Friday, September 4, 2015

Just Your Average Wednesday Night

While driving home from the mountains last weekend, we stopped at a fruit stand for some fresh strawberries. We bought an entire flat, because it was only $10, and I had a small desire to bake a pie (thinking about Waitress, lately, I guess). I had a bag of frozen rhubarb left over from last summer, when a neighbor mentioned she'd picked far more than she could eat, and had sliced and bagged it already. And it was exactly the right amount for Smitten Kitchen's Strawberry Rhubarb Pie recipe (that I'd made once before). And my dear friend Sonja is into baking pie. And Will is into eating pie. So pie time it was!

Sonja rolls out the top crust
It's missing something...

Ah yes, egg wash and a healthy dose of
cinnamon and sugar!


But because I'd picked so many beautiful tomatoes, I also wanted to make tomato sauce.

This is only a small sampling -- I had about 10 San Marzanos
all in all, I think? We added one very ripe Brandywine as well.
Our lovely upstairs neighbor offered to bring over dinner, so we didn't *need* it, but the tomatoes just looked so peak-sauce-readiness that I couldn't resist. Now it's in the freezer.

So I made tomato sauce and pie. And all was well in the world. Homesteading-ish is fun.

Are you growing anything at home? Have you been cooking lately? Do you ever surprise yourself with sudden industriousness and food-based inspiration? Is it just me, or is the End of Summer Ennui giving way to the Beginging of Fall Nesting Happiness?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Backyard Gardening 2015

Our garden has been sort of out of control awesome this year. I don't even know if it's more awesome than previous years, but I feel like every time I go out there, there's a bounty. And I photograph the bounty, because that's what I do, but then I don't take the time to upload and write about it. And the longer I wait, the more overwhelming the process of documenting and sharing our garden's progress seems.

But Summer is almost gone. While tomato season seems to just be hitting its stride (California's in a drought, you know, so we haven't been watering as much as in the past - plus we had a strange cool weather streak in early Summer), the beans are starting to waver, and the sugar snap peas are completely dead and gone. The lettuce is fading, but the squash is still hanging in there, and the chard is (maybe?) coming back for another round. The peppers are doing their pepper thing and we can hardly eat them fast enough. Carrots are popping out in groups of 4-6, which is just the right amount for a large salad, and we're about ready for a second harvest of small beets. The fennel is...well, I'm not sure if it'll ever be ready. Patience!

In lieu of a weekly garden update, I've been compiling all of our photos in to this lovely little photo album. It will continue to update as I add photos, but for now, enjoy this epic slideshow of garden goodness.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

It Is It

Who needs Rice a Roni? The only San Francisco Treat I care about is the It's It. Cookies and ice cream, all covered in chocolate, frozen to perfection. I've tried the It's It several times before (I mean, Google had freezers filled with them and I just about lost my mind my first week working there!) but I couldn't turn down the opportunity to try some new flavors when the kind folks at It's It asked if they could send me some.

Glorious It's It magic
(this is one of their promo shots; I did not take it)
My coworkers gobbled most of them up before I could snag one (I was out of town the day they were delivered), but they saved me a Pumpkin-flavored one, and holy cow! Deliciously creamy, it was pumpkiny without being overwhelming, and the oatmeal spice cookies really balanced the pumpkin nicely. Definitely going to add this one to the rotation, especially for Fall! Mint might still be my all-time favorite, but I need to try the chocolate one of these days...and perhaps the cappuccino too :)

Super tasty, even though it was a little squished.
Most delicious eaten with a spoon.

Do you get It's It where you live (PS they deliver)? Has anyone seen them outside of SF? What kinds of ice cream treats do you treat yourself to?

While I did receive free ice cream sandwiches for myself and my team, I received no other compensation for this post and was not asked to write anything specificc. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Out and About at BlogHer

I had an amazing week in NYC, despite going through nearly an entire box of tissues (thanks, cold that decided to hit me two days before I left the Bay Area!) :)
My coworker Helen and I flew out on Tuesday afternoon to attend an HR summit put on by one of Disqus' investors. We had some really awesome conversations with fellow HR pros, and talked shop about extended leave policies and career development in small companies and the ups and downs of managing culture and morale in changing startup environments...super interesting, engaging discussions (which are basically my soul food). That was a whiz-bang super start to what would prove to be a jam-packed week of awesome!

