Not Martha

links: travel

Hitchhiker’s Guide | The Planning Committee. What it looks like from the tallest peak in Wales, I’m adding this to my list of stuff to do when we go back.

Chef Jonathon Sawyer’s Guide to Eating in Cleveland | Serious Eats. I grew up in Cleveland but it’s changed so much that next time we return for a visit it’ll be like discovering a new city.

Anthony Bourdain How to Travel – Anthony Bourdain on How to Fly – Esquire. Via Kottke.

Italy 2014 – August 25th to September 4th. At Other Hand, some great suggestions for markets, gelato and lesser known spots to visit.

DIG IT | Getting Lost Inside The Elizabethan Hedge Labyrinth Out At VanDusen Gardens : Scout Magazine. I’m going to make it to this Vancouver, BC hedge maze soon.

· comments [0] · 10-1-2014 · categories:links · travel ·

Good Raincoats That Come In Petite Sizes

I have a few basic requirements for a rain coat – something that doesn’t scream “I also hike in this”, something that will survive being repeatedly crammed in a bag, and something that fits my petite frame. I also have a few more personal requirements: no wool (I’m allergic) and no extraneous buckles/straps/flaps that I will only manage to catch on everything. This combination of things were surprisingly difficult to find for a while and at one point I ordered ten possible coats online and tried them on one after another at home. Some were too fussy, too heavy, too narrow in the hips and some were terribly tight up under the arms (what’s up with that Michael Kors?). At the time I overlooked the coat I’m about to tell you about because honestly, the photos online make it look more shiny and flimsy than it is in person and they never seem to have it in the stores to check out in person.

The Eddie Bauer Girl on the Go® Trench Coat and Girl On The Go® Insulated Trench Coat filled the raincoat shaped hole in my life. I brought the insulated version with me on a trip to the UK in Oct. and Nov. of last year and I was never cold or wet, the coat could be crammed into my suitcase and emerge looking just fine and I like to think I didn’t stick out too much as a tourist.

The petite size manages to give me some shape and, miraculously, still fits over my not insignificant hips when I’m wearing my bulkiest sweater. I have both the regular and insulted version of the coat. The insulated liner has full sleeves, buttons out when you don’t need it and is surprisingly warm — in fact I was too warm when descending to Tube stations in London. (So, this could be a downside if you live in a city with a subway.) The only difference between the regular and insulated versions is that the waist is cut in a bit tighter in the regular version and it’s more flattering. Which is why I kept both versions. Because vanity. These coats are perfect for the Seattle climate and they both get a lot of use throughout the year so I have no regrets. I have the coat in black but the putty color, shown above, was tempting.

Things that are not so great:

  • it is all synthetic fabrics so it does make scratchy/swishy noises when you move, it doesn’t bother me (crinkle noises are insignificant when rain is pelting the side of your head while you wait at a bus stop) but I’ve known a few people for whom this is a peeve so I’ll mention it
  • the hood detaches but it doesn’t tuck into the collar so you just have to keep track of it

Things that are great:

  • interior chest pocket that will hold an iPhone, the pocket sits low enough so that it hits, thankfully, underneath my boob
  • hood cinches down
  • no velcro
  • zips from the bottom as well as the top
  • snaps shut as well for those times when you’re just popping out to grab the mail and don’t want to fuss with zippers
  • can be balled up and shoved in a bag and won’t wrinkle
  • without the insulated liner the coat is surprisingly lightweight so it’s not too much trouble to carry with you shoved in your bag for the day
  • the petite size fits a petite (but not necessarily skinny) frame well with room for a warm sweater

I will also point to the MacKenzie Trench Coat, shown above right. It’s a little less sporty looking with a matte fabric and empire waist and comes in a nice dark gray. Ultimately I valued the longer length of the Girl On The Go coat but nearly fell for the MacKenzie.

Both of these coats are on sale right now so if you’re looking for a raincoat I can recommend giving them a try.

· comments [14] · 09-25-2014 · categories:uncategorized ·

links: craft

DIY Kits | Haptic Lab. These are city map prints that you use to create your own small quilt. I LOVE this. These are also available from Purl Soho.

Molly’s Sketchbook: Breezy Friendship Bracelets – The Purl Bee. So easy and colorful. I’m late to the friendship bracelet renewal thing, I know. See also: Cashmere + Neon Friendship Bracelets.

Cool Tools – Rapid Heat Ceramic Glue Gun. “It’s better than guns costing 5 times as much.”

