31 October 2008
29 October 2008
I'm still working on a TON of stuff, but have just now put my camera's software on Frankie. Maybe it's about not wanting it to seem too permanent, but I want MY LAPTOP back. I am in the process of settng this up so I can get to posting already, but... have I mentioned how much I miss MY LAPTOP?
Anyway. This is not so much a WIP as a birthday gift. Lil'Sis turns 23 today, so we sent a giant package down to her. This was in there too, but I couldn't post it until today!
26 October 2008
I wasn't supposed to post this weekend.
I was supposed to be doing maintenance.
I was supposed to be getting my next summary ready.
I was definitely not supposed to hear the words
There were tears, threats of hardware being flung from the roof, and I may or may not have consumed a Frappucino shotgun style... I blacked out sometime after my uber-techie Hubby uttered the phrase, "I can't fix this."
So I'm here, but I'm on a Franken-Laptop for a while.
It's blogging, old school.
I might as well be sending smoke signals.
Best go find two sticks, just in case.
23 October 2008
Ditto to anyone who sees any wonkyness this weekend. If I pop up in your reader 100+ times, I am terribly sorry. Just "mark all as read" until Monday.
So there is a blogger I think you all should meet. Her name is Maggie, Dammit.
No, really. Maggie, Dammit at Ok, Fine, Dammit.
A short time ago, Maggie held a contest to give away a pair of earrings I made. Of course, because I have been pointy-toe-boot deep in the throws of The Great Blog Move '08, I missed the start and didn't send you all over there and generally was no help at all. (Seriously my fault.)
Maggie pressed on through my FUBAR and awarded the earrings to Cathy, a fabu blogger herself. Go check her out and say hi. Bring a snack with you, though. You will get hungry.
This week, she introduced us to her fab new writing space. It's warm, it's cozy, it's all hers and I am just about 7 shades of green with envy. In her post she says:
Why, as writers, do we have such a hard time validating what we do? Why is it done in our spare time, tucked in garages and basements, hidden behind computer solitaire games at the coffee shop? Why do we call it a hobby, a craft, a leisurely pursuit? Why do we say, “I am in advertising sales, but I like to write on the side?” Why do we think it can’t be done?
You have no idea how many times I have pondered this. I am a person who thrives on success. Anyone remember the scene from The Simpsons when the school shuts down and Lisa has a meltdown? "Grade me! Grade me!" Yeah, that could be me. Only paler. I know this and own it.
Through blogging and my awesome mommy fueled identity crisis I have come to a startling realization. 3 times in my life I have chosen to do something which owes it's measurable success standards to the opinions of others.
3 times I have chosen. Music, writing, and crafting.
I did it to myself, dang it!
This was my comment to Maggie:
I pretty much have issues with any statement that begins, “I am a…” I was recently asked about Etsy, and whether I was an artist. I answered, “Well, no. A crafter.” As if I needed to correct them and disavow the extra credit they had awarded me. Come to think of it, I was asked pretty much the same thing about baking recently and answered similarly.
I am. A writer. A crafter. An artist. A flippin’ purple frog if I put my mind to it, and we should all stop qualifying ourselves.
Hubby and I have had many conversations about this subject over the last 12 (yup, 12 this week) years. Tonight, I was telling him about Maggie's post and talking about labels.
I told Hubby that I have come to realize that if I label myself as XYZ, then in my mind I have to follow that with some measure of success as an XYZ. Otherwise, I fail. Better not to try than to fail.
He said, "But if you don't try, you'll never know."
My answer? "Yes, but failing is worse than not knowing."
Blech. I annoy me too.
I would not accept this answer from Monkey, so why is it ok for me?
Short answer: It's not.
22 October 2008
Before I forget, a few announcements:
Thanks, I love my new look too! It's like having a new pair of shoes for your blog. I found Aqua Poppy through Maranda Marie, who has just redecorated her blog too! If you like what you see, hop on over to:
Also, Friday is the last day to sign up for:
When last I checked, there were over 100 bloggers signed up. This is going to be so much fun!
And don't forget about the CraftStylish Make It Pink Challenge! It's open until the end of October.
And now, my finished WIP!
Working in variegated colors was fun. I liked watching the pattern emerge and change. I also noticed a big difference in the feel of 100% cotton.
But the best surprise was by far what happened when I took it out of the dryer.The cotton tassels puffed up in the cutest way!
