11 November 2008

Blah Tuesday

Today is blah Tuesday. It is cold and rainy and grey. Winter stinks, but at least I can wear my nice knitted items. It is now 16 days till thanksgiving. I need to get my menu together and order my turkey. I tried to order it yesterday, but they were not yet set up. I shall have to go back.

I had a good weekend before blah Tuesday though. We got to go to a housewarming party, which was fun, and we watched 'Zach and Miri make a porno'. It was hilarious. I thought it was just going to be funny, but I almost fell out of my chair a few times. I highly recommend it. Though, if you are squeamish about naughty bits, you may want to sit this one out. I got more of the Full Monty than I was expecting, but it fit with the story.

In knitting news, I have casted on for the Manon cardigan. The yarn I am using has more of a halo, so the stitch definition will not be as great. I love the yarn though- so squishy.

03 November 2008

The Bachelor

When left to my own devices I turn into a bachelor. Not socially, but in terms of cuisine. I am home sick from work. I am mostly lying on the couch watching bad tv and sleeping. I wake up to mainline tea and alka seltzer cold. Now I have been told by the Captain that I am not allowed to not eat when I am sick. I have maintained the HFCS challenge through the haze, thankfully. So far today I have eaten:

3 wasa crackers with plain cream cheese

a persimmon

a cup of tomato soup

a can of ranch style beans with a slice of cheese on it

Not at all the lovely meal I would normally fix for the Captain and I. At least I have been trained to keep more than vodka and mustard in the fridge.

28 October 2008

Pot Roast

Today I had the afternoon off from work to go to the dentist (what fun). I got home and started putting a pot roast in the crock pot. This is my first ever crock pot meal, but it looks great so far. The recipe follows, but before that I want to clarify some things in the HFCS 30-day challenge. Birthday cake is certainly exempt as is food you get at a restaurant or party. Basically anything you buy or have stored in your pantry that has a label you can read is what we are focusing on here. Luckily I have a head start on the pot roast. No way we can eat 3 pounds of meat in a week, so I plan on freezing half of this bad boy for the first week in November. And now back to the recipe :-)

Crock Pot Roast
(in progress photo)

3 lbs of beef round
0.5 lbs of oxtail
4 turnips
2 parsnips
1 white onion
1 shallot
3 carrots
2 celery stalks
2 potatoes
a few cups of vegetable stock

spices: flour, bay leaves, sage, coriander, salt, pepper, olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic.

Take the 3 lbs of round and coat with a light layer of flour, a bit of salt and pepper. Heat about a tablespoon of oil in an iron skillet over medium heat. Mince one garlic clove and the shallot and put in hot oil. Sear the meat on all sides so that it is a bit brown, but not cooked. Put the meat on a plate to rest and throw out the now very brown garlic and shallot bits. Chop and peel the rest of the veggies. we want big chunks here and ballpark to have stuff roughly the same size (impossible with the carrots and celery, just break these into thirds). Add a few more drizzles of olive oil to the pan and saute the veggies and oxtails just till they are a bit caramelized. Again, don't cook, we just want color.

Add meat to the crock pot fat side up (this will help the fat melt downwards and yield juicier meat). Add the veggies and oxtails, 2 bay leaves, 2 dashes each of coriander and sage. Add the remaining garlic clove whole. Fill the crock pot about an inch or so deep with the vegetable stock. Set on high for about 5 hours.

27 October 2008

HFCS 30 day challenge

I am using this blog post to instigate a HFCS 30 day challenge. If you can, read the whole post before deciding I am a nutter. Please feel free to use the comments section to comment on the challenge and how you are doing on it should you choose to accept. But first, a bit of background.

