Thursday, December 28, 2006

Queen Buzzy Bee

Queen Buzzy Bee
Originally uploaded by saracarl.
My husband's mother found his old toys in the attic and brought them down for our daughter to play with. He was an exceptionally gentle child, so these are all in great shape.

This one is called Queen Buzzy Bee. She's an old Fisher Price pull toy. Her attenae are on springs, so they bobble, and her wings turn in circles as you pull her.

I'll post a few more in the coming days.

TX Roots Blog

Yay! I've finally convinced my sister to blog! She's calling her blog TX Roots, and it's full of her expat observations. She's currently living outside of Instanbul, but I believe the blog will cover some of the other places she's lived (Guinea, West Africa; Australia...). If you ever thought being a math teacher was a boring job, you should check it out.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Advent Wreaths

You'd be surprised at how difficult it is to find tasteful advent wreaths. Your best bet is probably ordering a fresh wreath, but if you want something you can use year after year, these were the best that I could find (and really, I'm not that thrilled about any of these).

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Another reason everyone should be told they can do math

New research, not on whether women are inherently better or worse at math than men are, but rather on whether they believe those differences are due to genetic or social causes.

I would buy if you believe you can't change your abilities, you wouldn't bother trying, but this actually implies that if you are told (or presented with information that tells you) that you are genetically worse at math, you actually score worse on a math test administered shortly afterwards. (In other words, this was independent of lifelong habits, beliefs, or training.) (hat tip to Ben)

On a related topic, a friend once mentioned some studies that showed spatial thinking abilities to be related to how much you are thrown in the air as a kid. I would love to find that study, if anyone knows of it. Parenthacks had something similar a while back, about spinning infants around to improve their cognitive abilities.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Corners of My Home

Originally uploaded by niƱagato.
I love reading decorating magazines. Sure, I read them for ideas, or for keeping up with decorating trends, but mostly I read them for the "pretty pictures." They are a treat for my eyes, in ways that going to museums or shopping is. I don't need to acquire, I just like to look.

One of my newest ways to entertain my eyes is the Flickr pool Corners of My Home. The content is even better than a fashion magazine -- these are "real" homes, decorated by "real" people, not decorators.

The only downside is that it is all online -- I like looking at things on paper. Business idea for someone -- publish amateur homes photography into a magazine, use a business model like Taste of Home (subscriber content, no ads) or an ad revenue based model to make money and pay your contributors a bit.

Friday, November 10, 2006

This weekend: Stitch Austin

Austin's Indy Crafters are throwing Stitch Austin this Saturday evening. Check it out.

adventures in food: fatback

So we recently returned from a trip to rural Virginia (visiting with relatives, working on the farm). At a country buffet dinner one night, I was surprised by something I couldn't quite recognize. Asking my mother-in-law, she said "It's fatback."

I had heard the term before, but wasn't very clear on what it was -- some sort of pork product. Picture bacon. Now take away the meat. And make it a foot long. That's right, fatback is a 12x2 curled up, crispy friend piece of fat. And it's good.

I'll try to get a picture next time.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Extreme Programming, Brumfield-style.

Married pair programming. In a car. Oh yeah.

(With some war driving thrown in when you need to figure out the exact syntax of a Ruby call...)

Monday, October 02, 2006

RIP Budget Living and my other favorite magazines

I don't know what it is about my taste -- I would think I am "normal" enough to have taste similar to other people -- but time after time my favorite magazines have been cancelled on me. Victoria. Mode. Inspired House. Most recently, Budget Living. Budget Living was a high-lo lifestyle magazine with a definitely retro twist. I loved their fashion (lots of Stop Staring dresses), parties (a wedding reception in a school cafeteria), and decoration (I remember one very gothy house with a painted shadow of a raven on a stand). To add insult to injury, the publisher decided to replace my subscription with Rebook, of all things. Yuck. I have never once bought Redbook, and I definitely won't now that I've had a chance to browse it.

I have this business fantasy of buying up all of my favorite dead magazines and revitalizing them...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A very cool coverpop (by jim bumgardner, of of purses available at Also available -- high heels and intimates.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Kaboodle's cool collage feature

Kaboodle has some very neat features they've added recently. I was particularly impressed with their collage view of a list of items. Here's one I created for a dress I am thinking about having made:

This functionality is very close to my outfit builder functionality for Dressr... should I worry? Choosing not to, Kaboodle and Dressr have very different focuses.


