12.10.2012

change of plans – take 2


image: hydrangea wreathIn the end, the living room was not remodeled to accommodate my lovely hydrangeas. I know, I know… big talk, little action. In my defense, I made the wreath and gave it as a gift to my sister who mentioned a few times that she would like to make a hydrangea wreath but doesn’t have time. And she had hydrangeas for her wedding bouquet and every time I looked at them they reminded me of her. So, no judgements based on the photo, please. It’s a lot prettier than it looks here… I may have forgotten to take a picture before I wrapped it up for her birthday and if you’ve never wrapped a gift made of dried flowers let me share a little supergirl tipnot worth unwrapping to take a picture.

11.29.2012

wrap it up


With December just around the corner I planned to create a tutorial for wrap, or ladder, bracelets similar to the ones I have in my etsy shop. They’re pretty straightforward to make even if you haven’t made any jewelry and the material combinations are endless. The bracelet or anklet you make can be as individual as the person you plan to give it to.
Luckily I was on Pinterest and realized all the hard work has been done! Let me introduce you to Adrianne of Happy Hour Projects who focuses on quick and easy projects you can do in an hour or less. Her Double Wrap Bracelet tutorial is great – well written with lots of pictures and notations.
This tutorial suggests cutting your thread to any workable length and tying on more as needed. I haven’t done that and certainly intend to try it out. My experience with single-wrap length bracelets is 8 feet of thread, folded in half is needed. “Tending” to tangle is an understatement.

10.28.2012

supergirl smoothie

Whether you enjoy a supergirl smoothie for breakfast or post-workout there's a lot of good-for-you stuff going on. Let's start with the recipe, this makes 2 servings of approximately 16 oz. each.

In a blender combine:

3 c frozen fruit
2 scoops protein mix (see below)
1 c organic, low fat vanilla yogurt
3/4 c milk (dairy, soy, almond, your preference)
3/4 c juice

protein mix
Here's a little supergirl efficiency to speed up the daily shake making process. In a clean dry container mix 12 servings each of: whey protein, wheat germ (too many good vitamins and minerals to talk about here), ground flaxseed (omega 3 source) and crystallized vitamin C. Use the large scoop that comes with the protein to measure two scoops of this mixture into your shake. Obviously you can mix more or less of each serving depending on the size of your container. I like 12 servings of everything because it gets me through about two weeks worth of shakes.

frozen fruit
Select your favorite types of fruit so you enjoy the shake. At the same time, do your best to incorporate different fruits so you get the widest range of vitamins. I buy BIG bags of frozen fruits at Costco and then mix-and-match in a zip-lock freezer bag. Strawberries, peaches, blueberries, raspberries, honeydew, mango...

milk
I use rice milk, substitute organic nonfat milk, almond or soy milk - whatever makes you happy. The point is to get a bit of added protein and calcium.

juice
100% Pomegranate juice is my preference. Lots of antioxidants without the sour taste. Blueberry works, too.

Make the shakes in the evening and drink for breakfast - just store in the fridge. I've been known to forget my morning shake and it turns out it will keep until the second morning, no problem. So you can make them daily and share or whip them up every other evening. If you need it on the go use an insulated coffee mug to keep it cool for an hour or two.

Because I eyeball my ingredients quantifying the nutrition info is sketchy. My best guess is 350-400 calories per shake with 5-6 grams of fat, 11-12 grams of protein and 60(ish) grams of carbs. I think it's carb-heavy because of the juice. You can switch to all milk if you're getting you're antioxidants somewhere else, you won't hurt my feelings.

10.14.2012

sensible styles

My favorite style is sensible. And I'm not talking about fashion here, I'm referring to the feature that is found in word processing applications like Word and InDesign. Why are styles sensible? They save time and help you produce better looking documents. A style is a basket for a group of formatting commands. If you decide to make your chapter titles 37 pt Bold Dark Teal Verdana on chapter 1 you may not recall exactly what you did by chapter 13. Styles would save the day! You can name your 37 pt Bold Dark Teal Verdana text "Chapter titles" and then apply the "Chapter titles" style wherever you like, without remembering all of the details. Another sensible trait of styles is the ease with which you can change your formatting. Down the road, around chapter 32 of your book, you decide you want the chapter titles to be purple and small caps. Styles save the day again. Instead of selecting and changing each of your 32 titles individually (hello, time-consuming!) you can modify your "Chapter titles" style and every instance of it will be updated.

