Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Yes, it is an exciting life.
Our Christmas trip to Arkansas went well, considering that my sister is still living with my parents and is self-medicating with Klonopin. There is some tension there. And, while I want to help all parties involved, I also don't want to touch that situation with a 300-mile-long pole.
Present-wise, it was a great Christmas. My mom limited my sister to just a few new, purchased gifts for everyone. If you remember last year's presents, you know this is a Good Thing.
Porkchop surprised me with all of my presents, but particularly this set of new cookware:
The full set is from Porkchop, and the bonus soup pot is from my parents (which I had asked for). You know what this means? We get to retire our set of pots, which Porkchop's mom received on her wedding day 30+ years ago. Those pots still have a lot of life left in them, but I am happy to have our own adult pots. I've already used some pieces of the new set, and they are fabulous.
However, when we were gathering up the old ones out of the cabinet, we became a little sad. Retrieving the small one-quart pot, Porkchop said, "Oh, little pot, I'm going to miss you!" And I said, "I'm going to miss it, too!"
It is hard times when you get teary-eyed about a little one-quart pot. Oh, but that pot has cooked many a Ramen noodle for Porkchop, and we made many a simple syrup in it for sweet iced tea.
My other super-surprise gift from Porkchop was this little tea-brewing cup:
Under the cat's chapeau is a strainer for loose tea. It is perfect! I first saw it in an art museum gift shop in Minneapolis, but didn't want to buy it there. Sadly, when we came home, we couldn't find it online. Porkchop persevered, though, and it was eventually posted on a Japanese market site. I love my little tea cup and can't wait to brew some tea in it.
On my end, I surprised Porkchop with this hat (the shoes are from my parents):
The hat is loose because Porkchop doesn't like tight hats. It is lined with baby alpaca so that the Cascade doesn't scratch her ears. I used this pattern.
The past couple of weeks were a hat marathon. I made Porkchop's hat, and then hats for her older brother, sister-in-law, and niece.
The brother's was a basic watchman cap using this pattern:
The sister-in-law's was a star-crossed slouchy beret (Ravelry link):
The niece's hat is my favorite, and I really want to make another for myself. I used the basic Kim's Hat pattern (Ravelry link) in Last-Minute Knitted Gifts. It's a great pattern because you can make all sorts of variations and add your own touches.
I made the garter brim variation with earflaps, I-cords, and tassels. I added some purl rows for ridges on the hat, and I'm pretty proud of the way it turned out.
Here I am modeling it:
It's a little small on me, but it fits the niece well. It's a bit loose, so hopefully she can use it for 2 or 3 winters.
All for now! I should probably go "work" some before I pick up lunch at Pappy's for Porkchop and me.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
The other day, I was looking through my posts from three years ago for a recipe, and I noticed that at this time in December 2006, we were baking orange-almond shortbread, orange-chocolate biscotti, chocolate crinkle cookies, and pretzel rods.
Guess what we baked last night? Orange-almond shortbread, orange-chocolate biscotti, and chocolate crinkle cookies. We're taking the pretzel rod supplies to my parents' house and will make them there.
Last night's baking extravangza was exhausting, and I burnt half of the shortbread. Sadness.
This evening we leave for Arkansas, and I'm sure good times will ensue.
I've been knitting things, but they're secrets for now. All I can say is that I'm not finished yet!! Knitting stress!
Friday, December 18, 2009
After a few years of working, feeling like I wasn't doing anything to improve myself, I found an online Master's degree program via Mizzou that sounded interesting. It has real-world applications, won't take too long to complete even as I work full-time, and won't put me too much in debt.
I never would have thought that this online program would be so much more difficult than the PhD program that I was in, but it is!
As a PhD student, I could read some books and articles and then piece shit together and call it a paper. And I generally received As. For, um, theorizing and making arguments that had no impact on the real world.
In my first class in my online program, I've done more real world work than I did in all my other classes combined. I've designed and conducted interviews, observations, and surveys. And since I built most of my assignments around my neighborhood association, I've talked to many area residents about what they want out of the association and their concerns about our neighborhood. I feel like I'm actually doing something!
With my final project done and graded, I just need to package my report in a more user-friendly format and present it to our association members. (The final project I submitted for class had to be in a very specific format, and I think I can improve upon it for public distribution.) I think my findings can help the association board (which includes me) to improve our membership numbers, as well as participation and volunteer rates.
Yes, I'm much prouder of my final grade of a 98 in my online class than I am of any of the As I received in my PhD seminar classes.
