Thursday, January 24, 2008

Just call me Finnegan

I’m having serious doubts about this lace KAL. I was up to row 43 when a few stitches got tangled. I wonder if other people have trouble with stitches crossing over that sometime defy straightening out. During dinner, I pondered whether all this effort was really worth it. I read some Ravelry messages about not giving up so I took a look at how it was turning out. I stretched it out and HATED IT – I heard my mind saying my standard remark for crummy stuff, “Someone actually used their precious time on THIS!”

So I cut it loose and dug around in my Bayeaux Tapestry bag – the protector for my needle stash and pulled out a short old, no name circular size 2. I decided to give SOSII one more try, and I’m up to row 17 on this my 7th attempt.

So my lessons learned so far include:
Not to overestimate my abilities and use the thinnest yarn in the world
Even the most complicated pattern gets easier after a few tries.
I’m not fast enough to catch a straight metal needle while it is falling out of the stitches.
The price tag of a pair of needle is not an indicator of their value to a project.
The famous name of a needle isn’t a guarantee that my knitting will go smoothly.
Ravelry is a boundless source of help and consolation.
A lifeline can live up to its name.

I will judge tonight if I will deem it worthy of further expenditure of time and effort. Using a boring brown yarn might be my best decision about his project. I won’t be tempted to give it away and no one will want to “borrow” it. After all of this, it is truly MINE.

Just call me Finnegan, Begin again

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Quality Tools

leeluu's needles
Originally uploaded by amynowacoski
Looking over this photo of LeeLuu snacking on a pair of circular needles reminded me of a topic I wanted to write about - You should always buy quality tools.

In general, I do prefer to work with bamboo needles. They are a bit pricer than your standard craft store buys but they are lighter and "stickier" than metal needles. By "stickier" I mean that they don't slide out of your work as easy.

Another problem I've been having recently is the unbendyness of inexpensive circular needles. I have discovered the Magic Loop Technique. With this technique you can do a way with double pointed needles (dpns) when working in the round. Basically, you pull part of the bendy connector through half the work and well, its complicated to explain. Just watch the video ok? The key to making this work is using a longer than usual circular needle AND the connecting bendy bit needs to be VERY bendy. I've found that the needles I've bought on the cheap did not do a good job. The bendy bit is just not bendy enough.

At Purl Soho, I got a pair of Skacel Addi Turbo Circular Needles. They are a dream to work with. They are nickel plated I think. The metal glides through your yarn AND they don't have that slight grinding feel that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up at time. The only problem is the cost, I think they were over $12. Ouch.

But all this has taught me a powerful lesson - buy quality tools.

I'm saving up to reward myself with a set of interchangeable needles. Such a brilliant idea! you get a circular needle cable that has screw on the end that you can change the size of the needles. Very Neat. Knit Picks has them in both metal and multicolored wood. The wood are SUPER pretty but as knitting needles seem to be a tasty treat for some pampered pooch who shall remain nameless, I think I'll go for the metal.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Long weekend

Had a lot of “ME” time this weekend but not all of it was wonderful.

Friday Night was our monthly “smocking” meeting. We haven’t smocked in years but I can’t come up with a substitute name. We just gabbed but decided to work during the year for stuff to send to the troops. It is amazing to watch these ladies develop an idea. I glad they didn’t decide on a major project for the future as I still have the Underground Railroad and Bamboo Dance quilts to finish.

Saturday was a lay around the house kind of day. Started SOSII but many issues mainly due to my yarn choice. I have to admit I wanted to show off but needing glasses to watch every stitch isn’t my favorite kind of knitting. I had to throw out some yarn as it was looking sad after repeated trips to the frog pond. Shouldn’t be a problem, there’s several miles left on the cone. I finally got up to row 12 but lost it all – the needle fell out! Decided this needs better needles so the hunt was on.

I did end my craft store drought. Ron dropped me off at Joann’s before the Sunday Ravelry meeting. No suitable needles, of course, but I found some Christmas stockings at 70% off – great start for the troops! The Ravelry ladies are AMAZING! It is so nice to hang out with people I don’t need to explain things. We entertained everyone in Paneras with 2 spinning wheels, lots of knitting and lots of giggles. There was even an impromptu sock toe cast on lesson by the Tsock Tsarina. I can’t wait to get the first installment of her sock club. You won’t believe what she was working on unless you see her blog. Everyone else made progress on various projects. I finished up the second pair of wristlets.

