In August I attended Hops Academy in Yakima, Washington. I don’t brew beer outside of kits but I have a deep love for hops, they are so darn yummy, so when I discovered that I could learn more about them I jumped at the chance. Also a friend of mine is expanding his brewery, Charging Hippo, and I figured knowing a lot about hops miiiight just be information that could be traded for beer. The academy was a two day class that ranged from basic introduction, how hops are grown, harvested and preserved to full on molecule diagrams. I learned that 75% of the hops in the US are grown in Yakima by ten growers, that in recent years the desires of craft brewers have dramatically influenced what variety of hops are grown commercially, that when you grow hops you need to wrap them clockwise around the cord (even in Australia) and I heard jokes like this:
“If you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the precipitate.”
One of the best things about the class was meeting the other attendees who ranged from a really huge beer company to large and small craft brewers and even a hops grower. I was wildly happy that women made up a fourth of the class. After the first day we took an unofficial “research” trip to The Beer Shoppe where we all bought bottles and tasted Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA which was sweet and potent. Oh so potent.
We were there about a week before the hops were going to be harvested so we got to visit huge fields full of ripe hops. They grow to 16 feet high and are very dramatic. It was a geeky thrill to get to pick one to crush in my hands, it smelled amazing. We also got to visit sparkling clean processing factories and, the most exciting, enormous cold warehouses filled with bales of hops.
If you’re a brewer or a grower I think the class would be well worth it. We learned that Haas is building an experimental brewery in Yakima and it will become part of the class so I’d wait for that to be up and running, hopefully by next summer. I might go back.
· comments  · 09-24-2012 · categories:misc ·
||This post is in partnership with smartwater. smartwater, live a life well hydrated. Click here to learn more.
Scott and I enjoy taking bicycle rides on the weekends and happily Seattle has lots of dedicated trails. It’s good for exercise but as an exceptionally lazy person I found that I need a little extra motivation to get me to put on a bicycle helmet. Something like lunch, definitely on a patio, hopefully with some beer. New trails always feel like an adventure, but finding a restaurant that we wouldn’t have tried otherwise feels like victory
Here are some of my favorite bicycling and lunch combinations near Seattle:
Trip: Marymoor Park in Redmond up to Woodinville (wine country!) via the East Lake Sammamish Trail.
Food pairing: Red Hook Brewery, which has lots of bicycle racks and a big patio. And beer, obviously.
Advantages: If you get there at the right time you can catch a tour of the brewery. Also, you’ll go right past the famous Herbfarm Restaurant (!!!), though they might not appreciate you eating there in your bicycle shorts.
Trip: Carnation to Duvall via the Snoqualmie Valley Trail.
Food pairing: Armadillo BBQ which has a sun dappled back deck and and some hot sauces that might be a challenge. Smokey meats and bike paths go surprisingly well together.
Advantages: The path is unpaved and less used so you can go for a long way without seeing another soul. So much so that when I had to stop and find a bug that had bumped into me and fallen down into my bra (yikes people!) I’m fairly certain that nobody saw. Proximity to curious cows and a few bridges that allow you to watch the fish swim by below you.
Trip: Seattle Sculpture Park to the Magnolia neighborhood via the Elliott Bay Trail.
Food pairing: Maggie Bluffs, a lesser known casual counterpart to the nearby fancy Palisades restaurant. Great views, outdoor seating and shrimp.
Advantages: The ride is mostly along the waterfront so the view cannot be beat. There is a section that goes along some major train tracks and we got to witness the process of train cars being coupled by, essentially, ramming them together. It was spectacular. The train obsessed kid in our neighborhood would have lost his mind with joy.
Next I’m going to get a bicycle basket and we’re going to work on finding spots for epic picnics that cannot be reached by car.
Lunch definitely tastes better when you have traveled there under your own power. Do you have any rituals for bicycle trips? Ever find anything fabulous?
· comments  · 09-10-2012 · categories:misc · travel ·
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  · 08-27-2012 · categories:links · misc ·
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  · 08-15-2012 · categories:events · misc ·
· comments  · 08-1-2012 · categories:links · misc ·
· comments  · 07-17-2012 · categories:links · misc ·
The Disappearing Double Chin Trick for Portrait Photography. Good to know.
XOXO Festival by Andy Baio — Kickstarter. Holy all things that are awesome, if I wasn’t in Seattle for the Dewit Design Camp that weekend (Sept. 15/16) I’d be in Portland for the XOXO Festival. Though, if I were going to the festival I’d be whining about missing the Dewit Design Camp. This too many awesome things is a good problem to have.
