Not Martha

new thing to make – surprise balls

I’ve posted a new(ish) tutorial for how to make Surprise Balls. My original project page for these was from before I owned a digital camera, ages ago, and the picture were from a webcam. The idea is pretty straightforward — insert small present, wrap strip of crepe paper, insert present, wrap, continue — but they are super fun to open.

The ones shown here were made to give out when I spoke at The Lab at Velocity, and I was tickled that Jessie from Cakespy was one of the raffle winners.

· comments [25] · 07-31-2008 · categories:craft ·

last day for 20% off at

You’ve got the rest of the day to get 20% off when you use the code RuMeMiniLove (case sensitive) on anything you buy over at If you live in Seattle it might be the perfect opportunity to stock up on reusable shopping bags, seeing as our green fee is going to happen — Seattle is requiring stores to charge customers 20 cents for each plastic or paper bag they use. It’s all an effort to encourage all shoppers to bring their own reusable bags which, you know, yay, but let’s hope that extra tax money gets used for something good.

Anyway, now is the time to get a set of Envirosax or RuMe bags, and another set for the car, and a few to keep on your bicycle, and one at your desk… With this in mind take a look at Delight’s Eco-Delightful Shopper Set in Bold and Bright and Urban Shopper styles which include large and small RuMe bags as well as Eco Bags Reusable Produce Bags.

I’ve been using Envirosax and RuMe Bags for a while now and the best part is getting to feel a little proud of yourself when you see other people lugging a bunch of canvas reusable bags into a store while all your reusable bags are neatly tucked into your purse. Try not to gloat.

· comments [14] · 07-31-2008 · categories:shopping ·

scoop (or disher or portioner) sizes

I’ve decided to make the famous NYTimes chocolate chip cookie recipe, and I really want to follow the instructions as closely as possible. The recipe calls for 3.5 ounce mounds of dough, so I’ve been on the lookout for a scoop, or disher, that would be exactly that and, though I think I might have the size I need, I looked all this up recently so I’m putting this here as a big Dishers 101 for myself when I forget it all again.

Dishers, or scoops or portioners, have number sizes on them, mine can be found on the little metal sweep. This size represents the number of scoops in one quart. The larger the number, the smaller the capacity of the scoop. You can find a whole range of disher sizes, I know Sur La Table seems to have them all hanging in a big, happy, jumbled group. The book of yields lists a table of disher sizes in ounces, cups and mililiters. According to the Kitchen Conservatory list the closest sized scoops in liquid ounces would be a size 10 at 3.75 ounces or a size 12 at 3.25 ounces. They have the size 12 as being for standard muffins. I own a Norpro size 16 disher (56mm, 2 tbsp) which I’ve used for standard sized muffins. The OXO cookie scoops I was looking at were sizes:

large: size 20, 3 tbsp., 3.25″ diameter cookie
medium: size 40, 1.5 tbsp., 2.75″ diameter cookie
small: size 60, 2 tsp., 2″ diameter cookie

So, the dishers all have fairly precise measurements, but which size will give me 3.5 ounces of that cookie dough? The finished cookies are supposed to be 5 inches in diameter, far larger than the size 20 OXO disher is supposed to give. The 3.5 ounces is described as being “generous golf balls”. Will my size 16 scoop be too small? When is the last time I held a golf ball in my hand? Do I have the patience to wait until I can locate a size 10 or 12 scoop? Why don’t I own a kitchen scale yet?

· comments [46] · 07-30-2008 · categories:food ·

what I learned last week

If you place a quarter over the cap of a bottle of beer before you open it, the top of the cap won’t bend and you can put it back on the bottle so the beer will keep overnight. In our case a 22 ounce bottle of Elysian Avatar Jasmine IPA was still good when we returned to it after two nights had passed. Thanks to the good people at Full Throttle Bottles for the tip.

Shown above is my lizard bottle cap opener whom I’ve had since my very first apartment. You can also see him here in all his woefulness.