High fructose corn syrup is the go to sweetener in the US because of ridiculously high tariffs on imported cane sugar (which makes our sugar cost more than sugar globally) and subsidized corn production (which makes corn much cheaper). HFCS is also not processed in your body the same way as cane or beet sugar. The jury is still out on whether HFCS is the root of all evil, so I am not indicting the entire industry here. HFCS has only been around since the 70s, so it is not like you grew up eating it (well my generation maybe has, but then again my mom cooked for us a lot so I may be exempt). HFCS has become so pervasive as a cheap sweetener that it has found its way into food that has no business having sugar in it. Check a can of regular old non-organic sweet corn and look for the sugar. Why does sweet corn need sugar added? Well because HFCS is also and excellent preservative.

There is no doubt that this stuff is not good for us. The corn lobby has started a ridiculous ad campaign which may indicate that sales are suffering due to consumer awareness. They may be correct that it is fine in moderation, but since it is in everything it takes some effort to only get it in moderation. I know that many of you reading this blog think that the organic hippie in me is a bit over the top. But, I think if you take this challenge with me, you may learn a thing or two.

The Challenge (if you choose to accept it).

Starting November 1st you will not eat or drink anything containing HFCS until November 30. Restaurant meals are excepted because you can never be too sure and I don't want to spoil a birthday or something. This should give you a week to alter your menus and get your pantry prepared. Then just start reading labels. Don't buy or eat anything with HFCS in it. You have to check every label- even bread can be hiding some. You don't have to go all organic, but you may have to change brands on some things.

There are plenty of soda companies still making cane sugar sodas (Jones, Blue Sky, Dublin Dr. Pepper). I am not a big fan of splenda or sweet and low (for other health reasons), but for the purposes of this challenge, you can drink diet soda if you like.

I will be taking this challenge as well. I have been trying to rid myself of HFCS for some time, but sometimes the snack attack gets to me. I just have to be smarter about my choices. More Pirate Booty cheese puffs for me!

I hope this challenge goes well. My goal is to get people reading labels and trying to get people to eat additives in moderation. You don't have to give up coke for your entire life, but you may just find that a splash of OJ in seltzer water tastes much better.

13 October 2008

Bike extravaganza

Yesterday I went on my biggest bike ride yet. My rockstar bike was in the shop, so I borrowed the green monster from luscious luka. Lauriebee and the Captain were also there to round out the pack. We biked to the lake and then tried to locate some grub. My chain got jammed while trying to cross a large road. I hoped off and ran across the street. Luckily the Captain was really prepared- first aid kit (which was thankfully not needed), bike pump, and chain repair tools. We were back on the road in no time. We ate, said goodbye to the Captain, and then biked up town to our Sunday knitting group. There were a bunch of new people there- great to have so many friendly faces. We only got to stay for an hour and a half because we still had to bike back across town. On the way, Lauriebee and I were accosted by a very large dog that was trying to jump out of the car next to us and eat us. The dog was barking, we were screaming, Luka had no idea what was going on because she was ahead of us and the Captain had already headed home way before. Well I don't care if the driver of the car was laughing, we just walked our bikes across the street and got out of his way. My legs were tired, but I am not sore. That is either because a) I am super hard core, or b) Luka made us eat magnesium. Ok, so it is probably b.

All told we rode 17 miles. The seat on the green monster was so much better than my too big squishy one on the rockstar, so I need a new saddle. My new tat is also holding up well. No puffyness, no itching, no oozing. That could all change later, but right now all is well.

12 October 2008

Big Update

I have not posted in a while (apologies), so I have a ton to show you. First up Tony: I went to water my plants the other day and found this in my watering can. Silly ferret! He is getting more playful every day and can't wait to have everyone visit for thanksgiving.

Last night, I also got my tattoo. My friend called me up in the morning and said we were going (her and her husband were getting their own as well). I thought we were just going to check out the place, but really we were there for the real thing. Glad we did it that way though, because I just kept putting it off for no reason. Hope y'all like it.

And finally a knitting update. My mom's green socks are almost done. I hope to have them done before she gets here for the holidays. I also hope to post a pattern for the Captain Hoodie to link in to ravelry. I have the hoodie done, just resizing it is going to be a pain.

