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The Refrigerator Dump
Last year, “Tony’s Steak” Tony came through our house on his way from Hong Kong to SXSW in Austin and one of the first things he did after his trans-global traveling was open the refrigerator for a snack. In the life of a refrigerator, it was the optimum time to be opened: Sunday afternoon, aka post-Trader Joe’s Shop. All our sliced fruit sliced, stacked and glistening in their containers. Egg cartons at right angles, supporting bagged stalks of vibrant lacinato kale. Bottles of kefir and honey tangerine juice that had yet to be decimated by sweaty grabby hands of thirsty girls. Tony stood for a second in front of my kitchen shrine and said to no one in particular, “Now that’s a stocked refrigerator.”

I’m not sure how readily I’d admit this to Sheryl Sandberg, but I derive a ridiculous amount of happiness from that moment. And from a full fridge in general. At the risk of sounding like a bad hotel commercial, it’s true: When I’m prepared, I believe I can do anything.

But it’s not always a pretty path to get to that point. Some Sundays, like this past one, we come home to unpack the groceries and upon opening the fridge, realize we never used that stalk of broccoli or an entire bag of Cara Cara oranges is still sitting there wrapped in its charming netting. Half a container of grape tomatoes sits on the shelf — just enough to make you feel guilty about throwing them away. This is when I perform a Refrigerator Dump. I take out everything that’s on its last legs and see what can be salvaged. Or I see what I can put together for the week that might clear up some space for the new refrigerator residents. Or I just get in the zone and go All freaking Out. Here’s a peak:

1. I sliced all remaining whole fruit into grabbable (or spoon-able pieces) like the cara cara oranges above. Shriveled berries all went into freezer bags (stems cut off in the case of strawberries) for use in smoothies.

2. How annoying is ONE EGG left in the egg carton? Really annoying. I turned it into lunch only so I could justify throwing the carton away. I had an egg salad sandwich, made with drop of dijon, mayo, and the few strands of chives in the pack that hadn’t liquefied yet.

3. I blanched broccoli, sliced up the three separate bell pepper halves (why? how?) and packed them in little containers to throw into lunch boxes.

4. Tomatoes: Andy solved that one last year.

5. Ever since making that Indonesian Chicken Salad a few weeks ago, I’ve been in the habit of throwing a few salted and peppered split chicken breasts into the oven at 375°F for 45 minutes. When they’re done, I shred up the meat, store, and then all kinds of possibilities suddenly present themselves to me during the week: barley salads, chicken salad, avgolemono, and, of course, that Indonesian chicken salad.

Have a great weekend.
Organizing_Strategizing_Planning  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
Brilliant speech
Ash Beckham recently spoke in Boulder about not using the word "gay" pejoratively (as in, "This homework assignment is so gay"). The video is fantastic and definitely worth watching.

(Thanks, Lucy!)
relationships  genius  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
Editing My Make-Up Bag
I've been on an editing mission lately! I decided it's ridiculous to give up precious real estate in our house for things that I don't ever use (or even for the rarely used things). I used to keep my make-up in a huge zippered case. It was large and awkward and I only used a small fraction of the products that I was keeping in there. I did this for years! So silly! Case in point: Somehow I had two of the exact same green eyeshadow in that bag. I mean, what? I can't even remember wearing sparkly green eyeshadow post high school.Then a couple weeks ago, around the same time we decided to paint the laminate cabinets, I found this pretty leather pouch at American Apparel and it inspired me to simplify.After going through and tossing all the stuff I didn't actually use, I was left with a small collection of make-up that I really do love.  One of my latest favorites is the Beautyblender (the pink sponge in the corner of my bag here) - it was a bit of a life-changer for me. Have you tried it? I use it to apply my favorite tinted moisturizer and I use the flat bottom of the sponge to smooth out my blush when I wear it. I've been trying BB cream too, but I think I like the feel of my tinted moisturizer better than the BB cream. I do like how the BB gives you an airbrushed look though, and I was pretty shocked the first time I tried it! It's really amazing stuff. I ran out a couple weeks ago and decided to try the l'oreal version from the pharmacy and I like it just as much as the fancier brands.Anyway, I still have a small drawer of cosmetics that I use less often, but it's nice to have my daily make-up bag edited down to the basics. I'm annoyed that I waited so long to make this happen, but now I am pumped and feeling ready to attack the rest of my house this weekend. Clutter, be gone! My closet will be hit especially hard and I'm determined to get it more edited and organized for spring.Speaking of spring, I wish the weather outside right now would cooperate and help me get more into the spring cleaning spirit, but it's snowing again, so... mostly we're just combating cabin fever at this point. I hope you have a fun, warm weekend ahead of you! xo
Bathroom  Beauty  Organization  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
Piamo: An Espresso Maker for the Microwave
Finally – you don’t need one of those fancy machines to make an espresso anymore, nor do you have to trot yourself over to your local coffee shop. Instead, there’s Piamo, a compact, portable espresso maker that delivers your hot cup of fuel in 30 seconds, all from your microwave.

