Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Google's Forgotten Stepchild

Google owns so many properties these days, it's hard to find web content that is not in some way affiliated with Google. Blogger - an oldie but a goodie - is one of those web properties. However, it sometimes feels like Google has forgotten about us.

While fewer people may be hanging out here on Blogger than they did in the olden days, that may be in part because Google has virtually abandoned us. Google hasn't made any noticeable updates to this platform in forever. And it's such a shame, really, because I like the Blogger interface so much better than Wordpress. But Wordpress has all the templates and skins and plugins or whatever. Blogger doesn't even have a real iPhone app any more.

So, most of the "Cardboard Crafter" activity happens over on our Facebook page, if anyone is interested. There have definitely been times when I wanted to write a short, micro-blog post here on Blogger - but without an iPhone app, I don't have an interface I can use while I'm on-the-go or between projects. It's rare that I have time to sit down at my computer, login to Blogger, transfer photo or video files from my phone to my PC, upload those files, and put together a new post. The old app wasn't perfect, but at least I could upload photos from my phone directly to Blogger. I can't even do that any more.

Google, I hope you're listening, because this post is definitely aimed at you. Can we get a new Blogger app and maybe a little attention from one of your junior developers to jazz up the platform a bit? No? Please??!

Not all of us have YouTube charisma, but even so, we end up there because at least on YouTube, Google remembers you exist.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Technology Waits for No Man (or Woman)

I've been cleaning up the blog a bit today, removing broken photo links and defunct gadgets, and generally marvelling at how much things have changed since I started this blog. When I took on the mantle of "The Cardboard Crafter," I was a stay-at-home-mom with a five-year-old just starting school and two-year-old twin babies trying to preserve my sanity through Any Means Necessary. Now my oldest is in middle school and the little ones have been known to steal my clothes... I'm back in school full-time myself pursuing a new career, but also about to start a job at the bottom of the totem pole earning half of what I did in my last position.

Not only has my life changed significantly (I'm like 3 jobs later), but so has technology and design. Everything is white and bright with clean lines, a little green here or there, and large, beautiful photos. And here I am in my little corner with my dingy brown cardboard and my granny doilies.

I have never been on the cutting edge of things (unless you count the fact that I started gaming on a Commodore 64 computer back in the 80's playing "Little Computer People," the precursor to Sims). I feel like I'm always playing catch-up, learning new things just behind the curve. I was not the first person to start a blog, join Facebook, get a smart phone, or send a Tweet. But, I do know how to do all of those things, thank you very much. And although I don't enter the Twitterverse very often, I have been paid admin to six different FB pages, plus the two I maintain for myself.

Old people think I'm amazing, young people think I'm awkward... I think with Google and girl power, I can do anything. It just might take me a bit longer to get the job done -- the first time. After that, I'm golden. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Everything But (and including) the Kitchen Sink

I have been obsessed with miniatures for as long as I can remember, and a big part of that obsession has related to functional miniatures. If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I was inspired early on by books like "The Indian in the Cupboard" and Beatrix Potter's children's books, both of which feature tiny creatures living in tiny, functional houses. And while Beatrix Potter's forest creatures find humans to be a nuisance at best and generally hazardous to one's health, in "The Indian in the Cupboard" the little boy works diligently to help his tiny compatriot build a functional longhouse, feed himself, etc.

I've often imagined what it would be like if one of my dolls came to life or if I found a little mouse that could talk and wished to live as people do, how I would renovate my dollhouses to accommodate, what tiny food I would give them to eat, etc. Finding the tiny kitchen videos that other people have made online resonated with that part of me that still dreams of these things. And finding a toy stove that ACTUALLY WORKS has been a lot of fun.

So, of course, I want more. I have scoured the internet for a tiny refrigerator, but the smallest that I've found are still much too big for the scale of my Little Chef stove. So I decided I would make an icebox out of a small styrofoam cooler. This project is still in progress (waiting on materials), but I have completed it seven different ways in my head :)

I feel like I have made decent progress on the ice box. So, of course, I have started another project. Because of course you can't have a working kitchen without a sink.

In my head I designed a sink made from a repurposed fish tank pump and a Wolverine tin toy sink with tiny metal plumbing fixtures. However, I don't have any of those items, and the cheapest Wolverine toy sink I can find on eBay is $20, and it's very hard for me to spend money on myself.... so, I filed that away in the back of my head for later.

Then I found a tiny desk fountain.

For $5.

And I bought it.

So, in my head I used the tiny pump inside this fountain to turn a Wolverine tin sink into a functional sink for my kitchen.....

And then I got impatient. And I opened the box. And I took a hammer to this fountain to get rid of the extraneous pieces and get to the guts of it.

And then I thought, okay. I will wait until I can order a Wolverine tin toy sink and put this in the bottom of it, and re-plumb it so the water can circulate....

And then I looked at the box this came in. And thought, "That's about the right size that a kitchen cabinet should be..."

And I did some things.

I cut out the back of the fountain box so that I could have an access panel for the plumbing. Then I found a little bowl that I thought might make a decent sink basin.

Not just for salsa.
Once I measured and cut the hole for the drop-in basin, I of course used hot-glue to reinforce the box.

The only gun I'll ever need.
Then I got the bright idea that I would drill a hole in the plastic to fit the plumbing parts. Plumbing parts being pieces of a super silly adjustable straw that had rubber joints and plastic straw pieces that you could customize in all sorts of ways. Which I just happened to have lying around. Which also happened to fit the little fountain pump perfectly.

