Not Martha

HP Designer Matchup Challenge, week 3 and a peek

HP Designer Matchup Challenge

I’m so excited, next week I’ll be in New York for Fashion Week and graypants and I will get to show you the result of what you’ve helped shape by voting in the first two posts (thanks!). Here are a few peeks:

Quick note, I’m typing this on the Ultrabook that HP sent me. Why a laptop? I still use the TouchSmart that they sent me as part of last year’s challenge as my everyday desktop machine so I asked really nicely and they sent me this laptop instead. Thanks HP! I mean, the TouchSmart is a great computer but my house is small and I didn’t have room for two of them. I wish I did though, a giant touch screen would come in extremely handy in the kitchen. That is, if you could protect the screen from olive oil smears. You could do that, right?

These pictures were all taken by Jon over at graypants. Thanks Jon!

And next week, the big reveal.

· comments [1] · 08-31-2012 · categories:events · technology ·

Spiral Cut Hot Dogs

spiral cut hot dog

I did a very poor job of capturing these. Probably because my order of focus when we are grilling is:

  1. Outside!
  2. Cold drink!
  3. Food!
  4. Documentation.

But I wanted to let you know about these because they are pretty cool.

spiral cut hot dog

To make them you put a skewer through the length of a hot dog (if you are prone to immature humor there is plenty of room for pain jokes here, clearly), then slice a long spiral through the hot dog cutting all the way down to the skewer. Grill it, remove from the skewer, stretch it out a bit and, ta da!, the hot dog is long enough to fit a bun. Also you might find that ketchup stays inside the bun as you’re eating. Chow has a quick video tip on making these: Why you should spiral cut your hot dog for grilling. They take the skewer out before grilling which actually makes way more sense than the way I’ve been doing it. Oops.

· comments [10] · 08-30-2012 · categories:food ·

Seattle Ferris Wheel

This summer Seattle got it’s own ferris wheel. It’s on the waterfront so you get a view of the sound as well as a view of the buildings downtown. It’s super extra good if you accidentally manage to get on it while the sun is setting.

Apparently there is a VIP car with leather seats, a glass floor and a television screen. (It’s the darker car in the photo above.) It seems like an expensive ticket for a short ride but, well, it exists.

· comments [8] · 08-29-2012 · categories:seattle · travel ·

links: misc

What light, humorous, and humanist genre fiction should I read after I finish the Discworld series? | Ask MetaFilter.

Playtest. Matthew Baldwin’s board game review site. Awesome.

Evolution of the uneven bars in women’s gymnastics, at Kottke. I have been missing the more graceful moves of the past during this Olympics.

Happy Mail How-To | giverslog. Giverslog has a whole series of posts about sticking postage on items (sans box) and sending them off in the mail, she includes a very helpful guide. I’m particularly taken with the plastic eggs, how amazing would it be to find them in your mailbox?

· comments [5] · 08-27-2012 · categories:links · misc ·

Nearby and Unexpected

This post is in partnership with smartwater. smartwater, good taste travels well. Click here to learn more.

This is a story about a weekend that went from unexpected to unexpectedly wonderful. I only have pictures from my mobile phone because I wasn’t anticipating it to be so, well, interesting.

A few months back Scott and I decided we needed to seek out some sunshine. We found a bike trail and a hotel room in Yakima, packed our bicycles into our car and left. We made it about a half an hour before we ran over a piece of metal in the road which was unavoidable because the tire of a semi threw it right at our car. We pulled over to the side of the road safely but dragged the metal with us, hearing it thunk and fold beneath our car. Ouch. Here is the offending piece of metal:

We named him La Mala Suerte. He is currently relegated to being used to prop open our front door.

We had the car towed back to Seattle while we silently regarded the stoic tow truck driver as a superhero. We were dropped off at a garage a measly three blocks from our house, like we pulled the “Go Back to Start” card.

It was too late to cancel the hotel, it was still drizzling in Seattle, the promise of sunshine was tempting and I’m stubborn. So we rolled our luggage to the light rail and took it to the airport where we rented a car eerily similar to the one we’d just left behind. We took extra care when drove past the spot where the incident had happened just an hour earlier. It was all blue skies until we approached Yakima where the skies got dark and it rained so hard we actually had to pull over to the side of the road and wait it out. When we were able to keep going we saw a double rainbow. No, really:

When we (finally!) arrived it was too late to do anything but get dinner and a nightcap at a dive bar with a rather loud bachelorette party who were using the live DJ as their personal 80s music jukebox. It was the perfect end to a strange day.

The next morning we had breakfast outdoors in the sun which is all we really wanted when we set out for this. Then we ignored the many nearby wineries and instead took up the first of many excellent suggestions from Sprizee and went to check out The Teapot in Zillah.

