I’m back from a trip to England! And Wales! We drove on the other side of the street and walked along the tops of bluffs on footpaths and saw the Dr. Who Experience and had cream tea and got really familiar with a few stops of the Underground and saw Book of Mormon and opened Kinder Eggs and gawked at cheese in Cheddar and watched the path emerge from the water from the top of Saint Michael’s Mount and looked the wrong way for traffic before crossing the street. But mostly our group spent time passing around a bad cold, which I was unlucky enough to have for the days we were in London where it was cold enough to snow and yet there was no way I was going to take a whole precious day to sit and be warm and still indoors.
Since we now have Uniqlo and Lush and Muji shops and Boots aisle in Target here in the US it’s harder to find new and fascinating things in the UK, but we succeeded! Behold something called “Mansize tissues”, shown above next to a regular sized tissue. The Mansize tissues are big, almost hanky sized, and I love them and I wish we had them here in the US. So, who knows somebody in the tissue industry and how quickly can we get these things here in the US and can we rename them something less sexist but still offensive like Texas Tissues or Supersize Tissues? Anyhow, they made having a cold slightly less miserable.
· comments  · 03-25-2013 · categories:mumbling ·
Five Young Stand-Up Comedians Who Should Become Movie Stars | Nerve.com.
Homeopathie, at Design Mom. We have the same sort of tubes available at our food co-op and I’ve had success with those that I’ve tried so far.
The 82 Best Comedies Currently Streaming on Netflix | Splitsider. Great list.
Looking for “useful” sites such as Instructables, Lifehacker, CoolTools | Ask MetaFilter.
Show Caves – The Morning News. I love caves.
Estate Jewelry: Masonic Orbs and Legendary Peacock Chokers | The Hairpin. The Peacock Choker shown here first is stunning but it’s the unfolding Masonic ball that has really caught my attention. It goes from an orb to a cross of six pyramids. I want!
What are your top 5 websites and why? | Ask MetaFilter. Lots of great suggestions in here if you’re looking for new sites to read.
· comments  · 03-14-2013 · categories:links · misc ·
· comments  · 03-13-2013 · categories:food · links ·
After out Reidel O wine tumblers finally all cracked I set out to find wine glasses that were perfect and landed on these Reidel Vivant Pinot Noir glasses sold at Target. We live near pinot growing country and find ourselves drinking that most often but I think this shape works just fine for all varietals, we don’t get too fussy around here. I looked at all the fancy brands at various kitchen stores but kept coming back to surreptitiously open a box of these in the aisle at Target to hold them.
These glasses have everything I like: a dramatic bowl, a nice thin lip, and they are easy to replace. They are a nice height too, the stem isn’t too long (I tend to knock over taller wine glasses) or so short you cannot get your fingers around it when you’re feeling like holding the glass properly. We bought ours in a set of 8 and all but one has held up to hand washing for well over a year now. And most pleasingly, they made a beautiful ringing noise when clinked. For how much these get used in our house the price is worth it, and they were even more affordable because we used a few Target gift cards for the purchase.
· comments  · 03-12-2013 · categories:shopping ·
swissmiss | Coat- and Shoe Rack Zeugwart. A freestanding rack that, gasp, would actually fit in our miniscule entryway.
Leather door pull how-to, Brick House. I have a nearby leather working shop and a need for one of these in my house.
mirrormirror: Five Great Things to Grow in Your Pacific Northwest Garden.
· comments  · 03-11-2013 · categories:links · the home ·
· comments  · 03-7-2013 · categories:the home ·
Ask The Food Lab: What’s The Best Way To Freeze Pizza Dough? | Serious Eats.
Slide Show | What to Eat at Honoré Artisan Bakery, Seattle | Serious Eats. The first recommendation here is the Kouign Amann and I cannot heap on enough extra recommendations that you try one here. So, so good.
Can vegans stomach the unpalatable truth about quinoa? | guardian.co.uk. “The quinoa trade is yet another troubling example of a damaging north-south exchange, with well-intentioned health and ethics-led consumers here unwittingly driving poverty there.” People in Bolivia and Peru where it is grown can no longer afford it, in Lima it is more expensive than chicken. Via Delicious Days.
Bon Appétempt: Nancy’s Chopped Salad.
Let’s build a massive meta McDonald’s in Times Square at Kottke. I love the comparisons between fast food and molecular gastronomy. I remember hearing that Ferran Adria admired McDonald’s for their ability to make the exact same burger over and over again.
5 Sauces that Spank Sriracha | The GastroGnome. See also: in this episode (185) of The Dinner Party they have a segment about siracha. Did you know? It’s made here in the US and it’s so popular it’s been faked!
Cucumber and Hummus Cupcakes at Creative Kid Snacks. So many things can be made to look like cupcakes, but these I will actually be making for myself soon.
· comments  · 03-6-2013 · categories:food · links ·
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.
