Monday, March 31, 2008

The Growing Challenge #8: Repotting

I started this post last week, but was incredibly unproductive until today. Blogging? Meh. Work on PACT? A squidge. Those wedding invitations I meant to have addressed? No way.

The one thing I did manage last week was repotting my seedlings. In the beginning of the week, I was filled with a sense of urgency. I needed to move those plants! The roots were growing into the egg carton I was using to hold cocoa-fiber pouches, so I filled the containers I had at hand with dirt and moved the plantlings.

Unfortunately, the containers were in no way deep enough and I was left with a lingering fear for the long-term survival of the plants. I wasn't quite sure what to do, until I saw the bathroom cups that one of the other Growing Challenge members was using to start their seedlings and inspiration struck. Aha! I may not have tiny bathroom cups, but, being a recent college graduate, I do still have a large stash or red plastic cups. You know, the ones that just scream, "I'm drinking some horrible punch made with Popov or Everclear and am probably not of age." As it turns out, the aforementioned red cups are the perfect size for growing plants. What joy.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Grading hurts my brain

"Global warming happens when greenhouses gases are released into the atmosphere, and creates holes in its thin layer this cause the sun to change the earth's envioment."

So close, and yet so, so far.

Friday, March 28, 2008


One of my cats stopped eating. Not the fat one, of course--he'll eat anything. Instead it's the little, smaller, nicer cat.

We'd been noticing that there had been more food left in the bowl lately. Half-pieces of food, as if they had been chewed but not swallowed. When I returned from staying at my mom's house, I did notice that she seemed smaller, but I figured it was just my having been away blurring my perspective. It wasn't until I realized that I could clearly feel most of her bones that I put two and two together and offered her a treat, which she scarfed down ravenously. Apparently she disliked the dry food so much that she'd rather starve. We picked up some canned cat food today. R and I never thought we'd be the kind of people to cater to our pet's whims, but here we are getting special food.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Recipe Review: Chicken Stock

After making another delicious beer can chicken, I decided it was high time to try making my own chicken stock. I had seen a recipe for turkey stock and, chicken being of the poultry family, decided said recipe would probably serve my purposes quite nicely.

The result? Not bad. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to use store-bought stock again, as it now tastes incredibly salty. I think I might look for a recipe specifically for chicken stock next time, or else use more spices, as I think it might have been a little bland. However, the stock did smell delicious while I was cooking it.

Holy crap!

As both my prescriptions were about to run out, I spent the better part of the afternoon at my university's student health center. Aside from the usual exam chit chat, my doctors and I spent a good deal of time talking about my upcoming plans to get pregnant and what will need to be done health- and medication-wise. It was also recommended that I start prenatal vitamins, which drove home the point that, eek! This is really happening. I'm excited, and nervous, but mostly excited.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Recipe Review: Roasted Asparagus

Here is a recipe so simple yet delicious that I wish I thought of it myself. Take one thing you like (roasted asparagus), add another ingredient you like (cheese), and arrive at a delicious variation on the theme.

Something to do...

While visiting Seattle (as we have decided we don't actually want to live in Seattle). We'll probably wind up in Tacoma or Olympia. I will probably wind up going to graduate school (again) in Seattle, so we're sure to be in the city, at which point in time I'm am sure to become intimately acquainted with The Pink Frosted Cookie, a regional specialty.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A step backwards

During the last week of school and over the past weekend while I was away, I slacked off on my blog reading. I've had less time this year due to the whole teaching-instead-of-working-a-desk-job thing, but I've still been finding more and more blogs to read. By the middle of the week, my reader had 300+ new things for me to read! So, I decided it was time to clean out my blogroll. As I mentioned to Lara, the people I will still be reading are:

1. People in my blogging cohort
2. Really, really interesting blogs of people I don't know
3. Cooking blogs

Of course, having cleaned out my feed reader, I immediately found another cool blog. Go check out Stuff White People Like. It is hilarious!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

It's meme time!

Duu du-du-du, du-du, du-du
Gotta blog this
Duu du-du-du, du-du, du-du
It's A time

Okay, enough of that dumbassery. Time for a fun meme from Lara! The rules:
- Answer the questions below.
- Type your answers into Photobucket.
- Pick a picture from the results and post it as the answer.

1. What is your name?

2. How old will you be on your next birthday?

3. What is your occupation?

4. What is your relationship status?

5. What do you want to be when you grow up?

6. What do you love most in life?

7. What do you like to do in your spare time?

8. Who is your celebrity crush?

9. Favorite animal:

10. Favorite color:

11. Favorite book:

12. Favorite type of shoe:

13. Favorite Disney character:

14. Favorite place to be:

15. Biggest annoyance:

16. Biggest fear:

17. Bad habit:

18. What is your mood right now?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Food porn

I can tell R is longing for me to come home and save him from the frozen burrito menace, as he has started sending me food links. Either that, or he never wants me to return, and is hoping I will miss my flight looking at all the delicious recipes.

Recipe Review: Salt Dough

For me, nothing brings on a case of childhood nostalgia faster than warm salt dough. Hardens and can be painted if left out to dry, so this also works well for making that model mountain your kid has been assigned as homework.

Salt Dough
From my mom
  • 1 c salt
  • 2 c flour
  • 4 T oil
  • 4 t cream of tartar
  • 2 c water
  • extract for fragrance
  • food coloring
Mix ingredients in a pot and cook, stirring frequently, until it forms a sticky ball. Knead in color and fragrance as desired. Store in an airtight container or grocery bag.

