Not Martha

Happy New Year

Happy new year! I hope your celebration is sparkly.

Above:

Gold polka dot garland at BHLDN. (It’s on sale!)

DIY Gold-Leaf Polka Dot Ceramics at Vitamini Handmade.

Three DIY cocktails for New Years at Refinery 29.

Edible star glitter decoration at Fashionably Bombed.

Bubbly Champagne Flutes. (No longer available, sad trombone.)

DIY styrofoam and toothpick decorations at The Sweetest Occasion.

· comments [5] · 12-28-2012 · categories:mumbling ·

links: holidays

The Stocking Series, Part 5: The Legend of the Christmas Stocking | Threaded. The history of the Christmas stocking from the Smithsonian

How To: Broken Glass Ornaments Into New Ornaments – Grathio Labs. Via The Hairpin.

3 Wreaths to Make for the Holidays, at Oh Happy Day.

How To: Make a DIY Modern Wooden Christmas Tree Set » Curbly.

Candy Cane Vodka – Shutterbean. So easy!

Kids Craft: Santa Beard Disguise | Say Yes to Hoboken. Adorable! Also see the Quick and Easy Festive Tabletop.

Ginger Syrup and Grandadine gifts at the Ugly Green Chair. With drink recipes.

· comments [0] · 12-21-2012 · categories:christmas · holidays · links ·

party nails

I cannot keep a regular manicure nice. No matter how careful I am it’ll be smudged before I even attempt to touch anything. So when I need my nails to look nice (not very often) I get a shellac manicure because they are Megan-proof. I even found a salon here in Seattle that plays episodes of Modern Family so I don’t get bored. (Julep, ladies, good place.) I realize that getting a manicure is supposed to be relaxing but the first two times I got a shellac manicure I nearly fell asleep because of the soothing music and nothing at all to look at, which just made me cranky.

When I don’t require heavy duty pretty nails (again, not very often) I have come to love nail polish strips, aka nail stickers. They are a little fussy to apply but when done well they will last a week on me and, most importantly, I cannot smudge them. I have mostly used the Sally Hansen ones that can be found in drug stores. They come in patterns (some questionable) and only a few solid colors. (Last I looked it seemed the solid colors are going away? Which, eh, they were never that great anyhow. Except for the neon ones.)

I usually go for the muted gold (Raise A Glass) but for parties, like the holiday parties I’m headed to this weekend, I get to pull out the glitter! Every time I have used this particular gold glitter version I get compliments from people. At least they seem like compliments, I hope it’s not actually comments because glitter nails seem so out of place on me. Which they so totally are. I find it’s easier to remove these than two layers of glitter polish. I also value the ability for these to be applied just before you need to leave, because honestly I’m terrible at planning ahead.

· comments [25] · 12-20-2012 · categories:beauty ·

links: technology

swissmiss | Minimal WordPress Themes. Great list.

#1reasonwhy | Slog. This went down while I was visiting family and I mostly missed it other than seeing the hastag in Twitter. Here is what was going on.

A Whole Lotta Nothing: Listening to podcasts piecemeal: huffduffer & Instacast.

How to See If Your Photos Are Being Used On Another Site | Kevin & Amanda. Via Shutterbean.

The 12 Best Family-Friendly PC Video Games | Babble.

Cool Tools – Sonos. “Audio over the internet isn’t new, but it really is barely tolerable if it’s not coming out of good speakers with power behind them.” I listen to a lot of podcasts and streaming radio and my Jambox is great so far but I’m looking at more options.

The Video Games Women Make | MetaFilter. Great information here.

Trend alert: small internet publications. Links to great things that are going on.

24 ways: Colour Accessibility. Designing for the color blind.

· comments [4] · 12-19-2012 · categories:links · technology ·

HisXHers Holiday Block Party

Hi everyone! Today I’m letting an old friend and mastermind of recipe crawls introduce her new web series. There is a little scavenger hunt and a giveaway wrapped up in it all, which I find so delightful. Without Brooke’s ability to pull together blogger events the Partridge In A Pear Tree 3D Cookie and the Decorated Orange Pumpkin Pancakes for Halloween would not have been thought up. Thanks Brooke! Take it away:

It’s a Holiday Block Party, and you’re just 24 hours away from winning a last-minute $500 Holiday Shopping Spree from Good Cook!

Photobucket

There’s a new neighbor in the bloggy culdesac, so we’re having a celebration to say hello and you’re invited! HisXHers.com is a new online video series with Cheeky Kitchen’s Brooke McLay and Daddy Evolving’s Eldon Kartcher. As a divorced mom and gay, widowed dad, Brooke and Eldon know a little about the untraditional paths life can take. They also know, as you do, how busy life can get. So, as real life besties with a penchant for food, design, and home, they decided it was time to create a deliciously stylish approach to the things we do everyday while keeping it all simple, realistic, and totally sexylicious.

