My superpower is being able to find four-leaf clovers. It’s not very handy but, hey, the luck might rub off. This patch was one I spotted next to a sidewalk last month and it was so full of perfect four and five-leaf clovers I couldn’t bring myself to actually pick any.
Staring at that patch I realized that I still didn’t know if four-leaf clovers are caused by mutation or a recessive gene and looking at the Wikipedia article on four-leaf clovers it appears that the answer is that science doesn’t really know either, that it’s sort of both. Some points about clover that I particularly liked from that entry:
Each leaf is believed to represent something: the first is for faith, the second is for hope, the third is for love, and the fourth is for luck.
Clovers can have more than four leaves: the most ever recorded is 56, discovered by Shigeo Obara of Morioka, Japan, on May 12, 2009. (Editor’s note: daaamn.) There is a photograph.
A five-leaf clover is known as a rose clover. That is so lovely.
There are reports of farms in the US which specialize in four-leaf clovers, producing as many as 10,000 a day by feeding a secret, genetically engineered ingredient to the plants to encourage the aberration. (Are GMO four-leaf clovers still lucky? I think not darling.)
By the way, I find that early Summer and early Autumn are the best times to look for four-leaf clovers. They appear most in clover beds that have been undisturbed for a while (meaning: nobody has cut the grass in a while). My favorite place to look for clovers is in farm fields while walking through a pumpkin patch. The biggest and most perfect four-leaf clovers I’ve ever seen were in a fallow patch of a community garden. Go forth and stare intently at the ground. And good luck.
Cool Tools – New Complete Guide to Sewing. Cool Tools mentions that this is the book Tim Gunn recommends, and I’ll add that when I entered college to study costume design this was the book I was required to bring with me. I have the version with the 1970s patterns in the back though!
Legends Never Die by Caroline Rothstein. “Two decades after a low-budget film turned Washington Square skaters into international celebrities, the kids from “Kids” struggle with lost lives, distant friendships, and the fine art of growing up.”
GeoGuessr, at Kottke. You’re given five random locations from Google Street View and you have two guess. My best score so far is 10K. Really fun.
Last year when I was attending Camp Mighty I won a grant from Go Mighty and Bing for one item on my Life List. They chose my goal of “throwing a dinner party for eight people”. I was excited to win but there was a problem. It was actually a big record scratch moment. You see, the dinner party on my list was more of an aspirational thing. My house isn’t large enough to hold that many people in the same room. My goal was really something more like: “move to a larger house and then hold a big dinner party for all the people I love”. Obviously Go Mighty wasn’t going to be giving me a bigger house, so I had to improvise.
I was making plans in the depths of winter here in the Pacific Northwest where it’s drizzly and cold for weeks on end so an outdoor party wasn’t an option. (Though I wish it had been, I really admire the outdoor dinner parties that Jordan Ferney throws.)
I rented the back room of a restaurant, Via Tribunali, here in Seattle. I was familiar with that room since I’d attended a party there before. I was all nervous about renting it, it seemed like a big deal to me. But the restaurant was responsive and even asked if there was anything they could do to make the occasion more special. Which in fact there was! More on this later.
Next was the guest list. I was sitting down with a friend talking this over when we ran into somebody we both know from different places so I took it as an auspicious sign and grew the guest list out from there. I gathered people I know who know somebody else at the party but for a different reason. (I was trying to overlap some circles and in the end it appeared to work out really well.) I checked some dates and chose the one everybody was free, which was April 1st.
So I had a location, a guest list and a date. But how to make this something more than just meeting at a restaurant? I needed a theme. Since it was going to be April Fool’s Day I took a distant memory of Miracle Fruit parties which were happening here in Seattle about five years ago. Miracle fruit, in case you’re not already acquainted with it, makes your tongue perceive sour flavors as sweet for a short period of time. It’s a kind of trick and it involves food. Perfect for April Fool’s Day. And it turned out that nobody else at the party had tried it before so it was a new experience for all of us. I decided dessert would be a spread of various sour foods to sample. (I ordered the mberry tablets right from Amazon, they came with a list of foods they suggest you try which was really helpful.)
I took some advice that Maggie Mason gave way back and put some time into the invitations. (I was a delighted recipient of the ones shown here and it was very memorable.) Good invitations set a tone, get people excited and make everybody feel especially welcome. At least I hoped.
