Herb Roasted Red Kuri Squash & The Kentucky Bourbon Chase

In early October I left my Thursday night Interface Design class and headed straight to Louisville, Kentucky. It was my first visit to this lovely state and I was excited to explore while running in the Bourbon Chase - a 12 person, 200 mile relay race through distilleries, horse farms, and charming small towns. While training for the big event, we also raised over $6,000 for the National Hospice Foundation.

Bourbon Chase

Our team began in the afternoon on Friday and ran straight through until the evening - on Saturday! We were able to catch a few minutes of sleep in dewy fields and crowded vans, but for the most part this was an around-the-clock event.

Lebanon, KY

The race began at the Jim Beam Distillery and headed to Bardstown and Heaven Hill Distillery, continuing on to Maker's Mark Distillery, Lebanon, Perryville Battlefield, Stanford, Danville, Harrodsburg, Four Roses Distillery, Wild Turkey Distillery, the Tyrone Bridge, Versailles, Woodford Reserve Distillery, Midway, and finally into Lexington where we enjoyed our much anticipated first taste of Kentucky Bourbon.

I ran with a group of people that, for the most part, I'd never met before. It was a really awesome and intense experience, and I miss them all dearly. It was a wonderful way to make new friends and I'm already looking forward to next year.

Bourbon Chase

Kentucky was unbelievably beautiful. We visited during the peak of autumn colors and were welcomed with inspiring hospitality in every town. We stumbled upon an old abandoned distillery, saw multi-story mash tubs, visited Keeneland, and made a detour to the charming little town of Columbus, Indiana on the way back north. You can find more photos here.

Squash 11

After running 18 miles over 36 hours with little sleep and few proper meals, I've been reveling in kale salads, homemade soup, and autumn squash. I suspect that few of you need a recipe for squash preparation, but let this serve as simple encouragement to enjoy the current seasonal bounty.

Herb Roasted Red Kuri Squash


1 squash
2 Tbl olive oil
2 Tbl butter
Fresh rosemary
Fresh thyme
1 tsp roasted ground cumin
1 tsp sweet curry powder
1 tsp turmeric salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 400F. Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds from the cavity (reserve the seeds, see recipe below). Arrange the squash halves face-up on a heavy baking sheet. Rub the olive oil over the squash (including the skin) and place the remaining ingredients in the squash cavity.

Roast the squash for about 50 minutes. Check the squash periodically and spoon the butter-herb mixture over the rest of the squash surface to season. When you can easily pierce the flesh with a knife, the squash is done. Allow to cool slightly and serve warm. Any leftovers can be tossed with pasta and parmesan for a simple dinner.

Cumin & Parmesan Roasted Squash Seeds


Seeds from one squash 1 Tbl olive oil 1/2 tsp roasted ground cumin salt and pepper to season 2 Tbl grated Parmesan


Preheat oven to 350F.* Remove any large pieces of squash from the seeds and place the seeds in a large bowl. Don't worry if a bit of squash remains on the seeds.Toss with the olive oil, cumin, and salt and pepper.

Spread the seeds evenly over a heavy baking sheet lined with a Silpat mat or parchment paper. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the seeds are golden brown. Check and stir frequently.

When the seeds are done, remove them from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with the grated Parmesan.

*(You can also put them in the oven with the squash at 400F. Just watch them carefully.)

Spicy Roasted Garlic & Lentil Stew

I spent this past weekend visiting Kentucky for the first time and running the Bourbon Chase (more on that soon when I finish editing my photos). The autumn color was truly spectacular and we couldn't have asked for a more beautiful weekend.

30th Birthday

Even though we are experiencing a bit of warm snap right now, October has me thinking of peppermint tea and hearty soup as I rustle through falling leaves on my walk to school. The first task on my fall cooking list was this lentil stew that I fell in love with last year. I don't think I have ever met a lentil soup I didn't like, but this might be my favorite.