5 Small & Simple Leather DIYs | Apartment Therapy.

· comments [5] · 09-24-2014 · categories:craft · links ·

links: misc

“What would happen if a whale suddenly appeared in the sky and then plunged down into a South American town.” at the Ninth Letter Arts & Literary Journal. Via The Morning News. No mention of a bowl of petunias.

Bone Records – Mighty Girl. Oh wow, people in the Soviet Union listened to banned music made using records created from repurposed the vinyl in old x-rays.

Damn, Gina, It’s never not a good time to read Wikipedia’s Bog Bodies at Damn, Gina. We saw a few of these at National Museum of Ireland in Dublin. Go and read about how they were found and try not to think about it next time you are enjoying your Scotch.

Harvesting Free Food at Seattle’s Beacon Food Forest | Garlic Gulch. This is in my neighborhood!

Recasting Gilmore Girls for the Highly Anticipated, Hypothetical Movie, at Gawker. I was pretty worried about what recasting choices people might expect but this article makes some solid points. Via Making It Lovely.

Cool Tools – Hugo’s Amazing Tape. It only sticks to itself.

Five Things You Didn’t Know About The Red Carpet – A Practical Wedding. Meg’s writeup about what it’s really like on the red carpet is a whole lot of fun.

nateswinehart: Being good to each other is so important, guys. This is so true, and so funny, and true again.

48 Unexpected Views Of Famous Historic Moments. These are really amazing. Via Girls of a Certain Age.

· comments [2] · 09-10-2014 · categories:links · misc ·

links: the home

Cool Tools – UpLift Electric Sit-Stand Desk Base. I need to start standing while I work as well, enough with my swivel chair.

Little Green Notebook: Making a Wall Mural. Great big color mural here and the source, Wizard Prints.

How To Use IKEA Trones Storage Boxes in Every Room of the House | Apartment Therapy. We use three of these as recycling bins and they are great – large enough to hold a gallon size container or a newspaper, shallow enough to fit in our limited space and they disappear on the wall.

How to Make Gold Leaf Wall Art | Brit + Co.

· comments [2] · 09-4-2014 · categories:links · the home ·

links: food

The Best Sweet Use for Your Smoker? Smoked Ice Cream | Serious Eats.

What We Really Taste When We Drink Wine : The New Yorker. “Do we actually want to eliminate expectation and create an experience of tasting that approximates blindness? Galloni doesn’t think so. Having spent a big part of his career as a critic in blind tastings, he now fully embraces context as one of the major parts of his enjoyment of and appreciation for wine.”

ciao samin: All I Want to Eat. Cold dressings for cold foods.

Where to Eat Outdoors in Seattle, 2014 Edition | Serious Eats.

The best beer in baseball – Washington Post. “Seattle sells beers from 20 breweries based in the state of Washington, the highest number of in-state offerings in Major League Baseball.” Via Metafilter.

Cheesy Stuffed Poblanos | How Sweet It Is.

The Complete Guide to Burger Blends | FirstWeFeast.com. Via Kottke.

Muhammara Recipe – 101 Cookbooks. “It’s a traditional red pepper spread originating from Syria made with a beguiling blend of red peppers, walnuts, olive oil, pomegranate molasses”. Yum.

How to Make Pocky at Home at Food 52. Via Craftzine.

· comments [1] · 08-28-2014 · categories:food · links ·

links: shopping

Find a Nail Polish That Lasts – Consumer Reports News. Their most recommended is a $2 bottle of polish! It’s Sinful Colors brand, which I’ve been using for my toenails for a few years now. I’m stupidly thrilled to be validated for my frugality here. Via Super Punch.

Made in America: The Girls of a Certain Age. I had no idea some of these brands are made in the USA, this is a good list to keep in mind.

Rich People Gotta Upholster Too | dooce®. Sarah Brown on Restoration Hardware then and now. I second this.

I Have Been Waiting My Whole Life For This Butter Knife at The Frisky. That is indeed a very clever butter knife.

· comments [9] · 08-21-2014 · categories:links · shopping ·

links: technology

The Best USB Battery Pack for Travel | The Wirecutter. Only $40, nice.

Meet the game that shows us the future of storytelling — The Message — Medium. Robin Sloan suggests how to play Gone Home for non-gamers and goes into why this is a form of video game that is worth paying attention to. Via Waxy.

10 Years, 10 Great Games: Jessica’s picks | Joystiq.

The secret of Minecraft — The Message — Medium. A very good perspective on what Minecraft is an exactly why it matters.

$7 Portal Mod Has Fans Riled Up | Game|Life | WIRED.

Cool Tools – Panda Ultra Wifi 1540Mbps Wireless N 2.4Ghz Adapter. A teeny tiny adapter that can work as an access point at those hotels that offer you wifi for one device. Nice.

