Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Hearty Harvest

Just a few photos from today's harvest...what a bounty!

The first picture (had to publish to see what order it'd post in - using the blogger app for the first time!) is of the crookneck squash plant I "flipped" upside down. It was growing pretty much on top of the zucchini so I tried (with marginal success) to re-route it. Since it has already been growing in the opposite direction, though, it looks a bit upside down. Thoughts? Am I going to kill it, making it grow this way? I also snipped a bunch of the leaves; they were so overgrown that the bottom ones and overlapping ones were getting mildewy/moldy (sprinkler heads underneath + not enough sunlight for moisture to escape I think). Thoughts on that, too?

The second pic is some super cool tomatoes. Love how they're growing all rainbow-y. Adorable.

Next up...the bounty (minus the 20 or so tomatoes we'd already eaten by the time I took this).

And lastly...what is this mystery plant? It showed up out of nowhere, amidst the parsley, and has shot up to be almost 6 feet tall now!

Having a garden: awesome.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Partysaurus Rex!

About five years ago, I had the pleasure of hosting Pixar animators Mark Walsh and Dylan Brown for an @Google talk (sadly, I cannot find the video online). They're nice guys, so we stayed in touch, and when I joined Pixar's team a year later, I was thrilled to get to hang with them at work.

Fast forward to 2012, several jobs (for me) later...and Mark is making his directorial debut. He's always been a fantastic animator, and you know, supervising animator, and tiki-room-office decorator, and I am so proud and excited for him and Partysaurus Rex. And PS - he just crossed over to the Twitter dark side.

Check out the sneak preview here, before catching it in theatres (before Finding Nemo 3D) on September 14!

Way to go, Mark. Thanks for giving me some insight into the animation world when I was at Pixar, and for taking me out when I got laid off. And for being a cool dude. Much love. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


I learned a couple of things tonight:
  1. If I decide to do something, I decide to do it. 
  2. Sometimes the "easier" method is not the best method. 
  3. Our house is kind of dark at night, and my quickie iPhone pictures aren't great.
Regarding number one, all I need is a little idea, a little inspiration, and I'm good to go. This afternoon, I mused to myself that it would be fun to finally hang art in the living room, even if it's only temporary art (who knows if we'll want to keep these old pictures up forever? what's forever, anyway, in terms of decor?). Will was going to work late, and I thought it would be a nice surprise for him when he came home. So hang I did! I hung five frames, actually. And I discovered a picture that I thought was missing (I seriously almost contacted family members to see if I had accidentally given it away). Win win win!

Check out that vintage French advertising!
So college!
But if I like 'em,  and Will doesn't mind, who cares, right?
Please ignore the fact that I didn't clean up.
That second lesson I learned tonight should be obvious, but I apparently sometimes need a reminder. See, I thought I had the brilliant idea to use these Command Picture Hanging Strips to hang my larger, long vertical frames. The frames that are currently filled with flower pictures, from my colorful-apartment, living-alone days. I was into flower pictures. Not that I don't love them now, but they're just not quite me/us anymore.

Anyway, I decided to hang them using hanging velcro strip things instead of nails, because one of them has lost its picture hanging wire, and the other's is kind of wonky, and there are no brackets or anything on these old frames from IKEA. I should have gone the fancier route, and either purchased more wire, or cemented a bracket onto the back, but I tried to go the lazy easy route. I didn't even wash the wall with alcohol beforehand, I ignored the fact that the strips weren't quite the right size, and I didn't do a great job of "pressing for 30 seconds and then waiting an hour before hanging". And one of the frames totally fell to the ground. 

Here's what they (briefly) looked like in all their glory:

Oh look, they frame the window nicely.
I actually don't LOOOVE them.
But it would have been nice if they had stayed up anyway.

At least it didn't fall before Will got home - he got to see it in all its glory and then hear it crash. The frame split into pieces, but miraculously the glass didn't totally shatter. A chunk broke off the corner, but I can't find it - no walking in that corner barefoot until I do! I immediately took its partner down, since now my faith in the 3M strips had been completely shattered (ok fine. not my faith in the strips. my faith in my ability to hang with these strips tonight.), just like the frame itself.

So now I'm left with two blank wall spaces again around the window. What do you think I should do with the space? Do you like the long, vertical frames? Should we go for more, smaller, eclectic frames instead, random-hodge podge style? Thoughts? Help? Encouragement?


We have a little bit of a suicidal sunflowers problem. I came home one day to what looked like a group harakari situation...

so sad.
I think that for some of them, the flower had started to grow too fast for the strength of the stalk, so they just toppled. One sunflower remains, and Will staked it today -- hopefully it doesn't die as well. As for the remaining flowers, I snipped them off so all that was left was a little stump. We'll see if anything grows back, or if they just shrivel up and die. Le sigh.