Next we headed to Tieton, stopping for frozen asparagus tamales and a fast food bacon sundae (which was so good, I am not alone in this opinion) on the way. We drove out past fruit stands, where we scored some precious early local peaches, and then up out of the valley to the highlands. We passed orchards and industrial buildings and suddenly found ourselves in a classic American town with a square block park surrounded by local businesses and shady trees and parking spaces. There were people having a picnic in the park and letting their kids run wild and no traffic lights in site. It was like visiting my sets of grandparents or that little town in Pennsylvania that I lived in for a year as a kid. Forgive me for being naive but it was charming and immediately won me over.

We located the building for Mighty Tieton and when we entered we found ourselves in a big, dark warehouse space where lit chandeliers were hanging. They were likely part of the Chandelier Festival from last year and I am so wildly in love with idea of making your own light during the darkest part of the year that I’m already thinking about what I might do. We stood an marveled at a sculpture in that room that I later found was made by Trimpin and is probably his Shhh and I desperately hope I get to see and hear it in action someday.

We wandered into an adjoining huge warehouse space and found a massive piece of manually created felt. It was made by Janice Arnold, who happened to be packing up her car and took the time to tell us about the felt (was wet felted by people walking and then dancing on it the night before, it was about 20 feet by 12 feet, it was amazing). She was kind enough to open a big door to yet another adjoining warehouse space so we could see another one of her pieces, called Chthonic Tent. The door was huge and when we walked carefully into the dark room it slowly closed behind us:

Then we were alone in a large, cool, silent room with only one source of light, a single bulb inside a tent that was in the center of the room:

It was huge and creepy and exhilarating. Later Janice Arnold said that she didn’t mean for the door to close behind us, but I wouldn’t trade that experience. Thank you Janice!

Turns out what we found that day was only part of something pretty cool happening in Tieton. Thanks to a few flat bicycle tires an artist saw some potential in empty buildings, spread the word and now the town is being revitalized by small business that have bound together under the association of Mighty Tieton. Except for Paper Hammer not all the businesses are open to the public on a regular basis but they do have a gallery schedule and regularly participate in community events. I’ll be back. More specifically, I’ll be returning tomorrow to check out Highland Community Days and the 10x10x10xTieton Exhibition.

By the time we headed back home we had completely forgotten about our not-so-great previous day. Except for the fact that we were driving a car that was not the one we set out in.

A note: While this post is in partnership with smartwater all opinions, travel, expenses, misadventures and potentially futile ideas to leave the safety of my house in the first place were all my own. If you’d like to see more photos, including a shot of the bacon sundae rapidly melting while I’m forcing it to pose in the sun on our dashboard, please see my Flickr set.

Have you ever had a weekend that completely turned around? Or found something amazing in a spot you did not expect? Unearth any treasures while away from home? I’d love to hear about them!

· comments [10] · 08-24-2012 · categories:travel ·

links: technology

A List Apart: Summer Reading List. I need to dive into the responsive web design stuff included here. Via Swissmiss.

Any good recommendations for an online learning program that covers all of web development? HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, MySQL. | Ask MetaFilter.

Cool Tools – Planet Waves Tune Up. An accurate guitar tuner app.

Seeking free windows software programs (any programs!) that are as good or better than their for-cost counterparts. | Ask MetaFilter. The Lifehacker Pack recommended in that thread looks particularly great.

Alt Design Summit – Blog – Weekend Links, Photoshop. Lots of great tutorials for bloggers listed here.

Women and Video Games: Robin Hunicke | The Hairpin.

Inward Facing Girl – Clip Art Resources (For Blogs!).

Help me buy a nice 32-42in TV by answering a few questions about my price range, TV options, etc. | Ask MetaFilter.

· comments [3] · 08-23-2012 · categories:links · technology ·

HP Designer Matchup Challenge, narrowing it down

HP Designer Matchup Challenge

Huge thanks to all the people who voted in our first round of deciding factors in the HP Designer Matchup Challenge. The winner, by such a narrow margin, was the Amber Ale. (I highly approve of drinking good beer.)

The fine people at graypants, my partners in crime design for this challenge, took the result and created these sketches that may hint at what we have in mind, depending of course on the outcome of the second round of voting (below).