Here’s how it works: Today only, 8 different blogs (including this one) are premiering exclusive HisXHers episodes. One reader will win a $500 Last-Minute Shopping Spree Visa, and 15 lucky readers will win an 8-piece Good Cook Bakeware set. Here’s how to get yourself all entered up and ready to win:

Step 1.
Visit all 8 of the blogs below & hunt for the answer to the secret question in their exclusive HisXHers.com episode:

Step 2.
Visit HisXHers.com, leave a comment with your answers to each of the 8 Holiday Scavenger Hunt questions, and you’re entered to win the Holiday Shopping Spree! To win one of the fifteen 8-Piece Good Cook Bakeware Sets, simply follow HisXHers.com on Facebook or Twitter.

Ready to get yer partay on?
Check out the episode below, nab the answer to this question, then visit HisXHers.com, leave a comment with your answers and you’re just 24-hours away from a potential shopping spree! Winners will be decided by 10 a.m. MST on Wednesday, December 19th.

This episodes Secret Holiday Scavenger Hunt question is:
Brooke talked the whole cast of what show into a giant Christmas surprise for her daughter?

· comments [2] · 12-18-2012 · categories:misc ·

links: holidays

Gingerbread Block Project | Kitchen Table Scraps. Remember the fabulous gingerbread brownstone? This year Renee is organizing a gingerbread block project, to be displayed and benefiting City Harvest. You can join in!

BY HAND Gift Guides: BUILD. A story that led By Hand magazine to Lee Valley via an offline friend and then validated by Ron Swanson. Lee Valley is catalog store that I’ve loved since high school (which was, ahem, pre-internet shopping era).

A beer/bicycling guide to Portland here, Hop in the Saddle. Via Foodie Gift Guide: Part Deux | The Urban Grocer

Munchkin Munchies: Peppermint Stick Platter. I love this, but I suspect the whole platter would melt quickly in our humidity. I would have to seal it with something food safe and right about there it sounds like too much work.

Cool Tools – Guide to Gift Guides 2012. Lots of tools and gadgets things in the practical to awesome spectrum.

· comments [5] · 12-17-2012 · categories:holidays · links ·

A Hip Handmade Holiday (and a giveaway!)

My friends Freshly Picked and The Alison Show got together as The Craft Pack and made a book full of delightful and easy (really, seriously) DIY holiday gifts. The book is called A Hip Handmade Holiday: Gifts For Everyone On You List For $10 Or Less and I super duper love it. It’s a PDF download and includes nine how-to videos, pro tips and lots and lots of printables.

Susan and Alison gave a presentation at Camp Mighty last month and Alison said (to applause) that if your idea of crafting is printing something onto sticker paper and slapping it on a jar, then this book is for you. There are also project with great instructions that teach you a technique and give some room to improvise if you’d like.

There are projects for women, men, pets, the house, things to treasure for years and those gifts for last minute print-and-glue moments. Susan and Alison have curated their offerings incredibly well so the book offers just a few projects for each category but every single one is gorgeous, clever and well explained. If you want to follow each project by the numbers they’re great, but there is also room to use the technique as a starting point. There are pro tips and how-to videos scattered throughout the book. The printables include every holiday card you could wish for, all the stencils you need and stickers to cover treats served in jars, paint cans and bottles.

I’m highly impressed with the balance they’ve struck here and if this is the type of quality that can come through non-traditional forms of publishing I clearly need to be paying closer attention. Susan and Alison have labeled this book “No. 1″ and I hope there are many more to come.

I’m a little obsessed with the Ho Ho Ho pillows.

Just so you know: If you buy the book through the link here I get a percentage. That percentage goes right back into hosting costs for this here website which are doubling due to higher traffic. This isn’t something I’m complaining about. Just, you know, noting. So thanks.

As a way of saying hello The Craft Pack is offering a $50 Michael’s gift card to Not Martha readers. Yay, thank you The Craft Pack!

If you’d like to enter just leave a message with this post, and if you want answer this question: Have you ever sent a DIY gift to a family member? What was the most successful or the least? (My answer: a trio of candied nuts were beloved, but the hand knit scarves mostly got a polite thank you.) You’ve got until next Tuesday, Dec. 18th at 12 noon Pacific (my) time to enter, at that point I’ll close comments. The fine print applies. Good luck! Closed, thanks to everybody for entering!

· comments [180] · 12-13-2012 · categories:books · christmas ·

links: food

Jonathan Gold quiz: Weights and measurements – latimes.com. The only question I got right was: “8) At Milliways, Douglas Adams’ restaurant at the end of the universe, the fabulous cost of the meal is what?” Via The Hairpin.

Sprinkle Bakes: Cinnamon Cider Sticks. These are basically mulling candy for your cider, I’m completely in love with them.

