Lately tiny cheeses have been making me happy as an inexpensive and low commitment indulgence. My friend Leslie introduced me to the concept of tiny cheese, which are the smaller odd bits and ends of cheese left over when a grocery store has portioned out and packaged chunks off of a larger wheel. There is usually a small basket of cheese ends tucked in the display case, most for $1 or $2. These tiny cheeses had always been there in grocery stores but for some reason I had never noticed them, so thank you Leslie! Just in case you overlook them too consider this a gentle nudge to have a peek next time you pass them. This past summer the tiny cheeses have provided me with timely moments of fresh mozzarella, queso fresco to accompany a few grilled peppers for dinner, parmesan when I only needed a small portion as I’d be leaving on a trip in a few days. You get the idea, tiny cheeses are great.
This small collection of cheese cost me under $7 and include:
· comments  · 10-28-2014 · categories:uncategorized ·
I have a few basic requirements for a rain coat – something that doesn’t scream “I also hike in this”, something that will survive being repeatedly crammed in a bag, and something that fits my petite frame. I also have a few more personal requirements: no wool (I’m allergic) and no extraneous buckles/straps/flaps that I will only manage to catch on everything. This combination of things were surprisingly difficult to find for a while and at one point I ordered ten possible coats online and tried them on one after another at home. Some were too fussy, too heavy, too narrow in the hips and some were terribly tight up under the arms (what’s up with that Michael Kors?). At the time I overlooked the coat I’m about to tell you about because honestly, the photos online make it look more shiny and flimsy than it is in person and they never seem to have it in the stores to check out in person.
The Eddie Bauer Girl on the Go® Trench Coat and Girl On The Go® Insulated Trench Coat filled the raincoat shaped hole in my life. I brought the insulated version with me on a trip to the UK in Oct. and Nov. of last year and I was never cold or wet, the coat could be crammed into my suitcase and emerge looking just fine and I like to think I didn’t stick out too much as a tourist.
The petite size manages to give me some shape and, miraculously, still fits over my not insignificant hips when I’m wearing my bulkiest sweater. I have both the regular and insulted version of the coat. The insulated liner has full sleeves, buttons out when you don’t need it and is surprisingly warm — in fact I was too warm when descending to Tube stations in London. (So, this could be a downside if you live in a city with a subway.) The only difference between the regular and insulated versions is that the waist is cut in a bit tighter in the regular version and it’s more flattering. Which is why I kept both versions. Because vanity. These coats are perfect for the Seattle climate and they both get a lot of use throughout the year so I have no regrets. I have the coat in black but the putty color, shown above, was tempting.
Things that are not so great:
- it is all synthetic fabrics so it does make scratchy/swishy noises when you move, it doesn’t bother me (crinkle noises are insignificant when rain is pelting the side of your head) but I’ve known a few people for whom this is a peeve so I’ll mention it
- the hood detaches but it doesn’t tuck into the collar so you just have to keep track of it
Things that are great:
- interior chest pocket that will hold an iPhone, the pocket sits low enough so that it hits, thankfully, underneath my boob
- hood cinches down
- no velcro
- zips from the bottom as well as the top
- snaps shut as well for those times when you’re just popping out to grab the mail and don’t want to fuss with zippers
- can be balled up and shoved in a bag and won’t wrinkle
- without the insulated liner the coat is surprisingly lightweight so it’s not too much trouble to carry with you shoved in your bag for the day
- the petite size fits a petite (but not necessarily skinny) frame well with room for a warm sweater
I will also point to the MacKenzie Trench Coat, shown above right. It’s a little less sporty looking with a matte fabric and empire waist and comes in a nice dark gray. Ultimately I valued the longer length of the Girl On The Go coat but nearly fell for the MacKenzie.
Both of these coats are on sale right now so if you’re looking for a raincoat I can recommend giving them a try.
· comments  · 09-25-2014 · categories:uncategorized ·
I have an iPad mini which I bought last year and here are the accessories that I couldn’t do without.
The Joy Factory SmartSuit iPad mini case. I bought this based on the recommendation from the Wirecutter. I snapped it on and have used it ever since. It’s held up perfectly well. The case is a hard shell with a grippy surface which helps me and my clumsy fingers from dropping it. It has a screen cover that is lined with a faux suede material that won’t scratch the screen. The screen cover folds back to sit flush against the back of the case when you’re using the iPad and it doesn’t get in the way of your fingers. Or the cover bends into a triangle that acts as a stand for the iPad in horizontal view. The cover doesn’t get in the way of any ports or switches, it does add a little bit of bulk to the iPad, not much but enough to make me feel a little more secure when holding it (I find the iPad mini startlingly thin and I’m always afraid of it slipping out of my hands). The case doesn’t have any extraneous bits or latches that get in the way of holding or using the iPad. The case is so secure that I will happily slip my iPad mini into my bag without worrying that it will be scratched.
