This month on Friday the 13th I found myself at summer camp on purpose. I know. I wasn’t there for purposes of making a horror movie come true, though, I was there to learn how to read a map and shoot a bow and arrow.
I attended the Washington Outdoor Women’s weekend workshop and it was held at an honest to goodness summer camp. There were girls’ and boys’ dorms, a bonfire circle, a cafeteria and a gong to call everybody to meals. The camp was entirely filled with women who gathered to learn or hone outdoors skills. After listing my top choices for classes I realized that they would all apply to things I’d need to know in the case of the Zombie Apocalypse.
My first class was Map and Compass where I learned how to read a map, work a compass, account for declination and how to find myself on a map when I’m not quite sure where I am. I was surprised at how much fun it was, very much puzzle solving, and I might just get into Orienteering.
Next I took archery and I managed to hit at least somewhere on the target every time, which I counted as far better than what I expected going in. I even hit the very middle of the target once! I’m pretty sure it was a mistake, but it still counts.
My last class was Wilderness First Aid. We used oranges to learn to clean wounds and got the inside view on how to stock a first aid kit. I always suspected but now I know that those first aid kits you can buy aren’t worth it, you’re better off making your own collection.
The only bad part of the weekend was the dorm situation. I barely got any sleep and it made me a grumpy human. The trouble was that the bathrooms were in the dorms and those dorms held about 80 women and there was no way to shut out the noise of running water or industrial toilets flushing late into the night and very, very early in the morning. It was a huge downside to an otherwise amazing weekend. (The weekend was held at a different camp the year before so the reports I got from friends didn’t apply to this weekend. I’d much rather have been sleeping in a tent outside.)
Washington Outdoor Women is a great organization that uses experienced and enthusiastic teachers. For the map and compass class one of our instructors worked with Search and Rescue and had just finished hiking the Pacific Coast Trail at age 68. Our archery teacher had finished first in nationals several times and was able to talk us through all the different forms of archery for competition and hunting.
If you are interested in the outdoors I can definitely recommend looking into Washington Outdoor Women, it was great to learn new skills surrounded by supportive females. And you don’t have to live in Washington there were women attending from Oregon, Montana and Idaho. It was indeed like summer camp, only you didn’t have time to get homesick. See you there next year?
The sky even put on it’s best spooky display for us that evening.
Remember back when we managed to sidestep the issue of a tiny house keeping us from holding a dinner party by renting the back room of a restaurant and the result was an awesome time? Well that experience led us to holding another gathering in a setting that I wish I owned — we held a bonfire party in the midst of a corn maze. And it was festive as hell. If you can manage to find something similar I highly recommend doing this. Heck, let’s all make it an annual tradition.
It was late September but the corn was really, really tall.
Last year Scott and I visited half a dozen corn mazes because I love them. We went to one night maze at Bob’s Corn Maze and Pumpkin Farm and it was spooky and fun but half way through the maze we were surprised to come across an area with bonfires and a little concession stand selling cider and s’mores kits and suddenly it was THE BEST THING EVER. Turns out? Bob’s Farm has totally dialed into my desires because they have small and large private bonfires areas that they rent out.
I thought about this for an entire year until Busywork was headed over for a visit and responded to my subtle suggestion (Can we do this? Let’s do this! Please!?) with a yes. So, we invited a bunch of people, gathered all foods that can be heated on sticks (hot dogs, s’mores), borrowed some commercial thermal carafes for hot cider (thanks again Maggi for the hook up with Caffe Vita!) and we were on our way.
We warned everybody to wear waterproof shoes and bring flashlights and we took care of the rest. The idea was to find your way through the first half of the maze, join us for warm sugary foods and head back through the rest of the maze. A few people became stuck in the corn maze for a while and we had to send Scott (former Eagle Scout) in to retrieve them which was a bummer. The corn maze was so much easier last year, I swear! If we do it again I’ll suggest joining us first to fuel up before heading into the maze.
You guys, if you can you should totally do this. It was great.
All photos above belong to Laura and are used with permission. Thanks Laura!
I was thrilled to be able to attend the XOXO Festival in Portland this year. It introduced me to a bunch of cool stuff, here is what caught my eye:
This is a beer brewing system that is controlled by your iPhone. I just spent the summer learning to brew beerand I have an iPhone so of course I’m terribly interested. It’s made by Cargo and the people are thrillingly passionate about it. They are in the last days of a Kickstarter and I am cheering for them. I spoke to a homebrewer with 20 years of experience about what he thought about Brewbot and he didn’t hesitate to say that if I was going to invest in a homebrew system an automated one like Brewbot would be the way to go. (I’m not going to ignore the fact that it’s expensive though, it certainly is.) They just updated their Kickstarter with news that they can make the system more customizable, and brewers like to tinker and try things out just because. I cannot wait to see how this evolves.
Johann Sebastian Joust
Do you know about this already? I didn’t and it was great. Teams of players hold wands of different colors, they can move slow or fast according to changes in music being played. If you move your wand too quickly your light blinks off and you’re out. The goal is to attempt to make players of the other teams move their wand while keeping yourself in the game. It was really fun and everybody was really good sports.
