Not Martha

Kinder Surprise Egg A Day, Day 9

I bought this three pack of eggs in a supermarket in Bruges. Note the lovely flowery pink decoration on the top? I have another box of boy oriented eggs to come later.

It’s not a Disney princess! (There were Disney princesses printed on the side of the box.)

It’s a… huh. What is that?

A psychic weather predicting bear? If so, what does it mean that the bear is permanently wearing a warm scarf? Are we doomed to cold days?

When you press down on the head the wheel of weather spins, and when you let go it pops into a specific weather prediction. Well, actually, when you let go the bear falls over, slides across the table and falls onto the floor. But once you learn to hold onto the base of the bear then you get a weather prediction.

The bear was correct for today, it’s sunny! Today is our last day in Bristol and we needed some clean clothes so I’m typing this from a laundromat that happens to have a cafe and a really lovely little hidden back patio. I’m sitting in a shady corner looking at ridiculously cheerful petunias wave a little in the breeze. Bristol, you’re amazing.

· comments [6] · 10-23-2013 · categories:kindereggaday ·

Kinder Surprise Egg A Day, Day 8

This is a second not-Kinder egg that I found in Bruges.

The chocolate for these eggs, which I completely failed to post a picture of in this post, was good. It was like the decent Easter chocolate I’d get as a kid. It wasn’t as waxy or as salty as the Kinder egg chocolate.

Both of these eggs were branded with an airplane movie tie-in.

It’s cute! And again, the parts for this plane were incredibly small. While I was charmed by the wee-ness of both planes I’m finding myself impressed with how cleverly the Kinder brand manages to stuff larger toys to assemble in the same sized capsule. By comparison a tiny airplane seems like cheating.

· comments [2] · 10-22-2013 · categories:kindereggaday ·

Eat a Liege style waffle in Belgium: Check.

Last weekend I checked off an item on my life list and the first of four things I’m hoping to do while on my trip to the UK. I ate a Liege style waffle while standing firmly on Belgium soil. While standing in Bruges to be exact.

We found the first one within less than an hour of arriving in the city. It was delicious. Warm and yeasty and sweet and the perfect way to shake off the the slight panic brought on by finding all the train station listings in Belgium to be in Dutch and therefore completely incomprehensible to us and being without a SIM card for Belgium. Oh the horror.

The next day we set out to find more and, delightfully, it wasn’t difficult. I’m including the time stamps below so you can see how easy it is to stumble from one waffle place to the next. In all of these we bought the hot waffles from the window of a shop and ate them while wandering around.

4:08 p.m.

6:34 p.m.

6:45 p.m.

7:12 p.m.

7:16 p.m.

And after that we really needed to stop and go find some salad for dinner.

The next morning we had a waffle from this adorable van. We ate it while standing in a park and looking at a Medieval cathedral. Bruges I love you.

· comments [14] · 10-21-2013 · categories:food · travel ·

Kinder Surprise Egg A Day, Day 7

These are not Kinder brand eggs, but they are essentially the same thing. Scott and I were visiting Bruges last weekend and we were walking back from a quest for rare beer when I spotted a family standing on the sidewalk, the little boy had unwrapped a chocolate egg and had just cracked open the chocolate to reveal a capsule inside that was clearly not the standard yellow Kinder capsule. I have never wanted to grab candy from a baby more than that moment.

They were standing outside a convenience store so I did an abrupt 45 degree turn and pushed my way inside and there they were! The not-Kinder eggs looking very, very much like Kinder eggs. We retreated from the rain to open them in a pub, much to the amusement of the French speakers at the next table.

The seam in the egg is very neat, turns out it’s because there isn’t a which chocolate layer inside.

The capsule is transparent.

And inside are very small bits.

Very very small bits.

The little parts here are so small I wondered how much that would make the US safety people shudder at the thought of a child swallowing them.

It’s a teeny tiny airplane! Branded to the movie, but we didn’t bother with the stickers right away. Even though putting it together was very easy I’m still delighted.

· comments [3] · 10-21-2013 · categories:kindereggaday ·

Kinder Surprise Egg A Day, Day 6

While I’m in the UK I’m getting my Kinder Surprise fix by opening an egg a day.

