Palm Springs gingerbread house by Laura Gummerman.

palm springs gingerbread house

palm springs gingerbread house

I was looking for craft project inspiration and came across these photos of a gingerbread house based on homes you’d see in Palm Springs. It was created by Laura Gummerman, who deserves multiple trophies for her patience and attention to detail. It’s not 100% edible, but who cares? Look how adorable that swimming pool is. Sprinkles for the grass! Pocky for the carport supports! I don’t see myself building something like this, but I really enjoyed seeing what she used for supplies and wanted to share. You can see more photos and read about how she created everything by heading to her post on A Beautiful Mess.

What I’m working on — Cataloguing my washi collection.

washi cataloguing

I have a large collection of washi tape. I previously blogged about how I keep track of what I have by keeping swatches in both a physical notebook and on a subdomain on my blog, but I’m not 100% happy with the notebook so I researched other ideas for a swatch book. Of course I made a Pinterest board to keep track of what I found:

Follow Heatherface’s board Washi tape: Keep track with swatches on Pinterest.

I really liked the idea of putting the swatches on tags since I had some I could use, but I like the idea of a notebook as opposed to keeping the tags on a book ring. So I’m working on putting my washi swatches on tags, two different sizes since some of the washi tape I have is too huge for the tiny tags. And I have some small notebooks I bought from Big Lots, so I’ll put the tags in one of those. Probably with a glue stick or double sided tape, I don’t think I’d want to move the tags around once they’re in the book. I’m still hammering out the details, so I’ll more than likely blog about it yet again at some point.

Must-have toys from the past 25 years

Last month I posted a list of things I do and don’t miss from the 90s. One thing I mentioned was how awesome all the toys were. Naturally it wasn’t just the 90s that had amazing toys, every single year there’s at least one hot item almost every child (and child-at-heart) is going to want. Here’s a fun infographic by Personal Creations showing some of the most popular toys from the past 25 years:

25 Years of Must-Have Toys

Related Post plugins for WordPress

related posts

Last month I wrote a post talking about why I started using nRelate instead of LinkWithin to show related posts. I immediately liked nRelate, but apparently now they’re shutting down so I’ve had to yet again look for another Related Posts plugin. Here are the ones I tried:

Jetpack Related Posts

related posts - jetpack2

I have Jetpack, of course, because it seems mandatory now for WordPress blogs. So I figured I’d check out what they had to offer for their Related Posts option. The biggest problem is the complete lack of simple customization. You have a choice of whether you want the “Related:” header visible, and if you want thumbnails. That’s it. I assume there’s a way to edit this in the plugin editor page, I didn’t bother checking because I was unhappy with too much of it to want to have to recode the entire thing. Like I said, no simple customization. So if you need super simple and don’t mind huge thumbnails, Jetpack Related Posts is for you.

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP)

related posts - yarpp

The next one I tried was Yet Another Related Posts Plugin, also known as YARPP. My issue with this one is the fact that it needs posts to have a set Featured Image to take the thumbnails from, which wouldn’t be a big deal if that didn’t mean needing to edit almost all of my entries because I hadn’t been setting a Featured Image until recently. YARPP does recommend a plugin to help if you haven’t set Featured Images, they suggest installing Auto Post Thumbnail, a plugin that indexes your site and automatically generates thumbnails for each post. This would have been great, except it turns the entire image into a thumbnail which means images are squashed and skewed to fit the 120×120 box. I thought maybe I’d done something wrong, but I couldn’t find a way to fix it. This was obviously not good. YARPP has another setting to show a list of related posts with no thumbnail, which I just didn’t like. So if you’ve set your Featured Image on all your posts or don’t mind a catch-all thumbnail or text-only list, go ahead and try YARPP, and just avoid Auto Post Thumbnail.

→ WordPress Related Posts ←

related posts - wp_rp

Winner winner, chicken dinner. I finally tried out nRelate’s suggestion and installed one of Zemanta’s plugins. They have six plugins and for some reason three are Related Posts plugins, I have no clue if there’s any major difference between the three. The one I installed and finally decided on is WordPress Related Posts. I’m not going to pretend this one was perfect right away, as a matter of fact I spent two hours trying to find the perfect plugin and another hour fiddling with this one until I decided I was happy. There are multiple themes to choose from, so it can be enough of a headache on its own decided which one you want to use. I’m a little embarrassed to admit I actually crashed my site three times attempting to recode part of the plugin. Thank goodness that’s so easy to fix.

(If a WordPress plugin crashes your site, login to a FTP client [I use Filezilla] and change the name of the plugin’s folder. Then go back to your WP control panel, head to the Plugins page, and delete that plugin. You’ll lose any customization you’d done, but that’s a small price to pay compared to a completely crashed website.)

After my self induced mini meltdown, everything turned out fine and I’m very happy with this plugin. If this one goes under, I’m just going to dramatically throw my hands in the air and stick with Jetpack.