Christoph Meyl partnered with his brother Hendrik to formulate the idea to what it is today, and the duo brought in LUNAR Europe to help with the design. The results could not make espresso drinking any easier. Fill the cup with water and coffee, then stack it, flip it, and place it in the microwave. Microwave to let the pressure build up and push the water through the coffee. Then presto – a cup of espresso!

They’re currently seeking funding to finalize the project, so get in on the caffeinated action here.

It’s tiny size makes it perfect for keeping in your office desk drawer or packing it in your suitcase when you’re traveling.

Share This: Twitter | Facebook | Discover more great design by following Design Milk on Twitter and Facebook. © 2013 Design Milk | Posted by Caroline in Home Furnishings | Permalink | 2 comments
kitchen  Hendrik_Meyl  Christoph_Meyl  Home_Furnishings  Christoph_and_Hendrik_Meyl  LUNAR_Europe  tabletop  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
The Best Veggie Burger You'll Ever Have
A few years ago, I went through a vegetarian phase, and whenever Alex would get regular burgers, I'd order veggie. But even at great restaurants, they were mushy and bland. So I was psyched when Jeanine from Love & Lemons announced that, once and for all, she'd figured out how to make a killer veggie burger. Here's how...Read More >
best_veggie_burger_recipe  basic_food_series  food  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
ring stools
Finnish label Artek partnered with Japanese designer Nao Tamura to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Alvar Aalto's Stool 60. The design features a graphic of a cross section of an 80 year old tree on the seat.

via Nordic Design
graphics_+_illustration  furniture_+_lighting  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
A non-skydiving obsession
After I began skydiving I never really imagined that I’d find myself interested with anything that didn’t require a parachute. Of course, there have been a few things in my life that have come close (my constant need to explore the world and fill my body with tattoos along the way, for example) but I’ve yet to feel truly obsessed over anything in quite the way I have with skydiving.

But, that streak may have come to an end.

You see, I fell in love with a music genre 6 months or so ago, one that I’d pretty much written off as something I’d never be interested in because of what I thought it was. I turned my nose up every time my closest friend would bring it up, especially when it came to festivals.

Some call it techno, some call electronic music. Then, there’s the second layer categorizations such as house, dubstep, dance, trance…you get the idea.

Needless to say, after months, maybe even years of prodding on about  this, he finally got through to me. And all it took was a video. One video that not only changed my entire perception of EDM but made me completely obsessed with listening to and attending shows.

For those curious, the video is below. It’s the aftermovie from what I believe has the potential to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life – it combines travel, music and adventure. What more can a girl ask for?

Now, if you’re anything like me, you’re going to take one look at this and go: “20 minutes? I’m not watching a 20 minute video!” So I’ll tell you what I was told – watch two minutes and if you don’t want to watch anymore then turn it off. But again, if you’re anything like me, you’ll get to the end of the video and wish there was more.

The best part of all this is that, after our first failed attempt at buying tickets for the 2013 Tomorrowland concert in Belgium, we were able to snag a couple and will be headed to what I refer to as a real-life fairy tale for adults! I’m not sure it’s possible to be more excited. I’m constantly listening to more and more DJs and keeping a close eye on the Tomorrowland Facebook page to get as much information on what’s happening, who is playing and what to expect as possible.