I had knitted a pair of wristlets from my swap present. The pattern is super easy – just garter stitch 2 rectangles – sew then together leaving a hole for the thumb. Look cute out of the soft, fluffy boucle. I have vowed to resign as the wardrobe mistress for the gorilla family who I tend to make stuff for - over the elbow wristlets just aren’t cute. So I frogged them and started over. I got a pair out of each piece! Now I don’t have to choose which daughter to gift. I even sewed them together – and I got some buttons at JoAnn’s to decorate them as in the pattern photo.

I then started the Tat-along. Disaster struck! I understand the concept to make a split ring but my fingers don’t want to behave. Sigh – the shuttles can stay in their box until I have the courage to start again.

Licked my wounded ego by making dishcloths when I got home. Made the football one from the Monthly Dish Cloth Yahoo group while watching the Giants. If I was superstitious, I would make another one during the Super Bowl. I love the suggestion in the group to gift one to whoever invites friends over to watch the game so they can do the clean up.

Also did a small Slip Stitch 2 Step one from the Cloth of the Week group – I can see more of these in my future. I certainly have enough cotton yarn.

It should go without saying that the proper way to celebrate a holiday is to go to a LYS. So it was off to Infinite Yarns in Farmingdale. I had only been there once, but Ron drove there without any directions – guess he learned how to tune into his innate GPS for yarn. The shop is lovely – had to resist nuzzling all the pretty stuff. The only person there was a gentleman who tried to find the needles for me. He gallantly went through the draws of stock and we finally found a pair that I settled on. They are a size larger than I wanted – but, heck, it’s lace. Started over as soon as we got home – and I’m happy to announce I got to row 23, have 2 life lines in place and might actually wind up liking this!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Blue Snowflake Sock

Blue Snowflake Sock
Originally uploaded by amynowacoski
I saw this pattern on Ravelry (of course, what on earth did we do before that site??) and instantly fell in love with it... Only problem was the pattern was only avaliable in an old issue of Interweave Knits. NOOOOOO Oh the Humanity! Not a free downloadable pattern! Woe is me!

I lamented!
I cried!
I beat my breast!

OK I'm a drama queen.

I mentioned to Mom that I LOVED this pattern and in her email back to me, she told me it would be in the mail.

What would we do without good mommies???

Once it arrived, I was out the door to Michael's to buy yarn.

>Insert Happy Crafting Dance here<

But sadly, this is where our tale turns into a Greek tragedy. Why oh why does Michael's suck? OK. Fine, They don't suck. They carry the basics. The generics. The oatmeal of the fiber world. But alas, I did not want the oatmeal! I wanted Eggs Benedict! I wanted the fancy stuffy! The fiber to make other Ravelry-ers go oooo and ahhh and burst into flames over my well selected yarn porn.

Now, a "sane" person would have waited, ordered something online, but nooooo I had to have yarn RIGHT THAT VERY SECOND to start this masterpiece!

So I got some sport weight acryllic. I wasn't excited about it, obviously, but I had to knit this thing immediately.

Oh and I needed needles too! The pattern called for size 2's.

BLAST YOU MICHAELS!!!!!! Why, am I tortured such!

Apparently Michael's doesn't carry dpns or circulars below size 3. Bastards! I figured, what difference could one needle size make really????

I raced home and started knitting.

This pattern is so much fun! So much so I finished the first sock in a single weekend. What you can't see in the picture is that the foot of the sock is striped. STRIPED!! How cool is that.

Overall, the socks came out ok, but they are on the large size. I think the size 2's would have done the best job.

My So Called Scarf

My So Called Scarf
Originally uploaded by amynowacoski
I bought three BEAUTIFUL skeins of Manos del Uruguay yarn at Purl Soho and I've just been stumped on what to make with it. I just couldn't find a pattern I liked enough. I really wanted to do mittens. All the patterns I found were just off in some way, either too long and skinny looking or too poofy or too pain. I wanted something magical.

I had seen the "My So Called Scarf" all over Ravelry. I wasn't really impressed with it. But I was just itching to knit something with my pretty yarn. Everyone who has Manos stashed seemed to be making either ugly hats, or the My So Called Scarf. I was bored, with nothing on the needles so I decided to give it a whirl. And wooooweeee, am I glad I did!

The pattern was MADE for this yarn! It sets off the color variations and just makes it sparkle! AND the pattern is super fun to knit. Oh and if you're finding the pattern a little confusing, go to YouTube, there's a tutorial on how to do it. I love this stick! I think I might be using it more often!!!

