Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Growing Challenge #... Umm... 10?

Okay, so it's been a while since I last updated on this topic. [Looks into archives] 3 months. Yeesh.

Well, I may have been so busy with grad school and wedding stuff that I didn't update, but I didn't stop doing the important stuff (namely, watering). Thanks to this continued effort, I've now started to see the payoff. Tomatoes! Peppers! Radishes!

My Thai pepper plant is just dripping with peppers, as you can tell from the photo, but even though the peppers were large they remained green. Finally, they've started to turn red. My bell peppers have started to turn orange, and even my lone poblano chile has taken on a deep green-red hue. I've decided to make some pepper jelly and toss in a few of the Thai peppers, just for added kick.

Even after several failures (dang rabbits. They also ate a bunch of jalapenos), I decided to try planting radishes again. Apparently the planter I planted them in was far enough away from the fence, and the radishes have grown to maturity. I'm pretty sure I've grown the world's cutest radish, but I might be biased.

Just so you know, that tomato is tiny.

I've also planted my centerpieces for my upcoming nuptials. I think they've turned out quite nicely. Plus, one they are finished with that role they will go live in the backyard of a friend of mine (well, I'll probably keep one). Dual purpose!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I just got my wedding dress back from the tailor. I think I will have to send her a wedding picture in a thank you note, as she did such an incredible job (and for a very reasonable price, too). I've finished nearly all of the items on my to do list, though I abandoned my search for stockings. I'd hate to bleed on them. Tomorrow, I'll figure out something for the table numbers.

The last big thing left is finalizing the ceremony. Earlier this evening, R and I chopped out the soppy bits from the sample officiant speech. We've tasked our roommate with figuring out the opening for the ceremony. Something funny, if possible. Poor guy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

11 days (and counting)

The wedding looms overhead, and I feel like I'm stuck in limbo. I'd like it to be here already, but at the same time we've still got things to do. We're going to be figuring out the ceremony tonight. Hopefully I'll be able to pick up my wedding dress from the tailor today.

Mentally, I think we're feeling the strain. R and I have been having wedding dreams. Something always seems to go wrong.

In R's most recent dream, he and I had gotten the date of the wedding wrong thanks to some quirk of Outlook. Everything was scheduled correctly, the guests arrived, but we weren't ready. We all took a walk on the beach, then decided we would just have to wing the ceremony. As one of our wedding gifts, we were given a tiny box that contained a tiny terrier. It was only a couple of inches long and ran around yapping. R wondered why someone would give us a dog, particularly as we prefer large dogs.

In my most recent dream, way too many people showed up for the wedding. They were jamming people in for the ceremony--it looked like a concert. There were people lining the stairs and people hanging off the nonexistent balcony of the building. I had forgotten my jewelry and my dress was stained and didn't fit right. Finally, the wedding party started walking down the aisle, my sister stumbling in last wearing massively tall shoes and a short white afro wig. I finally walked down the aisle to applause and cheers of "You go, girl!" (For some reason, there were a lot of black people in the crowd, even though I personally don't know many black people.) My roommate then started out the ceremony with an enlightening parable about testicles.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Birthday blogging

My roommate is at a bachelor party in Vegas this weekend (poor guy has been caught up in wedding activities all summer and isn't even getting married). When a friend arrived to pick up my roommate, said friend came over to talk to me and noticed that my birthday was the next day. He wished me a happy birthday, and mused on the the fact that I was nearing the quarter century mark. For his quarter life crisis, he bought himself a sports car. I told him that for my 25th birthday, I would like a baby. He was somewhat shocked.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Don't look if you have a weak stomach

So yesterday we were biking down this awesome, fun, incredible bike trail that we just discovered right next to our house. The trail consists of these trails through a tunnel of trees which drop down into a canyon and then climb back out.

At the lowest point in the trail, right were R thought to himself "It would really suck to get injured right here," I hit a rock, my foot slipped off the pedal, and the gear wheel sliced open my leg. I got off my bike, took one look at my leg, and sat down to apply direct pressure and wait for R to come back to get me (and bring the first aid kit).

We then had to walk out of the canyon while our roommate raced home to get the car to pick us up. We then spent several hours in the emergency room. Apparently the place was really freaking busy. Anyway, I got two cute little stitches. My first from things other than surgery. I'm so proud!

We've decided that the garter will need to go on the other leg. Glad I have a long dress!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Recipe Review: Maya Gold Truffles

Back when I was little, prior to the familial rift, my family used to throw a joint birthday party for my grandfather (July 20), my mom (July 21), and me (July 26). We three chocoholics would have a chocolate birthday cake with our combined age on top. My mom would always maintain that I was turning 25, as she and my grandpa were never as old as the cake implied.

Though these communal birthdays are a thing of the past, something chocolaty seemed like the ideal gift to give my grandfather at tomorrow night's birthday/hooray-for-finishing-grad-school dinner.

Even though I was not very successful with the white chocolate saffron truffles, I decided Maya Gold truffles would be hard to mess up. Having learned my lesson from last time, I didn't boil the chocolate (only the cream), and the truffles firmed up quite nicely!

Unfortunately, my grocery store didn't have Maya Gold chocolate bars, so I had to make due with Spicy Maya. As these bars lack the hint of orange found in the original bars, I peeled a little bit of orange rind and let it infuse its flavor into the cream. Delicious! The only thing I would change would be the fact that I used unsweetened cocoa powder on the outside of the truffles and it is a little more bitter than I would like. Perhaps next time I'll mix in a little sugar. Still, I think my grandpa will love them.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Recipe Review: Thai Sticky Rice Mango

Back in June, while I was up in north county checking out of my school, I stopped by a Thai foods store in order to get a few specialty ingredients. I bought various curry pastes, a giant bottle of fish sauce, tom yum soup paste, and a bag of sweet rice to make this recipe.