It's big and smooshy and soft, and I think it will be the first crochet listing in the shop.
Off to work on my current WIP - the next summary!
21 October 2008
The good news is that the location for THE BIG ONE in the summer is up for grabs now. Personally, I'm rooting for a location somewhere within driving distance of my house... I think I heard someone whisper *Philly* was in the running. Then again I think I also heard *Colorado* spoken about in hushed tones. We'll have to wait until the end of the month to see!
On to the good stuff.
The liveblogger's version of this can be found here. Worth the click. Ditto for DC's liveblogger.
Session One was aptly titled, "I blog, therefore I am."
Our esteemed panel took our questions and shared their own experiences with us. I have condensed my notes into what I found most poignant and relevant to my own blogging.
Boundaries & Identity
Blogger, know thyself! Whether we have come to blogging through chance or intention, it is important to decide now, if you have not already, what your personal blogging boundaries are.
Are you using your real name? If so, how could that affect you later? Are you using a pen name? If a potential employer Googled you, can you stand by what they will find? Will you be answering questions from irate in-laws over turkey?
Will your son survive junior high when his friends find the post you wrote about the time you had to crawl over the back seat of your station wagon after locking the two of you in there while executing an emergency poopy-diaper change in the grocery store parking lot?
(Yes, I did.)
As our speakers noted: Who you are writing for is not the only person reading. Be mindful of that and decide early on what your personal informational standards and boundaries will be.
Now that you know what you won't share, what will you write about?
This is my current dilemma. I left behind a blog of anonymity to share more of my creative self, but at what price? Will I censor myself in this new medium where the readers may occasionally be people I know IRL? (Hi Lil' Sis! Hi BFF!)
Um. No answer here. Yet. I'll let you know how that goes.
While we're talking about the what, it's important to think about the how too. We all have read at least one blog where after a few sentences - meh - and we click away. The blogger had no pull. No draw. No voice. When you write, write for somebody.
Be authentic. Be honest. Be you.
Site Metrics & Measuring Success
There have been times when I have wondered whether SiteMeter has a SiteMeter that tracks how often I track my blog. It's an addiction, I know.
Tracking can be useful. It lets you know people are reading, and where they're coming in from. Trackers like SiteMeter and Google Analytics seemed to be the most popular in the crowd.
Popular opinion held that the best gauge of whether your blog is a "success" is COMMENTS. Actually, after 12 hours and three sessions it is clear. It is all about the comments! COMMents COMMunity. Get it?
Here's where knowing why you're blogging in the first place is so important. If you know the why, you'll know the when. If you're only out for popularity, SiteMeter is your goal. If you're here to share, learn, create, inform, then it's all about the - say it with me - COMMENTS! Yay!
Blogging For Bucks
Are bloggers getting paid? The truth is yes, some are. Whether through ads, referrals, professional gigs, or Etsy (Hi Etsy!), some bloggers are getting paid in some fashion. Big bucks? It's a one in a million shot. (Another reason to know your intent.)
The prevailing sentiment on Pay Per Post and paid reviews was mixed at best. Are these bloggers being paid what their time and effort is worth? Not usually. And writing positive or neutral reviews only? Did not go over too well with the crowd.
If you're looking to monetize, they are looking for you too, but you need to be clear about what you're doing. Are you trading your influence and good (blog)name? Do you believe what you're writing? Do you have reasonable expectations? As long as you're willing, the opportunities exist, you just have to look for them. (Try Googling Problogger, monetizing my blog, Adsense, etc...)
Blogging & Life Transitions
I came to blogging as a direct result of a life transition. My own personal new mommy induced identity crisis. Some bloggers are posting away when their crisis hits. Either way, blogging can help when life kicks you to the curb.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well it takes a village to sustain a woman too. As we become less localized and clan-like, we lose our traditional support systems. Out among the pixels, you can find a new village. Your village.
Speaking of crisis - there also is the apparently inevitable blog crisis. Burn out. Peaking. Trolls.
Step back. Ask yourself why you are doing what you're doing here. Is this your preferred direction? Or in the case of a troll, is this person just angry at the world? The answer from the panel seems to be prioritizing. What is most important to you, what are your goals, and how will you achieve them? There was a whole session on this, and I will share that with you all another day.
