Not Martha

thing I like: Fiddle String wedge sandals

Clarks Fiddle String wedge sandal

I’ve mentioned this before: I have trouble feet. They are long and narrow with a high arch and oh-so-tender skin. They are Princess and the Pea feet and generally unfit for wearing heels. So I was really happy to find these Fiddle String wedges in one of my favorite comfortable shoe stores, Clarks. The leather upper hugs my feet well and balances out the weight distribution and I don’t just slide down into the toes (and it nicely hides the blue vein that that stands out so well through my pasty white skin). The cork wedges are lightweight and give enough cushion to keep me happy. When I was trying them on in the store a lady stopped to rave about how comfortable she finds them. Sold.

When I was shopping for bicycles there was one among the batch that felt like a machine built to hold me rather than just a bicycle. That is sort of the same experience I had trying these on, they felt like a thing for my feet rather than shoes. I sound ridiculous, I am fully aware, but for some reason I think that you should know this. Or at least know this is how my brain works. A thing for my feet, there you go.

Let’s just pretend that I am wearing a more compatible toenail color here, and that it had been more recently and expertly applied:

Clarks Fiddle String wedge sandal

The first time I wore these was to a night out that involved a bit of standing (at the bar at Canon where an insanely delicious cocktail including mezcal and shaken egg white was consumed) and walked a few blocks (to seek out High 5 Pie) and then when I got home I went around opening windows and I didn’t take the shoes off first, they weren’t bothering me. My feet felt great later. It was a world record, um at least when it comes to my feet and heels. So I bought two pairs, the black and the orange. I admit in a fit of indecision I panic-ordered all the colors and I can tell you the orange is a softer and lighter color in person and the platinum is a warmer tone and more metallic than shown online.

So, if you normally find yourself unable to wear heels but find yourself desiring a summer wedge I encourage you to gives these a try. Also they are on sale right now, bonus! At: Clarks, Amazon, Zappos, Endless, Piper Lime, 6pm.

Alright I’m ready for more. Help a girl out, have you found any surprisingly comfortable heels lately?

· comments [23] · 07-31-2012 · categories:shopping ·

links: shopping

Cool Tools: Hermetus Bottle Opener and Sealer.

Levis at JC Penny – just cheap, or crap? | Ask MetaFilter. I didn’t know this but I’m not surprised: “TJ Maxx totally sells cheaply made just for them clothes under designer names that are carried in major dept stores (my cousin works designing a lot of this stuff).”

Bicycle Frame Handle by Walnut Studiolo — Kickstarter. A handle that sits low enough on the frame to make carrying a bicycle much easier. The time for this has passed but I’m keeping an eye on their site for when they become available. Via Swissmiss.

· comments [5] · 07-30-2012 · categories:links · shopping ·

Ramos Gin Fizz: a new technique for a classic recipe

This post is in partnership with smartwater. smartwater, simplicity is delicious. Click here to learn more.

Ramos Gin Fizz

The first time I had a Ramos Gin Fizz I was at the Velvet Tango Room in Cleveland, a bar that takes great care and pride in preparing classic drinks very well. The drink was served in tall glass with a long spoon and had a surprisingly delicious citrus scented foam. I remember the foamy part taking up more than half of the glass and the action of pulling it up out of the glass with the spoon was thoroughly enjoyable. We attempted to recreate this drink at home using a cocktail shaker. We shook it for a very long time, trading off when one of us got tired, until we got that hard-to-describe ropey feeling. All we could produce was a liquid drink with a foam top that could be described as limp. It was still delicious but the novelty was missing.

Fast forward a few years and I was looking into what else could be created with my whipped cream maker. I was looking through recipes for mousses, fast infusions and foams when I came across the hint that some modern bartenders use a whipped cream maker to make a Ramos Gin Fizz. I had to try this for myself.

The contenders:

Ramos Gin Fizz

The classic cocktail shaker versus the whipped cream maker, which has lately been put to a bunch of newfangled uses in innovative kitchens.

Ramos Gin Fizz

Tip: if you’re using a cocktail shaker take the spring out of a Hawthorne strainer and put it into the cocktail shaker, it will help create the small bubbles that you’re going for.