These were created on the HP TouchSmart PC and Photoshop CS6 that was provided. The TouchSmart is shown below among the stacks of carboard in the graypants studio, which is amazing. I didn’t really capture how big it is. The structure was originally made for shipbuilding so the ceilings with many skylights are a gillion feet high.

the HP TouchSmart on a red desk in front of a blue laser cutter and surrounded by stacks of cardboard

The blue machine in the background is one of their laser cutters and I got to watch it in action. That was pretty darn cool.

detail of the laser cutter slicing rings for a lampshade into cardboard and including an itty bitty graypants logo

Also the chair you see below (and on the screen which is showing the graypants website because I’m sneaky like that) is made by graypants and it’s really comfortable (as in, I wondered if I could talk them into selling me two of them before I left that day). It’s one of their slice cafe + dining chairs and they can made three of them out of one sheet of plywood. It also has a low-VOC finish (I am a fan of low-VOC). Cheers for the intersection of design and sustainability.

the HP TouchSmart on a red desk in front of a blue laser cutter and surrounded by stacks of cardboard

I have more photographs of the graypants studio (including my attempts to capture just how big the really big globe lamp that hangs over their workspace is) right over here.

And now it’s time for another round of voting to get us on our way to a final product. Posting will be open until Friday at 5pm my time (Seattle):

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

Thanks everybody, we’ll be back with a little sneak peek of the final product before HP sends us off to New York to unveil it at Fashion Week.

While we’re waiting go vote for the week two options for the other teams that are taking part in the challenge: AphroChic, Fashionable Florals, Design Milk, down to five looks, Curbly, Outdoor/Garden from Reclaimed/Repurposed/Upcycled materials and Design Crush, necklace designs. I cannot wait to see all the final designs!

· comments [5] · 08-22-2012 · categories:events · technology ·

Fence post

a back corner of our yard that now catches sunlight for us

Earlier I was a little nervous about the new fence that we were having put in and now it’s here and it is indeed one hell of a fence. We moved it back a little and made it a little taller and now the view from our deck no longer primarily consists of the cars parked in the alley. It’s so much calmer, deeeeep breath. We also had an arbor top added for a little more visual height and so we can do things like grow vines across them and hang twinkling lanterns and see even less of the neighbor’s roof.

Before and after-ish. I didn’t want to show you the falling down fence. It was sad.

Now we have to protect the fence from the never ending rain we get here. Has anybody done this? Can we do this on our own (we’re talking 150 feet) or is it worth hiring somebody do come in and do it? Help?

· comments [26] · 08-21-2012 · categories:the home ·

School House Craft coming up in September

School House Craft

School House Craft is coming up! It’s September 21st to the 23rd at the Phinney Neighborhood Center (a really great old brick school) here in Seattle. School House Craft is “a three day conference for those in the creative small business community. A weekend of classes, networking and building lasting relationships”. They have classes from “Facebook 101 for Business” to “Behind the scenes at Urban Craft Uprising”. Teachers include such well informed and generous people as Jennifer Shea (who founded Trophy Cupcakes), Andie Powers (creator of Assemble Shop) and Shauna Alterio and Stephen Loidolt (of Somethings Hiding In Here). The founders of School House Craft, Kristen Rask and Andrea Porter have years of running their own small business and big events such at Urban Craft Uprising. (They also just happen to be among the people who started the Grassroots Business Association with me so I’ve seen up close how focused and experienced they are.)

If you’re starting out a craft related business or want a great environment to consult with others School House Craft is fantastic (the food sponsors alone might be worth it, chocolate!). I was a speaker last year (yaaay!) but this year I’ll be out of town (boo). Right now you can still get one, two or three-day passes at early bird prices (you can also get tickets to individual classes). And you can enter to win a three-day pass. Not bad.

· comments [4] · 08-20-2012 · categories:craft · events · seattle ·

links: food

Kale Market Salad Recipe – 101 Cookbooks. Lots of avocado you say?

How to Grill Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts | Serious Eats.

The Food Lab: How To (Sort Of) Make Naan at Home | Serious Eats.

Hawksworth’s Gold Crusher | Serious Eats : Recipes. Tangelo infused vodka and ginger beer, this cocktail sounds lovely.

Seattle Beer News Top 10 Beer Spots – #5 Pine Box. I’m looking at this: “Perhaps the most unique aspect of their tap lineup is their Randall tap. They have a contraption called a Randall built into their bar that allows them to stuff it full of hops, coffee, chocolate, or whatever else, and then run a beer through it into your glass.” I have got to see that.

Make some tasty vegetable curry, at Petit Elefant.

zucchini bread pancakes | smitten kitchen.

Piñata cupcakes at La Receta de la Felicidad. Cute! Via Edible Crafts.

Sprinkle Bakes: Dessert “Caviar” Minus the Molecular Gastronomy; Cappuccino Mousse with Coffee Caviar. With a video and lots of useful information on how to recreate this. Really great.

Ask a Bartender: What Drinks Are Worth A Splurge? | Serious Eats: Drinks.

Beervana: How IPAs Conquered America.

· comments [6] · 08-16-2012 · categories:uncategorized ·

Project Runway HP Designer Matchup Challenge

Last year I had the opportunity to partner with HP and join in the Project Runway Challenge1 and (I can hardly believe this) they’ve asked me to join them again this year which is extra-super-exciting because it’s the 10th anniversary of Project Runway. Deep breaths everybody, we’re going to get to NYC for Fashion Week again!

