5 Things I Love – Feb 28

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I realized this past week that I got your top five from the new lia sophia catalog and drew a winner from the contest, but I never told you my top 5 or who won. So…

Congratulations, Deanna G! I hope you are enjoying your new bit of sparkle ;)

And here are my 5 favs from the new catalog:

1. Cafe Au Lait

Forgive me as I drool… my mother will vouch for me that the moment I saw this I had to take a picture on my cell (she hadn’t gotten her catalog yet) and send it to her. I fell in love with it just that quickly.

2. Buttercup

Matte gold, bling and a vintage feel make this a definite win in my book AND it’s even cuter in person.

3. Knotted Up Bracelet

Again with the matte gold this time combined with a hammered Celtic knot pattern and at 7 1/2 inches I can actually wear it without it become a projectile weapon.

4. Bouquet

This necklace take a popular trend and gives it an almost minimalist take that gives it a versatile wearability as well as being fun and springy.

5. Contessa

I will just tell you now these earrings are long and they do have a bit of weight to them, but I love wearing them anyway. They have quickly become a go to set for me especially when I’ve got on a neckline that just isn’t conducive to necklaces or I can’t find just the right one.

Runners Up (because I can):

Paris Lights set – So gorgeously sparkly
Marina – simple but interesting
Improv – very versatile and this catalog’s Dress for Success piece
Comet – fun, flirty and perfect for spring
Reach by Paula – another versatile but trendy piece

Crockpot Chicken Noodle

Before I headed off to Colorado for Interaction11 I had a nasty cold and what better for a cold than chicken noodle soup? Since I’ve given up a lot of canned soups (have you seen the amount of sodium?) and still had my mum’s crockpot at hand I decided to make up another batch of soup at home

Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup

8 cups water
2 diced chicken breasts
3/4 cup diced fresh celery
1/4 cup diced fresh onion
1 cup diced carrots
8 oz egg noodles
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1/8 teaspoon mustard
2 teaspoon garlic powder

Slice, dice, etc. all of your ingredients. Put your chicken breast, celery, onion, carrots and spices into the crockpot.

Set to high and let cook for 3-4 hours or until the chicken appears to be cooked through. Add egg noodles. Let simmer for another hour. Serve warm or allow to refrigerate overnight for more taste.

This is a little on the bland side, so you may want to ramp up the spices a bit. Another option that I ended up preferring over the spice addition was to add a couple tablespoons of shredded sharp cheddar cheese on top. It added just that bit of tang I was looking for.

Estimated 12 1 cup servings @ 115 calories a serving (pre-cheese).

5 Things I Love – Feb 21

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1.Zoya Nail Polish in Poppy

I was introduced to Zoya through a friend when a friend tweeted about their friend them on facebook & get 3 bottles of polish for the price of shipping special. How could I resist, right? Well, I love all of my colors (I also got Yummy & Austine) but Poppy has completely won me over. It’s a color I can live in. In fact, I have been.

2. Tardis Mug

I came across this on Think Geek the other day and had an automatic ‘OMG I Must Have It!’ moment. Obviously I am not alone in this since it’s currently out of stock :( If you’re a fan make sure to check out the Product Specifications for further awesomeness.

3. Stroh’s Lemon Chiffon Ice Cream

Whilst we were in Colorado there was a baby shower for one of my co-workers which was completely missed. What was not missed was the leftover ice cream in the freezer and because of this I was introduced to a new favorite flavor. Lemon Chiffon = amazing. That is that.

4. Slings & Arrows

Whilst in Boulder a new friend asked if I had ever watched this before and, upon hearing of my ignorance, recommended it. I am very glad I took his advice and checked it out this weekend over Netflix. What thespian wouldn’t appreciate a comedy focused around a Shakespeare festival and all the antics that other thespians inevitably end partaking of?

5. The IT Crowd

If Slings & Arrows appeals to my inner thespian, The IT Crowd appeals to another different type of geek within. Of course, while I may have been amused by this prior to my current job I do not think I would have appreciated the humor quite as much as I do after working for the past year embedded in the midst of developers.