The case works just like the Smart Case sold by Apple but it costs a lot less. The Smart Case, admittedly, comes in a bunch of enticing colors. Note: The Smart Case wasn’t yet made when I bought my SmartSuit case and I have not done a comparison of the two. (The Joy Factory also makes them for full sized iPad and iPad Air.)
Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover Mini. I had continuously used the case above until I was given the Logitech keyboard as a gift this Christmas, it’s a keyboard that also acts as a cover. The keyboard is small but surprisingly usable (note: I do have small-to-average hands and fingers) and connects to the iPad via Bluetooth. The keyboard has a rubberized slot that allows you to prop up the iPad in either a horizontal or vertical configuration, but the iPad doesn’t need to stay connected to the keyboard so you can use the keyboard with the iPad propped up anywhere or with a different case on. The keyboard has simple magnet attachment and matches the color and finish of the black iPad mini really well. The keyboard is lightweight, the keys are nicely clicky and it has a rechargeable battery. I compared this keyboard to a few others and prefer this one because you don’t need to remove the iPad from a case to lift it up and use, the iPad is simply propped in it’s grippy slot so you can lift and return it easily. When you are ready to put the iPad away the keyboard simply snaps on using magnets in the same way as a like the Smart Cover. (The keyboard cover is also available for regular sized iPad and iPad air, all options also come in white.)
FAVORITE EXTERNAL BATTERY
Mophie Powerstation External Battery Charger. This external battery has saved my sanity many times while traveling, let alone while sitting on my couch too lazy to go find an extension cord so I can continue to use my device while charging it. I keep it in my bag and use it far more often than I’d anticipated. I gave Mophie batteries as gifts this past Christmas, including this smaller model that comes on a keychain to somebody who takes long bike rides. I use it for my iPhone and my iPad and I feel a little itchy when I forget to bring it along. It recharges via mini USB and can do nearly two full charges on my iPhone. I love it so much I should probably go ahead and give it a name.
FAVORITE SCREEN PROTECTING FILM
Tech Armor screen protector films. I keep hearing about how strong and durable the iPad and iPhone glass is but I still manage to scratch it without any effort. I’m currently using Tech Armor clear films and am really happy with them. (One tip: the glare reducing film sold at Apple stores is terrible. So terrible that upon returning it the employee commented “oh yeah, I discourage people from buying this”.)
Your turn! Do you have any iPad gadgets that are particularly useful?
· comments  · 01-8-2014 · categories:uncategorized ·
I hope you are full of great food and very happy.
· comments  · 11-28-2013 · categories:uncategorized ·
The other week I had the pleasure of visiting the Sunset Idea Town houses in Seabrook, Washington. The houses will be featured in the October issue of Sunset magazine, but you can learn more about them online.
The Sunset houses were a lot of fun to tour – they pull together a giant amount of living space into relatively small footprints. All the space in the houses is used to the best advantage to bring in light and maximize views. The houses use materials from the area, like the crushed oyster shells used to cover pathways. The indoor and outdoor plants are native to this part of the country.
The idea houses are two houses with guest houses (called, charmingly, coach houses which are over the garage space) and which share and outdoor patio area. Brian Paquette, the designer, said that the team created a fictional family (cute!) while they were planning and designing the spaces. In the fictional family the grandparents lived in the larger house, their son and daugther-in-law with their little boy lived in the smaller. I fell completely in love with the shared outdoor area with the large fireplace (awkward photo taken from a third story window shown above). The outdoor space was on different levels giving each house it’s own areas, but altogether it’s a comfortable and welcoming courtyard.
Brian used art from a variety of West Coast artists to decorate the houses, I fell in love with all of it.
I adore this staircase, it’s simply photocopies of photos that have been Modpodged into place!
The wallpapers were incredible.
All of the upholstered furniture used fabrics used in the indoor and outdoor living rooms of the houses was by Sunbrella and I was surprised at how soft it all was. I admire how practical too, the ocean beach is a minute away so you know everybody will be dragging in sand.
The Idea Houses include rain barrels, edible gardens and other thoughtful features, like outdoor lights that have been hooded downwards to minimize light pollution towards the night sky. Stephen Poulakos is the garden designer and I loved his use of large and small plants in the courtyard to create cozy gathering areas. There is also a greenhouse and it smells amazing when you stick your head inside, it’s all ripe tomatoes and basil.
The houses look towards the huge ocean beach shared by the Seabrook community.
The houses were really well done and if you’re a design lover it’s well worth making a day trip (or longer, rent one of the Seabrook cottages!) to have a look at. Tickets for tours of the houses (including the outdoor spaces and two guest houses) are $17. While you’re there you can investigate Seabrook, have lunch in the pub and take a walk out on the beach. I’ve recently recommended this as a day trip to visiting relatives (in-laws even!).