I don't mommy-blog that often (other than my Parenthacks), but my daughter is acquiring vocabulary at an amazing rate, and I wanted to share my favorite word: pappy. Pappy is her attempt at "happy", and I think a pretty cool thing for a 15 month old to have in her vocabulary. She'll use it to indicate "life is good, doesn't get much better than this" -- playing on the playground, eating ice cream, hanging out with both her dad and I. It's a wonderful reminder for me that simple things are enough to make her happy, and I should enjoy the same things.

(How did she get the word happy? I can't claim much credit here -- it's a combination of getting happy face stamps on her hand (random fun thing) at childcare, and a book we have called Baby Faces that features babies with different emotions. The first page in the book is "happy" and J. seems to have pattern matched that and the happy faces and figured out a pretty abstract concept.)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Dehydrated Milk

Mary McPhail recently had a post that I'm going to call "Pay Yourself First (not!)" -- that I agree with. It's about how the "Make Mine a Million" newsletter for women entrepeneurs came with the advice that you "pay yourself first." Now I didn't read the newsletter, but here are my thoughts:

Basically, you have to invest in your business as much as possible in
the beginning, with the hope/plan that it will start to pay back sooner
rather than later. My symbol for this -- dehydrated milk. My mother
fed us dehydrated milk for years growing up to save money -- but by the
time we hit highschool and college, they were making enough to pay for
private school tuitions. Feed the business, then hopefully it will feed

Gotta go wake the baby up!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

How did I miss this?

Turns out Beth also blogged about bags and purses at Blogher. There's a shot of a very cute green (faux?) leather bag with a (very neat) inside.

The neat thing about this is that people remember Beth because she took shoe pics -- it reminds me that doing small, unique things can really make you stand out. (I'm reminded of someone who held the auditorium doors open for everyone at my highschool Girl's State program every day -- by the end of the week, everyone knew who she was.) For those of us who aren't always the most socially saavy of people, have a "gimmick" is having a built in ice breaker. I know I'm always more comfortable in large social settings when I have something to do -- even if it is a self appointed task.

Is There any There, There?

I've been thinking about how to make money with Dressr, specifically, and Web 2.0 applications, generally, today. Along the same lines, a friend was talking about another technology business, saying "I just can't tell if there is any there, there." I think that just about sums it up -- cool apps are so easy to build with all the wonderful tools and APIs that are available on the web today, but when it's all said and done, "is there any there, there?"

What exactly is the "there"? I suspect it depends on your goals. I divide most things into two categories -- projects or businesses. A Google Maps mashup that you whip up in 4 hours, without a revenue model beyond adwords, is probably a project. A business -- well, a business at least has revenue, and ideally has profits. Myself, I want a business, not a project. That means I've got to figure out how to make money, not just get users. (The get acquired quick scheme seeming just as unlikely as any get rich quick scheme...)

But until I've figured out how to make money off of Dressr, I'll call it a project. Once I get serious about revenue -- and have some validation that the ideas I have for making money will work -- I'll start calling it a business!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

So I didn't go to Blogher (although I wished I had after reading the list of people Asha had met), but you've got to love a tech conference that spawns a flickr photo set of shoes. (Via Beth's Blog, but pointed out by Charlene Li.)

Who am I?

It's so confusing how to build your identity online, and I tend to fragment too much. There's the Sara Brumfield who blogs here, contributes to Parent Hacks, and occasionally comments on blogs like Horizon. There's the Sara Brumfield who is a entrepeneur and software engineer who is building Dressr, a community based web application for fashion and clothing that I blog about (not enough) here and comments on entrepeneurship blogs and forums... Then there's the corporate Sara Brumfield who really doesn't like to mix her "daylighting" job into her online identity, although clues do exist.