The Overthinking Person’s Drinking Game « Thought Catalog. It’s like they can see right into the inside my head. Via The Morning News.
Which PNW badges do you have? | Loobylu. I have so many of these! Wait, does “spotting a bear” include reading the fictional Twitter account of a real bear wandering through my neighborhood?
· comments  · 05-31-2012 · categories:links · misc ·
xkcd: Ten Thousand. “Saying ‘what kind of an idiot doesn’t know about the Yellowstone supervolcano’ is so much more boring than telling someone about the Yellowstone supervolcano for the first time.” This.
Where are all the cool lady podcasts? | Ask MetaFilter.
What jokes do you know that absolutely depend on telling a good story? | Ask MetaFilter.
What Are The Best Audiobooks For A Road Trip? | The Awl. I’ll second the recommendation for the His Dark Materials books, usually a full cast recording is awful but this one works. So much so that I was distraught when one of the young male voices was different in the second book.
The 8-bit animated episode of Community on Hulu and a handy retro reference guide to the episode. Via Waxy links.
· comments  · 05-21-2012 · categories:links · misc ·
So how did having my wisdom teeth taken out go? Pretty well, but it won’t count as one of the favorite weeks of my life.
All of the advice and stories you shared were invaluable for keeping me from freaking out. Thank you so, so much. I’m going to share my experience and what worked for me below in the hopes that it helps a few other people.
Before you read the below know that I am not a doctor and I am only talking about my own experience here. I had two impacted teeth and my recovery wasn’t nearly as easy as some other people. If you are going to be getting your wisdom teeth out you should listen to what your doctor tells you to do. Also, some of the details below are totally gross so proceed with caution.
I made myself an ice pack device from socks (shown above). I heard about this homemade solution from a few sources but Jess from Hogwash sent me the best directions: buy knee-high basic tube socks (the kind without heels, I found a six pack in the mens department at Target). Overlap them at the toes and stitch two lines. The ice packs will fit in each side of the socks. The overlapped section goes at your chin and the ends of the socks are tied up over the top of your head. This means your chin will be comfortable and the ice will be held at just the right spots on your cheeks while a thin layer of cloth will protect your skin. I found a 2-inch overlap worked best. And DIY ice packs made using snack sized ziplock bags were the perfect size to slip into the socks.
I made DIY ice packs using Dawn dishwashing liquid. I don’t know if one needs to use Dawn specifically but I’d heard it from three places so I figured why mess with it? I’ve also been told you can mix a 25/75 mixture of alcohol/water to get a substance that is still a little pliable after freezing. I got four ice packs from a 14-ounce bottle of dishwashing liquid and triple bagged them in snack sized ziplock bags. (You’ll know if they leak because it will suddenly smell really fresh.) I also had bags of peas, official 6×6 gel packs and the smaller ice packs the doctor sent me home with on hand but I used the homemade ice packs tucked into my knee high sock device the most often. I also wore a hooded sweatshirt most of the week with the string in the hood cinched helped keep the ice snug to my cheeks and redistribute the weight of the ice packs. It was a very sexy look.
Lots of people recommended eating fresh pineapple in the days before the surgery because reportedly it helps prevent swelling. I ate a lot, about two whole pineapples. On the upside I had minimal swelling in the week after. On downside the pineapple irritated my gums and made brushing my teeth uncomfortable. You can also get Bromelain as a supplement, it’s the substance in pineapple that is supposed to help, but I have not heard stories from anybody on if this might work or not. I asked my surgeon about pineapple and she’d never heard of the advice. I wish I could tell you definitively if it worked but I don’t have any more wisdom teeth to take out. Also I don’t want to do this again.
Bring some tissues with you, you’ll drool in the car on the way home. It’ll be bloody drool. Yuck.
I brought a scarf with me so when I left the doctor’s office with big white ice packs strapped (that they provided) to my head I was able to wrap the scarf around it and sort of cocoon into my own uncomfortableness. Add big sunglasses and I could nearly pretend I was glamorous while waiting in the car for Scott to pick up my prescription and drooling on myself. I looked kind of like this but more miserable:
I considered wearing flats to the doctor’s office so I could just kick my shoes off later but I was afraid they might fall off while I was in the chair so I wore boots instead. Turns out they needed to attach three electrodes to me and one was meant to go on my ankle. They put it on my stomach instead. So my advice is to wear regular shoes. Or a cropped shirt. Your choice. My doctors also said lots of patients come in wearing pajamas. Smart patients.