When I was a kid I remember getting Transformers toys packaged in a box that had a squiggly red square on the side. Inside the box was a piece of transparent red gel paper that you held over the squiggles to reveal a code. It was nearly more exciting than the toy itself. I mean, it revealed a secret code. It was awesome. I decided to use this as part of the invitation.
I’m not the only one that feels this way and I found on the Martha Stewart website a printable squiggly line overlay for you to use, along with instructions, here. I was too late to order the red premade cellophane decoders so I had to create my own. I used a red gel meant for lighting which I found at a party supply store. I found some premade cardstock labels, cut windows out of the center and sandwiched my red decoder gel in the middle. Simple. After that all I had to do was find a font I liked. The only word that needed to be revealed was “sweet”, because I didn’t want to make the invite too mysterious. Everybody liked the invitations, and everybody was thrilled to get a piece of real mail. This made me awfully happy. (A similar idea that I’m also smitten with is shown here, instructions are half way down that page. By the way, the decoder I made works when you view the image on that site. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Secret decoder website messages!)
Meanwhile the restaurant asked if there was anything they could do to make the dinner party extra special, and mentioned creating a custom cocktail in particular. I explained about the miracle berries, made sure it would be ok for me to bring a variety of sour foods that we’d sample during the dessert portion of the evening and asked if they would make an extra sour cocktail for us. And they made us three. One was a take on the Jasmine and involved fresh lemon juice and Aperol, one was lime juice and tequila based, and the last was the restaurant’s own coffee cocktail. I was incredibly pleased that they put so much thought into making our evening special. Thanks!
The evening of the dinner party arrived quickly and I didn’t have time to stress over it nearly as much as I thought I would. The room was dark in a delightful way, but it was horrible for photographs so please forgive my lack of them.
We chatted over dinner and ordered a huge bottle of wine, which was great fun to pass around, I’m afraid I completely failed to capture the scale in the picture above. Jameson picked out the wine, if at all possible I recommend you have a wine writer at your dinner party. He was awesome and gave me this tidbit about the wine:
Nothing says “dinner party” like a large bottle of wine on the table. Why settle for a puny, standard 750ml bottle when you can impress your guests with a big 1.5L bottle? And the 2009 Vietti Perbacco was a pizza-pleasing Italian gem. Hailing from Northern Italy’s Piedmont region, it’s made from the Nebbiolo grape. This is the same grape that makes the area’s most famous wine: Barolo. And the Perbacco is pretty much a Barolo in everything but name. But while Barolos need to spend a bit of time in the cellar before they can strut their stuff, the Perbacco has more of a “drink now” style that’s perfect for a dinner party with friends and lots of pizza.
Bonus: In the local dialect of Piedmont, “Perbacco” roughly translates to “Oh my God!” Luca Currado of Vietti explained that what his mother said the first time she tried this wine. (Thanks to Carrie at Dalla Terra for this bit of information.) We had a similar reaction at our table: “Oh my God, this wine is fantastic with pizza!”
After dinner was cleared we started in on the Miracle Berry experience. I had bought the tablets, which you allow to dissolve in your mouth for a few minutes. Then we sampled lemon and lime slices, vinegar potato chips, tiny lime tarts, cornichons and balsamic vinegar. All while the restaurant brought us three courses of the sour cocktails. Consensus was that lime slices were amazing, the vinegary things were interesting but not pleasant, the drinks were great. But it was the lime slices everybody went back for.
This is what I learned:Friends are amazing and want to celebrate with you, and if you don’t have room to fit them inside your house they won’t mind a bit. An invitation sent through the mail will make everybody feel welcome and excited. I’m not going to hesitate for a second to hold another party, renting space in a restaurant is far less expensive than a new mortgage and is entirely worth it.
It was a really fun evening and it made me eager to be able to hold more gatherings in the future. Thank you Go Mighty and thank you Bing for helping me to find that entertaining a large group outside of one’s home isn’t complicated or scary. I also want to offer a huge thanks to my guests, a girl couldn’t ask for better friends. Here are what they are up to: Kyle is the man behind the nerd rock band Kirby Krackle and the future (soon!) Charging Hippo Brewing. Maggi and Jeff are currently selling their very excellent house. Jameson has a wine blog and podcast called Wine Without Worry. Lucia works hard at our local PBS station (and is our in on when Downton Abbey is coming back) and wants you to know you can now get PBS on your Roku. And Scott is my husband and haver of many projects including the band Kin to Stars, now with drums, who are getting ready for a show at Folk Life this summer.
