Griping about Twitter (Part 2)

Representing an organization is terrifying

It's such an exciting time to be a person or organization with something to say. For the last six years, non-profits especially have found themselves with an incredible and free tool with which to share their message. I know you knew this, but let's set the scene any way.

In 2003 I started as an Americorps VISTA placed in a children's literacy non-profit that collected and distributed free books.  I had spent the year or so previous enjoying the recession of the early 00's with an apparently useless MA and no clear idea of how to use my interest in language, ethnography or humanism in a purposeful and fulfilling way.

Vista  is a great program that I heartily recommend to anyone with a service spirit and a year to kill. On my very first day at work as a semi-grownup with day to afternoonish job I found myself face to face with one of the largest barriers to non-profit service from the last decade - lack off access to technology.  The office did not have an internet connection. It did have a mid-90s Mac.

Let's remember it is 2003. Bush is read to start a war in Iraq even without a UN mandate. Enron has already collapsed and Britney Spears is while not yet imploded, has written a song "claiming" she "like" a "performer" being that the dancefloor is her "stage" in a manner similar to a circus.

DIY: Making Paper

Last spring, my work sent out a very fancy invitation printed on 100% cotton paper. As we got the return cards in the mail, we lamented the waste of such nice paper into a recycling bin.  One donated paper making kit + three dozen returned envelopes + three months procrastination:  JPK and I totally made paper!

Materials you will need
  1. A large bowl 
  2. Paper 
  3. Water 
  4. A mixer or food processor
  5. Two wooden frames 8"-12" with an attached mesh screen  (you can this with a stapler)
  6. A large Tub (for instance the never used kitty litter box from that one time we almost had a cat) 
  7. Cloth to spread paper out on and also to dab water (so two cloths)

Step One: Tear it up!
This step was pretty easy, as tearing up bits of paper is something most 5 year olds enjoy. I know I sure did!  There was a back and forth about exactly how small the bit should be. 

Me: Pretty small
JPK: Like this?
Me: I mean, it could be smaller
JPK: Like this?
Me: I think that's actually bigger, but I'm not judging. I'm just happy you are here.
The instructions said "a few handfuls" of paper for each batch. I took this to mean: it doesn't matter, tear up some paper and move on to step 2.

Step Two: Get Mixy

We took our shredded paper and filled the blender up half way. We added a few handfuls of paper and blended them up.  This created a delightful mush.  Then we poured the mush in batches into our tub (filled 3/4 full of plain water.)  Our mush mixed with the water, making... watery mush.

Step 3: The Silver Screen (not actually silver)

The process here is pretty simple:

  1. Dipped mesh screen into the water getting good and mushy.  
  2. Remove from tub and drained out water.  
  3. Place mush side down on a clean cloth
  4. Dab other cloth on the back to remove excess moisture
  5. Pull up your screen and feel like a maker

It took about 3 hours for these to dry. It was also November in the shade. Our paper:

You can also iron your paper. However, I don't own an iron.  JPK really enjoyed this and I was happy to successfully perform a hands-on craft type task.

Chocolate Chip Birthday Cake

My roommate generously offered to bake her special family recipe birthday cake with my 5 year old son this weekend. He was sad he wasn't invited to her birthday party (it featured lazor lights and started at 10pm). So the plan was to celebrate her birthday by helping her make the cake.  She had him at "cake."

Well, the weekend got away from us all and on Sunday night, I can see my son really wants his cake (even if he can't have the celebration). I text my roommate for the recipe and I get exactly what she said: a family recipe for special cake.  Which is to say, half a recipe that assumes you have eaten the cake or watched it being prepared many, many times.

The caveat - I have not eaten or seen this cake before. I'm vaguely aware that it is "coffee-ish" and that is has sour cream. I will freely admit to being a well below average baker. I mostly bake for my son and he doesn't seem to care, so I get away with a lot. So here we go!!

Watch me as I lick batter from every available surface.
Sour cream batter

So good, so far

The batter came out well. I took creaming butter and sugar more seriously than probably ever before.   I even switched blades on my Kitchen Aid after watching a youtube on the subject.  Let's look at the recipe thus far:

1c sugar
3/4 c butter
2.5 c ap flour
1 c sour cream
2 eggs
1 t double acting baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t vanilla 

Preheat oven 350. Grease pan. 

Beat sugar & 1/2 cup butter til fluffy. Add 2 cups flour & next 5 ingredients. Beat at low til blended. Increase to med beat 3 mins. With spoon stir in .5 cup choc chips. Spread batter in Pan

It doesn't say what kind of pan because that would have been obvious to anyone seeing the cake before. But.. I haven't. I am blind baking. I'm like the beginning of a YA novel in which a mysterious and half finished recipe transports a young bakress to a post-apocalyptic yet magical land of tyrants and tiaras.
Spoiler: It's a bundt cake. No, I did not know that when it went into the oven.

my first time using this pastry thingie that i got from my grandmother
Crumble topping
Once I get my pretty batter into the 9 X 9 pan (I took a guess) it's on to the second part of the recipe.

