Thursday, May 26, 2011


If you haven't seen photos of Colossus from the Maker Faire website, you really should take a look. This art installation, brought over from Burning Man, was like the Empire State Building of Maker Faire. It was quite literally the center of the festival, and provided a beacon for separated groups and those in need of a meeting point.

I was lucky enough to be able to see it constructed, taken down, and also talk to some of the individuals who put their love into making it work. Let me tell you, I would not want to be one of the people crunching the numbers into balancing each of those 10,000 pound boulders. That's right, each of the three boulders balanced delicately off the arms of Colossus weighs more than five cars.

What was so fascinating about the precise physics behind Colossus was that ropes attached to the boulders could pull the entire weight of the structure, like a large scale may pole. My hat's off to the parents who let their tiny children not only stand directly underneath the behemoth sculpture, but run around pulling the ropes balancing 60 thousand pounds. It was a definite confidence booster for the youngsters.

I decided against having a go myself. I figured if I started pulling around 5-ton rocks, there'd be no end to the stuff I'd have to carry around for other people.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lockpicking Village!

Now that I'm back and slowly catching up on sleep, I have so much to share with you about my weekend at Maker Faire. So much that I'm going to share it over the rest of the week.

I think it's fitting that the first thing I show you is my favorite thing from the event. It was, hands down, the Lockpicking Village, where the elusive society shared its secrets for getting into inaccessible places.

Here's a little video of one of the experts examining a lock. The lock picking is way tougher than it looks, but the tools make all the difference. There are two pins that work together- one has a jagged edge depending on the style of lock, the other is used to hold it open while you pick from the other side.

This would really come in handy for me, since I seem to lock myself out of the house at least once a month. There's lots of info and great resources on the internet to get started for those interested.

More soon!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Maker Mania

I need to go to bed soon. I'm helping out with Maker Faire, a huge weekend in the south Bay full of crafters, makers, hackers, techies, and other DIY folk get together to show their work. I can't wait.

This is all part of my new adventure working for a cool media company. It couldn't be more different from the kitchen, but I welcome the opportunity to foster another skill set. Change is something that finds me easily.

I will disappear for a few days, but can't wait to come back and share my weekend with you. I know it will be amazing!

In the meantime, let me put a plug in for the event. If you are a local Bay Area-er, I totally think you should go to San Mateo on Saturday and Sunday. I know that sounds weird, since I'm a first timer myself, but this is so different from a music festival and seeing the heart and soul that goes into it ... I'm just so proud to be a part of it.

Good night, world!

Monday, May 16, 2011

When Pictures Can't Do Justice

Warning: on one of the most breathtaking days I've had in months, my camera A) could not capture the events quick enough and B) stopped working properly altogether. It's probably for the best, since we all know pictures rarely are as great as the real thing.

After work yesterday, I decided to go to the beach to get a better view of the whales migrating north with their babies. A few grey whales were fishing around Goat Rock and doing some blowhole spouting, which I wasn't able to capture.

I am such a whale nut. I fought off the urge to make my famous whale noises.

And on the other side of the beach, lying next to the Russian River was a group of harbor seals nesting with their babies.

Eventually, I need to head north and check out some new spots, but Goat Rock keeps getting better! Even on the most uncertain day, I can always feel put back together when I'm watching waves crashing on sand. Seals and whales are a super bonus. I hope migration lasts a bit longer.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

One Week Later, Still Recovering

I live in a pretty special place. So special, that on a random Sunday afternoon, I can walk into a random local bar with a friend and see an Elvis impersonator performing all day.

I'm not going to lie. He was good. The crowd loved him!

He had a cheerleader dancing with pom poms and a bubble machine.

He danced on the tables. He even crawled across the tables. I've never seen a performer work harder for a crowd.

Best of all, he sang an extra long version of "Suspicious Minds" for my friend and me. With lots of pointing. I was still trying to digest that my pub stop for a beer turned into a full-on Elvis tribute band.

And that was how I spent the weirdest Mother's Day of my life.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


There's something I've been wanting to get off my chest. I'm not who you think I am. There are things about me you don't know and it's time I come clean.

I am a classically trained professional pastry chef, a food blogger, and a cookbook author. I also have some of the worst eating habits of anyone you know. I'm addicted to junk food. I skip breakfast most of the time. I even have bouts of smoking for months at a time.

