My First E-Book is Live!

No Kegstands Needed: An Introduction to Understanding Beer | Frock Files

This is quite a week in our household. We’ve sold my car and bought a new one, I’m about to launch a client’s website, and we’re ramping up to some 4th of July celebrations! Oh, and one other thing: my very first e-book has launched on the multimedia publishing platform, Snippet.

When I announced that I’d finished the e-book, I was overwhelmed by the number of congratulatory emails, texts, and tweets that I received. I hadn’t thought that this community of cake lovers, crafters, and fashionistas would be at all excited about a book about beer. Maybe you are, and maybe you aren’t but you’re just excited for me, and either way I’m thrilled for the outpouring of support.

I just received an announcement earlier this week that my book, No Keg Stands Needed, would be ready to go live today! If you want to understand more about beer, or even if you just want to see what it looks like to read a book with video, audio clips, and a social media component, you can check it out here. The book talks about the history of beer, the incredible craft beer movement, beer tasting, and how to make beer of your own. I have to say, I have a newfound appreciation for all the breweries out there!

And for anyone who’s thinking about writing an e-book, Snippet is a great way to go! It’s really simple to work with and the end result is very aesthetically pleasing. People have even used Snippets as a way of proposing books to publishers. Just something to keep in mind for all of you authors out there.

We’ll be heading out to the lake tomorrow, but I’ll catch you back here next week. Have a wonderful and safe holiday weekend!

Summer Movies: Boyhood

I’m not a fan of re-watching things–in fact, if James and I are watching something and for some reason (someone knocks on the door, the phone rings, the film is buffering) we have to rewind and hear the same sentence more than once or twice, this little monster inside me starts jumping around. But there are a handful of movies that I can watch over and over, including Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, directed by Richard Linklater. So I was thrilled to learn that he’ll be releasing another film this summer called Boyhood, which looks just as incredible.

In fact, it’s a little ironic to be talking about impatience in this post, because Boyhood is a mastery of the opposite. The film follows a boy from ages six through eighteen, and instead of hiring a handful of actors to play the role through the years, Linklater shot the film over the span of twelve actual years. From this preview alone, I can see how this organic approach to telling the story of a boyhood gives the film a depth that would be hard to create with many actors playing the lead and the adults aging through makeup.

If you haven’t seen the Before series, it’s equally fascinating to watch Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy age in ten year leaps. It’s not just about the way they look, but the things they’re concerned with. This kind of patient storytelling allows truth to surface in a way that feels genuine, and honest, and sometimes a little frightening because, as in life, nothing is ever clear cut.

Boyhood opens on July 11.

P.S. On the other end of the spectrum, I loved This American Life’s version of one life told through a handful of people named John Smith who were of varying ages. If you haven’t seen it, you can watch an excerpt here.

Three Days in New York

Back in March, when it was still snowing and I was desperate for spring, I started planning a little trip to celebrate James’ birthday. Last year, we went to Portsmouth, NH for a couple of nights, and while that was relaxing and fun, I thought I’d go for something a little more exciting this year. We’ve both been dying to see The Book of Mormon for years now, so I booked seats to the musical, bought train tickets, and reserved two nights at the Refinery Hotel.

Quick Visit to New York City | Frock Files

We hopped on the train and got into the city in the late afternoon, with enough time to get ready for the show. It was sprinkling outside but I curled my hair anyway, and even though I’m generally anti-selfie I took a picture to document the fact that I did a decent job for once. By the time we got to the theatre, we were damp and frizzy haired but so excited. And for good reason–the show was hilarious, sweet, and full of the most talented people! And, yes, also full of all the profanity and thinly veiled lewdness you’d expect from the creators of South Park. We loved it.

Quick Visit to New York City | Frock Files

Most of the rest of our trip revolved around roaming and eating, so  you won’t see a lot of pictures of landmarks or museums here. Since we only had one full day, we decided to spend it exploring Greenwich Village.

James found a walking tour published by the New York Times, which we followed loosely, stopping in to say hello to the puppies at a boutique pet shop and to have the best cupcakes ever at Molly’s Cupcakes. Crème brûlée cupcakes, so moist and perfectly spongy and slightly crisp on top with a custard center. I would be in trouble if this place were within a 50 mile radius of our home. Also, the bar seats there are swings and now I want to put swings everywhere!

Quick Visit to New York City | Frock Files Quick Visit to New York City | Frock Files

We found a great little cafe called The Grey Dog, which has a big menu, a few craft beers, and lots of options for those of us who can’t drink a drop during the daylight hours unless a nap is in order immediately afterward. A friendly server showed us a colorful handkerchief, which she put on a table to save our spot. We played the “If we lived in Greenwich Village” game the entire time we were in the area, and The Grey Dog made it into our “If we lived in Greenwich Village, we would have brunch here all the time” spot.