· comments [22] · 07-29-2008 · categories:drink · links ·

links: craft

The Big Mitten Give – Melanie Falick is giving everybody a mitten pattern for free with one request, if you knit a pair for yourself also knit a pair for somebody in need. How cool.

crochet cuff pattern by Robyn Chachula, via Craftzine

Suili crochet flowers at This is Love Forever

CraftStylish, in beta, where you can find craft projects and show off your own. I’m going to need to find more time to explore this site.

True Up reports on Ink & Spindle a new fabric yardage screenprinting studio started by Laura Cameron, Bianca van Meeuwen, and Tegan Rose.

basics of hand sewing needles at CraftStylish

Mod Green Pod fabrics, at True Up

· comments [1] · 07-28-2008 · categories:craft ·

links: the home

Help a gardening novice xeriscape his yard, at Ask Metafilter

Shark Thumb Aid for use in hammering with nails, at Produce Dose

I like the Anise by ilan Dei wall design at Blik, specifically the white design on yellow walls like they did at the Menlo Park Idea House by Sunset.

modern trellis at Apartment Therapy

hack the hex, making a hex drill bit from a hex wrench, at Ikea Hacker

Reusable magnetic display system at Dooce

Digital Door Viewer Replaces the Peephole at Unplugged

wonderful graffiti wall transfers at Shelterrific

Lazy Geek’s Cushion at Produce Dose

· comments [2] · 07-25-2008 · categories:the home ·

help, I need a clothing decision

I need some help deciding if I want to keep this wrap sweater thingy I bought. I got this, in black, thinking it would be good for nights where we go see a movie in our tiny local theater and then walk down the street to have dinner at the pub. The sweater is flattering enough in a drapey, clingy way. I can tie it in front like this, wrap around and tie in back like a ballet sweater or throw one side up over a shoulder like this. If I get cold I can throw the long panels up around my neck. The garment seems useful and cozy, and it’s easy to stuff into a bag. It’s 95% Rayon and I’m unsure if it will wear out and pill too quickly, though I’m all set for letting it air dry so it won’t shrink.

But… I don’t know. I this something that I will be embarrassed to have in a year? Does it say “I drive a minivan”? Is it one step closer to shopping at Chico’s? Or will it be the perfect thing to bring along for casual summer evenings that might get chilly?

I’ve gone back and forth on this and spent way more time than is logically worth it. So, what do you think? Is this something I’ll get some use out of? Or is it destined to be forgotten in the back of a closet? I need your help!

update: Thank you so much to everybody who left a comment. I love reading how different all the opinions are and all the various things to take into consideration. I’d also like to thank Jennifer from StyleBakery for taking the time to leave some advice, and thanks to Allison for contacting them. In the end I’ve decided to return that cardigan for two reasons. The first is that I realized I didn’t like the way it looked while I was wearing my glasses, which is what I’d likely have on in situations where I would be wearing the sweater. The second is because there was an exposed seam running along the back of the neck. It was supposed to be hidden when the collar is folded down but I could never seem to keep it from showing. Otherwise it was well designed for what it was — the back of the sweater fit nicely and made a slim line, it didn’t want to tangle around my legs as I walked. I think a shorter version of something like this would work better for my height though.

I ended up buying a scarf from the Gap instead. It’s pashima sized and, unlike ones I’ve bought from American Apparel in the past, doesn’t want to curl in at the edges so it works nicely as a very simple wrap or a scarf. You can tie it into a ball and it doesn’t take up too much space in a bag. It’ll do nicely for summer trips to the movies.

· comments [146] · 07-24-2008 · categories:shopping ·

links: shopping

EarthLust bottles are pretty, and they are seeking designs. At Home By Sunset.

Fashion and beauty blogs for the novice? at Ask Metafilter

Bink Link, a cord to keep the binky near the baby, I love the one that looks like peas and carrots, and the candy necklace one too. So cute.

