Female Geek Bloggers, Geek Crafting, and Zoodles!

I've been enjoyed several things recently: the Female Geek Bloggers Google+ Community, geek-crafting, and my new spiralizer.

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If you aren't familiar with Google+, their Communities are similar to Facebook Groups, or website forums. They feature threaded conversations which allow comments and "+1s" (similar to FB Likes). Female Geek Bloggers provides a central hub for women to gather to discuss geeky things, such as Doctor Who, cosplay, comics, movies, anime, gaming (both video and board), and even “geek therapy.”

I really enjoy the breadth of discussions, and have been exposed to topics and people I wouldn’t have otherwise stumbled upon. I also love the sense of community there – all of us interested in geeky things, supporting blogging and sometimes marketing efforts of other geeky females. Quite a few of the members are also crafters, so I also get to see plenty of interesting geek-crafts.

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Speaking of geek-crafts, my fingers have been flying recently on several fun projects, mostly for my Etsy store. Over the past several weeks, I completed a child-size and adult-size Ewok "scoodie" (scarf+hood), and four baby Groots. I'm also working on perfecting my process for making geek coasters. I already sold three of the Groots, including one to Belgium, and one to the United Kingdom! Global geek love! I still need to get pictures of the Ewok scoodies in action, then get them up in my shop. Until then, here's a quickie of me modeling the child size for fun.

Ewokscoodie
Finally, several months ago, I attended a cooking demo by Johnna Perry and was introduced to the "spiralizer," or spiral vegetable slicer. The class included dishes such as JapChae with sweet potato noodles and Lemon Almond Pesto over zucchini noodles. I love vegetables, and enjoyed each of the dishes, so I asked for a spiralizer for my birthday this year. Thanks to my brother, I have enjoyed "zoodles" (zuchinni noodles) three times this past week! Here's how I cook them:

Sauteed Zoodles (Zuchinni Noodles)

Spiral-slice zuchinni and carrot. Heat oil in large frying pan over medium heat. Add vegetables and garlic. Season as desired. Stir around with spatula to evenly distribute seasoning and garlic. Saute until veggies are tender, probably not more than 10 min. Top with parmesan (optional).

Zoodles

One large zuchinni makes a lot more "noodles" than you might think - I can usually get two bowlfuls out of one. I haven't tried reheating any leftovers, but don't think they would probably do well. I would be curious if you have tried reheating them, and your results! I'm also curious what you have used a spiralizer for! Please share in the comments below!


A Very Doctor Who Birthday

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I recently celebrated my birthday and my family showered me with gifts related to Doctor Who - they know me well!

I wanted to share pics of the two custom items - the images are gorgeous and make me smile.

Doctor Who wallet
Exploding TARDIS wallet by Faith on Earth
Tardis-case
Watercolor TARDIS phone case by Jessie Adrignola

 We completed the birthday experience by seeing the premiere of the new Doctor Who season in the theater! Very fun seeing it with other Whovians! I wore my Van Gogh TARDIS tshirt, which is sadly no longer available via Red Bubble - glad I got it ordered before it went away! I love this shirt and wear it almost every weekend.

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The new Doctor will take some getting used to - I'm looking forward to what the new season has in store!


My Geeky Fandom Valentine

Geeky Fandom Valentine

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!


How I Do Menu Planning & Grocery List Making

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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:

  • Sunday - plan something that may take a little longer to prepare, to take advantage of weekend availability, such as Cider Beef Stew, Beer Cheese SoupBaked Ravioli, or Sausage & Sweet Potatoes.
  • Monday - Band concert; my daughter has to be at school by 5:45, so I will make sure there is something she can fix for herself, like Easy Mac or PB&J, and plan something for just David and I (we've been enjoying Beef Lo Mein recently, and it makes exactly enough for two). 
  • Tuesday - David has to work late so I will plan for my daughter to eat something he doesn't particularly care for (such as mac & cheese or baked potatoes).
  • Wednesday - everybody home, so I plan something we all like, such as Sloppy Joes, Sausage & parmesan couscous, or spaghetti. 
  • Thursday - I'll be out at a Social Media Club Happy Hour, so I'll make sure there's something that's easy for David to fix for him and my daughter, such as what we call a "bag dinner", or something crockpot like Chicken Noodle Soup or Beef Barley Soup, so he just has to scoop and serve. 
  • Friday - always frozen cheese pizza on Fridays, a nice no-brainer to start the weekend
  • Saturday - another chance to spend a little more time in preparation, so maybe Chili

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.


"Netflix for Crafters"

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:

  • Leading Knit/Crochet Designer Kristin Omdahl 
  • Quilts, Inc. Chief Creative Officer and “Quilting Arts TV” host Pokey Bolton 
  • Foremost Mixed Media Artist and Best-Selling Author Pam Carriker 
  • Top Jewelry-Making Educator and “Beads, Baubles & Jewels” TV host Katie Hacker 
  • Editor in Chief of Step by Step Wire Jewelry, Denise Peck 
  • Master Weaver, Spinner, and Fiber Artist Judith MacKenzie 

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.

About Interweave

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.


Father's Day Aebleskivers

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.


Here's our family recipe for aebleskivers.

REVIEW: Write, Publish, & Sell Your Crafty Ebook

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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.

  • Chapter 1: Things to Think About Before You Make an Ebook
  • Chapter 2: How to Make a PDF Ebook
  • Chapter 3: The Dreaded Technical Parts
  • Chapter 4: Marketing Your Ebook
  • (see the full Table of Contents on the book sales page)

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!