Disclosure bits: The Life List grant gifted by Bing covered the cost of the meal. I was not paid to put up this post. All opinions are my own. Pinky swear.
We got back from the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo yesterday and I’m all jittery with leftover excitement. I’d gone primarily to see Kirby Krackle (for those just tuning in my husband Scott plays bass in the band) when they opened for Weird Al. Look, I tried to play it cool but this was a big, exciting, “if only I could tell my 15-year-old self” type deal. And it was indeed amazing and fun and I’m so grateful I got to be there for it.
After we arrived in Calgary I was given I Guest Pass to the expo and a Backstage Pass to the concert, neither of which I was expecting. I resisted my urge to jump around and squeal.
The band got a peek at the arena the day before when things were still be setting up. Three thousand some seats. No pressure.
The afternoon of the show was load in, including piles of rented equipment. The behind the scenes halls of convention centers are very sexy, as you can see.
The theater was more dramatically lit than the day before.
Weird Al’s equipment had already been set up and I fell in love with this drum. Hello cutie.
First Weird Al’s band did a quick monitor level check, along with dramatic lighting. Either they have a band member that does a really great Weird Al singing imitation or they have a Weird Al voice modulator (for harmonies?) but at some point a Weird Al sounding voice (not a recording) was tested and I wanna know how they did it.
Next came Kirby Krackle’s sound check, still with some dramatic lighting. They had smoke machines running before we arrived and I tried to get video of how cool it looked being pumped into such a huge room while they ran through various lighting cues but I completely failed.
During sound check they went through and set the sound level for each band member’s instrument and microphone. During Scott’s turn Weird Al came over to greet the band. (You can see his elbow in the photo above, just behind Scott’s knee. I promise!) So Scott didn’t get to say hello, which was a bummer. I was on the wrong side of the stage to grab a good photo of the moment. But we hear from close and trusted sources that he was a nice guy.
My husband wielding his huge instrument. Hey there.
We did a panorama of the theater with Kyle and Scott appearing at both ends. It’s possibly funnier when you’re scrolling the picture on the iPhone.
The band’s green room was really posh. Ok, not really. It was the locker room for a hockey team. The away team. It smelled like the inside of rental hockey skates and was all cement and wooden benches. It was awesome, actually, because the band ran through an acoustic version of Grandma’s House and really made the echo-y surfaces work.
I make fun but I should also say that the expo took really great care. There was nothing that wasn’t provided backstage (including private space) and everybody was professional and great at their jobs and happy. Calgary you’re great.
I attempted to keep a low profile while blatantly abusing my backstage privileges. Behind the stage was a curtained off area that contained piles of costume changes and from the right angle you could spy Weird Al’s jacket for Eat It! I wonder how many versions of this have been made over the years? Or is this the same one? Is it real leather? Pleather? I was too timid to run up the ramp and touch it. Also, I’m very certain that I would have been stopped and then kicked out. Maybe.
This was innocently sitting stage right. I walked past it a dozen times before I realized that oh my god this is Weird Al Yankovic’s accordion!!! I wish there was some haze-and-halo filter I could have put on this photo. I didn’t touch the accordion. I should have. Just to say I did. Also because nobody was looking and I totally could have gotten away with it. (“I touched Weird Al’s accordion” sounds misleading though, no? Funny, yes.)
Kirby Krackle took the stage to a swell of cheering. Which was amazing and made me smile. I have shaky video of the moment that contains a loud off camera “thank you” (from a volunteer photographer that I’d just helped sorta kinda sneak into a semi-backstage photo vantage point) and a whispered “you’re welcome” as the camera wobbles. I regret nothing but maybe it’s time to invest in a good video recorder and some big headphones?
(Photo taken while sitting slightly backstage, the screens were projected from behind so I could see a clear but mirrored image.)
On either side of the stage were big screens that showed the live footage as it aired by flipon.tv. You can (for free!) view the entire Kirby Krackle performance. I am listening to the show while I type this. It sounded better in person, but then again it’s hard to capture the awesome. Right around 17:35 I believe you can catch a glimpse of Kyle’s younger brother sneaking onto stage to capture iPhone video from behind the drums.
At a few points Kyle (the bright blur in the middle of the photo) jumped down off stage to run through the seats. The first time he did it he nearly gave me a fit because I thought he was going to jump all the way down. Happily he knew better than I and used a row of big speakers as a giant step. I heard later that Kyle had been caught examining his route down during sound check and had been given a stern “no” by a stage manager. Rule breaker!