Panic Founders’ Room
The offices of Panic have a hidden room called the Founders’ Room that is super duper awesome. It’s hidden behind a wall panel and it reveals a tiny proper den. There is even a hidden panel inside the hidden room that reveals a secret bar. I love a good hidden room. Related: We were also invited to the offices of Weiden & Kennedy where the Nest that was made famous in an episode of Portlandia is located. It’s a real thing.
This is a game for a large group of people. It’s based off of Mafia using Villagers and Werewolves instead. You can view the rules over at maxistentialism. At XOXO the groups paying this were large and boisterous, anybody who spoke up was subject to suspicion and those who didn’t were questioned heavily. During one session a guy who played the Doctor quietly sat just outside of being singled out and when he made an unusual move it was thrilling to know that those of us watching knew but that nobody playing the game knew that he knew things they didn’t. It was a huge amount of fun to watch.
Photo grabbed from the XOXO video linked to below.
During Max Temkin’s talk The Doubleclicks got up to play “Imposter”, a song about the Mars Rover feeling like it wasn’t good enough for it’s important job. I’m a big fan of theirs (we’re talking house concerts here) and it was a delight to have them pop up unexpectedly. You can view Max’s talk here. While I’m linking to videos go watch one for The Doubleclick’s song Nothing To Prove about being a geek girl.
This has been on my radar for a while and they had the consoles on sale at XOXO so I finally got myself one. The console itself is itty bitty, it’s a cube about the size of a large apple (the good Honeycrisp sort). We fired it up at home, started a few games and contemplated bring it with us on our trip to the UK. Now that we’re here and just spent a sick day inside the tiny studio we rented we really wish we had brought it. Especially because we can hear our downstairs neighbor playing GTA5 and I’m having console gaming envy. I cannot wait to see how OUYA develops.
Largely though the conference for me was about people, it was great to meet people who I’ve followed online for years, great to talk with old friends and great to meet new people. XOXO is often compared to SXSW circa 1999 and I found that to be true, except this time around I’m not too shy to talk walk up and introduce myself to somebody. (I’m still very awkward though, don’t get me wrong.) I feel like I took more away from the conference than I gave to those I encountered and if I have the chance to go to XOXO again I would figure out a way to reverse that.
Some other great moments? Getting to see Rael introduce a game he developed to a few seasoned game makers to enthusiastic response, I’ll be waiting for Zombie Princess to come out. Also, being introduced to Cocanu chocolates, the Gardel bar has Fernet in it. Yum. Also, getting to (finally) meet Jennifer Robbins and learning about the Artifact conference she is part of organizing. It’s all about teaching web designers more about how to work with mobile, and since I left my coding skills back in 2003 I could really use it.
Do you live here in the Seattle area? Go Mighty, along with Crave and Rivet&Sway, are holding an event all about inspiration and setting goals. And Go Mighty will be giving away one $500 grant to help somebody cross something off of their Life List. The evening is free but do RSVP. I’ll see you there!
Did you know that Rivet & Sway is based here in Seattle? I did not. I’m excited to see the inside of their headquarters, and I’ll have to remember to wear my contacts in case we get a little time to try on some frames. (Yes, I know they make it really easy to try on frames in your own home via mail but there is something a little extra special going to the source.)
I want give a huge congratulations to Kirby Krackle on the release of their new album, Sounds Like You. The band worked really hard to get this out and it’s been great to watch as everything came together. It was also thrilling to see their album release show here in Seattle at the Triple Door pack the house. (Full disclosure: my husband Scott plays bass in the band so obviously I’m a fan.)
Today I’m speaking at School House Craft’s Blogger’s Summer Camp and I wanted to let you know about their larger conference that is coming up this fall. It’s the 4th annual Fall School House Craft Conference for creative entrepreneurs and this year it will be Sept. 14th and 15th. It’s for anybody who wants to know how to grow their creative business. The ladies who put this on are behind the biggest craft fair in Seattle and all have long running businesses of their own so they know what they are talking about and how to help you. They are also really great people. If this sounds like it’s for you early bird tickets are already on sale.
I have a ticket to Blogger’s Summer Camp to give away! This is an event put on by Schoolhouse Craft (who are also some of the hardworking people behind the Urban Craft Uprising here in Seattle).
Summer Camp is on Friday, June 14th and it’s held here in Seattle at the Mount Baker Community center. I’m really happy to be speaking on one of the panels. Go read more about it. If you’d like to win simply leave a comment on this post. If you’re already attending or buy a ticket between now and when the winner is announced your ticket price will be refunded. I’ll be closing comments and picking a winner at noon on Tuesday, June 4th. The fine print applies. Good luck!
