All posts by Cindy

Bring on the berries

Andy and Luke start filling their box with fresh strawberries at Sweetberry Farm near Marble Falls, Texas.
(Andy and Luke start filling their box with fresh strawberries at Sweetberry Farm near Marble Falls, Texas.)

I used to pick strawberries with my family as a kid.  We always had a great time.

Mom and Dad would drive out to some “pick-your-own-strawberries” farm in Virginia where we would spend hours getting sunburned and stuff our containers and ourselves with ripe red strawberries.

I want my kids to have the same experience.  That’s why the three of us hit the road Saturday morning for a farm just outside of Marble Falls, Texas — Sweetberry Farm.

If you’re not familiar with Central Texas, Marble Falls is about an hour west of Austin in the Texas Hill Country.

We met our friends Jenny and Eric and their son Ollie, picked up our strawberry boxes and got to picking.

Luke plays with a mud cake in the strawberry field.
Luke plays with a mud cake in the strawberry field.

Luke helped for a little while, but he was so excited, he and Ollie spent the rest of our picking time running through the aisles, which were muddy, pretending the mud was chocolate.

It was very muddy, but we were prepared with extra clothes and shoes, so I wasn’t worried about anyone getting caked with mud.  And thank goodness they had several hoses available for us to wash up with.

It didn't take long to fill our boxes with juicy strawberries!

After picking three boxes of strawberries, we paid and headed off to the picnic tables for lunch.  They have a nice shady area for people to relax in — right near the animals, so the kids were excited.

We followed up with some delicious ice cream — STRAWBERRY, of course!

Luke was exhausted by the time we left Sweetberry Farm three hours later, but it was well worth the trip.  I had big plans for those berries!  And I do plan to return in early June for blackberries!

Want wildflowers? A visit to St. Edward's Park


If you’re looking for a place to see wildflowers, you don’t have to leave Austin.

Today, Luke and I visited St. Edwards Park in Northwest Austin with some friends, and I can honestly say I’ve never seen so many bluebonnets. It was amazing.

I haven’t been to that park, which is off Spicewood Springs Road, west of Loop 360, in years.  We may have taken Luke as a baby.  Today we went to explore and find the creek.  The bluebonnets were a nice extra.

The creek was flowing really well from all of the recent rain, and the boys had fun throwing rocks in the water and scooping up the dirt and mud — basically, being boys.  Another nice extra — we saw a group of horses walking through on our way out — always a surefire way to please kids.

St/ Edward’s is not the largest park in Austin, but it’s definitely worth the trip if you have the time.

Bleary eyes… AHHHH, the sacrifices I make

I’m going to sound CRAZY, but for the past several weeks I’m been trying to wake up at or around 5 am every day, not just on the days I have a workout at 5:30.

Why on EARTH would I do such a thing?  To work.  On my stuff that is… not on the stuff I do during the day for “the corporation.”

My 3 1/2-year-old likes to wake up early, so I wake up even earlier to get some quality time in.  I’m more of a morning person anyway, so it makes sense to feed off of my strengths.

I’ve added some cool blogs on website design and development to my Google Reader lately.  They’ve inspired me, and my brain is full of ideas I want to try out.  I have two clients I’m working for right now, and some of the ideas apply to those projects.  But for the really out-there ideas, I’ve been experimenting with my own sites.

It’s my goal to move the remaining blogs on the old system over the WordPress AND redesign brummerfamily.com.  I’m also now in the drawing board phase of redesigning houseonpayne.com.  I’m also hoping to hire a graphic designer to put together a logo for my site.

So, there’s a lot to do, and not many hours in which to do them at this point.  Hence waking early. But I’m OK with that.

House guests

 A house sparrow sitting on the back fence

Every year, a family of house sparrows builds a nest in a crevice above our back door.

We used to try to seal up the hole so they wouldn’t be able to build the nest, but they kept pecking through.  Eventually, we gave up.  Now, it’s really fun to sit on the back porch and watch them fly back and forth to feed the baby birds.

A house sparrow feeding her baby 

Escargot

snail in the garden 

It’s been a very wet spring in Austin.  As a result, the snail population has exploded — at least in my garden.

While pulling snails off my vegetables on day recently, I posed the following question: Can you eat garden snails?  I was wondering if they could be gathered, or whether they have to be raised under special conditions.  Are certain varieties poisonous?  Or can all of them be eaten safely.