Sometimes I go a week without cooking an actual meal for myself. (This is more apparent when I work in restaurants.) When I cook all day at work, I crave snacks and cereal when I get home. I can't live without Annie's boxed mac and cheese.

You may be shocked. There are so many lovely food blogs with healthy yoga girls and former editorialists showing you how to live a better life. I want to have something to share with you, even if it gets a little gritty from time to time. I put a lot into finding interesting experiences to write about, even weaving in a metaphor or two with the food adventure. But if I ever let you in to see the real me, you need to know that I am often just a single gal who drinks milk right out of the container and struggles to find enough plates when the neighbors come over.

I'm a simple girl. With lots of vices.

But you know what? I want to change. I want to be healthier. I want to kick the smoking for good, even when I'm feeling Anthony Bourdainish. I'd like to exercise and not feel like running is on par with torture.

The truth is, we each have lots of things to work on. Mine just involves a major change in lifestyle. Don't get excited, I'm going to do this in baby steps.

And the good food stays, including all the things with butter and bacon. I'm just going to scale down on the bachelorette-cavewoman tendencies.

Just thought I'd clarify.

Free Food Photography Workshop!

Thanks to the Pioneer Woman for posting this photography opportunity!

Penny de los Santos, a photojournalist for National Geographic and Saveur has posted this video showing some of her work and announcing her class. If you tune into her workshop live May 13 – 15, 2011 – 10:00 am Pacific Time each day, you can watch for free. Oh, and she shot the video off her iPhone- how cool is that?

It's a breath of fresh air to see such honest food photos. I've started to get a bit tired of the same old airbrushed studio shots and the sterile look of food that seems too perfect to eat (it usually is). De los Santos shows a raw grittiness to her work- plates with smudged edges next to napkins and dirty forks, or a shot in a grey kitchen with a line of tickets on the board. She totally gets it, and will show us how we, too, can capture the reality of food and culture without manipulating it.

I can't wait.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Things that Spring Brings

Love. New Beginnings. Reinvention. Better Sleep. Longer days. The promise that all things are possible. Daffodils. Asparagus. Sunshine.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ode to My Mama

Typically on Mothers' Day, you think about your mom. This year, I actually thought about my mom the whole day. I've actually been thinking about her a lot the past few months. She's been through a lot this year, taking on my grandfather's caretaking for six months, and losing her older sister and both her parents all within that time period.

I'm happy to know that through her grief, she's remembering to take care of herself. A lot of moms forget to do that.

I'm also happy to know that she's a big part of my life at present, and that we've worked through our ups and downs typical of the complex mother-daughter relationship.

I'm lucky that she's there for me for late night meltdowns and emergency care packages filled with candy and new sheets (I usually keep mine long after there are holes in them). For the miles of sandwiches she's made just the way I like over the years, the unconditional I love yous that so often elicited no response, for giving me space when I needed it, yet knowing when I needed her at my side and being there.
I'm glad she is full of life, love and laughter.
I'm glad she's made me the woman I am.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Vegas, Baby

I realized that I still hadn't posted about my trip to Vegas the other weekend. Bad blogger! My best friend is getting hitched this summer (ahem, to a lad from college in which I which I may have had a hand in arranging the match). We figured the classiest thing to do was have a bachelorette party in Vegas. (Obviously!) Here's a snapshot.

Since Michelle, my bf, lived in England for a year, as does my other college buddy, Amy, we had a British theme for the weekend. Across the pond, they call a bachelorette party a "hen do," which includes a lot of games and structured fun. We went with it. Our first night included getting dressed up and checking out the strip.

The next day, we went casino hopping, which included silly surprises at each stop along the way. We are Wisconsin girls, after all.

You can take the girl out of New York but, wait ... is that New York?

Our stop in New York included a toilet paper fashion show, which, luckily for those involved, I did not document.

The Venetian was a bit classier. Oops! Except for the caution tape accessories. Yes, we're nerds, although, I believe the term is "hot nerd."

(Note: Michelle does not really have pink hair.)

On our last day, we took a gamble at, well, gambling. One thing I learned: it does not help your game when you approach the dealer and say, "I've never played. What do I do?"

The dealers loved us anyway. Maybe even more because of it.

Congratulations, Matt and Michelle!