Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October in Instagram

My half-marathon training runs have stretched to double digits!  (You can still sponsor me until Nov. 10th right here)

I've been wanting to make a succulent terrarium for a while and when I finally did, it was invaded by pirates.

Hooray for Kirk and Laurel - love them so much!

The Columbia River Gorge was a beautiful setting for a conference.

I was close to Portland, so I put a bird on my photo.

I saw four rainbows while in the Northwest (six if you include double rainbows!) 

San Antonio doesn't really do fall, so it was great to see it in Pennsylvania and Oregon!

I thought my office plant was forming dew but it seems to be some sort of weird sap.

Did I mention if you sponsor my run, you are automatically entered to win a custom knit AND you are helping fund programs for local kids with birth defects.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Grown-Up Treats

Halloween is the time of year where all of our sweet-tooths can be easily sated with jumbo bags of unrelentingly sweet fun-size treats.  But sometimes you need a slightly more complex treat.  Don't get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the chocolate chip cookie recipe on the back of bag of Nestle Tollhouse chocolate morsels.  It tastes like your childhood and will always please a crowd.  But if you are looking for a more adult version of this classic, I'd recommend you check out this recipe from Jennifer MartinĂ©.  I have a sweet-tooth, but when things get too sweet, I go into sugar shock so I love that the sweetness of the cookie is balanced with salt and just a hint of bitterness.

I had never tried cocoa nibs before and pushed this recipe aside, assuming that they would be difficult to find.  Then one day I was picking up a bag of dark chocolate chips and noticed cocoa nibs on the shelf above.  If you can't find them at your local market, try your local snooty grocery store.  The cocoa nibs remind me a bit of coffee with a chocolaty undertone and provide a nice texture somewhere in between the crisp of the toasted walnuts and the yieldingness of the chocolate chips.  These are chock-a-block full cookies and I wasn't actually sure that the dough would be able to contain it all!  A few grains of very coarse sea salt provide a final flourish.  Be careful, though, these perfectly balanced cookies are completely addictive.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Coast-to-Coast and Back Again

October was a crazy-busy month of travelling!  First we headed to Pennsylvania for our dear friends' wedding which was just so perfectly them.  It was held in the small-town brewery where they got engaged with just a small group of family and friends.  We were so lucky to get to share their wedding day with them.  Look how happy they are, it makes my heart skip a beat.

We spent a few extra days in State College where we caught up with friends, closed down a bar after a funk show, and remembered the burning sensation of breathing in 20 degree weather.  During the day, I was able to meet up with some of my ongoing collaborators back in the anthropology department.  Geoff flew back to San Antonio with some equipment they are lending me for our newly funded research (YAY!) and got only a moderate amount of questioning from the skeptical TSA agents.

While Geoff was on his way back to balmy Texas, I flew to Stephenson, WA for a pair of conferences focusing on novel techniques in statistical genetics and genetic epidemiology.  The conferences were jam packed but educational and the surroundings - located on the Columbia River Gorge couldn't be beat.  I even ran into a friend from grad school that I didn't even know would be there.

Between prepping for my presentations at the conferences and all the travel, I was ready for a break.  My mom flew out and met me in Portland for a very relaxing three days.  The only real plans we had were to eat at some food carts and for me to get my first pedicure.  (I've sort of avoided them because I was afraid I would love them too much and want to get them all the time.  I was right!)

Because my family loves museums, we had to check out the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry where we happened upon a kids chemistry lab (they were doing flame tests!), the AAA's exhibit on race which features several anthropologists I know, and the very fun Grossology exhibit where we played a life-size game of Operation.

Of course, when in Portland, you must have Voodoo doughnuts and Stumptown coffee.  Being the loving women we are, we each flew home with a box of maple-bacon glazed doughnuts as carry-ons.

Our last night in town, we had drinks on the 30th floor of a large pink building (I think it was a bank?) and watched the sun set.  It was the perfect ending to a relaxing weekend with mom!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Easy-Peasy Halloweeny

Did you're October zip by so fast you haven't even bought a single piece of fun-sized candy, yet?  Thankfully, this project is so quick and easy that you could finish it before the trick-or-treaters arrive (or buy the supplies the weekend after Halloween and save them for next year)!  If you have little ones, this is a great way to get them involved in the crafting process.  The ornaments on the wreath are made of balsa wood and run about 50 cents at Joann fabrics where you can also pick up an inexpensive black wreath and a roll of orange ribbon.  I used acrylic paint (and googly eyes!) for my ornaments but they would be great to let kids color in with markers.  Once the paint was dry, I just hot-glued them to the wreath and added tied a bow based on the tutorial I found here.  I love how it came out - sweet, not scary - continuing my Halloween decorating theme.

Happy Halloween!
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