The Valentine I made for my husband turned out so well this year I thought I'd share it here. We're a pretty geeky couple so I wanted a way to capture that in a card. I thought through all the TV shows, movies, comics, and books we've enjoyed together and brainstormed a list of heroes and their leading ladies to represent them. Fandoms referenced:
We also like the BBC's Sherlock, so I chose a damask print paper as a nod to Sherlock's wallpaper. And one more geeky note - there are 12 couples listed (like a dozen roses!). I made the Doctor Who reference the 10th couple, since it was the 10th Doctor that fell in love with Rose. Awww....
I created the card from my digital scrapbooking stash - the "Book of Me" kit was a blog train freebie from the Half-Baked Girls design team of BrownieScraps in 2009. That digi store appears to now be defunct. The Book of Me, however, is still available. ;)
So if you were to create a geeky fandom Valentine, which couples would you include? I hope this gives you some ideas!
I recently posted on Facebook that I had planned my dinner menu through December 29th (about 3 weeks of dinners, at the time), and several friends asked me how I did it. So I thought I'd write up a blog post on the subject.
My menu planning starts with Google Calendar. Everyone in my family has their own calendar and we sync them all up, so I can see my husband's, my daughter's, and my own calendar all at the same time. At the beginning of the month I print out that month's calendar, with everyone's events listed.
Every Saturday I get up, have a little coffee and breakfast, then sit down with the calendar. I plan a week at a time, from Sunday to Saturday (though as I mentioned, earlier this month I just happened to be on a roll and planned for 3 weeks, to get us through the holidays). I look at the week ahead to see everyone's plans (and also verify nothing has changed since I printed it out by looking up the current calendar on my phone), to get an idea of when we will be home for dinner, how many people, and if we need to eat dinner quickly to get to some event or activity.
For example, here's a typical week:
Once I have the week's menu, I'll make the grocery list. I use an amazing app called Our Groceries. Seriously. This app has changed my life. It makes making the list a breeze, as it remembers previous entries, so it's like a master list. I made a separate "list" for each aisle in my local grocery store, so I can whip through the store and not have to backtrack (not too much, anyway - I always forget something!)
To make the list, I go through each evening's dinner and make sure I have all the ingredients. If I don't, I add them to the grocery list. Then I'll make sure I add elements of lunches for the week (deli turkey, sandwich bread, fruit, something sweet). Then I'll inventory our soda selection, and add any that are low. Finally I'll ask my daughter and husband if there's anything they need, usually some drug store item like shampoo or shaving cream. Or my husband will tell me he's running low on hot cocoa that he puts in his coffee every morning, so I'll make sure I have all the ingredients to whip up another batch. (I use my grandmother's recipe for cocoa mix) Oh, and I'll also check our prescriptions and see if any are running low and need a refill (since we fill them at our grocery store).
Oh and I should also mention another menu planning resource - EMeals. I subscribed to the low-fat plan for probably 8 months, and was very pleased. While I didn't use every meal they suggested, it definitely gave me some solid ideas, and I got some great keeper recipes. Then after 8 months of weekly menus, I figured I probably had enough ideas to last me a while, so I unsubscribed. But I definitely recommend it - totally worth the $5 a month (if you sign up for 12 months). Be sure to check out all their sample menus for a taste!
OK I think that about sums it up. Let me know if you have any questions.
My son just shared this with me: @TNG_S8. They post "plots from the unaired 8th season of Star Trek: The Next Generation." I love all the trouble that Geordi & Data get into.
Just got this interesting press release - anyone given it a try? Interesting that they don't mention scrapbooking or paper-crafting specifically - wonder if they mean for it to go under "mixed media"?