09 September 2008

Bye Bye summer

Well it looks like summer is over. The autumnal equinox is not for another 2 weeks, but it looks like we are done with 75+ degree weather. Either that or the hurricanes are just tricking us and we are going to get one last summer fun in the sun.

In knitting news, the Captain's hoodie is just about done. I hope to upload photos of a finished object tonight.

08 September 2008

Tetanus Booster

Today is sort of a dud. It has been pouring. Buckets. I was supposed to take a new postdoc to lunch today, as part of the welcoming committee, in the rain... to the not so tasty cafeteria. Well, since we had no internet at work all day, I didn't get the memo that the guy was not going to make it. Oh well, at least they had mac and cheese on special today- yum! I finally got internet in just enough time to head on over to the medical department to get my tetanus booster. Did you know you were supposed to get one every 10 years? I didn't. I only thought of it since I was poking around the net to see what sort of things I should do before getting a tattoo and the up to date tetanus booster was one of them. Luckily they give them out free at work. I actually have to say that was a highlight of my day. Super long needle, but skinny so you barely felt it. That or the lady giving it was super good.

So I am going to head home soon. Maybe tomorrow will be less random- though the random days tend to be the most memorable.

02 September 2008

My Sister

My sister is the best woman in the world. She is strong, independent, smart, caring, supportive, and an all around good soul. I tried to convey how much I love her in my maid of honor speech and I think she got it. She got married on Saturday to a great guy. I think she will do well by him. So I have a bunch of officially new family members. (I thought of them as family before, but I guess now we are legally family).
I had so much fun at the wedding. I have known all of her bridesmaids for years and years. They are all warm and friendly people. It was really sad to leave my hometown, because the wedding reminded me how much I miss everybody. I am happy with where I live and my new life, but I miss the family and the girls. I guess that is what growing up is all about though. At least I know that these people will always be in my heart. So, a toast to the bride, a toast to the groom, some cake for the family, and a dance floor for friends. I am blessed to count all of y'all as my own.

24 August 2008

The Tattoo

I had a few questions from real life and in the comments about the tattoo. I still plan on getting it. I went to Tomato Tattoo in Lisle, IL to set up an appointment. The guy suggested that I wait until after my sister's wedding to get it (6 more days!). He didn't want it still to be itchy during the ceremony. Well, I got caught up in all of the move and The Captain being out of the country, soI haven't scheduled the appointment for September yet. I should get to doing that!

14 August 2008

Home Alone

The Captain has been in Prague for almost a week now, but never fear dear reader, I am managing to get the house unpacked. I present to you a sneak preview of our new apartment. It is a 4th floor walk-up super close to the L line (like 4 blocks). I really like all of the hardwood floors. This shot is the back half of the living room. My knitting corner is there as well as our plants. I think the cucumbers will have to be uprooted shortly to make room for some pinto beans. The tomato plant has 4 green tomatoes about the size of golf balls. I hope they turn out well. The lettuce has seen better days and the peppers, well, they are kindof duds at the moment. In between unpacking and going to work, I have had a break to paint ladybug toenails and participate in the Ravelympics. I have entered the sweater sprint competition. I am attempting to make a short sleeved sweater for my lovely sister in the time between the opening and closing ceremonies. I have so far managed to knit from the neck to the underarms. I obviously have a ways to go.

20 July 2008

Zombie Apocalypse Preparedness Plan

Photo courtesy of Tölkin Palautus

Do you have a Zombie Apocalypse Preparedness Plan? Did you know that you needed one? Ok, so maybe the likely hood of a zombie apocalypse is only high if you live in a sci-fi fantasy land, but the likely hood of our economy going fire sale is a bit higher. Thankfully I have thought this through.

