Friday, December 19, 2008

A contest!

Caution, non-child safe words ahead!

In our relentless efforts to get very important work done at the lab yesterday, my advisor forwarded me this snapshot taken close to Miami beach by a friend of his (who shall remain unidentified due to the inflammatory nature of the photo.)

Here it is:

We were perplexed by what circumstances may have led up to such a declaration. My advisor's lovely wife proposed we hold a contest and encourage others to explain the backstory of this photo. Who wrote it? How were such strong feelings provoked? Is George Lucas really even involved? Why the oceanside location?

Post your explanation of these circumstances. It doesn't matter if your explanation is short or otherwise. Submissions in non-prose format will be awarded extra points. All posts will be judged by a group of completely biased judges and the winner will be awarded a prize. (I don't know what it is yet-I have to find something cool.)
Good luck!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Last first snow..

Our weather on Tuesday!

This is the last first snow we will experience in Kansas and it was a good one. I was recovering from my last night on Missouri animal urgent care, but Tea was itching to be out in the snow. We went to the park and she ran until her feet bled. I was a little concerned but she seemed happy as a lark.

She stopped several times to chew ice balls from between her feet. How smart is that, for a dog born an hour from the Pacific ocean?! Once she realized she had a willing helper with her she would throw herself on the ground and wave the offending paw entreatingly in the air so I could dig out the ice ball.

Check out the you tube video (link to the left) of her running like a mad thing through the snow!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I figured out how to crochet a spiral with two colors the other day shortly before falling asleep. I thought it would make a cool potholder. After a few false starts, I managed this yesterday.

I didn't quite work out my increases very well at the beginning, so it had a little ripple to it instead of laying flat. I was hopeful that felting might fix the issue or at least make it less noticeable.

I think the felting worked things out pretty well. I ended up handfelting when I couldn't keep myself from pulling it out of the washer every three seconds. I guess there should be a pair of potholders...


... I wasn't having the greatest day yesterday. But then dh made me dinner and found some Office episodes for us to watch together. And then the animals came over to empathise. Who would be able to stay sad for very long with these faces around?!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Good things about Kansas...

...Come on, let's have a positive attitude! ;)

-Gas is actually $1.77 a gallon right now-this picture is 2 weeks old..

-People will call you Ma'am even if you are 30 years younger than they are.

-Cicadas start buzzing in all the trees when mid-summer rolls around. They also make a crunchy snack for dogs.

-Lightning bugs show up in June

-The first heavy snow covers up everything ugly and makes the world quiet. And dogs love it.

-A 'real' thunderstorm makes the house shake every time a clap of thunder breaks.

-The prairie glows in the fall when the goldenrod is blooming and the grass is golden dry.

-No traffic. Ever. Truly.

-People you met 3 weeks ago will help you move.

-You will see deer, rabbits, turkeys, and lots of different birds on most hikes you take. Hmm..turkeys are a kind of bird actually.

-Cardinals. In your backyard.

-Other drivers will come to a complete stop and let you merge.

-The Anthropologie sales rack doesn't get too picked over since the population is low.

-You can show up less than one hour before an airline flight and still have time to use the restroom and buy a cinnamon role.

-The best baked potatoes in the continental US.

-When the sun comes up after an ice storm it looks like every blade of grass is dipped in crystal.

-Real fireworks are legal and easily purchased at roadside tents before the fourth of July.

-The trees are big enough that they form a green tunnel you can drive through in the deep summer. (I think this is also because the roads are narrow.)

-If you skid off the biggest highway in the state because of heavy snow, complete strangers driving behind you will slide your car back onto the road for you.

-During the winter your cats want to sleep under the covers with you at night to stay warm. Adorable.

-The city pool is open for dogs to have a swim on the last day of summer.

-People will be intrigued that you are actually from California because you seem pretty normal.... :)

-oh, yeah, and Kansas is the state that decided to take a chance on a Drama major and made her a veterinarian. Thanks Kansas.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Vegetarian/Vegan Shoes, Belts, etc.

When I initially became a vegetarian, I didn't have a problem with wearing leather. I've now been a vegetarian for 11 years and I don't buy leather or silk, and only specific kinds of wool. I don't have a problem with people who do, or even with non-vegetarians. It's just not for me. I don't claim to be the best vegetarian in the world either, just trying to do the best I can within what works for me.

I had all kinds of trouble finding vegetarian shoes for a long time, and even more trouble finding vegetarian shoes that didn't look like a garbage scow . I particularly mourned my Dr. Martens which I was unable to find in a synthetic leather.

