kadenza: (cooking)
Welp, after weeks of waffling I finally took the plunge and got my Instant Pot today. Most of that time was spent obsessing over which model to get. I settled on the 3rd generation 6-quart Duo: in the end, I decided that the Smart model was just too unreliable (based on reviews) to justify the price. Our street has not been plowed and we don't have our snowies on yet (eh), but today I ventured out, did not get stuck, and headed straight to Canadian Tire where they apparently had 9 remaining in stock. I was delighted to find that it was also on sale for $99 ($30 cheaper than listed on the website).

Anyhoo, when I got home it was already lunchtime, so I ripped open the box, washed the pot and started making chana masala, my pre-chosen inaugural dish. I didn't bother reading the instruction manual, since I already had lots of false confidence from watching YouTube videos.

Initial thoughts...

• Sauté mode is kind of a pain in the ass. I didn't like having to constantly switch between low and medium when I'm used to the precision of my gas stove. I'm wondering if it's possible to cook with the inner pot on the stove and then plunk it back into the IP afterwards?

• There are so many buttons, and I have to wonder if they are actually good for anything. In every video I've watched so far, no one uses anything but Manual mode (even for rice, though there's a Rice button). As far as I can tell, there really only needs to be an on/off button?

• One thing I learned last week was that the pot takes time to HEAT UP. This is something they never mention in the videos. Sure you set the timer for 4 minutes, but it will have to heat up for 10 first. It's still pretty fast, but it doesn't quite defy the laws of physics like I initially thought. My chana took about 15... 9 to reach pressure, and 6 to cook. And then like 5 more afterwards when I was too scared to release the valve at first (and it is kind of intense, makes a lot of noise and water sprays everywhere. If you're more patient you can just leave it to naturally release for 15-20 minutes and it still stays hot).

SO... I fried up my onions and spices, dumped in my tomatoes, garlic and ginger, and then two cans of chickpeas plus half a cup of water. I really had my doubts about all this, but was hopeful. I was also hungry. This is why I chose a recipe that used canned chickpeas because I was already impatient, plus I got a case of 12 at Costco last week.

(click for bigger)
1. My Ikea pot lid fits!*  2. Sauté mode  3. Pressure released. Looks... good??  4. SO GOOD

No really, it was perfection. The sauce was rich and perfectly done, and the chickpeas tender but not quite falling apart. A little cilantro and it was good to go.

* The thing obviously comes with a pressure cooking lid, but if you want to sauté or slow cook you need just a regular pot lid, which is sold separately.

Trololo cat

Aug. 5th, 2016 01:18 pm
kadenza: (aaaaaah)
Last night while scratching Kirby's back, I remembered Trololo Cat. I asked Nat if she rememembered him, because it was one of her favourite videos when she was three. We even had a little routine where I'd scratch her back and she'd start singing. She said, "I don't remember Trololo CAT, just Trololo MAN. But what's strange is, that song reminds me of a cat, but I don't know why." So I showed her the video... she had zero memory of it, but was (of course) absolutely delighted with it and we watched it about five times. Still one of my favourite YouTube videos of all time... the look of outrage on the cat's face when the hand stops scratching; the way the song matches up with its mouth so perfectly.

Not good

Aug. 1st, 2016 09:32 am
kadenza: (kirby)
It's a holiday today, and I'm at the emergency vet clinic with Kirby. He is very lethargic and didn't eat breakfast. When I stood him up on his feet, he just laid back down again. I don't have a good feeling about this.

Update: We're back, after spending about 3.5 hrs in the emergency clinic. He seems a little livelier but still definitely not himself. He walks very stiffly and mostly wants to lie down, but he did have a long drink when we got home, and ate his entire lunch. He had a number of tests and the results should be ready by tomorrow--they're being forwarded to our regular vet. Seeing as he turns 16 next week, I'm trying to keep my expectations low.
kadenza: (log)
An older guy at my gym does woodworking as a hobby, and has made a number of things for the gym itself (like coathooks, mat racks, etc.)  and other members. When he heard that I might need something, he came straight over to talk to me. I described yarn cone holders to him on Monday, and today he presented me with two lovely finished products-- one that fits European cones (right), and one that fits the North American ones with slightly wider holes (left). They're really quite nice, and I started using them right away.