· comments  · 03-5-2013 · categories:misc ·
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!
· comments  · 03-4-2013 · categories:misc ·
· comments  · 03-4-2013 · categories:craft · links ·
I’m a bit in love with all the possibilities that surround Easter Eggs, here are a dozen of my favorite Easter egg crafts and ideas. (Over at Babble.)
· comments  · 02-28-2013 · categories:holidays ·
It’s been way too long since I said I’d share more of my favorite makeup. Oops. There is a bright side though, I can say I still find these products to be my favorites. Earlier I wrote about which products I keep in my bag, the following are the ones I have at home and use on a semi-regular basis:
Too Faced Shadow Insurance – Eye makeup doesn’t stand a chance on me unless I’m using eyeshadow primer. This works great and doesn’t add any shimmer (an enemy of mine when it comes to the eyes). A tiny bit goes a long way and this lasts me for a long time.
MAC Eyeshadow – I find these to have plenty of pigment and stay well. Most often I use Omega (light brown) for the crease, Carbon (black) as eyeliner and Print (medium gray) to smudge it out.
Wet n Wild Color Icon Eyeshadow – I read a lot about Wet n Wild eyeshadow, that the quality and pigment load for the price was great. I’ve bought a few sets and I do like the pigment but it’s all got a bit too much shimmer for me. I keep these to use one peach or one light pink color on my lids. I probably won’t seek these out again but it is an inexpensive way to play around with a lot of different colors.
Smashbox Photo Finish Light Primer – This is a light, oil-free foundation primer that does it’s job and doesn’t make me feel like There Is Something On My Face.
L’Oreal Magic Smooth Souffle Foundation – A tiny bit of this smooths on easily and hides my giant pores. It does dry quickly so I work in smaller areas. It can emphasize dry skin but does well with my ever present oily sheen. It doesn’t necessarily require a foundation primer but I usually don’t wear foundation unless it’s going to be a long day so I use it.
Nars Blush – In Orgasm, of course. I really like this for a bit of subtle color. Blah blah blah everybody loves this and I do too.
Sonia Kashuk (Target) in Flamingo – I use this one when I’m going for some bright Irish Lass cheeks. It’s a matte color and I’m really fond of the low profile packaging it’s in.
L’Oreal Voluminous False Fiber Lashes – After reading about it at Girls of a Certain Age I’ve been testing this out and it’s mostly replaced my usual for the time being. I like the drama of this but it can go spidery on me if I overload it. It plays nicely with my sunscreen and eye cream and doesn’t flake or smudge.
Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture in #001 – I thought I had talked about this already but apparently I only did over at Flickr. This is a powerful matte bright red that isn’t too blue and isn’t too coral and works with my cool-pale skin. I found this when I needed my first ever red lipstick and was hovering around the makeup section at Nordstrom being fiercely ignored by the people at the MAC counter when a kindly YSL lady pulled me into a quiet chair and applied this. I kept looking in mirrors for the rest of the day. I love it. I use an eyeshadow primer around the edges of my lips and apply this using a lip brush.
NYX Jumbo Lip Pencils – I’ve seen these recommended a lot and I have to say I like them too. I find them easier to apply than a tube of lipstick, and they fit well in a makeup bag if you’re taking it with you. I like Chaos (724), which is a dark pink that isn’t too Barbie-pink.
Coach Poppy Flower – My current favorite perfume. I only wish that it came in a single roller ball instead of a double-headed roller ball because I’m convinced it’s going to break in my luggage when I travel and then everything is going to smell like the other perfume which I don’t like very much.
Makeup brushes – You hear this advice all the time but I didn’t really know how much of a difference it would make for me: invest in good makeup brushes. They make a huge difference in how even the cheapest makeup goes on. I have some brushes from Target that are often recommended in beauty magazines but they aren’t nearly as good as the MAC brushes I’ve invested in and the Target brushes have been relegated to blending brushes. Here are the brushes I use most often:
- MAC 266, a fine angled brush I use as an eyeliner brush.
- MAC 242, I use to press eyeshadow into the crease.
- MAC 217, I use to blend my crease color.
- MAC 224, a big fluffy brush I use when there is a larger field of color to be applied.
- Bobbi Brown Ultra Fine Eyeliner Brush, comes to a tiny point and is great for adding a very thin line to the base of the lashes.
- Sephora 60, a retractable lip brush. I couldn’t apply red lipstick without this. It stays nice and neat in a bag.
· comments  · 02-26-2013 · categories:beauty ·
This post is brought to you by Bing. Know what Bing does really well? Image searches, which is why I now need to go plant seeds to have these ready for next year. Thanks to Bing for making finding ideas for Oscars party food and star shaped foods easy to find.