This will be my first electronic music festival and my first time in Europe. As you can imagine, I’m just a little pumped.

Anyone else find that they too have non-skydiving obsessions like this? What are yours?

Blue skies!

Lifestyle  Video  festivals  music  Skydiving  travel  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
Watercolor nail polish
One of my New Year's resolutions was to stop biting my nails like a five-year-old. I already bought this crazy stuff (which makes your nails taste bitter). But after stumbling upon these beautiful watercolor nails, I feel even more inspired. And they're surprisingly easy: the tutorial just calls for a few pastel colors and a sponge. Will you try them this spring?

P.S. Navy nails and galaxy nails.

(Photos by Small Good Things, via Shoko)
beauty  nail_polish  fashion  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
Solutions for Renters: Kitchens
Greetings everyone!  The ‘Solutions for Renters’ series continues today and I’ve gathered up a few ideas for you to spruce up those kitchen spaces with temporary solutions that incorporate your personal tastes and unique style.

Kitchens and bathrooms are the hardest to personalize since they’re mostly made up of choices that are unchangeable – cabinets, tile, flooring, countertops, and faucets – all those details you’re stuck with while you rent. So what is to be done? You can accept the situation, or tweak the space with a few of these ideas. Here are nine savvy solutions to personalize kitchens in rental homes and apartments, many apply to homeowners too looking to beautify kitchens on a budget!


1.  Change the Backsplash.  If you’re lucky, you’ll have decent cabinets in your rental but if you dislike the backsplash there is good news, you can always change it. Sure you won’t be ripping out tile but here are some smart and equally effective ideas. Nester wasn’t crazy about the pinkish tile in hers so she installed white beadboard panels to lighten up the look in her rental home.

Nesting Place

Jessica at Four Generations One Roof took it to the next level with her removable backsplash where she installed beautiful glass tile on panels, ones she can take with her or reuse in the future.

Four Generations One Roof

Mount boards covered with chalkboard paint, consider tin tiles either plain or painted; tattoo your tiles with a few of the available products, or use vinyl to add a pattern to a plain backsplash wall. Did you know there are peel and stick tiles on the market? Time to get creative incorporate a look you love that you can install as a temporary solution while you live with someone else’s design choices.

Design*Sponge / DIY Network / Tile Tattoos / Vinyl Backsplash / Peel & Stick Tile


2.  Remove cabinet doors.  If your kitchen cabinetry in your rental is not your favorite or you feel the need to lighten up, Emily’s solution for removing cabinet doors is a smart one. She’s not renting, but instead of repainting all of the cabinetry in her home, she simply removed the doors on the upper cabinets and painted the backs a dark charcoal – in a rental home you can do the same or even use wallpaper or wrapping paper to dress up the backs and secure it with double sided tape.

Emily A Clark

Country Living

Apartment Therapy


3.  Slipcover Your Cabinets.   Short of painting, there is little you can do disguise unattractive cabinets, but here is an effective solution that costs only a few dollars. I’m still impressed with Erin’s kitchen makeover where she removed the doors and “slipcovered” the upper cabinets with contact paper.

Rare & Beautiful Treasures

Other decorative papers may accomplish the same thing, consider painted pieces of thin cardboard and attaching them with glue dots or using large pieces of removable wallpaper (you can buy it at Spoonflower or Design Public and other sources online.)



4. Get Graphic.  Speaking of removable wallpaper, in lieu of a cabinet cover up make a graphic statement on an accent wall with a bold print.

The Kitchn

Or take a cue from Kristin’s lovely home and paint a chalkboard accent wall in your rental or introduce a deep brown for dramatic contrast (assuming the landlord will allow you paint).

The Hunted Interior

The Kitchn


5.  Cover the Flooring.  There aren’t a lot of options for covering an unattractive kitchen floor in a rental, but one of them is peel and stick vinyl tile which can later be removed but when they look as good as they do in Caitlin’s galley kitchen, who would want to?

