DrupalCamp Montréal 2009

Drupal Camp Montréal 2009!
The Drupal Camp Montréal 2009 crowd!

This past weekend, myself, along with a few cohorts at Commonplaces (@sethcohn, @himerus@bymiche, and @ebeyrent), traveled by van up to the faraway land of Canada to attend DrupalCamp Montréal! My coworkers each presented at least one session over the two day camp, and I was there to cheer them on from the sidelines.

Among some of my favorite sessions were, of course, my coworker Jake Strawn's presentation on Advanced 960.gs theming with his awesome Omega theme, my coworker Michelle Lauer's presentation on Advanced Views: Arguments and Relationships, and my boss Erich Beyrent's case study on Twolia.com, a site I worked on a little bit at the very end of the project when I first started working for Commonplaces.

I also enjoyed Michael Collins's Extreme Navigation TacticsLisa Rex's presentation on an awesome site she worked on with Jake called What's the Soup, implementing Google Map goodness, and Angie Byron's BOF on patching Drupal.  Her presentation made me want to dive on in and see what I can help with! So, now I'm excited.

Of course, I was also reminded that Drupalers love to get their beer on afterhours.  Two thumbs up to Benelux and their awesome, delicious brews!

I am happy to have become part of the Drupal community during the past six months.  I love the people, I love the comraderie, and I love the project.  I am hoping to give a presentation of my own in December at DrupalCamp NYC; I'm considering giving a talk on the basics of Ubercart.  The prospect of this has me very excited.

Thanks to everyone who put together such a great DrupalCamp!  I'm very excited to see the quality of the video recordings for each session; props go to DNB for their awesome job recording, and I can't wait to see what the results look like! Thanks for the good times, Montréal!

Nanowrimo 2009

It's started again; National Novel Writing Month!  This will be my seventh year participating in the madness that is writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, and I look forward to it every year. The madness starts on November 1st, but I will be spending the month of October getting ready for hardcore novel writing.

This year's Nano will be strange; I met a very awesome group of people who became some of my best friends when I lived in South Bend, and doing NaNoWriMo without them will be an adjustment.  However, I've joined the New Hampshire region of the forums this year and the region seems to be fairly active with meetups and write-ins, so I'm optimistic I will find new writing friends here.  Still, I will miss my South Bend writing buddies.

This year I am going to attempt my grocery store romance yet again.  I've tried writing this for NaNoWriMo both in 2005 and 2007 and failed miserably, so I'm crossing my fingers I can finish it this year.  I plan on outlining, fleshing out my characters, and having a general idea of where I want the story to go, so hopefully that will help me out this year. Either way, I am excited! And writing a funny, cheesy novel about grocery store employees is right up my alley, I have to say.

Is anyone else participating in NaNoWriMo this year?

This is my geeky Drupal Design Camp post.

D4D 2009
Can you spot me in this picture?

This weekend I attended my first nerd Drupal camp; Drupal Design Camp Boston! When I first heard of this event I figured only locals from the New England area would make the trek to Cambridge, but as more and more people signed up, I found that people and companies from all over the country (and world!) were willing to make the trip to this area to meet up with fellow Drupal geeks. This made me think about just how community oriented this framework really is...

I've not been working with Drupal for long; I built a couple sites using it about a year ago, but I followed no set standards or practices. (My coworkers now would absolutely cringe over some of the things I did. I know better now, guys. But don't worry; even back then, I didn't hack core!) When I started my current job about a month ago, I knew I needed to get up to speed on the system. I know CSS, I know PHP; I'm just not familiar with Drupal functions and the theming system. I figured this camp would be a perfect opportunity to learn more about this CMS and to meet a few people in the community. I was not disappointed.

On Saturday morning I woke up at 6:45 (yes, in the morning); way, way too early for this late riser, to make my way down to Boston from my apartment in New Hampshire. After debating taking the train, I decided to drive, only because the commuter rail I wanted to take wouldn't have gotten me to the conference in time. "I've driven around Chicago tons of times," I thought to myself as I loaded my things in the back of my car, "Boston shouldn't be much different."

Oh, how I'd eat my words (thoughts?) just an hour later as I circled the same stretch of road multiple times, anxiously searching for the correct exit after getting off the wrong one more times than I could count. I took one too many wrong turns and ended up driving over the Tobin Bridge to Chelsea, cursing as I paid the $3.00 toll for my mistake.