I see myself completing the degree in a few years. And then maybe when I'm 50 I'll start working on a PhD again. At the rate I work, I might be able to finish it before I'm 70.
Friday, December 11, 2009
This Foam thing might be dangerous. It is only a block away and open until 10 on weeknights. Soooo easy to take the short walk and spend money on yummy drinks.
Friday, November 20, 2009
I'm at the Birchwood Cafe in Minneapolis, sipping on Assam tea and awaiting my order.
And this is what changed my life:
The Savory Waffle.
Or, the most perfect piece of food ever.
This is what it is... The waffle is made of ginger, sweet potato, and chevre. It's topped with cranberry quince, sage butter, an egg, bits of bacon, and pecans, and the plate is dusted with powdered sugar. Maple syrup is served on the side. Oh, and everything is local food.
I ate this waffle sloooooowly because I didn't want the perfect taste sensation to end.
P.S. We're in the Minneapolis area for Porkchop's hockey tournament. But who cares about hockey when there is the Savory Waffle?
Monday, November 09, 2009
Her dislikes include dogs, small children, and loud noises.
(Porkchop likes to call Keetah different names, but Patricia Pettymeyer has stuck. Sometimes I like to change the last name to Prettymeyer.)
(PS I edited the spelling of Patricia's last name because I realized the original spelling - Pettymire - is probably an invention of my southern-tinged accent.)
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Besides being down with allergies, I've also been working away on my class stuff. In October alone I conducted two interviews, did two observation procedures, and conducted a survey, as well as wrote all of these up in reports. In November, I get to do more of the same for my final project. It's actually rather fun!
Other things in October....
Apples! We didn't pick any more, but we purchased a big bag from Eckert's and canned apple butter and apple preserves:
The apple preserves (on the right) are nice and lemony and nutmeg-y. The apple butter (on the left) is very fall-like with cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, but it didn't get super thick. If you like applesauce, you would like our apple butter. I do, but next year I might try a crockpot recipe to see if it gets thicker.
Porkchop also made the most delicious apple pie using this recipe:
This is totally my favorite apple pie ever. I'm not a big apple pie fan because I think most are too sugary and rely on cinnamon too much. But this one doesn't use cinnamon, uses a lot less sugar, and has strong lemon notes in it. And raisins! Love! I've requested it for Thanksgiving. By the way, I reserved our turkey today, even put down a deposit on it. Which felt kind of weird.
When we went to Eckert's for apples, we also picked up a few mums, two pumpkins, and ornamental corn. We also purchased ornamental gourds at the farmers' market.
I love our little gourd buddies:
Over the weekend, I made these pumpkin spice cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese icing:
I made them mini size, which is a good thing because the icing is really powerful. I took these to our neighborhood meeting last night. After having to rig up this contraption to protect the sweet little cakes, I see why people buy those cake carrier things:
How many times will I have to construct this sort of thing out of foil and plastic wrap before I break down and purchase an honest-to-goodness carrier?
Have a great week!
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
While I've always accepted the uncomfortableness in my lower back as just the way things are, I finally saw someone about it when it started to hurt when I walked. I'm too young to be in pain while out for a stroll!
It turns out that I have instability in my lower back due to a vertebra in my sacrum not fusing completely (also known as spina bifida occulta, which isn't uncommon). My L-5 vertebra (the one right above my partially fused S-1) also sits up quite a bit higher than one normally should. And I have some curvature in there, and my poor L-2 vertebra has borne the brunt of all of this. While most of my lumbar vertebrae look like happy puffy marshmallows, L-2 is kind of crumpled and sad looking.
This morning I saw the sports medicine guy again, and he did some lovely massage (as opposed to the painful deep tissue acupressure last week). But, the best part is the stretching table that he uses. He's able to do a circular motion with my lower body while my upper body stays flat, with the flexion point exactly where my lower back is tightest.
It's awesome. I would like to feel like this forever.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
(For the record, my Adidas-clad feet are the larger ones. Porkchop wanted to make clear that hers look bigger due to the perspective. Porkchop's feet are wee little things, while mine are giants. Also, you might ask why we even own the same socks. I don't have an answer for that one.)
We took yesterday off work because it was the day after our anniversary (yay, nine years!), and we wanted to do fun things. Porkchop's definition of "fun" meant making me get my Missouri driver's license. I had delayed this task because I usually have a big problem with the vision tests. My eyesight is 20/20, but one of my eyes is placed a bit wonkily, which makes the vision machines a pain in the ass to use. I usually have to close one eye and read half the line, and then switch eyes for the next half. And the DMV employee is usually trying to rush me and won't let me take my time, and then I get flustered and embarrassed.