Whew. That's a lot to take in. I will be back with more soon, and I even promise some less wordy eye candy tomorrow. My two week old WIP is FINALLY done!
So how about a handy-dandy Six Word Summary?
(I do so love Six Word-stuff!)
20 October 2008
Leaving the house. Ugh, this is too early.Wait...
This is not a cocktail before 9am.
This is a yummy smoothie that looks like a cocktail.
That shortly after this was bumped by a passing laptop.
My notebook smells like bananas now.
I tried liveblogging the first session,
But my wrists were killing me, so I went old school,
And pulled out my banana-book.
Saturn was one of the sponsors and graciously provided what looked like their entire line to test drive.
So did I try the minivan? The hybrid?
I drove this.
Red always was my color.Yes, thank you, I will take this home with me.
No? But there's a back seat and everything, though I'm not sure a car seat would fit in there...
There are no photos of the cocktail hour.
Not that I was actually drinking, what with the drive and all...
By the time I got home I was lugging this:
Dibs on the slippers!
That stack of paperwork and business cards is what I've been going through.
Next up: The sessions and what I learned.
Other than that I am a klutz in every setting and should keep an eye on my smoothies.
18 October 2008
I'm still not sure what I want to do with that space, and whether I will be combining the craftyness with the mommyness, but I went back and changed it to private until I figure it all out.
So while I sort through all things BlogHer Boston, riddle me this, readers:
If you're mostly a craft blogger, do you read mommy blogs "for a change"?
If you're mostly a mommy blogger, do you read craft blogs "for a change"?
Does the merging of the two in one place bug you?
Do you prefer the little sidebar that says "find me here too" to keep it separate?
17 October 2008
Now it's time to give these away!I went through all the wonderful comments and eliminated the duplicates. What was up with blogger re-naming a couple of people I'll never know! And how on earth did it get Sweet Shoppe from Sassy Mom?
Blogger's quirks aside... ready?
And the winner is:
Amy Kay at My Life Is Organized Chaos!
Congrats, Amy Kay, and I'll be in touch shortly!
Whew, that was intense. If you have not visited Blog Around The World yet, well, what are you waiting for???
And stay tuned for my BlogHer Boston recap, coming up next. I apologize for the delay. Can't imagine what I was doing this week...
Happy Friday Everyone!
15 October 2008
Peeps, speechless does not happen around here very often.
I am wading through all of your wonderful comments and I promise I will get to you all. Don't forget, the comments are open until midnight EST on Thursday, and I will draw a random winner on Friday.
I wish I could send you all something spiffy from MA, so...
How about a brownie? A brownie recipe maybe?
My Grasshopper Brownie recipe, now with new and improved whipped ganache, courtesy of Lauren!
A few years ago, a mom of a friend of my sis-in-law made a minty brownie concoction that my husband fell in love with. When he asked her what was in it, it included Creme de Menthe, and a bunch of stuff he didn't quite catch. He's not a baker, and we don't exactly stock Creme de Menthe, so - enter my ninja kitchen skills. The end result? Grasshopper Brownies.
Start by preparing your favorite brownie recipe. I have made them from scratch, but I'm still tweaking that one, so boxed it is.
I use the largest pan I have, 11x9. It makes the brownies thinner to begin with, but remember, they're getting two yummy layers of frosted goodness, so thin is good.
Using either a Silpat or parchment paper, do this:
Weird, I know, but trust me. Rather, trust Alton Brown, my guru of all things edible. This step is key to the easiest de-panning you will ever do. I also use a little baking spray on the ends not covered by the Silpat. Do not try to sub in wax paper, or you will end up with crayon flavored brownies.
I am the voice of experience on this one.
Fill 'er up, and bake as directed. Remember, it's thinner, so adjust accordingly!
Once the brownies are cooled, heat 1/2 cup heavy cream. I do this in the microwave on high for about 30 seconds . When warm, add 12 ounces of semi-sweet chips.
Stir... You may need to put it back in the microwave, but only do so for 10 seconds at a time. Burnt chocolate is not yummy.
When it looks like this:
Stop stirring and park it in the fridge.
In a mixer, or mixing bowl with hand held beaters combine the following:
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Green food coloring
2 tablespoons peppermint extract
(You can add more or less, but take it easy or you will be exuding minty freshness for days!)
Whip until it is the consistency of frosting. This may require adding a little more powdered sugar or water until it's just right.