A girl egg, from a Tesco Metro grocery store.

Hang on, this is suspiciously like the other one.

I was right! It’s another bracelet, this one in a different color.

Let’s review shall we? The last four eggs produced these pairs of items. I’m unreasonably fascinated by the color coordination going on here.

Next up: Kinder Surprise eggs bought at an entirely different store.

· comments [2] · 10-20-2013 · categories:kindereggaday ·

Kinder Surprise Egg A Day, Day 5

While I’m in the UK I’m getting my Kinder Surprise fix by opening an egg a day.

Ladies and gentlemen we have a boy egg.

Wheels!

This looks familiar.

Why look, another one of these nifty spring loaded cars. We can race!

· comments [6] · 10-19-2013 · categories:kindereggaday ·

Hell Yeah Bonfire In A Corn Maze

The sky even put on it’s best spooky display for us that evening.

Remember back when we managed to sidestep the issue of a tiny house keeping us from holding a dinner party by renting the back room of a restaurant and the result was an awesome time? Well that experience led us to holding another gathering in a setting that I wish I owned — we held a bonfire party in the midst of a corn maze. And it was festive as hell. If you can manage to find something similar I highly recommend doing this. Heck, let’s all make it an annual tradition.

It was late September but the corn was really, really tall.

Last year Scott and I visited half a dozen corn mazes because I love them. We went to one night maze at Bob’s Corn Maze and Pumpkin Farm and it was spooky and fun but half way through the maze we were surprised to come across an area with bonfires and a little concession stand selling cider and s’mores kits and suddenly it was THE BEST THING EVER. Turns out? Bob’s Farm has totally dialed into my desires because they have small and large private bonfires areas that they rent out.

I thought about this for an entire year until Busywork was headed over for a visit and responded to my subtle suggestion (Can we do this? Let’s do this! Please!?) with a yes. So, we invited a bunch of people, gathered all foods that can be heated on sticks (hot dogs, s’mores), borrowed some commercial thermal carafes for hot cider (thanks again Maggi for the hook up with Caffe Vita!) and we were on our way.

We warned everybody to wear waterproof shoes and bring flashlights and we took care of the rest. The idea was to find your way through the first half of the maze, join us for warm sugary foods and head back through the rest of the maze. A few people became stuck in the corn maze for a while and we had to send Scott (former Eagle Scout) in to retrieve them which was a bummer. The corn maze was so much easier last year, I swear! If we do it again I’ll suggest joining us first to fuel up before heading into the maze.

You guys, if you can you should totally do this. It was great.

All photos above belong to Laura and are used with permission. Thanks Laura!

· comments [4] · 10-18-2013 · categories:events · halloween ·

Kinder Surprise Egg A Day, Day 4

While I’m in the UK I’m getting my Kinder Surprise fix by opening an egg a day.

Today we have another pink egg, again bought at a Tesco Metro grocery store.

Is that a… My Little Pony?

Yup.

It’s a bracelet! Despite myself I am charmed. I left the stickers off though.

· comments [5] · 10-18-2013 · categories:kindereggaday ·

Kinder Surprise Egg A Day, Day 3

While I’m in the UK I’m getting my Kinder Surprise fix by opening an egg a day.

Today’s egg is blue, this one was bought at a Tesco Metro grocery store.

Another car, what a surprise. This one, though, has a little spring loaded action so when I pull it back and let it go it quickly shoots itself right off the table. I love it, what should we name it?

· comments [5] · 10-17-2013 · categories:kindereggaday ·

Kinder Surprise Egg A Day, Day 2

While I’m in the UK I’m getting my Kinder Surprise fix by opening an egg a day.

Today we open a pink egg. But the blue egg from yesterday and the pink one were bought at a Tesco Metro grocery store.

Pink. Big surprise.

What is it? What is it?

It’s a hair clip. Despite being so very pink and girly I found it surprisingly gratifying to have constructed my own hair clip, even if it did just snap together.

· comments [4] · 10-16-2013 · categories:kindereggaday ·

Kinder Surprise Egg A Day, Day 1

There are very few things from the UK and Europe that aren’t available in the US. We have Lush, Muji, Uniqlo and even a Boots aisle inside of Target. But Kinder Surprise eggs remain illegal to sell or even bring into the US. So I’m going to open an egg a day in order to get my fix.