Mom and Dad Visiting 40

The cayenne and smoked paprika give this stew some snap, but the earthy flavor of the roasted garlic and vegetables balance the dish. It keeps well and makes an excellent workday lunch. You can make this stew with any type of lentil, but I am fond of French green lentils. They hold their shape after cooking, unlike other varieties that tend to fall apart.

Spicy Roasted Garlic & Lentil Soup

Spicy Roasted Garlic & Lentil Stew Serves 6


1 1/2 lb carrots, peeled
5 Tbl olive oil
1 tsp salt Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 large shallots, sliced thin
6 garlic cloves, quartered
1 C chopped celery
1/2 Tbl fresh thyme leaves (optional)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika
dash of red pepper flakes
dash of cinnamon
1 C french green lentils
4 1/2 C vegetable stock


Preheat oven to 400F. Arrange the carrots on a baking sheet and coat with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Roast for 20 minutes. Turn the carrots and add the shallot and garlic. Roast 15 more minutes. Allow the carrots to cool and chop into half inch pieces.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large stockpot. Add the carrots, shallots, garlic, celery, cayenne, red pepper flakes, paprika, and cinnamon. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Add the lentils and the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occassionally. Season to taste.

Student Status

My December graduation date is arriving quickly. Since this is the last time in my life I expect to be a student, I'm hoping to take advantage of any associated perks before I receive my diploma (and read all the library articles I can). Some of the best include:

Adobe: Up to 80% off software. Amazon: Free Amazon Prime (free 2-day shipping). Apple: Education discounts on hardware and software. Axure: Popular wireframing and rapid prototyping software. Good students (3.0 GPA or higher) receive a free license. Lyric Opera: Discounted tickets to Chicago opera. Professional Organizations: Many, like the ALA, offer steep discounts to students on membership dues and conferences. WebStore: Free and discounted software. UI-specific, but many universities have something similar.

Anything else I shouldn't miss?

Community Fabrication Lab

I had the opportunity to tour the Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab this afternoon. This amazing resource is part of a network of digital fabrication labs around the world. SocioTechnical Systems Professor Betty Barrett gave us a tour of the facility. The lab is primarily operated by volunteer staff and is open to anyone in the community. In addition to open-source software work stations and a huge variety of tools, the lab also houses impressive machinery including a Roland Servo Desktop Vinyl Cutter and an Epilog Helix 350 Laser Engraver.

Fab Lab

A few things I learned:

-The laser engraver doesn't require extremely advanced design skills or obscure file formats. It uses PDF files (exclusively) to engrave areas up to 12" x 18." Users must determine the size, speed, and frequency of the laser. An initial test run is always conducted on cardboard to ensure an acceptable final product. You can read more about this machine on the Fab Lab CU site.

-Inkscape is an open source scaleable vector graphics editor that is popular in the lab (SVG file format).

-It's possible to make inflatable steel furniture (not in the lab, I just thought this was neat).

-The lab occasionally hosts workshops. I'm disappointed that I'll be missing their workshop on wearables this weekend (there is still space, if you want to sign up). We were able to check out the amazing textiles they ordered from Inventables, like temperature sensitive polyester, conductive elastic fabric, and glass fiber metallic mesh.

Fab Lab Art Annex 2 1301 South Goodwin Avenue Urbana, IL 61801

Storytelling for User Experience


Brooks, K., & Quesenbery, W. (2010). Storytelling for User Experience. Brooklyn, N.Y: Rosenfeld Media. 320 pages.

We selected Storytelling for User Experience for discussion at the October UX Book Club CU event. Kevin Brooks is a researcher at Motorola Labs and a professional storyteller. Whitney Quesenbery is a user researcher and usability expert. This book is written for a broad audience and would appeal to both designers and researchers.

It's no secret that I tend to enjoy books published by Rosenfeld Media. They are well-organized, beautifully designed, and generally provide concise and clear treatment on timely topics. While I'm glad I read this book, if I hadn't been leading a book club discussion on the material I probably would not have finished it. In the first nine chapters Brooks & Quesenbery make a compelling case for using stories throughout the user experience design process - from communicating specific requirements to design teams to using stories to craft usability tasks. In the remaining six chapters the authors provide detailed instructions on how to create stories - discussing elements like perspective, plot, and delivery. Embedded within the main text are stories and anecdotes from the authors and other UX professionals. While some of the information contained in the later chapters is useful, I expected a book with more detail on how to use stories in user experience research, not a primer on basic story structure. I think this book could have benefited from stronger editing and could have 150 pages shorter.