F+W MEDIA INTRODUCES CRAFTDAILY.COM, THE NETFLIX FOR CRAFTERS
Monthly Subscriptions Offer Over 100 Hours of High-Quality Video Taught by Renowned Instructors
NEW YORK, NY (June 20, 2013) – Interweave, an imprint of F+W Media, Inc., the nation’s number one craft media company, enriches crafters worldwide with the launch of a new website, CraftDaily.com. An experience unlike any before, the subscription video website features over 100-hours of full-length, high-quality, fully-vetted instructional videos taught by renowned instructors including:
CraftDaily.com connects artists with the best instructors in the craft world. “We know how valuable the hands-on learning experience is, and our engaged editors, devoted instructors, and passionate crafters are excited to offer deeper content in an online educational format,” says Chad Phelps, Chief Digital Officer of F+W Media. “We have selected leaders in their specialties—already on staff—to teach viewers how to create hand-made products and how to perfect their techniques.”
Full-monthly access to CraftDaily.com is less than the cost of a single course elsewhere. Access to the site is available through a tiered-subscription program, starting as low as $11.99 a month. The only requirement to membership is an Internet connection. Subscription options range from full site access to more specialized access to specific content.
Exclusive, new content is uploaded regularly. There are currently over 125 - and growing - commercial-free, full-length, original instructional video workshops, from beginning to advanced levels, across popular craft categories including sewing, crochet, quilting, knitting, beading, jewelry-making, mixed media, spinning, and weaving. All content can be viewed on Macs, PCs, iOS and Android devices at any time, and as often as one likes.
CraftDaily.com is operated by F+W Media, Inc.—parent company of Interweave, publishers of hundreds of crafting DVDs, books and magazines such as Quilting Arts, Interweave Crochet, Interweave Knits, Knitscene, Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, Piecework, Stitch, Cloth Paper Scissors, Spin-off, Knitting Traditions, and many more.
Interweave is one of the nation’s most respected arts and craft media entities, with businesses in magazine and book publishing, online media, television and video programming, directories, and events. Visit us online at www.interweave.com.
About F+W Media Inc.
F+W Media is a community-focused, content creator and marketer of products and services for enthusiasts. The Company offers a diversified and deep portfolio of books, ebooks, magazines, industry-leading events, more than 20 highly-curated ecommerce stores, extensive online educational programming, DVD and video instruction, television programs, and more. In the craft and sewing space, the Company’s leading brands include Interweave Press and The Martha Pullen Company. Visit us online at www.fwmedia.com.
Tomorrow is Father's Day, so I'm reacquainting myself with how to make aebleskivers (also sometimes spelled abelskivvers or ebelskivers), a Danish puff pancake. We've been making them for a special Father's Day breakfast for several years now - we invite both our dads over and have a 3-dad breakfast. But because I only make them once a year, I always have to look up a video on how to make them.
The video below is by aebleskiverarne, so I figure he knows what he's doing. The finished product looks right, so that works for me.
If you're at all familiar with the online crafting community, you've probably heard of Diane Gilleland (aka SisterDiane). She is the creator/founder/editor of a veritable treasure trove of informative and inspiring stuff, like her CraftyPod podcast, her blog, and her online classes & ebooks. I took her Crafty Ebook class earlier this year, so when she asked me to review the ebook version, I was happy to do so.
Write, Publish & Sell Your Crafty Ebook is exactly what it sounds like - an in-depth tutorial on compiling, formatting, and marketing an ebook especially for the craft market. The book is divided into four chapters, each diving into the specific aspects needed to bring an ebook to market.
Diane draws upon her years of experience in the online crafting community to offer a tutorial that's rich in detail and resources. It's full of crafty links and examples that will not only help educate you; it will also help inspire you to produce an equally professional product. The book is visually engaging with gorgeous photos and images, and moves through a buttload of information at a good pace. This is a reference book that you will turn to again and again.
You'll find this book is valuable whether you're a techie newbie or have already published an ebook or two. I have a couple of ebooks available (Launch Your New Scrapbooking Product and Build Buzz with a Virtual Book Tour), and I learned a lot about different software to use for layout design, and particularly found the marketing section helpful, since it is geared toward a crafty audience. She also goes into considerations on ISBN's, pricing, file hosting, and digital copyright issues that I hadn't considered.
