Category Archives: It’s Alimentary

Blackberry Cobbler

This is exactly the sorts of pictures of amazing food I’d like to begin taking myself. Must take better pictures!

Blackberry Cobbler.

It’s been too long–I truly missed you

It’s been a crazy few weeks, and readers can expect to see a barage of posts in the next few days as I finally get this new online class revamp process done with the help of superteacher Alex Rister:

1. Shortbread 8-ways: A review 

I’ll let you know which cookie I hoarded for myself, which I still haven’t eaten more than one of, which one was amazing, yet inexorably frustrating (like my non-racist, socialist ex-boyfriend), and which one I’ll be making again in the near future.

2. Professionalism Lessons from The Professional

After the most recent incident regarding communication and professionalism fails, I’ve decided to let Leon, the professional hitman from Luc Besson’s 1994 masterpiece take over on what it means to be a true professional.

3. Audience Needs Persona: the Faculty Persona

I’ve decided to start with faculty in developing my target audience/market personas; this is the group which it would seem I have the most in common, but whom I can’t seem to really convince to take the time to apply those visual design principles consistently.

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One Cookie, Eight Variations

The holidays are a time when I relish baking and cooking amazing things for others more than I do the rest of the year. My love language always involves sugar, butter, and bacon, but at no time is this more evident than during the Christmas season. I generally revel in baking 17 different kinds of cookies for my friends, though that often leaves me feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and downright hateful. This year, in an attempt to stave off said hysteria, I am going simpler–at least in terms of my basic recipe. I will be using one recipe for shortbread cookies, creating 8 base batches of said recipe, and then tweaking each batch with sweet and savory additions. On the schedule are Russian tea cakes, chocolate dipped shortbread, rosemary shortbread, millionaire’s shortbread, cranberry and white chocolate shortbread, and thumbprint shortbread (shortbread buttons and lemon glazed shortbread are on the back burner..depends on how adventurous I feel).

Variation #1

I Pinterested these shortbread buttons from Nichole Ramirez--an awesome idea for a shower or just for fun!

 Variation #2

I'll represent the traditional Christmas-cranberry cookie with these shortbread bars from Robin Hood Flour.


Variation #3

I kept seeing pins for this variation featuring chocolate, caramel, and shortbread aka Millionaire's Shortbread, a Scottish treat. Thanks to Kayle Langford via Pinterest.


Variations #4-7

This is the recipe that started it all--one basic recipe, four different amazing variations. I made these last year, and I am back to try a few more varieties.


Variation #8

I am super curious about this savory treat--butter, could I go wrong? Found via Pinterest!

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Tweak of the day: Andrew Dlugan and SMN

Andrew Dlugan is the author of Six Minutes, one of my absolute must-read blogs on public speaking. One of my favorite posts by Dlugan is titled “Average Speakers Suck. Don’t be Average.” I dig this post because it employs one of Dlugan’s most powerful rhetorical tools, metaphor. Dlugan points out that unlike an average chocolate chip cookie, average height, and an average golfer, an average presentation sucks. In Dlugan’s bell curve of presentation skills, “The line between being an effective communicator and an ineffective communicator is not down the middle of the chart. It’s over to the right.” This average zone according to Dlugan, “is the Death by PowerPoint abyss. This is the 15 filler words per minute zone. This is the “What the heck is this speaker talking about?” zone.  In homage to Dlugan, I am sharing with you today’s image of the day, which comes from Flickr user, SMN. I’ve paired it with one of my favorite quotes from this excellent article.

Image: SMN via Flickr

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Fat Bastard wine: A study in micro-immersive design

I have had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I decided to spend this holiday with my North Carolina family. I not only got to meet my second cousin, Calista Hough (I am Puertorican–second cousin just means cousin to us) and spend quality time with my amazing NC peeps in a lovely environment that actually experiences season changes, but I also found time to peruse a few worthy instructional positions in both the Pacific Northwest (my chosen second home) and North Carolina AND I also had a small aha moment regarding immersive design while drinking a glass of Fat Bastard chardonnay.  As my family and I sat down to dinner, and my cousin’s husband poured me a glass of wine, I was struck by the label on this particular bottle (interesting bottle designs generally draw me in more than a wine’s reputation or description. This doesn’t always make for the best gustatory experience, but it does make for some sweet decorations).

Fat Bastard features whimsical, clean, dynamic typography, and is also quite tasty!

