Friday, April 29, 2011

Foto Friday

Saturday April 23: Crocheted Parking Meter Cozy at the Farmer's Market

Sunday April 24: Hoppy Easter

Monday April 25: Working from Home

Tuesday April 26: Chocolate Cinnamon Beer Bread

Wednesday April 27: Car Battery Chemistry

Thursday April 28: Artichoke

Friday April 29: Good Looking Out, Yesterday Ellen.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

April Book Report: The Wordy Shipmates

Reading is Always Better with a Feline Companion
Before becoming aware of her books, I came across Sarah Vowell and her distinctive, slightly nasal voice on This American Life. I picked up her book The Wordy Shipmates for $4 and took it with me to the meetings. In it, Vowell takes a wide-ranging, not entirely comprehensive view on the Puritans.

Depending on the cocktail parties you attend, you might find some fun facts to bring up in conversation (I foisted these on people during gelato). For example, the Puritans and Pilgrims (of Mayflower fame) were of different Protestant ideologies and while they were  hard working, clean living folk, they believed there was nothing one could do on earth that made any difference as to your ultimate salvation.  Perhaps most interesting, considering they left England because they refused to conform to the Church of England, they valued virtually nothing in civil life more than subjugating ones opinions and behaviors to the will of the group.  This inevitably resulted in the casting out of heretics who believed in things like free speech and equality for women  (see: the founding of Rhode Island) .

These historical tidbits alternate with personal reflections and pop-cultural references that trace the influence of Pastor John Winthrop's "City on a Hill" sermon down through Reagan and Abu Gharib (the book was published in 2008).  Vowell concludes, "From New England's Puritans we inherited the idea that America is blessed and ordained by God above all nations, but lost the fear of [His] wrath and retribution."  This is not, by any means a book that bashes America or religion, but one that acknowledges that modern Americans, like the Puritans before us, don't always live up to the hype of being a "shining city on a hill."

Those (like me) with an interest in history, but little patience for dry recitation, will enjoy this book.  It is a quick read and reminds me of the spirit of the Stuff You Missed in History Class Podcast, which I also highly recommend.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Banh Mi, Banh You

My grapefruit jam adventure left me with 8 empty canning jars and the options for filling them in late March were limited.  However, the farmer's market had plenty of carrots and daikon radishes so I opted for some Vietnamese Pickled Carrots and Radishes (called do chua) to make banh mi.

Making the pickle was a lot easier and quicker than the jam without the slow process of cooking down the juice and making sure it gels.  With my pickle knowhow, I'm looking forward to some triple dill, extra garlic pickles in the summer.  For now, however, we have these crunchy, sweet-tart matchsticks just begging to be made into banh mi.  There are myriad toppings for banh mi, but I knew I wanted to go with pork.  Failing to find any at the farmers market, I picked up a lean pork loin, sliced it ever to thinly, and cooked it up in a black pepper marinade.  I cannot recommend this marinade enough.  The fish sauce gives a complexity to the pork that had us picking at the leftovers all night.

I layered the pork on baguettes with sriracha mayo, cilantro, onions, cucumber, a splash of soy sauce and - of course - the pickled veggies!  This combination highlights the perfectly balanced flavors I think of when I think of great southeast Asian cooking -crunchy cucumber, rich salty pork, sweet carrots, pungent daikon and onion, spicy sriracha, and creamy mayo.  Overall, I was really happy with the resulting sandwich.  There are  few things I will remember for next time.  The baguette I picked up at the farmer's market was really chewy, which is usually wonderful, but in this case let to occasional structural failures as the sandwich fillings slipped out the back.

With three jars of pickled veggies left, we needed to be eating them on something other than banh mi. So they also topped tacos made with leftover sweet and spicy pork shoulder and avocado.  An unusual, but quite tasty, combo.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Foto Friday

In my 29 by 29 list, I actually started one of my goals a bit early. I have been taking a picture a day since the beginning of April. You can follow my flickr feed here, but I will also post the last week's worth of photos each Friday. Occasionally, you may see a photo that popped up in the regular posts that I loved so much that it was also my photo of the day, but not often.