The last of the great Twitter apps at Kottke. I’m looking at #2 on the list here, TweetBe.at, which makes it much easier to sort and edit Twitter lists. I’ve recently been asking friends about why they prefer to communicate with Facebook or Twitter and the Facebook people site overload on Twitter with Twitter list making is too time consuming to use properly. It is indeed a pain and it used to be much easier.

· comments [2] · 07-29-2014 · categories:links · technology ·

Padron peppers, nature’s game of surprise

Padrón peppers are delicious and they are also like a little game of surprise – most of these are mild but ever fifth one is hot. This can be especially amusing if somebody at your dinner is likely to break out into hiccups when they bite into a spicy pepper. (Ahem, Scott!)

Traditionally these are fried in a skillet but we find them just as delicious when tossed with a little olive oil and grilled. Add some good salt to finish and that’s all you need. They practically melt in your mouth, yum. If you have not encountered these yet, I somehow got to adulthood without being introduced, I recommend you seek some out soon.

A shout out to Maggi who introduced me to these a few years back! Also Shishito peppers are similar, every tenth one is hot.

· comments [11] · 07-8-2014 · categories:food ·

links: food

Happy almost Independence Day! A few of the links below are Fourth of July themed, the rest are yummy:

What to Drink on July 4th | Serious Eats. Mostly I’m eyeing the Campari-laced version of the Starfruit Sangria here, the slice of starfruit is such a simple decoration for the Fourth.

The Scientific Way to Cut a Cake – YouTube. By Numberphile. A very clever way to slice a round cake so that you can keep it as fresh as possible day after day, and the suggestion is from 1906! Via The Morning News.

Sprinkle Bakes: Crème Brûlée Filled Strawberries. So tiny and so fancy.

Southwestern Coleslaw Recipe | Simply Recipes. We’ve been making this a lot lately, it’s tasty and very simple to make if you have a food processor with the shredding attachments. Also, this is a very simple vinegar and olive oil dressing for those of you who like a more simple cole slaw.

Smoky and Spicy Yogurt-Marinated Chicken Kebabs | Serious Eats. If you can remember to make them early enough to allow for the time to marinate them these are easy and really delicious.

See also: Marinades for Chicken | Ask MetaFilter. Lots of great suggestions and regional options I’d never heard of.

· comments [2] · 07-3-2014 · categories:food · links ·

links: technology

Monument Valley: new levels on the way | Polygon. Yes!

Tales From The Borderlands nets a nerdy voice cast | Joystiq. I’m pretty darn excited for this game to come out.

Oculus Game Lucky’s Tale Will Blow Your Mind | Game|Life | WIRED. I want to play this.

Ask a Game Dev — Why are so many people demanding AAA titles to be all feminist and stuff when women don’t even buy those games?. There are twice as many gamers who are female and over the age of 31 than there are male under the age of 18, so guess who is spending money on games. Via Andrea Phillips.

How to Make a Light-Up Father’s Day Card | Brit + Co.

Montreal-style bagel – Wikipedia. NOTE: “Montreal-style bagels are currently the only style of bagel to have ventured into space.” Via a discussion with friends.

RINGLY | Smart Jewelry and Accessories. A ring that is connected to your phone and has several vibration patterns and colored lights for different notifications – email, text, Uber arriving. Interesting! Via SwissMiss.

Ravelry and knitting: Why Facebook can’t match the social network for knitters at Slate. I’ve been telling people for years that Ravelry should be studied as the example of an ideal social networking site.

· comments [2] · 06-16-2014 · categories:links · technology ·

Vacation Slides: finding our way out of an English hedge maze

One of my four goals for our trip to the UK last year was the find my way out of a hedge maze so we headed to the maze at Hampton Court which is a short train ride from London. The Hampton Court Maze isn’t the largest hedge maze in the UK but it is the first one planted in Great Britain, dating from 1690. It’s also reportedly the most famous hedge maze so we figured it would do nicely. Being iconic means that the actual layout of the maze is depicted everywhere even on the sign at the entrance to the maze and, I think, printed on our tickets. We tried not to study it too closely, I mean, spoilers. If you want to see an overhead photograph of the maze there is a good one halfway down this page.


This photo was taken by standing on tippy toe and pointing my camera out towards the center of the maze. Meaning, the hedges were taller than they seem in photos.

In the off season the gardens surrounding Hampton Court are free to explore but the maze itself is about £5. Currently the maze page says there is a sound installation but we heard nothing and didn’t see any evidence of speakers so the off-season tickets might not include it, or we were there on day when it wasn’t working.