Now my only problem is... I just want to sit and knit this pretty thing for HOURS... but I must resist, I must savor!

Spotlight: Russia

A brief interview with the Mamajama about the Russian Adventure!!

What was the first thing that struck you about being in a different country?

I was struck by similarities with an American city. I have been pondering how homogenous the world seems to be. The first large building I saw was an IKEA. They have many of the same stores in their malls. I remember there was a time you would go to different malls for the unique shops, but now I can get the same Benetton sweater in Moscow! So even though I couldn't read the street signs, I didn't feel "lost".

Was there anything you expected that you didn't experience?

I expected to see more of a police/military presence. There were lots of uniforms in the Kremlin, of course, but I thought it is more noticable in New York subways. We were surprised by the affluence displayed. I saw more Bentleys on the road in one afternoon than I had in my entire life! I also didn't see Father Frost dressed in blue. Santa wore a red suit everywhere, and I'm sad this tradition appears to have been changed.

Did you notice people wearing hand crafted items (scarfs, mittens)?

Kind of hard to tell when people are bundled up and there was an abundance of fur but I think a lot of the knitted stuff people wore was handmade.I just realized I didn't notice any crocheted stuff!
We hung out in the typical tourist parts of the city, so crafts were readily available. But even at the local Metro station, street peddlers offered knitted mittens and hats so I presume there is a thriving market. There are coat checks in almost every building and every lady's pure seemed to contian a lace shawl to ward off any chills. There is a large permanent craft fair held every weekend - even on holidays. It is not easy to reach and I don't think there are that many tourists to support all those booths so the locals must be the main customers. I did try to converse with some of the dealers but I think they were mainly salesmen since no one could answer my questions on how something was made - and yes, most of them spoke English.

Did you see any craft stores?

The only disappointment of my trip was that we didn't find a yarn or fabric store - sigh. We did see a sign in one mall with a sewing machine. Lisa checked her dictionary when we got home, but it seems it was advertising alternations. I did look up the address of the viking machine dealer but I wasn't brave enough to try to find it on my own.

What did people do on the subway ie. listen to music, read?

People on the subways kept to themselves. A few people read and I saw some IPODs but I couldn't hear anything even standing next to them. Because the trains run so frequently, no one runs to make a train and I didn't see anyone holding the doors for someone. I was particularly struck by the absence of litter, and I don't remember seeing any trash cans. No one paid any attention to the stray dogs so I wonder what they ate.

How was the food?

The food was good but we did treat them to the American places - like Pizza Hut and MacDonald's. The Russian restaurants we went to were delicious but nothing far from what our grandmothers cooked. My favorite meal was at the craft fair - grilled meat (Shaslik) with great bread. At one place we ordered garlic bread and it was pumpernickel!

Did you experience any "home cooking"?

The only authentic homemade food we had was a few leftover bilinis Luba, their houskeeper, made for the girls' lunch. They were tender crepes which we filled with strawberries - Sophia's favorite. I think Grandpa needs a crepe pan to practise before they visit here. Luba made us borcht for dinner one night. I wish I had watched her make it - I know what ingredienents she used but I would love to know her technique. It seemd very similar to what we make.

Did you notice anything interesting about art?

We did go to the Pushkin Art museum which displayed the work of Russsian artists next to more famous one. I was struck how they were similarly influenced by different movements. I also noticed the soft colors everywhere. It wasn't meant to be in sharp contrast with the greyness of the weather but a definite difference to the conrete of the communists. Even the matrushka dolls are evolving. The majority still have every square inch covered in lacquered bright color but I saw several decorated with wood burning to highlight the wood grain. I think this art form is evolving.

I did notice that they seem to be reviving their old art forms. They are replacing copies of buildings that were destroyed. I didn't notice any difference in the style of clothing and the cars were all models we have on our roads.

I did notice a difference in how they decorate public Christmas trees - they call them New Year trees. There are only a few strings lights - usually in straight lines from the top and large ornaments hung in well placed patterns. Some had carefully arranged criss-crossing garland that I loved! One of the things I wanted to see was the tree in front of the Bolshoy Theater - I had seen pictures years ago that reminded me of Faberge eggs and it still does!

Sleeping Spyro

Sleeping Spyro
Originally uploaded by IdoruNYC357
SOOOOO tie tie...

This little monster is why I haven't been doing too much on the crocheting front - first because the cuteness demands a lot of attention (of both the kind of watching her run around like a maniac and the kind where she gets yelled at for eating shoe laces and sharpening claws on the nice chairs)....