Rather than trying to write beautiful prose about the incredibly fun things I did while in NYC, I'm going to list them out. Because damn. I packed a lot in. No wonder this is the city that never sleeps. And now, presenting...a lot of photos of things I did while in New York.

Nothing says summer in NYC (to me) like a
late night stroll with a soft serve cone.
And sneaking into the Rockefeller building.
There was dinner at Butter (I'm a big Alex Guarnaschelli fan).
Tuna tartare with shaved radish, cucumber balls, and a
nasturtium sauce.
There was Fun Home, which moved me to tears. There was lunch with Jolie. There was a screening of Ant Man, at which Paul Rudd made a guest appearance (and I nearly swooned).
He was utterly charming and adorable, even from as far
back as I was sitting.
There was a late night standup show in Greenwich Village, featuring some new comics and some great comics (including Jon Rineman, who writes for Fallon and was super funny).
We sat right up front. Fun place to be, but
didn't get teased as much as I thought we
There were multiple keynotes and sessions at BlogHer that gave me crazy inspiration (Soledad O'Brien totally made me cry, surprising no one), including this one featuring a few Girl Scouts. It reinforced my belief in the power of communities for women. I only made it through Brownies, but if I ever have a daughter, I'm signing her up!
I didn't realize how many Girl Scouts and Girl Scout alumns
there are in the US (more than 59 million American women)!
There was an awesome session on being true to yourself when developing your personal brand, featuring my buddy Irvin.
You do you.
Find your niche, identify what makes you who you are,
and run with that.
And then there was Wild Party, a show who's music I've loved since college. Oh, and Sutton Foster played Queenie. So there was that. More tears.
Seated up in the balcony, but the view was just fine :)
There was breakfast with college buddies, and a really interesting session about "when you're 'too much' for your audience" -- my takeaway? You have to be true to yourself and your voice. If an advertiser wants to pull out unless you change your voice, that's a decision you have to make. I sometimes struggle with saying things the way I might think them because I know my audience ranges from friends to family to coworkers...but you know what? You don't have to write everything you think, the way you think it. Endrant.

Anyway, after the midday sessioning, there was Something Rotten (after running around the blocked-off Times Square), featuring a former classmate of mine. And more tears.
And it was a damn good show.
Aleks is a singing, dancing superstar.
And then there was cheesecake. And then there was the closing night party, featuring Boys II Men (who sang the hits and tossed roses into the crowd) and a DJ and Nick Cannon (who I did not stick around for). And my annual McDonald's food fest.
Chowing down with the ladies, sending Lyz texts.
Because that's what friends do.
There were minions, and I freaked out a little bit, but Helen is a big brave girl.
I just really, really don't like mascots/people in costumes
where I can't see their actual faces.
We left the party around 9:30 or so, because I was like, "My ear hurts. I don't know why. I am a party pooper, I swear something is wrong with my ear." Turns out I had an ear infection. Oops.

And, as is the case most of the time I travel, I didn't wear half of the things I brought with me.
These are all the clothes I DIDN'T wear.
Only two of them are things I purchased
while in NYC.
I am an over-packer.

It was quite a whirlwind of craziness, but craziness of the best sort. I'll write a whole separate blog post about the swag and the vendors and all that madness later :)

Did you do anything awesome while you were in town for BlogHer? Did you get out and see the city, or did you hole up in the A/C of the Hilton?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Ye Olde BlogHer15 Recap

BlogHer 2015 has come and gone and once again worked its magic on my heart. There are lots of reasons to look forward to BlogHer conferences: the sessions, the keynotes, the parties, the travel, the brand's all tons of fun. But the thing that keeps me coming back is the people. This is one sensational community - it's hard to describe the magic of BlogHer.

Something I read in a fellow attendee's recap post really sums up the experience for me: "You meet up with people you know or you sit down next to people you never met before, and you immediately find yourself in a supportive environment. It is immediately collaborative."