Turns out garden snails can be gathered and eaten, according to an article I found posted on Chow, through Slashfood, called How to Forage and Eat Garden Snails.

Jokingly, I sent the article to Andy.  However, Andy was intrigued, and this weekend, he and Luke put fennel and lettuce in a jar, punched holes in the lid, and began gathering snails.

They hardly may a dent in the snail population, which we noticed this morning when we sat out on our porch and counted dozens of snails on the yucca.  I later found this guy on the cauliflower.

snail on the cauliflower 

Well, as my friend Barbara says, everything tastes good smothered in butter.

In full bloom

 Cindy and Luke in the bluebonnetsI just wanted to share a few photos from the Wildflower Center today, because we had a lot of fun.

The wildflowers are just hitting their stride in Central Texas right now.  Waves of blue, red and yellow are visible along many Texas highways.  Yards in my neighborhood are in full bloom, and now all of the spring wildflowers have started to bloom, so we have a long way to go.

Luke shows us his lootThe Wildflower Center hosted an Easter Egg hunt, and we decided to take advantage of it.  For about an hour, we wandered around the main grounds, following Luke who was interested in everything, especially spiders.  He really wanted to see a spider, but we never caught a glimpse of one.  Fortunately, he was happy with the candy in the eggs.

Andy and Luke in the bluebonnetsWe walked around for a while after that looking for places to take pictures for that “obligatory bluebonnet shot.”  I told Luke he owned me one with me and one with Andy.  He reluctantly agreed. He was much more interested in all of the fun stuff going on — the kids, the bugs in the water, and bubbles — to be bothered with stopping for yet another photo with flowers we already have in our yard.  At least, that’s how I would have felt if I were him. 🙂

A taste of organization

Andy pulls pieces of the bed into Luke's room.I got a taste of organization yesterday, and I LIKE it!

It all started when Andy suggested that we go ahead and move Luke into the big bed that’s been stored in pieces in the closets since we set up the crib.  It was my bed growing up, and it’s really sturdy.  The only problem is — we couldn’t find the hardware.

We tore the entire house apart searching for it, and we finally resigned ourselves to buying new bolts.  However, in the process of searching, I discovered about 15 places that need to be cleaned out and re-organized.  Things can really pile up when you’ve been living somewhere for 5 years!

So this morning I announced to the boys we are going to organize, and Andy got an amused look on his face.  “Uh-oh, here we go.”

LOL… what are your organization tips?

SXSWi — It's a wrap

I promised to blog a lot during SXSWi.  Obviously that didn’t happen.  It was really the logistics and reality of both mobile technologies and social media.

I don’t have this blog set up to update from my iPod Touch, the mobile device I carry with me everywhere.  But it is set up to update via Twitter (@cindybrummer, BTW) and Facebook and text-messaging.  I also was able to check in with my Google Reader, FourSquare, email, and GoogleTalk with my husband.

So I wasn’t quite up to the task of blogging, but wow!  Everyone had an iPhone or mobile device!  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but it was amusing to walk the hallways of the Convention Center and see just about everyone using their phone to text, check schedules or whatever.  There were also a fair number of people with laptops, although I certainly wasn’t the only person without one.  Plenty of people also used notebooks and pens to take notes.

SXSWi was probably the most tiring and yet most inspiring 5 days I’ve had related to my career.  I attended a number of interactive business sessions, with a few web design/development sessions scattered in.  I absolutely can’t wait to put what I’ve learned into practice.

Here’s a look at the sessions I went to days 3-5:

  • Exploiting Chaos — How to Spark Innovation During Times of Change
  • Start an Agency
  • How Did This Happen?  I’m in Business?
  • HTML5 and Accessibility
  • Don’t Get Sued!  A Guide For Content Creators
  • Web Accessibility Gone Wild
  • Millionaire or Artist?  How about Both?
  • Future 15: Convergence and the future
  • Design for the Dark Side
  • Future 15: Social Business
  • Maps Mashup

I also went to the Valerie Casey keynote on sustainability.  On Monday and Tuesday I got wise to the fact that I actually needed to eat.  That gave me time to check out the trade show on Monday, talk to some CMS vendors as well as others and score some swag.