And the winner is:

Ramos Gin Fizz

The whipped cream maker did an outstanding job of recreating the foamy drink I remember. It was so easy it felt like cheating. It came out without any liquid part to the drink but as it sat the bubbles popped and a liquid layer appeared at the bottom. The cocktail shaker, despite my best efforts, only managed to produce a drink with a small layer of wet foam that was not nearly as stiff and lovely. I had three goes at shaking the drink, clocking in at 7:30, 10:15 and 10:30 respectively. I would have given it another try but my left elbow protested. The bartenders at the Velvet Tango Room must have mighty arms. For the sake of rushing it to the camera as quickly as possible I didn’t add seltzer water to either of the glasses pictured above, but I do enjoy it being included.

Ramos Gin Fizz in a whipped cream maker

2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1 egg white
1 ounce heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon orange flower water (I used A. Monteux, it comes in a little blue bottle)
about 2 ounces of seltzer

Put your serving glass and the bottle of your whipped cream maker (I have an iSi 1 pint version) into the freezer to chill while you measure out your other ingredients. Place all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake for 30 seconds to mix and get everything nice and cold. Strain the liquids into your whipped cream maker and charge it according to the manufacturer’s directions. Shake the whipped cream maker about five times, then dispense into your glass. Note: Be careful and stop before all the liquid is dispensed, the last little bit might splatter in all directions. Add a little seltzer to the glass and serve with a spoon.

Ramos Gin Fizz

It is said that the foam should be sturdy enough to hold a straw straight up. Will it?

Ramos Gin Fizz


· comments [40] · 07-26-2012 · categories:drink · food ·

links: travel

Questions for Someone Who Recently Rented a Private Island | The Hairpin. I’m putting “rent a bed and breakfast on it’s own island and bring all my friends along” to my neglected life list.

a n h – m i n h . c o m: Semi-Annual Post. She outlines her trips to Dublin and London, lots of places to keep in mind here.

The Arts Factory, Las Vegas | The Everywhereist. A place to seek out the next time I’m in Las Vegas.

Nostalgia in Astoria: Antique Stores and The Goonies | The Everywhereist. Please look closely at the car with the Perot ’92 sticker.

Cruising Seattle on an Electric Boat « Tea & Cookies.

· comments [2] · 07-24-2012 · categories:links · travel ·

a peek inside my makeup bag

I always like seeing what is inside other people’s makeup bags. Here is what I carry with me in my purse, my regular makeup routine includes a few more products than this but these are the smaller items that I bring with me as a sort of security blanket. I rarely find myself reapplying makeup while I’m out but it calms my inner neurotic just knowing that I could if I needed to.

Covergirl Lash Perfection mascara in very black – I have tried lots of pricey mascaras and lots of drugstore mascaras and the Covergirl brand is the only one that doesn’t run or flake on me. If I’m running out the house and I only have time to apply one product I will chose mascara every time, my natural lashes are blond and invisible.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Tinted Brow Gel in Espresso – Along with my pale lashes I have pale eyebrows. My father is a redhead and I inherited the eyebrows but not the beautiful red hair to match. (Grumble.) I’ve never gotten the hang of filling in my eyebrows using a pencil or powder, I just don’t have the knack, but I can apply this eyebrow gel, it goes on like mascara. I apply it against the direction of my eyebrows, let it dry and then use a clean mascara brush to push everything back into place. Love it.

Tarte emphasEYES inner rim brightener – This light peach eyeliner is supposed to make you look more awake and draw attention up to the eyes and I swear it works. I truly never thought I’d be somebody who puts eyeliner on my waterline, when I was in high school that was something the bad girls did. After this I might just try it with colorful eyeliners.

Benefit Eye Bright – This is a pale pink crayon of light diffusing magic particles, or something like that. I have a few different products meant to be dabbed in the inner corners of the eyes, this is the one that is least likely to leak so its the one I bring with me. I love how these types of things make me look more awake when I’m applying them in my mirror but I honestly cannot tell if they make much of a difference out in the world.

Benefit Bad Gal waterproof eyeliner in very black – I find it easier to use a small slanted brush to apply eyeshadow as a liner but in the summer months I’ve been finding that the shadow flakes. Enter the waterproof eyeliner. I find it frustrating to apply but it’s been staying in place. This one comes with a spongey end so you can smudge the liner if you’d like.

Unknown concealer – Once all the lettering has worn off the tube it’s probably time to get a new one huh?

Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Instant Pefector – A lightweight and slightly tinted cream that does a great job of hiding the giant pores on my nose and chin. It’s expensive but one little tube lasts me many months. This is my third tube. I like it but I’m not convinced it stays on long enough to allow me to be really enthusiastic over it. I might try Benefit’s Porefessional next. I wish that these type of highly siliconed balms worked better. Or I with that the whipped foundations that feel the same had a bit less pigment in them and were less drying. Or something. Please, makeup world, create the perfect product for me!