The first day we were out I looked for Kinder eggs in the usual convenience stores that we found ourselves in but there weren’t any. I asked the shopkeepers if they carried them and they were all surprised to find that they were out. I took this as bad news and by dinnertime I’d decided that there was probably a worldwide shortage and that I was doomed to remain egg-less during our whole trip. Doomed. Luckily I found plenty of Kinder eggs in a larger grocery store the very next day. Crisis averted! I bought both boy and girl eggs, why does there have to be a difference? Here is my first one:

It’s a nice bright car but it doesn’t do anything special, no spring loaded wheels or launch-y bits. It doesn’t even roll that well. The sheet included with this one comes with a scannable code that I assume does something, except that when I went to the site (which shall be unnamed) it told me the site wasn’t available in this country (I don’t know if it thinks I’m in the US or the UK) so I changed the country to Belgium and now all I see is a page that just says “ooops!” with no option to change anything. We will never know what was behind the secret code. Which is fine, I’m sure it’s just a coupon or something.

Tomorrow, a pink egg!

· comments [34] · 10-15-2013 · categories:kindereggaday ·

XOXO 2013

I was thrilled to be able to attend the XOXO Festival in Portland this year. It introduced me to a bunch of cool stuff, here is what caught my eye:

Brewbot
This is a beer brewing system that is controlled by your iPhone. I just spent the summer learning to brew beer and I have an iPhone so of course I’m terribly interested. It’s made by Cargo and the people are thrillingly passionate about it. They are in the last days of a Kickstarter and I am cheering for them. I spoke to a homebrewer with 20 years of experience about what he thought about Brewbot and he didn’t hesitate to say that if I was going to invest in a homebrew system an automated one like Brewbot would be the way to go. (I’m not going to ignore the fact that it’s expensive though, it certainly is.) They just updated their Kickstarter with news that they can make the system more customizable, and brewers like to tinker and try things out just because. I cannot wait to see how this evolves.


Photo by Natalie Seery, borrowed from jsjoust.com.

Johann Sebastian Joust
Do you know about this already? I didn’t and it was great. Teams of players hold wands of different colors, they can move slow or fast according to changes in music being played. If you move your wand too quickly your light blinks off and you’re out. The goal is to attempt to make players of the other teams move their wand while keeping yourself in the game. It was really fun and everybody was really good sports.

Panic Founders’ Room
The offices of Panic have a hidden room called the Founders’ Room that is super duper awesome. It’s hidden behind a wall panel and it reveals a tiny proper den. There is even a hidden panel inside the hidden room that reveals a secret bar. I love a good hidden room. Related: We were also invited to the offices of Weiden & Kennedy where the Nest that was made famous in an episode of Portlandia is located. It’s a real thing.

Werewolf game
This is a game for a large group of people. It’s based off of Mafia using Villagers and Werewolves instead. You can view the rules over at maxistentialism. At XOXO the groups paying this were large and boisterous, anybody who spoke up was subject to suspicion and those who didn’t were questioned heavily. During one session a guy who played the Doctor quietly sat just outside of being singled out and when he made an unusual move it was thrilling to know that those of us watching knew but that nobody playing the game knew that he knew things they didn’t. It was a huge amount of fun to watch.


Photo grabbed from the XOXO video linked to below.

The Doubleclicks
During Max Temkin’s talk The Doubleclicks got up to play “Imposter”, a song about the Mars Rover feeling like it wasn’t good enough for it’s important job. I’m a big fan of theirs (we’re talking house concerts here) and it was a delight to have them pop up unexpectedly. You can view Max’s talk here. While I’m linking to videos go watch one for The Doubleclick’s song Nothing To Prove about being a geek girl.

OUYA
This has been on my radar for a while and they had the consoles on sale at XOXO so I finally got myself one. The console itself is itty bitty, it’s a cube about the size of a large apple (the good Honeycrisp sort). We fired it up at home, started a few games and contemplated bring it with us on our trip to the UK. Now that we’re here and just spent a sick day inside the tiny studio we rented we really wish we had brought it. Especially because we can hear our downstairs neighbor playing GTA5 and I’m having console gaming envy. I cannot wait to see how OUYA develops.

