over the years. Books from the International Collectors Library (there'll be a future blogpost on those), rare books (my mom once found a misprint book containing of two stories by Robert Louis Stevenson from the 1800s), first editions (recently we got a first edition of Lost Horizon) and ridiculously reasonable prices. The library doesn't have the resources to research each book they sell so there's a generalized pricing. As I recall, and don't quote me on this, but it tends to be $1 for a hard cover book and 50 cents for paperback. Also towards the final days of the sale they have been known just to hand you a box and tell you to fill it up and charge a low flat rate for the whole thing. 

The book sales though aren't widely advertised. 90% of the time someone in my family will discover the sale just because they saw the sign out front while driving by. The library though does now have a Facebook page and they will announce book sale dates there as well. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Product Review - Google Drive





Some parts of technology are pretty awesome.   A lot has been created not just for fun, or because it was possible, but also to fill a need.  This post is all about one of those programs that was created and definitely filled a need - Google Drive.

For those of you who are not technically savvy, like me, you may not have ever had reason to make use of Google Drive at all but I'll take time to explain its uses and how here at Stitchy Impressions its been a very useful business tool.

So, what is Google Drive?  Well, its a file sharing system that comes with all Google accounts.  That's right.  If you have a Gmail account, you have Google Drive.  Additionally, any device where you access your Gmail can also be used to access the Google Drive.  And as with all things in life, there's an app for that.  Google Drive apps are available for most mobile devices.

Here's some stats.  The Google Drive that comes with your Gmail account gives you a full 15 GB of storage. By comparison, iCloud, which comes with your iPhone and iPad gives you 5 GB of storage for free.  Google Drive does have a subscription plan, however, if you need more storage.  For $1.99 a month you get a full 100 GB of storage and for $9.99 a month you get 1 TB of storage.  A TB by the way is a terabyte.

But, what are the features of Google Drive?  Well, it has a lot to offer.  As stated before, its a file sharing system which means you can upload your photos and share those out with your loved ones by just giving them a link or inviting them to your Google Drive through an email invite.  This will allow them to download and save your photos as well as upload photos of their own to share with you.

There's more though then just file sharing.  There's also several programs that work as the equivalent of multiple Microsoft Office programs.  This is especially useful for those operating businesses.  In fact, if you have created something as a Power Point presentation or a Word Document, you an upload these into the Google drive and convert them into Google Slides or Google Docs that can be as easily shared as photos are.

This also offers the ability of real time collaboration.  If you are working on a presentation for work or school, you can create it in Google Slides, share the link with anyone who will be working on the project with you and you can both make adjustments and additions to it at once.  In fact, it will even show you who's in it while you're there and where exactly in the document they are and you can see the changes they make as they make them.

This collaboration also allows your various collaborators to chat while in the document as well as leave notes and comments while working on it.

How do we here at Stitchy Impressions use Google Drive?  Primarily for our inventory.  We have a very extensive inventory.  Usually there's anywhere from 150 to 200 active items in our Etsy shop, however, there's at least 600 more item listings that are expired and another 100-150 that still need photographed and listings created.  Google Sheets, the spreadsheet portion of Google Drive, allows those of us here at Stitchy Impressions to keep track of all inventory.  Anything created, listed, sold, expired, renewed, or needing photographs are all tracked an documented in Google Sheets.

Why Google Sheets and not good old Microsoft Excel?  Well, the main thing is the apps.  Google Sheets has a very easy to use app for mobile devices that allows for updating the inventory spreadsheet on the go.  This means that if an item is sold, or if someone gets an idea for a new item, no one has to wait to sign in to their computer when they get home. Any one of our collaborators can add what's needed at any given moment. Additionally the functionality of Excel and Sheets is basically the same so there's no need to learn any new formulas or macros to be able have it work out the same. 

So far using Google Drive has been pretty simple and very useful for Stitchy Impressions.  Its something that I would highly recommend for anyone needing a file sharing system or a way to quickly and easily access documents from anywhere.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Hexagons!

I've come to the realization recently that I'm obsessed with hexagons.  In fact, hexagons have found their way in to several craft project both for my Etsy shop and for personal use.

Currently I've been working on this afghan which will eventually be for sale once its finished:





And a personal project for myself is the Bee Keeper's Knitted Quilt by Tiny Owl Knits:




So, what's the story behind all these hexagons I find myself enthralled with.  Well, I have no clue, so I've decided to do some research on hexagons in general.

Mathematically speaking its round, triangular and equilateral all at once.  It can't be the math reason why I like them so much.  Math and I are not friends.

Is it hexagons in nature?  Probably actually.  Hexagons appear in nature in tons of places.  We may not realize it, but we see  them everywhere and all the time.  Snow flakes, honey combs, turtle shells, and Ireland's basalt columns.  And these are just the actual perfect hexagon shapes.  Dont even get me started on the irregular ones.  Seriously they are everywhere.