Search Analytics for Your Site


Rosenfeld, L. (2011). Search Analytics for Your Site. Brooklyn, N.Y: Rosenfeld Media. 224 pages.

We selected Search Analytics for Your Site for discussion at the first UX Book Club CU event in September. This book by Louis Rosenfeld, co-author of Information Architecture and founder of Rosenfeld Media, will appeal to anyone that works with a searchable website or intranet. Rosenfeld persuasively argues that organizations are sitting on mountains of useful data in search logs, yet few are analyzing this valuable source of information. Search log data can be used to better understand who your users are. This data comes directly from users, highlights user expectations for your site, and best of all describes user activity in the their own words. The book provides a clear and concise introduction to search analytics along with recommendations for interpreting this data to improve your site. Rosenfeld also provides an informative introduction on how to retrieve and understand search logs. This book is a quick read and is packed with useful information. I highly recommend it to anyone working with searchable websites.

Good Years

Today is my 30th birthday!

I'm grateful for:

  • Parents who are loving, supportive, and committed to education.
  • The lessons I continue to learn from my confident, feminist Mom and my active, outdoorsy Dad.
  • A smart and sweet brother who is one of my best friends.
  • Nick, for sharing adventures with me and always being excited to learn something new.
  • Friends, old and new, who bring joy to my days. Especially the brilliant and gifted-advice-giver Eileen.
  • My health, mobility, and energy.
  • How fortunate I have been to see so much of the world and meet so many amazing people.
19841019 Gemma on the Jefferson Porch

Things that are making me happy: -Being a student again. -Fall bike rides with fellow library school students. -This song that I have been listening to all morning. -Seeing bylines and photo credits for dear friends in fancy publications. -Ordering a pretty dress that I've had my eye on. -Apples and tawny port -Visiting Detroit and seeing the Smashing Pumpkins in a few weeks (Thanks Nick!) -Learning more about my camera in my photography class. -Excuses to buy new books. -Perfect running weather. -Feeling healthier than I did at 25.

I'm a lucky lady. I'll be back with a recipe soon. Cheers!

Zucchini Turmeric Pickles

Like many of you, early fall is my favorite time of year. I've unpacked extra blankets and sweaters, started to visit our local apple orchard on a nearly weekly basis, and I'm taking every opportunity to spend time outside before the daylight hours fade.

The last few weekends have been been full of visitors and it has been a pleasure to show friends and family around town. I took advantage of the associated car access and we visited abandoned train cars, historic round barns, the Allerton estate, and the former Chanute Air Force Base. It's hard to believe that I'll be done with my degree in December. Time has flown by and this little town has grown on me.

Zucchini Pickles

To welcome my guests I bought a few bottles of wine and made a double batch of my favorite pickles. This recipe is perfect for late summer/early fall when zucchini is plentiful. The pickles have a familiar sweet and sour flavor with a few extra special touches: turmeric and mustard.

Zucchini Turmeric Pickles

Adapted from the Zuni Café


1 lb zucchini
1 small yellow onion
2 Tbl kosher salt
2 C cider vinegar
1 C sugar
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 1/2 tsp crushed yellow and/or brown mustard seeds (I used brown)
Scant 1 tsp ground turmeric


Wash and trim the zucchini, then slice them one-sixteenth-inch thick; I used a mandoline. Do the same with the onion. Combine the zucchini and onions in a large but shallow nonreactive bowl, add the salt and toss to distribute. Add a few ice cubes and cold water to cover, then stir to dissolve the salt.

After about 1 hour, taste and feel a piece of zucchini -- it should be slightly softened. Drain and pat dry.

In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, dry mustard, mustard seeds and turmeric. Simmer for 3 minutes. Set aside until just warm to the touch. (You don't want the brine to cook your crisp pickles.)