Caitlin Wilson Design

Your other option is to include kitchen friendly rugs and runners, even indoor/outdoor versions that can be vacuumed or hosed off.


6.  Maximize Storage.  Space permitting, increase your storage with an open shelving unit and accessorize it with your favorite dishes, cooking utensils, and small appliances.

Better Homes & Gardens

The Kitchn

The Kitchn


7. Upgrade the Lighting If your light fixtures in your rental are drab, change them out for something more stylish, more you!  Light fixtures can travel with you when you move out as long as you replace the ones that were there before (but check with your landlord and hire an electrician when in doubt about installation).

Margot Austin

Milk and Honey


8.  Add Your Personality.  You have artwork, photography, or mementos that make you smile so include them in your space design so you’re surrounded by things that make you happy each time you enter your kitchen.


Country Living


9. Accessorize with Color.  Have you ever noticed how the brightly colored accents in a room are always the first ones you notice? Employ that trick of the eye by accessorizing your kitchen with bold colorful accents, whether it’s barstools, a colorful window shade, or your kitchen appliances and favorite dishes.

Better Homes & Gardens

House Beautiful

Country Living

Both Apartment Therapy and its sister site The Kitchn are a wealth of information on small space living and making rentals personal and stylish.

Renters (current and former) let’s hear from you again, what tricks have you used in your kitchen spaces to make them more attractive and feel like home?

See Also:  Solutions for Renters: In the Bedroom



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Solutions for Renters: Kitchens is a post from Centsational Girl Republishing this article in full or in part is a violation of copyright law. © 2009-2013, all rights reserved.
Ask_Kate  Decorating  Inspiration  solutions_for_renters  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
An Interactive Stool For Kids
Interactive furniture is a growing trend I’ve always been interested in, but until becoming a mother, I didn’t realize quite how beneficial it was for children. The idea that our surroundings can offer multi-dimensional purposes and functions (and even serve as learning tools!) is fascinating for both young and old, and I can’t help but [...]
Furniture_+_Innovation  Playtime_+_Discovery  asterisk_puzzle_stool  asterisk_stool  christina_sicoli  kid_stools  kids_furniture  life-sized_puzzle_for_kids  lifesized_puzzle  modern_kids_furniture  modern_kids_stools  puzzle_stool  puzzle_stool_for_kids  stools_for_kids  well-designed_stools  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
Motherhood Mondays: Work/life balance
Work/life balance is a topic near and dear to my heart. Sarah Lacy just wrote a BRILLIANT post about every woman's individual path to finding balance as a mother. My favorite line might have been...
Read More >
personal  motherhood  toby  motherhood_mondays  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
Real Deal Pad Thai
I once overheard a conversation between two of my coworkers. This was back when I had a job in a bonafide office that employed actual grown-up human beings with whom I could interact. We were all at the printer.

“What’d you do this weekend?” said one as she jammed a ream of paper into the drawer.

“Oh, our friends came over for dinner,” said the other.

“That’s fun. What’d you make?”

“We all cooked that lasagna that was on the cover of Gourmet.”

“Oooo….I saw that. The Emilia-Romagna one, right?”


Did you make it with the bechamel?”


“And the homemade noodles?”

“Yup, everything. That was the evening’s entertainment. The kids watched Nemo, then we all relaxed and made dinner.”

At the time my girls were 2 and 3 and that kind of night with friends was both unthinkable and enviable. I absolutely fell in love with the concept of Dinner Party cum Personal Challenge and vowed I would do exactly the same thing when our kids were old enough to entertain themselves. And then I vowed to learn how to make homemade pasta. And then I asked myself, How is it that your mother is Italian and three of your daughters’ great-grandparents are 100% Italian, and it took a chance encounter over the Epson to inspire you to make homemade pasta?

Anyway. The girls got older, and as anyone who has read my book knows, we’ve cranked out many batches of homemade pasta with our friends on many memorable nights. (No lasagna yet.) But when I think back to the printer conversation, a different thread of the story jumps out at me: My coworker’s commitment to following an authentic recipe to the letter. And now I’m always on the lookout for dishes that will fit the bill.

