Sunday, November 16, 2014

YoCP: Frame and Hang Art

Technically, this was a July YoCP project. Technically, I'm still working my way through some of August, September, and October. Technically, it is actually November. But technically, as of July, YoCP is on hiatus (according to an email from our fearless leader, Jolie Kerr), so I don't feel quite so badly about being behind.

But YoCP was a promise I made to myself, if not a commitment to the greater Clean Person Community. And I created these projects with a purpose, and I do plan on completing them. Even if it takes me all year. Which it might, because there are only 6 weeks left in the year. Holy shit, did I just say that? Is that true? Jesus.

Ok. Back on track, here. One of my projects was "Frame Art. Hang Art." We have quite a bit of artwork, both personal mementos and arty posters, and since we're likely not moving any time soon, I figured we might as well take them from "big pile in the guest room" to "things that actually hang on the walls". Turns out, it wasn't as simple as I thought it would be. Many of the pieces were oddly-sized, requiring custom mats and very specific frames. Framing delays meant it took longer to assess the stash, and busy schedules meant delays in actual hanging. But as of a few weeks ago, all of our art is framed and hung (ok, there's one poster that I framed that's due to be hung in the guest room, but I haven't quite figured out where I want it to go, so it's leaning up against the wall, but I'm just not going to count that one, ok?).

In the bedroom, I finally have the art wall I'd been envisioning pretty much since we moved in. There's a little room for more artwork if we have it, but overall, I really like it. It's a collection of pictures from trips we've taken, or of special or meaningful things to us (like the "Going to the mountains is going home" John Muir quote print I found totally randomly, and then just happened to find the perfect frame for when I wasn't looking). It's really lovely to wake up and go to bed looking at things that make us happy.


Have you completed any projects lately? Are you still YoCP'ing? What's the most complicated framing job you've ever done?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Front of House

Although it wasn't on my YoCP list, I've been meaning to tackle the front porch for a while. Over the last few years, it had gathered dust, grime, and assorted detritus, and with festive gourd season upon us, I figured now was as good a time as any to clean. Holiday decorating is one of my favorite for cleaning, after all. I meant to post this before Halloween, so just travel back in time with me a bit, when porches needed to be cleaned off to support jack-o-lanterns and ghosts.

 You see, the railing of our porch was once white. It was relatively white when we moved in three years ago. But the grime had gotten a little out of control.

I'm a bit embarrassed to share this picture, but I think it's important to share just how bad it was. Not only so you can see the progress (I promise, it gets better!), but hopefully to ease any shame you have at the state of your front porches.

It's ok.

We are none of us perfect.

We clean.

We move on.

It may be worth noting that the splotchiness is a result of several lanterns that usually reside on this railing - the grime gathered under them a bit, but mostly around them. Not sure about the clean white patch in the middle. It's a mystery.



I started this cleaning project with one goal: get rid of that black grime so that it looks pretty. I figured I'd tackle it with a little Dr. Bronner's and water, and all would be well. NOT SO, MY FRIENDS. NOT SO.

I scrubbed with Dr. Bronner's and a scrub brush, and a sponge, and all my (limited) upper body strength, to no avail. I busted out the 409. And the Comet. I scrubbed and I rinsed for about two hours.

Still, I was left with something that looked like this. Not a huge improvement - irritating, even, given the amount of time and effort I'd put into this should've-been-easy project.

And then I bought some Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. The heavy-duty kind, made for outdoor furniture.



They were not as strong as the advertisements made them out to be, or maybe my grime was just that bad. I worked my way through about seven erasers, which split and tore and turned irreversibly black as I convinced myself that this. would. work. Because it had to. I'd sunk too much time into this already, and dammit, I wanted to decorate for Halloween!

However, after about an hour of scrubbing and cursing, I was left with something that almost resembled cleanliness. It's more gray than white, really, and there are slivers of black grime that I just couldn't get out, embedded into the grooves of the wood. But overall, it's progress. And it was enough to make me consider the project a success.

I mean, look at those before-and-afters, eh? I later learned (upon bleaching a spot where a potentially-rabid-maybe squirrel had destroyed one of our pumpkins) that (oh yeah, duh) bleach is a *really* easy way to whiten things. Probably could've saved a lot of time by starting with bleach. Ah well.