Here is a collection of brands and links that are either vegetarian/vegan, or consistently use synthetic materials. I cruise these sites fairly often but it took me a long time to find these brands so hopefully this will shorten someone else's search.
Home of the "Utility Boot" pictured above, which will hopefully find its way to me as my birthday present... My absolute favorite vegan store-their products are very high quality and well priced. My boss asked me why I was carrying a leather handbag one time. It wasn't leather, it was from this store, and it has lasted a year of rough daily use and still looks good.
I use zappos fairly often since their customer service is fantastic and my small town location severely limits shopping options. Some brands that are almost always vegan are Madden Girl (Steve Madden) and Unlisted (Kenneth Cole). The Madden Girl shoes are consistently comfortable though they run a half size small. A number of Keen styles are also vegan and last forever. All three of these brands are an excellent quality in my opinion.
Wow, this store is over the top in a lot of ways.. However, I searched for a LONG time for a feminine leather-look belt and found it here. So there you go. They also have quite a few bag and shoe options. Not certain about the quality, but the price is right!
Much of the Xhilaration line is animal friendly. They have lots of fun shoes, but they can be a little stiff/uncomfortable. Prices are good though. Be careful with this line, it is usually synthetic, but in my belt quest I found their belts were actually bonded leather. Which sucked because they were awesome. Hooray for sentence fragments!

If I think of any other sources I will put them down here, and if you have any suggestions please give me a heads up!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A little quilting..

Last month I found this great fabric site. You can check it out here. I went a little crazy and got a half yard of each of these.

Here are my absolute favorites. If you click on the picture it will enlarge and you should be able to make out the little Japanese cats.

I just finished the first quilt block this morning and have most of the fabric cut for three more blocks. One block is about 2x2 feet. Too bad I need to be studying for finals... ;)

Sorry the picture's so yellow..

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Le Petite Scarf

I saw this scarf online at Anthropologie and really liked it. (please don't sue me for using your pictures, Anthropologie. If anyone doesn't want to make this, they should definitely order it immediately.) I don't like long scarves because the tails always seem useless to me. But this little scarf is so cute, and I thought, I think I can make that....

Well, It's not exactly the same by any means, but I think it captures the spirit of the design. Also, I don't enjoy knitting so this little guy is all crochet. Here's some help if you want to make it yourself. :)

I made it in six pieces and it took me two evenings. (I am a slow newbie crocheter.) I used one ball of Bernat alpaca natural blend in persimmon and a size J hook. The scarf is worked sideways.

The 3 small flat pieces which will overlap when the scarf is on are all the same, so make three of these. Chain 14, turn. Single crochet 13, chain one, turn. Repeat until you have 10 rows. This will be approximately 3 inches deep. Finish off and leave a long piece of yarn for weaving the pieces together later.

The long center piece is done with half double crochet in a ribbing pattern. You'll only make one of these. Chain 50, turn. HDC into stitch 2 stitches from the hook and continue down the chain in HDC. Chain 2, turn. Now the ribbing comes in! HDC into the next row, but ONLY into the back loop. Continue as previously described, always placing new stitch into back loop throughout all rows. Complete 13 rows not including initial chain. This should measure approximately 5 inches deep.

The end pieces gave me the most grief and if you have any recommendations, I would love to hear them. They didn't turn out as pointy as I wanted them, but I'm OK with that. You'll need two of these pieces.
Chain 14, turn. HDC into stitch 2 chains from the hook. Continue until the end, chain 2, turn. HDC into ONLY the back loops for the ribbing effect. At the end of the row, HDC twice into last stitch. This is the start of the "pointy" end. Chain 2, turn. HDC until the end, ch 2, turn. HDC until the last stitch, then HDC twice into last stitch, ch 2, turn. Keep this up until you have completed 7 rows. Remember to ONLY HDC into the back loop. Then you need to start reducing!
When you get to the 'pointy' end, do a HDC into the last two stitches, creating one stitch. Keep doing that on the pointy end for 6 more rows. Finish end and leave a long tail of yarn. You will need to make two of these and they should measure about 5 inches deep.

Assembly: You have six pieces. Lay two of the single crochet pieces on top of each other to form the little tunnel that the scarf will go through. Lay out all the pieces so you have (from left to right) one pointy piece, two single crochet pieces on top of each other, one long piece, one single crochet piece, and the last pointy piece.

Use the long tails you left on to sew the pieces together. You have to ease the wider pieces to fit against the smaller pieces by scrunching the big pieces a little as you sew them on. This gives more body to the scarf.

You're all done! The finished product will not be as lofty as a knitted piece, but I was happy with it. Let me know if you like it or have any suggestions. I am new at crochet, so often I have only a vague idea of what I'm doing. Here's my finished piece! It looks cute centered over one shoulder too.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


...because he believes in us.

image from designforobama

...and more good news....