Quick Visit to New York City | Frock Files

Later that afternoon the rain started again, but we were pooped from walking all over the place anyway. The Refinery has a great restaurant called Parker Quinn, so after relaxing for awhile, we had a big dinner and got cozy in the hotel bathrobes for the night. I should point out here that The Refinery is a little oasis in the Garment District. As soon as you come in off the street, it’s quiet and welcoming, with a really friendly hotel staff, super comfortable beds, and an overall aesthetic that feels, to me, like a mix of Brooklyn-hipster and Paris-chic. Black, white, gold, and wood.

Quick Visit to New York City | Frock Files

The next morning, we had breakfast at a restaurant called The Shop, which is in the Andaz 5th Avenue hotel, directly across from the New York Public Library.

Quick Visit to New York City | Frock Files

I’m working on a little summer travel project for work featuring the school’s mascot, so after breakfast James shot this photo of me holding the stuffed mascot up to one of the NYPL lions. (The mascot’s next stop is Greece – so lucky!)

Quick Visit to New York City | Frock Files

And then we were whisked out of the city on the train! Taking the Amtrak into the city is one of my favorite parts about the trip. It’s definitely more expensive than the bus, but it’s so peaceful and pleasant. And after a couple of days in the busy, busy streets of Manhattan, it’s a welcome reprieve.

I hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend, too! Now that we’re refreshed and relaxed, we’re excited about getting back to all of our summer plans. Do you have any travel on the horizon?


Stop, Collaborate and Listen

Why do we blog? If you’re a blogger, this is probably a question you’ve mulled over at some point or another — if not every single day. It’s a topic I talk about a lot amongst blogger friends, but it was really fun to hear it within a larger conversation about collaboration on TED Radio Hour recently.

In Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales’ talk about why Wikipedia works, he says that people often ask why volunteers work on the massive site for free. Wales points out that people never ask why people play World of Warcraft for free. Or golf for free. He also points out that lots of people have amazing blogs without the expectation of monetary compensation. Why? Because it’s fun. Because it satisfies the part of us that wants to participate, not just consume.

I started blogging as a way to keep a journal but it’s grown into much more than that. Over time, it’s become an extension of my identity, a way people keep up with me, an outlet to try out new things (like stop motion and crafts, which I’d never done before!), and perhaps most importantly, it’s given me a sense of community with other bloggers I respect and admire.

Eventually, you get to a point where you’ve dedicated so much time and energy to something that you need to begin making money on it to support yourself — or you need to stop doing quite so much of it. People do become professional gamers and golfers. I took a job doing social media, and I work with an ad network to monetize this blog. Other people create online classes, use affiliate links, and work directly with sponsors. And that’s great too, but those things grow from somewhere – that starting point of the need to participate.

What kinds of things do you do to participate/create? I love hearing about the things people love doing.

P.S. Did you know that captchas are actually a huge paper to electronic book project???

Let’s Chat: When People Don’t Say Hello Back

Let's Chat: When People Don't Say Hello Back // Frock Files

In my attempt to work on greetings this month, I’ve been making it a point to say hello to all of our neighbors — even the ones I’ve never seen before. For the most part, this is working out well. I smile, say hello, they reciprocate, and I walk away with a little boost in my happiness. But this isn’t always the case.

Apparently, I’m Invisible

An older couple in our building has a son who’s moved back in with them, and every time we smile and greet him, he looks straight ahead and keeps on moving. At first, I thought this was a mistake, like maybe he thought I was greeting someone else. But then it kept on happening in empty hallways when we were the only two people around.

Even though I’m an introvert, I find that I’m energized when I have positive interactions with people. The opposite is true when I have less-than-stellar interactions. We all feed off of each other’s energy, which is why you walk out of a yoga class feeling so great, but you probably walk out of the DMV feeling like you need a pick-me-up. And whenever we run into our new neighbor and looks right past me, I walk away feeling really awkward and kind of stupid.

Greetings Are Gifts

James pointed out that our new neighbor may have some kind of personality disorder that makes it difficult for him to engage. Or maybe he just finds us too strangely happy all the time with our big, goofy smiles and endless hellos.

Whatever the case may be, it made me think of a talk I once heard from a Buddhist minister who said that a smile is a gift that’s good for everyone – for you, for the recipient, and for the world. Thinking of greetings as gifts makes it easier for me to be okay with receiving nothing in return. I love to give gifts just because, without any expectation of reciprocation.

So this morning when I ran into our neighbor, I smiled and said hello while he walked by and looked right through me, and I imagined that it was like offering him a cookie and being ignored. I thought, “Oh well, someone else will want it,” and easily got past the awkwardness.

Then I walked through my front door, where I was greeted with so much enthusiasm from Kona! I think we could all learn a lot about greetings from dogs – but I’ll save that for another post.

P.S. Read the first two posts of the Let’s Chat series here.

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