Return the zucchini to a dry bowl and pour over the cooled brine. Stir to distribute the spices. Transfer the pickle to jars. Seal tightly and refrigerate for at least a day before serving to allow the flavors to mellow and permeate the zucchini, turning them a brilliant chartreuse color.

Peach Coffee Cake

How is it that I never seem to realize the days are getting shorter until the first cool September day? Suddenly the sunlight looks a bit warmer on my bike ride home from work, summer flowers are few and far between, and neighborhood gardens are bursting with tomatoes and zucchinis. I'm one of the most enthusiastic autumn-lovers you can find, but the changing seasons aren't without a bit of sadness to see another summer come to a close. Luckily, Peach Coffee Cake is the perfect recipe to ease the transition.

September in Champaign

Midwesterners, be sure to visit your farmers market over the next two weeks to get the last of the juicy freestone peaches. Tell them you are baking, and perhaps your farmer will throw in a few slightly bruised extras like mine did. (What a nice treat!) Though, if you can't find any, this recipe will also work well with plums or apricots.

Peach Coffee Cake Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Dimply Plum Cake


1 1/2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt Scant
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
5 Tbl unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 C (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 C flavorless oil, such as canola or sunflower
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
5 freestone peaches, pitted and halved*


Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350F.

Butter an 8-inch square baking pan, dust the inside with flour, tap out the excess and put the pan on a baking sheet.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

In a second medium bowl and working with a mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until it’s soft and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes, then add the eggs, one at a time, and beat for a minute after each egg goes in. Still working on medium speed, beat in the oil, zest and vanilla—the batter will look smooth and creamy, almost satiny. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated.

Run a spatula around the bowl and under the batter to make sure there are no dry spots, then scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Arrange the peaches cut side up in the batter, jiggling the peaches a tad just so they settle comfortably into the batter.

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and puffed around the peaches and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 15 minutes—during which time the peach juice will seep back into the cake—then run a knife around the sides of the pan and unmold the cake. Invert and cool right side up.

Once cool, dust the cake with powdered sugar to serve.

(*I used four halves in the center of the cake. Then, I cut away the bruised parts of large peach and sliced the remaining pieces. I placed these smaller pieces along the perimeter of the cake, making sure a bit of batter remained between the baking pan and the peach slices.)

Quinoa Tabbouleh

My final semester of graduate school began last week. It's hard to believe that it has been a year since I moved away from Chicago. I left the city overwhelmed and burned out after several years in nonprofit development. I didn't have much of an end goal when I started library school. I was simply eager for a change. In the last twelve months I've had the opportunity to meet many fascinating and brilliant people, to visit new places, to commute by bike for the first time in years, to encounter new ways of thinking about information, how people seek it, and how to organize it. I've even started to find my own focus in the field. It's been wonderful to be back in school. I plan to thoroughly enjoy these last few months.


In additional to my library courses, I stepped a bit out of my comfort zone and signed up for a studio art course on RAW photography. I haven't taken an art class since middle school and I'm ecstatic to be doing so again. I'm the only student from outside the art department, and while I'm slightly afraid of looking foolish, I couldn't be happier.


The start of the academic year means that falling leaves and sweaters are right around the corner. These last few weeks of late summer are always my favorite, with milder temperatures and perfect tomatoes. Here is a healthier take on traditional tabbouleh that calls for some of the abundant summer herbs and vegetables that are still available.

Quinoa Tabbouleh


1 C black quinoa - rinsed
1/2 medium cucumber - peeled, seeded, and diced
2 medium tomatoes - seeds squeezed out and diced (I used one red and one yellow)
1/4 medium red onion - diced
3 garlic cloves - minced
2 C flat-leaf parsley - stems removed and chopped
1/2 C mint - stems removed and chopped
2 Tbl lemon juice
1/4 C olive oil salt and pepper to taste


Bring two cups of salted water to a boil in a medium-sized pot. Add the quinoa, turn down the heat to medium-low, and cover. Simmer about 20 minutes or until the quinoa is cooked and fluffy.