Largely though the conference for me was about people, it was great to meet people who I’ve followed online for years, great to talk with old friends and great to meet new people. XOXO is often compared to SXSW circa 1999 and I found that to be true, except this time around I’m not too shy to talk walk up and introduce myself to somebody. (I’m still very awkward though, don’t get me wrong.) I feel like I took more away from the conference than I gave to those I encountered and if I have the chance to go to XOXO again I would figure out a way to reverse that.

Some other great moments? Getting to see Rael introduce a game he developed to a few seasoned game makers to enthusiastic response, I’ll be waiting for Zombie Princess to come out. Also, being introduced to Cocanu chocolates, the Gardel bar has Fernet in it. Yum. Also, getting to (finally) meet Jennifer Robbins and learning about the Artifact conference she is part of organizing. It’s all about teaching web designers more about how to work with mobile, and since I left my coding skills back in 2003 I could really use it.

· comments [0] · 10-13-2013 · categories:events ·

Headed to the UK!

We are headed to the UK! We’ll be there for a month doing a live/work/travel/freaking out thing. I have a few goals for while I’m there:

  • Drink Scotch in Scotland. (Easy.)
  • Go through a hedge maze in England. (Pretty straightforward. Or twisty.)
  • Eat a Liege waffle in Belgium. (Only requires a train ticket.)
  • Find a four-leaf clover in Ireland. (Miiight be a challenge.)

If anybody reading this happens to live in Belfast and would be interested in meeting up please email me, I’m going to have a bit of free time while I’m in that city and I’d love to say hello.

We’ll be hitting all the tourist things as we do a loop from England up through Scotland and down to Ireland before heading to London but if anybody has any recommendations on extraordinary things going on that I should do my best not to miss or eat or buy or gawk at please let me know. I’m planning on going on lots of brewery tours, opening Kinder Eggs, staring at really old buildings and being that horrible American driver going too slow because I’m afraid of terrified on the other side of the road. Sorry about that last one.

I’m so excited!

· comments [36] · 10-1-2013 · categories:travel ·

links: the home

Housewarming Jar DIY at Oh Happy Day. Our realtor gave us a basket (actually a tool caddy) similar to this filled with tools, picture hooks, cleaning supplies and the like and we used it so much as we moved in and found all our tools packed in a mystery box.

Tips for Furnishing with Floor Models | Making it Lovely. We almost bought a floor model sofa from Crate&Barrel but I had immediate buyers remorse (they were nice enough to cancel). I might someday get up the courage to buy a floor model again.

Dia-monds at Dismount Creative. Diamond light bulbs are a real thing!

How to: Make a DIY Modern Concrete Fire Pit from Scratch | Man Made DIY.

How to Get Your Security Deposit Back: Clean Your Filthy Apartment | The Billfold. Like the person who wrote this I also have gotten every security deposit back. One landlord even said he’d never seen his place so clean. My secrets? #1: It’s much easier to clean once all of your stuff has already been taken out. #2: Wipe down the insides of the washing machine and the dryer.

Cool Tools – Little Giant MegaLite Ladder. We don’t have a ladder yet, largely because we don’t have space to store one. But this? This looks like we could keep it in our tiny shed.

Puxxle: Pixel Puzzle Decals for Your Wall | Brit + Co. You can make your own pixelated art!

DIY Ceiling Medallion, Brick House. Simple and clean.

· comments [1] · 09-26-2013 · categories:links · the home ·

links: craft

MAKE | How-To: Pretty Flower Pom-Poms.

Camp in Your Car with DIY Magnetic Window Screens, at Lifehacker. Clever!

Introducing Purl Soho Video Tutorials! – The Purl Bee. Including two solid decreases (knit 2 together and slip slip knit) that were my way out of knitting rectangles.

Weekend Project: Make a DIY Wooden Crate Magazine Rack | Man Made DIY. We have an old sheet music crate that needs this treatment.

Clay Wishbone DIY, at Oh Happy Day.

· comments [0] · 09-24-2013 · categories:craft · links ·