I was put under for the operation and when I woke up I was not happy or loopy. I was cranky and groggy and had dry cotton shoved in my mouth. It was the worst part of this whole thing. They had this bear sitting in the recovery area. I wanted to punch this bear:
For most of the day after the surgery my tongue, lower lip and chin were numb. Sipping liquids was out of question but I needed to eat something and stuck to apple sauce and pudding for the first day. Anticipating a lack of clean spoons (we never have enough) I bought a pack of plastic spoons and found they were far easier to eat off of since they had a bit of flexibility and they didn’t get cold in ice cream. Also, if you get clear plastic spoons you can peer at the light coming through your spoonful of jello.
The worst part of having a numb mouth was that I could not loudly whine about how unhappy I was. The second worst was that my smile was uneven, one side of my mouth would not go up, and I could not complain about how I would have a lopsided face for the rest of my liiiiiife. (I was back to normal by 8pm.)
I read a whole bunch of stories and it seems like a lot of people stop and get food (Wendy’s Frosty) on the way home but I needed a good two hours before I stopped bleeding into the horrible gauze. More advice that I found both from people and the information packet my doctor gave me is that that you could switch to biting on a steeped and cooled black tea bags (the tannins help stop the bleeding) but I couldn’t get off the couch long enough to bother. I also couldn’t talk well enough to explain to my loyal manservant how to prepare it for me.
More good advice given to me: have your couch or bed area ready to flop into when you get home. I had pillows, blankets, remote controls and laptop all in position so I could get straight to the drugged out television watching stage. Also, use pillowcases and towels you are willing to bleed a bit on. I didn’t get any blood on anything at home but if I’d been asleep all day it might have been different.
I didn’t spend the first day asleep the way some people warned me I might, I was groggy from the medication but my brain wouldn’t stop going. I was chatting online with a friend and she actually said I sounded too alert and asked if I’d been traumatized. So, apparently, pain medications don’t turn off my brain. Good to know.
Rest of the week:
For the first few days I stuck to pudding, ice cream, green smoothie juices and soup. Cashew Carrot Ginger soup was very welcome. After that I tried scrambled eggs and mashed potatoes. (Did you know Bob’s Red Mill sells instant mashed potato flakes? It somehow seems more dignified than other sorts.) I also ate overcooked Annie’s mac and cheese but I wish I hadn’t, anything that needed even that bit of chewing was too much for me. A full week later and I’m adding polenta with spicy tomato sauce, more pureed soups and I’m wishing I’d thought to make and stock up on my own gravy. I’m also eating mashed cauliflower, mashed peas and mashed sweet potatoes. Basically I’m still afraid of solid foods. I had two impacted wisdom teeth and they had to cut into the bone on my jaw a bit to wrench one from me, so you might have a much speedier recovery than I.
I read so much about the dreaded dry socket that I followed all the rules very carefully – no sipping through straws (hard to remember), no smoking of anything (not so much a problem), no aggressive gargling, no blowing your nose (also hard to remember). I was even a little worried about swallowing too enthusiastically. But it turns out I was also a little too gentle in cleaning back by the sockets. During a followup visit my surgeon showed me that after a week you can put that little irrigator thing way back there and squeeze away using salt water or diluted mouthwash. It’s gross and interesting.
I found I still needed to use ice packs for swelling five days after my surgery. As I mentioned above my swelling wasn’t bad but it was determined to stick around.
If your pill schedule is on a six hour rotation try to hit the 12noon/6pm/12midnight/6am cycle so you’re not waking up at 3 a.m. to take antibiotics.
And lastly, try to get an awesome oral surgeon who includes a card for a free cupcake in the little bag of stuff they give you on your way out. Incentive for getting back to chewing things:
If you’re getting ready to have your wisdom teeth out go see all the advice my most awesome readers shared and a bunch of questions over at Ask Metafilter. And you’ll feel better in a week, promise.
· comments  · 05-9-2012 · categories:misc · uncategorized ·
I’ve found myself in the middle of some lack of inspiration and I decided to give into it. Recently it feels like nothing I try really works out: my very cool Easter project idea failed spectacularly (but I still have hope that I can do it for next year), I bought a pair of really comfy shoes I wanted to tell everybody about only to find that they squeak loudly when I walk, I cannot seem to capture what I want in my photographs. Graaah! Feel the power of overlapping small frustrations add up!