Interaction11 – Thursday

Thursday morning started out with coffee, banana bread, Bill Verplank and his conte crayon. A pretty good start to the day in my world.

Keynote: Interaction Design Metaphors

Bill started out with three questions that every interaction designer has to answer: How do you do? How do you feel? How do you know?

Within this he also discussed the difference between hot media, which is set without much room for interpretation, and cool media, which is much more open like jazz and cartoons, as well as how this plays into the matching of mediums and messages. The message needs to match the medium in which it is presented aka the medium is the message.

Another area that he covered was the difference between a path and a map. A path is more direct, but a map is more engaging and thought provoking.

The example he used was of the closed vs. open vending machines. The closed vending machine offers a few options, choose and go. It is a path. The open vending machine lays out all of your options where you can see them and choose that way. It is a map.

The last section of his talk had to do with mentalities and interfaces.

According to Piaget & Bruner, there are three different mentalities or forms of knowledge. The first we are born with, which is motor/kinesthetic/enactive knowledge or ‘do’ thinking. At about the age of 5 we develop ‘see’ thinking where the image is what matters. Then, as an adult, we develop symbolic or ‘know’ thinking. According to Bruner we suppress each type of thought as we develop the next.

This ties into interaction and computing with the manner in which interfaces developed. The first computers were teletype computer which were all about symbols thusly ‘know’ thinking. From there we moved on to ‘see’ thinking with the birth of the GUI (Graphic User Interface) and interactive design.

So what next? If we continue in this progression we will be moving to ‘do’ thinking and have already started to see the entry of tangible user interfaces.

Obviously this has just been and overview, but my understanding is that the talks will be made live eventually if you’d like to learn more on this or any of the other speakers’ talks.

Proximus Maximus

What gives designers the confidence to say they can create something never before credited? What gives those they’re talking to confidence to believe them?

To address this Michael Meyer spoke on the 3 Design Imperatives. The first is empathy as we designers must develop and show for our tools. The second imperative is core, which is the essential material available to craft the products, services, etc. The last imperative is proxy or the things that represent the sum of you knowledge and communicate understanding and ability.

It is the combination of these three things – empathy, core & proxy – which answer the questions that began the talk in the first place for it’s those that determine the final arbitrators in design decisions.

What do you do anyway?

Carl Alviani brought to a point a recurring theme of the morning – how do we define ourselves as interaction designers? As probably comes as no surprise to anyone who has asked before, our field doesn’t have a really good answer to that question.

As Carl pointed out, internal stories do not equal external stories and the importance of a right story is that it turns skeptics into evangelists. He gave several definitions that people have of the field with my favorite being that it’s magic. Not that this lack of understanding is a good thing, but I appreciated the comment anyway.

In closing, he gave all those listening 5 To Dos:

1. An example would be useful – Examples ALWAYS beat abstracts
2. Tell an IxD at work story – w/ pics!
3. Don’t sweat the edge case, dialogs are protables
4. It is… don’t worry about the titles unless it’s vital
5. Start where the listener is

Consume, Consume, Consume

Peter Knoche came next reminding us that there is more to life than just consuming and, in fact, that consumption has never won an Emmy or written the Great American Novel.

With that he encouraged us to seek balance in our lives between the curation, creation and consumption that fill them and not only that, but to help our users find balance in theirs as well with the reminder that free cultures get what they celebrate.

Scandalous Interaction

Tim Wood started out his lightning talk with quite the scandalous slide – Usability is overrated! This was followed up with the question of whether usability really is overrated when it’s just one of many factors which drive us.

He ruffled a good many feathers in the twitto-sphere challenging the traditions, conventions and the continuing applicableness of these things. He asked us to truly consider before using these things for convenience and look beyond the model details to define the underlying structure and logic so that we understand the abstraction of the behavior.