As soon as I saw a recipe for Andy Ricker’s Pad Thai last year (described in the headnote as “this is not the dish from the neighborhood takeout joint”), I knew that it qualified. Ricker spent twenty years studying authentic Northern Thai cuisine before he became the James Beard Award-Winning chef-owner behind the Pok Pok empire in Portland (and now New York). The ingredient list for his pad thai was long and the recipe called for things like sweet preserved shredded radishes, tamarind paste, rice noodles that had to be soaked in hot water before frying, and simple syrup, “preferably made from palm sugar.” Oh, my simple syrup would be made from palm sugar all right. I would track down garlic chives (not the same thing as regular chives apparently); I would do whatever I needed to do in order to secure the exact ingredients called for. No shortcutting. No skipping an ingredient and saying It’s just one thing. How crucial can it be? like I tend to do …just about every night. And other than those sweet pickled radishes (I could only find spicy), I managed to do it. We are lucky to have an Asian supermarket superstore nearby (FYI locals: Golden Village on Central Ave), so we hit that, then laid everything on a cutting board (below) and got to work.

Can I just say: Oh My Freaking Lord. This recipe was insane. Every bite a revelation of sour, fishy, sweet and crunchy. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it was as good as the one I ate in Thailand while my toes were wriggling in the powdery sand of Maenam Beach. Maybe even as awesome as the sand and the beach combined. And we made it in our own kitchen, a half a world away.

A few of the ingredients called for: pad thai rice noodles, fish sauce, palm sugar, lime, thai chiles, bean sprouts, tofu. Check out the recipe here.
Dinner  Seafood  Vegetarian  andy_ricker_pad_thai  authentic_pad_thai  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
Amanda Palmer: The art of asking
An absolutely impressive talk by Amanda Palmer. She believes we shouldn’t make people pay for music, but letting them pay. In this passionate TED talk that begins in her days as a street performer (drop a dollar in the hat for the Eight-Foot Bride!), she examines the new relationship between artist and fan. Amanda Palmer believes we shouldn’t fight the fact that digital content is freely shareable — and suggests that artists can and should be directly supported by fans.
conferences/talks  videos  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
A new leaf turned: my experience (so far) going hard-core Paleo
A few weeks ago, I saw my friend Jessica post this comment on Facebook: “Contemplating doing a Whole 30 once Valentines passes. Thinking that might help me troubleshoot my aches and pains. Encourage me or talk me off the ledge?”

It stuck in my brain for days because I’d been thinking of doing one, too, ever since my friend Heidi first tried it, but I just didn’t really want to take the next step. I’d read about Whole30 (and the Whole9 group that created it), and I had added a few Paleo cookbooks and podcasts to my repertoire. Yet I still didn’t really want to go there, if you know what I mean.

But doing it with someone else? That had appeal. I’m not a fan of food fads, but joining a group of friends in camaraderie, where we could share the highs and lows of the whole process (and maybe laugh at ourselves at our weeny-ness about not having wine for a month)? That sounded more fun.

So today is Day 10 of my Whole30, and I’m floored by how I feel. It’s really pretty incredible.

What on earth is Whole30?
I know, sounds like some sort of infomercial energy drink, right? It’s actually the name of a 30-day food plan created by husband and wife team Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, who own a crossfit gym in Utah (yeah, they’re “those” types of people—healthy ones).

Basically, it’s Paleo hard-core. It’s no sugar, grains, dairy, and legumes for an entire thirty days—so you guessed it, it’s not easy. But what’s amazing is that I feel fuller than I ever have in my life because for the first time in ages, my body is getting what it needs to tell my brain it’s full when it has the food it needs. I can trust my signals again.

Its purpose is to zero in on what foods may be troubling you, often without you even being aware. So many modern-day issues, such as healthy weight maintenance, depression, skin and joint issues, autoimmune conditions, and more—all start with food. Whole30 pares down your diet to the bare essentials for a full thirty days to help your body heal from what may be hurting you.