I just ran across this blog for Wonderful! Wall Graffitti, and was inspired to send Mary McPhail, the founder & blogger, a note (not something I often do) expressing my admiration on how her blog combines her life and her business:

I just ran across your blog (via Wonderful's website, via Pamela Slim's
Escape from Cubicle Nation blog) and wanted to drop you a note and tell
you how much I am enjoying it. The combination of your business life
and your personal life makes for a great read and is very inspiring --
In my dreams I'll be able to meld child rearing, my marriage, and a
business into one great big messy fun experience. (My parents did it;
so it is very much what I want to model for my daughter.) (I'm building
a web application that I think I'll be able to turn into a business, not
just a project, so it's not entirely a pipe dream.)

Anyway, this email is mostly in response to your post that ends "that's
not how other people blog" -- Don't worry about it! Your blog is all
you, and it represents what you do, the values of your company in a way
no corporate PR-approved blog ever could. Keep it up.

It was an "ah-ha" moment, albeit a small one. Why am I trying so hard to keep all these different aspects of myself separate? What's the worst that could happen if the day job figured out how serious I am about Dressr? (What, fire me? Oh, that would suck -- I'd have to get off my butt and work on Dressr full time.... Darn!)

So -- this is officially it -- I'm combining the non-corporate Sara identities here henceforth. You'll start seeing more fashion and business oriented posts here, and more status on how the project is going.

Hopefully this anti-schizophrenic move will actually make this blog more interesting all around, too!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Great quote by Kathy Sierra, over at Creating Passionate Users:

"The compiler doesn't care if the person who forgot the curly brace is wearing a black lace bra."

Monday, July 17, 2006

I really like this short post by Rich Kaarlgard on his Forbes Blog:

More often than not, what is called innovation is really a recombination of the existing. Steve Jobs married Moore's Law to pop culture ... and he still does, better than anyone. Howard Schultz married the Italian streetside cafe to the American franchise model. SUVs wedded the American family wagon to a truck. Bill Walsh took a fast-break basketball offense and adapted it to the gridiron. George Lucas took Lawrence of Arabia into space.

Putting things together is a fun way to get business ideas: New York style tourism (food tours) and Austin. Flickr and (you name it -- food, wine, clothes, etc....). Staying on the cutting edge -- being "trendy" -- helps you have some cool cutting edge models to apply to *other* businesses.

This would make for a great presentation on imagination & innovation. Show pictures of the pairs of things, have your audience guess what the two synthesize to become, show the answer on the next slide.

Monday, July 03, 2006

More recent ParentHacks

Simple Birthday Party Theme for Young'uns

Sports bottle as sippy cup stand-in

Diaper pail management
What's your superpower?

Out with friends last night, the movie Superman sparked a conversation about superpowers, particularly the superpowers we already have. Ben's would be "large amounts of useless trivia." Mine? The ability to cut through bull and artifice with a single stroke -- my symbolic weapon a samurai sword.

Oh -- and a conversation topic for all these (potentially tiresome) SuperMan conversations we'll be having over the next month: Flying or Invisibility, which would you choose? (Courtesy of a 5 year old This American Life episode.)

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Red Hot Brownies

I invented a fabulous recipe the other day. One box Ghirardelli Brownie Mix, made to specifications. Add 1 tablespoon dried red pepper to the mix. Bake as directed.

This is a tasty treat -- the pepper adds a zing to the chocolate that is hard to beat.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Food Tours

We're visiting New York soon, and as part of that trip we're doing a food tour of the Meat Packing district. It got me thinking -- Austin is a great place for food tourism (I take visitors to both Central Market and the downtown Whole Foods), but we don't seem to have a food walking tour. (Ok, ok, so Austin's not the friendliest walking city, but still....)

So if someone was to start a food walking tour of Austin, where would you take it? Here are my thoughts:

Whole Foods
Downtown Farmer's Market?
IronWorks BBQ

I'm thinking there could also be one of the South Congress area, and perhaps of many of the ethnic restaurants in the North Lamar area. Any other ideas?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Undercover Bridesmaid

I went to the wedding of a friend this weekend. The wedding was lovely, but what I particularly want to point out one of the ways she simplified her wedding to suit her Quaker values. Quakers don't have ministers at their service, so you can imagine that a bunch of attendents in matching dresses would be a bit gauche. Instead of having attendents, her would-be bridesmaids dubbed themselves a variety of names ("faux bridesmaids", "not-a-bridesmaid", and probably the best "undercover bridesmaid") and we took on many of the traditional duties, but without the expensive dress and flowers: fielding panicked phone calls from the bride, throwing a shower tea, helping her dress, etc. I have to say -- it was lovely and I recommend it to anyone looking for a way to simplify their wedding.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The new head of the Episcopal Church, USA, is married to a theoretical mathematician. Math and religion.... makes sense to me... to big to be totally understood, but worth it in the trying.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Alligators, foxes, and pythons, oh my!: Animal Planet Expo (Austin Weekend Best Bet for Kids)

Bring your pets and your kids down to Old Settler's Park this weekend for the summer Animal Planet Tour.