6 oz choc chips

.5 c light brown sugar
1.5 t cocoa
Med bowl. .5 cup flower, brown sugar, cocoa, add in butter & choc chips. You know the rest.

You know the rest???  Hmmm.

Haha so here's where it gets fun. I really have no clue what to do here. Bowl, check. Ingredients, check. Ummm..guys?

I decide this is a crumb topping because I recall coffee cake being used to describe the cake.  I pastry cut the butter into a cocoa/brown sugar mixture and sprinkle it on top.  Is this right? I have no idea. Probably not because when I took it out of the oven most of the topping just fell off.  Maybe I should have melted the butter.
Hard to go wrong with chocolate chips
Pretty yummy!
Voila! Here is the final cake. It was...ok! Jonathan had a piece and scarfed it down. His "helping" during the process consisted entirely of sitting in the other room playing legos and asking if it was done yet.  Helping!

My thanks to L for the cooking adventure  I am very much looking forward to eating the real version some other time. But until then... go forward unto the darkness, bravely the vagueness of family recipes and fly pretty bird, fly! fly!

Why I don't hate Twitter (Part 1)

Part 1
I don't hate Twitter. I know the internet is full of folks who feel ways about stuff and I don't want anyone to think I am the type of lady who would associate such a strong word as "hate."

(In my opinion Hate reserved for such uses as "I hate the Westboro Baptist Church" or "I hate the fork in history that led the US away from an ecologically minded democratic socialism and towards a fascist cult of consumerism yolking us to capitalism." Those are things I feel strongly about.)

I will be clear though: I have no love for Twitter. Twitter and I are not friends. I would not invite Twitter to come drinking with me on a Friday night when my boyfriend was out of town. I would not immediately return Twitter's texts, especially if they came after 11pm and I would certainly never, ever, accept a beer that Twitter wanted to buy me. I will pay for my own beer, Twitter. We are not friends.

But why you are certainly not wondering? Why does this pixie of an internet wordsmith have a distaste for Twitter? Did Twitter spend the night and then not call for a week? Did Twitter promise to be her date for a show at the Ryman and then totally flake out leaving her sad and alone on the balcony and short $40? What in the hell is going on here?

Ok, I'll explain.

For one, Twitter is part of my job. I work for a non-profit so my list o' job duties is extensive. One of them is maintaining the Twitter and Facebook feeds for a partner organization. I have monitored its online presence for the last two years. At times, it is gloriously fun (giveways!), surprising (you admitted to doing that in a public place.. on the internet...why?) and a genuine pleasure.  I try to be savvy with my social media and often experiment with types of posts and of course community engagement.  This leads me to my first gripe with Twitter.

Part 2: Representing an organization is terrifying

I wanna be sedated

I mean, I'm not a real blogger or anything. However, Write More is at the top of my new years list, so that could be taken as Blog More so here's an attempt to spend more time thoughtfully articulating and illustrating ideas rather than updating Facebook and feeling rejected by Twitter.

My friend at has much goodness to offer in terms of blogging advice and generally being a delightful, stylish and charming human being. Often after reading her posts, I am arrested with the desire to join the conversation and create an elaborate online identity. I am not very cool or interesting in real life, but I do aspire to both, an uphill challenge for a single mom.  The internet is all about having a shocking amount of control over one's persona and.. yeah, blog more.

My main problem with blogging is that I have no desire to take or edit picture in an organized fashion.  Sure I Instagram my lunch, brunch and pedicures like any self aggrandizing denizen of the 21st Century, but the pictures never... make any sense.

Faux Fur Blanket
Exquisite Corpse
What the heck is the point of any of these photos? Answer:
 I have no idea.

 I am doing my very best to be clear and present for life's adventures and challenges and at this moment that does not include the task of meaningful photography. Something to aspire to?

(How's this blog post going so far? Yea, I know.)

Another barrier to blogging is: Why would anyone read this? My mom and aunt are like legally obligated to care, but you? Who are you? What would you like to see? Facebook is a huge time suck, but it does offer instant gratification and feedback on what is and isn't of interest. The sense I have about blogging is:
If I just commit to sending out personal marketing messages every day/week for 6 mo/year then finally, finally I'll be able to have analytics data that let me know I've taken my (tiny) seat as a content creator.

I am very attached to the idea of creating content over consuming it. (Yummy content, noms) That is generally what I do for a living. Learning new and better ways to do this, does seem helpful. (Taking suggestions).

Mostly though, when I'm off the clock I want to snuggle my adorable dog. Reminding myself that Write More (even imperfectly) is my goal.


PS: I'm committing here to write about Wattpad sometime in the future.