When the quinoa is cooked, pour off any excess water and add the quinoa to a large bowl. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, black pepper, and salt and pour the dressing over the quinoa. Stir to combine evenly. Add the cucumber, tomatoes, onion, garlic, parsley, and mint. Stir to combine. Add additional salt and lemon juice to taste. Refrigerate and serve chilled.


My first substantive post to this website garnered a bit of attention back in June. At the time I was reading Information Architecture for the World Wide Web and becoming increasingly disillusioned by the lack of relevant course offerings in my program. My short post was picked up by none other than Peter Morville himself:


This exchange sparked the beginning of a conversation with some GSLIS administrators and I'm hoping to get involved with the Curriculum Committee this fall. In July, the Library Journal referenced my post in the article Putting the UX in Education | The User Experience and Office Hours by Aaron Schmidt & Michael Stephens. They write,

"User experience (UX) thinking was born at information schools but hasn’t found a home in many libraries. Why not? The answer is simple. Many LIS programs haven’t integrated UX coursework into their curricula, and libraries suffer as a result....  LIS schools reviewing curricula may want to shift some of the focus placed on materials and process to user needs, behavior, and creating experience."

They go on to recommend specific coursework (like interpreting and employing user research and usability testing), while suggesting that elements of UX should be part of the overall LIS curriculum.



Do you live, work, or study in the Champaign-Urbana area? Do you have an interest in user experience, information architecture, user interfaces, or a related field?

Join us for monthly UX Book Club discussions and the opportunity to interact with students and professionals looking to share their passion and knowledge of UX, IA, UI.

Find us on Meetup!

Fall 2011

After a calming two weeks of backpacking in my favorite place in the U.S., I am back in Champaign-Urbana for my last semester of graduate school. I will be continuing my work as a Graduate Assistant in the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center, an agricultural special collection located in the University of Illinois ACES Library. This is shaping up to be the most exciting of my four semesters. My courses include:

Fall 2011 -Metadata in Theory & Practice -Electronic Publishing: Technologies & Practices (XML) -Interfaces to Information Systems -RAW Photography (yes, an undergrad art class!)

Courses I have completed at the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science:

Summer 2011 -Geographic Information Systems -Applied Business Research: Competitive Intelligence & Knowledge Management -Independent Study: Information Architecture, User Experience & Taxonomies

Spring 2011 -Foundations of Information Processing in Lib & Info Science (Python programming) -Introduction to Database Design -E-Government -Libraries, Information and Society -Practicum: Sears Holdings Corporation Taxonomy and User Experience Intern

Fall 2010 -Information Organization and Access -Reference and Information Services -Administration and Use of Archival Materials -Rare Books and Special Collections Librarianship

ALA Interview

In June I attended the 2011 American Library Association Annual Conference. I had the opportunity to meet a number of fantastic library students and recent graduates from other programs.  Micah Vandegrift, one of the contributors to the wonderful blog Hack Library School, asked me to take part in a brief interview about my MLIS program. You can listen to it here. (I've been a bit remiss in posting about my experience at the conference. I hope to soon, but in the meantime feel free to read about the food and beverage side of things on my other website, Pro Bono Baker.)

Card Sorting


Spencer, D. (2009). Card sorting: Designing usable categories. Brooklyn, N.Y: Rosenfeld Media. 162 pages.

Spencer is a freelance information architect and interaction designer with extensive experience. This book is written for a general audience, but it will be of primary value for professionals learning how to conduct or improve card sorts. It is one of the only book-length resources available to focus on this subject. This book is primarily about card sorting but addresses the over-arching issue of how to design usable categories of information that other people will have to use and understand. Spencer begins with a clear explanation of what card sorting is, how it may or may not be the best option for the reader, and a short treatment of issues in categorization. The bulk of this book walks the reader through a detailed work-flow of how to think about, set-up, and administer a card sort.  It also includes several case studies and references to additional web content. Spencer is extremely knowledgeable and it is valuable to gain insight into her research process. The most exciting element of this book can be found in the final two chapters, which focus on how to analyze the card sorting data. The book provides a brief overview of various statistical methods and focuses on the three that Spencer uses the most often: k-means cluster analysis, hierarchical cluster analysis, and multidimensional scaling. This is a fantastic book useful for anyone interested in running a card sort. It provides very current, expert, and unique information.