Featured shows:
From high-flying Frisbee dog shows and interactive animal trivia games, to WHOA! Facts with Mo Rocca (Saturday only), to "ooh" and "ahh" inspiring live animal shows, the Main Stage features flocks of captivating animal entertainment and demonstrations. The Frisbee dog show times are 11 AM, 12 PM, 1:30 PM and 2:30 PM, and the Main Stage live animal presentation times are 1 PM and 3:30 PM.

via Austin360

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Gracious Living: Neat Wedding Tradition

We were at a wedding in San Francisco this weekend, and they did this really cool tradition I've never seen before -- a "generations dance." They asked all the married couples to get up and dance, and after about half of a song they asked everyone who had been married less than 5 years to please retire from the dance floor. After a couple more minutes they asked everyone who had been married less than 10 years to retire. This went on until only one couple was left, and they interviewed them for the secret of a long marriage. This couple had been married for 37 years! All I remember of their advice is "dance"! (Which works for me!)

Ben and I were the youngest of the old-fogeys -- the only couple under 50 who was on the floor after all the 5-year-and-under crowd had retired.
More recent ParentHacks
Best Birthday Gift for a one-year-old
Rotate toys to keep them interesting
Helpful tips in Real Simple Family
Build your own clock
Quick, healthy breakfast ideas
Kitchen shears cut perfect bite-sized bits
Quick bed-making
Snot-wiping best practices
Timing visits to the pediatrician

Friday, June 02, 2006

Austin Kid-friendly weekend bet: "Hot Art, Hip Kids" at the Blanton

From the Blanton's website:

Offered four times a year, Hot Art, Hip Kids allows children (ages 6-12) and their adult companions to experience and learn about works of art together and have fun at the museum through looking, writing, drawing, and playing games. Each Hot Art, Hip Kids includes a hands-on studio activity, facilitated interactive stations for families to explore, and special family-oriented performers such as dancers, singers, or storytellers.

11-4:30 on Saturday. Free.

I also heard on KUT there's also a tween (teen?) scene as part of the Blanton's First Friday (6PM - midnight) B Scene, but I couldn't find anything about it on their website. ($5 members/$10 mon-members)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

another business idea (Are we starting to see a theme here yet?)

I was hosting a bridal shower this weekend, and talk turned to a shower being thrown for the groom -- a tool shower (how cool is that? I want one!). The tool shower host's wife said "If Home Depot had a snack bar he'd be hosting it there." I think this is a business opportunity for someone... independent hardware store? local caterer? lowe's or home depot? Someone should figure out how to do this.
Gracious Living: Candles in the Shower

Ever since J. was born, I've been taking my evening showers in the dark -- not 100% dark, just mostly dark. It's a way to remind my brain it's time to start relaxing -- if I don't, I may never get to sleep! One of my newer additions to this ritual is lighting a candle to make the mood even more mellow. Cheap, easy, fast -- try it sometime!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Remember this post were I said someone should start a "Baby Loves Disco" style business in Austin? Well, it looks like someone is, albeit with a much more Austin slant. Austin Rock N Romp kicks off July 29th.
Austin: Best kid-friendly weekend bet

Tonight, the Bob Bullock Museum features a free concert by Flaco Jimenez and a free preview of their It STILL Ain't Braggin' If It's True exhibit. At the Lone Star Plaza, which I assume is the space in front of the museum. Via

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


So last night in the shower my thoughts turned to business ideas (fun, fun!). I played my current favorite game: "Apply Flickr's business & software model to other industries" (This is, after all, what my Dressr project is.) I started with the question "what activities are inherently social" and came up with the obvious: eating and drinking. That led to wine and recipes... and two new business ideas, one a collaborative, community site for organizing your wine and another one, more wiki-like for collecting and sharing recipes.