If styles only assist in making things look pretty they wouldn't be supergirl-in-disguise-worthy. Add functionality to styles and now we're talking. Remember the days of typing out your table of contents only to have more edits come in. The edits change the pages and the table of contents you carefully typed is useless. Those days are over. Let's go back to your 32 chapter book. Because you used "Chapter titles" for every chapter tile in the book you don't have to retype anything. Instead you will insert a dynamic table of contents based on your style. The table can be updated to reflect edits to your document without retyping or counting pages. [In Word Help keyword search "Table of Contents" to learn more.]

Using styles can seem complex at first. Don't give up, supergirl, they're worth learning. Begin with the built-in styles in Word. Apply them, modify them, see just how many different options you have. When you're getting the hang of things look for an online tutorial to teach you more. Let's see where sensible styles take you.

10.05.2012

change of plans

When I came across this hydrangea wreath tutorial I knew it was a project I would not only pin, but actually make. And I have real flowers to make it with. Bonus.  Until I hit a little snag; they’ve been dry enough to work with for at least a week but they look so pretty hanging I hate to take them down.

Maybe this calls for a change in plans. Such as remodeling the living room so I can hang these on the fireplace mantel? Hmmmm.
hydrangea blooms hanging in a row

9.17.2012

seasons

I love the smell of autumn. Blackberries ripening in the sun, leaves crunching underfoot. It’s glorious.
In an effort to eat along the lines of a less-processed, whole foods diet I’ve been paying attention to the seasons. I swear it makes time go slower, it’s a nice side effect.
Taking cues from Béa at La Tartine Gourmande — who seems to have a masters degree in enjoying life — I raided my parents’ plum tree this year. Me, my dad and a ladder. Sure we could reach just one more plum on that branch just — out — of — reach. There were a whole lot of plums left on that tree but we managed to get enough for me to bake and, for the first time ever, make jam on my own.
Plums to me equal Pflaumenkuchen. The whole gluten-free eating thing means I don’t get to have the real deal, but I’m hard-pressed to follow a recipe twice anyway, so improvisation ensued. I  used a modified version of a gluten-free tart found on La Tartine Gourmande and promptly ate an entire tart when it came out of the oven.

9.12.2012

blue skies

Summer was outrageously late arriving in Seattle this year. Mother Nature is making up for it with mid-70 temps and no rain into September. Love it!
image: space needle, Seattle, WA

8.28.2012

fonts by gluk

Shiver me timbers. Everybody has their weakness, right? Even this supergirl. I’m referring to hoarding "collecting". Mine is fonts. Years and years ago, when they were hard to come by it was necessary to save them. I mean, who knew if you’d ever find that font again and risking the loss of the perfect font for your next design just wasn’t an option.

Despite the bald truth that my excuse doesn’t hold water any longer, I continue to amass these little treasures. Today I found Foglihten — an art deco beauty created by gluk somewhere in Poland. S/He has a whole family of Foglihten variations available plus a few other designs [www.glukfonts.pl] that are worth adding to your collection. You know, if you’re into that kind of thing.

image: sample of foglihten font

8.22.2012

adorable alert

image: yarn bowl elephantFresh from the studio of A Speer  comes this ridiculously adorable yarn bowl in the shape of an elephant. If I thought for a second I would wrap my yarn into balls I’d be purchasing this. Lucky for me this talented artist makes other things, like this berry bowl, that is moving to the top of my wish list!

7.14.2012

edible gluten free brownies



Edible” is the key word in that title. Since receiving a verdict of “gluten intolerant” I’ve tried a plethora of gluten-free products and with the exception of one pasta, one cookie and one bread, I’d rather not eat them. This goes for most of the gluten free recipes I’ve tried as well. Don’t for a moment think that I’m a carb-hater. On the contrary, I appreciate a good, solid beer and soft, doughy bread with a nice crust. I’m persevering in my efforts, supergirl style, and was recently rewarded when I made a batch of brownies.

The super-easy batter was whipped up in a food processor. The result: surprisingly decadent, moist brownies, sans flour. How was this feat achieved, you ask? Black beans. Three cheers to Chocolate and Carrots for posting the yummy recipe!