In happier news...

Anise Hyssop is looking beautiful!
The poppies are pretty pathetic, but that
anise hyssop has just shot straight up!

Beans! Beans! And nothing but beans!
(name that musical reference)
(admittedly, it's a bit of a reach)
Tomatoes! They're even bigger and more
orange now...this picture is a week old.
oops. shouldn't have admitted that.

And finally, it's kind of hard to see, but there is a brand new layer of grass/sod in our yard. I think the gardeners did it? Kind of random, since the rest of the yard doesn't have anything, but

The end.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Weekend Warrior: Lavender Water

My friend Emily and I met at BlogHer '11 in San Diego. We were both attendees of the "Birds of a Feather: Modern Marthas" session, and I'm pretty sure she was wearing a cute cardigan.

She's doing this Weekend Warriors link party thing on her blog right now, where she posts a weekly roundup of other bloggers' crafts and weekend projects, and it's inspired me to get off my butt a little and start getting stuff done. Luckily, the Weekend Warriors thing coincided with the end of our several months of weekend plans...I'm really looking forward to a few weeks of productive weekends!

I already posted about my diaper cake (though that was a few weeks ago), and since I spent much of this weekend recovering from the Disqus officewarming party on Friday night, I didn't get as much done this weekend as I wanted to. However, I did put away the camping gear, and I sorted the mail, got a car wash, did a bunch of laundry, watered the houseplants, unpacked from BlogHer and camping, took out the trash/recycling, organized my shoes (tres important!), made bolognese from scratch (this cookbook), and started a baby hat (which is actually about 2/3 done now).

And then I decided to make lavender water. Guess I'm a better Weekend Warrior than I thought.

Our Western-facing bedroom windows don't have screens, so we don't leave the windows open very often. The room tends to get a bit stuffy, and while I did have a chance to leave the windows open all day today, I've been thinking it would be nice to make a spray bottle of lavender water as a little all-natural air freshener. 

It was super simple -- I used a free 3 oz spray bottle (not even sure where it came from), 3 sprigs of lavender from the front yard, and water from the sink (was that information necessary?). The whole thing took about 30 seconds. Getting a decent photo for this blog post took much longer.
I highly recommend trying this easy-peasy solution to your stuffy room problems. Don't have a stuffy room problem? It also makes a lovely calming spray for your pillow/sheets before you go to bed, especially if it's hot outside. It's a nice perfume or "body mist" as well. If you don't like lavender, try using your favorite herb -- I bet basil or rosemary would be nice for the kitchen, and of course, lemon is always a winner. Just remember to change the water frequently so you don't get nasty mildewy plant water. Because ew.

I'm honestly shocked that it took me so long to do this. Like I said, super easy. And chemical free. And free free. Winning.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

How to make the cutest diaper cake ever!

Do you know my friend Dana? She is one of the craftiest people I know (see: here). So when I was called upon to help out with her baby shower a few weeks ago, I knew I had to bring my A game. Her family was planning the food and decor, and I handled the shower games (the old standard "taste the baby food" and "how many toilet paper squares go around her belly", and a "my first mad libs" book I wrote, about the baby having adventures with his big sister). 

And just for fun, I decided to throw in a little diaper cake. Because, well, come on. Any excuse to combine babies and crafting is fine by me. Having never made a diaper cake before, I decided to turn to Ye Olde Google for some tips, and Alphamom did not disappoint! Her instructions were clear (and hilarious), and she suggested using a bottle of champagne as the center instead of the traditional receiving blankets. This genius tip basically ensured that she would win the "whose instructions will I use to make this thing" award. Note: award may be fictional.

Anyway, on to the construction! Major props to my dear friend CC for helping out - I couldn't have done this alone (quite literally; there were times when four hands were absolutely necessary).

Step 1: Roll up approximately one billion tiny diapers (per Alphamom's suggestion, we used size 1 instead of newborn). I used Target brand, because Dana mostly registered for cloth and fancy organic diapers, and girlfriend, I love you, but I'm not going to spend that kind of money just on diapers for a diaper cake. Seriously, the amount of diapers this thing required (I think we ended up using about 90?) meant that I was going for the cheap ones. I figure they'll come in handy for "emergency" diapers, or "leave a few in the car" diapers. And I did google them on my iPhone at Target just to make sure they weren't, like, horrible or something.

Step 1, note: Since I had decided to go with a bubble bath theme, I was excited to see that the diapers kind of fit my design scheme (check out those "bubble"-like circles!). Not that anyone would see them once the thing was finished, but still. I love me a theme. Note that we even used green and blue rubber bands. And champagne with a blue label. Because like I said...theme.