Second because my hands are all scratched up and ouchie from "playtime" with kitty's abnormally sharp little teeth and claws...

But most importantly because I don't think the kitty would be very helpful in the crafting. I'm sure kitty would find it a BLAST to play with all of my yarn - which is safely hidden away in the bed room or as we are now calling it "the place foreboden to kittehs".

Given how EXCITING Spyro finds the corners of my books - now which all have tiny little holes in them mysteriously - I'm thinking the hook moving around and the yarn dancing back and forth will be too much for kitten... and my patience.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Giving credit

I should have mentioned the hint about all the wonderful uses for Glide came from Carol Hunt. It is the subject of one of her workshops. (Blatant hint to daughters – remember her name to look up her teaching schedule – Mother’s Day will be here quicker than you think!)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Lessons I learned on Ravelry

I’m just about to cast on the Secrets of the Stole II when it occurred to me that I should keep track of the stuff I learn from Ravelry.

The first thing I tried was entrelac in the Quant headband. I passed right over it on Knitty, but the Fearless KAL linked some detailed instructions so I gave it a try. It’s really easy if you keep track of the rows. I’m on my third one! I’m thinking about making them for Christmas presents.

Then the Cloth of the Week Yahoo group tries to introduce a new technique each week. I frogged 2 HIP 2 B Square after I saw a video on cable cast on. It wasn’t as difficulty as the written instructions and I finished knitting the cloth in one afternoon!

Now I’m ready for the Secret of the Stole II – a lace KAL. I haven’t made lace in years so I need some help. I watched the video on long tail cast on so my stole will get a good start. The first clue has 54 rows – hope I can use the long weekend so I can keep up.

I “meeting” many wonderful people on Ravelry but I’m also having fun learning ways to improve my knitting – a great deal.

To hopefully be continued....

Busy, Busy, Busy

Ravelry is determined to keep me busy. I have kept my needles very busy since we’ve been back.

I’ve been sucked into the dishcloth vortex and now belong to two Yahoo groups. I made the December snowflake from Monthly dishcloth and 2 Hip 2B Square from Cloth of the Week. Of course I HAD to order lots of Peaches and Crème so I’m ready for any possible patterns that may come.

I gave Claire the snowflake one but I think she was expecting something else for her birthday. She wound a center pull ball from the yarn I received in the Holiday Swap using a method she picked up from “The Happy Hooker” but this is an old technique Ron used when computers ran on paper tape. Don’t think there many of us left that programmed computers even before IBM cards! I don’t think I’ll be able to convince him to show off his skills in yarn, though.

I used that yarn to make the wristlets in the accompanying pattern. This soft boucle has changed my mind about my vow never to work with this type of yarn again. I quickly made up the two pieces – simple garter stitch rectangles – but they came out HUGE. I decided wristlets might not look their best if they went over the elbow so I frogged one piece and will be able to get 2 pairs from the same amount of yarn. Yeah! I don’t have to choose which daughter will get them now! The pattern suggests decorating them with buttons so I need to hunt up appropriate ones. (yes, I’m going to use this as an excuse to go to craft stores) My postcard is already in the mail so I made the deadline for the Monthly Swap.

Then I also made a baby hat for the KCL group. Found an old Spinnerin baby book – 1966 copyright. It came out cute but my pompom skills are very rusty. I just tried it on a doll for a picture and it’s HUGE! Sigh – I’m not frogging – I hope they will find an older child who might need a hat. I’ll get this in the mail next week.

I’m glad we have a long weekend – the Secret of the Stole II published the first clue on Friday and I found a tat-along. This is going to be so much fun!

I am determined that stuff I make should fit from now on. I know my mother always said to leave room so they can grow into it, but even the dishcloths are too big. I have only made Ron one sweater in 38 years, and vowed never to try again after all the comments of how his arms don’t really drag on the ground. Unless someone knows a family of cold giants, this will be my year to swatch carefully and frog if necessary so things might actually fit.

Please don’t plague me for pictures. I started to take some but the camera battery died. It will take awhile to charge so you just have to be patient.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Me and Spyro1
Originally uploaded by IdoruNYC357
And this is why I haven't had a chance to do too much crafting lately. Meet the newest member of the family - Spyro von Mittendorf.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


I finally figured some things out and started to upload some photos to Flikr. Several hundred more need editing, so please be patient

Monday, January 7, 2008

Home afgain

It’s 4 AM and I can’t sleep. Guess it’s going to take some time to adjust to the 8 hour time difference.