6.26.2012

flying by the seat of my pants

I like this quote, “I’m an idealist, I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way.” because it tells me I don’t always need to have a plan. As a planner and a list-maker there’s quite a bit of freedom there. When I came across this ridiculously soft yarn in shades of chocolate and strawberry I knew there was a birthday gift for my niece in it. Without a plan, in the midst of the end-of-the-year holiday chaos, I bought a few skeins figuring six months was plenty of time to make something.

It’s truthful to say I didn’t procrastinate. I mulled over what to make for quite some time and second-guessed myself often. Do I lose points as a favorite auntie by crocheting a gift for a tween? Heavens. More than once I asked myself what I was thinking when I bought a bunch of yarn without any idea of what I was going to make.

Six months is plenty of time to make a gift. I don’t recommend spending four or five months planning, however. Especially if your niece’s birthday lands on the same day as a huge deadline at your day job. Working 14 hour weekdays and over the weekends doesn’t leave a lot of leisure time. 

Flying by the seat of my pants has it’s place. Next time I think I’ll have a plan before buying the super soft, super cute yarn that is perfect for someone.



If you're wondering... in the end I made niece-sized and American Girl-sized hats and bags. In a moment that hardly smacks of supergirl-ness I had to run out to the store for an additional skein of yarn to finish the project.

 

6.10.2012

the new and the old

I posted quite a backlog of items on etsy today [trigonetsy.etsy.com] which got me to thinking about some of my original pieces. The necklace in the image is one of the first necklaces I made. It’s circa junior high and, as I couldn’t drive at this point, I had to talk my mom into stopping to let me browse at a new bead store that had opened. I was dying to stop in because the owner had opened her shop in an old caboose. A bead store in a caboose, the novelty of it called out to me. The story diverges here. First, in retrospect, the shop probably didn’t last very long because the only aisle from front to back was about 18″ wide. Two was a crowd. Second, with the exception of that 18″ wide aisle, every square inch of that place was filled with shelf after shelf of beads and it was a hundred times better than a candy store. When I found these garnet colored glass beads, oh, they were a treasure. A treasure that would wipe out my entire saved up allowance. I wanted seven but I bought six so I could afford the silver beads between them. Somehow they were the most wonderful beads I’d ever possessed and nothing I strung with it was good enough. They were a necklace, a bracelet, back to a necklace – always torn apart within a week. Almost a year later a friend was getting rid of a purse. A purse that had a strap made out of a chain. It’s been a bit longer than week and it’s still intact and still one of my favorite necklaces.

6.01.2012

puppy love

Lemmy, a lucky puppy hailing from San Fran, has a pretty great person. She got him a trig basket just to store his toys in.

4.29.2012

4.05.2012

shortcuts to efficiency

Like a lot of folks out there, I feel like there is not enough time to get everything done. Whether you are a Super Mom, Super Administrative Assistant or Super CEO you've probably searched out better ways of doing things. I certainly have. I read Lifehacker, I've tried David Allen's "Getting Things Done" principles and I've perused numerous blogs like 43 Folders and the Four Hour Work Week. I hope I'm not the only one that feels this way, but learning and repeating a new process until it is a habit feels more overwhelming than reverting back to my pile of "To Do" lists. My supergirl solution is shortcuts.

Tiny, bite-sized time-savers = shortcuts. What am I talking about? Using the Ctrl and Alt keys to rock your world. You may be familiar with some of these shortcuts. i.e., Ctrl + X, C and V to cut, copy and paste. You might know Ctrl + P will print. There are so many of these efficient little shortcuts I'm not sure anyone could remember them all. A few stand out amongst the rest though. How often do you switch between email and calendars in Outlook? What if I told you could could pop over from one to the other by using shortcuts? Ctrl + 1 gets you to your in-box, Ctrl + 2 to your calendar and, bonus, Ctrl + 3 to your contacts. Go ahead, try it. Ctrl + 1, 2, 3. You can make yourself dizzy moving between them this quickly.

Similarly, you can switch the program you are looking at on your monitor. Press Alt + Tab and hold. A little window appears that has an icon for each of the programs you have open. Press Tab (without letting go of Alt) until you reach the program you want. When you let go of the Alt key your screen will switch to the program.

While every program has its own shortcuts there are a number that are common to all software. Microsoft products in particular share a lot of commands. Whether you are typing in Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Outlook you can format your text with shortcuts. Ctrl + B will make the text you have selected bold and Ctrl + I makes the selected text italic.