Step 2: Stack yo diapers around and around, shoving extras in the middle for superior cushioning, and rubber band the whole damn thing together. If, like me, you didn't realize how big/stretchy your rubber bands would need to be, have your brilliant friend CC tie rubber bands together to make one huge one that will stretch over your base layer. Don't have a brilliant friend named CC? Too bad for you!

Step 3: Wonder why your diaper cake base layer has way more diapers than Alphamom's. Are my diapers smaller? Am I rolling them too tight? Did I buy a platter that was way too big? Is my champagne bottle too small? After doing far too much thinking (and even far-er too much comparative counting), decide it doesn't matter, actually. Moar diapers, FTW!

Step back and admire your handiwork.
It almost makes up for the amount of crap
on the floor in the background!
Step 4: Cover the base layer with tissue paper, and use another "magical CC rubber band creation" to hold it down. How did I get it to go over the bottle like that? I folded it and made some cuts, mostly how Alphamom suggested I do it. I think. Either way, it worked. All you do is fold your paper into a square and snip some snips into the center so that when you open it up, you have slices/a hole. Sort of like when you make paper snowflakes. Makes total sense, right?

Step 5: Cut off any excess tissue paper around the bottom, so you don't have paper hanging over the edges. If you cut too much, that's ok. You'll cover it with ribbon later.

Does having a picture make it easier to
imagine? I hope so.
Step 6: Remember what you did re: the diaper rolling and rubber banding, like, 10 minutes ago? Do it again! But make a smaller layer! Make sure to question the diameter of your circle way too many times! This is very important!

Those diapers are so darn cute with their
little dots, amirite?
Step 7: Cover your middle layer with tissue paper, the same way you did with the base layer. You'll cut even more excess paper off this one, and probably have to do more cutting later. Especially if you're like me and you didn't think to use smaller sheets of paper for smaller cake layers. Wastefulness!

Step 8: Do that whole roll-the-diapers, question-your-diameter, cover-with-paper thing again for the top layer.
Your cake should look like this!
Sort of wonky, totes fine.
I like to think of it as "topsy turvy".
That's a trendy cake thing, right?
Step 9: Decorate that shiz! I went for the bubble bath thing, because obviously, that is super adorable for a baby shower, and I was really going for that "omg that is soooo cuuuuuuute" reaction upon arrival at the shower. Duh.

Mission: Accomplished.
Step 10: Realize that it took you almost 3 hours to make the diaper cake, and that you totally don't even care, because it was so much fun to make. And because jeez, it's cute, right?

If you're comparing my cake to Alphamom's, you'll notice that she went the route of extra beautification through an additional ribbon layer (white, to be sort of the "fondant"). I skipped that, because I couldn't find the right white ribbon at Michael's, and also The blue and bubble ribbon was so damn cute on its own, I didn't want to mess with other ribbons. It's kind of hard to see, but the solid blue ribbon has little white stitches around the edges. Ugh. So cute. And that rubber ducky? Makes me want to die from cuteness overload. Especially with that bubble ribbon. Seriously, that bubble ribbon, you guys. I just about squealed in the ribbon aisle when I found that. 

So there you go! How to make the cutest diaper cake ever! Or just how to make a diaper cake. No, who am I kidding? Cutest ever!

Know anyone with a baby shower coming up? This is a super awesome way to contribute to the party, and give the parents some bonus gifts. Like champagne. For after the baby is born, duh. You don't even have to be super crafty...this is both fun and easy for the lazyish crafter. 

Have you ever made a diaper cake? Do you have any questions about anything I wrote?  Comment away, friends!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Oh, Hello There!

I have 11 (ELEVEN! ELEVEN!) posts in various stages of readiness. Actually, more like twenty, if you count the ones that are just in my head. Admittedly, most of them are in the "all I have is a title" stage, but still. Eleven posts in my brain, eleven posts ready to be written, eleven posts that will hopefully make up for the almost month-long absence of writing around here.

I could write a long explanation of why I've been gone, but really, you know. Life. Business. More life. Things come up and get in the way, and often, I make the choice to unwind by curling up on the couch with my husband, a big bowl of ice cream, and whatever's on our DVR (hi, Olympics).

That said...

In not writing for almost a month, my brain is brimming with ideas, and man, am I ready to spill. After this year's BlogHer conference, I am once again renewed with inspiration and the possibilities that are out there. I have lots of great quotes and things to share from the conference, and some personal news as well (no, I'm not pregnant).

But that's still to come.

In the meantime, sit tight. I'm expecting a lot of excitement over the next few weeks, and I can't wait to share it with you.