I felt good enough to put the lanterns back out, and add some gourds (and a flying ghost) to the mix.

I later removed those hanging lanterns (which have been so destroyed by wind and rain that they were just a ragged mess), replacing them with a small metal hanging lantern (thanks, IKEA). I took the extra metal table and moved it to the yard, next to the BBQ, for extra "counter" space.

It's still a little dirty out there - it could use a good scrub, and would probably benefit from regular sweeping, but at the end of the day, it's a porch. A porch on a house we rent.

We do our best to keep it in good shape, but it will never be magazine-perfect, because we do not live in a magazine.

It's ok. We are none of us perfect.
We clean. We move on.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Unplugged

I've taken to giving myself little "unplug" challenges lately. It feels silly. They're small. It's things like, "Get to the end of the next block without checking your phone." "Don't check Twitter for an hour." "No email until you've gotten out of bed and brushed your teeth." I usually fail. Or if I succeed, it's very difficult.

In the past, I've made "disconnecting" a New Year's Resolution and a Goal and an Intention, and it's just really fucking hard. It's embarrassing how hard it is. It feels silly to even want to disconnect sometimes. Isn't this the future? Isn't there something magical about connecting to strangers and friends on the internet? Having the world at your fingertips?

I work in tech. I'm active on social media. I love the internet. I'm around technology, "connecting" (and yes, sometimes Actually Connecting) to people all the time. It's amazing how much of my day is spent staring at a glowing screen, my fingers micro-moving across whatever keyboard I'm on. Pushing the pain of what's probably some sort of RSI or carpal tunnel or worse out of my head to just scroll a little farther, read one more article, type one more reply. Ignoring the actual world in front of me so I can connect to the world that's far away.

This weekend, I'm challenging myself (again) to a No Internet Saturday Morning and Afternoon. (NISMAA?) I'd love to say No Internet Saturday, but I know that's just setting myself up for failure. Last weekend, I said No Internet Saturday, and I was on my phone before I even got out of bed. So this time, I'm claiming the morning and afternoon as an internet-free zone. I can catch up with the world in the evening. But the morning and afternoon will be spent without the phone, social networks, and email that clutter my mind and tighten my fingers. Less multitasking, zero open tabs to flip through.

But how will I fill my time? Well, I'll be getting a flu shot, gardening, and purging my closet. Taking things to Goodwill, doing laundry, and unpacking the Target purchases from last weekend. Decorating the house for Halloween. Baking. There's so much I could be doing, it's no wonder I don't get anything done while I'm so distracted by technology. I'm looking forward to some forced dedicated time away from the screens, to make some progress on projects and goals I've been meaning to get to, and to move my body and mind in a way that doesn't involve typing, staring, or scanning.

How about you? Have you ever done a "technology sabbath" or an "unplugged challenge"? Do you think I'll make to 8pm without the internet?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Break

You may have noticed that I haven't posted anything in over a month. Or maybe you didn't, in which case, never mind, nothing happened, nothing to see here.

"Things have been busy" is always an excuse, and never a particularly good one, when it comes to holding myself accountable, I know. But you see, this last month was *especially* busy. I spent the last year and a half planning a hugely massive wedding (not mine, that was nearly three years ago), which took place about a week ago. We had a wonderful houseguest. I got promoted at work. And like I said, the wedding was a week ago. So the last month was a whirlwind of everything coming to a head all at once, and between that and my day job, and my side business, and, well, life...the blog took a little hiatus.

But I'm back, and I have a bunch of photos on my phone just waiting to be shared. Photos of harvests and house projects and pickles and weddings and #YoCP progress. Plus, it's just about that time of year for turning the front lawn into a haunted cemetery, and I've been clearing room inside in preparation for holiday decorating. The weather's turning colder (sort of; this is California, after all) and I'm feeling very nest-y and ready for holiday crafting. Now that I have time to document and share (not to mention time to actually enjoy the bits of spare time in my evenings), I'm excited to take on new things and share them here again.