This year bloggers2 were challenged to pair with designers to use HP TouchSmart computers to collaborate on a final object/product/thing that we will unveil during Fashion Week. But the kicker? We’ll need your input to shape what we’re making. It’s easy, promise, just answer the poll you’ll find below.

I asked graypants, a conceptual design studio here in Seattle, to join me and I am so excited that they said yes. I first learned about graypants a few years back when some friends and I were setting up a group for small business owners to compare notes. Not only were the very charming Seth and John there but their scraplights were lighting the bar at Vermillion where the group met. Since that time graypants has become huuuge, they’ve moved into an amazing space in an industrial section of Seattle and been recognized by all sorts of publications that I’ve barely heard of. If I’d paid closer attention I would have been way too intimidated to even ask. Seriously.

I got the chance to hang out in their studio and take photos:

Voting closed, thanks everyobdy!

1: Which, let’s face it, I wouldn’t have lasted through the first episode even though my fantastical ravings might have imagined otherwise.

2: Who else is involved? Design Milk (Jamie came up with the idea for collaborating with designers, Jamie is greatness like that), Design Crush, and CapreeK from Curbly (all three of whom I’ve had the pleasure of seeing drunk, or at least up really late, at Alt Summit) and AphroChic (whom I will shortly see drunk or up way past her bed time, her choice, it’s gonna happen).

Here is the deal: HP is giving me (Megan) and the designers (graypants) both HP TouchSmart computers and Photoshop CS6 software from Adobe to use to share ideas. They are also sending us to New York during fashion week to report back on what we’ve collaborated on. (And what gossip we might find out during the HP/Project Runway 10th Anniversary Party. We promise to share pictures.)

Thanks everybody! We’ll be back shortly with sketches and another question to help point us on our way. In the mean time let’s chat. Have you been watching Project Runway? What do you think of this season? I have to admit I’m a few episodes behind because I’ve been spending all my tv time with the Olympics. I feel a bit like I’ve been cheating.

· comments [13] · 08-15-2012 · categories:events · misc ·

book I like: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

the cover of Lets Pretend This Never Happened featuring a Hamlet mouse

I read in bed before going to sleep and usually Scott falls asleep before me so I have to be quiet which is a problem because this book makes me laugh out loud. I insist you go read it. And if you don’t already read Jenny Lawson’s site, The Bloggess, I insist you go read that too. Also she’s on her book tour and, yay!, she’s going to be here in Seattle this Thursday and Friday. See you there, yes? Yes.

· comments [9] · 08-14-2012 · categories:books · seattle · shopping ·

links: craft

Just Crafty Enough – Calling All Designers: Project Project Runway Season 10. Play along and create Project Runway designs, just doll sized. I love this!

Super Long Taper Candles DIY at Oh Happy Day.

Etsy Jackpot: Geometric Land Source! At Dismount Creative.

DIY how to make balloon fringe tassels, The Alison Show.

· comments [2] · 08-13-2012 · categories:craft · links ·

I have joined Instagram

I have joined Instagram. My assimilation has been completed.

popsicle covered with pie crust crumbs
Bicycle-delivered pie ala mode popsicle with pie crumbs, from Six Strawberries who biked in to serve guests at a wedding at Gasworks Park. It was perfect.

ferris wheel at sunset
Approaching magic hour at the Seattle ferris wheel.

turtle carved out of a watermelon
Turtle fruit salad, at the same wedding mentioned above. (There was also a serendipitous Blue Angels fly over, knights fighting for the bride, rice krispies cake and beautiful paper bouquets. It was pretty darn great.)

sculpture at UW campus
Looking up at the three brick monoliths on the UW campus.

· comments [4] · 08-10-2012 · categories:mumbling ·

half way to a new fence

On Monday some nice people came and ripped down our falling-over fence and put in a whole bunch of tall straight posts. They all looked like they play in bands or bartend at night and they talked about The Avengers and how sugar leads to diabetes. I sort of wanted to invite them all over for a cookout next week. On Friday more people will come and put in the rest of the fence. I cannot wait. We saved up a long time to have the fence rebuilt and we moved some of it and made bits higher and chose a decorative top so that when we sit on our deck our main view will no longer be of the back of our neighbors cars. Besides one of us holding up a measuring tape while the other person pretends to lounge on the deck we don’t have much of a way to envision the result, so I’m nervous. I hope this is one hell of a fence.

The vines we grow to screen in our deck grew well this year but they’re already fading. Next year we’re going to plant more Cup and Saucer vines, they’re fighters.

· comments [5] · 08-9-2012 · categories:the home ·