The one thing I wish she had covered more was making ebooks interactive - she didn't really cover how to include links, either navigating to content within the ebook or linking to outside web resources. I understand that creating links really depends on the software you use, whether Adobe Acrobat or Pages, or whatever, so it's hard to address that issue when people are using different software. But that was something I was specifically looking for in the content, and didn't get.
As far as I can tell, this is the same content she offers in her online course. The only thing different is the group interaction. In the online course, there is a group message board and several real-time chats. I really enjoyed the interaction, getting to know other crafters and learning about their intended crafty ebooks. It was actually during this class that I met Shayne Rioux, editor of GeekCrafts, and we struck up a conversation that led to me writing for the GC blog, which led to my fourth book deal! Crafty connections abound in the class! I also found it very helpful to have Diane available for questions that came up as I was going through the class material. Diane doesn't offer the class all the time, so be sure to sign up for her newsletter for updates on when she'll offer it again. (Find the subscription box on the left sidebar of her homepage.)
I would highly recommend this ebook to anyone considering writing their own ebook - it's a thorough exploration of ebooks in general, with special attention to the crafting audience. Two thumbs up!
My husband (@got_angst) recently worked with an artist he found on DeviantArt to create a new cover for his first fantasy-adventure book, Angst. We love how it turned out!
Don't tell my husband, but I love the little bald spot on the main character on the cover. Also, even though I read the book several times while editing it, I never envisioned the sword (aka "Chryslaenor") that big, so this new cover helped me imagine it correctly.
In case you hadn't heard of Angst before now, you're in for a treat. :) Angst is the story of a "mid-life crisis during medieval times". Be sure to read my completely unbiased review of it for the full scoop. Then whisk yourself over to Amazon to pick up a copy: Angst by David Pedersen at Amazon.
What do you think? And what are some of your favorite book covers? How much does the cover influence whether you buy the book?
My family went NUTS over this recipe last night, and kept praising it for a couple hours after we'd finished eating. Bonus: it's paleo-friendly and naturally gluten-free!
I found this at PaleoBlocks, who modified it from Gluten-Free Goddess. It's originally a stuffed cabbage recipe, but I didn't mess with the cabbage - we just ate the "filling". My modified version below.
Sausage & Sweet Potatoes
[photo credit: Jose C Silva]
At the beginning of the year, I decided to cut out artificial sweeteners and processed foods.
I started with my 1-a-day diet soda - I tried to switch from Fresca to Zevia, a stevia-sweetened soda. I tried Lemon Lime, Grapefruit, Cream, and Cola, but haven't found a flavor that I actually like.
I also stopped drinking my morning coffee. I generally like my coffee pretty sweet and milky, so I used to add 2 packets of Vanilla Splenda, Torani sugar-free Vanilla syrup, and skim milk. But with no artificial sweetners, that had to go. So for a hot morning beverage now I drink about 3c green tea with mint - a bag Bigelow Green Tea with Mint, and 2 bags Celestial Seasonings Spearmint. I've found I like it chilled just as well as warm.
In mid-January, a friend of my husband's decided to complete a 30-day Paleo challenge, wherein she ate only "paleo-friendly" foods (PDF) - lean meats/protein, fruits, and vegetables. It was really interesting to read her posts and status updates, so I started researching it.
Like other healthy eating options, it's a "lifestyle change" - Paleo is about rewiring how you think about food and what you need to feed your body. It's about breaking yourself of unhealthy addictions that are gumming up your system and causing all sorts of health issues. Here are some helpful FAQ pages to learn more:
For the past month or so I've been following a mostly-paleo diet, with some elements of a Green Smoothie diet and Raw diet thrown in. I haven't been stritcly paleo - I'll have an occasional glass of milk, a cup of yogurt, sweet potatoes, corn, or peas. I just don't think those choices are going to derail my healthy eating success.