Getting a license in a new state makes me nervous because I dread the vision tests so much. On the way to the DMV, I wanted to throw up.
But, what do you know! The vision machine at the DMV location we went to didn't give me any problems! I even warned the employee that it would take me a moment because of my eye, and then I didn't have any problems! YAY!
The DMV branch was in an awesome mid-century modern building that is round and shaped like an upside-down funnel. There's also a rockin' mural inside. Here I am at the vision machine with part of the mural:
After the DMV and a few other errands, we went to lunch at Onesto. Yum! We've tried a few new-to-us places recently:
- Sen Thai Asian Bistro: Located downtown, this was a great place for dinner before the Blues home opener. While the Blues lost, dinner was a winner. Okay, Porkchop's yellow curry was a winner. My BBQ pork could have used a lot more flavor.
- OR Smoothie and Cafe: I grabbed lunch at the Central West End location one day while I was still fighting my virus. With ginger-apple-beet-carrot juice and a tofu wrap, OR Smoothie and Cafe was exactly what I needed.
- The Shaved Duck: The curlicue frites fried in duck fat are awesome, as is the pulled pork sandwich. The flamenco guitar action going on made things a little loud, but otherwise everything was most enjoyable. We will definitely be going back!
Tonight I'm cooking chorizo and black bean soup. Yum, yum, yum. I began today early with a few hours of planting new plants in a median not far from our house. It's good to get out with neighbors and work on things! The median had housed rose bushes, but they fell prey to disease. The new plantings will look great next year: coneflowers, black-eyed susans, butterfly milkweed, prairie clover, and few other plants. I'm looking forward to a hearty soup tonight after so much hard labor.
Have a great weekend!
Sunday, October 04, 2009
The change happened late yesterday afternoon after I did a lot of breath of fire in a kundalini mini-set. Coincidence? Maybe not. Breath of fire makes my teeth tingle, so who knows its potential.
Yesterday morning, I barely even wanted to go to the farmers' market! But we pushed on, and I picked up a couple of pumpkins. Later in the afternoon I cooked them and made some pumpkin puree.
So, when I awoke refreshed and ready to go this morning, I made this pumpkin bread recipe. Yum! I came out with 6 muffins and 3 mini loaves:
After Porkchop came home from hockey practice, we roasted the pumpkin seeds. Triple yum! We kept the seasoning simple with salt, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. I could eat these pepitas all day. Here are the seeds ready to be seasoned and roasted:
Since I was home for two and a half days, I made some knitting headway. Last week, I ripped out the Icarus shawl that had been sitting around unfinished for over a year. Now I'm using the yarn for a Clapotis. Yep, I've finally jumped on the Clapotis bandwagon!
This afternoon I finished the increase section and dropped my first stitch! Here's a close-up, which shows the yarn color better too:
Have a good week! Stay well!
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
It sucks. I don't like the feeling of being tired when I haven't done anything. I'm at home from work for the second day, and I wish I could do things to capitalize on being here. But instead it's nearly 11 am, and I'm sitting on the couch, unshowered and umotivated.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Yesterday bummed me out because it seemed the world was against me. I didn't go to yoga at the farmer's market, and then the YogaToday download that I purchased wouldn't play correctly! Then I went outside to take out the Sungold and Black Krim plants that weren't doing so hot, and I realized that the southern army worm issue had escalated into an infestation!
The past couple of weeks have been heartbreaking; every nearly-ripe tomato we had housed one of these gross worms. Ugh! I would check a tomato, hoping that it was clean, only to see the tail end of a worm disappear into it.
I realized the plants were all half dead, so I ripped them all out. Sadness! Now I have a pile of green tomatoes in our kitchen window.
This is in honor of one of our last ripe, clean brandywines. Although odd in appearance, it was super tasty!
I finished clearing out the tomato plants today. And I found that a parasitic wasp had valiantly done its duty on this villainous horned worm:
But back to yesterday...it stormed all afternoon, which meant a bike ride was out of the question. And the internet was out of commission! This double rainbow nearly made up for it all:
But last night, I found myself at the strangest place... the St. Louis Mills Outlet Mall. Porkchop wanted to practice hockey stops on her left side before today's practice, so I went with her and walked around the mall. It was exhausting. The Mills is HUGE. And there are all sorts of things that I find jarring...an indoor skateboard park, a glow-in-the-dark putt-putt course, loud people...I could go on.