One problem... he refused to accept payment. I thanked him profusely and baked him some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

Side note: this is possibly the first time I've ever used the Fitness and Weaving tags at the same time.
kadenza: (do it)
So today I had my first outdoor run of the year. It was -1°, but I just bought a running jacket the other day and thought it was a good time to give it a test. All the winter gear was 50% off at the Salomon store. Having never run in the cold, I eventually decided on a thermal shirt, the light jacket, long leggings, wool socks and one of those earwarmer headbands. I was quite comfortable once I got going.

I was keen to finally test my new Garmin watch. Unfortunately, it didn't actually finish acquiring satellites until I was already 1.8 km in, at Castle Frank (the green marker). After months in the gym, I was again amazed at how interesting it is to run outside--I didn't even notice I forgot my ipod until I was practically halfway done. I enjoyed looking in all the windows of the high end stores on Bloor St. For example, Coach had a hideous dinosaur sweater in the window that probably cost like $1000.
[ETA: it's actually $695, I was not too far off].

Of course, the cool part was getting home and downloading all the info from the watch, including elevation and temperature. My average speed was 9.5 kph, which is my usual setting on the treadmill at the gym; it pleases me that I can keep it up when out in the real world. I ran to Bathurst and then turned around. Every time another km had passed, the watch beeped and told me my pace (I didn't actually read the manual, so all this was all a surprise to me). I could see that I was definitely slowing down during the second half.

I think it's neat you can even see the places where I crossed the street.

kadenza: (do it)
The running is coming along. I actually did hit 10k last Wednesday, in around 65 minutes. That included a couple of minutes of walking as well. I think I can probably eliminate the walk breaks by April (or not, who cares). I didn't actually sign up for the race yet, though, in case like a leg falls off or something. That reminds me, I think I've got my first case of "runner's toe". Last week the second toe on my right foot really took a beating, I think because the toes of my shoes are worn out. In any case, the nail has since turned purple. Neat.

As a result of the toe thing, I decided it was finally time to pick up some new running shoes on Sunday, since I've had the old ones for at least 10 years. Shoes are so different now! Mine were so old, the clerk at the Running Room had never seen anything like them. They also weigh a ton compared to the new ones. She said as long as I don't run outside with them, I can still return them if they don't work out. I didn't feel anything strange yesterday (other than my feet feeling really light) so I think I'll probably keep them. I do remember that my dad changed shoes a few weeks before a marathon one time, and got sore knees so ended up switching back to the old worn out ones for the race.

I'm not sure what I'll do after 10k... I really have no desire to do longer distances. I guess I could just keep doing the same distance and try to improve my time or something. Not many people understand or believe this, but I actually find it enjoyable and never miss a run.
kadenza: (OSC)
Saturday was a pretty fun day at the loom. Just before Christmas we realized that the 210th birthday of the loom's original owner, John Campbell, was coming up in January and decided to use that as an excuse for a special event. We were given a roped off area and tables for displays, and targeted local fibre guilds and OSC staff with promotion. About 50 different staff members dropped by over the course of the day--everyone from office types and fabricator guys to security guards and hosts. Our main goal was to educate the staff about the loom, so they can better inform visitors about our exhibit, and I think we definitely accomplished that. They were allowed to come into the loom, actually weave on it, and also climb up top for a look at the Jacquard mechanism in action--they loved it. It was really quite fun, and successful enough that we're trying to come up with a reason to have another one later on this year.

My own contribution included a batch of punchcard shortbread. We decided there would be possible health and safety concerns with giving them out to the public, so I only distributed them to staff. In any case, they were a hit.

kadenza: (nophoto)
My Galaxy S4, after months of odd behaviour, finally stopped charging altogether on Sunday and became a useless phone-shaped object. This was actually something of a relief to me, since I figured it would probably happen only after the warranty expired. So fortunately, it crapped out with a whole month to spare. They took it back at the Wind store with no problems, even though I couldn't find  my original receipt, and gave me this sweet flip phone as a loaner. If I want to text, I have to use multi-tap. In other words, I don't want to text.