The lighting and sound guys were quick. During Ring Capacity they threw up green lights.
Shortly after I took this photo the band ended their set and as I was turning back a guy (who had no idea I was connected to the band) bounded past and said to me “that was great!” Indeed it was, mystery man.
We watched most of the Weird Al concert from the arena seats that were behind the big screens. We’d situated ourselves in the shadows far back from the stage and early on a manager came over and indicated that we all needed to move closer to the stage. Turns out during Weird Al’s show all of the band members have a costume change for each song (the time is covered by Al TV clips, which are hilarious). From where we were sitting we possibly could have seen rushed clothing changes. They were a very good looking band but, yeah, I would have made sure we all moved too.
I live in Seattle so I had to include this picture of the wig that Weird Al wears during Smells Like Nirvana, his drummer was wears a wig of amazing dreadlocks. I’d seen the girls with pom-poms who are onstage during this song practicing backstage, they had a room with a window and as I passed by I thought one was waving frantically so I glanced over. It was awkward. I hope they don’t think I was peeking. Oops. In any case, Scott and I later saw them doing a full cheerleaders-with-pom-poms rehearsal in the hallway. I think they were dancers hired just for that show and if so they learned the routine the few hours before they went on. Bravo gals!
defective yeti — Tabletop Day Seattle. Matthew lists all the great events going on here in Seattle. I’m sad that I’ll be out of town for this, Dawgsled Events is taking over the top floor of the Columbia Tower!
There are a few video game developments that I’m pretty excited over. Ok, very excited over.
Yes! Dreamfall Chapters, the continuing story of The Longest Journey, is up on Kickstarter and it’s still going! I am a big fan of the first two games in this series, The Longest Journey and Dreamfall. The creator, Ragnar Tornquist, has started up a company and this will be their first project. They’ve already passed the $1 million mark and as a result the game will be available on extra platforms and there will be more content. I’m very excited to find out the fate of April Ryan and I have hopes that we’ll see Zoe again. I’ve been a fan of adventure games going way back to King’s Quest 1 but the Dreamfall games tug at my heart in a special way.
Dreamfall Chapters is also up for a vote over at Steam Greenlight. If you’ve got an account over there do me a favor and vote it up? Thanks.
I love the (free) Knytt games and played them to death so I was really pleased to find the newest one, Knytt Underground available in the Playstation store (it’s also available for Mac/PC/Linux). Knytt Underground keeps the 2-D screen by screen exploration and ads a map overlay. I’m only a few quests in and have been meaning to carve out some more time to explore and uncover more of the story. It’s also up on Steam Greenlight, throw it a vote? Please?
Small whine: There aren’t enough couch co-op games available. I don’t like playing FPSs alone, they get weirdly boring, but sitting on the couch next to Scott makes it really enjoyable. We’ve spent a good chunk of this winter playing split-screen Borderlands 2. It’s a vertical split screen and while at first it might be a little cramped I got used to it very quickly. None of the text or menus are obscured. We’ve been liking it so much that we took our time finishing the main storyline and now we’re revisiting everything to get all the Cult of the Vault symbols.
If you missed Double Fine’s Kickstarter like I did (oops) you can still become a Slacker Backer and get the game while it’s in beta. I was late to play Psychonauts so it’s still new and fresh in my memory. Really really looking forward to Adventure. In the mean time I have yet to play The Cave.
So many games to look forward to! And I have not even gotten to how much I am anticipating The Last Gaurdian, it will arrive some day, we just have to keep believing.
I’m currently on a trip through the UK with a group of wonderful girlfriends. I’ve got posts lined up while I’m away but I’ll be posting pictures when I can over at Flickr, Instagram and Twitter (I’m notmartha at all those places) if you want to follow along. I’m depending in wi-fi in the evenings so updates met be spotty. Full reports soon!
Reclaiming Wife: Chore Monsters, Feminism, and Zombies. Love this suggestion on how to mentally sort domestic skills balanced against being a feminist: “you can always bring in the zombies. As in, would doing or being good at this thing help me survive the zombie apocalypse if I were alone?”
Cool Tools – Human Dimension & Interior Space. A comprehensive set of measurements to help you design interiors, furniture and wearables for all people: “Good for architects, costume designers, gadget makers, interface designers, and interior decorators.”
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!
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’sBrooke McLay and Daddy Evolving’sEldon 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:
Visit all 8 of the blogs below & hunt for the answer to the secret question in their exclusive HisXHers.com episode:
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?