My desk is so happy… I hate to clean it.

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ImageThis is not me.  This is my hero.

Okay.

Here’s the deal.
My friend Sarah Bullock (from high school) is riding her bike from San Francisco to L.A. to fight AIDS.  Yep.  She’s getting on her bike and raising money to help AIDS prevention, and to help those who have AIDS fight it.  It’s a painful ride- and she knows this because this is her second time doing it.  She is not a glutton for punishment- she just wants to help people, and she has focused all of her energy on this one project.  See her pages for more info and inspirational stories, here. and here.  She is in the home stretch, but to reach her goal of $15,000 in 23 days, she needs to raise $3,500 more.
I want to help Sarah, but since I’m not a millionaire, I have decided to appeal to my friends and family, and some super cool blog readers who: A.) Care about people.  and B.)  Like homemade things.
So I want to make all of you gift tags, cause that’s something I’m obsessed with making right now.  See obsession here.
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For every $1.00, or 100 cents you donate to her AIDS/LifeCycle campaign at tofighthiv.org/goto/TEAMSARAH , I will make you 1 super cool gift tag!  If you decide to give $10?  10 gift tags for you!  How about $25?  Yeah, that would be 25 gift tags!
Better yet- you can tell me if you want Christmas tags or birthday tags, thank-you tags, a variety of tags, or really hipster ironic tags, and I will make them to your preference!
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Just shoot me an email, a WordPress message, or a comment, with the number of tags you want, the name you donated under, and I will make and send you your rightfully earned gift-tags!  No shipping and handling!  =)  It just needs to happen before May 17th!
Just think… with $20… all of these super-cool Alsn one-of-a-kind tags could be yours:
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Every dollar/tag helps fight AIDS, and my personal problem with hoarding craft supplies.
So what are you waiting for?  Christmas is less than 7 months away!   Donate now!
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On our recent business trip to Italy I managed to eat mountains of pizza and pasta, and liters of wine.  Since I lived to tell the tale, here are a few of my favorites…

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The Cinque Terre DOC wine is a blend of three grapes- Vermentino, Albarola, and Bosco.  It’s light, semi-sweet, with a little grass on the tail end.  In my opinion, it is a mysterious cross between a Northern Italian Sauvignon Blanc and an Argentinian Torrontes.  I was delighted to experience it, but due to it’s no-name recognition in the state, we decided we could not sell it in the states.

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The local pasta shape here is called Trofie.  It is thick and dense, rolled like a cigarette, and fun to chew on.  Pesto is also a regional sauce, so I got two birds with one stone!

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There were no end of pizzas.  We went to one restaurant that had “50 kinds of pizza” though they were all really close to each other, so I didn’t think it counted.  On this day we had a traditional Magherita (Marinara, Basil, Mozzarella), and a Capriccosa (artichokes, olives, sardines, sausage, ham, and Mozzarella).  Total opposites!  Very good!  We also snaked on some mini bruschetta assortments.  Yum!

ImageOutside the Leaning Tower of Pisa, we got a little hungry, so we had a beer, which by the way all taste like nothing, and cost about 3 times as much as wine, which is very backwards in my head!  And we ordered some small open-faced salmon toasted things which looked crazy fancy, only to discover that all that cream-colored stuff was mayonnaise, which I find to be a crime against humanity, so I wiped it off and then found it all very tasty.

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Arguably the best pizza of the trip!  This dude was arugula (man, they love arugula there!) cherry tomatoes, Pecorino Romano flakes, and Balsamic on a white sauce.  Uhm… wow!  I can’t wait to make one of my own.

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The Calzones of Italy are delicious- they are moist on the inside, so they don’t need all that sauce on the top, which is good because when I first saw this in front of me- I panicked thinking it wasn’t going to be very good.  I was dead wrong!

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A moment of respect for the humble sardine!  Oh, how delicious you are when you are not pickled and  fresh!  Olive oil and spices make you a new love of mine!

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It’s not pretty, but boy was it delicious!  Cingalino Pasta!  (That’s little wild boar, to you).  I don’t remember what the straw-like pasta shape was called, but this salty dish was mouth-watering, and I’m not normally one for meat.

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Olive Garden eat your heart out…  Seafood by the sea!

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Oh, you!  You, you, you!  Newly discovered for me, the Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOC. The first DOC declared in Italy in 1995.  It was written of by Dante in the divine comedy as a gluttonous wine, surely due to the sweetness it could achieve.  I chose a drier style, but the crisp sweetness still came through, and it was delightful!  We’re definitely bringing some to the Colorado market.

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Fruiti di Bosco Panna Cotta.  I am not a custard/jelly fan (I had the creme brulee) but I had to admit this was beautiful!

