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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.