Along with artificial sweeteners, I've cut out most baked goods/gluten and processed foods. No more fruit snacks, chips, muffins, ice cream, or frozen diet lunches. I mostly eat fresh foods, or foods that are "whole" from the source (e.g. frozen green beans, nothing added).
I feel fuller and more satisfied after eating than I ever have before. I'm eating so much less - though this could be a mind trick I'm playing on myself. I started tracking my food on PaleoTrack today, so we'll see what my food log proves.
I have many other thoughts to share about all this, but I'll close for now with a few questions. Have you heard of the Paleo diet? Do you know anyone who has tried it? How has it worked for them? Any recipe links or suggestions?
This prompt was to begin writing with the phrase, "When it was nice outside...", and to free-write for 10 minutes.
When it was nice outside, I would walk home with my friend Vanessa. Sometimes her mom would drive us, in their aging station wagon with the wood panels and the rear-facing back seat. But since her mom never let us sit back there anyway, we figured we might as well walk. That way we could tell our stories -- the stories that just kept building on each other. Our brains just worked good together, I guess, each feeding on the imaginings of the other. Our feet knew the walk so well that our minds were left free to leap and create -- the most wonderful stories. Where there were dragons and damsels and absolutely NO little brothers.
There wasn't any fighting either, unless it was a grand hero with a jeweled sword. Nessa had enough fighting at home, that we were careful to avoid it, though not by any spoken agreement.
Most often, we didn't even pay attention to our surroundings - the way from PS 192 to our apartment building was straight enough, you could stick your arms out like a zombie, shut your eyes and just walk and you'd get there. (We knew that cuz we tried it once. Till old Mr McNeely at the butcher shop yelled at us to watch where he was spraying the sidewalk.)
So we kept our eyes open, but our heads down, as we continued in story mode. Our story that day took us to the dunes of an African desert, where it was so hot, we imagined our feet were singed by the sand. It was while we were hopping around in our imagined torture that we first saw it. Everything was always so the same on our walks, so that same that we almost missed it.
It was an ordinary thing. We must have seen 50 of them that day, at least, maybe 100. Fat, thin, tall, short, covered, naked, you just don't think anything of it. Till you trip over one on your way through a scorching desert. As Nessa did. And when she did, she stumbled, and whirled around to give the offender an earful. But her words died a little in her throat, her deeply in-drawn breath puffing up in her chest, then choking up against the words.
Her hand rose to her mouth just as I jumped up behind, ready to rib her for her fall. She turned to me, her face the strangest color I've ever seen, even stranger than when she had the chicken pox and a 4-day fever. She opened her mouth to tell me, to warn me, to somehow share the burden of her discovery, but nothing came out. Nessa, my friend with the golden storytelling tongue, was struck dumb.
For how do you tell a story that isn't yours to tell? Certainly there was a story here. Just as certainly it wasn't of our making.
PROMPT: Describe an alley. Write for 5 minutes.
It was dark - the kind of dark that you just knew was unfriendly and unwelcoming. Hardly a place to linger if your business led you somewhere else. A streetlight across the street shone indistinct light across its mouth, casting shadowy teeth over the moist walls. Crumpled bits of newspaper blew down the passage, then disappeared in the dank darkness that seemed to swallow up all sound - sucking in everything near, like a black hole. Even the street people walked past quickly, seemingly afraid to even hazard a sideways glance. A couple of bony mutts trotted down the sidewalk, sniffing at doorways and passersby, but quickened their pace as they skittered past the dark alley.
Photo credit: Bertron8
This Writers' Group Prompt was interesting - it wasn't a single prompt, but rather a selection of words from which to choose to form a piece. Here's the list we used, then did free-writing for 10 minutes:
Here are my results:
He wore overalls every day of his life, from the very day he first wore clothes. It's what they all did. It was better that way - you always knew what to wear, you looked like everyone else, and you always knew where to find your hammer and gloves. No tellin' when you might need one or t'other. Fences worked loose and calves got stuck in the mud. Shoot - don't even think about tryin' to pull a calf out of the mud without your gloves. That's just pure stupid. Might as well try to catch a pig loose in a pit of honey.