In the background is my new cashmere warp. I guess I really like grey stripes.


Nov. 5th, 2015 12:22 pm
kadenza: (yeah)
I just love how the shawls turned out. With a total turnaround time of four days, it was a super-satisfying project. I'm going to wear the heck out of it this winter (the other will be given as a gift). Warm and cozy, very soft, and dense without being too stiff. Each weighs about 450g (a pound) and is 1.7m (70") long. Also I think the accent stripes turned out really well--they show just enough.

10/10, would weave again.



Nov. 3rd, 2015 10:01 am
kadenza: (phys ed)
With the 5k is in the bag, I was feeling kind of directionless until I discovered Bridge to 10k, for people who have already done Couch to 5k. I started it yesterday and it went well (run 10 min, walk 1 min, 4x). Running for 40 minutes straight is definitely not something I can do, but those one minute breaks made all the difference. During that minute, my heart rate dropped from 154 to 130 which is a pretty good recovery.

To my continuing surprise, I actually do find running enjoyable. My knees and other joints still feel fine, so I'll just keep doing it, I guess.
kadenza: (crafts)
  As soon as my wraps were in the mail, I started warping my alpaca shawl. If weaving baby wraps has taught me anything, it's to cherish a project that is less than 800 threads. This one has only 200, and it's been so freeing. I warped and beamed it yesterday, and have woven several feet of it today. So soft and fuzzy. I can't wait to wear it, and judging by the way things have been going, that might be tomorrow.

kadenza: (nophoto)
So apparently there's a game called Minecraft, and this is some kind of a thing from  that game. Originally Nat wanted to be a Creeper, but I'm glad she went with the Enderman. For starters, the Creeper has four legs. Though wearing a box on your head creates all kinds of difficulties, I hit on the idea of putting the box on the top of her head by sawing up an old bicycle helmet and hot-gluing it inside. Despite the full body suit, she could actually see quite well, even at night. The fluorescent paper had plenty of shine for the daytime, and we glued in some pink glowsticks for evening wear. Since it was about 10° last night she could even get away without wearing a coat. How many costumes of my childhood were ruined by having to put a parka on top? So many.

Most people had no idea what she was supposed to be, but they loved it anyway. And she didn't get hit by a car, which was nice.

The end!

Oct. 30th, 2015 11:12 am
kadenza: (weaving)
Can I just say how much I love my new wraps? And how much I want to keep them, despite the fact that I have absolutely no use for them?
I'm now a huge pebble weave fan. The texture is absolutely dreamy... cushy, squishy, smooshy, stretchy. The yardage did shrink up a bit more than I anticipated in the dryer, but I'm sure it will stretch out again with use. The length with these things can be so subjective, I"ve learned there's no point stressing that they're a few cm off. Next wash it will measure different anyway.


As usual, the last few metres nearly gave me an ulcer from worrying about running out of warp. I look at the beam and freak out that there can't possibly be enough left to finish--the same feeling you get when the gas light comes on when you're driving in the middle of nowhere. I run to the computer to check and re-check my calculations. And every time, it works out just fine. Every time.
kadenza: (weaving)
I'm nearly done my latest project, a pair of wraps for a pair of ladies in Utah. It's really one of the nicest ones I've done, and definitely the most trouble-free. I guess I should accept the fact that the projects keep getting better and better because I'm really becoming quite good at it.

The only things that really went wrong (so far! knock wood!) were three broken warp threads during beaming, and some treadling errors early on that required some tedious backtracking. I'm doing a new-to-me pattern that is trendy with the babywearers right now called pebble weave. It results in a wonderful blankety texture, but it's very difficult to spot errors. However, after those initial hiccups I've just been cranking out miles of flawless cloth (about 2m per day). I'm so looking forward to getting these in the mail. One of the recipients is having a baby like... any second. In fact, she's three days overdue.