In the meantime, please accept this slightly blurry, mid-September harvest photo, featuring three very gnarly white carrots. It was a very busy blog break, but I'm glad to be back in action. Talk to you soon :)


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Three Weeks of Harvests

I don't have much to say about this garden update, but I felt like sharing some photos.

Two weeks ago:

Teensy thinned carrots, radishes, padrons, lemon cucumbers,
jalapenos, tomatoes, and lots and lots of beans.
(beans being pickled in the jar in the back)
I felt like taking a pretty, artsy-like shot.
One week ago:

Tomatoes, padrons, and a lemon cucumber.
The padrons are currently being pickled with the jalapenos
from the week before. They smell awesome.
Today:

Padrons, tomatoes, lemon cucumber, radishes, a funky
little carrot, and assorted beans.

The harvest doesn't vary much from week to week, but it's amazing to me how much we're picking - the sheer volume is the main reason I feel the need to document every time we harvest. Compared to our city-dwelling friends, we're not exactly doing "small space gardening" with our luxurious ~50 square feet, but compared to our home-owning-friends, we're squeezing a lot into a small space. It's crazy how much comes out of our little corner of the yard! 

How's your garden? Do you garden in the yard? On a balcony or fire escape? On your kitchen counter? Share photos and story in the comments!

Thinning

A few weeks ago, it was time for a little carrot thinning in the garden. This is our first time growing carrots, and the concept that you have to thin them out (and more than once!) was new to me. We thinned them at the beginning, but as they've grown, we've had to continue thinning to make room for the remaining ones to grow. Turns out, carrots need room to grow underground and if they're not thinned, they don't grow.

Before thinning: it's just a big bushy carrot top forest!
I forgot to take a picture afterwards, but it didn't actually look that different, despite removing nearly half the carrot tops. And since we were in the garden, we decided to do a little more harvesting.

Parsley, basil, assorted tomatoes, radishes,
padrons, assorted beans, and lemon cucumbers
Rainbow chard and red russian kale
Radishes and carrot tops
We tried to use the carrot tops for a pesto, but it turns out that they're a bit too fibrous...it was a straight-to-the-compost-pile concoction. Luckily, we'd made parsley and basil pesto first, and already had way more than we needed for our pesto pasta dinner. And some of the carrot tops had little teeny carrots attached - sometimes when you thin carrots, what comes out of the ground isn't really edible. But this stage of thinning produced some adorably tiny little guys!

Salad featuring the tiniest carrots known to man, as well as
radishes, lemon cucumbers, tomatoes and chard from our
garden. And yes, that's a glass of Westvleteren 12.
More garden updates to come!


Monday, August 11, 2014

ICYMI: Blogged at Disqus

In case you missed it, here's a link to my blog post on the Disqus blog about finding community at the BlogHer conference this year. Community is incredibly important to me, and working at Disqus is invigorating...working for a company that builds products to make better online communities and a better internet? Hell yeah. Working to make our company a great community of its own? Hell yeah. Connecting in real life (IRL) to communities I'm a part of online? Hell yeah.

<3

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Bloggiest

Well. BlogHer 2014. Ahem, I mean #blogher14. It has come and gone, and I'm still thinking about it. In fact, I have so many thoughts, and pretty much all of the feelings, that I'm having a really hard time writing about it. There were so many fucking fantastic women, all in one place, having conversations that were funny and irreverent and horrifying and heartbreaking and inspirational and well you can see why all the feels.

Because I'm still processing, and because I've already written one serious post (which is far more than I usually write), and one silly post, I guess this one is somewhere in between. So...here's Day 2 and 3 of BlogHer 2014, mostly in pictures. But with a little actual content at the end.


TwistedShotz. These are shots. Sorry, I mean shotz.
They are sugary sweet and three of them in quick succession will give you a nice little buzz.


Helen and I did the Yoplait Greek #tasteoff challenge, where you do a blind taste test of both Chobani and Yoplait Greek yogurt and see which you like better. I eat Chobani quite often at work (when we're out of Fage - so spoiled), and also I'm pretty sure I was solely responsible for Yoplait's success in the 90's, so it wasn't hard for me to tell the difference. I prefer a more sour Greek yogurt, so I chose the Cho. Helen preferred Yoplait, and also didn't know which was which, so I consider myself an extremely talented yogurt connoisseur. I wonder if there are awards for this.