MAC Creamsheen lipstick in Speak Louder – I love this bright pink color but I do find the formula a little drying. I don’t wear it daily but I do keep it with me in case I need to look a bit fancier than I feel.

Sephora retractable lip brush – I’m terrible at applying lipstick right from the tube so I take the time to use a lip brush. This retractable one stays tidy.

Tweezerman mini cuticle nippers – I talked about these earlier. I hate hangnails.

Muji tweezers – These are, you know, tweezers. I keep them with me just in case something sprouts. Have you noticed that the best light for observing your stray eyebrow hairs is when you’re sitting in a car looking into the visor mirror. I don’t pluck in the car but, still, it’s the best light.

Blotting Tissues – It seems to be getting harder to find plain blotting tissues that don’t have aloe or lavender powder or something. These are from Ulta.

Oversized button mirror – This is decorated with vintage wallpaper. I bought it at Urban Craft Uprising but I cannot remember who was selling them. I love it and will shed tears on the day that I inevitably step on it or run it over with my bicycle tire.

Not shown: My favorite lip balm (Blistex Herbal Answer, or my tragically dwindling supply of tiny tubes of untinted Prada balm) and lip gloss (MAC in Cultured).

· comments [34] · 07-23-2012 · categories:beauty ·

links: the home

I have $150 to spend on my patio/deck garden in Seattle. What should I plant and how should I do it? | Ask MetaFilter. Lots of great suggestions for plants that will grow well in this climate.

Sleep Better: Separate Covers for Blanket-Hog Partners – GOOD. I think we will adopt this side-by-side blanket arrangement for the colder months, Scott keeps letting all the cold air rush under the covers!

Cool Tools – Nest Learning Thermostat. I recently found myself giving this thermostat some serious consideration.

Design Crush » Light ‘n Go Bonfire Log.

· comments [10] · 07-19-2012 · categories:links · the home ·

links: misc

At present, what is the most environmentally friendly way to deal with a human body after they die? | Ask MetaFilter. I have to write a will and this has been on my mind as well. Rumosinc’s answer is incredible and touching.

A CUP OF JO: Have an inspiring weekend. Lots of great links to stuff by and about Nora Ephron.

I’m looking for some other good, contemporary, fictional radio shows. Do those exist nowadays? How do I find the good ones? | Ask MetaFilter.

The Art of Manliness | Men’s Interests and Lifestyle. I like to peek at this site. Via Ask Metafilter.

Washington Outdoor Women. Summer camp for adults with classes like Situational Survival Skills and Starting a Hunting Dog. I so want to do this. Via Naomi Bishop on Twitter.

Pop Culture Happy Hour: The Lure Of The Open Road : NPR. The list of road movies they discuss in this episode are all great, and this is a reminder to myself to add all of them to my Netflix queue.

Make your own epic-scale water weenie! | Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories. Neato.

What should I read for laughs? I like to read books that are so funny that I laugh out loud. | Ask MetaFilter. Simon Rich! For books see also: Please help me find decently-written, really gripping books to read this summer in my hammock.

The PAX 10. Ten indie games chosen as the best of the year by industry experts.

Ar Vag, Portable Rowboat by Thibault Penven | As a person with a very small house but surrounded by water I would really, really like to be able to buy this. Via Swissmiss.

· comments [7] · 07-17-2012 · categories:links · misc ·

thing I like: Tea Tree Tingle conditioner from Trader Joe’s

Trader Joes Tea Tree Tingle shampoo, conditioner and body wash

Last year I started washing my wavy hair using a modified Curly Girl method*. In short: I avoid harsh shampoos that contain sulfates as well as conditioners that contain silicones, which can be too heavy for my hair type. I wash my hair with conditioner on a daily basis and only shampoo about once a week. It’s been remarkably great for my hair.

When I started researching appropriate shampoos and conditioners the Tea Tree Tingle line from Trader Joe’s was one that came recommended in the Naturally Curly forums. I have been using them ever since. Apparently they are made by a famous salon (I have no idea which) and are just as good as their pricey counterparts.