So I’m only a third in, but I’ve already learned some helpful tips.

1. Focus on what you can have, not what you can’t.
Whole30 means I’m not currently eating some of my favorite foods—aged cheeses, red wine, and dark chocolate, for instance. But you know what I can have? Every kind of quality meat imaginable. Tons and tons of vegetables and plenty of fruits to take off the sweet cravings. Coconut products galore, which turns out are AMAZING. Who knew?

There are more recipes and ideas out there than days of the year—simply search “Paleo” on Pinterest and you’ll see. (I’ve created a Paleo pinboard, too.)

2. Plan in advance.
Meal planning has made this possible for our family—there’s no way I could fly by the seat of my pants and make this happen right now. On the weekends I decide what we’re going to eat for the entire week, and I shop straight from the list.

My meal planning tool of choice right now is Plan to Eat, but I also love and subscribe to Whole Family’s Kitchen‘s meal plans, and they have a great selection of grain and gluten-free menus.

And date night—oh, date night. It’s hard to eat out. Did you know that almost every restaurant known to man uses canola oil? I had to call all over town to find a place that would let us request our food be cooked with olive oil instead of canola. But calling ahead did help us know where to go and what to order ahead of time, so we weren’t caught off-guard.

3. Roll with the punches.

I’m not gonna lie—it’s hard, especially at first. This timeline seems spot-on to me. The first few days, I had a mix of wanting to “kill all the things,” followed by an intense desire to just curl up and take a long nap until morning. I even had what’s known as “carb flu,” where it really did feel like I was getting sick—turns out I was detoxing from carbs.

It helps enormously to just go with the flow, let your body do its thing, and not give up when it feels icky. Most people wake up around Day 8 and start feeling much, much better.

4. Find a group.
I can’t stress this last bit enough. Our little Facebook group has been my lifeline, because I’m the type to give up early on these things due to boredom or lack of accountability. It’s been fantastic to vent, share, encourage, and learn from ladies like Anne, Jessica, Mandi, Heidi, Tricia, Katie, Sarah, and more.

So if you decide to try out Whole30, I highly, highly encourage you to form a group and try it together. Plan a start date, read the Hartwig’s book It Starts With Food in advance, to fill your head with the reasons you’re doing this, and then? Just… start. No time like the present.

I figured this—I can always go back to my former way of eating if I didn’t like the results. It’s only thirty days, and I’m not a toddler—I can totally tell my brain and my body “no,” even if I might want to throw a tantrum. But something tells me I’ll feel so good in twenty days that I may be forever changed, if my experience is anything like the thousands of others I’m reading about.

According to the Simple Mom Facebook page, a lot of you have tried Whole30s with great success, and it’s been fun to read your encouragement and questions on Instagram, too. So I know I’m not alone here. I just wish I took the plunge sooner.

Your turn—what’s been your experience with this type of eating? Are you Paleo (or Paleo-ish)?


Plan to Eat - Meal planning made simple.
MightyNest - Helping create healthy homes.
Tsukihoshi - Children's shoes designed exclusively for the comfort and health of children's feet.
Pine Bros. - Softish throat drops.
The Confident Mom - 2013 - the year to get organized.
Every Breath I Take - Virtual yoga studio.

A new leaf turned: my experience (so far) going hard-core Paleo is a post from Simple Mom

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Similar Posts:A new leaf turned: my experience (so far) going hard-core Paleo

Finding the Balance of Mind and Body at Home

Gearing up for the next Book Club selection: In Defense of Food
Self-Care  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
Tutorials for storing your stuff
These little DIY projects might be fun for the weekend:
A tree-shaped holder for earrings at Projectville
A simple way to store your washi tape by Silly Old Suitcase
Leather card holders from Caila Made (bonus: these pouches are fab)
No-sew fabric boxes by Rashida Coleman Hale
tutorials  GR-starred  from google
march 2013 by lacurieuse
It’s about soap, but not really
A bit about a delicious bar of soap I bought, but it's more than just about the suds.
Oh!_Things!  Ottawa  Yaktivism  eco-friendly  family  household  money  shopping  stuff  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
Learning Spanish is possible at any age
With waggling hands and adorable smiles the gathered toddlers begin to sing in Spanish: “Mi cuerpo, mi cuerpo hace música,” they chant, “my body, my body makes music.”

