Saturday, December 13, 2014

Mulled Wine

I've been making mulled wine for several years now. It gets a bad rap, but it's pretty tasty IMO (and it's always a hit when I make it for a crowd). As soon as it starts getting chilly, I buy a box of wine and make this as much as possible - such a festive, cozy drink. I normally don't drink box wine, but there's enough other stuff in this that it's not worth splurging on a fancier bottle - plus the box lasts for weeks after opening it, so you can make as much or as little as you want.

This is totally a recipe that I eyeball and tweak a little every time, so take this as a rough guideline and don't be afraid to change it based on what you like or have on hand. It also scales up or down super easily - if you want a larger batch, make it in a crock pot early in the day and let it steep on low heat for 3-5 hours.

A note about spices: I keep whole spices on hand - they stay flavorful for longer than pre-ground and keep the drink from getting grainy. You can leave out any you don't have or use ground versions if you don't mind the texture. But, if you're going to make this more than once, I recommend investing in the whole versions - they'll last for ages.

  • 1 bottle of red wine, or a quarter of a box of wine
  • 1 small orange, strips of zest peeled off, then sliced
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 6-8 cardamom pods
  • 10-12 whole allspice berries
  • 10-15 whole cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated on a microplane
  • 1/4-1/2 cup white sugar
Add the wine, orange zest and slices, and spices to a pot. Add sugar - start on the lower end, and once the wine heats and sugar dissolves, taste and add more if you want it sweeter. Cover and heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until steaming but not bubbling - about 20 minutes.

To serve, place a small mesh strainer over mugs and ladle through, dumping the spices and orange back into the pot.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


After my declaration that I wanted to blog more, Tumbles came home, and ... well, a pup is a lot of work, it turns out. I knew that but didn't quite realize how much (which was pretty silly of me). She has been such a joy, and I am so in love with her. But I am also exhausted and savor the little bits of free time I have to do things like clean up the house or take a walk to get groceries alone.

Meanwhile, work has been busy, and I only actually took one day off. I worked from home for the first 2 weeks I had her, and I've spent the last two weeks going in to work with Tumbles in tow - also a lot of work, but she's doing a fantastic job, considering she's still a little puppy, and it's wonderful that she gets to play with other dogs (and my coworkers) during the day and get tired out a bit.

This is called a sploot. Corgis do it a lot.

Somehow I've still been doing ballet 3(!) times a week, mostly because if I take time off, I'll likely have to drop out of pointe class and wait months or years for the next one to start up from the basics. It's also good for me to leave Tumbles alone some nights, since we spend *all* of our time together. There have been days where I am aching all over from walking (and carrying) Tumbles all over the city, exhausted from not nearly enough sleep, and then I still push myself to dance, and needless to say it does not go well. But sometimes it's exactly the thing I need to get out of my puppypuppypuppy headspace and do something just for me, and on those nights it's worth it.

Her first Boo meeting (hopefully of many, many).

I can tell that Tumbles is maturing so much in the month I've had her, and while I'll miss things about her being a tiny baby pup, I'm definitely looking forward to her being a bit more self sufficient, more of a companion than a baby.

Just a week or two after coming home, already starting to grow up.

Also: I've been channeling a lot of my Tumbles obsession into a dedicated instagram (as well as using it as a pick-me-up when things get exhausting and overwhelming). All the pics in this post are from her first couple of weeks (just because I don't want to flood this with all of September, too), but the instagram is updated almost daily. Just a few more:

Tiny, sleepy baby on the way home from Colfax, CA.

Brand new pup selfie.

These two snuggling on her first afternoon home.

Baby face

Sunday, August 10, 2014


Keeping with my recent resolution to blog more, but in lieu of any exciting content, here are a few photos I managed to take with my fancy camera this past week, along with one of those lists people do on occasion. Is this ridiculously boring? Regardless, I'm not sure that anyone reads this right now, so here we go.