Later this week I’m headed to Camp Mighty. This will be my second year and I’m excited to see the people whom I met last year, I’m happy to revisit the hot tub at the Ace Hotel, I can definitely use a little shot of sunshine and I’m anticipating what things will come into my attention that I never new were there before. I was terrified to revisit the Life List that I submitted last year because, honestly, I have not focused on it very much. But you know what? When I reviewed my list I was able to cross off six things. None of them were huge or contributed to big world changes but being able to check them off was so thrilling. And then, of course, I added six new ones and I tried to make them a little bigger. This upcoming year I’ll schedule time to step back, take a look through my list and see if there are any connections to those things I want to do and the with people I know that can point me in the right direction that might normally go overlooked or shuffled away in a haze of routine.
Part of Camp Mighty is raising money for Charity Water. Last year the camp as a whole got word that we’d reached our fundraising goal in the middle of the weekend and we all cheered, it was a moment. Earlier this Autumn we got the photos, some shown above, of just what our fundraising managed to do. Our funds went into buying a drilling rig called Yellow Thunder which will bring 40,000 people clean water each year. Wow, people.
The people behind Camp Mighty also very recently announced the opening of Go Mighty, a site where people can share their goals, view those of others and connect to get stuff done. Registration is open so go, go on!
This upcoming weekend there are four events going on and I wanted to attend them all. Each time something new came up I’d throw an increasingly quiet and more intense hissy fit. I’m listing them here mostly so that if they happen again next year (I hope they do, on separate weekends) I’ll be able to find them easily. I need more versions of myself to go around so let’s get on that, science.
Design Camp Yay! AB Chao is bringing her Design Camp to Seattle, it’s a two day workshop on interior design, and we get to focus on a room in our house. I need this class, my design skills only get as far as driving myself to Ikea.
XOXO Festival Put on by Andy Baio and Andy McMillan this arts and technology festival is in Portland and I’ll just quote from the site now: “bringing independent artists who use the Internet to make a living doing what they love together with the technologists building the tools that make it possible.” Happily Scott is going and since he’s been playing around with game engines lately I’m expecting a very excited full report when he gets back.
Bounty: Yakima, a Farm to Table Dinner This is put on my Sasha Vino whom I had the pleasure of meeting a few months back. She told us all about the old estate that the dinner is being held on (the W.P. Sayer House) and I so, so wanted to go. I’ve joined the mailing list so I hope the next event is soon.
Washington Outdoor Women Weekend Workshop My friends were joking that this sounds like Lady Summer Camp but it does take place in a scout camp so if you want to relive the days and learn which wild plants work for emergency food this is ideal. Classes include Big Game Hunting Basics, Field to Freezer, Situational Survival Skills and Tracking. Do I want to know how to field dress? Yes, yes I do. WOW offers day long classes during the year and I think I’d like to take Shotgun Workshop next time it comes around, my bb-gun skills from summer camp has long faded.
In addition to these it’s Cider Week and there are lots of beer festivals going on and gah! Stop being such an awesome weekend! Luckily I won’t miss the Fresh Hop Ale Fest in Yakima on Oct. 6th. Nobody plan anything good for that weekend, agreed?
We are back from our trip to New York! It was a whirlwind and so much fun, huge thanks to HP for such a fabulous time.
Here is the design by graypants that you helped us shape, thank you! graypants used neon to light up bottles, the result was fascinating:
The project incorporates a lot of what graypants is about, reusing materials and looking at things in a new way. I only wish we could have gotten pictures in a dark room because the flow of the glowing neon was fun to observe, but the unveiling party was held on the rooftop of the Mondrian hotel and we were surrounded on three sides by floor to ceiling windows. I know, tiny violins, I hear you.
Here are all the teams and their final designs. I had so much fun spending time with you all!
And here are Seth and Jon from graypants and I. I’m the short one.
And here is a video that HP put together interviewing the bloggers and designers on the collaborations:
(Thanks to Jamie at Design Milk for hosting the video on her YouTube page!)
Earlier in the week we got to attend the HP Project Runway 10th Anniversary party, where we found they were actually filming for the finale episode. Yikes! All these lovely people were at the party, as were a whole lot of past designers. It was thrilling.
We also got to meet up with Anya again (we got to see her at Alt Summit in January too).
We got a group shot on the red carpet, which was inside Lord & Taylor itself.
When we entered the party there was a dress form we all got to sign. I was waiting to get a picture of Seth signing the form and suddenly found myself this close to Tim Gunn!
At the end of the trip we got to attend the runway show taping and I had a good view of the judges. It was fun to watch them whisper to each other. (All the way to the left there is Debra Messing!)
Earlier today all the bloggers and designers that teamed up for the HP Designer Matchup Challenge got to reveal the results of what our readers (that’s you!) helped guide us. graypants studio created this amazing neon light made by using neon gas inside of bottles. It combines reuse and looking at a familiar thing in a new way. I didn’t get the change to photograph the lamp in the dark due to some floor to ceiling windows with an incredible view, more on that later. The neon glides down the sides of the bottle and pools at the bottom, it is something to behold:
I’ll be back to talk more about the trip and unexpectedly finding myself about three feet away from Tim Gunn with lots of cameras pointed our direction.
I’m so excited, next week I’ll be in New York for Fashion Week andgraypants 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!
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 blue machine in the background is one of their laser cutters and I got to watch it in action. That was pretty darn cool.
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.
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):
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.
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.