Somehow, after aimlessly driving around Cambridge for 45 minutes, I came across MIT and the venue, parked my car, and made it in time to converse with my coworkers for a bit before the keynote. Whew.

On to the camp. I attended a few great panels during the day on Saturday, my favorite being mortendk's "Mothership: To End All Bloated HTML" session. I am a huge, huge proponent of clean, minimal HTML and CSS, and one thing I've noticed since starting with Drupal is that everything gets its own div. Everything. Nested divs make me want to throw things across the room and curse repeatedly. (Well, maybe not that extreme, but close.) Morten's Mothership theme interests me mainly because he strives for the same thing I do; for yummy CSS and HTML and nothing extraneous. In his words, his goal is to "to get so clean html you can wipe youre ass in it!" I like that. And I liked his presentation.

I also enjoyed my coworkers @sethcohn and D's session on "Adding Wow, Bam, and Poof to your Design" (of course). I'm glad I came to work at a company with so many talented and intelligent people, who also like to have a good time!

Speaking of a good time, Drupal geeks love their beer. Just sayin'.

In all, I'm happy I attended my first of what I hope to be many more Drupal meetups. I met a few new people, including @zarabadoo, @thescaryclown, @timeril, @mortendk, @bedsheet, and at long last, after years and years of being friends through our blogs and other online forums, I met @nikkiana in person for the first time! The Drupal community consists of a lot of funny and intelligent people, and I look forward to meeting more of them in the future.

Playing catch-up.

Finally, finally, spring has arrived. Sort of. The temperatures have been averaging in the upper 40s / lower 50s, which I can stand much much more than the below freezing temperatures we endured all winter. I'm so glad winter's mostly behind us. Until today, when I woke up to SNOW FALLING. Come on, weather, give me a break! I'm so done with freezing temperatures and white stuff falling from the sky. Sad.

Blue yarn
It's blue, and soft, and very, very awesome.

Anyway. A few weeks ago I traveled to nearby Goshen to visit Ewe-nique Knits, a yarn shop Madalyn's raved about since I've known her. So, I hopped in my car, drove out to Goshen, and spent some time petting skeins of yarn. Yes, I love yarn. I ended up buying four skeins of Cascade Pima Tencel in a deep teal color; I'll probably use it for baby sweaters of some sort, eventually. I fell in love with it, and it's so silky and shiny too! And, of course, I stopped by Dunkin Donuts for a coolata on my drive back; Goshen is one of the few places with a Dunkin Donuts in northern Indiana! So I was reminded of driving to Cape Cod on my half hour trip back to South Bend.

Aeolian shawl
This shawl's going to turn out to be the love of my life.

The new Knitty came out a few weeks ago; I sorted through the new patterns while on my lunch break at work. And then, I came across the Aeolian Shawl. Now, I'm normally not the kind of person to impulsively cast on a project immediately after seeing it. I've always been more conservative when it comes to starting projects. Oh, not this time. I immediately queued it on Ravelry, and when I got home that evening, cast on for the swatch. I decided on using the Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud in Midnight that I bought for a shawl last year, with the same green beads I used for it.

. . . . .

I have not been posting here very much this spring; I've been so busy! I cannot believe it's already April. I cannot believe that next month it will be May. I don't know where the last year has gone, seriously. I am hoping to write more this spring and summer, and I hope I actually stick to it this time.

What I do best: knitting and eating.

Arisaig progress
This is a sleeve. A very pretty sleeve.

Look what I've picked up again; my Arisaig cardigan! Actually, I picked it up again sometime in December, but I didn't really ramp up my progress on the sleeves until recently.

I never really talked about the disaster that struck me last fall; I knit a sleeve, it took me forever, and... the sleeve was too big. I cried. (Well, not really.) I still don't know what I did wrong, but I wasn't happy. So I put the project down for a few months and just recently picked it back up. And now, with a few alterations, I'm almost done with my second first sleeve. I think this one will fit much better, though I am NOT looking forward to knitting the second sleeve. (Technically, the third sleeve, but I don't want to get technical.) I've passed the two year mark since I started this project, and I really want to get it done before the end of this year. Fingers crossed.