I'm in Glacier National Park hiking with my family for two weeks before my last semester of graduate school begins in late August. In my absence, I'd like to give you a taste of one of my favorite bakeries. (A version of this story originally appeared on Gapers Block.)

Grinnell Glacier

If you have ever had the opportunity to enjoy an extended backcountry hiking trip, you are surely familiar with the campfire moment when you begin to fantasize about your first meal off the trail. If you happen to find yourself in northwest Montana, hiking in the North Fork Valley, you will likely be fantasizing about Polebridge Mercantile. This general store, bakery, and gas station is a mile from the northwest entrance to Glacier National Park and the only bakery between the Apgar ranger station and the Canadian border. Though, even without that distinction, Polebridge would be worth the long, gravel road drive.

Pastries at Polebridge Mercantile

Built in 1914, Polebridge hosts a large and eclectic staff from all corners of the country. The faces change from year to year, but the one thing they all have in common is a passion for the great outdoors and this little town in the middle of nowhere. Polebridge Mercantile bakes all day long, seven days a week, turning out loaves of bread, cookies, and sweet and savory pastries. Few items have a chance to completely cool before they are on their way to the trailhead with a happy customer.

Spinach, Poppy and Blue Cheese Pastry

Pastries run a dollar and change and a baker's dozen of their cookies are only $5. Don't miss the huckleberry macaroons, the spinach and blue cheese pastries with garlic and poppy seeds (pictured above), or their sticky buns. They also sell excellent hot and cold sandwiches and breads.

Beers at Polebridge Mercantile

Polebridge sells a wide variety of home and camp supplies, toiletries, food, and beverages. The big porch and picnic tables out front provide the perfect invitation to enjoy one of the regional microbrews they sell while you take in the mountains surrounding this picturesque corner of the world.


Camping is plentiful, but Polebridge also rents cabins on their property for $45 a night. Call ahead for details and be mindful that the area is fairly inaccessible for much of the year without serious snow equipment. Remember to sweeten up the hard-working Apgar rangers with a bakery delivery on your way back south.

Polebridge Mercantile 265 Polebridge Loop Polebridge, MT, 59928 (406) 888-5105



Warfel, T. Z. (2009). Prototyping: A practitioner's guide. Brooklyn, N.Y: Rosenfeld Media. 197 pages.

Warfel is a principal designer at messagefirst in Philadelphia with extensive experience in design research and usability. This book aims to be a concise manual on prototyping for user experience designers. It is written for a general audience, but it will be of primary value for those interested in or already working in the user experience field.  Warfel argues that prototyping is an important step in the design process because it “simulates multiple states” of the final product. The book begins by describing the theoretical framework of prototyping in a web-based environment and includes tips and best-practices for various types of prototyping work.  The middle of the book is dedicated to specific methods of prototyping, including pros and cons of different methods and detailed information on various types of prototyping software. Due to its recent publication date, new practitioners might find this information particularly useful. The last part of this book addresses how to test completed prototypes.  This is a concise and well-written book that will be useful for any professional interested in improving their user experience design.

Strawberry Shortcake

This has been the first summer that has really felt like summer to me in a long time. Soaring temperatures, breezy bike rides, patio drinking, vacations, great food, old friends, new friends, grad school classes, and barely a moment to sit still - just the way I like it.

Summer Dinner Party 23

I've been fortunate to spend a lot of time with my family this summer and we recently had a large reunion for my father's side of the family. My grandparents had six children and - counting spouses and great grandchildren - there are about 40 of us now. We are lucky to be so close-knit for a large family, especially considering that we are spread throughout the country and the world.