After a scheduled lunch break…

Keynote: Designing at the Edge of the World

Erik Hersman kicked off the afternoon by sharing with us how technology is impacting Africa and the differences between there and other parts of the world.

One of the largest differences is that mobile rules. While we take for granted in many places that that people will have email addresses this is simply not true of Africa. Instead the phone number trumps the email address and so the technological culture there has adapted to this.

The power of the phone number does not, however, mean that people are loading their phones full of data and minutes each month. Instead they are only loading them just often enough to keep the number active. This has led to site like facebook allowing access to certain portions of their site at no cost to the user.

The biggest thing that can be seen is how this is making a shift from societies that have always been top down in their structure to working on building from the ground up.

He also cited a number of African sites/developers/organizations of interest including MXit, iYam.mobi, AfricanDigitalArt.com, Stonewall.co.za, NairoBits and Ushahidi.

Obviously this is just a very brief overview of his talk. You can find his thoughts after speaking here at his blog.

Design for the Developing World

Susan Wyche followed up on Erik’s experiences with her own much shorter exploration of the internet and Africa from when she did a short term study of how Africans who theoretically could afford to get internet in their homes interact with it.

What I find interesting is that those she spoke with chose not to add the expense of internet. To them the possible benefit did not outweigh the cost and they did not wish to have their lives consumed with this tool (as we Americans do). Instead they plan deliberate interactions with the internet using offline preparation to maximize their time online in the office or at internet cafes.

GrowBot Gardens

The next speaker, Carl DiSalvo of the Georgia Institute of Technology, switched stateside as he talked about working collaboratively with small farmers on building and designing robots that would benefit them in their work.

Bringing back the earlier topic of empathy, he spoke about cultural imaginaries and moving towards co-design and with that greater empathy for those we are working with.

He also talked about public design. That is the construction of publics, especially with the thought in mind of bringing together all kinds of people to interact and engage with each other.

It wasn’t a session I had initially thought I would find interesting, but working with the Mainstreet program I could see a lot of application for my area if not as much my paid job.

Technobrega: Tacky Techno

The last session ended up being a favorite of mine. Ana Domb brought us an inside look at the techno brega phenomena from Brazil. It is an interesting study in how a community took a system that was not working for them (i.e. the licensed music system) and through collaborative innovation developed a new system that used both social and physical currency supporting both the artists and the audience.

Because it is a true collaboration there is not bottom up because there is not bottom. The relationship is lateral so that instead of the audience being at the receiving end of the network it’s a node in the greater network.

“The history of art deals with innovators and innovations that won organizational systems.” – Howard Becker


To close out the afternoon there was a Q&A with the speakers. Here are a few bits I found interesting from it

What is the role of designer in these environments?
Guide & translator, yet without trying to force our own cultural perceptions upon a place and people who are different from us.

What about cultural intrusiveness?
Balance expertise with crushing your own ego. Work with the culture not against it and, most of all, listen.

“We build stuff to make things change. That’s what we do.” – Erik Hersman

Effective UI/Adobe Opening Party

We closed out the evening with a bash hosted by Effective UI & Adobe at the Boulder Theatre which featured the wonderful taste creations of a top chef (the brussel sprouts were amazing) and two bands.

I’ll close out this post with a video of Itchy-O.

Interaction11 – Wednesday

This past week I had the pleasure of attending the Interaction11 conference in Boulder, CO, with my co-worker Caitlin. Instead of trying to cover it all in one or even two posts I’ve decided to break it out by day lest the sheer amount of notes I’m seeking to parse into this becomes overwhelming.

On to Wednesday.

We actually set out to Boulder for the conference on Tuesday, which turned from a nice 8 hour travel day to something around 14 hours with a flight delay leading to a missed flight and then sub-zero whiteness in Denver on our arrival correlating to a late bus. I can now tell you from experience that walking 4 blocks with luggage in the slush and sub-zero temps with a Manhattener in the lead is really not the best way to go. Should I ever again face this situation I’m getting a cab. Anyway, we made it. I’ll leave Tuesday at that.