I'm still working on my second pair of wristwarmers and my second Monkey sock. I seem to have misplaced the pattern for the wristwarmers and I'm too lazy to look it up online, so I've not touched them for a month. See how lazy I am? The cardigan and the socks have easily accessible patterns in my yarn bag, so I can just pull out the desired project and my nifty Knit Picks chart holder and boom, I'm ready to go. Apparently going to my computer, looking up the wristwarmer pattern, printing it out, and putting it in my yarn bag is too much work for me. I never said I wasn't lazy. (Though, writing this paragraph has inspired me to just finish the damn things, already.)

Chicken skewers
Very Easy Marinated Chicken Skewers from Just Bento. Yum.

A few weeks ago I came across Just Bento, a site highlighting easy, healthy recipes for bento lunches. I love the idea of packing lunch in little compartmentalized boxes, and since I bring the same lunch pretty much every day, I figured packing my lunch a little more creatively would jazz it up a bit. I went and bought a little lunch box at Target; while it's not a 'true' bento lunch box, it's allowed me to pack my lunches in more interesting ways. I normally bring a sandwich, yogurt, and some sort of fruit to work for lunch, but recently I've been buying nuts and little snacks to tuck into my box as well. I slice up my sandwich in smaller pieces, peel my oranges and arrange them in the box, and I even folded little origami boxes as containers for the nuts and jellybeans I've used. I try to change it up a little bit from week to week; I'm going to buy rice cakes for next week and probably also buy strawberries in addition to the oranges I already have, just so I can eat some more fruit during lunch. I like variety in my lunches and so far, this has worked out great.

Anyway. As you can see, the above picture is not of one of my lunches, but of a dinner I tried a few weeks ago with a recipe from the Just Bento site. The author makes these dishes for the lunches she makes, but I've been using them for dinners instead. The recipes have been excellent; pictured above is the Very Easy Marinated Chicken Skewers recipe. It contains ingredients I already had laying around my apartment, and cooking didn't take very long either; it doesn't look like a lot of food, but I'll eat these meals with rice as well, which works out for me.

Sesame pork
I heart sesame flavored pork.

Other recipes I've made (and loved!):

I'm still wanting to try out a few other recipes; I'm glad I came across this site! 

Friends at knit night
Rachel, Carly, and Faith with the cutest computer screen wipes ever.

Last, but certainly not least, at our knit night a few weeks ago, a few friends of mine found these cute animal computer screen wipes, and decided they were too cute not to purchase. And they are adorable! The only places I've found them online are in the UK, but the South Bend Chocolate Cafe downtown obviously sells them in the US. They are adorable.

And yes, I had a great time in St Louis! The derby bout was exciting and fast paced and very cool to watch, and I met a few cool people who showed me a good time. The only not so fun part was the 6 hour drive. I'll have to get used to that, however, as I'm driving down to Tennessee this coming weekend for a wedding. Hello, 7-8 hour car ride! But, I'm looking forward to a fun time seeing both Nashville and Gatlinburg! I do love to travel.

Knitting goodness.

Wristwarmer
Another day, another wristwarmer.

I'm finally getting around to posting some of my more recent knitting projects; I've been a knitting fool the past few months, but I have a hard time photographing the things I make. My apartment lighting is not the greatest, and when I get home to actually take the pictures, it's dark outside and the lighting in my apartment is weird. Excuses, I know.

Yes, I started another pair of wristwarmers. A friend of mine wanted to learn how to knit on double pointed needles to make herself a pair, so I cast on for another pair myself and finished the first one in less than a week. I need to cast on for number 2 still, but I'm in no rush. I'll get them done eventually.

Wings to Heaven
This shawl sort of reminds me of a butterfly.

I also finished my Wings to Heaven shawl (ravelry link) I started at a knitting retreat about a month ago. My friend Vicki designed this pattern and named it in memory of a friend of ours who died of pancreatic cancer at the end of December. I loved knitting this pattern. I used some of my own handspun for this project, and I'm pretty happy with how the yarn knit up. I don't know if I can rock the shawl look, but I still enjoyed knitting this, even if I don't wear it often.

Madalyn
Madalyn is awesome.

I've been meeting up with my knitting friends a lot this month; I took this picture of Madalyn knitting a gorgeous swatch bangle bracelet! It's been great seeing my knitting friends so often.