If you want to learn more shortcuts you can usually get a list of keyboard shortcuts from a program's help file. Or Google the name of your software with the words "keyboard shortcuts". Just like learning a new way to control your task list can be overwhelming learning 20 different shortcuts is a bit crazy. Pick one or two and try them out. Put a sticky on your monitor so the shortcut is front and center. Try using it for a week. If it works for you, great. If it doesn't try a different one. Every little step counts.

4.03.2012

to sell or not to sell

Having an etsy shop that is more of a hobby than a business can make it tough when deciding whether to sell something  or not. This necklace is a good example. I love it and have a variety of places I could wear it. It’s crocheted out of hemp, which is not particularly easy to work with and I invested a lot of time in crafting it. Do I keep it and enjoy it myself? Or share it with the big, bad world and see if there is someone out there willing to trade  their hard-earned money for it? If this were a real business I’d look at ROI. In this case, as in pretty much everything I’ve posted on etsy, the answer is nil. I don’t buy wholesale or have any “economies of scale”. Everything I make is inspired by something I’ve seen or a beautiful material I can’t pass up at the store. So, what to do?

3.11.2012

pinterest joy

I mentioned in another post I’ve joined the pinterest phenomenon. Basically I use it as a visual bookmarking system with two results. 1) I can login to pinterest and pretty instantly see something joyful. That’s pretty cool in this crazy world of information overload. 2) I remember the DIY projects I want to try. Also cool because I’ve actually done some*.
How does one add even more joy to this marvel? I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I remembered a DIY project a friend had pinned… and made it for her for her birthday. Joyful for her, joyful for me. Who says pinterest is a worthless time suck?
image: handmade braceletsimage: handmade bracelets
* The whole cutting glass without cutting glass scenario… unsuccessful for me. Nail polish remover wouldn’t even light the (yes, 100% cotton) string on fire. To get the glass to break at all I wrapped the string four times around a bottle after soaking it in lighter fluid. There may have been some jokes about burning the house down. After about a minute heating the glass up I dropped it in the cool water and the cut was crooked and both pieces had veins of shattering going perpendicular to the main cut. Oh well, it was a lot of fun to attempt, anyway.

2.24.2012

crocheted decor

When I think of crocheted decor I think of doilies. Until pinterest happened to me. And I saw potted plants with crocheted pot holders. Of course I had to create my own version. Modern, casual and a little bit different.
image potted plant in a white crocheted pot holder with beads

2.13.2012

market research vs. adventure

I thought I was being so inventive when I made a wine bag out of wool. It makes a great gift bag and absorbs condensation from a chilled bottle. Look at it. Can’t you just picture yourself on a bluff in Ireland with your Land Rover parked nearby, a huge blanket on the ground and the perfectly chilled bottle of your favorite beverage being presented in this lovely bag? Yes, well, it turns out lots of other people have had this idea. A quick search on etsy brings up everything from simple wool to vintage poodle cozies.  The lesson to be learned here? Market research should be done first if you’re running a real business. Thankfully, I am not and I shall continue to consider myself an intrepid, crocheting adventurer.
image: wool wine bag

2.06.2012

card books


I pulled all of the cards I’ve saved out of storage over the weekend to create card books. Not being someone who really thinks through the emotional consequences of craft projects prior to jumping in I have to admit I was taken off guard. First, because I was faced with 20 years of cards from my grandparents who recently passed away. Then there are the 3 jam-packed envelopes full of mail I received when I was at camp, a counselor at camp and later, an exchange student. Now I realize I was never homesick because home was never far away. Mostly, though, sitting amongst all those cards*, I felt so overwhelmingly loved, it was really amazing.
While I am opposed to hoarding, in general, I’m really glad I kept all of those cards. I’m looking forward to pulling out my Valentine’s card book next week and flipping through it.
*Chronological piles arranged in a grid where x was events by calendar year and y was who I received it from. Tissue box within reach at all times.

1.31.2012

photo shoot guest

Curiosity got the best of my little puss-in-boots during the last photo shoot.
cat sniffing basket
One thing I’m learning about having an etsy shop is taking good photos is time consuming. It does give me a good reason to poke around in thrift shops though. On my last trip I found a necklace made of coconut beads. Way too fun to pass up.
close up of basket and coconut bead

1.14.2012

bittersweet

Giving things I’ve made to friends and family as gifts generally means I will see the items again in the future. It was a sad and joyful occasion packing my first etsy order for shipment.
trig basket in a box to be shipped