After a nice, full night of sleep we headed downstairs to acquire our badges (accompanied with some lovely swag) and headed over to the first workshop of the day – ‘Self-Ethnography, Collaboration & Play’ with Sara Summers of Microsoft. Of course, the first thing she asked was why we chose that workshop of our options for the morning, which falls into the data set known as ‘details I’ve ceased recalling’.

So what is self-ethnography? With Sara at the helm we boiled it down into 5 things:
– Empathy
– Observation of ourselves using things
– Emotional Intelligence
– Self-awareness
– Self-regulation

One example given of this was Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Super Mario Bros, who took inspiration from his own childhood memories to create the most lucrative and game-changing video game to date. His whole philosophy was to recreate the wonderment of being a child. Obviously that resonated and still resonates with his users.

As we continued with a discussion on the balance of creativity and our work lives a couple of notes that jumped out at me were the idea that creative work should be like traveling to a foreign country and that while planning is good we should remain open to those unplanned experiences as they are often the most interesting.

I also really enjoyed her analogy of describing bad UX as a bug to developers; a concept which we plan to start implementing in our workplace now that we’re back.

Our session was closed out with a collaborative thinking project. We were asked to write down the best business idea and worst start-up idea that we could think of. As I’m sure you can see coming, she tore off the good ones and had each table grouping choose (without looking) a bad one which we had a ½ hour to develop a business plan for presentation to a group of venture capitalists otherwise known as our peers.

Our business idea – an interface you interact with via smell.

Thusly Analyscent was born.

Here’s our new friend Phillip presenting our business:

Yes, I realize that the video is sideways. I haven’t yet had a chance to convert and flip it.

Caitlin was also kind enough to grab photos of some of our presentation materials and share them.

After grabbing lunch with several of our new friends, I headed back to Boulder Digital Works for an afternoon session with other IxDA local leaders. While I picked up a lot of great information and ideas for our local IxDA group as well as learning a good bit more about local groups globally (and the amazing rate at which they are growing), the best part of the afternoon session was the opportunity to connect with other people involved with leading local groups including one person from my own state I hadn’t met yet. I’m really looking forward to the collaboration efforts that are already starting to come from that relationship building.

After a relatively short trip to the bar with the group, several of us split off to enjoy some Cheesecake Factory for dinner (we don’t have one in Michigan) where we learned a little more about the local wildlife, perhaps more than made some of the group comfortable. Thankfully, I don’t think Justin had to try out his cat calming skills with any of the local mountain lions while in the area.

The evening closed out with karaoke at Juanita’s. For all of you who were there an didn’t go – you missed out on a lot of fun.

Looking back over the conference as a whole, one of the things I find interesting is that the people that we met on Wednesday ended up being a good portion of those who we bonded with and spent a good amount of time with as the week progressed. That is not to say that we didn’t meet or hang out with more people, just that many of those who I really see myself remaining in touch with were in that group and I am glad that we took part in those optional workshops and activities of the day.

Recommended Reading from the Day:

Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connective Age by Clay Shirky

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nick Carr
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink
Picture This: The Near-Sighted Monkey Book by Linda Barry

5 Things I Love – February 15

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I apologize for the tardiness of my post. I realized mid-travel back from the Interaction11 conference today that I would be internetless for the vast majority of the day and had not planned ahead for this.

1. Interaction11 (IxD11)

The conference of which I meant to blog whilst there but I was too busy interacting to do so. Thusly blog posts shall be coming this week. It was a really awesome experience. My brain is jam packed with all of the information it has acquired in the last week both from sessions and all of the great people that I got to meet there. I’ve already got Dublin on my calendar for next year. Now it’s just figuring out the getting there.

2. Staedtler triplus fineliner pens

The swag from conference was another lovely perk and one of the pieces that we got upon checking in was a 10 pack of these pens. I don’t know who arranged that, but thank you. My notes are much more colorful and exciting for their inclusion. I also intend to continue putting them to good use now that I’m back home.