I’ll try to remember the highlight of the past few days.

They found a place to get air in the tire and we thankfully didn’t have any further problems. They did get to do the food shopping, and then we all piled into the car and went to Molly Gwynn’s – Moscow’s version of a British pub - very cozy – standard pub food. We had a tasty assortment of appetizers. The girls devoured the chicken fingers – cut in strips resembling French fries. For our farewell dinner at home we had – pelimi ( Russian ravioli) and chicken shashlik. Don’t think I’ll easily find them here so I’m going to search for recipes.

We were all up early Sunday for us to get to the airport. It was hard not to cry while waving goodbye to those little faces in the window. I’m going to miss them.

There were some extra lines at this airport. Luckily Mike stayed as long as he could to help with the Russian. First line was to check your passport then another where they go thru your bags – they opened looked through everything! Had a problem with one thing that needed to be shown to a supervisor – don’t want to spoil a surprise but luckily it was still sealed and allowed. After struggling to get the bags closed again it was on to another line to check in and check our bags. We decided to have something to eat but we had to leave the secured area. Found a TGI Fridays! We don’t go there enough to know if the menu was similar – we had omelets. Then we had to go back thru the secured area – more people were on line now so it took awhile. Finally got to the official passport screening – Mike couldn’t go thru so we had to say goodbye. It was a long walk then to the gate. Many Duty Free shops but they only took euros – so I didn’t get anything. Did look at the booze – the only vodka I saw was Stolly – probably at inflated prices. You had the usual security check at the gate – take off shoes, metal detector and they hand searched the carry ons. We only had to wait about a half hour before they started boarding – our last line in Russia.

The plane ride was smooth – and we came in early! Finished my second book of the trip and almost knitted a complete Quant headband. I was too groggy at the confusing end part of the pattern and decided to put it away. More lines to get out of the airport, of course. Ron was annoyed that I put down we had plant materials on the customs form. I had picked a bag of pinecones from the tree outside their door. After digging them out, the inspector just said, “Going to make Christmas decorations?” then just handed them back to me – nice to know some people in uniform understand an urge to craft! Found the limo driver and was glad to get in the house. Dumped the bags, made church and went to bed right after having wonton soup for dinner

The house seems fine – looks like the plants survived. Just took a shower – don’t need Ron’s assistance any more. The rim of the tub in Russia was higher than my knees and the bottom was almost 10” from the floor – so you’re really stepping down getting out. I didn’t trust my balance especially since a third of the tub was slanted. I really missed this little independence but haven’t decided on the cold floor. I missed the sensation of stepping on cold tiles while I was in Russia but it’s going to take a few days to make a decision.

Going to take things slow today. Just thinking about the unpacking, laundry, picking up the mail, and uploading the camera makes me want to take a nap.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

THE Nutcracker!

Dreams do come true! We went to see the Nutcracker last night! I first saw the Nutcracker a century ago – well actually half a century. I’ve seen many versions over the years – including many local dancing school adaptations – but my dream was always to see the REAL one – meaning one in Russia. The Bolshoy is closed for renovations and their tickets would have been 5,000 ru (gulp!) so we attended the “Grand Moscow Classical Ballet”. It lived up to all my expectations.

There were some differences to the one we see in Lincoln Center. Clara – called Masha here - danced thru her dream which made more sense to me – obviously a Prima ballerina not a teenager. The only children were some adorable little girls at the party and some tiny mice. Luckily there was an English synopsis to help me understand the plot changes. There was a Mouse QUEEN! Another wonderful ballerina – so we enjoyed the talents of 2 fantastic women. There was very little sword fighting – something that keeps our little boys entertained. This was a very gentle interpretation – I hope the girls will see it next year.

We had an early lunch at a coffee café - just soup and quiche. It was the first time I saw decaf on the menu. It was a nice change from the Folger coffee bags. On the way home we picked up MacDonald’s! This one has a drive-thru so we didn’t have to stand in the usual long lines. Same menu – we had Big Macs with fries and picked up Happy Meals for the girls. Everything tasted the same.

We’re babysitting this morning so Mike and Lisa can do some food shopping in peace – only problem one of the tires was very low. Don’t know if it’s a leak or the cold – it’s 1’F and snowing lightly. They called around asking if anyone knew of a place that has an air pump. They bundled up and went on a search – hope they call to keep me from worrying too much. I’m starting to pack – hard to believe our dream trip ends tomorrow.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Baby it’s cold outside

It was the coldest day since we’ve been here – 5’F according to Michael’s car. Of course it tried to fool us by being sunny. We bundled up and Mike took us on a bus tour. We have been sticking to this section of the city, so this was an opportunity for us to see more.