In other news, I'm heading to St. Louis this weekend to hang with Laura and see the Arch Rival Roller Girls' first bout of the season! I'm pretty psyched to spend some time outside of the Bend as I haven't gotten out of town since visiting my family at the end of December! I've just been laying low this winter, riding out January and February and hoping warmer weather's just around the corner. I'm crossing my fingers.

Hey, look! I do knit!

Pink wristwarmers

So, it's been awhile since I've posted any of my knitting here. Knitting has kept me sane the past few months when life has been nuts, and I'm grateful that I found a hobby that keeps my hands busy!

Sometime last month I finished a pair of A Little Twist Wristwarmers after I saw one of my fellow NaNo-ers wearing them at a meeting sometime in November. I LOVE them. I used yarn I bought at Michigan Fiber Fest a few years ago; of course, I can't remember what it's called, but it reminds me of neopolitan ice cream, in a way. I love how these turned out and a few of my other friends have knit some for themselves, too!

No Purl Monkeys

 I'm also knitting a pair of No-Purl Monkeys (It's this pattern, except you don't purl where it tells you to. Yes, be a rebel and DON'T follow the pattern!), and so far I'm loving this pattern too! I also love the yarn I picked for the project. I took it off my mom's hands last time I was home, so of course, I have no idea what the yarn is. (See a pattern here?) I'd love to get these done sometime soon, but I'll probably end up saving some of it for my flight home for Christmas. That would be nice. Either way, the Monkey socks are fun.

Finished Swan Lake stole

 This is sort of a craptastic picture, but look, it's me sort of modeling my Swan Lake stole! I still have no idea where I'll wear this, but I still love how it came out. Maybe if I ever dress up and the dress happens to coordinate with the stole, I'll take it out with me. Maybe.

I've also picked up Arisaig again; I put it away for a few months after knitting a sleeve and realizing it was way, way too big for me. Now that I've calmed down, I'm starting over, this time hopefully knitting a sleeve in the right size! And then a second sleeve in the right size! I'm apparently full of hope and optimism over this! But I do love the pattern.

So much knitting, so little time...

I finished NaNoWriMo!

Nanowrimo 2008 winner

Hooray, I finished NaNoWriMo! I am absolutely surprised I finished, what with the setbacks I faced this month; I got sick a few times, work was insane, and my laptop died on me halfway through the month. Still, I persevered and finished my novel this morning! I don't get a prize or any sort of reward; it's just fun to actually say I've written a novel. NaNoWriMo's one of the best things I've ever gotten involved with, as I've met so many fantastic people through it.

I'm already thinking of ideas for next year; I may resurrect the craft store romance I tried writing last year, only this time, plan a lot better for it. Who knows? I have another year to think about it!

Nanowrimo 2008!

Nanowrimo 2008

Hooray, NaNoWriMo 2008 has begun! A few of my writing friends and I kicked off our novels at midnight at the local IHOP, and wrote even more at a local coffeehouse this morning. I am very excited about NaNo this year, mainly because this year I HAVE A LAPTOP and will hopefully be able to finish! I'm off to a good start so far. I'm hoping to get a little bit more written today, but that depends on how much of my apartment I get cleaned and how much work I do today. (Yeah, I'm doing work on the weekend. Not a huge fan of it, but stuff needs to get done. Good times and all that.)

Anyway. Yay for NaNo!

The demise of Pomatomus

Today, my beautiful Pomatomus socks went from this -

Finished Pomatomus

 to this -

Pomatomus remains

 all because of this -

Pomatomus hole

 and now I am sad. I knit these socks last summer while camping in Missouri with Scott's family; I don't believe the temperatures dipped below 95F so I spent the weekend in the shade or in the water, trying my hardest to stay cool.

I love this pattern. However, I knit these socks slightly too big for my small feet; I ripped both so I can knit them a bit smaller next time around. Of course, I'm totally knitting this pattern again because I love it so much. I'm hoping I love it even more with the socks fitting my feet this time around.

Of course, these won't get knit until I finish my Jaywalkers. (On a sidenote, I'm glad I printed the pattern when I did, as Magknits has been taken down. Which is too bad.)

In other news, I'm very psyched it's the weekend. Oh, glorious Saturday and Sunday mornings, how I covet you so.