3. Flagstaff House

Our last night in Boulder we met up with several other IxD11 stragglers and, at the recommendation of a fellow IxDer, had an amazing dining experience at the Flagstaff House. We probably stood out a bit in our jeans & tees, but you wouldn’t tell it from the lovely treatment we had from the staff. They were knowledgeable, courteous and made us feel completely at home. The view was amazing, the food was fabulous and my dinner companions were an absolute pleasure.

4. Peppercorn

On Sunday, my co-worker and I wandered Pearl Street for a good bit of the afternoon and this store is a place of temptation and utter amazingness. If you have any love of food and food-related things I would call it a must-stop whilst in Boulder. Also, I got the cutest rocketship cookie cutter :)

5. Fighter Jet Gummies

I saw these along with the Gummi Army Men at Peppercorn and they most definitely would have come home with me had I noticed them before checking out.

Cocoa Ginger Lime Cookies

Cocoa Ginger Lime Cookies cooling

Each Bachelor night we do a theme based upon something in the show. Last week was a mix between Vegas and ethnic (due to the lack of ethnic diversity this season). Therefore I decided to make up a batch of cookies that would be a bit out of the usual variety and this is what I came up with. They have passed the both Bachelor night and workplace approval in their taste, though the ginger ends up a stronger note with the lime being an undertone in the palate.

Cocoa Ginger Lime Cookies

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ginger
dash of cloves
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup lime

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, ginger & cocoa. Set aside. In a larger bowl mix margarine, shortening, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and lime.

Cocoa Ginger Lime Cookie batter

Add dry mixture to wet mixture and stir until combined.

Cocoa Ginger Lime Cookies in the oven

Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.

Estimated 34 cookies @ 95 calories each.

Cocoa Ginger Lime Cookies cooling close up

5 Things I Love – Feb 7

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In honor of the nasty cold I spent the weekend fighting, here are my 5 favorite home treatments (largely impacted by my herb class in high school).

1. Peppermint

Not only do I love the scent of peppermint, but it has natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, which is why its great for calming a cough or an upset stomach. The menthol in peppermint is also one of the key ingredients in Vick’s Vapo Rub (which is another fave of my for treating colds). I’ve also got peppermint oil mixed with some basic canola oil in a jar by my bed to keep dry, cracked skin at bay in the winter months.

2. Honey

This sweet sensation is also a triple-player on the health front working as a throat soother, natural antibiotic, and a source of natural energy.

3. Vitamin C

It won’t kill your cold, but it will strengthen your immune system and while I am generally not in support of doing several thousand times the daily recommended dosage of something I will do it in situations like fighting colds. Yes, I realize it’s best to use preventatively and did start taking it before the cold became full-blown.

4. Green Tea

It’s all over the news and health blogs and has been for years – green tea is strong in antioxidants and so will help you fight off those attacking bugs. Personally, I’ve been a fan ever since I went to Japan even if the American version is much, much weaker.

5. Gypsy Cold Care Tea

Yes, this is the third mention of tea so far in this post. Have I mentioned I like tea before? While there was close running between this and orange juice and this won out. I came across it a few years ago and while I don’t have any sort of research to back it up, I love it anyway.



Another natural antibiotic, fresh garlic can be added to any variety of meals for an extra dose of protection(though your hands may retain that scent for several days…).

Please note that while these are all commonly available items, use your head when it comes to your health and if you have any questions talk to a healthcare professional before use. For instance, if you, like my mother, have a sensitivity to antibiotics beware the honey and garlic. They probably won’t make you feel better.

New Red Carpet Collection: Industrielle

Described by the company as “a combination of utilitarianism, futurism and fantasy with a revamped Victorian touch”, the Industrielle collection combines matte metals with crystal, resin and enamel into pieces that are high fashion with elements of industry and architecture seamlessly included.