One year.

Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of my friend Alex’s death. One year. It doesn’t feel like that much time has passed, and I still haven’t fully accepted her death, much less the fact that it was suicide. I think about her almost every day. She was the only friend I had left on Livejournal who was updating almost daily, and I can’t get out of the habit of heading to LJ to see if she’s posted any new pictures. I really, really miss her photography. Even the ones of her cats, and I’m not a fan of cats. She had such a talent for taking pictures, I’m not sure if she ever really believed that despite so many of us praising her. Is it possible to take pride in the things you do if you don’t even like yourself?

I lit a yahrzeit candle for her. She wasn’t Jewish, but I am. We light yahrzeit candles on the anniversary of a loved one’s death, and yesterday was actually the first time I’ve ever lit one. My mom always lights them for our family members who’ve passed, but for some reason I hadn’t lit one for a friend before now even though I’ve unfortunately lost quite a few friends over the years. I suppose that just proves how much Alex meant to me, I took the mourning a step further than I normally do.

I wish she’d left a note. I know the lack of closure is one reason why I’m having so much difficulty accepting her death. Death isn’t enough closure, there was no goodbye. A year ago we were forced to say goodbye to her, but we’re still waiting for her to pop out of the shadows and say it was a horrible joke. Or better, she’ll pop out of the shadows and say she’s been on an amazing adventure where there was no internet. But deep down, we know that’s not true. Alex may not have liked herself much, but she still loved people paying attention to her, and she wouldn’t do this to us. Whatever demons were inside her, I hope she still knew we all loved her very much.

When I learned she’d died, I’d thought about writing her one last letter. It didn’t stop at one, I’ve been writing her a letter every week. Most aren’t actually very interesting, I just mention what happened that week or if I have something in particular to talk about. Perhaps I’ll eventually turn it into a book so it’s bound and looks nicer on my shelf, but in the meantime, it’s helping me cope. She would’ve liked finding out I’ve bound the notebook in cat fabric.

I’m glad she didn’t feel the need to delete herself off the internet before taking her life. I don’t even want to think of the level of pain all her friends and family would be feeling if we didn’t have all her photos and videos to look back on.

alex5

alex7

alex6

alex8

“I Recommend This” WordPress plugin — Let readers “like” your post

Readers can "like" a post instead of commenting.

Readers can “like” a post instead of commenting.

I have a side blog for one of my Day Zero goals, to keep a “My day in six words” journal for six months. I’ve been updating it for a month and one week so far, and something I’d been trying to figure out was a “I like this post” function so people could easily do so instead of leaving a comment just to say they liked the post. I’d even considered moving the blog to Tumblr for their “Like” option but that seemed like a lot of unnecessary effort and I didn’t want to become obsessed with my follower count.

I realized there must be a WordPress plugin for that, and luckily I found exactly what I was looking for. It’s called I Recommend This, and I absolutely do recommend it. It’s very simple, it allows your readers to click a Facebook-esque thumbs-up or a Tumblr-esque heart to let you know they enjoyed it instead of leaving a comment. The original text is “Recommend this” but I changed the text to say “Like this” instead, you can do that through the plugin’s edit page and changing the text in the three $title lines.

I prefer the heart, the thumbs-up looks a little wonky. And I like the hover animation.

hover

My only complaint about this plugin is you can’t unlike a post you’ve liked, but otherwise it’s exactly what I’d wanted. I’m considering even installing it on this blog.

The Liebster Blog Award

liebster award

My blog was nominated for the Liebster Award by Chloe at I See Chloe! I’d never even heard of this project before but it’s a fun way to discover new blogs as well as help other fellow bloggers get their name out there. I’m actually pretty honored to be nominated since it’s my first time ever being part of something like this.

Chloe’s questions to me:

  1. Do you still see yourself still blogging in a years time?
    1. Absolutely. Whether I’ll still be blogging three times a week is a different question, but hopefully I’ll still be pretty active.

  2. What made you choose your blog theme? eg. Beauty, Lifestyle
    1. I only just recently learned my blogging style is considered “lifestyle,” but that’s what it is. I’ve always been interested in documenting my life as best as possible, whether it was writing in a paper diary or taking photos or updating a blog to talk about things I’ve done. I don’t have a daily diary online anymore, but I do still update my Five Year Diary and I keep a daily planner where I keep track of things I do and places I go every day. This blog is where I share things that’ve happened that are worth remembering and worth sharing with the public.

  3. Do you have an embarrassing story about your younger self? If so, what is it?
    1. I blogged about one particular embarrassing moment, and honestly I can’t think of any others.

  4. Are you more of a morning person, or a night owl?
    1. Night owl, hands down. I love how silent the house and neighborhood get at night, and I feel that I get some of my best ideas and largest amount of creativity at odd hours of the night.