As part of my downtime I’ve decided to declutter the house, Spring cleaning for the house as well as my brain maybe? Shown above is a collection of keys that both Scott and myself have somehow collected over the years. With the exception of one we have no idea where any of these keys might work. There was a Nissan key in there and neither of us has ever driven a Nissan. That padlock was from my high school years and I couldn’t remember the combination even back then. So I’ve tossed the keys and my house became that much literally and figuratively lighter. High five, it’s working.
I’m making slow progress because I’m a very lazy person at heart. It’s overwhelming because this is the first place I’ve lived in for more than two years at a time as an adult and, predictably, I’m finding the amount of stuff you can shove into closets and forget about is incredible. Turns out I’m way better at shedding stuff when faced with the imminent threat of having to carry it all to a new home. These days it’s easier to pull everything out of a closet, toss a couple things and put it all back in, only a little more orderly looking this time. All the work and sense of satisfaction with none of the desired results!
I really need to get motivated, like Hulk Smash! style motivated. So far my plan is:
- Highbrow: Watch and re-watch this TED talk by Graham Hill on less stuff equaling more happiness. I found this though a article by Jessica Adamiak that I will revisit when I need to remember bullet points.
- Lowbrow: Watch episodes of Hoarders because nothing will inspire a craving for minimalism in me faster. Maybe I’ll write a prescription for myself to watch one per week.
- Read Dinah Sanders’ Discardia. It’s in Kindle forrmat as well as good old fashioned book. Something I like from the first chapter: “Your first Discardian act should be to let go of feeling bad about what you haven’t gotten done by now.” Done! (I know Dinah from way back, hi Dinah!)
- Rearrange my digital life as well. I need to set up a schedule (shudder) for backing up my iPhone, computers and cameras. And back up those back ups somewhere not in this house. I also need to rearrange and weed my bookmarks, Google Reader lists, Twitter lists, Gmail labels and be a better Facebook citizen. My hands feel heavy just thinking about all these things, but I know they’ll break me out of my current “I wonder if The Hairpin has posted anything new?” form of comfort surfing. Or at least I hope.
- Remember that trash and recycling pick up is early on Friday mornings. Remember that on Thursday afternoons.
- Acknowledge that crunchy snacks are a vital part of the process for me. Trader Joe’s Crunchy Curls are on the top of my list.
But I also could use help! Do you have any good motivations? Resources? Playlists? Scare tactics? Share, I beg you, if only so that I know I’m not alone in my sea of half-emptied closets.
· comments  · 04-20-2012 · categories:misc · mumbling ·
Lovely watercolor maps at Kottke. The maps are so amazing.
Airplane Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style. These are awesome. Via The Hairpin.
Lively Ivy » Blog Archive » Leggo my Lego. This reflects how I view the new Legos for girls as well.
REASONS FOR OPTIMISM. Aaaaaaah, a collection of good news. Via swissmiss.
Banksy on advertisers – we are all angry. Eff yes.
The Subversive Charm of Day Drinking – NYTimes.com. I linking to this for the Bartender Rock 101 list at the bottom, but the recipe for The Jessica drink looks awfully nice. Via The Hairpin.
· comments  · 04-17-2012 · categories:links · misc ·
· comments  · 03-21-2012 · categories:links · misc ·
I’m very happy to have been asked to be a part of Yolo Colorhouse’s Color Your Life Guest Blogger Week. It’s super special because for every comment readers leave over there Yolo is donating $1 to the non-profit of each blogger’s choice. My non-profit is MusiCares, who help musicians cover medical bills. My husband Scott is a musician and we are lucky to have medical insurance but we’ve seen so many musicians be caught in pit of medical bills after an accident and we’ve taken part in fundraisers for them. I’d deeply appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment on my post over at Yolo’s site if you could. And to sweeten the deal Yolo is giving everybody a chance to win paint or Yolo products. Thank you Yolo, and thank you dear readers for taking a quick moment to help out!
· comments  · 03-12-2012 · categories:misc ·
· comments  · 03-2-2012 · categories:links · misc ·
This leap day finds me in a sunny place where there are things like palm trees and cactus and swimming pools. Wish you were here but since you’re not I’m hoping you are someplace awesome too.
· comments  · 02-29-2012 · categories:misc ·