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I never knew I liked Carbonara until this trip, and now I am eager to find a good recipe for it.  The secret, I’m sure, is in the egg and Pancetta!  Yum!  Our wine this evening was a local Chianti Reserva (Sangiovese, Canaiolo, and Malvasia) from Vico de Elsa.  It was not overly oaked like our California reds, despite having been in oak for so long, but its underlying tannins pulled the heavy sauces right off our palates!  Chianti and meat pastas go well together, otherwise I suggest the Salice Salentino.

There are many other delicious foods and wines we tasted, but these were the best, and I can’t wait to go back again someday for more!

Anyone who is a Game of Thrones fan, and/or loves to knit, will fall head over heels for this new Winterfell cowl over at the Fancy Tiger Blog.

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(Photo from the Fancy Tiger Blog)

I can’t believe their surreal photo shoot.  I feel like I’m beyond the wall and it’s a very scary place.  Good thing I have the prospect of a sweet-looking cowl to keep me sane!

I’m going to knit one of these up asap, and I think you should, too.

 

I learned to knit at Christmas last year.  And thanks to classes at Fancy Tiger, I’ve been knitting and knitting and knitting!  And not badly! =)

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Ysolda Teague’s Pear Drop in Scrumptious Lace.

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Arrowhead Mittens by Alexis Winslow / Brooklyn  Tweed in Elemental Effects Natural Shetland Fingering wool.  =)  Warm!

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Stephen West’s Geysir Stretch Knit Along Shawl in super soft Malbrigo Worsted.  It looks more electric in person.  (^o^)

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And this is not knit, but I wanted to share.  Made with the Liberty of London lawn fabric I got in Paris, paired with the neon/tan lace I got in Santa Fe, and the button I got down the road.  Ha ha!  It all comes together!  A very fun and fast, but expensive scarf to make.  I love Liberty!  Their design team must be the coolest pattern geniuses on the planet.  If anyone gets a chance to go to La Droguerie in Paris… do it.  Miles and miles of Liberty Lawn, walls of ribbons, yarn by the pound, and beads and buttons in apothecary jars that make your heart melt.  *Droooooooool*  This is their button wall- all of which are tucked away in magical drawers behind the counter…

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The possibilities are endless!

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I don’t know how this happened.  A year ago, this wall above my bed was a blank wall… and then…

I read a blog where a designer said she only kept empty frames in her bedrooms so that she wouldn’t have nightmares.  I can’t remember the reasoning behind it, but it seemed to make sense at the time, so I started collecting old frames from antique and thrift stores.

Then posters started creeping into my frames…  I was recently given the print of the girl with the umbrella for Christmas by a good friend.  It is by artist Kristin Kemper, who I think is genius.

I also have that sick affinity for paper that most artists do.  Those big drawers at art stores that you can pull out and leaf through expensive swaths of paper, like fabric in their patterns, always call to me, even though I have no plan for their use.  I finally just stuck some up on the wall because I couldn’t bear to stash them away somewhere.  Now it’s growing!  My new favorite place to buy paper is here:  Kozo: Fine Art Materials  in Denver.  But Meininger is always great, too.

Covering a whole wall like this would be fun!  Image

P.S.  The decaying wood on the wall is the guts of an old piano that had been left outside.  I love how it looks like a fish skeleton… since you know how much I like the beautiful macabre of the skeleton.

Has anyone else played with Polyvore yet?

I know I saw it floating through the internet world a while back, but I never tried it until recently.  It’s ridiculously addicting.  I suggest putting an hour aside before playing with this virtual collage site… I went to find a good outfit to pair with the FibreCo’s pattern, Winthrop, and got sucked into all the color!

Winthrop Sweater Tomato-Style

I forgot to mention to mention I got a new camera… one that is all shiny and new and complicated.  To practice with the new lens, I took it to the National Western Stock show, but I still don’t know how to use it!   I guess I’d better read the instructions after all…ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageCows, cows, more cows, and…. albino peacocks?   Whaaaaaaat?!   Pretty sweet.  

Today brought snow…

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And a new little friend who knit himself up in a hour thanks to a little kit from Fancy Tiger, and a pattern from Mochi Mochi Land.  Love forced bulbs!  Love snow!  Love gnomes!  Love it all! 

I am happy to report that my hanging devices for my teacups have withstood the test. They’ve been up for months, now, and even lived stress-free through a roofing job, which sent other pictures on my walls off their nails. Not these guys! They’re tough! I do love epoxy…

On a sad note… I’m being forced to admit that my sad little box camera has fallen out of my pocket one too many times. I think it’s getting fuzzy around the edges. I may have to buy a grown-up camera with real lenses and stuff soon. Sticker shock! Ah! Any favorites out there? Looking at the Cannon Rebel at the moment…