So perhaps is just the familiarity of them.  Either way, they're cute when knitted, crocheted, or sewn.  And really, how awesome are honeycombs?

So here's some exciting hexagon shots for your enjoyment:













Monday, June 22, 2015

Adventures in LASIK



So very recently I underwent lasik eye surgery. What an ordeal! I'm such a baby with medical procedures but am happy to report that despite my turning into a three year old everything was a success. I know the Internet is full of lasik horror stories so I thought I'd share a successful outcome.

So to start, here's a history of my poor vision. When I was about 7 years old and in the first grade they did vision and hearing tests for all students at school and I got sent home with a letter. That letter explained to my parents that I needed to go to the eye doctor. My first pair of glasses were light purple and I picked them out specifically to match my bike. Makes perfect sense when you're 7. 

After that it was all downhill from there. Every year my prescription got progressively worse. It was so bad even that I was actually limited in my choices of contact lenses - no blue eyes for me and none of those fancy contacts that you can sleep in. 

I thought my vision was just a fact of life. My burden to bear and having had poor vision for so long - the morning hunt for my glasses and having to wear my contacts to successfully blow dry my hair was nothing but second nature. 

So it was surprising to me the day my husband mentioned lasik. Turns out the night before he'd been online playing World of Tanks with his cousin and the topic came up. His cousin had had lasik about three years ago and just happened to mention his experience. 

So my husband kept mentioning it, kept giving me little details of the experience and finally made me call the eye center his cousin had gone too. 

That was the Saddleback Eye Center in Laguna Hills, California. Unlike most places where you can get lasik done they specialize only in lasik. They do nothing else. I appreciated that especially. Talk about perfecting your craft. 

So I got an appointment. And now fast forward to the day of the exam (we're skipping the drive from the night before which involved dinner at Claim Jumpers in Santa Clarita and getting to see fireworks from Disneyland as we passed through Anaheim). 

The waiting area had a TV showing customer testimonials, the staff was super friendly and once the paper work was filled out it went by very quickly. 

First was the 14 point eye exam to find out if I even qualified for LASIK. They say to expect that to take 2.5 hours but seriously it was only a little over an hour. 

My vision was at 20/500 with an astigmatism in each eye. For some context the giant "E" on all eye charts is 20/400. And I was told that not only was I good candidate for LASIK due to the health of my eyes but that they could correct me to 20/20. I made the choice to go through with it. 

Fortunately, I was given the option of having the surgery the same day. No waiting and no long drive back. Also, since I was from out of town they actually put us up at a hotel that night too. More on that later. 

So after filling out yet more paper work my husband and I were sent back to the waiting room and we were actually served lunch. That was a pleasant surprise. Soon after I was taken back and prepped for surgery. I was given a Valium which on a weird side note did absolutely nothing. This was the third Valium I'd ever taken in my life and the third time I waited for it to do something and it didn't. Me 3 Valium 0. 

I was also given a hair net and a series of numbing eye drops. I was also allowed to rest comfortably in a very sterile looking hospital type room on a guerney. That part took forever. Just the waiting for the eye drops to kick in. 

After what seemed like forever I was taken in for surgery. For those of you who don't know how lasik works there are two parts to the procedure. The first part is actually making a round incision in your cornea so that it can be pulled back and the second part reshapes your eyes. Creepy right. 

This though is where Saddleback Eye Center differs. Most places use a blade to cut the corneal flap but because LASIK is all they do at Saddleback they've invested in an actual laser that cuts that flap instead. Completely bladeless. 

The surgery itself was super quick but I'll lay out the steps so you all know how it goes. First step was a speculum being placed in my eye to hold my eyelids open. It seriously looked liked a paper clip that had been bent out of shape. I found it alarming. Once that was in place a metal instrument of sorts was touched to several parts of my cornea while a nurse read off a series of numbers. 

After that, what appeared to be a clear plastic cup was placed in my eye. This caused a great deal of pressure in my eye and I went completely blind. That was weird. Knowing you're eye is open but you cannot see. At this point, I was placed under the first laser for one minute per eye. Nurses kindly told me how many seconds were left. I found that calming. 

Once the corneal flaps were cut, I was moved to the second laser. By the way, that was the worst part. It was comparatively smooth sailing for the rest. I had been told that at this point too my vision would be foggy and no lie it most certainly was. 

So the speculum was placed back in my eye to hold it open. After that Dr. Manger used what seriously looked like a dental tool to lift the flap out of the way. I was then placed under the laser and told to stare at the green light. Fortunately there's minimal worry of actually screwing up your surgery by inadvertently moving your eye. There's another laser that tracks the movement. 