Chocolate and Steel and Boygirlparty got together to make some pretty reclaimed silver necklaces, over at Etsy.

Makr wallet, at Not Cot

Subterfuge Jacket at Anthropologie, it’s made of sweatshirt fabric. I have this in red and I love it, it’s part of my strategy to have more grown up looking clothes without sacrificing too much comfort.

Green Matt & Nat Big Drop Hobo, my current thing-I-will-not-buy.

The Flora Shopper at Target. Are they carrying Envirosax? Or is this just a rip off? update: I hear from the Envirosax people that they are indeed real Envirosax.

· comments [11] · 07-24-2008 · categories:shopping ·

links: food

Cointreau Pearls at Not Cot

Alright already, I’ll make the famous NYTimes chocolate chip cookie recipe, just as soon as I find a 3 1/2 ounce scoop. The entry at Orangette finally convinced me.

Gin and Titonic Ice Cube Molds at Cool Hunting

How much bacon should be added to Rice Krispies treats? at Ask Metafilter

how to make candied herbs at Ask Metafilter

how safe are cakes baked in mason jars? at Ask Metafilter

white peach sangria at Liqurious

Can I patent a sandwich? at Ask Metafilter

Strawberry Freezer Jam at Posie Gets Cozy

ice brewed tea at Tea Spot NYC, also see the entry on wild tea, it’s naturally sweet

The Accidental Wine Company, they sell bottles which, simply, have labels that are damaged. At Chow.

cablebox, at The Girl In the Green Dress

Review: Mark Bittman’s Rosemary-Lemon White Bean Dip at The Kitchen

Chow brings up the jury stick, a useful thing I’d not heard of before

Ask The Splendid Table: Go slowly to keep chicken breasts moist at Seattle PI

James Beard’s English Muffin Bread at Between Stupid and Clever, that looks fantastic

Propery Salted on shoots

Which one is worse for you: high-fructose corn syrup or aspartame? at Ask Metafilter

· comments [7] · 07-23-2008 · categories:food ·

The Lab: The Boss of You

Lauren and Emira, whose recent book The Boss of You I’ve talked about here before, will be featured at The Lab this Wednesday. I’m so excited:

The Lab presents “The Boss of You” authors Emira Mears and Lauren Bacon

July 23rd from 6-8 at Velocity’s store 251 Yale Ave N.

Please welcome Emira Mears and Lauren Bacon, veteran business women and authors of the new book, “The Boss of You,” to share knowledge and inspiration to help you start and run your own business. They’ve turned their hard-won experience from 8 years of running Raised Eyebrow Studios – a mission-based web design business –into an informative, easy to follow, and encouraging manual on what it takes for women to become successful entrepreneurs. Bring your questions, stories, and take notes – this should be a delightful, truly informative evening!

· comments [1] · 07-22-2008 · categories:events ·

links: tech

geek gang signs at Unplugged. (Scott and I also invented a gang sign, it’s for those who get sleepy a little earlier than they used to: oLd.)

I want to punch something in the face at Ask Metafilter. I’m less amused by the question than the fact that there is more than one site doing exactly what the person was hoping.

Where are the user-ranked laptop reviews? at Ask Metafilter

free wood grain textures at How About Orange

SurfaceClean All-Purpose Electronics Cleaner at Cool Hunting

Previous/Next and Back/Next pagination links considered harmful at A Whole Lotta Nothing. I’ve been thinking about using “in the future/in the past”, would that work?

Is it possible to run a search at Amazon that excludes “Used and new” items? at Ask Metafilter

I think I’ve finally found the DSLR I’m going to buy: Canon XS, at the NYTimes. It has Live View (though I know, that drains the batteries) and does better in low light, high motion environments than previous models (so I can take pictures of the actual Scott while he is on stage, not the Scott-shaped-blur I’ve been getting so far). And still, it’s entry level and smallish and not devastatingly expensive. Thanks to Cinnamon for sending along a recommendation and the review at Photo Junkie.