Making: Cakes. Funfetti on Thursday and Earl Grey with rose buttercream (pictured) on Friday. I've missed baking fun things, and I feel like I've sort of lost my touch,. I'm excited to make it more of a habit again.
Cooking: Not a whole lot these days! I made a ton of tacos/fajitas/quesadillas in June and July, but lately I've gotten a bit lazier and have been doing more takeout - blah.
Drinking: Right now, a Dogfish 90 IPA (the one beer I always come back to). I gave up drinking alcohol for 2 weeks due to bronchitis, and I'm excited to be able to enjoy a Sunday night beer finally!
Reading: Puppy books. Trying to be as prepared as possible, since I haven't had a pup since I was a kid. Also, corgis are apparently a tough-but-worth-it breed, so I want to get good habits in ASAP.
Wanting: To get in the habit of taking more photos - especially with my real camera (ie. my DSLR). I'm trying to get more comfortable with manual mode, too, but boy does it take me awhile to take a picture.

Looking: forward to some time at home when I get Tumbles next week. It's looking like I'm still going to have to work, but having a week of working from home (and puppy snuggles) will be a nice change of pace.
Enjoying: Ballet en pointe. I've been taking adult ballet classes off and on for the last 5 years (from the ground up - you're never too old to start!). This summer I got to do a limited time pointe workshop, 10 classes total, and I adore it. I just found out I'll have the option to continue through December, and I'm so excited!
Waiting: For Tumbles to come home - 9 days to go! She's really been the only thing on my mind lately, and I'm so excited to have her home and getting out of the waiting game and into new routines. Honestly, I've been looking forward to getting a dog for years - it's going to be weird (in the best way) having that yearning turn into a reality soon.
Liking: Morning Chemex coffee with Tim, almost every day now. I got the Chemex for him for his birthday in June (previously we only had single-cup coffee options), and it's been so nice to be able to make coffee and share it every morning.

Considering: Taking a break from facebook and twitter for a bit. It's so easy to kill time there, look to them when I'm bored at work, avoid being with my thoughts. It feels like it gets in the way of real life, in a way. Sometimes it's nice (but hard) to step back and make myself log out for a few days.
Watching: The X-Files... but I'm up to season 6 and I'm not super into it anymore. I recently marathoned Dexter (I did not enjoy the last couple of seasons, but wanted to finish) and I'm kind of lost on what show to get into next. Any Netflix/Hulu recommendations?
Hoping: This week doesn't kick my ass too hard. Work is busy, I have three ballet classes in the evenings (as usual), and still need to buy and research a few things before Tumbles comes home a week from Tuesday. But hopefully it means it will pass quickly!

Smelling: On Friday night, the ocean. Every once in awhile we hop in the car and drive the whole ~4 miles to the ocean just to remember it's there. It's usually after dark (and freezing) but I'm always in awe of the waves, and I love the smell! It's easy to forget how close I am to the Pacific, but I kind of hope I never get used to it.
Wearing: Lots of maxi dresses and fitted t-shirts. My style has gone through shifts in the last year, and I'm trying to figure out where it's going to settle.
Noticing: Fall styles popping up in stores. I've never been a summer person, and I always get so excited when there are signs of fall sneaking in, even though that doesn't mean a ton weather-wise in the bay area.
Feeling: More content than I have in a long time. Life is good, and for the most part, I'm doing an ok job of remembering that.
Buying: Puppy supplies, mostly. I'm trying not to overdo it and get a ton of toys I don't need, but I want to make sure I have everything I'll need for the first week or two. It's so exciting getting to stock up on dog things!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

I miss this.

I've started to miss blogging again lately. I stopped because I felt like I didn't have much to share (and I think things like twitter and instagram took the place of some of it). Lately, though, I've been feeling the urge to get back on here. I think because this blog represents my feminine, creative side in some ways. My job is great, but it is very analytical and involves writing code all day, and I've always needed pretty, tangible, right-brain sorts of things to balance that out.