So after a light show that totally looked like poor special effects in an '80s sci-fi movie I was pulled out from under the laser and the doctor swabbed my eye with what looked like q-tips and a spatula. That was the corneal flap being placed and it was all done. 

I was then taken to an exam room where I was reunited with my husband and given a pile of eye drops and some very specific instructions for that night. And we were then sent to a Marriott. 


I spent the rest of the day with my eyes shut in this very comfortable bed. My husband also found a delivery site so we ordered take out from a local Italian restaurant called Peppinos. I had the chicken cacciatore. 

The next day we went back to the eye center. My corneal flaps were still in place and my vision is now at 20/20 though I could read most of the 20/15 line. Here's my creepy post op eye:




Currently I'm still in the last few days of the medicated eye drops. I no longer have to wear protective goggles to bed or during the day. I have some halos on the right side but those are getting better too. And that red mark in the picture above is almost gone now. 

All in all I'm absolutely thrilled with the outcome. It's weird not needing glasses at all after all that time. 
And it keeps getting better each day. I would definitely recommend LASIK at a place like Saddleback for anyone considering it. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Central Park

Got another travel related post this week.

Thîs one is all about Central Park. In my little corner of the world we don't have anything like it so I quite literally was taken by Central Park. 

I can't really say what I like best either there was so much to see. Of the four days I spent in New York, and yes it's been a while since I've been there, Central Park was one of the best parts of the whole experience. 


Before I went to New York an acquaintance had told me not to bother with Central Park and then proceeded to tell me that if I went to New York I would get mugged because everyone gets mugged in New York City. I'm glad I didn't listen. Crime rates are high everywhere. I could get mugged at the Stabucks down the street too but that doesn't stop me from getting coffee. There's also a lot of negativity in general surrounding Central Park but I personally found it quite charming. 

Anyway, the afternoon my husband and I spent in Central Park was wonderful. We had been traveling with another couple and their little boy and we had left them fully enjoying themselves at the Museum of Natural History while we spent some alone time strolling through Central Park. 

Before going forward I'd like to say that the map app on the iPhone can successfully navigate Central Park, however, it will not get you to the Met. Grrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!

Back to Central Park. It was a rainy day and for anyone who knows me I'm a sucker for a rainy day. I'm also a sucker for nostalgia so I was more than thrilled to be able to buy a hotdog from a street vendor and sit in Central Park eating it. 

The park wasn't overly crowded. There was a baseball game going on, joggers, bikers, a student studying on a rock, music from the Danish puppet show, the rain, and twisted gnarled trees.  

The trees of Central Park are old. I don't know if the park was built around them, but I'd like to think it was. It was so shady and peaceful. Everything was lush and green. It was quiet too. 

I really appreciated the landmarks also. In a way the park is its own museum. There's the Abraham Rosenburg Fountain:


And the Polish King statue that was originally from the World's Fair but couldn't be sent to Poland due to war: 


And various arches and paths and Victorian style lamp posts. Everything with history and its own story to tell. It was definitely a wonderful experience that I wouldn't mind revisiting. It's amazing how quiet it could be in a park surrounded by the world's biggest city. 

For anyone considering a trip to New York definitely make Central Park one of your destinations. During a busy trip of non stop walking and site seeing this simple afternoon was certainly refreshing. 





Monday, June 8, 2015

Grandma Marnene's Sewing machine

I recently had the pleasure of receiving my husband's grandma's sewing machine. It's one of only two heirlooms of hers that we have.

The sewing machine itself was in pretty bad shape really. It had spent time in garages and even had a lengthy stint outside. Seriously. Outside. It totally needed help. 

Step one was finding out if it actually worked and yes it did. It also smelled like smoke whenever it was fired up (pun intended). 

Fortunately for us, old sewing machines have motors on the outside. Right?  Like a boat. And even more fortunate was that vintage Singer sewing machine enthusiasts, you know who you are, like adding motors to old treadle sewing machines so that they don't have to be run manually. So a really short time spent on eBay led to the perfect and reasonably priced motor

After that, a phone call to a retiree who's wife insists he repair sewing machines instead of staying home all day came by and fixed all the parts that were having trouble. 

See how cute:


The sewing machine is specifically a Bel Air 990 from occupied Japan. A lot of its parts and features are just like the ones used for Singer sewing machines which is fantastic!

It also is an embroidery sewing machine so it has a lot of different stitches. 

My first project on it was a dress - I'll write a post on that experience some day. 

My second project though was a modern hexagon quilt. I'll also eventually do a post on the process of English paper peicing but I digress.  Quilting with the machine led to a very funny, although at first really annoying, hiccup of sorts. 

Actually, hiccup is the perfect word for it. The machine would see along just fine, hiccup, and I'd end up with about an inch of zig zag stitches before it went back to normal. 