A man knew where he stood when he wore overalls - knew what was expected of him. Knew it was time to be about your work, long as the sun was up, and sometimes a bit after it went down. A man knew his family counted on him to get up and get the work done and to do it again the next day. It was just the way things were and it worked just fine for him.
But this. This was not working for him. Partly because he wasn't working - he was waiting. And he didn't wait so good. Not when there was work to be done. Which there always was. But not today, Thelma had told him. Today was the wedding and they were all going. It rubbed him raw, much like the collar currently chafing his neck. He didn't see why his niece couldn't just wait for the preacher to come through town, have him over for coffee and to say a few words and be done with it all. Just like everyone else.
Photo credit: mshutch Michael Hutchinson
Here's another piece from a recent writing group session.
The prompt: Free write about "The Box", as a symbol, for 10 minutes.
She knew better than to open the Box. Hadn't she seen for herself what it could do? Hadn't her mother told her their family's sacred duty and trust? The power that only the women of her line could hold and contain? And only within the walls of the Box?
It was such an ordinary looking box, with its rough-hewn seams and coarse cuts made by tools from another time. The Box alone was not enticing, or even remarkable. It sat quite unassuming on the mantle. But the weight of its presence was so very heavy -- it seemed to draw all the energy from the room -- sucking the very will to move from its occupants. She was always, always, aware of its presence, could always see it out of the corner of her eye. Though that was to be expected, as she was rarely out of this main room in the simple house. They took their meals here, repaired ripped clothing, and told stories in front of the fire. And of course someone always had to stay -- it wasn't like the Box could be left unattended. The one time it has been - the one time in all those long, lonely, dutiful years...well, she couldn't think about that.
The memories of that night still shrouded her thoughts, looking for any opportunity or excuse to crowd in, to surge against her carefully constructed walls, bringing with them waves of grief and shame and guilt. Because of that night, and all that they had lost - that all of them had lost - she should have known better than to open the Box.
But she was yet young, and there was still hope in her heart. Hope that she would be the One that could reign it in and wield the Power.
Photo credit: bballchico
Earlier this year, I was invited to join a writers' group that meets monthly. Feeling neglectful of writing for myself, I dove right in. I've attended several meetings, and have really enjoyed it. We chat about writing related activities, give impromptu reviews of events and books, and write to several prompts. I've been really pleased with nearly all of the writing generated from the prompts, so I thought I would start sharing some here.
For this first piece, we were supposed to start with the following sentence, and free-write for 10 minutes:
"We saw it on Friday on the road to Thompsonville, the wicker love seat, right out there, straddling the center line."
Here are my results:
We saw it on Friday on the road to Thompsonville, the wicker love seat, right out there, straddling the center line. It seemed so odd to see it sitting there, in the middle of a dead town, where leaves scuttled down the empty boardwalks and any sounds were drowned out by the endless scream of the cicadas in the trees bracketing the street. We stopped out car in front of the love seat and just looked at it. It was worn, the white overwash flaking off on the arms, obviously a well-loved piece of furniture at one time.
Who could count the number of hands to have caressed the arms, to have found a moment's rest and the peace of comfort in visiting a friend? The seat belongs on a wrap-around porch somewhere, or maybe a screened-in sunroom.
The fabrics were cheery once upon a time, too - a red bandana print on the cushions, now fraying at the seams and piping. The yellow polka-dot pillows were still plump, if faded from too many hours in the sun.
The seat was obviously home to countless stories, though we only wondered about the one. How did it come to rest here, in the middle of Main Street, at the crossroads of Nowhere and Not-Yet-There? We weren't even really shure where we were going ourselves, only that we needed to not be where we were.