  5. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
    1. The levels of nutrients in the soil. All countries could grow more crops in places they previously couldn’t grow anything at all, forests could grow larger which would give us all more oxygen, and plants would grow larger which would hopefully mean less animals would be chased out of their natural habitats.

  6. What’s your favourite thing to see on a blog?
    1. Photos. I need to start putting more on mine, but I haven’t been taking many at all lately.

  7. Do you prefer jeans or skirts?
    1. Jeans, but I do love the occasional skirt with fun colored stockings underneath.

  8. Have you ever dyed your hair? If so, what colour?
    1. I’ve been dyeing my hair since I was 18. From 18 to about 24, I dyed my hair red. In 2009 the red dye I’d been using was no longer being sold, so I dyed my hair black for a change. In 2012 I got sick of the black and dyed over my grown-out roots with a different red dye, but that dye faded really quickly so eventually I dyed it all black again. At some point in 2013 I noticed my old red dye is being sold again, so I started dyeing over my regrowth again and have been since, because dyeing the roots as they grow is a lot cheaper than going to a salon to strip out the black. So right now my hair is approximately half black and half red in this really neat gradient as it grows out.

  9. Where do you usually find your blog post inspiration?
    1. I find some inspiration in the other blogs I read or things I read online, but usually I just remember something interesting or funny that happened and figure it’ll make a good blog entry. Occasionally I post a DIY tutorial but that’s pretty sparse.

  10. Twitter or Facebook?
    1. Lately, neither. I need to become more active in social networking again, especially my blog’s Twitter account.

My nominations:

Most of the bloggers I follow have hundreds or even thousands of followers, I haven’t managed to find too many newcomers yet. And some of them had already recently been nominated for this award! So I tweaked the rules a tiny bit in order to nominate blogs I feel deserve more readers, I’m nominating a few with less than 200 and a few with less than 500.

My questions to those nominees:

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. How did you come up with the name for your blog?
  3. If you could pass on one piece of blogging advice to someone, what would you tell them?
  4. Has blogging changed you since you started?
  5. What does your family think of your blogging?
  6. What is your favorite quote?
  7. What is your favorite thing about yourself?
  8. What makes you laugh out loud?
  9. What are your top three favorite blogs?
  10. Have you made any goals for 2015?

Things I’ve discovered while cleaning my desk drawers.

  • Four hex keys that obviously came from Staples when I bought furniture there years ago.
  • A rubber band ball.
  • Like, a million pens.
  • Five spools of sewing thread.
  • My passport which has been expired for years, the photo’s from when I was 13.
  • A copy of my birth certificate I’d recently made and apparently immediately misplaced.
  • Lipstick in a color I’d never wear. Leftovers from an old friend?
  • “Last Supper after dinner mints” last supper mints
  • My bottle opener I thought I’d accidentally thrown away.
  • A single mini Jolly Rancher.
  • $0.66
  • Dinosaur stickers!
  • Movie ticket stubs.
  • A single origami star, not squished.
  • Three staples which promptly rammed themselves into my fingertip.
  • Notepads I’d forgotten about.
  • Tiny hippo.
  • Three small empty candy tins I’ve been saving till I have a use for them.
  • Ballot stub from an election.
  • Single large Post-It with random codes written on it. Probably notes from a game.
  • A few old notes from friends in high school that should be in my treasure box.

class notes

Watching “Fireplace For Your Home” on Netflix Instant Watch.

fireplace

fireplace gif

I’ve made it my own December tradition to watch the fireplace on Netflix at least once. It’s called Fireplace For Your Home, and now comes with three options: Crackling Fireplace, Crackling Fireplace with Music, and Crackling Yule Log Fireplace.

The one I prefer is Crackling Fireplace, because the only sound you hear is the actual noise of the fire, no accompanied music. And in case you were wondering, there are captions. So don’t worry if there’s a loud party going on, you’ll still know when the “CRACKLING” and “POPPING” happen.

fire

Currently…

currently

Playing… Pet City on Facebook. Years ago I enjoyed Pet Society but it was removed, apparently someone’s released almost the exact same thing and dubbed it Pet City. I’d forgotten how addicting it can be, I do enjoy interior decorating. I’m also playing Pocket Fishdom on my phone, for the same reason: I’d played it on Facebook but it was deleted. There’s a similar version on Facebook but it’s kind of awful, I ended up finding an app of the original one I’d played. I like the pirate stuff.

Watching… Supernatural. I’d been binge-watching it then took a break for a few weeks, now I’m back to binge-watching. Nooo, poor Bobby. :(

Feeling… Like crap. My parents both just got over bad colds and by some miracle I hadn’t caught it right away, that usually happens. But I woke up today feeling just awful so I’m worried I did actually catch someone’s cold.

Eating… These little chocolate panda cookies called Hello Panda, similar to Koala’s March cookies I occasionally get from the Japanese market. Koala’s March are way better than Hello Panda, but these are tasty enough.

Listening to… Calabrese — Voices of the Dead