See irritating for a perfectionist but after some grrrrrr moments I realized, What the heck? It's one of a kind now. 

Oh and here's the finished quilt:




Monday, June 1, 2015

Restaurant Review - City Tavern

This post has been a long time coming. Since Im starting to maintain my blog better, I figure catching up on points of interest, even older ones, would be great.

Last September my husband and I had a chance to travel to Pennsylvania and visit my in-laws. While there we got to spend a day in Philadelphia. Not only did we get to see a lot of very historic sites, which we can cover in future posts, but we got to eat at a very historic place. 

That restaurant was the City Tavern. It boasts being the oldest tavern in the United States and had regular customers such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. 

You'll notice from one of the signs that it had been rebuilt which made me question if it could really be the oldest tavern in the U.S.  That being said, it was rebuilt to the original specs. 

 

  

Before diving in, I'd like to take the time to apologize for not getting a picture of the whole building and also for the crumby pictures in general. 

Anyways, when we walked in there was a very full dining area to the left and a seating area to the right where we waited for our table. 

The seating area had a very nice fireplace and an old piano. It was a very pleasant waiting area. 



The hostess and staff were all dressed in colonial style clothing too. Had I thought of it at the time I would have gotten a picture of our waitress. 

After a short wait we were taken to an upstairs dining area which I liked even better as it was more secluded. 

Our table was just a few feet away from where Thomas Jefferson preferred to eat. 

  

Why yes that is Thomas Jefferson's table and yes I did crop out most of my mother-in-law in that picture. 

You'll notice the ... cups, goblets, whatever on the table there. That was what our water was served in. They were nice and heavy and the water stayed cold the whole time which was great. 

Next came bread...



...which was all from the original colonial recipes. The small half eaten one was more like a cookie. The waitress said it was Thomas Jefferson's favorite. Of the breads I liked that one the best too.

I ordered the seafood pasta for my lunch, I somehow don't think it was an actual colonial dish but I could be wrong. In addition to that we also got the Founding Fathers Beer Sampler. That was really interesting. 


The beers were all made from the original recipes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and I think John Adams also but I can't quite remember. 

My favorite was Thomas Jefferson's beer (second beer from the left). Apparently when it came to food and drink Thomas Jefferson and I have very similar tastes. 

For dessert, sorry no picture, I had Martha Washington's chocolate mousse from her original recipe. It was delicious but, as with most restaurants, a very large portion. 

Overall the experience was great!  Our waitress was adorable, staff was friendly and the food was wonderful. The ambience couldn't have been better either. I liked the simple period decor, almost every room we saw had a fireplace, and is it weird that I liked it that the floor boards and stair steps creaked?  That really added some authenticity to it. 

There's nothing like stepping into and experiencing a little history. In a world of fast food and chain restaurants actually finding a one of a kind place like this really made that day in Philadelphia. 





Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Newsletter Sign Up


So, I'm finally building up a mailing list!  It's been a long time coming. Hey look! There's a signup form over on the right!  

I hate spam as much as the next person so if you choose to sign up but change your mind later that's perfectly fine with me. 

For the newsletter itself I plan on sharing things like coupons and promotions, new items on my Etsy shop, recipes, this blog, etc!

If anyone has suggestions for any content you'd like to see please be sure to let me know!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Boop and the Retirement of Travel Pookie

Weird title right? And for never having blogged about either things mentioned it's confusing. So let me explain. 

A couple years ago I started knitting the absolute cutest dolls from a pattern by "Fuzzy Mitten" called Pookies. 

I ended up carrying one with me on random vacations. Thus Travel Pookie was born. 

See here he is at the pier on Coronado Island, California.


In fact Travel Pookie has been to various places in California such as Coalinga, Fresno, Huntington Beach, Santa Clarita, Escondido and San Diego. 

Travel Pookie became quite popular on Instagram even...well popular for me that is. No, Travel Pookie never broke the Internet. 


Now that you know what Travel Pookie is, you may find yourself wondering "What the heck is a Boop?"  

Well, Boop is a much smaller and just as cute Travel Pookie replacement that fits much better in a small purse and yes that is necessary. I just don't carry large purses in general. 

Sorry giant handbag fad, I just don't dig you. 

So here's a picture of Boop and yes I know the picture could be better. 


Boop is actually a lovely shade of purple, has green eyes, light brown hair, and a giant melon head. 

So Boop will be the new travel companion of Stitchy Impressions. Regular photo updates will be posted on Instagram @stitchyimpressions and recaps posted here. 

I'm also planning on retro posts about places I've been, what I've seen, where I've eaten, what was really fun, etc. 

I'm not the world traveller most are but in the past few years I've done pretty well and if there's one thing I always appreciated doing, it was looking up what types of places I should visit while I'm on trips. 

Until next time..,