· comments  · 08-26-2013 · categories:uncategorized ·
· comments  · 04-4-2013 · categories:uncategorized ·
Hi! How are you? How is your new year going? I’m getting a slow start, we had a cascade of things breaking around here (the latest victim is the SD card for my camera that will forever hold a few cute pictures of Scott and I that nobody will ever see and is also the reason I have no picture above). The pile of annoyances has left me feeling a bit like I should keep hiding. I’m getting ready for Alt Summit later this month and after that look forward to having a block of unscheduled time to re-sort my domestic world.
But! Friends of mine are up to some far more exciting things:
- Go Mighty has been connecting people’s life goals with ways to make it happen. Maggie has been keeping track of what people are up to on Mighty Girl and I’m definitely on board with the Own Less Crap goal that lots of people have. I’m not alone.
- AB Chao has announced the dates and locations for 2013’s Design Camp tour. I kinda want to follow her around (London! Berlin!). Also, anybody going to Alt Summit, she’s got two spots open for her Salt Lake City mini-camp. After attending her Design Camp here in Seattle last year I’ve got a much clearer picture of what to change around my house.
- Kirby Krackle will be holding Kracklefest 3 on March 1st here in Seattle, guests are the Doubleclicks and Paul and Storm. Then in April they’ll be opening for Wierd Al (Wierd Al!!) at the Calgary Expo. (My husband Scott plays bass in the band.)
- Melanie Biehle has announced that she’s taking on clients who are setting out to make a change in their business lives. She can through coaching, talking branding and social media and creative components, see it explained far more elegantly on her site Genuine Mix. I’ve seen Melanie at work and she is good, she’s also one of the most calming people I know. And! She’ll be at Alt Summit.
- Robin Sheridan has announced that she’s kicked off her career as a real estate agent here in Seattle. She did an amazing analysis of the market value of our home (no, we’re not moving out just yet) and I can recommend her highly. I initially met her when her husband Kirk of Mastin Studio took some photos of Scott and I.
- Seattle Bloggers Unite continues to be a really fantastic resource for Seattle bloggers. The meetups are always very informative and fun. If you’re in Seattle and have a blog (or want to start one) please come join us!
· comments  · 01-14-2013 · categories:uncategorized ·
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  · 12-11-2012 · categories:uncategorized ·
Return to the Sea: Saltworks by Motoi Yamamoto | Colossal. Amazing art created by arranging salt on the floor.
The Setup / Interviews. What people use to get stuff done, I had no idea there was brewing software. Also, hi there Loobylu! Via Swissmiss.
Brian May performs Olympics closing ceremony in ‘badger coat’ | Farmers Guardian. Of all the things that happened in the Closing Ceremonies Brian May’s coat was the one that I had to Google.
Operation Let’s Build A Goddman Tesla Museum – The Oatmeal. “Help me raise money to buy Nikola Tesla’s old laboratory.” One of the fundraising perks is a poster “signed by Tesla’s last remaining relative, William Terbo”. Cool.
· comments  · 09-19-2012 · categories:uncategorized ·
· comments  · 08-16-2012 · categories:uncategorized ·
Earlier this year I bought a backup battery for my iPhone at the airport on a snowy day right before I got on a plane. After the second hour of sitting on the runway (snow in Seattle creates havoc) I felt like I was a genius for getting the battery. It also saved my sanity during several hour long delays on the way home at the end of that trip. I chose the Mophie Juice Pack Powerstation battery because it holds about two full charges and, this was most important to me, it connects to the phone with a cord instead of sticking directly into the phone which means it is easy to keep using the phone while it’s charging. It does have it’s own cord for charging the battery itself (it has a USB end so you can charge using the iPhone’s convertor or your laptop) which means carrying around the battery as well as the extra cord. I’m happy to make the extra space in my bag because it means I never have to fret over whether my phone is charged as I’m heading out the door. It’s like my pet, I should give it a name. And, oh hey, according to their compatibility sheet it will also charge our Kindle. You can also find it on Amazon.
I had also considered the Mophie Juice Pack Plus, a battery built right into an iPhone case. It’s convenient because you don’t need to pull out anything, you just turn it on. But I’m too in love with my squishy iPhone case and being able to scrub said squishy iPhone case with soap and water periodically to give it up.
· comments  · 05-23-2012 · categories:uncategorized ·
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 ·
These are my new earrings, geometric hoops from Pico Design. They are inspired on the HDM pavilion in China but I see the Asteroids game when I look at them. Stealth Asteroids!
· comments  · 04-19-2012 · categories:uncategorized ·
Just a quick note, today I have a gift guide up at Juniper Moon Fiber Farm, and they are giving away some of my favorite Crush On You body scrub from Product Body. Yay!
· comments  · 12-15-2011 · categories:uncategorized ·
I contributed a project to DIY Stocking Stuffers. There are 12 projects in all and each one is pretty darn great. Thanks to Kirtsy and Blogstar for having me!
· comments  · 12-5-2011 · categories:uncategorized ·