Following the body gestures of the group instructor, the eager toddlers proceed to clap their hands and stomp their feet as they recite the rest of the song.  “My hands go ‘clap-clap-clap,’ my feet go, ‘stomp-stomp-stomp,’ my voice says, ‘la-la-la’, and my body goes ‘cha-cha-cha.” The last part is eagerly performed by cute little arms swinging back in forth in a toddler version of the cha-cha.

Welcome to Vamos a Cantar, a program at the Main Branch of the Ottawa Public Library (120 Metcalfe) that takes place on the first and third Saturday of each month.  While ostensibly for children four years or younger, the program is really designed for parents who want to teach their little ones Spanish.

“Everyone is welcome,” says Monica Reyes, the volunteer group instructor who came up with the idea for the bi-weekly gathering. “Many people who are Latin do not know the songs … so it’s a good way for them to learn.  It’s also a good way for others to learn Spanish.”

For those parents who are not sure whether they would fit in, fear not, as the participants come from diverse backgrounds.  While the majority are from Spain or Latin America, or at least have Latin family roots, many are native-born Canadians who learned Spanish as a second or third language.

In between songs, as parents chat with the group instructor or each other, you can hear Spanish with French or English accents, blending in with the regional dialects from several countries.  The result is a combination of families who want to make sure that their children continue speaking Spanish at home, and others who are introducing their little ones to a new linguistic world.

Based on the results to date the program has been a success.

“Since the program started, the amount of Spanish-language material that has been taken out of the library has gone up,” says Karen Molina, who works at the Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization and who organizes the singing program at the library.

Buoyed by this positive reaction, other Spanish-language programs have been launched. For instance, a creative writing pilot program for children aged seven to twelve was launched on February 23. (Full disclosure: My mother Camila Reimers runs this program).

The writing program – which also takes place at the Main Branch – is run in Spanish, but when it comes time to write a story the children can pen their first draft in French, English or Spanish.  Once the story is written, the draft is either translated into or polished in Spanish. The program is currently filled, but it’s possible that a second group will start in the spring.

Another planned idea is to have storytelling for children in Spanish.  Alvaro Duque, who volunteers for both Vamos a Cantar as well as the pilot creative writing program, tells Apartment613 that he would like to create a program where parents and children can engage in storytelling.

“We can start to tell stories that parents can then discuss,” says Duque.

Vamos a Cantar takes place on the first and third Saturday of each month.  It is divided into two sections, with the group for babies to 18 months (10:30am-11am), and the second for toddlers 19 months to 4 years (11:30am-12:15pm).
General  Learning  Music  Learn_Spanish  Ottawa_Public_Library  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
Photoshop Tutorial – Making a Silhouette
Welcome back to Tutorial Tuesday!

It’s kinda ironic to me that I am teaching ANYTHING.  I mean…I’m a homeschooler…who went to college to be a teacher…realized VERY quickly that I am not cut out for it and will praise the fine educators of the world till kingdom come…took up a camera less than five years ago and photoshop after that….to be here, attempting to teach you little tricks with no real training myself except a whole lot of trial and error (emphasis on the error!).  That’s irony people.  At least I think it is…I was homeschooled afterall

So today I am going to show ya a VERY easy method to make a silhouette in photoshop.  Basically you can take any photo and make it into one of those cool personalized gifts or artwork.  I love the idea of doing it for newlyweds or as a baby shower gift.  But first, the things to note….I use Photoshop CS4…not all photoshop is created equal.  This method works but there are several ways to skin a cat…not that I condone skinning anything.  That’s like Silence of the Lambs creepy.  It rubs the lotion on its skin.  Let’s get started.