TrackThis, track your packages over Twitter, via A Whole Lotta Nothing

Things for iPhone at Culture Code.

8 Cool Things You Can Do With Your iPhone 2.0 at Webmonkey

Yelp Brings Location-Aware Reviews to Your iPhone at Lifehacker

Interesting stuff from the App Store debut for iPhone and iPod Touch at Penmachine

· comments [6] · 07-21-2008 · categories:technology ·

links: miscellanea

What are some other high-quality mindblowing DVD box sets? like Planet Earth and The Universe. At Ask Metafilter

Can a Night Owl Become a Morning Person? at Slate

clear blue sky at Swiss Miss

Origins: Made of Awesome, The Park Bench on a huge game fair. And, yay, the upcoming Monty Python Fluxx.

Topeak Turbo Morph Bike Pump, travel sized floor pump, at Cool Tools

I’m getting a bit tired of my own cringing, and wonder how others have dealt with it. at Ask Metafilter

How to make a Yip Yip costume at Craftzine

I’m a fairly short woman (5’2″), and my feet dangle from almost every chair (pew, bench, sofa, car seat) I sit in. This is uncomfortable and occasionally painful, and I’ve taken to sitting cross-legged everywhere, which is also uncomfortable and occasionally painful. What are my options? at Ask Metafilter. Me too! One commenter here mentions a something I plan for carefully, a carry on bag for airplanes that can act as a foot rest.

· comments [5] · 07-21-2008 · categories:misc ·

links: crafts

how to use metal rivets at U-Handblog

homemade deodorant at Angry Chicken was bought by Amazon, at True Up

I need a craft that has tangible results! at Ask Metafilter

Sublime organic cotton, must check out this yarn

knit goldfish cracker at I Like Lemons. The pattern is by Kimber Chapman and I also like her mini easter egg toys.

There are a couple good patterns in Berroco’s Cuzco & Peruvia booklet. I think I’d like a shorter version of Crotona.

· comments [4] · 07-17-2008 · categories:craft ·

links: Seattle

Hiking Twin Falls at Seattlest, I like the series on local hikes they’ve been running lately.

Greenwater Lakes Trail at the Slog.

free tacos downtown, sounds good, at Properly Salted

Snapshots from the Inaugural Sunday Supper at the Corson Building, oh how nice, at Mid Beacon Hill Blog.

Beard Papa in Seattle? At Safeco and Uwajimaya, according to Da*xiang, thanks!

Zenith Supplies, Yelp says this is the place to get soapmaking supplies, and I hope they have reeds for oil diffusers so I can try to undo the memory of how horrible the premixed kind I bought was.

· comments [9] · 07-17-2008 · categories:seattle ·

up to

Project Runway Season Five
The last one in New York, love it before it all changes. I’m with the Project Rungay boys – why did they release all the guests and challenges in advance this season? No fun spoiling the surprise. (I have not peeked.)

L’Oreal Bare Minerals Gentle Lip Conditioner
My previous favorite lip balm was changed and is now unbearably sweet, so this might just be my new favorite. We’re still in the getting to know you stages but it’s showing promise so far, no strong taste or smell, shiny but not too glossy.

Vicolo Corn Meal Pizza Crusts
These come in the freezer section of my local market. You take it straight out of the freezer, add pizza toppings (please allow me to suggest something in the olive oil/greens/sausage family of combinations) and put it in the oven, very easy. I think these will be a staple in our house.

Neutrogena Sunblock Stick
Tiny enough to keep in my bag for those unexpected berry picking moments when I’ll want to double up on the SPF.

Peanut Butter M&Ms
I’m not normally a candy person but I’ve had a wicked M&M desire for weeks now. These are ok but the peanut flavor is inconsistent and every once in a while I get a strange taste. Oh well, they’re a colorful decoration at least.

· comments [21] · 07-15-2008 · categories:up to ·