What you will need: a Plan, a buddy, and some imagination. Hopefully you will never need this, but it could come in handy, even if it is just for a natural disaster. The key to the plan is sustainability- for the long term. We plan on loading up the car with camel backs full of water, an extra jug or two. Some canned food (don't forget the can opener), one pot, 2 plates, 2 cups, a spoon and a knife. Most important though is the seeds. You aren't going to live for long on a bunch of canned goods, so we need to think ahead. Next we have a flashlight and a lantern with gyros- i.e., they don't need batteries. Batteries will probably be scarce, so plan accordingly. We pack the fencing foils/sabers (they could be used to catch game). We get Tony sequestered somewhere. We also need to get all the bikes hooked up to the car, winter clothes, summer clothes (only one set of each), some soap, a toothbrush, baking soda and vinegar.

Once we have all of that packed we grab our emergency bag. This bag contains first aid materials, a parka, citronella candles, a lighter, and rope. We then grab our tent and sleeping bags and head out. Our plan is to drive south, most likely to the rio grande river valley. We plan to follow the Illinois River south west and then the Mississippi river south as long as possible. In the likely event that the car runs out of gas and there is no electricity to refuel it, we will then take to the bikes and continue south. It is important to follow the river as close as possible, so we don't run out of fresh water.

From there it is just a manner of meeting up with family and friends and establishing a commune in the south. The southern location is key because a)less need for heating b)longer growing season c)fishing on the beach.

So start planning.

09 July 2008

Gerbera Daisy

I have an appointment for August 6th. That is the day that I go and get my tattoo which will represent my sister and myself. Daisies are my favorite flower and it just so happens that my sister chose those as her wedding flowers. I am pretty nervous about going, but I am so excited to get it done. It will not be too big, but it should be really pretty. Lets just hope I don't chicken out.

19 May 2008

Tag- You're it!

I got tagged by the lovely and yarn dyeing talented Merry Gentlemen. I will try to play along. She broke the rules by only tagging moi, so I feel justified in only tagging a few people (not the 6 originally required). Answer the 4 questions, leave a comment to the person you tagged, and let the originator know that you have responded. Here goes

1) What was I doing 10 years ago? In May of 1998 I had just finished my first year as a physics undergrad at UT Austin. I had scored a paid internship at UTIG and that lead me on to my PhD in physics.

2) What are five things on my to-do list today- not in any particular order? 1. go to knitting- there is rhubarb with my name on it. 2. create restraint macro for a least squares refinement. 3. Kiss my honey. 4. plant strawberries. 5. try to stay awake.

3) Snacks I enjoy: Trader Joe's fruit bits, chips and salsa, cheese and crackers (especially chevre)

4) Places I have lived: In Texas: San Antonio, Lakehills, McDade, Austin, Georgetown. In New York: Bellport, Shoreham, E. Setauket, Huntington, and Port Jefferson Village. Illinois: Aurora and soon to be Oak Park (keep the fingers crossed)

5) Things I would do if I were a billionaire: Buy a house and a farm co-op. Work on some experiments in my spare time. Travel the world.

I shall tag: luscious luka and theoriesofstring

14 May 2008

Book List

This book list is reposted from Miss Luscious Luka

These are the top 106 books most often marked as “unread” by Library Thing’s users. As in, they sit on the shelf to make you look smart or well-rounded. Bold the ones you’ve read and italicize the ones you own but have not read.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran
Memoirs of a Geisha
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible
Angels & Demons
The Inferno
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

Looks like I have some reading to catch up on.

22 April 2008

Belated photo

It has been quite a while since I finished the tree jacket. I have worn it so many times it has even been washed already. (Don't mind the streaky mirror, it is clean mom- just streaky.) The pattern was from the Zephyr girls and I used 3.5 skeins of Dream in Color yarn and my Plymouth Bamboo sisters needles in size US 7. I really like this project and the yarn. I do however recommend that you take care with the garter stitch sleeves. I had put the yarn in the dryer for a bit while blocking the first time. I did not do this the second time and ended up with sleeves that were a bit too long (garter is stretchy). One pass through the drier fixes it, so no worries.

