Month: May 2007

Month-long Food Challenge

For the month of June, I’m attempting to:

  • eat less red meat (we typically eat meat almost every night; I’m going to try for no more than twice a week)
  • buy organic food whenever possible, as a financial experiment

We went shopping last night and started the challenge “early” by purchasing organic blueberries and milk among other sundry items. I commented to Steve that one possible solution to purchasing organic food while being fiscally responsible is to only drink water, after picking up a gallon of milk (on sale) for $5.99 while going past the “buy two gallons for $4.49” milk.

Last night I also created a month-long menu plan for June, trying to plan more red-meat-less meals. Incidentally, this is also a month where I’m trying out new recipes like crazy. I think there are thirteen new dishes in the list below:

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Weekend fun: Cake Concert

My husband surprised me with an overnight trip to Reno to watch Cake at the Nugget casino. It was a smallish venue, and we got in line early and ended up standing four feet away from the stage with just one row of people in front of us. It was awesome!

Cake’s music is fun and funky (their Myspace page calls it “countrified funk”), and they’re from Sacramento so we’re especially fond of them.

Some photos from the concert after the jump…

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Running out of room in the book box

I am picking up too many books from the library and not bringing enough back, so I may need to forgo my weekly library trip this week.

Finished this week:

Mommy Millionaire by Kim Lavine – The personal story, including many “tips and secrets” for starting your own business, creating your own product, and becoming a “mommy millionaire,” of the creator of the “Wuvit.” Although I’m not trying to be a “mommy millionaire,” I appreciated that she didn’t downplay the challenges she faced and mistakes she made, and some of her suggested resources for starting a business were helpful. I think it would be a good book if you want to try to get into retail with a new product idea.

Why Does My Dog Act That Way? by Stanley Coren – Steve and I don’t have a dog anymore, but we loved it when we did, and we are only waiting for a house with a yard to provide us with the excuse to get another dog. This book was fascinating to me (after the first few chapters, which the author uses to try to establish why he is being so bold as to use the term “personality” in relation with dogs and what kind of personality traits he used to categorize dogs). I enjoyed reading about the research and tips for developing a “superdog” (which involves various simple routines and training starting as early as when the puppy is two days old), was appalled by the chapters about the dog fighting industry, and laughed out loud at the very last story of the book, about “dogs saving animals.”

Lord of the Libraries by Mel Odom – The sequel to The Destruction of the Books. I chose to reserve judgment until after finishing the second book (trying to give the new fantasy “series” a chance to kick in). I did, indeed, find the plot of the second book much more interesting. I thought the pacing was rather fast near the end of the book, and it seemed that a whole lot more happened this book than in the first one. I can’t say that I enjoyed the writing style overly much and would probably not read these again. If you are curious, however: Both books focus on a hobbit-like creature named Juhg, who goes through various crazy adventures in a world infested by “goblinkin” who are set on destroying all books. Juhg first witnesses the destruction of the secret hidden library (which has been saving books from the goblinkin) in the first book, then goes on a rescue mission-slash-treasure hunt in the second book, accompanied by elves, dwarves, and a wizard. If it sounds a bit Lord-of-the-Ring-ish, I think it’s supposed to.

With a bookmark:
(Books I just started reading, or books I’ve been “reading” for ages. Most recent first.)

  • Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judith Levine (picked up this week)
  • The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
  • The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst
  • Transcending CSS by Andy Clarke
  • Wild at Heart by John Eldredge
  • A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson

Library book box:

  • The Hive by Bee Wilson
  • The Wild Out Your Window by Sy Montomery
  • Spell of the Tiger by Sy Montgomery
  • Search for the Golden Moon Bear by Sy Montgomery
  • See Jane Lead by Lois P. Frankel
  • Murder By the Book by Rex Stout
  • Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (this and below picked up today)
  • Getting Things Done by David Allen

Baby carriage baby shower invitation

I finished up the baby shower invitations:
Baby shower invitation

I purchased a vector illustration from istockphoto of baby carriages. Here’s what the original artwork looked like:

Istockphoto image

Based on this graphic, we liked the bottom left blue/teal/lime color scheme. Liz, Queen of Decor, said that she had some napkins with a similar color scheme and brought one to show me. The colors were a little brighter, so I opened the file up in Illustrator and recolored all the graphics to use a deeper blue, teal, and green. One of the baby carriages was used as an additional element in the invitation wording page:

Baby shower invitation

We were inspired by the mix of “vintage” imagery with “modern” colors. I used Bickham Script for the script font and Bauhaus Light for the rest. For the baby shower itself, we’re tracking down all the blue glassware we can find, combined with simple white serving dishes, and one of the organizers supposedly has a vintage-y white tablecloth that we can use.