Besides the horned tomato worm, today has been much better! I had a morning meeting at Mississippi Mud to review our neighborhood association's website. And then Porkchop and I walked to Benton Park Cafe for lunch. In the afternoon, I dried our last batch of Sungolds and Fox cherries:
And then two crazy things happened. First, a guy was urinating across the street from our house behind Save-a-Lot. This is just a minor crazy thing, but it riled me up a bit. Second, another guy plowed into a car parked in front of our house and sped away!! We ran out the door, but couldn't get his plate number. The bikers at the corner bar were all over this shit and chased after him, but were unsuccessful in finding him. About 10 minutes later, the police arrived. And then, as if it had been rehearsed, a woman in a pickup pulled up and asked, "Did this just happen? Was it a red car? Well," she continued as we eavesdropped in suspense, "it's parked by my house." The police took off, and then a police van arrived shortly thereafter. While the police captured the car, apparently the driver is still at large. But, still, neighborhood justice!
Lastly, fall is here! Even though it was 85 today and I still have melons ripening, I want to wear sweaters, drink cider, and walk through fallen leaves. October, here we come!
Friday, September 11, 2009
It makes me happy. And it's from the Natalie Dee website (but drawn by someone else).
P.S. Tonight we go to Porkchop's 12-year graduation reunion (they missed the 10-year mark). It will be a small group, but it's large enough for me to be nervous. New people! Ack!
Sunday, August 30, 2009
That's right, I'm back in school!
I'm officially enrolled in MU's master's program in educational technology, with an emphasis on learning systems design and development. The first class is all about doing needs assessments, and then future classes will be about website design and development and learning theory. My goal is to get into the e-learning sector. We'll see what happens.
The program is all on-line, which might seem sketchy to you, but seems great to me. For one thing, if someone annoys me, I don't have to read their posts! And I don't have to attend 3-hour-long seminar classes. Brilliant! Sign me up! (Oh wait, I'm already signed up.)
Also, since it's through MU, I get to take advantage of a Tuition Settlement Scholarship. It's a long story about one of our fellow students suing the school for charging tuition disguised as "educational fees," when it was written into the university's charter back in 1839 that in-state students wouldn't be charged tuition. All this means is that I will receive $550 a year while taking classes. Woot.
Porkchop turned 30 last week (as in August 21)! We had cake, lunch, opened presents, went to the zoo, grilled shrimp, and went to see The Time Traveler's Wife (better than I expected).
The cake was super delicious and from The Cakery (PS: their cakes freeze really well. We're currently enjoying a freshly defrosted piece):
I suppose Porkchop's favorite present is her iPhone:
I will begrudgingly admit that the iPhone does come in handy. Like when we're lying in bed and want to look up something on the internet, but we don't want to retrieve the laptop from downstairs. Now we just reach for the iPhone. So depending on how you look at things, it's either convenient or it encourages laziness.
Over the weekend, I baked the tomato-corn pie posted on Smitten Kitchen. Can I say YUM! I love the biscuit crust (Porkchop made our crust)!
Last night was our neighborhood association's movie night. Just a few months ago, we never would have imagined that we would be hanging out watching Labyrinth with one of neighborhood's alderperson, but since I'm now the secretary for the association, that's exactly what we did!
I'm glad we're getting more involved with the neighborhood and meeting the people we live around (By the way, on the street behind us, there are three queer residences and there was another queer couple watching the movie. It seems we unintentionally moved into the gayborhood).
The movie was held in the front yard of one of the public schools that was recently closed. The closure of so many remarkable public school buildings saddens me so much. Here is the outside of the front entrance:
Apart from the A/C unit, how cool would it be to go to school with these gargoyles?! I looked around inside, and the school was pretty awesome. Amazing wood floors and built-in wooden cabinets and closets in the classrooms, and stained glass. Plus, this school is only four blocks from us! Now kids are being bussed who-knows-where.
Also attending movie night was the Fire and Ice Cream Truck!
A neighborhood couple turned an old fire truck into an ice cream truck, but they don't sell your normal ice cream. They sell Serendipity ice cream, Gus' pretzels, Fitz's sodas, and other local tasty items. You can also find the truck around the Arch grounds.
Well, another weekend has passed too quickly!
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
We ate this one last week:
It was a green meat melon, and deliciously sweet.