I also spent the day with my cousin Courtney's Flat Stanley. He came to the beamline with me and helped me load samples. Tomorrow we are going to go to our garden plot and till a bit. We also need to spread compost so that the ground is prepped for the planting season. Most of our seedlings are doing well at home and they can't wait to be in the ground. Well, at least that is what I think they are thinking- they won't talk to me.

24 March 2008

New York, New York

We just got back from Easter weekend in New York City. It was great to see the family and just veg-out in general. I didn't get much sleep, but it was worth it. I am still recovering from my shoulder problems, so the father of the Captain did a bit of acupuncture on me. I have to say I feel a bit better. My first time with Eastern medicine was a success. Now I am back at work, sleep deprived, but hopefully productive. Oh and a shout out to my friend's new yarn store. Go check out rock creek yarn.

10 March 2008

TJ update

The tree jacket is being worn as we speak. Blocking it did help greatly. It passed muster with the Captain, lets see how it goes with the girls at stitch tonight. As soon as I get a hold of my camera I will send pics.

09 March 2008

Tree Jacket Complete

The tree jacket is busy blocking itself on the table. I am either going to like this sweater or throw it heavily and with a vengeance into the frog pond. It was all going so well: the fit was nice, the yarn was nice, the color was nice. All until those pesky sleeves. For future knitters of top down raglans I have a warning for you: it is not a good idea to knit the sleeves and graft them onto the sweater. Do not attempt this. I feel that I am a decently capable knitter. I have gotten myself out of snags before. This one was heinous. One side I finally beat into submission. The Captain made me take a break before I frogged the entire thing. The other side was grafted a wee bit too tightly, and I am afraid that this side will be the sweater's downfall. I am afraid that it will bug me to no end and a large ripping party will come to pass. I will attempt to wear the offending garment tomorrow. If it makes it through the day unscathed, I will keep it. If not... rip it... rip it...

It does look nice sitting on the table though.

28 February 2008

We just don't belong here

Moving to the Midwest has been an interesting experience. I have never been so cold in my life (well except for that -20 day skiing in Vermont). It is so windy sometimes I have trouble walking. On the flip side, the summers are hot hot hot. The city is bustling and vibrant. There are museums, planetariums, and did I mention a gigantic lake? I think things will be much better when we move to Chicago proper, because there will be more diversity and therefore we won't feel like we stick out like a sore thumb. Food is my main issue. Unless I go to Whole Foods (which I only do on Mondays, since it is near my knitting place) we are in a pickle. I can't bring myself to buy meat at any of the stores nearby (no organic). I tried to ask the dude at Jewel Osco for rhubarb the other day and he looked at me like I had three heads! Dude it's not that hard!! It is a vegetable. Last night we made the mistake of trying to find falafel mix at Target. That was a no go. We hoofed it over to Jewel Osco and found one teeny box in the kosher food section, which itself was only a foot wide. Ground up chickpeas people- its not like I was looking for morels or quinoa or something. Seems that a lot of the food that I think is normal is not consumed by the good people of the midwest. If it is not a tomato, iceberg lettuce, or a chicken nugget, well... they just might not have it.

I really hope there is a Whole Foods near our next apartment :-)

20 February 2008

Melting Pot

I was about to update my blog (apparently I have a loyal reader in San Antonio that I have been neglecting) when the Captain said- put on your new shoes and your coat. I looked at him quizzically and said- "why?"- to which he replied: "because we have reservations at the melting pot". Yeah!!! I have never been there, but my sister claims that it is awesome. Whoo-hoo.

Valentines day was fun- I got two valentines from my cute cousins and one from my best friend. I also surprised the Captain with a box of chocolates at 7am. (what? he stirred in his sleep and I decided that he was awake enough- I couldn't hide them any longer, I was too excited.)

Tony has been growing and having a blast. If this video works, then you can see him in action! I think he is trying to wrestle his skein of yarn into submission. Too cute. (Ok the video is too big- we will try again later).

And finally, the knitting. This new project is not knitting, but crochet. It is the babette blanket and I love it. I have quite a bit more to go, and I may have to order more yarn, but it is really colorful.

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