Saturday April 16: Homeward Bound
Saturday April 16: Homeward Bound
Sunday April 17: From Geoff
Sunday April 17: From Geoff
Monday April 18: nothing like freshly painted toes and yoga to improve your mood
Monday April 18: Freshly Painted Toes and Yoga are the Best Way to Lift Spirits
Tuesday April 19: Parking Lot in Bloom
Wednesday April 20: Timing Myself to Stay on Task
Thursday April 21: I Love Swim Class
Friday April 22: Couch Time

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

To the Land of Prince and Posters

Last Wednesday I got up too early and took off for Minneapolis to attend the annual conference of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.  I presented a poster based on the final results of my dissertation research.

I added a qr (quick response) code to my poster.  With the proper app on your smart phone, you can take a picture of it and be redirected to an online version of the poster and my CV.

I was pretty smug about this until I got home and checked the google analytics.  Two people accessed the link - and one was a coworker who didn't so much care about the poster as enjoyed the technology.  Oh well, at least once everyone else starts using them, I can say "oh yeah, I had a qr code on my poster in 2011."

My undergraduate advisor, Michael Crawford (right), was awarded the Boas Award for Distinguished Achievement from the Human Biology Association. 

We had a "family dinner" with a great many of his former students in addition to the official reception.  Dr. Crawford pointed out that he has outlived several students, seen others retire, and is still accepting new students.  He is a force to be reckoned with and I'm honored to be among his "intellectual children."

For the second year in a row, my birthday fell during the conference so I got to spend it with my Penn State and KU friends!!!

I volunteered to judge the student awards presentation for the American Association of Anthropological Genetics and spent a lot of time tracking people down for a project that I'm working on (more in a couple months).  I also heard some really great presentations (including a potentially paradigm-breaking one from my friend Holly) so the academic/professional aspects of the conference went really well.  But honestly, what I always remember once the conference is over is the dinners catching up with friends.

All too quickly, it was Saturday afternoon and time to leave too cold Minneapolis for much, much to hot San Antonio.

At the airport, I picked up some Minnesota blueberry gummy bears for Geoff and this guy - perhaps the tackiest magnet in a pretty spectacularly tacky collection.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

29 by 29

When I started my 28 by 28 goal-setting, a lot of people immediately pointed out that I was creating a dangerous precedent and would someday be trying to complete 60 goals by the time I turned 60.  That may be true, but for now, I have 29 goals for my 29th year.  For me,  this goal setting is about publically committing myself to do things that I really want to do but would fall by the wayside if I didn’t feel some accountability  all of you.   So thank you for reading and commenting and participating in my sometimes random goals. 

I decided to group my 29 by 29 goals into things in my life that give me joy: cooking, creating, work, physical challenges, and home life.  I tried to make the goals concrete and achievable so I know when I have met them.  Without further ado, my 29 by 29 list is:

1.    Master 10 Indian Dishes
2.    Master 10 Mexican Dishes
3.    Master 10 Chinese Dishes
4.    Monthly Baking Challenge
5.    Pick my own Berries, Apples and Pumpkins
6.    Take a Charcuterie Class

7.    Sew 1 Item of Clothing/Month
8.    Make a Quilt
9.    Make Seasonal Decorations
10.  Blog 50 times
11.  Learn to Knit Continental
12.  Knit 3 Things for Myself
13.  Decorate the House
14.  Take One Photo a Day

15.  Create 3, 5, 10 year plans
16.  Improve My Web Presence
17.  Actively Maintain Network
18.  Publish 3 papers
19.  Start San Antonio Chapter of AWIS

Friends and Family and Home
20.  See a play, opera, ballet, and/or musical
21.  2 day trips around San Antonio
22.  Visit 3 museums in San Antonio
23.  Organize Finances & Save More
24.  Read a Book a Month

Physical Challenges
25.  Climb a Rock Wall
26.  Run Entire Fourth of July 4-Miler
27.  4 Hikes
28.  Weekly Yoga
29.  Begin Swim and Bike Training

I’m so excited to get started.  Please pipe in if you have any thoughts or suggestions or if you have done some of these things yourself.  I’d love any recommendations of favorite recipes, vacation destinations, great books you have read, yoga plans you follow – anything!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

28 by 28 Final Tally

So you might have noticed that I have been posting a lot lately. Partly this is to make up for the months I neglected, but I bet a few of you figured out that it was also a rush to finish up as many of my 28 by 28 goals as possible before my birthday tomorrow! So let's see how I did.