Roasted Rosemary Almonds – Shutterbean.

Joining the Biscuit Club « Tea & Cookies. The secrets to the perfect biscuit.

Xmas Wishlist, Non-Pappy Edition | Mash Notes. Which bourbon to buy when you cannot find Pappy Van Winkle, via The Morning News.

Washington Wine Battle: Columbia Crest vs. Chateau Ste. Michelle | Serious Eats: Drinks.

Lara Ferroni » Gingerbread Meringues.

The Baking Steel | Serious Eats. “The Baking Steel makes some of the finest indoor-oven pies you’ll ever make. It’s a quarter-inch-thick, 15-pound steel plate that you place in your oven in lieu of a pizza stone. Because of its superior thermal qualities (higher volumetric heat capacity, as well as higher conductivity than stone), you can cook pizzas faster than you’d be able to with a regular stone.”

· comments [2] · 12-12-2012 · categories:food · links ·

links: gift guides and guides to gift guides

Darling Studio – the darling guide to gift guides.

Cool Hunting: Gift Guide.

To & From, Holiday 2012 Gift Guide. A huge amount of pretty things, via Making It Lovely.

Links to lots of gift guides over at Apartment 34.

Sprinkle Bakes: Essentials and Gifts for Bakers.

The kottke.org holiday gift guide. Only one item!

Lottie + Doof » Gift Guide 2012. Maldon Sea Salt mini tin! Via Shutterbean.

Holiday gift ideas for the hard-to-shop-for : All & Sundry. Really great ideas that Sundry got from Twitter, and more in the comments.

The Blogger Market. Goods curated by bloggers, open until Dec. 15th and full of pretty things.

The 2012 Good Gift Games – The Morning News. The annual review of board games from the almighty Matthew Baldwin. (He goes on public radio with this list each year here in Seattle!)

MetaFilter Holiday Meta-gift Guide | Best Of MetaFilter. Lots of great lists here (“gifts for people you don’t know very well”) along with links to the best gift guides and a Metafilter mall of sorts filled with things made and sold by Mefites. Awesome.

· comments [6] · 12-11-2012 · categories:uncategorized ·

3D Christmas Tree Gingerbread Cookies, an update

In my 3D Christmas Tree Gingerbread Cookies post last year I explained how to create your own version from an existing cookie cutter and I also offered a ready to go printable version that you could use. I wasn’t ever happy with that pattern so I’m updating it. The pages to print out are below, and they have been added to the original project as well.

I’ll be making these again (as soon as I have a working dishwasher, because ugh) and using royal icing and sanding sugar to decorate the branches instead, I think it’ll look far nicer.

A view overhead showing how the cookies fit together to make them stand up.

Click on each of these to view or download and print them.

Happy creating!

· comments [3] · 12-10-2012 · categories:christmas · food ·

Seeking your favorite cookie swap recipes

I was going to show you my updated pattern for the 3D Christmas Tree Cookies today but yesterday morning my dishwasher decided it didn’t want to do it’s job anymore and I decided I was going to ignore it by not entering the kitchen, which means no baking is getting done right now. So! Instead let’s talk about cookie swaps.

I’ve got a few cookie swaps coming up and I am considering something new. My usual cookie swap recipe is of the slice-and-bake variety, the Cornmeal-Cherry Cookies from Martha Stewart are a go to. (Also very helpful is this slice-and-bake cookie palette over at Smitten Kitchen.) The slice-and-bake means I can lovingly mix the dough a day or two before hand then bake the night before or the day of the swap and, since I have not been stressing over six dozen cookies for the majority of the day, I’m a happy person at the gathering. This year I wanted to do something different that would let me cut out a bunch of shapes (since I’ve been doing a lot of that lately and have my technique down). These gingerbread wreath cookies are under consideration. And then yesterday I came across these:

Edge of the mug cookies cutters! I previously came across this concept when doing research for my tiny gingerbread houses that perch on the edge of a mug but at that time the only cookie cutter sets I could find were ones you’d order from the UK or were no longer available, just ghost catalog pages found through a vigorous search. You can also cut a slot into any cookie, see this page at I Am Baker for examples, but I think we’ll all agree that a dedicated cutter is faster. I know, this is me saying that. I am the one who is always making needlessly complicated things because they amuse me and suddenly this is too much bother. (In my defense, I had made a few test runs of DIY edge of the mug cookies and they all sort of tipped over and fell off the mug so I gave up on it.)

I think I’ll be using these edge of the mug cookie cutters and making cocoa-friendly cookies out of basic shortbread dough for my cookie swaps. They’ll be fun and quick and hopefully novel enough to delight people.

But I’m curious: What is your favorite recipe for cookie swaps? Do you bring something practical? Or a family recipe? Do you attempt to dazzle? Or do you pick a cookie that you know to be delicious but might not look like much? Have a cookie that is a consistent crowd favorite? Share!