Helen, educating me on the Kardashian game. It looks incredibly stupid, like it might actually kill your brain cells, and I cannot download it for fear of getting sucked in. Those Kardashians are good. They know what they're doing. They will rule us all.


We rocked out at the tiggly booth. I'm pretty sure that tiggly is one of those products that's made for kids but the parents secretly play with it once the kid goes to bed. Maybe if they're intoxicated, but also maybe sober.


Thanks to Bridgestone Tires for the Disqus-colored manicures!


Obligatory swag haul photo. This year, despite driving to the conference and therefore having nearly unlimited ability to Take All The Things, I tried really hard to only take things I would actually use.
Highlights include Monopoly, Trouble, Ziploc Gallon Size Freezer Bags, convertible coaster/trivets, a sturdy tote bag, a hell of a lot of Bona floor wipes, full size Pledge and Pledge for your floors, and a bunch of Efferdent (for Will's hockey mouthguard) and twenty four double size rolls of Angel Soft holyshit. (I know -- exciting!)
I had fun teaching Helen the "show up in the last 20 minutes of the expo and score big" game :)


Two hungry girls and their cheeseburghers at the closing night party.


Rocking out in the daylight to 80's-90s jams with DJ Run. As in Rev Run. As in Run DMC.
Yup.


I was going to say that the dance party really got wild once it got dark out, but this group of ladybloggers was going wild in the daylight too. It did feel less awkward after dark.
The Rev said such things as, "I swear to God I'm here to have fun!" and "I haven't smiled this much in a very long time." and "WHERE MY LADIES AT?!" (um, right here in front of you, Rev, maybe get those eyes checked out), which was pretty super fun. He was smiling a lot. I think he had a good time with us. Thanks, Rev.


We certainly had a good time.


Really sweet string lighting and a whole lot of dancing women. It was a nicely decorated party, and I can appreciate that.


Those burgers and fries taste so damn good late at night after a few beers. Jury's still out on Gogurt.


Oh, and then this happened:


WHAT.


On our way to brunch on Sunday, we passed the parking lot where a mere 10 hours before, we had been eating junk food and jumping up and down to songs we danced to in middle school. 
Quite a transformation.


Post-BlogHer brunch requires three drinks.


I'll be honest: after Chicago's somewhat lackluster performance, I wasn't entirely looking forward to this year's conference. Chicago felt too big, too empty. I was worried that the BlogHer conference had jumped the shark. Oh, how wrong I was. This year felt lovely. It was cozy and warm and full of energy. The 10x10 speakers were (for the most part) wonderfully articulate, inspirational and thoughtful (yeah, maybe don't watch this one at work). The Voices of the Year almost all made me cry (just found this recap of quotes featuring moi - fun!). The mainstage keynotes were fucking fantastic. The food was pretty good too. 

I met some rad ladies I'd only met on the internet before this weekend (hi, Ginger Warrior! whaddup, FireMom?). I hugged women I haven't seen since last year (oh hey there, Tabatha). I sat next to Elise Bauer at lunch. I decided that I really want to talk to Kara Swisher in person and make her be my mentor, and I still regret that I wasn't able to hug The Bloggess and thank her for that post about HR. I met some brand reps that were really cool, and who I hope remember me when I finally email them several weeks after the conference. I basically accosted BlogHer co-founder Jori Des Jardins for the second time in four years, to thank her for starting this thing (sorry, Jori). I basically lived in #BlogHer14 for three days. And I went to a party that I'm not allowed to talk about.

One drunk night I started typing this blog post. I wrote, "blogher is nothing if not a place to encourage yourself to put yourself out there." And I think that's what this whole BlogHer thing is all about, really. 

If we met in San Jose this year, thanks for taking the initiative to follow through on our "Oh, I'll check out your blog! Here's my card, too!" interaction. I really did like your dress, and I really do hope I'll see you on the internet (like when I finally get it together to go through the biz cards and visit all of your blogs). It was really fun to meet you. I mean it.