Grandpa Then Grandpa Now

The driving force behind this family reunion was to celebrate my grandfather's 90th birthday. That's the two of us in 1986 and again just recently. We spent three days in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin dining, going through old photos, and enjoying my grandfather's land. I'm hoping I inherited some of my grandparent's good genes - they are both in excellent shape. In fact, my grandfather's birthday gift was a new chainsaw and he and my father are out at the land clearing away fallen trees from the most recent storm as I write this.

It's hard to believe it is already August. I've started to frantically make all of the summer dishes that I know I will miss when late September rolls around. Growing up, strawberry shortcake usually included store bought angel food cake. While I still have a special place in my heart for that distinctive flavor, you can't beat the real thing. The shortcakes in this recipe are easy to make and it's worth turning on the oven for in the hot August heat.

Strawberry Shortcake Serves 10

For the shortcakes:


4 C all-purpose flour
2 Tbl baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
6 Tbl sugar
1 ½ sticks (12 Tbl) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 ½ C cold heavy cream


I use Dorie Greenspan's recipe for Tender Shortcakes, which you can find here.

For the strawberries and cream:


2 lb fresh strawberries, rinsed 2 Tbl sugar 1 ½ C cold heavy cream


Thinly slice the strawberries. Add to a medium bowl and add the sugar. Gently toss the strawberries to coat and let them sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes, periodically stirring to distribute the sugar. Refrigerate until you are ready to use the mixture.

Just before you are ready to serve the strawberry shortcakes, add the heavy cream to medium bowl and whip with a hand mixer until light and airy. Don't over mix.

To serve, place a shortcake on a plate (you can gently slice them in half if you'd like, but I leave them whole), top with a few dallops of whipped cream and a few spoonfuls of strawberries.

Information Architecture for the World Wide Web


Morville, P., & Rosenfeld, L. (2007). Information architecture for the World Wide Web. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly. 528 pages.

Morville and Rosenfeld are credited with founding the field of information architecture through their work with Argus Associates and both continue to be highly regarded and engaged practitioners in the field. Morville is currently the founder and president of Semantic Studios, an information architecture, user experience, and findability firm. He is also a faculty member at the University of Michigan’s School of Information. Rosenfeld is the founder and principle of Louis Rosenfeld, LLC, an information architecture consultancy firm. Both Morville and Rosenfeld have backgrounds in information science and are co-founders of the Information Architecture Institute. Now in its third edition, “the polar bear book” is the quintessential manual on information architecture. This book is intended for a wide audience including both new and experienced information architects. This is the most comprehensive book on the information architecture field I have found in my research. The book covers a vast amount of information including: Defining information architecture, practicing information architecture, user needs and behaviors, the anatomy of information architecture, organization systems, labeling, navigation, search, thesauri, controlled vocabularies, metadata, research, implementation strategy, design and documentation, as well as practical advice for practitioners on education and ethics, making the case for information architecture in your organization, and two exhaustive case studies. The book is full of references to other information sources for further exploration. This is, without question, the best starting point for anyone with a serious interest in learning about information architecture. Much of the content covered in shorter books like The Elements of User Experience or Content Strategy for the Web is covered here and the rich context that the other content provides is worth the extra time investment. Of particular note, Morville and Rosenfeld do an excellent job of connecting information architecture to the common language of the library and information science field. Additionally, they offer persuasive arguments throughout the book for pursuing good information architecture that will be useful to any practitioner who needs to convey the value of this work to their organization.

Porch Beer

It is sweltering in Illinois as I write this. I glanced at the weather report before I biked to work this morning, and to my dismay saw that it would feel like 112 F outside. And, it did. Look out east coast, this heat wave is coming for you. I'd recommend that you stock a few ingredients in your home in preparation. This is my favorite way to keep cool on these hot, hot summer nights.

Porch Beer


12 oz. lager beer (I use Tecate)
1 lime Kosher flake salt
4 large ice cubes


Cut the lime into quarters and run one of the wedges around the rim of a 20 oz pint glass. Pour a tablespoon of salt into a flat dish and coat the glass rim.  Add four large ice cubes to the glass, squeeze in the lime juice, and add the lime quarters. Top with beer.