The first stop was Christ the Savior Cathedral. It’s the big white one with gold domes in many pictures. Our tour guide was obviously religious and anticommunist, so she provided many side comments to the standard script. This cathedral was destroyed in 1931 and rebuilt in 1991. It is magnificent and glad to know there were still craftsmen with the skills to duplicate all the intricacies of the original. The only thing I noticed different from the old ones was the brightness – guess it needs a few centuries of candle burning to provide the usual patina.

One of the details I found fascinating was an 8 pointed star any quilter would recognize. The guide said it is a traditional design in the marble mosaic floors of a church as it represents eternity. We weren’t allowed to take any pictures, so I’ll have to trust my memory.

She also pointed out the lists of names on the walls of the foyer. These were the men who defended Moscow from Napoleon. As you can imagine, it takes walls several stories high just to name the units lost in that war. The destruction of the church then not only harmed religion but part of their military history. Some of the marble was stripped before the building was blown up and used in subway stations so not everything was lost to the people. That thought seemed very important to the guide.

The bus was parked across the street, so we got to practice crossing a main road without a traffic light again.

We drove down a road dedicated to medicine – a soviet design with a maternity hospital on one end and the mortuary on the other. Most of the buildings in this part are old – stucco of various pastels with white ornate decorations. I didn’t think Moscow would have as many soft colors as a tropical location. We passed many concrete apartment houses of the Stalin era. I knew they had communal kitchens and bathrooms but I didn’t know they don’t have elevators. Some of them are 10 or 12 stories high. I feel like a wimp complaining about the climb to the third floor for Claire! We also passed some new expensive condos – would be a great addition in any city.

We then stopped at ‘the convent”. I don’t remember the name but it is on the opposite side of the river from the Kremlin where many of the photos we see are taken. It is now a cemetery for many dignitaries but we didn’t have time to pay our respects.

We then rode past Moscow University. It’s better than the pictures. A great building with expansive grounds including a stretch to the river that reminded me of the Mall in DC.

We passed the ski jump constructed for the 1980 Olympics – too bad there isn’t enough snow. We saw the arch commemorating the triumph over Napoleon and drove passed a large park that has monuments for all the towns that fought in WWII. Mike loves it, of course, - he eyes still sparkle talking about getting to climb on tanks and stuff. Think I know where the girls will be playing this summer.

Then it was back to Red Square. Our first guide had told us the entrance arches had been removed by the soviets to allow the large military equipment to enter for the parades. This guide noted the small chapel between the arches was also restored to maintain the tradition of thanking God before entering the Kremlin. She told us Lenin’s tomb is always closed during the holidays so he can’t be offended I wasn’t able to pay my respects.

We stopped in GUM again mainly for the bathrooms. There aren’t many public restrooms and I didn’t think the many port-a-potties all over the city would be warm enough. The food emporium was open and we enjoyed looking at everything. There was a wide variety of all sorts of goodies – including some caviar that was tagged 128,750ru. We picked up some cookies but I regret not getting something from the huge tea assortment. I was leery as I couldn’t figure out if anything was “no caffeine”.

We then had lunch at an Azerbaijani restaurant. We had a soup that was so delicious that Ron immediately searched the web for the recipe. I had Chicken Kiev – so I have completed my gastronomic list for this visit. Tomorrow we are going to the ballet – so my wish list of things to do will also be fulfilled.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Good Morning

It’s 8:30 AM and we’re the only ones up! It snowed a little last night so everything looks pretty. They are only just starting to clear the road. It is a holiday week so I don’t know if this is normal. The maintenance men are pushing something that looks like a lawnmower and using brooms – not shovels. I have seen people using snow brooms made out of twigs - hope to get to see one up close.

The sky is only just starting to lighten but my mind thinks it’s only around 6 AM.

Forgot to talk about television here – they have cable with the 4 armed forces channels. There is also BBC World News, Sky News, and a channel in Japanese, one from India, another in German and of course lots of Russian ones. There is a Russian one in English called Russia Today - mostly news. A nice assortment – I’ve even caught some craft shows but I miss my Create.

We’re all supposed to go to Mega Mall today – the one with Starbucks. The girls call it the Barbie Mall. We saw 2 toy stores there so I expect to be hustled. I didn’t know it also has an IKEA! So it is REALLY big! We might have lunch there – it’s going to be a fun day.