Fat Bastard’s logo features clean typography, simple contrast and a warm color palette. But, what really drew me in is the hippo, and his seamless integration into the design of the logo. Note how the hippo appears to indent or sink the label where he sits. It’s irreverent, intrusive, and completely whimsical. I was immediately drawn into the wine, and drawn into learning more about the origins of Fat Bastard; I wanted to know where the name came from (it’s Guy’s way of describing awesome things), who Thierry & Guy are, and how they decided on a logo. I wanted the story of Thierry & Guy (coincidentally, it’s a great story! Check it out here.) I was hooked (the wine was also quite tasty, and was indeed a deliciously fat bastard of a chardonnay). As I pored over the logo, I exclaimed, “this is so immersive! Immersive design!”

Immersive design? What is that? Did you make that up? No, no I did not unfortunately. Immersive design is a term created by 5D, the Future of Immersive Design, founder Alex McDowell. Immersive design is driven by a group of designers, educators, and artists committed to integrated, engaging design, which is achieved through storytelling in both live and virtual environments, whether interactive or passive.  What I find most fascinating about this model of design is the use of storytelling, non-linear and conceptual strategies to create what McDowell and other immersive designers refer to as worldbuilding. So, what is worldbuilding? I’ll let the 5D conference tackle this one…

Worldbuilding is the new metaphor for the design and iteration process, creating and actualizing the story space in digital narrative media. It addresses the design thinking, the process, and the experience of creating new worlds for storytelling.

Worldbuilding expresses the full arc of design’s role through production:

  • Inception – imagining and developing the world
  • Prototyping – testing the story space and visualizing the world
  • Manufacturing – building the world, real or virtual, for studio and capture
  • Finishing – honing final resolution and the experience of the world.

This method of design is an exciting discovery for me. I struggle with finding creative direction in my designs at times, particularly those that are moving away from the Keynote format (as in the current bane of my existence, a one page visualization of Simon Sinek’s Start With Why. I believe my problem stems from a lack of formal training and experience with this idea of “the full arc of design” as it relates to the creation of a final product. I think the systematic process created by 5D–moving a project from ideation, to visualization, to building, to final testing and actual experientation (experiential + experimentation)–is a particularly useful one for the use of design as a means of solving the world’s most pressing problems. I also think implementing this with my own projects, from online supplemental learning materials to in-class discussions, will help me in better in building an immersive experience for students, an experience that combines knowledge, analysis, and application. None of this may seem new to the average educator, but, from what I’ve observed and learned of our current educational model (what I refer to as fast food education, in part inspired by Ken Robinson’s “Bring on the Learning Revolution”). As a side note, if you’d like another example of information that is designed in an immersive way, check out the RSA Animates series. Here is one based on Robinson’s ideas:

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Tweak Your Food: My Take on Pumpkin Risotto

I sort of skipped Halloween this year, and the lack of cold weather and boot-worthy days is really dampening my fall spirit. However, I am almost off to NC for Thanksgiving, so it’s time to get in the spirit o’ the times. I recently attended a friend’s pumpkin party. A few weeks after rsvping for this event, I noticed it was an all-lady event and that meant only one thing–complete and total carbicide served with a side of sugar coma. Women love sweets.

My approximate pose after the pumpkin party

We hear the phrase potluck, and to us that means that we have one choice when it comes to a dish: sweet, gooey, full of chocolate, sugar, frosting, or cheese. Preferably all of the preceding.

I devoured pumpkin scones, pumpkin brownies, pumpkin marmalade with baked brie, pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin fudge, pumpkin cake pops, and pumpkin ravioli

So, I tend to be the one who says, hold on, that much sugar is going to have me drinking my juice like Shelby all night long. In an effort to avoid this, I sought out the perfect savory pumpkin dish that was vegetarian friendly, and doable for a sizeable group of people. I struck upon risotto, and then struck gold after my second search for a savory recipe by stumbling upon Straight from the Farm’s Perfect Pumpkin Risotto recipe. It was amazing! So, of course, I had to tweak me some slides to go along with my tweaks of this excellent recipe. Enjoy!

They Draw and Cook: Pumpkin Risotto

I am gearing up for an upcoming all things pumpkin party in a few weeks. I love to cook and I love to experiment with new recipes. When I first saw the invite for this event and the various dishes people were suggesting, I noticed a pretty clear trend–people love their pumpkin sweet. Growing up in a Latin home, though, I know that calabaza or pumpkin can add a delicious warmth and sweetness to savory dishes. So, I was determined NOT to create a sweet dish.

One of my favorite sites, They Draw and Cook, a collection of recipes submitted by talented artists and designers, has three whole pages of pumpkin recipes. Amongst the soups, breads, and pancakes, I found this gem–Pumpkin Risotto, created by a fellow Chiara, Chiara Palloti. Her recipe is simple, extremely adaptable, and spooky! Check out today’s delicious visual candy.

Image by Chiara Palloti via They Draw and Cook

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