Seemed like a great idea.

However, the plastic shattered...
So, Plan B. I still used the little traitorous plastic salsa bowl for the sink basin, but I decided I would cover it, and the top of the sink, over with plaster. Even though the shape is wrong, I thought I might try to simulate one of those farmhouse sinks that has a white ceramic edge that comes down over the side of the cabinet.

Waiting for it to dry....
I used a layer of aluminum foil between the cardboard and the plaster in an effort to keep the cardboard dry and preserve it's structural integrity. I will have to cover over the plaster with another layer of something to smooth it out and make it waterproof (possibly the bondo I will use on the fridge?)

I'm hoping the drain hold I put in the plaster will be more successful than the one I tried to drill in the plastic. Cross your fingers! I'm totally improvising here. Any ideas or suggestions would be appreciated - I promise, I read all the comments, even i I don't always have a chance to respond. :)

See you next time in Cardboard Craftland!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Tiny Kitchen Renovation

Tiny Kitchen has been out of sight - but not out of mind. I had to take it apart and relocate it, and it's been a couple weeks since it was operational. I've missed it! We took a few minutes to put it together today. This may not be the final configuration, but it's starting to feel more like a finished kitchen :) See below:

The green desk and cupboard were a gift from my mom :) She's had them for
years and thought they would be perfect for our tiny kitchen.

We haven't figured out the lighting yet, and I'm not sure that I like the
white walls or the faux marble floor - but it at least looks like a kitchen
in need of a renovation - and not just a random collection of kitchen
equipment. Still no sink or refrigerator... a girl can dream.

We also bought some tiny food! These were the three
smallest potatoes we could find. (27 cents)

Here's the smallest pumpkin grown in our garden.
One of the girlies painted a face on it.

Some other small food items we've found. Tiny
pumpernickel bread, tiny garlic bagel slices, and
the smallest apple at the store. (apple - 21 cents)

The prettiest darn pumpkin we could find! (65 cents)

Stay tuned! We've got some tiny food - time for more tiny cooking!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Chicken Soup - For the Wee Folk

Video 4 is up on the new YouTube channel. I think we learn something new every time. Maybe (at about video number 20 or so) we will have these polished and professional-looking. We'll see.

What I learned this go-round:

-Captions! I can now add them.
-"Tiny Kitchen" name has already been taken. Need to come up with something new!
-If you speed up sequences to 4X instead of 8X, they look better, but you get squeaky audio from all the kid chatter.
-We definitely need a new camera (or to find the charger for my actual camera) so we can film the entire video without having to stop and dump footage on the computer to make room for the rest.
-We need to get our kitchen set up in a more permanent location so you don't see all my house mess in the background when the kids want to change camera angles.

What I need to know:

-Are the videos better with or without the chatter? Should I try to be entertaining??
-Is 8:00 minutes an okay length?
-Do I need a little mascot in the kitchen - like a stuffy, or a doll, or a gnome? (The kids suggested the cat, but the idea of cat hair in the food gives me the shivers.)
-Can I adjust the sound levels so music is louder/softer in comparison to ambient audio? (I will just need to google this or play around some more.)

I'm sure there's a lot more - I just need to think for a bit. No time now, though.
Until next time!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Tiny Kitchen - Video 3: Kebabs and Dogs

Video number three - we thought we'd try something different. I told the kids, "Sure you can talk in this one. And you can help by handing me the things I need." I did not give them permission to fart, but they took liberties. (I may have edited the flatulence out...)

So, review of our tiny grill. It sure was cute! Looked great on camera. Was terrible at cooking. I'm not sure if it was an issue with the candles, or the grill itself. It was made out of that manufactured metal stuff that seems like it's compressed powder or whatever. So, in order to ensure the chicken was indeed edible, we cooked the kebabs in the skillet on the stove top, and for good measure, I zapped it in the microwave for 30 seconds. The hot dogs, as one of the kids mentions on the video, (unless I edited that part out), would have been fine to eat cold as they were pre-cooked when purchased.

My ten-year-old was cameraman for the first part of the video, but lost interest when I had to dump the video on my computer and delete from the phone to make more room, so the girls switched off at the end. They kept trying to get me in the video ("No, kids, mommy doesn't need to be on camera!"), and most of that I was able to edit out as well. We had 28 minutes of footage, shrunk down to 8 by selective editing and zooming through repetitive parts.

Did I mention I found a free video editor that actually does the editing of the video? Windows Live Movie Maker. This was my first time playing with this program, so I didn't try all the features, and I did kind of pick a random "movie" theme. Expect things to get a bit cleaner and sharper as we learn and grow. (Both in the production and editing of the video).

I can't wait to cook the next thing! I have set aside a small bit of a pork chop from today's dinner. Time to do some thinking and try new things!

Stay tuned! <3

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tiny Cooking Video - Second Attempt

This is our second attempt at cooking in the tiny kitchen. The recipe uses a lot of the same ingredients as our first video (Beef Stir Fry), with added complexity.

My cameraman was the other 7-year-old daughter. 1st daughter - who filmed last week's video - was the DJ. For some reason, she decided she wanted to listen to country music.

We are still working out the kinks. Our kitchen is in a temporary location and we still don't have a full set of dishes. Some of my ingredients (like the taco seasoning and cilantro) didn't yet have a tiny container to serve them out of, so I tried to keep the large packaging off camera.

This video is also somewhat long, and I tried to edit it down some, but I am using a very glitchy program and am just learning this stuff, so it's kinda rough.

All that said, I hope you enjoy!