I start scanning my normal blogs this morning, and I discover a link to Cork'd via Signal vs. Noise. It's a fabulous Ruby on Rails apps for organizing and sharing your wine. Wonderful!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

(darn blogger -- no trackback. I thought this was a good enough comment to Parenthacks to post here.)

Over at Parenthacks, Asha's posted a query: "Creativity and parenting: do they mix?"

My answer is "Yes, definitely." My personal brand of creativity is not of the music/writing/art ilk but the technical/business sort, but I have rarely felt more creative (starting with my 2nd trimester of pregnancy). I've applied for a patent, developed and led a project, and started a new team in the last year and a half (and that's just at work!). For my personal life, I'm building a web application/starting a business, contributing to Parenthacks, blogging some on my own, designing a new patio, and planning creative parties for friends getting married this year. I can truly say I've never been more creative.

I think there are a number of reasons for this:
1) having a child pulls your values in sharp contrast -- I ask myself "is this what I want to be modelling for my daughter?" (In my case I realize I want the same values my parents instilled in me -- ownership of decisions, entrepeneurship, independence -- for J.)
2) I'm stuck at home more -- after 8 every night I have 3 hours of uninterrupted time to do things. Previously I would have gone out. Now I value that time much more.

I do think there are a number of things that make creative pursuits more possible:
1) working a day job -- I am able to switch focus 3 times during the day -- work time, J. time, and me time. For me, I know spending all of my time with J. would probably not work as well, but having some very discrete family time and other discrete work time is very effective.
2) getting your life together -- to do lists, reducing stress, finding help you trust, and a job that isn't *that* demanding.
3) no TV. I never get anything done if I watch TV, even if it's all on DVD. Web surfing can also be bad, and I occasionally institute a "no web surfing before noon" rule to keep myself focused.
4) getting a full night's sleep. I was miserable before J. started sleeping through the night. I think this justifies the maniacal focus I had on the "sleeping through the night thing."

So creative pursuits and children? Definitely!

Gracious Living: Silver Baby Cup

My daughter was given a silver baby cup engraved with her name for a gift. One might think that a silver cup is an impractical gift, but I have found to be a lovely gift. Instead of putting it away, we sat it on her windowsill. As J. got older, it became a diaper-changing-time toy. Yes, it got banged and dropped, but that just put some nice dents in it to make it heirloom quality. Ben has given J. water out of it in an attempt to teach her to drink from a cup. Somewhat messy, as any non-sippy-cup would be, but the cup is lightweight, unbreakable, and easy for a young child to hold and sip out of.

Monday, May 01, 2006

More of my Parenthacks:

Orisinal online games: simple, subtle, fun

A trick for getting medicine into babies

Target's prescription bottles simplify measuring and dispensing medicine

Teaching kids to use chopsticks

Podcast on getting children to eat well

And on BabyGadget, Intellicot. (Jenna did not link to this blog in her post, despite my including the link in the email. Guess I'll have to be more blunt about it in the future.)
This looks to be a good idea for Christmas gifts: Gourmet Peanut Butter. Cranberry Cinnamon Peanut Butter, anyone?

Handmade foodstuff makes great gifts -- cheap, disposable, and most people really like it. A friend and I made mustards for Christmas a couple of years ago, and I was suprised at how easy they were and how much people liked them.
Other ideas in this category include beef jerky, sugared nuts, baked goods, homebrew beer, cider or mead, and flavored liquors. I tend to pick something that is a "trendy" food and design a homemade label to go with it. Including the recipe drives home the "homemade" point.