1. Pass my Dissertation Defense DONE!

2. Find a Post-Doc Position And loving it!

3. Make a Dress for Myself that I love and wear I feel pretty

4. Get back in my 18 year old Shape I'm not quite there, but I am getting close.

5. Publish all the work I did in Graduate School I have had one paper accepted for publication and I've got three more in preparation.  Not quite where I wanted to be - focusing on writing up my work is definitely something I need to keep working on.

6. Learn to Crochet Well, I made this.

7. Run a 10k race Run, not quite accurate.  Completed, yes.

8. Bake 2 loaves of Bread a Month My every week multigrain (above), hamburger buns, everything bread, tortillas, pita.  I did this one for sure!

9. Learn to Can/Make Marmalade Grapefruit jam so far, but more to come!

10. Improve my Photography Skills  Not much progress here, which I regret.  I want one of those blogs with staggeringly beautiful photos!

11. Take a Statistics Class No.  Trying to learn more, but not formally.

12. Take Two Weekend Trips with Geoff  We didn't do this - but we did spend four whole days driving from PA to Texas.  That's pretty much the same.

13. Volunteer monthly Not every month, but 9 of 12 is pretty good.

14. Reorganize and purge books, craft supplies, and clothes Did it with the move in August and again for the move in December.

15. Repurpose clothes and Housewares from Thrift Stores Two skirts so far.

16. Learn to Draw In one of the blogs that I follow, the author mused "if there's one thing that adulthood teaches you, it's that you can't be good at everything you'd like to be good at."  This is pretty much where I came down on learning to draw.  I'm as good as I am motivated to be - for now.

17. Learn About Wine (But Don't be a Snob) Um.  Nope.  

18. Cook More Seafood Made progress, but an ongoing process!

19. Use up all my yarn I was clearly overly optimistic about this one. I have way, way too much yarn. But I do have plans to use it up - eventually.

20. Make my own yogurt and cheese Did both, one was success and one was a failure.

21. Be vegetarian for a month and vegan for a week Vegetarian was pretty easy, but vegan was more of a challenge. Both ended up broadening the way we eat and our meals are now more than half vegetarian.

22. Fill and flood cookies You might say I went crazy with graduation cookies, birthday cookies, thank you cookies, Halloween cookies, and there were even some I didn't post!

23. Go to two national parks  Actually, I did visit a National Historic Site - the Brown v. Board of Education school in Topeka.  They recently renovated the exhibit and it was really excellent, I recommend it if you ever get the chance!

24. Read two of Shakespeare's plays and two Historical Biographies I read Eleanor Roosevelt's autobiography, but that's all.

25. Visit California (recommended by Craig) I'm pushing this off until later this year - we'll get their soon, though. And now we're only half as far away!

26. Internet-Free Saturdays Who am I kidding, I'll stay off the internet when you pry my iPhone from my cold, dead hands.

27. Take (and print) photos Blogging is really helping me to take more photos. I have them printed out, but keep watching the blog for a display piece in the works.

28. Buy 50% Local Going to the farmer's market with Veronica is my Saturday morning ritual. I'm trying to find locally own shops to patronize for things like fabric, but I haven't found many yet.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Watermelon Trivets

I saw the pattern for Purl Bee's Fruity Trivets and decided they were so cute that I had to finally learn to crochet.  For some reason, I had it in my head that crochet was going to be difficult to learn and my first few attempts at this pattern bore that out.  I kept ending up with a cone instead of a nice flat piece, until I realized I misread the pattern!  Number 1 way that crochet is like knitting.

The second way is that proper tension is key.  I started with this mini-version of the trivet so that I could get a feel for the pattern.  The result is a little wonkey due to my tension issues.  Nevertheless, it came out so cute that instead of frogging it to reuse the yarn, I took it to work to use as a mug rug.  I can't wait to finish the full size versions.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pre-Birthday Weekend

My birthday is on Friday, but this past weekend I got an early birthday present - Sarah came to visit!!!

To clarify, she came to visit in 2011, not 1984.
We went shopping and ate Mexican food at one of Sarah's favorite restaurants.