Wind of Change

The ceaseless Kansas wind strips the fall foliage off the trees two or three days after they change color around here. Most of our trees are already the reaching, naked things we will watch all winter, straining for that first green mist of spring. Close by in Kansas city, great stands of placid multi-colored trees roll over the hills with breath taking masses of color. In Manhattan however, the wind whips over the flat prairie and the trees are swiftly scoured down to their bark.

The quality of daylight has changed too. Overbrilliant autumn sun fights with the grey tinge that passes over and blots everything out, a harbinger of swirling snow and cold stinging through the smallest gaps in clothing.

Here and there, though, you'll round a corner and find some stalwart tree blazing in a final farewell to warm weather. I had to stop my walk with Tea and admire the hectic play of sun through fluttering slips of gold leaves. Goodbye warm weather! We'll see you again in a few months...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

This is AWESOME! I got it in my email-don't know who the original author is, but it speaks for itself. Too bad I'm in a red state...

Dear Red States:

If you manage to steal this election too we’ve decided we’re leaving.
We intend to form our own country, and we’re taking the other Blue States
with us. In case you aren’t aware, that includes California , Hawaii , Oregon ,
Washington , Minnesota , Wisconsin , Michigan , Illinois and all the Northeast.
We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to
the people of the new country of New California.

To sum up briefly: You get Texas , Oklahoma and all the slave states.
We get stem cell research and the best beaches. We get the Statue of
Liberty . You get Dollywood.
We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom.
We get Harvard. You get Ole’ Miss.
We get 85% of America ’s venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama .
We get two-thirds of the tax revenue, you get to make the red states pay
their fair share.

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22% lower than the Christian
Coalition’s, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single

Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice and anti-war, and
we’re going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need
people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they’re apparently
willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don’t care if you
don’t show pictures of their children’s caskets coming home. We do wish you
success in Iraq , and hope that the WMDs turn up,but we’re not willing to
spend our resources in Bush’s Quagmire.

With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80% of the
country’s fresh water, more than 90% of the pineapple and lettuce,92%of the
nation’s fresh fruit, 95% of America ’s quality wines, 90% of all cheese, 90%
of the high tech industry, 95% of the corn and soybeans (thanks Iowa !), most
of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all
the Ivy and Seven Sister schools plus Stanford , Cal Tech and MIT.

With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88% of
all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92%of all U.S.
mosquitoes, nearly 100% of the tornadoes, 90% of the hurricanes, 99% of all
Southern Baptists, virtually 100% of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob
Jones University , Clemson and the University of Georgia .

We get Hollywood and Yosemite , thank you.

Additionally, 38% of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually
swallowed by a whale, 62% believe life is sacred unless we’re discussing the
war, the death penalty or gun laws, 44% say that evolution is only a theory,
53% that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61% of you crazy bastards believe
you are people with higher morals then we lefties.

Finally, we’re taking the good pot, too. You can have that dirt weed they
grow in Mexico .

Peace out,
Blue States

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Here are some tutorials that I think are really interesting....

a very pretty scarf

a simple handbag

a can cover, I know, sounds weird

a little apron, cause I cook so often ;)

Button flowers

Tissue holder

a baby bunting

a flower

a little tote bag

a very cool jacket

And this store is killing me... It's in Ventura!

It's too bad I have to go do that work thing every day. I could definitely entertain myself for quite a while with all this stuff...

Here's Tristan doing his favorite thing and Reese-also doing his favorite thing. :)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Little One

It's been a while since I looked at Tea's puppy pictures. She's been following me around all evening because she knows she can have all the tails of my red swedish fish as I eat them. It's been a long time since the days when she ate my cell phone and speed dialed my friends while she was doing it. Now she's a big dog! I can't wait to go swimming with her in the ocean again...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Felted Ruffled Neck Cozy

Here is a brief tutorial for this little guy. Let me know if you have trouble making it and I can try to help you out. I used Pattons Classic wool Merino and a 6.0 mm (J) hook. The buttons are "La Mode" vintage reproduction buttons from Jo-ann's fabric store. Yes, I did swatch this since I had no idea how much it would felt.

Chained to make 29 inch chain. HDC for 9 rows.
In ruffle, HDC and chain 1 in each stitch for one row. Then HDC and chain 1, HDC and chain 1 in each stitch for one row. (this took me forever!)

Felted by running through my top loader washer on regular cycle, small load, hot. Removed from washer when first spin began, rinsed in cool water and rolled in a dry towel to remove water. Felted dimensions are 26 inches by 3 inches including ruffle. Arranged the ruffle so each “ruffle’ was a similar size and allowed to dry.