I'm not really sure how to get back into this. I really miss cooking and baking more interesting things (ie. not the same things I cook every single week), but it's hard to find the time and creativity now that I'm out of the habit. Life always feels so busy and overwhelming, and I keep hoping it'll settle. But maybe this year really has been a busy one.

Since my last post in September 2013: I got a new job at a statup - less "cute" than working at ModCloth, and there is pressure to work a bit harder, but the work itself feels more natural to me. I feel so respected and trusted by all of my coworkers, from the very beginning, and that means so much. In February, I took a two week trip to London and Paris, then got back and finally found a home to move to after over a year of searching. Post-move, work got really busy for a couple of months - incredibly tiring, but also awesome in terms of my career and self confidence, and I needed that little career boost so badly! The move meant that I could finally get a puppy, and that took lots of research and waiting and impatience... But finally, as work settled down to a more normal pace, I found a corgi pup who is coming home to me on August 19!

While I'm sure life won't be calm after that, I'm hoping I can get back into a routine, and maybe my time at home can be spent with Tumbles the pup and exploring my creative side a bit more: decorating our relatively new home (although it already feels more homey than our previous one of 2+ years), cooking and baking and creating recipes, perhaps dabbling in more crafts and art and maybe even web design - this blog could sure use a facelift.

I'll never have the time to explore everything I want to, but here's hoping I can prioritize just a bit better and feed that longing to create.

In the meantime, here are pictures from my one visit to Tumbles, when she was four and a half weeks old. I can't believe the next time I see her she'll be twice as old and coming home with me forever!!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How To: make a big t-shirt fit

If you're a woman, especially one in the tech industry, I'm sure you've gotten your fair share of men's t-shirts, which are usually too big in some places, maybe tight in others, and generally not flattering. (There's a great write up about why this sucks and how "unisex" shirts aren't that over on the Geek Feminism Wiki.)

I decline or get rid of a lot of these shirts, but there are a few that I'd love to keep, such as my MagmaConf shirt, but they fit so badly that I don't even care to wear them around the house. Honestly it kinda sucks to have to bust out the sewing machine just to comfortably wear a t-shirt that was made for the guys that attended whatever event I went to, but it's also nice to know that I can.

So! In case others of you are interested and don't know where to start, here's a pretty easy DIY. You need a sewing machine and basic knowledge of how to do a simple stitch (or a needle, thread, and a lot of patience). There are a lot of steps, but honestly it's pretty straightforward, and stretchy t-shirts make it pretty forgiving if you don't get it perfect.

Before / After
  1. Turn your shirt inside out!

  2. Cut the sleeves and neckline out.

    The neckline is optional but I think it gives it more of a casual feel. You just want to make sure the seams are gone - you can stay really close to them or add an inch or two around. The biggest thing to watch out for is jagged edges, so be careful and try to cut a smooth line around.

    If there are any inner seams sticking out, like below, trim these diagonally so the ends don't show through the sleeves.
  3. Put the shirt on (still inside out) and grab a sharpie or fabric pen. Go down each side and pull the excess fabric out from your body (if the shirt has side seams, it helps to keep that centered where you're pulling). Do this in about three places (armpit, waist, hip) and mark where the fabric hits your body. It doesn't need to be skin tight, but enough to give you a general idea.

  4. Take the shirt off and connect the lines with your marker. (I switched from silver sharpie to black - neither shows up great for photos.)

  5. Sew! I usually use thread that's about the same color as my shirt, but I'm using white here. Sew a long, slightly curved line down your drawn-on line, and make sure to go up through part of the sleeve opening, too.

  6. Before you take scissors to it, try it on! I just leave it inside out for this part. Look at how it fits and where the seams hit. If something looks off, you can take a seam ripper to your stitches and resew (if it's too tight) or just sew a new seam within the first one (if it's still loose). Mine's usually pretty close on the first try - the lines I drew earlier help!