The big event of the weekend was the Fiesta Mission 10K.  We got up early Saturday morning to head down to Mission Park.  The run was on a great path past two of the historic missions. Sarah told me about the colonial architecture, I was too out of breath to respond.

The Before
The only downside of the course was it went over two suspension bridges.  Running across them was like jumping on a trampoline with five other people.  Sometimes I took a step and just went straight up in the air.  I developed a blister the size of a silver dollar on my arch (I took a picture, but decided to spare you - you are welcome).  All in all, it was a great run and I made it to the finish line nearly 10 minutes faster than I expected!  Afterwards, we felt like super heroes.

Or Angels.
Later in the day we had a cookout with my KU anthro friends who are down here now.  Before the party, Sarah and Veronica helped me make Gina's Super Moist Carrot Cake into cupcakes.

Veronica and Sarah tag team the carrots
We had 11 adults and 7 kids coming over so I doubled the recipe and ended up with 36 cupcakes!!! Luckily the extras were devoured today at work.

So Good.
We bought a new grill for the occasion and Geoff christened it with burgers, hot dogs, and veggie kabobs while the kids chased each other through, and with, the sprinkler.

Sunday morning we had Sarah's favorite breakfast tacos before she had to fly home.  All in all, a fantastic weekend!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tomorrow's Scientists

When I was a kid, my parent's took/sent me to all sorts of science camps and fairs.  I still have clear memories of many of them, in particular the marine biology camp I went to in North Carolina where we dissected day old fish from the market.  Didn't smell great in the un-air conditioned lab we were working in.

Having been so inspired by these camps as a kid, I jump at the chance to volunteer at any sort of event where kids (particularly girls) get a chance to learn about science.  If they get a chance to do hands-on activities, all the better.  

Over the past year, I have helped host visitors from PA Junior Scientists and Upward Bound in the anthropology department at Penn State, spent a (long!) day talking about science and doing mini-experiments in biology classes as State College High, and helped Girl Scouts earn science badges.  My favorite activities, though, were when Laurel and I showed students how to extract DNA using household chemicals. They end up with a snot-looking mass of DNA that they can take home.  We've done that project with Penn State science camps for high school and middle school girls and everybody loves it.  We even taught it to a group of middle school science teachers so hopefully it is spreading through central PA.

Primate Skulls are fun!!
Last weekend, I was invited by a co-worker to help out at the Girl's Inc Rock-It into Science event here in San Antonio.  We had stations about nutrition, lab work (mostly pipetting), and I worked at the skeleton exhibit.  I talked about how keratin makes up antlers, hair, fingernails, hooves, and the covering of turtle shells (so pretty much I told them about evolution by replacing "evolution" with "adaptation").  It was so much fun, the four hours flew by and I was still talking to people while others were packing up around me.  Unfortunately, being outside in south Texas for four hours meant that by the time I got home, I was exhausted and extra freckled!

Pipetting in a Parking Lot!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Everything Old is New Again

As Geoff, who has weathered three moves with me in the four and a half years we have been together, will tell you - I don't like to throw things away.  This extends to clothes that are, perhaps, okay definitely, no longer in style.  At some point during high school I bought two long, light-weight hippie-looking skirts.  They remained in my wardrobe for years and made appearances with tank tops when the temperature became too hot bear.

This picture is three years old, but I got excited and cut up skirt before taking a new picture!
I'm anticipating that too hot to bear will be an accurate description of south Texas starting in just a month or so, it is already in the 80s every day!  So I wanted to give new life to these skirts to make them fit in better with my current style.  Oddly, the blue skirt was lined with the same fabric which allowed me to cut out four panels for an A-line skirt and preserve the embroidery which is really the only thing that made this skirt worth saving.

You know the saying measure twice, cut once?  I learned it while building things in my grandad's garage, but it applies to sewing as well.  My first attempt at this skirt was nearly six inches too large around the waist!

The red skirt is a little more straight forward - just a single layer of fabric.  I liked the detail at the bottom so rather than just hemming the skirt shorter, I cut off the top and added new elastic.  Simple gathered skirt!  The hardest part was getting the elastic through the casing.

I had set a goal for myself to remake things from the thrift store - but how much more budget-friendly is it to remake things you already own!!
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