The times, they are a-changin'

Since I have spent little time at my mother's house since I was 15, and even less time since I developed and interest in cooking, I'm taking advantage of my trip up north to obtain copies of some of my mother's recipes. After going through her recipe box, it has come to my attention that a lot of the things she makes (cookies in particular) contain shortening. I'm sure it's just the generation gap speaking here, as she's a child of the '50s and I am a child of the '80s, but that strikes me as completely disgusting. I definitely need to figure out what I could use as a substitute.

The Growing Challenge #7: Learning from the master

Having traveled up to NorCal to have the top of my wedding dress fitted, I had the opportunity to hang out with my best buddy S and her father, the expert veggie gardener. It was great being able to ask all of the questions that gardening has fomented and to see how someone very practiced grows their crops. I also got to take a look inside his compost bins at his beautiful rich compost. I'm so jealous!

What I have learned:
  • The wire used as cement molds and big metal rods are adequate supports for tomatoes. One should tie the tomato to the rod as it grows.
  • Peppers also like some support, so those flimsier stakes and standard tomato cages I bought last year will not go to waste.
  • Peppers are good container plants.
  • Most seeds are good for a while, but the germination rate goes down over time. S's dad throws his away after 10 years.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy Pi Day!

Pi Day celebrations: the perfect end to the last day of school before spring break. The kids had a pi memorizing contest, a pie walk, pie-the-teacher, and, of course, slices of pie. Yay pie and pi!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Teacher A's Complaint of the Day

My students suck at plagiarism.

I mean, I know it's good that it's easy for me to catch it, but at the same time I can't believe how stupid they are when going about it. Don't cut and paste directly from websites! Do you know how easy it is for me to find that website? So easy! Plus, when the other student are heckling your presentation because of how badly you plagiarized, you better not deny it when I confront you about it later. That just makes me mad, especially if you show no remorse, which means you won't get a chance to make up the big, fat zero you will be getting on this month-long research project.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Growing Challenge #6: Once more, with feeling

Since there is still no sign of cucumber growth outside, I decided to start a few inside. I want my cucumbers!

If your can't tell from the photo, my tomatoes are getting rather tall. I will have to start thinking about moving them to a different container soon. Quite soon, in fact. I guess I'm going to have to start rassling up some containers. Does anyone know anything about this "hardening" process I have heard mentioned? When am I supposed to do that?

Saturday, March 08, 2008

For the love of lists

Nothing like a list when one is tired and brain dead. About a week ago, Mrs. Chili shared which books she had read from a list of the "top 100 novels of all time voted by regular people." I thought I might share what I had read from the list, as it's been sitting on my desktop ever since she posted.

1. 1984 by George Orwell
2. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
3. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
6. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
7. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
8. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
9. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
10. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
11. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
12. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
13. Ulysses by James Joyce
14. Animal Farm by George Orwell
15. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
16. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
17. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
18. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
19. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
20. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
21. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
22. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
23. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
24. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
25. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
26. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
27. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
28. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
29. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
30. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
31. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
32. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (I did read a few chapters for AP Spanish Literature.)
33. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
34. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
35. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
36. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
37. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
38. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
39. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
40. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
41. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
42. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
43. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
44. His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman
45. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
46. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
47. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
48. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
49. The Stand by Stephen King
50. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
51. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
52. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
53. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
54. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
55. Watership Down by Richard Adams
56. Dracula by Bram Stoker
57. Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham
58. Moby Dick by Herman Melville (I’ve owned this one since high school. Someday…)
59. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
60. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
61. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
62. The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
63. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
64. Dune by Frank Herbert
65. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
66. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
67. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
68. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
69. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
70. Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
71. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
72. The Trial by Franz Kafka
73. I, Claudius by Robert Graves
74. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
75. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
76. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
77. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
78. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
79. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
80. Vanity Fair by William Thackeray
81. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
82. The Stranger by Albert Camus
83. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
84. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
85. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston LeRoux
86. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
87. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
88. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
89. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. Persuasion by Jane Austen
91. Light in August by William Faulkner
92. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
93. Call of the Wild by Jack London
94. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
95. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
96. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
97. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
98. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
99. The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel
100. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

Sadly enough, I totally beat her on this list (and she's an English teacher). Of course, she's probably read a great deal more books than I have, just ones that didn't leave such a mark on the minds of the great unwashed.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Growing Challenge #5: Peepers

Just as they said on the package, the peppers took a full two weeks to germinate. Look! There they are between the tomatoes. I'm sure the cold garage floor didn't help them along, but I'm sure they'll be fine now, what with the grow lamp I am borrowing from my school. The tomatoes appear to be thriving.

On the outdoor plant front, the radishes are coming along nicely. On Wednesday I planted another row of them, so that I'll have a nice staggered crop. Still no sign on cucumbers, however, so I'm thinking I might just start a few indoors. Better safe than sorry, after all, and I would be sorry if I didn't get any cucumbers this year.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Hitting the trails

We were able to mountain bike today for the second time this year. The rains of the previous months have softened the canyon's appearance. Trails that were rutted are now smooth, places that were hard-packed are now sandy, the sandy places have acquired greenery. The very edges of the trails are obscured by the verdant growth. The water has brought other changes, as well. Whole sections of the trail have sunk, not to mention the muddy expanses that haven't quite dried yet.

I suppose this happens every year, the renewal of the trail. It is fascinating to watch the changes take place.