  7. When you're happy with the fit, cut the excess fabric off of the inside (it's ok to leave 1/4"-1/2" of extra), flip inside out, and voila!
Side, before and after (with the terrible faces I was making cropped off):

Inspired by Katie's tutorial on Skunkboy Blog

If you want something easier and no-sew, check out this DIY on Twinkie Chan's blog (I tried this and it didn't look quite as cute on me as on her blog, probably because all the excess fabric is still hanging around.)

Good luck!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


I normally don't consider myself much of a tech conference person. I love the work I do, but it's not my whole life, and I can get overwhelmed if I'm expected to spend full days talking tech without direct tie-ins to the products I work on. (I like learning new things as it applies to something I'm excited to make, not just for the sake of learning the cool framework of the week).

However! ModCloth sponsored MagmaConf in Manzanillo, Mexico this past week, and I was able to go along. I was a little nervous/homesick at first (I've had some lonely experiences traveling without close friends/boyfriend), but by the end of the trip, I was literally crying at the thought of leaving Mexico. Not that sleep deprivation didn't play into it a bit. But honestly, it was that good. An insanely fun, educational, cultural experience unlike anything I've ever done before.

The conference talks were great, but what really did it for me was the people, the culture, and even learning more about some of the foundations of ModCloth (ModCloth has always had really close ties with Crowd Interactive, the organizers of the conference).

I've left the country before, but not often, only to Canada and western Europe, and I've never gotten to truly make friends or spend time with locals anywhere outside of the US. I felt so welcome and taken care of from the moment I stepped foot in Manzanillo, despite only speaking a little Spanish (side note: I WILL learn more before I go back). The food was amazing - fresh, filling, delicious, and local. The city was completely gorgeous with perfect beach weather, which obviously didn't hurt. And I got to spend time with super smart people (engineers and not) from Mexico, the US, and all over the world. 

It was great to be able to put more faces to the people I know of from ModCloth's work with Crowd, and everyone from the company was so great to be around. It's hard to put my finger on why, but I just can't imagine a San Francisco tech conference having that level of friendliness, welcoming, and lack of pretention. Successful investors, founders, and keynote speakers were happy to hang out with everyone down to the most junior developers or people more on the sidelines of the tech industry. Non-native English speakers were happy to switch over when one of us wasn't able to keep up with the conversation. Delicious food was had (like REALLY delicious), drinks were always flowing, and the hospitality was just on a level I've never seen before.


I think the best example of this was when my coworker Mariana told her friend Mercy that I was hoping to try some chicken mole, which is hard to come by in Manzanillo (where the specialty is fantastic seafood). Mercy got ahold of her mom in another city, who made from-scratch mole (served alongside the best ever tortillas and mexican-style rice). This meal. I can't even describe it. The chickens were slaughtered that morning, and the mole was so delicious, rich, and perfectly balanced between sweet and savory. Before I left, I thanked Mercy again for everything, and she told me to give her a heads up before I come back so that her mom can make more mole.

I stayed up late, woke up early. I hung out with former coworkers and met some that were before my time. I ate super fresh seafood under umbrellas on the beach. I really enjoyed light Mexican beers - usually not my thing, but perfect in that weather, especially with local Colima limes and salt. I can now say that I have friends in Mexico, and I really hope that I can visit more often than once a year. I came out knowing more Spanish than I went in with. I got to know my (US) coworkers even better. I jumped from the second floor of a boat into the ocean without a life jacket. I ate at some hole-in-the-wall, outdoor taquerias that put the Mission to shame. I danced at a club where a crab walked across the dance floor (and everyone stepped aside to save it). I somehow became an extrovert for about 5 days and survived with next to zero alone time and about half my usual sleep. I learned things that will make me better at my job, and I came back inspired to work better. I had one of the best, most memorable weeks of my life.