The invitations are actually on one piece of cardstock, so there is a front (carriages) and back (wording) side. I happened to already have a pack of blue/teal cardstock on hand, and used different colors of cardstock for the invitations. They look quite pretty when “randomly” arranged together.

Baby shower invitation

Using Basecamp to organize a small event

I’ve mentioned in my baby shower planning post that I’m using Basecamp to help manage the baby shower details.  This is partly because there are six people helping to throw the party, and keeping track of email threads and other information can get unwieldy.

Basecamp is free if you are only using it to manage one project, so it’s a great tool to use for a one-time event even if you don’t plan on upgrading to a paid plan. Here is how I’ve been using Basecamp to plan a friend’s baby shower:

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A week worthy of a party!

Another positive weekly update!

  • Running: Checked off 25-minute mini-milestone!
  • Fruits/veggies: Completed this milestone by eating all my fruits/veggie servings this week, bringing me to 4 total for the month. Am doing pretty well at eating more veggies on other days of the week, too! (Although I think I canceled out any health benefits I may have gained, and went the wrong way on my “weight” goal, by blazing through a can and a half of Pringles and a bag of Chinese shrimp chips. Salty crunchy foods, particularly potato-flavored ones, are my downfall…)
  • Routines: Completed all bubbles on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, I also finished up the bulk of the Huge Project that I’ve been spending most of my time on. On Thursday, I found myself strangely unmotivated. I think I wasted about an hour playing different online Flash games, puttered about, did a tiny bit of work, and finally decided to call it a day at about 2 pm. I decided that I would do the same on Friday (shoot for a productive morning, and only work half a day) and take Monday (Memorial Day) off. Hopefully that will allow me to recover fully from Huge Project! There’s another phase coming up, but I’m waiting on other people’s feedback and probably won’t be able to do anything about it until next week, so I’m taking it easy until then!

“Taking it easy” work-wise, anyway. I am ambitiously trying to get a lot of other personal projects done this weekend, including making baby shower #2 invitations, cleaning the house, and putting together a business plan for my new business.

Using Envelope Distort in Illustrator for Fitting Words in Shapes

Envelope Distort exampleIn my t-shirt design, I’m using Envelope Distort in Illustrator for tweaking the shape of the words. Envelope Distort is awesome for getting words to fit into weird shapes. There are a few ways you can use Envelope Distort in Illustrator CS2 — I’ll show you what I did for the t-shirt design. Then, I’l show you how to make the “totally awesome wavy text effect” graphic.

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T-shirt Design Ideas

I’m working on a t-shirt design idea for my church’s annual Labor Day weekend campout.

I threw together two rough ideas yesterday:

T-shirt design ideas

The organizer(s) liked the second one better. I then worked on tweaking the design a bit more. Veerle’s recent tutorial on making cool abstract shapes using Transform Again in Illustrator came in handy. The circular shapes were perfect for representing sound waves as well as providing some depth to the design.

T-shirt design tweak

Now – which font to use? Here are four possibilities:

T-shirt design font choices

I’m thinking either #2 or #3. What do you think?

I’m also still not completely happy with the mountain and person (okay, I did whip out those shapes in about five seconds) so I’ll be playing with those a little more this weekend.

Harp audio clips

I’m still trying to work this thing out. Hopefully this will work!

Recently recorded harp audio from 5/17 (if you listen carefully, you can tell where I have to turn pages!):

Les Pifferari – I love, love, love this one! I’m playing it at about half the speed it should be played (and make a mistake early on) but when I recorded this I had only learned it two days before. If I had a soundtrack to my life or a theme song that I wanted to play, this would be it. I think it sounds happy. I could imagine myself skipping along in life with this constantly playing. (In fact, this song is often going through my head these days.)

[odeo=”http://odeo.com/audio/12664653/view”%5D

Welsh Penillion Melodies – Been playing this one for about three weeks. Also not up to speed (literally – I’m working on playing it faster).

[odeo=”http://odeo.com/audio/12664683/view”%5D

Las Mananitas – Three weeks on this one as well.

[odeo=”http://odeo.com/audio/12664703/view”%5D