Another thing that really helps motivate me to finish up is getting the loom empty for my next project (something for me!). Two summers ago I bought a bunch of cones of yarn from an alpaca farmer in New Brunswick in a lustrous, tweedy charcoal, and I've found the perfect yarn in my stash for some colourful highlights. With fall in full swing, I'm really in the mood to make myself a warm, fuzzy shawl of some kind. The one I'm planning is 30" wide by 75" long which should be a good generous length for wrapping around myself. I'm just trying to choose between herringbone and pebble weave (which I have become very fond of over the past week). I love the feeling I get from being all fired up about a new project.

(click for full size)

I dun it

Oct. 25th, 2015 02:02 pm
kadenza: (trumpets)
I did my 5k today, in some ewhere around 30 minutes, but the official results haven't yet been posted*. It took me a while to get across the start line, but due to some technology I don't fully understand, my bib contained a device that sorts all those details out. This also enabled a dude at the finish line with a microphone to congratulate me by name as I went past. Kind of amazing!

Overall it went well, though I started to pull out the stops way too early. When I thought I was almost at the end, I really wasn't. So when the actual end came, I had pretty much nothing left. Also, I had some technical difficulties with my ipod. When I turned it on as the race started, it was playing some song that was definitely not part of my painstakingly crafted 32-minute playlist. After some hasty weighing of pros and cons, I decided I really really needed those particular songs, so pulled it out and fiddled with it while trying to keep running. During this fiddling, I also lost the elastic band that I use to hold it onto my bra strap, so ended up just stuffing it down my bra. I probably lost some time with all that, but I still think it was the right decision. I needs my musics.

*ETA: The results are in–I came 117th out of 214 overall (and of the women, 48th out of 124). Pretty ok for a noob, I'd say. My time was 30:28.

So here are pics of me starting and finishing (both pretty lousy).
But you can see that I was at least still smiling by the end. And beating that lady on the right.
some pics )

I ran

Oct. 12th, 2015 11:13 am
kadenza: (trumpets)
This morning (Thanksgiving day here in the great white north) seemed like a good time to try running in the real world, since it's a holiday. Technically C25k is now over, so I have to either step things up or quit. I plotted out a route on onthegomap.com which is kind of a cool little website using Google maps to plot routes and save them to your own Google Drive. I created a little loop across the Bloor viaduct, around Castle Frank, and back again.

Back in grade 8 or so I remember reading a short story* in English class about a girl who learned to play piano on a cardboard keyboard, and she stared at her hands in wonder when she played a real piano for the first time at a recital. For me, that's kind of what it was like to run outside for the first time instead of a treadmill--sights, smells, and a fresh breeze. The view out over the Don Valley as I crossed the bridge was particularly nice. No one laughed at me. The only problem I encountered was that I felt a burning sensation in my lungs from time to time, but eventually it went away. I have since read that this is an issue that will improve with time and better breathing technique. Anyway, my final time was 32 minutes which is pretty average, and believe me, I'm excited to be average.

* After some googling I have learned the story is called The Concert Stages of Europe by Jack Hodgins. The key was remembering a line about "upchucking on the Heintzman".


Sep. 30th, 2015 12:21 pm
kadenza: (macpc)
Finally met Hodgman last night... I've been waiting 9 years for him to come to Toronto. Not gonna lie, it was a thrill.

M. and I met downtown and took the streetcar out to the exhibition grounds for the 7 pm show (apparently part of the Just for Laughs festival). The auditorium has a seating capacity of 3,000 but it wasn't quite full at the back. I was really hoping to get my books signed, but he tweeted the day before that the venue needed a fast turnaround for another show at 9, so unfortunately there would be no meet & greet. WAT. He did apologize profusely, and said he would figure something out.