Below you’ll find a brief look at this new collection, but you can find it in full on the Industrielle information sheet.


The first section of this new collection features earrings, cuff bracelets and necklaces that come in matte gold and black diamond crystals, matte silver and jet crystals and matte gold with forest green resin.

Rough Bracelet $300



These earrings and bracelets feature matte gold with black diamond crystals or matte silver with clear crystals, while the rings add in a touch of moss green enamel with the gold and jet enamel with the silver.

Beveled Bracelets $350 each


Earrings, bracelet and ring feature a stacked concentric squares in matte gold with black diamond crystals or matte silver with clear crystals.

Concentric Earrings $250



$125- $150
Though they share the same name and curved accents, these earrings are very different. One set features smoky crystals and moss green enamel in matte gold while the other combines black diamond crystals with light blue enamel in matte silver with a corresponding ring.

Silver Curvature Ring $125, Earrings $150


Gold Curvature Earrings $150



This ring and earring set features black diamond crystals in a compass pattern against a field of light blue resin set into matte silver.

Compass Earrings $175, Ring $150


Matte gold teams up black diamond crystal with moss green and tortoise resin in the necklace, earrings and bracelets of this portion of the collection.

Global Bracelet $250


With 11 pieces, this set features rings, bracelets, a necklace and earrings in matte silver with black diamond crystals along with cornflower, jet and navy as well as matte gold with smoky crystals and accents of bone, black and moss green enamel/resin.

Tier Ring $150


This statement bracelet and necklace set features cone bangles capped with crystal and enamel in matte gold with black diamond crystals and green enamel and matte silver black diamond crystals and cornflower blue enamel.

Cone Necklace $300

With this topping out at $500 for the most expensive piece, this collection is one of the more affordable Red Carpet Collections. In fact, a number of the pieces actually fall into the $75-100 range when purchased as a part of the Customer Save Plan.

Looking for some first hand accounts and pics of Industrielle’s debut at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival? Check out these links:

Celebrity Fashion and Fun at Sundance 2011 on Red Carpet Roxy
Spotted at Sundance Film Festival 2011 on Glam.com (check out #5)
lia sophia At The Samsung Galaxy Tab Lift – Day 1 – 2011 Park City on Wireimage

Super Corny Bread & Potato Soup

Potato soup served over a piece of super corny bread

Wow. It’s been forever since I’ve posted a recipe up here. I really have been cooking. I promise this is true. Apparently not anything very interesting though.

So this past weekend I had a Hostess & Customer Appreciation Lunch for my lovely lia sophia ladies and decided to go all homemade on the main course with corn bread and potato soup.

Super Corny Bread

based on the Double Corn Bread recipe from Better Homes & Garden’s red plaid cookbook

a piece of super corny bread

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
2 beaten eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil or melted butter
2 1/2 cups corn

Stir together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder & salt. Set aside.

Add the 1 tablespoon butter to your pan (I used a 9×13 pan) and place in your oven at 400 degrees until melted then remove and use to coat the bottom and sides of the pan.

In a separate bowl mix together the eggs, milk & oil. Pour into flour mixture and stir until moistened. Fold in corn (I used leftover cooked corn) and pour into pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Estimated 15 pieces @ 146 calories a piece.

Crockpot Potato Soup

Homemade potato soup in the crock pot

4 cups water
6 medium sized potatoes peeled & diced
2 medium turnips diced
1 cup diced fresh celery
1/2 cup diced fresh onion
1 1/3 cups diced carrots
1/2 cup diced ham
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cheddar soup
2 tablespoons dried dill
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Slice, dice, etc. all of your ingredients. I used mostly red potatoes with a couple Yukons in the mix as well and smoked ham. Throw, well, pour all of it into your crockpot/slow cooker. Mix. Set to high and let cook for 5 hours. Refrigerate overnight. Cook on low for 3 hours or until warm. Enjoy.

Estimated 14 1 cup servings @ 196 calories a serving.

Potato soup served over a piece of super corny bread

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