Christmas 2011

Remember how my whole family came to Texas for the holidays? It was so good. Emily came from Boston, Jesse from Shanghai, and the rest of the clan from Utah. Melissa wrote a really good post about it if you want to read or see the details. 

But. I did want to share something. This year for Christmas Eve we had a family variety show... think Dan in Real Life style. It was awesome. To kick off the festivities, my dad showed us an awesome video he created on iMovie. Check it out here

It's from PAPA films because we call him Papa... so clever, right? 


T.G.I. Friday's

Before I started my job, I knew few things about the restaurant, T.G.I. Friday's. The last time I went there was in May of 2006. In fact, it was this day:

That's right. High school graduation. If you look close, you can see my little knight helmet charm on my necklace. Yep, my mom is cute like that. 

So. Anyway, we went to T.G.I. Friday's for lunch after the graduation ceremony. I remember that Aaron got a cheese burger, not your average cheeseburger. It had a cheese patty- aka mozzarella stick in patty form. Whenever I try to explain my brother-in-law's love of cheese, I always use this burger as an example.  

I never really thought about T.G.I. Friday's again until a week into my new job when I got pulled onto a project to re-build their website. Woot woot! It was a super fun process to work with the designer, the back-end developer doing store locator goodness and an experienced front-end developer who could guide me. We have been working on the site for months. I have typed up the descriptions of their retails products, edited images of the oh-so-delicious looking burgers... and changed the PDF's to their nutritional info... which explains why everything looks so delicious. 

I digress. 

The site finally went live this week! We had some serious celebrations at work and away from work. 
Check it out and imagine me changing menu categories... crispy green bean fries... potato skins... 


The Jerusalem Movie

Last week one of my fellow Jerusalem classmates sent this video clip to all of us. I've loved seeing the aerial shots of the Holy Land. Beautiful place!

Jerusalem | Filmed in Imax 3D from JerusalemTheMovie on Vimeo.


Making Stuff

Oh hey. Way too late to still be up, but sometimes I just stay up and I don't feel tired. It hardly ever  happens, so when it does I feel like I need to be really productive... or at least accomplish things on my to-do list. Usually blog posts don't fall on my to-do list but I think this is important because I think it is a fun new step in my career. 

Allow me to explain. 

Remember that time I didn't know what to do with my life? Oh yeah, that would be all last summer. 

Even though it was fun and adventurous and I got to do some awesome things with awesome people... most of the my time last year was spent analyzing what I want to do and where I want to be. When I was going from interview to interview last fall, I remember a specific day driving Aaron and Melissa's white mini van (very good of them to let me borrow). I passed by a sweet sign for a storage warehouse. And then a few hundred yards later, I passed by a different sign that I didn't love. 
All of the sudden I felt this excitement that I could make anything I want. I could make a better sign for that person. I have the tools and the knowledge to do it. 

I started thinking about what I couldn't make or what I don't really want to make (cars, anything to do with welding, pianos, houses, basically things that involve electricity and metal). But I have been quite satisfied making other things that involve paper or fabric or plastic... stuff with ink or thread, etc. Making those things brings fun joy. 

Then I thought about the internet, another love of fun joy. And I had this feeling that the world wide web is just this big blob of mystery that I am not able to understand or make, but that I want to. 
I feel like so much of design is going to be focused on the internet... and I kept thinking, yeah I want to be part of that design-webby-movement stuff. 
So luckily I got my job! 
My official title is front-end web developer. This means I make websites. 

When I first learned about this stuff, it was very new to me. So I thought I would share to you, my loyal readers. (But let's be honest. It's mostly so my mom can understand what I am doing all day. )

So, I go to work. I go to meetings and talk about some new digital thing that a client wants. We chat it up with information architects and user experience designers and project managers and back-end developers and flash developers and brand managers. And finally at some point, an art director makes it all happen in a sweet layered photoshop design. 

Then they give their design to me. Last month, it looked like this: 

I look at the photoshop document for a long time. Then I think about how I should set it up and what elements I ought to group together. Then I write a code to format the layout.  I take the text from the copywriter and put in little tags so the browser knows how to recognize everything. The "language" of the code is called HTML. 

After I have done that, it looks like this. BUH-ORING. 

Luckily, websites don't have to look like that anymore. I write a different code that applies styles to all the elements. Style meaning, background patterns, images, colors, fonts, borders, spacing between things, etc. This code is called CSS. 

Sometimes I have to do special styles for Internet Explorer 7 & 8 because some people still use those. (If you are that person, you may consider Google Chrome...)

Adding style is too much fun! Once I think I am done, I work with the designer and a team of quality control who check every page and element in at least 7 browsers, plus the iPad and iPhone. Once it's done, it goes back to the client to approve.

So... this was my first site that I did on my own. It went live on Friday! 

Also, this week I got to make a mobile site... aka a site that you can see in any browser but if you are on a mobile device it will default to a site that is specially formatted to handle a small width. 
I got this adorable PSD for the chocolate festival at Central Market, which is a gourmet grocery store in Texas. Think Trader Joe's meets Whole Foods meets Costco's samples. 

So then I go through the same process first coding the framework in HTML and then adding some pizazz with CSS. For this site, I tested the site on an iPhone simulator on my computer. It was pretty weird to use my mouse to scroll instead of my finger. 

You can check this one out here. Ah! I just think it is so cute. All the chocolates and pink and textured background. So fun! 

Anywho. That is probably way more than anyone wanted to know about my job. But I love love it. I didn't realize how perfect it would be for me. I love that I can go in to work and get stuff done and learn new things, but still come home and do all the cool free-lance design stuff that I want to do. Perfect fit. Cheers to Texas!



Once upon a time, Martha Stewart paid some big bucks to get a custom typeface made by the H&FJ type foundry. They made tons of different version of the font- light, book, italics, semibold, small caps, etc. 
It turned out beautiful. They named it Archer. 

For many years, only Martha's companies could use any variation of the typeface, but guess what?! Two years, the foundry started selling it to other people. When I first learned of this (from my expert typography friend, Sara, who just happened to intern at Martha), I got excited. 
Way excited. 
Then I realized how much money it would cost to buy. Months went by... I kept checking the price to see if it had miraculously dropped. I informed my sister, Melissa. She agreed that something must be done. So we saved our pennies and finally bought this beaut of a typeface a couple months ago. 

And let me just say, it makes designing anything so much easier. I pretty much only design feminine things and I think it is just perfect. I was using it tonight and loving it. In fact, I have this little chant going through my head every time I use it...