· comments [41] · 12-7-2012 · categories:christmas · food ·

links: misc

Cool Tools – A Pattern Language. File away for when I get to design my own home, or my own city.

Studio Neat — It Will Be Exhilarating. An e-book on passion and business and prototypes. Via Scott Andrew (that would be the boy I’m married to).

xkcd: Two Years.

5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Saying Yes — genuineMIX. Things to answer to sort out whether you actually want to take on a new project. I’m working my way through these right now.

Add a brake light switch to a bicycle brake lever, at Instructables.

· comments [6] · 12-6-2012 · categories:links · misc ·

finding exercise motivation at the airport [a sponsored post]

Two weeks of travel in November left me feeling a bit run down. I just cannot sleep well when I’m not at home and it leads to all forms of whining. (Frequent travelers who sleep, I salute you. Now tell me how you do it.) Part of the trouble is lower back pain which I’ve had since I was in high school and which has been bothering me again. When I was grousing about all my aches I decided I needed to start a regular exercise schedule again because I have discovered that when I keep my core strong my back pain is no longer a problem. I can sit in the least-ergonomic chairs and sleep in the saggiest mattress and be just fine. Also when you can keep up a sprint pace down long hallways you might not miss that connecting flight. (Which totally wasn’t my fault, who expected a worldwide computer system to crash just before my first flight of the morning? Who thought it would happen all over again for the return flights?) This is all “duh, Megan” information I realize but somewhere I had forgotten how beneficial it is for many different situations. Might any of this also have to do with putting on a bathing suit at Camp Mighty last month? Ha ha ha no! I mean yes, a lot.

So instead of giving in to the excuse that is waiting for New Years resolution time I decided to take this weak glimmer of motivation and start exercising right away. During the most overwhelming month of the year. Wish me luck.

One thing that is helping to propel me along is getting to try out pvBody. This is how it works, they send you a new exercise top and bottom each month for a subscription fee (which works out to two thirds less than the items would cost retail). If you like them you keep them, if not you send them back for a refund and shipping both ways is free. When you sign up you can chose guidelines based on what sort of activity you do (“being comfy” is one of the options) and style you like. They allow you to chose from a bunch options: racerback or camisole? short or long sleeve? low, natural or high waist? patterns or no? colors or all black? I like being that specific and I like not having to try on clothes in a too-warm and harshly lit dressing room. I’m finding having fresh new clothes that are stretchy in the right places and do that wicking thing to be motivating in a way I wasn’t expecting. Girl strong! Girl do extra bicycle crunches!

If you’d like to try it out pvBody is offering Not Martha readers 25% off the first box as well as a a $15 Lululemon gift card when you sign up for membership.

Have you had a point recently that made you freshly motivated? Tell me about it, I hope your story doesn’t involve as many aches as mine.

· comments [23] · 12-5-2012 · categories:misc ·

thing I like: OXO pepper grinder

Earlier this year I accidentally donated our pepper grinder to Goodwill. Don’t worry, it was clean. We’d been decluttering the kitchen and my just washed and reassembled clear lucite pepper grinder went into the donate box. I replaced it with this OXO Good Grips Pepper Grinder which isn’t as pretty but I love it. The part you grab to turn is rubberized so it’s easy to grind. But most importantly for me, the actual grinding bits are at the top. You have to flip it over to grind over food but this means that when I retrieve it from it’s little kitchen shelf any loose pepper doesn’t fall out. Which is great because in my awkward and tiny kitchen I store the pepper grinder on a spot over my head. It’s easy to set the grind, and the other end unscrews so there is a nice wide opening for refilling. Two kitchen gadget thumbs up.

· comments [8] · 12-4-2012 · categories:food · shopping ·

links: holidays

15 Easy Christmas Decorations | RealSimple.com. I like this one, a string of twinkle lights wrapped around a styrafoam ball. So simple.

Eye Candy: 20 DIY Ideas for Happy Holiday Party Decor » Curbly | DIY Design Community.

The Whisky Advent Calendar Whisky – Master of Malt. Oh yes, it exists. Via Sprizee on Twitter.

The Beer Advent Calendar · Edible Crafts. Beer! Advent! Candar!

Creativebug – Free Holiday Video Workshops. Creativebug, who offer subscriptions to view hundreds of instructional craft videos made by really great people, offer some lovely free video workshops. I’m charmed by that Burlap Bunting Advent Calendar.

Roundup: 14 Modern DIY Advent Calendars and Holiday Countdown Projects » Curbly | DIY Design Community.

Mini Christmas Cookies for an Advent Calendar · Edible Craft.

Bubble and Sweet: Lollipop and Candy Christmas Tree Cake tutorial. This is adorable. Via Edible Crafts.

· comments [4] · 12-3-2012 · categories:holidays · links ·