Here's some peanut butter recipes to get you started:
Chocolate Peanut Butter

Homemade Peanut Butter Recipes

Monday, April 24, 2006

One thing we do right

Ben and I are not the best travellers, but there is one thing we always do that I strongly recommend to anyone who travels: visit grocery stores. Grocery stores offer a surprising glimpse into local culture. Who knew, for instance, that the expat grocery store in poverty stricken Guinea, West Africa, had a better selection of French cheese (flown in daily on an Air France flight) than Austin? That beef in Wales is labelled with the county and region, and you could purchase meat from that county, the one next door, or the general region (why Texas beef ranchers haven't started doing this, I do not know)? Grocery stores have been endless sources of delight, cheap meals, and inexpensive souvenirs. Try it next time you travel!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Another Parent Hack yesterday.
Ben sent me two good cartoons on being a female software developer:

I've had both of these moments...
a limerick

I was reminded yesterday of a limerick Ben and I composed on a roadtrip a couple of years ago. I think we were somewhere in Georgia.

Oh truck in the lane just ahead
with 2 tons of rock in your bed
your liability sign
you may think is just fine
but I'd like a new windshield instead.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Lessons Learned: Migrating Ruby on Rails Apps from Linux to Windows

I spent 8 hours last weekend getting Dressr to work on my Windows laptop. This was way too long. Even if none of the issues were major, they just added up to a lot of time, so I wanted to document them here.

I was using InstantRails, which I was cursing, but in retrospect only 1 of my issues was an InstantRails issue.

1) Make sure your SCGI port configuration is a different port than the applications installed with InstallRails by default. (You may not be using them, but that doesn't mean they aren't running.... I wasn't getting any messages in my Rails log because it was all writing to another app's log!)

2) Make sure you install all your mixins. You'd figure this one out pretty quickly on your own.

3) Change all the paths pointing to Ruby. This one actually takes a while to figure out, and the path shows up in a number of places:
script/console:#!/usr/bin/ruby18 -w
script/destroy:#!/usr/bin/ruby18 -w
script/breakpointer:#!/usr/bin/ruby18 -w

4) If your files have tabs in them, they need to be removed. (Yes, I know, bad programming style.... I'm now using RadRails, so that isn't a problem anymore.) You can use something along these lines to replace the tabs:
sed -e 's/\t/ /' test > test

After working through these, my app finally worked. Ben and I had a discussion on whether it would have been better to just have checked out the "app" directory, without all the other directories. (Would have had to copy those directories from the sample apps, but I suspect there would have been fewer changes. Hard to tell at this point.)
(Non) dieting trick I'm going to try to integrate into my life:

Think on a scale of 1 to 10. One is "I'm starving to death." 10 is "I'm stuffed." When you are at a 5 or 6, you are satisfied. Don't go up to an 8.

From via Dr. Steven R. Hawks, via Latina Magazine

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Women on Rails

This is the running list I'm keeping of women working in the Rails community. Who knows, maybe one day we'll meet in the ladies room at some conference.

Amy Hoy -- Amy's Part III
Anna Chan -- contributor to Rails (ActiveRecord stuff)

Monday, April 10, 2006

Two kid related businesses that someone (not me!) should start in Austin:

Friday, April 07, 2006

Flower Glowering

In New England in the fall, it's leaf peeping. I've christened the Texas in the springtime rite of driving around looking at the wildflowers "Flower Glowering."

We spend last Sunday driving around Washington County, looking at the bluebonnets and other assorted wildflowers and taking pictures. We got some good ones of J. in the flowers, as well as a family portrait. Austin doesn't have as many flowers this year -- too little rain.

And yes, this post was entirely so I could use the phrase flower glowering. :)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Grups, kids, and passion

There's an article from NY Magazine about parents who don't want to grow up -- who listen to the same music and dress in the same fashion as teenagers, and who dress their babies the same way. Despite the fact that the article quotes Neal Pollack, my current favorite writer-I-love-to-hate, there are some pieces that resonate with me.

Now, I'm not particularly cool, but I would argue that what separates grown ups from chidren is not fashion or music, but rather "responsibility." Used to be, you had to wear a suit in order to get the sort of job that would provide for your family. These days, creative jobs exist that allow us to continue to express our personal style even as we assume more responsibilities.

I also think we have a responsibility to our children to show them and teach them how best to live in the world. For me, that means that having my daughter a year ago has fired up my latent entrepeneurial drive. Working for "the man" is not what I want to model for her, realizing that the ownership my entrepeneur parents modelled for me has made a huge difference in how I interact in the world.

The same feeling was echoed in the article:

“It’s really important for us to be whole people, and not feel like our kids have . . . look, we love our kids,” says Hermelin. “The point isn’t to raise cool kids. We want passionate kids. And I think that by us doing the things that we love to do, that models that passion for our kids.”