What he figured out was kind of the best part of the night, though the show itself was pretty good. At the very end, he urged us to be at The Canadian House of Pizza and Garbage* on Queen West near the Drake at 9 pm. Marshie said he just wanted to go home. WTF, Marshie! Eventually, I got him to see reason and accept that Queen was actually quite a quick walk (15-20 min) via the Dufferin gate. We were one of the last people out of the theatre and were expecting a mob scene. However, the crowd heading North on Dufferin thinned out with each passing block. By the time we got to the Drake and found what we hoped was the correct Pizza Pizza nearby, there were still a couple of tables available. I grabbed one while M. stood in line for a slice (this in itself is pretty funny, as we had discussed at length beforehand what restaurant we should go to on this rare date night, and PIzza Pizza was definitely not on the list). Marshall chowed down while I watched the door. It seemed to be the right place and there was a fair crowd, but people were eyeing each other and generally looking doubtful. But! True to his word, Hodgman strolled in almost exactly at 9 to a burst of applause, startling those few patrons who had no idea what was going on. I guess it did count as a flash mob of sorts.

In retrospect, the inconvenience of having to move to a second location was actually a huge advantage, because it filtered out the casuals. I'd say maybe only 30 people showed up. So instead of standing in a long line to talk to him for 20 seconds, we sat at tables eating while he came around visiting with everyone individually, shaking hands, asking our names, telling a few stories and just generally shooting the breeze. He was absolutely delightful to be around. It was all so chill, I really couldn't believe our good luck. The restaurant staff were pretty confused about the whole thing, but Hodge went up and gave them a tip (and a large one, judging by the reaction of the cashier). So yeah, a long time coming but a definite WIN. And he did sign my book.

* This is a reference to a Judge John Hodgman podcast from four years ago, "Pepperoni Pauper"
kadenza: (nophoto)
I heard some kind of a ruckus on the roof this morning, and went upstairs to investigate. Turned out that the 3rd floor deck was teeming with baby squirrels. Some may recall that I blogged previously about a squirrel with a penchant for furniture disassembly that had taken up residence under said deck. The chairs are still ruined, but looking at the cute little babies (some grey, some black) fills me with feelings of forgiveness. Kind of.

kadenza: (phys ed)
So this morning I finished week 6 of C25k. I was feeling a bit apprehensive about this run, because run 1 on Monday (run 5 minutes, walk 3 minutes, run 8 minutes, walk 3 minutes, run 5 minutes) totally kicked my ass. It was the sort of run where just after starting, I was already checking the clock to see if it was time to stop. However! Today (run 25 minutes) I totally killed it and was in a state of zen the entire time. At the 20-minute mark, I felt good enough to increase my pace. I had gone nearly 4k by the time the cooldown was up, which is greatly encouraging. I still haven't actually signed up for the 5k race in October, but today for the first time I actually believed I could do it.
kadenza: (knit)
Thing 1:
The thing is a ring. I've been looking for a smaller wedding band since the old one started falling off about six months ago. Finally, I found one I like. It's titanium, amazingly light, and has a teeny diamond. I am generally opposed to diamonds and think they're a huge scam, but... I must admit, I like this teeny diamond. Pretty sure it's the first one I've ever owned (?)


This photo really makes me want to go put on some lotion.

Thing 2:
Lately I've been looking for a new knitting project. The one I'm working on is such a nightmare of tedium, a friend suggested I need a second project that's fun to mix things up. I bookmarked a pattern* for a jacket in a magazine, and forgot all about (this is where Ravelry's project queue comes in handy). It mixes several handpainted yarns with a linen stitch in such a way that they work very harmoniously together. The pattern states that you can try different colourways, but they must be very similar in tonal value for it to look good. Value is a tricky thing. You can have a bunch of different colours of yarn, and they can be all the same value. If you take a picture of them and change it to black and white, they will all be a similar shade of grey. It suddenly occurred to me that you could easily do this with your stash or in a yarn store by viewing the yarn with a black-and-white setting on your phone. I can't wait to try this out. I've never made a sweater before so I'm feeling apprehensive, however, I can easily find help if I need it.

* the pattern is called Aria and was from the Feb 2014 issue of Knitter's.
I've also been eyeing a cardigan called Funky Grandpa. That sweater is so me, it hurts.


kadenza: (Default)

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