That tree seemed so far away while we were in the maze.

We were there in the off season and during a weekday which meant there weren’t many people in the maze so we had whole stretches of time where we could almost feel alone and lost. It was awesome.


We reached the center!

The maze itself doesn’t seem very large from the outside, it covers 1/3rd of an acre and has 1/2 mile of trails inside, but it feels far larger inside. Like magic. Most of the paths are long straight stretches that end in an almost u-turn, which is disorienting. We were there to enjoy being inside the maze though, so we sought out every dead end and checked around every corner and when we found the end of the maze we turned around and found our way back to the entrance just because we wanted to spend as much time as possible inside.

It was, happily, a sunny day so we spent a few hours wandering around the gardens. The most decorative part of the gardens was closed because there was a film crew using it. We couldn’t really complain because they gardens were free.


In the center there you can see famous people. Supposedly.

We saw a lot of filming going on in Dublin and London while we were there. Scott works for a company that gathers movie and tv facts so we kept approaching the guards who were there to keep people like us out and asking, all innocent like, what they were filming. Our secret hope was that they would give us the code name that studios often use to make something sound as boring as possible when in fact Big Stars filming an alley scene for the Next Exciting Huge Thing are just beyond the barriers. To our disappointment all of the guards we talked to were very friendly, apologized that they couldn’t let us get any closer and then excitedly told us all about what was being filmed and which huge stars were right over there. In this case the production was an upcoming movie (tv special?) about Stephen Hawking and the two guards helpfully pointed out that if we stood just here we might capture a glimpse of somebody famous whose name I didn’t write down (sorry). They were young and excited to be working in the industry, it was so adorable I forgave them for ruining our game of being media sleuths.


Early version of Cones of Dunshire? Or just the half of the decorative gardens that weren’t closed for filming?

Hampton Court is a quick train ride from London, unless you are us in which case all the train schedules have been shuffled and instead it will be a strange hour and a half of fiddling with incomprehensible train schedules on your phone while desperately hoping you’re on the correct platform. The train schedules might helpfully suggest you go to a further train station and take a bus, but don’t listen to it! The closer train station is a very doable walk over a bridge and onto the grounds. The court itself looks like it’s well worth the ticket price to get to look around inside but we were there with a purpose: hedge maze and then back to London for fancy dinner reservations.

In the off season the gardens are free to wander but the maze itself is about £5. Even if you don’t have tickets to tour the court there are a few rooms you can access that have exhibits about the history of the gardens and the maze. There is also a gift shop and, I think, a cafe.


There were statues in the decorative gardens all wrapped up. It was incredibly creepy.

I had grand plans of visiting more hedge mazes in England while we were there but from the moment the airplane landed both Scott and myself came down with some a form of head cold that was determined to be the most torturous and the least friendly to getting sleep. So when we were stationed in Bristol for a few weeks I had intended to take a few day trips by springing out of bed and catching a very early train so I could wander a maze, have lunch and be back in time for a relaxing dinner. Instead I spent my days sleeping in because there was no other choice, I needed rest. We had hiking and drinking to do in Scotland and Ireland after all! Seriously though, I was convinced I had pneumonia and was close to checking out how the free healthcare works. For the record, I have not come down with a cold in the many months since we returned from our trip so whatever we survived covered all forms of viruses that swept through the US last winter. How do I train myself to catch and fight all the viruses before my next trip?

Hampton Court Maze and gardens are a perfect side trip from London. A little being outdoors and a bit of puzzle solving and you can be back in time for fancy dinner reservations.

· comments [9] · 06-11-2014 · categories:travel ·

links: food

Pitcher Drinks: Sparkling Grapefruit Sangria With Lillet Rosé | Serious Eats. Yum.

Sprinkle Bakes: Fresh Watermelon Cake. What a clever idea!

A Beer Beginner’s Guide to Hops of the World | Serious Eats.

Star Wars Macarons Prove the Force is Delicious at i09. Ok, those are cute.

The Rise of the $8 Ice Cube at Priceonomics.

“Miracle Fruit,” America’s Oldest New Food Trend at Gawker. I was really hoping this story was going to reveal that the Victorians threw scandalous miracle fruit parties, but no. Gawker means this goes all the way back to 2007. I would like to point out that I was one year off on my Mircale Fruit party invitation, I said 2008. Oops.

How to Make a Good Salad Without Dumb Leaves – The Awl. “So let us forgo leaves. Let us not require our salads to rely on our least-favorite ingredient. Let us shape our own salad destiny.”

· comments [3] · 06-5-2014 · categories:food · links ·

links: misc

Death Star Gown | MAKE: Craft. That Star Destroyer handbag!