Later, when I talk to Andy Chase, the dad–slash–rock star, he says almost the exact same thing. “How great for a child to see their parents loving what they’re doing? It’s a delicate balance to strike, but when you maintain that balance, its a great thing to teach your children—that they can look forward to doing something they love doing.”

Because of this feeling, I'm working really hard at Dressr -- finding passion in my side work, hoping that one day it can be a business, and not just a project.
I'm presenting at the next Austin on Rails meeting (April 11th, 7-9 PM, Frog Interactive at 8th and Congress). I'll be showing off my work in progress -- Dressr -- with technical highlights on how easy ActsAsTaggable gem and the library are to use.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

My Newest ParentHacks: Working Mother's Guide to Life, Put Several Crib Sheets on at the Same Time, and my favorite: 'Amelie'-style bangs .
Gracious Living: Quaker Prayer before Dinner

Yesterday, I was in Houston for my Dad's cancer appointments. I was staying with my friend Nell there, and since I was done with the appointments by 2, I decided I would put together dinner for her and her fiance. Nell'd had a 7-detention-giving day (she's a school teacher); and then got a stressful phone call. When sitting down to dinner I suggested "Shall we pray"? (2 out of the 3 of us go to church, I figured that was a quorum.) "We'll pray the Quaker way -- with silence" she said. We sat in silence for what was probably 3 minutes -- it seemed like a long time -- before she concluded by saying "Amen."

It was an incredibly calming experience to sit in the quiet with our eyes closed for just a short while. Taking time to do a short reset and slow down before eating made us all enjoy ourselves much more. I was unfamilar with Quaker prayer, but I was glad to learn it from my friend. A moment of silence, if taken seriously, is a great prayer.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Gracious Living: Lessons from the 50s

I've just picked my daughter up an hour early from day care, feverish and with a stomach virus. I'm leaving in 2 hours to drive the 3 hours to Houston so I can attend an appointment with my dad's cancer doctor tomorrow. Which means my husband has to work from home on the beginning stages of a big project while caring for our sick daughter tomorrow without any help from me. He's half an hour late; I haven't packed; and the daughter has just gone down for a nap.

What would you do in this situation? Me, I borrowed a page out of 1950s home economics and made my home an oasis of calm, collected domesticity. Toys picked up. Table cleared off. Radio off. Placemats, dishes, napkins on the table. Enchiladas (hardly homemade) in the oven. Fizzy water chilling in the fridge. The thing is, those 1950s "how to please your husband" texts actually knew something... when you've come to the end of a stressful day home should be your refuge. Taking 30 minutes to eat dinner together renewed us enough to move on to the next task in our out of control day.

If you've never done this; I encourage you to try it.

(And yes, my husband has done the same for me...)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

I'm no interior designer, but I have developed 5 rules to help me decorate my house:

  1. Symmetry is good
  2. View Ways (e.g. long hallways with a picture hanging at the end) are good
  3. Straight lines are good (especially when it comes to the top of hung pictures)
  4. Shouting distance (between furniture) is bad
  5. Clutter is bad

Developed based on Laurie Ward's Use What You Have Decorating; Sarah Susanka's Not So Big House books; and a dash of FlyLady.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Monday, March 27, 2006

I've got a hack on CDBaby for kid's music up over on ParentHacks.
I don't know about you, but I have trouble spending money. I was trained by my frugal MidWesterner mother to feel guilty about spending money when I could do make do with what I have or do without. One thing I've learned is that some things simply make life easier. Less stressful. And at times when I are overwhelmed by my responsibilities and schedules or my spouse and I are arguing over something, I have learned to ask myself "Could this problem be solved by throwing money at it?"

Amazingly, there is almost always a way to lessen a problem by throwing money at it. It's not always worth it, but the excercise of asking reduces stress because the problem is no longer unsolvable or insurmountable. It may be expensive, but the problem can be solved.

Sometimes, though, the answer is "Yes, the problem can be solved by throwing money at the problem -- and why haven't you done it already?" When the cost is low enough or the stress is high enough, give yourself permission to throw money at the problem. It's worth it.