Creativity, collaboration and cupcakes

Cupcake-Camp-Phoenix-Irish-Car-Bomb

Irish Car Bomb cupcakes, ready to wow the crowd at CupcakeCamp Phoenix.
(Recipe here—but you’re on your own for the decorations.)

There are worse ways to spend a Sunday than mowing your way through as many cupcake flavors as you can handle.

The CupcakeCamp Phoenix event at Co+Hoots on Sunday was an interesting concept: Invite dozens of amateur (and a few professional) bakers to hang out for a few hours and share their wares. You didn’t have to make cupcakes to attend, either—it was free to show up and sample, as well.

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No car payment? No problem … No, wait.

2010-nissan-altima-3.5-se-sedan

I paid off my car today.

For the first time since the early 2000s, I won’t have a monthly payment—and rather than enjoying this development, of course I’ve spent the past month wondering and worrying about it.
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Paradise in Puerto Vallarta (Year 4)

Capturing the Puerto Vallarta sunset on the rooftop of the penthouse at Villa Blanca

Capturing the Puerto Vallarta sunset from the rooftop.
(Click any photo to bring it up full-size in a new window.)

At one point during last year’s trip to Puerto Vallarta, I stood on the rooftop patio of our condo and, instead of staring at the ocean, gazed enviously at the hills. “Who lives there?” I wondered to nobody in particular.

The Villa Blanca building

Villa Blanca, as seen from our rooftop last year

“There” referred to a unique, curvilinear building that stood about one block east of our beachfront building. While I watched, a woman puttered about on the top floor, which was a setup that didn’t appear to have any windows closing it off from the outdoors; I could see straight into the place, all the way to the mineral-yellow back walls of the living room.

I was fascinated by not just the aesthetics but the logistics: What happened if it rained? Was there anything to keep insects out? There were no curtains or shades I could see, so would the lack of privacy be unnerving?

This year, I found out for myself, firsthand, because I rented it.

Puerto-Vallarta-Penthouse-Condo-Great-Room Puerto-Vallarta-Penthouse-Condo-GreatRoom

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Mses. Mysterious

Rosemary and Thyme think YOU did it.

Rosemary Boxer and Laura Thyme think YOU did it.
And this time Laura happens to be obsessed with snacks—or donkeys, or pastries, or theater, or maybe has insomnia, depending on which episode you’re watching.

I just finished watching a series on Netflix called “Rosemary & Thyme,” in which—and let the eye-rolling commence … right now!—a pair of GARDENING expert/enthusiasts named ROSEMARY Boxer and Laura THYME team up on landscaping jobs, which invariably end with a murder mystery attached.

I am a sucker for an old-fashioned murder mystery—and have been ever since I was in elementary school—and despite the groaner of a setup mentioned above, I burned through the first season in two days. I had been sort of under the weather, so watching episodes back-to-back offered an escapism and a reassuring sort of familiarity.

But after awhile, that familiarity turned into pure-on repetition. Despite nosing around and solving literally dozens of murders, the title duo are frustratingly stupid. They almost always decide to confront the villains in some isolated environment—scary downstairs cellar, for example, or abandoned country villa. Just two middle-aged lady gardeners popping up by themselves, accosting someone—who usually has killed AT LEAST TWO PEOPLE, and then somehow being saved by some sort of random coincidence.

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Don’t get atwitter about not being on Twitter

Awhile back I was on LinkedIn and saw that my HR-recruiter friend had shared a link to one of those posts with terrifying titles like “3 Ways Your Résumé Makes Me Want to Hire You, SOLELY So I Can Turn Around and Immediately Fire You for Your Stupidity.”

Few things trigger someone’s insecurity like suggesting he or she might be incompetent and not even know it. So of course, full of dread, I clicked.

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On Rose McGowan and securing your own oxygen mask first

MyOxygenFirst

Lately I’ve been thinking about a sentence that’s part of the preflight safety demonstration on airplanes: “Secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others.” And for that, I can thank Rose McGowan.

A few days ago, the actress told Bret Easton Ellis that she believed gay men were “just as misogynistic than straight men, if not more so.” This is mostly because she thinks they’ve been silent in supporting women’s causes, such as equal pay. “I see now people who have basically fought for the right to stand on top of a float wearing an orange Speedo and take molly,” she said.

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Best advice I read all day

My web browsing can be like a runaway train.

Yesterday I started researching when the video for the new Jessie J single “Burning Up” was going to be released … which led to something about her performing on the British version of X Factor even though she had just been quoted about how such shows are like veal farms … which led to X Factor judge Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, who used to be Cheryl Cole, so she must have gotten married … which led to trying to figure out who the heck Mr. Fernandez-Versini is … which led to … I came up for air 90 minutes later, blinking at how bright the outside light was, and way too conversant about what various British celebs had been snapped wearing as they toddled out of bars and clubs.

Similarly, a Reddit AMA led me to a different AMA, which led me to this advice column, which features my favorite quote of the day.

“You say there’s truly nothing like a beautiful face. That statement makes me imagine a giant plate of delicious nachos, a good book, and a cold beer. It makes me think about dogs with weird personalities, and funny children. It makes me think about the sound of rain on the roof when you’re taking a nap in the afternoon. Pretty faces can go f— themselves, compared to peanut butter cups.”

And I’m only “meh” on peanut butter cups.