We have another cantaloupe and a honeydew coming along nicely on the vines:
And we have three of these little guys, too:
At this point, I'm not sure what kind these are; maybe the golden-on-the-outside, green-on-the-inside. I'm a bit worried about these because the vine is growing straight up the trellis, and I think the melons might not be supported adequately.
We also have a couple more butternut squash growing. This one is my favorite because it's so bulbous:
This is our current butternut squash family:
I might be a bit obsessed with the butternut squash.
In non-garden news, Porkchop and I went to Chicago a couple of weekends ago for an ice hockey tournament. Here's Porkchop suited up in her new team uniform:
And here she is on the ice (look for the red helmet):
Porkchop's team played really well, but didn't win any of the games. However, they held their own and Porkchop scored a goal in the second game! Pretty good for someone who hasn't played in a few years!
Porkchop's new team is a B-team, and since I'm used to watching C-level teams, I was surprised at the speed and physicality of the play. I actually watched the entire games instead of reading when Porkchop was off the ice! Of course, this sort of play meant Porkchop was checked and knocked down, which made me nervous.
After our Chicago trip, we finally finished painting the first floor. Ugh, I don't want to pick up a paint roller for long, long time!
We finished just in time for a series of visitors: Katie and Beth stopped by while visiting from Minneapolis, I have a friend coming in this weekend, and then my family comes for a short stay the weekend after that.
This Friday is Porkchop's 30th birthday! We both have the day off, and we plan on doing fun things around the city. For example, buying a bunch of shrimp and brining and grilling them. Yum!
Have a great week!
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
First up, Crêpes in the City (Yelp link because it looks like they haven't renewed their domain name!). This place has been open for around a year, I think, but I never had a chance to go until I was serving on a jury last week (forgot to mention that, too. Also, Porkchop served on a jury recently as well.). Anyway, this meant I was conveniently within walking distance of the crepes.
And the crepes are so delicious! I would walk several miles for them! I had the Mediterranean (tomatoes, olives, artichokes, mushrooms, etc.) on a whole wheat crepe. The crepe was huge and packed with filling, and utterly lovely. I chose the whole wheat batter from the list of five possibilities (regular, herb, whole wheat, espresso, and chocolate, if I recall correctly). Batter choices! Nice!
Before, Rooster was my favorite crepe place. Now...I think it might be Crêpes in the City. Of course, I'll have to go back a couple of times to sample more...especially the dessert crepes.
Second, we had Sunday brunch at Benton Park Cafe. This cafe is super close to our house, but we just hadn't made it over there until now. They were packed, but since we sat outside, we didn't have to wait for a table. I had the California omelet, and Porkchop had the South of the Border burrito. We both had the loaded potatoes on the side. Thumbs up on everything! Tasty and good-sized portions! Oh, and they serve a slice of cumcumber in their water, which is all sorts of refreshing.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Here is the painting as it stood Sunday morning:
Woo! Bright colors! The colors in the two rooms are actually the same, but they look a little different. These rooms have now been touched up, and Porkchop put the first coat up in the bathroom - a lovely dark chartreuse which looks pretty darned good.
While painting this weekend, we also canned sweet pickles. A lot of them:
That's about 7.5 lbs of cucumbers. And they made 10 pint jars. Canning in progress:
Did I mention we made pickles?
That isn't the only canning we've been up to. Two weekends ago we went blueberry and peach picking:
We took the fruits and made blueberry-lime jam and peach butter:
I think we have 8 jars of the blueberry lime, and maybe 5 of the peach butter (which is amazingly delicious, oh yeah).
We've also been putting up tomato stuff: oven-dried tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, and tomato-basil dressing (which we also use as a pasta sauce). Oh, and I canned two pints of crushed tomatoes over the weekend. I also have designs on the butternut squashes ripening in the kitchen window. Last week I made a super tasty bisque with a squash, so I intend on making up and freezing a couple of batches. To get us through the long winter, you know.
Going back to tomatoes, we're in a bit of a lull right now. The cherry tomatoes and sungolds are still coming in, but I've picked the green zebra, black krim, marvel stripe, and brandywine clean. Now a second wave of baby tomatoes has started, and I can't wait for them to grow and ripen!
Here's the last black krim...it's a bit naughty looking, don't you think?
Oh, and the tomatillos are starting! Here's the first one:
We bought school supplies for a couple of neighborhood kids:
If you're in the neighborhood, I encourage you to do the same! The info is here.
That's all! Have a great week!