I had read about people not shampooing their hair for years but I have oily hair and didn’t pay much attention because I figured that wouldn’t be an option for me. It turns out that you can scrub your hair and scalp using conditioner, rather than shampoo, and get everything clean without drying out your hair because conditioners have enough surfectants in them to carry away oils and dirt. This technique has been especially great when I shower in the morning and work out in the afternoon and need to wash my hair again, my hair emerges clean and nice smelling and I don’t have to worry about it drying out. And, I have to admit, there is something very freeing about being able to pile my head full of stuff and massage away like I’m an Herbal Essences commercial. It’s so anti all the “use a very little shampoo and only at the roots of the hair and only a little conditioner but for the love of all that is holy only at the ends of your hair or dire consequences!!!1!” that I was taught in the 90s.

I do use a good amount of conditioner to work through my scalp and down to the ends of my (currently too long) hair so I buy half a dozen bottles at a time but at $4 each it works out to the same amount as a fancy product. Yay!

I’ve included the Tea Tree Tingle body wash in the photo above because it is really easy to confuse the bottle with the other two because, you know, Trader Joe’s is bustling and crowded and it can means you grab what you think is the thing and just want and get the hell outta there without noting that the transparent color of the top of the bottle is slightly less transparent than the bottle you meant to buy. I bought this bottle of body wash by mistake but I have to admit it’s made a great hand soap when diluted and put into a foaming hand soap bottle.

* (To read more about the Curly Girl method read this great wrap up by Laura Lee as well as this list of introductory articles and this recap of method and terms at the Naturally Curly forums.)

Do you have an curly/wavy hair tips? Any products that work great? Please do share, I can use the help!

· comments [39] · 07-16-2012 · categories:beauty · shopping ·

the state of booze in Washington

When Scott and I moved to Seattle and it’s rather spartan state run liquor stores we found ourselves telling our friends about this magical liquor store that California had. It was the size of a small grocery store, it was well lit and cheerful and sold food, glassware and everything you might need. It was called BevMo and we missed it. Earlier this year liquor sales laws in Washington state changed moving liquor into grocery stores and non-state run retail. So when BevMo invited me on a tour of their new stores in Washington state, Tacoma and Silverdale, I had to admit I was curious. This is what I learned.

We started with some side by side wine comparisons and I really enjoyed the picks by Paul Gregrutt. The Maison Bleue “Au Contraire” 2011 Chardonnay and Abeja Cabernet, both Washington wineries I’d never tried before, were the standouts for me.

This is something exciting and new, the Washington BevMo stores have growler filling stations. The current offerings are Mac & Jack’s African Amber, Georgetown Brewery’s Manny’s Pale Ale, Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA, Schooner Exact 3-Grid IPA, Widmer Raspberry Imperial Russian Stout, Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA, Harmon Brewing Expedition Amber and Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA.

The stores carry local favorites as well. I spied Cougar Gold cheese and Triple-X Root Beer on the shelves.

I was so happy to see Sun Liquor among the offerings. I love their gin. If you’re making martinis the Hedge Trimmer goes well with olives while the Gun Club deserves a twist. I highly recommend a visit to one of their locations, these people make some awfully nice cocktails.

And for those of us who like to be a bit fancy, they had all three kinds of Lillet and a wide selection of bitters. I have only recently tried Lillet and I was an instant convert. It’s true love folks.

John Ueding from Click Distributing introduced us to some his favorite Washington spirits. The Rose Geranium Liqueur from Bravo Spirits was enchanting. Also, the Woodinville Whiskey Company tasting rooms are only a bike ride away, a bike ride I will be taking very soon.

We ended with some beer tastings. I love a big hoppy beer and here are the ones that I fell for.

Silver City Brewery Saint Florian. Saint Florian is the Patron Saint of Firefighters and a portion of the profits go to a Washington State Council of Firefighters benevolent fund. This had a lively and big aroma.

Pike Brewing’s Space Needle Golden Anniversary 2012 Vintage IPA had a citrus aroma that left me sniffing my beer a bit more than might have been completely acceptable in polite company. Pike won a contest to brew this for the Seattle Space Needle’s 50th anniversary this year but I was told that the beer might stay around longer than just this year but if you find yourself near one grab it just in case.

Hale’s Aftermath Imperial IPA is a limited release that also had a huge hoppy aroma. The Hale’s brews seem to be evolving lately and even though I don’t live in the neighborhood anymore I think I’ll be traveling back for a visit. Just Beer has more notes on the beers we tried on the trip.

We came home on the Ferry while the sun was setting, so nice. Thanks to BevMo for a really nice day, I learned a bunch and found a few new favorite things.