Feel the Burn: Mailbag! Posture! Desk Jobs!. Exercises good for those who slouch. You can’t see me right now but know that I’m pointing at myself.

5 Details They Cut from My Season of ‘The Biggest Loser’ | Cracked.com. “That is the mighty power of the television editor: With enough time and a copy of Adobe Premiere, you can make Mr. Rogers look like a blood-drinking psychopath.”

Flexible Light Helps People Find Keys And Wallet In Their Giant Bags – PSFK. A flat, rechargeable purse light with 24 LEDs. Want! via Girls of a Certain Age.

Cool Tools – What’s in My Bag? Christopher Michel. A frequent world traveler shows which items he keeps with him at his seat in the plane. I do something similar, it’s so calming knowing I have everything I need to block out noise or charge up without digging through a bag at my feet.

Infinite Trees – The Colossal Shop. So simple and so lovely. Should this actually be a Christmas link?

Wonder Woman Costume Designs We’d Love To See On The Big Screen, at i09. Some of these are great, recognizably Wonder Woman but a bit more badass.

Engineer Prints from Photojojo. Huge 3′ by 4′ black and white prints for your home, shipping is included in the $25 price. I have a plan.

Douglas Adams’ Guide To Interspecies Sex Getting Published At Last, at i09. These will be the unpublished works that were on paper, whereas The Salmon of Doubt was what was left behind on hard drives. As somebody who found the tapes of the original radio series at my library and listened to them obsessively when I was in high school I’m stupidly excited.

· comments [4] · 06-2-2014 · categories:links · misc ·

Bake for Good with King Arthur Flour

Recently King Arthur Flour gathered a group of PNW bloggers and we all made dinner for a shelter here in Seattle. It was part of their Bake for Good initiative to encourage and help people reach out to their communities in various ways. In addition to getting food to those in need, baking for community events and bake sales to raise money they also have a Bake for Good Kids traveling tour that helps kids learn to bake and work with their communities. In addition to all this King Arthur Flour is an employee owned company where each employee donates time each year to volunteering and helping the community. You know what? There’s been a lot of gloomy stuff going on in the news lately and being a part of the Bake for Good tour reminded me that there is plenty of goodness out there and sometimes you have to create it.

(The image above is from the King Arthur Flour website. The pictures below are all from my aging iPhone, the days were so packed with flour and butter and dishwashing that I didn’t pull out my camera.)

(My bread was a little lopsided but bascially worked. The one here looked so pretty I took a picture of it instead.)

We spent some time in commercial kitchens which was a thrill for me. On the first day we made braided white loaves, dinner rolls and apple pies.

We braided white bread dough, you start from the center and braid down, then flip it over and braid down again. Not as easy as it sounds, at least the first time.

It rose! And got brown and pretty!

I’ve never been able to get a handle on pie dough. I’d seen plenty of demonstrations on cooking shows, I’d done the vodka thing, the food processor thing but I never had any success and basically gave up on it. Turns out some hands on learning with a cheerfully helpful teacher is what I needed.

What I learned? Half of the butter bits need to be way larger than I suspected. And one of these large plastic scrapers is oh so handy. Seriously, I won’t ever make pie dough without one of these again. It’s particularly great if you don’t have cold hands because it can mix and fold with minimal contact from your hands. It’s also great for scooping up chopped vegetables, even easier to use than a metal bench scraper. There you, my new favorite kitchen multitasker.

In my notes I have VB, which stands for Visible Butter, something you want during the last stages of putting your pie dough together. When you are gathering it to chill before rolling out you want the dough to be both shaggy and crumbly, not too dry but just wet enough to hold together. Right, I’m not going to do any good telling you about it, go find a pie person and practice!

The next day we made salad, macaroni and cheese, chicken and a few other vegetable side options. I appreciated the oversized tools.

We had a tour of the shelter and it was pretty sobering. Everybody there was a good soul caught in a difficult situation. It made me feel very grateful for what I have and like I could be doing a lot more to help out in my community. I’ll be seeking out as many opportunities to volunteer as I can.

If you like to cook I do have a suggestion for helping out in your area, look up your local VA hospital and see if they are seeking volunteers to cook dinner for the caretakers of patients who are living there are on a short or long term basis. Here in Seattle the Fisher House is one of those spots, this is something my friend Fresh Picked Seattle organizes from time to time so all credit goes to her. In addition to cooking they have room for people to come and hold craft nights, garden, organize outings or teach a class.

Alright, let’s go out and do some good.

· comments [6] · 05-30-2014 · categories:food · misc ·