Cut buttonholes (not too big!!) and sewed on buttons. I overestimated the amount of shrinkage in the length, so probably would make it much shorter on a second attempt. Ready for Kansas cold!

Saturday, October 25, 2008


I've been playing around with some crochet this weekend...
I started with this sock pattern from Ravelry. (anyone on ravelry, my username is vanessascatvet)

It came out a little bulky and loose at the ankle, but it is very soft. I will use some higher quality yarn next time because this yarn was no fun to crochet with. Zoe approves of the yarn though!

I also wanted to make a neck cozy to keep that gap between my vneck shirts and the cold metal of my ski jacket zipper from getting me down. This is a picture of the finished project before I felted it.

And this is after felting. It is SO much softer now that it is felted. I'm really glad I felted it, but I was nervous before hand since that ruffle took me a good hour and I didn't want to ruin it.

Here is an action shot of the completed project!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Visit Home

I went to California last weekend to visit my parents and some friends. It was really nice to be home and I'm starting to feel like it won't be too long before we go back for good. Only 8 months left!

I got to see a friend of mine who was my teacher in vet school and has since moved out to California and gotten a tan. I miss her!! We went for a hike at this park but couldn't visit their nature center because a TV show was being filmed. Quintessential California!

I also saw my parents new weekend house. I was so interested in looking at the house that I neglected to take any pictures, but here is the view from the park directly behind their house.

The house has a little ocean view as well, I just didn't take any pictures. Afterward we went for a walk to the Ventura pier and enjoyed the sunny day. Ah, California!

The fires started on the day I left and were visible from the freeway as we drove to the airport. Hey, there has to be some kind of trade-off for perfect weather, ocean and mountainside property and fabulous food all in one state!

Dinner with the Guys

We often go out to dinner with Tristan's buddies at least once a week. Kevin is absent from this soiree since he's on Anesthesia right now. The only trouble with taking pictures of these guys is it's near impossible for them to behave on camera.

Oh well, here they are in all their glory. I tried to get Danny to smile but after waiting an hour for a table, there was no persuading him...

Actually, to be fair, I look kind of insane in this picture as well. Oh well!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Pie. The world needs more pie.

One of my friends at work had a very fruitful apple tree this year and brought me a bucket of apples. They are delicious and have some indefinable orchard quality I can't lay my finger on- a dry, not overly sweet quality that says, hey man, we grew up outside with no chemicals and we're not perfect, but we taste good! Great, now I think apples have an emotional life...

As much as I enjoy them, there is no way we can eat that many. Our little dog likes them too, so she gets the odd wedge. I also decided I would make a foray into pie-baking. Mind you, I've never baked an apple pie in my life, so I went looking for pie recipes that were marked as easy at The pie was really easy and turned out very well.

Then, since I was already baking I made some Baklava which I have made before. I also ate almost the entire pan of baklava by myself as my darling husband finds it too sweet.

Finally, I made a lemon pie per DH's request which he decided he didn't like either. Honestly, who doesn't like pie?! Half of this one went to my Master's advisor, so thankfully I won't be "forced" to eat the whole thing myself. I think I'm all baked out for a while now!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Naughty Sunshine

Téa is my little naughty sunshine. I mean, how can you not adore a dog who makes this face when you are trying to study pharmacokinetics?

I try to do something "Just for her" every weekend I'm not in Kansas City. (Don't get me wrong, she also gets at least two walks a day and multiple dog cookies) This weekend was pretty warm so I took her to the lake for a swim.

On the walk down to the lake I was blissfully unaware that cockle burrs are in season and by the time we made it to the water she had about thirty of them in the most uncomfortable spots. I pulled them out of her fur since I didn't want them to make her swim time unhappy.
I think she had a good time, what do you think?

On the way back up to the car she looked so pretty in the afternoon sun that I wanted to get a really good picture of her. I told her to sit and kept dancing around and calling her so she would look my way. She obstinately wanted to look the other direction and I was getting really frustrated with her.
The best picture I got was this one:

You have probably noticed what I didn't and you can almost see it in the look on her face, "Duh, there's a huge cool bird I want to go chase over there." Frankly, I'm amazed she sat for even a second.

She sprang away a moment later and barked all the way up to where the Heron had been. Of course, he was well away by that time, but she had found a better prize and promptly started rolling in it-a huge half-eaten catfish.

She had also picked up some more cockle burrs and even though I encouraged her back into the water after her swim, when I went to pull burrs out of her fur by the car I found they were ground full of dead fish. My car smelled terrific on the way home too. Well, at least in my precious dog's opinion!

I think she had a great time- check out the look of satisfaction in a day's work well done. Gotta love that naughty sunshine!