SXSWi is a huge party.  Parties fire up between 4 and 5pm and there are various ones going at points all through the night.  On Monday afternoon you couldn’t walk more than 100 feet without running into more free beer.

Seeing as how I’m not drinking now, I did not do much partying, which is a shame, because that’s where most of the networking seems to happen. That’s OK — I did meet quite a few people and there’s always next year.  You know it’s a good festival when you’re already planning for next year.

SXSWi — Days 1 &2

Wow.  I mean, wow.

I’ve been wondering the past two days why I haven’t been to SXSW Interactive before now.  It’s just so amazingly crammed full of interesting people and ideas — it’s hard not to be inspired.

My camera sucked -- this was the hall where the keynote was given.As a newbie, I have been nervous my cover would be blown at the festival, because in my heart of hearts, I wonder if I really know what I’m doing.  I’ll admit, that fear has kept me from going to several intense workshops that I had initially marked down.

I’m going to attempt to break down that barrier by going to a workshop tomorrow, but I digress.

You really do have to pace yourself at something like SXSWi.  There’s so much going on, it’s easy to find yourself rushing from one session to the next without stopping in between to check out all of the other stuff.  Or eating.

That’s what happened to me today.  I am really glad I brought snacks, because I didn’t “stop to smell the roses” — sit down and eat.  I was interested in going to a session at every opportunity.

Friday’s panels started at 2pm, and I though it was crowded.  I was wrong!  Saturday was nuts!  I felt like I was back at UT at some points, trying to navigate between classes.  The flow of people was endless, all going in different directions.  If you went to UT or another huge university, you know what I’m talking about.

And because there were a ton of people, there were also a bunch of those “promoters.”  You know what I’m talking about — people who stand at key crossings or entrances handing out slips of paper or brochures that you have no interest in getting at all. I hate that stuff, because I’m not going to do anything with it anyway.  The one I actually read was trying to turn me into a vegan in order to end animal suffering.  Anyone who knows how I eat will know that this was targeted at the absolutely wrong person — not that I like animal suffering or anything.

So what kinds of stuff am I going to in between navigating a ton of people?  Here’s a quick sampling of the sessions I went to and whether I liked it or not:

  • Social Media Marketing for your Business — AWESOME
  • Crime Scene: Digital Identity Theft — SUCKED (should have gone to the workshop on content)
  • Eight Ways to Deal with Bastards — AWESOME
  • Pain Free Design Signoff — AWESOME
  • Pen & Paper Tools to Get from Research to Design — GOOD
  • Shameless Self Promotion Without Looking Like an @#$%^&! — AWESOME
  • From Kitchen Table to $Million Business — OKAY
  • How to Unplan Your Business — GOOD

I also went to the keynote speech by Danah Boyd, an expert on social media, about privacy and publicity, which was really good.

Cindy, actually socializing at a SXSWi party, with Richard, Karen, and Kim.So, most of the stuff I’ve been to has been great, and I’ve been doing a lot of business sessions.  Sunday is no different — lots of business and a little development and design.  I still need to go to the trade show and check out the South By Bookstore, where I have a feeling I’ll be dropping some dough.

One area I’m consciously trying to work on is networking.  I finally starting introducing myself Saturday evening, but I need to keep doing it.  It’s all about meeting people and making those connections at things like this.  Three more days — I’ve got to make the effort.

Off to SXSWi!

My packed bag for SXSWi My iPod Touch is charged.  My bag is packed.  I have studied the maps, chosen my sessions, added them to my calendar and synced everything I possibly could.

I’ve even packed some snacks for the day.  I know I don’t have to, but I’m not sure what kind of stuff I’ll find that’s not loaded with grains and dairy.

I loaded everything into my bag, and now, it’s time to gather my nerves.  Check out that badge — I’m going as a representative of my business.  Awesome.  That reminds me!  Pack extra business cards!

It’s all about networking, right?  Not exactly my strong suit.  Better change that.

Andy and I were looking at all of the materials I picked up with my badge last night.  There’s so much going on!   I don’t have a laptop to take notes with — I hope I don’t look like a doofus with my pen and paper — but that’s still the way I like taking notes the best.  I informed Andy that next year, he’s going too.  He saw so much that he’d like to check out.  It’s ridiculous that he can’t go and learn.  Hopefully, I’ll come home with my head spinning with tons of info and experiences.