· comments [22] · 07-12-2012 · categories:drink · seattle ·

links: technology

Cool Tools: LaCie iamaKey USB Drive. A key shaped USB drive that will fit nicely on your keychain, easy to keep track of. JavaScript with Thomas Fuchs » Flowchart: how to retinafy your website. Make your site retina display friendly. Via Swiss Miss.

I’m currently building a WordPress theme for a project and I’m feeling a little out of my depth. What is a good starting point for doing theme work? | Ask MetaFilter.

Technology – Howard Rheingold – What the WELL’s Rise and Fall Tell Us About Online Community – The Atlantic. It was a thriving online community in the ’80s, I didn’t know it went back that far. Via Waxy links.

· comments [1] · 07-10-2012 · categories:links · technology ·

links: craft

Design Crush » You Can Do It: Golden Glass Bottles.

DIY Um maxi colar de camiseta | SuperZiper. Turn a t-shirt into a big necklace. The instructions are in Spanish (big oops) Portuguese but the photos are so good you won’t need them.

Vintage Marquee DIY from Oh Happy Day. Some cardboard and spray paint and you’re all set, I like this a lot.

The Ravenna Girls » Blog Archive » Security Envelope Sparklers. So simple! So cute!

Once Upon a Pedestal: Flowers from Wafer Paper and Frosting Sheets. A familiar looking dahlia made from edible paper.

Pintester | Fucking up Pinterest pins so you don’t have to. This is a genius site, she tests out all the oh-so-easy looking things on Pinterest and tells us how it went. I particularly adore what she found out about the miracle mask.

diy project: mesh screen beach bag | Design*Sponge.

The Top 10 Resources for DIY + Craft Supplies at Stripes + Sequins. Via Dismount Creative.

· comments [9] · 07-9-2012 · categories:craft · links ·

links: travel

Serendipity at the Juniper Moon Fiber Farm blog. They found themselves at the E. Dehillerin restaurant supply house and it makes me want to plan a trip just to visit that shop.

Where to Eat (and Drink) Outside This Season – The Stranger. Outdoor dining for Seattle, I’ll keep this list close.

What can a guy do in Port Angeles, WA on an average summer day? | Ask MetaFilter. We’ve been trying to get out to bike the Discovery Bay Trail recommended here, and now I have a good restaurant to pair with the trip.

A Whole Lotta Nothing: My trip to Italy. Fantastic suggestions on resources.

What to See and Do in Seattle, Washington | Travel + Leisure.

A Sun of Thread: 84 Miles of String Suspended at MIA by HOT TEA | Colossal. I love that you are meant to lie down and look up at this.

· comments [3] · 07-6-2012 · categories:links · travel ·

Happy 4th of July!

long paper package of spaghetti

This, my friends, is a 3-foot long package of spaghetti. Because when I find something like that in a store I don’t leave it there. Our day will be spent with family and friends who are visiting and friends who are already here, I have limeaid and cheese toasts ready and waiting. But July 5th will be devoted to cooking up excessively long spaghetti. Because America is all about excess. Or something like that. Actually the spaghetti is very festive looking in a Big Looming Firework In Your Dining Room sort of way. I hope you have a great day and manage to stay cool!

· comments [17] · 07-4-2012 · categories:food · holidays ·

links: food

Dinner Tonight: Brussels Sprouts Salad à la (the Late) M. Wells | Serious Eats.

Nomiku: bring sous vide into your kitchen. by Lisa Q. Fetterman — Kickstarter. A Kickstarter campaign for a lightweight portable sous vide machine, nice! Via Serious Eats.

So This Exists: The BBQ Pulled Pork Cupcake at Bourbon Steak in Washington, DC | Serious Eats.

Why You Should Spiral-Cut Your Wiener – CHOW Tip. I love that this is both whimsical looking and very practical. (Video.) Via Swiss Miss.

Susan Spicer’s Pan-Roasted Chicken Breast with Vinegar, Mustard, and Tarragon | Serious Eats. This might replace a similar dish we make but that one includes cream and we never have that in the house.

This cherry’s got moves | Hogwash. A gluten, soy, egg and dairy-free cherry tart. It might not be vegetarian but, hot damn woman!, way to work your way around food allergies.

4th of July Foods! – Shutterbean. Fabulous round up of recipes to bring with you to your various gatherings.

· comments [4] · 07-3-2012 · categories:food · links ·