My husband is on call for work the night of the Oscars so we stay fairly low key in our house. A little bit of celebration is in order since it marks the end of a big annual work project. So this year I’m making it The Night of A Thousand Star..shaped foods. Or at least a few star shaped foods. All of these are gluten-free, almost by coincidence. Though I know so many people who are gluten-free that it’s become normal to avoid it when menu planning.
I hope some of these ideas help make your Oscars snacks a bit more sparkly.
We’ll start with a fruit salad and champagne. Pineapple rings and kiwi slices act (sort of) like rays of light and the stars are cut from slices of pear. I used Sumo citrus wedges here, their delicate taste doesn’t overwhelm the other fruits. (Shout out to my friends who have shown me the way to Sumo love!) Add pomegranate seeds to your champagne glass and watch as they bob and float.
DIY star shaped tortilla chips! The best thing about homemade tortilla chips is that they are extra strong and can stand up to the chunkiest of guacamole.
The chips are are easier than you might suspect, I followed the instructions you can find over at Savory Sweet Life. You’ll need a bag of corn tortillas, a star cookie cutter and some vegetable oil. Brush or spray vegetable oil on both sides of a tortilla and use a cookie cutter to cut shapes, I could only get through two tortillas at a time. Spread the chips on a baking sheet in a single layer, sprinkle with salt and bake at 350 degrees for about ten minutes, flipping about half way through. Since I don’t know the size of your cookie cutter I recommend flipping them after five minutes and checking them every two minutes after that. If you have a crowd coming over you can make some star chips for decorations and then slice the rest of the tortillas into wedges to save time. (Kind of like bringing out the cheap wine after the good wine has been consumed and nobody will care at that point anyhow.) If you want to make these in advance they can be crisped up by baking in a 200 degree oven for a few minutes.
Finger foods are in order to keep our energy up during commercial breaks so I’m going with stuffed mushrooms and star shaped cheese crackers. This is the first time I’ve made stuffed mushrooms and I had no idea that they are so easy, I’m going to be making these a lot more often for no reason at all. For these I simply subbed in gluten-free bread crumbs.
The star shaped cheese crackers here are the Cheesy Squares recipe from Lara Feroni’s book Real Snacks. I’ve made these before (for cookbook club) and at the time I made both the version with wheat flour and the gluten-free ones to compare. We found that the gluten-free ones turn out a bit more crisp and are more fun to eat. This time around I made a few different sized cheese stars and the smallest size were our favorite by far, the crispy edge ratio is just about right. The ones shown here arout 1.5 inches tall. I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour. If you make these a day early they can be crisped up by heating in a warm oven for a few minutes.
I had a little conundrum at the grocery store over these. The good sharp cheddar I could find didn’t have the ultra-orange coloring that would make these really fun to look at. But the good sharp cheese is delicious so it won out. You could likely make these far more Cheez-its orange with different cheese.
Recipe from Real Snacks, by Laura Ferroni. Used here with permission and changed slightly.
- 8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 180 grams (1.5 cups) all-purpose gluten-free baking flour
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup milk, plus more for brushing
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine the cheese, butter, flour, onion powder, salt, and milk in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the dough blade. Pulse to form a ball, 1 to 2 minutes. Divide the dough into four parts and flatten into discs, wrap with plastic wrap for the time being.
Roll dough between two sheets of parchment paper until it’s 1/8th to 1/16th inch thick. Cut the dough out using a small star cutter and transfer each star to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper leaving about 1/2 inch between each. (You will likely be popping each one out of the cutter so it’s easy to just deposit them right onto the baking sheet.) Brush the dough with milk and prick the center of each one with a skewer.
Bake until the crackers are just slightly brown on the edges. Check after five minutes frequently after that, times will vary depending on which size cutter you’ve used. Cool crackers on a wire rack.
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Dessert will be something we can make quickly so we don’t miss anything. Here are simple scoops of ice cream with metallic sprinkles. I found these at Joanns. I cannot tell you how delightful I find these tiny edible gold stars. I’m going to start putting them on everything, like eggs and steak.
· comments  · 02-22-2013 · categories:food ·
How can I most efficiently “spring clean” my laptop? | Ask MetaFilter.
Designing For The Modern Web. Via Swiss Miss.
Cool Tools – Linx. “This inexpensive construction kit uses simple plastic hubs to connect grocery store drinking straws. You can assemble quite large — and featherweight — structures in crystalline and geodesic designs.” This will make a great present and activity for our niece and nephews next time we visit.
3D printed cookie rollers | Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories. I’ve seen plenty of 3D printed cookie cutters but I’m falling in love with the rollers here. Love the comparison between creating ancient things with modern tools.
· comments  · 02-20-2013 · categories:links · technology ·
In the last few weeks I watched all of Downton Abby after avoiding it for years. I’m completely hooked. I’ve posted more about it’s powers of seduction over at Future Imperfect.
· comments  · 02-18-2013 · categories:misc ·