Use a light touch.
Plop - technical term of course - on top of the cooled brownies.
And spread with an offset spatula, if possible.
Dipping the spatula in warm water will help keep the frosting from sticking and will spread it more evenly.
Your ganache should be cool, and starting to chill and almost become firm around the edges.
Time to whip it!
It will become lighter as you whip in more air.
Scrape your bowl...
And plop again.
Spread again, and return to fridge to firm up.
Pause to lick spatula.
Then clean up the mess you made while whipping.
When the ganache is firm, run a small knife around just the ends of the pan where the Silpat does not reach.
I couldn't photograph the next step, but grab the edges of the Silpat and wiggle just slightly.
Easiest de-panning ever!
And serve with milk. Or coffee. Or actual Creme de Menthe if that's your thing.
What wine goes with chocolate minty yumminess?
14 October 2008
My name is Alicia, and I will be your tour guide.
Wicked nice to meet you!
If you're a regular around here, may I introduce the visitors from Blog Around The World. Regulars, if you don't already know what BATW is, go check it out! I'll be here when you get back. Promise.
I was born in Boston and though I have since moved out to the land of lawns and lawnmowers, Ma and Dad are still in the city.
Despite my good Boston upbringing, I dared to marry a Jersey boy who is also - gasp - a Yankees fan.
Not only did I bring shame to my people, I also became a terrible influence on my youngest sister who recently got hitched to an Up-stater (NY).
Thankfully, they are both wonderful men, so we forgive them that whole pinstripes and bad judgement thing. Supplying the 'rents with a fabulous grandson didn't hurt either!
So as the landing place of The Mayflower, Massachusetts is naturally a state of firsts.
The first subway - the T.
The first Dunkin Donuts - in Quincy.Photo Credit
Even the first zip code in the whole US - 01001 in Agawam, MA.
(But then - I'm a little partial to zip codes!)Photo Credit
As fascinating as all that is, most people only want to know two things about Mass.
1. Do we really all sound like Mayor Quimby?
2. Do I know the New Kids On The Block?
No, and sadly, no. Though I did grow up in the zip code immediately adjoining one of them, and, bloggy confession time - stood outside one of their houses with a friend only to get the Dad's autograph instead.
Mr. Wood was quite lovely.
Contrary to popular belief, we do not only have 25 letters in our alphabet.
It is widely believed that all people from Mass not only drop their Rs, but subsequently add them where they do not belong.
We are also quite set in our ways when it comes to our vocabulary.
For travel within the Boston City limits, it is vital to understand the relationship between the proper name of the location you wish to get to, and the local translation of that name.
And just in case you don't follow New England sports, you should know that Fenway Park is a perfectly acceptable choice for a house of worship.
When in doubt, to emphasize the importance of either a statement or a request: Wicked.
Ok, so let's put it together, shall we?
Fitzwilliam, would it be possible to borrow your aunt's Cadillac? I would like to visit the liquor store to acquire additional tonic water for our beach party tonight.
Sure, Sullivan, Unfortunately you will have to drive as I have recently fallen down and injured my ankle.
Oh, my! Really?
Here's how it should sound:
Hey, Fitzy! Can we take yah Ahnt's Caddy? I need to hit the packie for some sodah for the keggah up Castle Island.
Yeah, Sully, but it's all you onna-counah I totally took a diggah and messed up my foot.
Please note: for maximum authenticity, the speaker should be wearing at least one article of Red Sox logoed clothing. We will also accept a collegiate baseball cap - preferably well worn and folded at the brim in a downward U-shape - from any of the fine institutions in either Maine or New Hampshire. Wearing a sweatshirt with "Harvard" on it will result in an automatic disqualification and expulsion from the state. If you are still confused, may I direct your attention to The Wicked Good Guide To Boston English.
I hope you will enjoy your trip through the Bay State today. As a token of hospitality, I will be giving a little something away.
No, not a 2008 Red Sox ALCS shirt!
How about this?
These lovelies are handmade with copper and freshwater pearls, and can be yours with the click of a mouse! Just leave a comment on this post, and don't forget to tell me what state you're from. I will close the comments at midnight on Thursday so everyone will have time to get in on the giveaway goodness.
Thank you all for stopping by!
(Please note: all photos, save the earrings, were obtained through Yahoo Images and are accompanied by their originating URL as "Photo Credit.")