Now, I'm a little slow getting around to things (so much other stuff to do) and this recipe requires an overnight soak for the rice, but I got my act together and made it today. The rice was so good that I wound up spoiling my appetite for dinner a spoonful at a time! So, I did what the recipesmith does and just had a delicious bowl of Thai sticky rice nectarine for dinner.

What? You were expecting some other fruit? Mango, perhaps? Well, that had been the plan, only the mango I had sitting above the fridge, though it smelled delicious, was brown and odd inside and clearly not fit for human consumption. I'm not very good at ripening mangoes at home. I always leave them for too long. Luckily the nectarines I picked from R's family's backyard on Sunday were also delicious with the sticky rice.

In other happy news, I had my last day of summer classes today and finished up the paper for my masters project. All I have left is to present it on Friday, and then I'm all done. I can't believe it!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Recipe Review: Peanut Sesame Noodles

Here I sit, alone, having spent the afternoon and evening working on the final paper for my masters program (and made decent progress, btw). R has been off on a day-long bachelor extravaganza for an acquaintance of ours who is getting married next weekend, leaving me a quiet house (so quiet) in which to work.

Also, much to my delight, I got to try out a recipe R would probably object to: peanut sesame noodles. Any sort of peanut-flavored dish just reminds him of peanut butter, though this one is so savory and delicious and filled with other flavors that the peanut flavor is not overwhelming. I've actually been tasting the leftover sauce all evening, it is so good. I can't wait to try it with soba noodles (I used somen, like in the picture, which was also delicious). Make this recipe!

Well, as long as you aren't allergic to peanuts.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Because I need to write this down somewhere

As the wedding approaches, I keep finding more and more little things to do. I've decided that I need a little check-off list so that I won't forget anything. I can't believe this whole thing is going down in less than a month. So little time to do stuff!

- Figure out music for ceremony
- Finalize music for reception
- Make time line/schedule for the event
- Get dress hemmed and bustled and buttons sewn on top section (has to wait until my petticoat arrives)
- Get R fitted for his tux (should be happening this weekend)
- Get a haircut
- Give R a haircut (2 weeks out)
- Figure out how to decorate patio for ceremony (Do I want an aisle runner?)
- Paint little containers for favor/seating assignment plants
- Buy plants and plant centerpieces and favors (not until closer to the date, so I don't have to water them for too long)
- Buy parakeet grit to cover soil in centerpieces
- Make bouquets, boutonnieres, and corsages (day before)
- Find stockings
- Figure out the jewelry situation

Brain... hurts...

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

And the final version

Digital story rough draft

I thought I'd share the rough draft of my digital story with you all. Please feel free to leave me suggestions or constructive criticism.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Recipe Review: Chocolate Risotto

I hope everyone had a happy 4th of July (and those of you outside the U.S. didn't work too hard)! Instead of fighting the crowds, I hiked up the hill behind my house and watched San Diego area fireworks from there. Not quite as large and lacking coordinating music (though some of the other people who hiked up the hill did have a radio with them), but you do get to see multiple shows at once.

On the 5th of July, part of my evening was spent making chocolate risotto. I'd purchased the ingredients a while back, intending to make it for my mother's visit, but due to laziness and a bit of skepticism on R's part, I'd put it off until now. The results, however, converted the two of us into true believers. Chocolate risotto is delicious! A new classic!

Perhaps due to my cooking it a little hotter than recommended, or maybe my rice wasn't quite the same, my risotto turned out a bit runnier than the one in the picture on the original website. Next time, I think I will add a little more rice. Still, it's a keeper!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Gazing into my crystal ball

It's time to blog for school again. What fun!

Blog Response #3: What is your 2020 Education Vision?

Looking into the near future, I think the event that will have the most significant event on the whole compulsory education complex will be the retirement of the baby boomer teachers. Looking at the teachers I know from that generation, specifically my mom and step-mom, I can tell they are definitely excited at the prospect, no matter how much they love teaching.

After the baby boomers retire, schools find themselves missing a large chunk of their returning teachers. New teachers will come into the profession, much as they have, but continued high rates of attrition (made worse by the retirement of mentor teachers and school leaders) will lead to teacher shortages. I imagine that 2020 will probably be a turning point for education, though the field will go in one of two opposing directions.

The first direction, the ideal one, would be for schools to reduce teacher hours and institute formal mentoring programs. During an extra free period, novice teachers would meet with more experienced colleagues for advice, planning tips, and even (hopefully) to share materials. By giving teachers a little more time to plan, network, grade, and contact parents, attrition rates will decrease. School curricula will be refined, while at the same time becoming more inventive, thanks again to the increased planning time.

The second direction, the non-ideal but more probable one, is that the prerequisites for going into teaching will be lowered in an attempt to shovel more bodies into classrooms as fast as possible. The constant influx of new inexperienced teachers will hinder any attempt to institute school programs and policies, as participants will change from year to year. Staff development will also suffer, as many new teachers leave prior to or immediately after completing induction. In an attempt to counteract the inexperience of the majority of the teaching staff, more schools will adopt prescribed curricula, decreasing educational flexibility and experimentation.

Wow, that was depressing. Time for a gratuitous cat picture!

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Full circle

There is something about the Internet that makes people act like kids again -- at least, while they're still Internet neophytes.

How do I know this? Simple. Who is it that I get chain e-mails from? My middle school students and my mom.