I think that's what it's all about. Yes, there are niche communities within the larger group, but no matter what kind of blogger you are, people will talk to you with genuine curiosity and enthusiasm. If you put yourself out there, you will find your people, and you will make connections with people you thought you had nothing in common with. It's such a warm, welcoming group, all with a shared interest in expressing themselves through writing. There's a bit of an air of summer camp about it all. We're all at one big slumber party where the campers want to support and encourage each other.

I'm not a professional blogger. I write only for myself, in my spare time, when I feel inspired to share. But I am a community junkie. I love people, and finding my people, and talking to the people who want to talk about the things I love talking about. Heck, that's why love working at Disqus (my day job is running HR and Operations). But BlogHer is not just for professionals - BlogHer is for anyone. Through BlogHer, I've met other part-time bloggers like me. I've met women who've completely changed the course of their lives through their writing. I've met women who juggle more than I do, who are braver than I am, who are strong and kind and intelligent and creative, and who are building empires -- or who are just carving away precious minutes in their busy lives to devote to something they love. It's a community that is as diverse as it is unified. And I love being a part of it. I always leave feeling inspired, not just to write, but to be a better human.

Yes, there are opportunities to meet interesting brands and load up on swag (is it just me, or was this year's theme "toothpaste"?). And this year, there were more adorably tiny desserts than I could eat (and I can eat dessert!). And since the conference was in NYC, I got to indulge my theatre geekery and see a bunch of shows (and college friends). More on all that later.

For now, I'm kicking back in my seat on my flight home, still a little bit high on all the love I felt over the last few days. It was a joy and a pleasure to meet you. If you're someone I met in a session, in the expo hall, or on the dance floor, please say hi and leave a link to your blog in the comments! I'd love to check out your recap and whatever else you're writing these days!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Preparedness and Posturing

I'm much more aware of what I post on my blog in the months, weeks, days leading up to (and during) BlogHer. I know I'll have new readers, some of whom will stick around and some of whom will take one look and run the other way. I know there will be more eyes on my blog than usual, and I start to worry how it will be viewed - will people notice that I ramped up my publishing schedule a few months before the conference? Should I prep a bunch of stuff to be posted while I'm at the conference, so there's always something new for my new readers to digest? Will they realize this is what happens every year, as I get excited about the conference and become reinvigorated about blogging? Will they care?

Likely not.

BlogHer, for me, is an opportunity to find my community in person. I've written about it before, and I'm sure I will write much more from New York later this week. But for now, I'm going to try to stop thinking about what others will think when I finally get around to posting the four or five things that have been milling around my head...even if I post them all at once, and the day before the conference. Or even if I don't post them until weeks after, once I've uploaded the photos and figured out what I want to say.

Because I'm not a professional blogger, my blog is my own space. It is what I make it, and it changes. And that's ok. And if you're a new reader, starting to keep tabs on the new faces you're about to meet, or have recently met, hi. I don't mind if you don't post regularly either :)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Aunt Gussie's Chocolate Cake

This weekend was my husband's birthday, and because he'd already had his favorite cake (we visited his parents the week prior, and his mom made it), I decided to try my hand at an old family recipe from my side. This recipe comes to us by way of a photo-text message from my mom - a recipe card, in my grandma's handwriting. I never knew my Great-Great Aunt Gussie, but it felt special to make this recipe that was hers, that my family has made for generations.
I used butter instead of shortening, because I don't tend to
buy shortening, and my mom said it was ok.
Thanks, ma!
I just realized that I forgot the baking soda. That could explain why the cake didn't rise very much. I just thought that was the style. And DAMN, I had bragged about how I followed the recipe exactly, to the T (I usually improvise)! Le sigh. I did get compliments on how dense, but not too rich, the cake was, so I guess people liked it anyway. Now I have to make it again to do it right!

A little hard to read, but it says 1 pt whipping cream, and 4
heaping tbsp cocoa.
I'd never used whipped cream as frosting before, but it was dang good! I love making whipped cream. Never buy the canned stuff anymore, because it's just too easy and delicious to make it the real way!

The final cake. Got a little sloppier on the
frosting than I'd have liked to (the parchment
paper slipped) but nobody seemed to notice. 
One tiny piece left. Perfect for breakfast cake!

This was a stupendous cake - spicy from the brown sugar, tangy from the buttermilk. The frosting is elegant and light, complementing the cake beautifully. I may make it again this weekend.