This time around I am gonna make a silhouette out of a picture of me holding Will.  Jeremy took this photo and it was late in the evening and we were moving a bunch so the original was blurry…but that’s okay!!!  This is a silhouette!  It can be done with a blurry photo!  That’s one of the best parts   I did edit it so that it was artsy fartsy because I loved our expressions…so that is what we are working with.

And we are making this…

First things first, you wanna open your file in photoshop.  I like to look for profile shots – they show the face so much better.  Also I like it when the legs are separated a little…and when there is little overlap of limbs.  It just produces a better image.

Now you want to select your pen tool.  (shift and P are the shortcut)

Make sure your color is on black and the shape layers box is selected (indicated by red arrows below).

Next thing you want to do is start your dots.  Basically we are outlining the entire picture with little dots….it’s like connect the lines.  Also, you may want to adjust your opacity till it’s down near 50% (I circled it in red)…that way you can see what you are outlining.

Make sure you give hair and faces a little more life by using closer dots and showing the separation.

Once you connect all the way back to the beginning – the dots should disappear and you are left with a solid line around your image.

(Oh and yes, my shoes were disappearing into the grass so I created some – remember that if your original photo doesn’t show it, you have to remember to create it!).

Now adjust your opacity back to 100% to see your silhouetted image.

Now we are gonna open a new layer.  (shortcut is Shift + Control + N).  Make each window smaller so that you can see them both.  Remember that you are gonna see the different layers of your window in the sidebar but only for the selected window….so click on the top bar of the window to make sure you are on the right one.

So what we are gonna do is click on the top of the original image and select our shape layer.  Then you are gonna hold a left mouse button it (this grabs that layer) and drag it onto the other open layer (our window that is untitled!)….this copies the layer onto the new window that has a white blank background.

After you resize the silhouette to fit the background (just grab the little boxes on the corners to stretch it bigger or smaller), you can move it around to your hearts content.

If you are trying to make artwork, you can add words…

It ends up looking like this…

Or you can change the background with another layer to make the silhouette over words.  Wouldn’t this be a cute project for a childs birthday or for fathers day?  Or for a thank you note to someone that helped watch your kids or a friend that that needs some cheap personalized art on their walls?

Happy photoshopping!

p.s.  We only have two more photoshop sessions left!
Uncategorized  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
black + white + brass kitchen inspiration
My style tends to be very colorful, and I love a statement. But since this isn’t “our” kitchen, I’m keeping it pretty simple: plain white slab cabinets, butcher block counters, white subway tile backsplash with dark grout, and brass hardware.

These are the images I’ve been referring to over and over while designing the kitchen. My husband has started to accuse me of harboring a secret desire for a country house. He might be right about that.

If you want even more kitchen ideas, I have a handy pinterest board for that.

{Images: Elle Decor via /  Decorpad /  Terracotta Properties / Light Locations - this whole house is gorgeous! / House Beautiful / Desire to Inspire}
interiors  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
What I’m Designing // 5 Voices – A Workshop.
5 Voices They Will Hear // WordPress Design
This summer, I launched Neil’s site for him (he’s a writer, editor, super awesome funny guy) and when he came back this winter with an idea to launch a workshop about engaging people, I was in. Not only because I like work (and I do), but because I loved the idea for an non-boring workshop. And I’ve never met Neil, but I can tell you that if his emails are any indication, that if anyone can make a workshop fun, it’s Neil. He is kind, really hilarious, and just all around fantastic. (Allie Larkin agrees.)

Neil wanted the site and logo to be playful, engaging, and confident. He wanted to appeal to a wide array of individuals as his target demographic – teachers, yoga instructors, corporate managers, and entrepreneurs.

After several rounds of revisions, we ended up with a site that was a complete departure from our original direction, but that I seriously love. It’s simple, clean, and engaging. I used a beautiful brush script, plenty of white space, and several images to complete the look.

I also included a few playful additions, like the hidden arrow hover effect on the link back to Neil’s site:

An essential part of any one-page website is a call to action: Tell the visitor where to go or what to do. 

And that’s 5 Voices They Will Hear. Another fun project and another fantastic client!

I’m currently booking for mid-to-late April if you or someone you’d know would like to work with me!

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design  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse

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