Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Behold! My garden, my dinner, and my releif that finals are over!

Yesterday I finished all my finals, final projects, and other various loose ends. It was the weekend and Monday from hell... but now it's over. Instead of telling you about the atrociousness of having to throw out several hours of work 5 hours before a deadline, or about the panic of not understanding a statistics problem on the final, I'd like to share the good parts of today.
First, I was reading Heavy Petal today, and they were talking about young people not gardening, so I'd like to share the latest picture of my garden! Cute huh? It finally got too cold outside for the basil (isn't living in Santa Cruz nice?) so I moved the box to the windowsill where it doesn't get as much sun as I'd like, but won't freeze. That's cilantro on the left, chives in the middle, and my baby basil (delicious even at this stage, I couldn't wait) on the right.
Being done with finals means that tomorrow I get to go home! A real bed! Home cooked meals every night! My parents, brother and dog will be there! A Christmas tree and Christmas cookies! Not to mention the easy access to farmer's markets and a grocery store that carries more than frozen food and booze. Sometimes I don't enjoy living on campus. Can you tell? Today is one of those days. Anyhow, going home tomorrow means that I have to use up all the produce in my fridge. So today I threw together some tofu, broccoli, garlic, and sesame oil and ended up with a delicious dinner!Sorry about the flash... that's the best picture of about ten. *sigh* my photography skills need work, but that's lower on the list of things to accomplish in my lifetime. Doesn't it look delicious though? It was. I hope you're finals, or finals equivalents are going well and will be done soon.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Baby Fish!

So, about a week ago I noticed a little wriggling tadpole looking thing in the very bottom of my fish tank. I got out some jars and took out the adult fish, pulled out all the gravel and decorations, and found three adorable baby guppies. They are now twice as big as they were, and living in an old salsa jar by my bed. At first I felt a little helpless watching them twitch around in the jar. They're so tiny! How will I ever be able to take care of them? But of course, the fish amazed me as they always do with their ability to take care of themselves. Maybe it's my childhood filled with neurotic dogs that gives me the idea that all pets need constant attention. I tell you one thing, if ever another dog comes into my life, it will have to be pretty darn amazing to get permission to stay!
I say that now, but I would put money on the fact that I will probably never let go of an animal once it's made itself at home. Like these baby fish, they'll wriggle themselves into my heart and never leave.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Monday off

Since there was no school today I slept in. Then I read and crafted and watched tv all day. I didn't even get dressed. All in all it was a fabulously unproductive day. Usually when I do this I feel guilty and lazy, but today I just feel rested and ready to meet the week. Sometimes you just have to take a day off.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Ornament Swap

I just signed up for an ornament swap here, and you should too. I love the idea of sending handmade ornaments to complete strangers, and getting lovingly crafted ornaments in return. Particularly since I'm just starting out in the world on my own, and haven't developed a collection of holiday decorations like my mother. I'm going to get a little tree for my apartment and decorate it with the ornaments I get in this swap. They'll be the only ones there, since they'll be the only ones I own! I'll make up stories about the people who sent them to me, and wonder about the people that have mine.
When I was little, the Christmas tree was a magical force that changed the whole house into a place of joy. My family would put it up together, taking out the same ornaments year after year. I had stories for each one. I would pretend that the Christmas mouse in a cherry pie was offering Mrs. Clause a piece, who politely asks for the recipe, and of course you could transport from one Christmas light to another... Now I'm excited to be starting my own collection and making new stories.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

My new favorite Breakfast

Breakfast has always gotten on my nerves. I just don't like eating sugar in the morning, so almost all traditional breakfasts frustrate me to no end. No more! I found some beautiful potatoes at the farmers market, and have been making breakfast potatoes! Into a pan with the sliced or chopped potatoes, some oil, and some cayenne pepper, and viola! breakfast! They are so easy to make, so delicious, and I'm using local and organic ingredients! Yum! Now I'm going to go stick my nose back into a book for a while.

Monday, October 29, 2007

An Herb Walk to Open my Energies

Yesterday I spent a good five hours wandering around my campus with a local herbalist Darren Huckle. He patiently explained to the ten of us that the plants we see around us every day can be used for anything from mcalming down after a test to supporting our immune systems, to opening our energy. A lot of what he said made sense to me (green vegetables = good for me) but a lot of it sounded like the hippy side of Santa Cruz. Oh well, I found a new hiking trail and learned the names of a bunch of plants. I deemed it a successful Sunday.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

My food wish list

Sometimes, I feel very unprepared to cook on a college student's budget. My mother, bless her, is a baker and sticks to the family recipes. My father, bless him, cooks abundantly and a ver wide range, but is an engineer and sticks to the recipes in his cook books. That's fine, but I don't have any cook books! I am limited to what I have typed up of my parent's recipes and the unsatisfactory internet recipes. I don't know why the internet recipes that I've found aren't as good as cook books (perhaps because they're free?). In any case, I am developing a wish list for recipes that I hope to fill, or get cook books for my birthday and Christmas (hint hint)

My Recipe Wish List

1) Chinese Chicken salad
2) Fried wontons
3) Orange Chicken
4) Simple Salmon/fish (for a special occasion)
5) Matzo ball soup
6) Enchiladas
7) Noodle salad (the Schneider family version)
8) A good and flavorful quiche
9) General Chinese recipes (I miss home)

So if anyone has a recipe that they love and wants to share it with me, I will love you forever. Now I'm off to make another pasta. I'm getting a little tired of pasta... but it's cheap and easy and I can get all sorts of nutrients all in one tasty meal. I really miss Chinese... almost to the point of ordering take out! Come Thanksgiving things will get better. I hope.

Monday, October 22, 2007

One of those days

I awoke this morning from a nightmare. Someone in my dream was forcing my right hand into a pot of scalding oil. When I woke up I discovered the mother of all bug bites on my hand, and it itched and burned like it had a vendetta against me. I got up and rand my hand under hot water to stop the itching and couldn't fall back asleep (I guess 5 is too late to go back to sleep). That's alright though, because I had a little work to finish. You see in my music class we're copying down music with more important notes drawn larger than less important notes and then some analyzing in the margins. I had copied all the music (it took me almost two hours) and finished the analyzing on a separate paper. This was my plan; I was going to scan this first step into the computer, so when I have to do a second and third draft, I don't have to do the busywork again! Brilliant! Except that I don't have a scanner. It's ok, I can use the university computer labs, but not until they open at nine, which is fine my class isn't until 9:30, and all the work is done sans copying it onto the paper to turn in.
So I finish the analysis on my separate paper, eat some breakfast, enjoy a long morning, and go to stats section at 8. My plan was to finish the quiz fast and be at the lab when it opened, but my TA kept talking and talking about a simple concept, and the stupid girl kept asking dumb questions. On a side note I have nothing against asking questions, I've been there. It's asking a question, when the answer is literally written on the page in front of you that gets me. The textbook was written for a reason, try reading it sometime. Anyhow, the quiz took me a total of 20 seconds to finish and I ran (because now it's 8:55) to the lab. 9:10 my friend helps me scan all of my papers and I email them to myself. 9:25 I begin to simultaneously run to class and copy the analysis onto my paper. I didn't get to the music building till 9:35 at which point I am so frustrated and upset that I am on the verge of tears. Incomplete homework in hand, I rush through the building only to find a note on the door. "Music 100 has been canceled today." I literally sat down and cried, and then laughed, and then called my mother.
After putting all that effort into finishing the homework on time, the least they could have done is let me turn it in! Well, tomorrow is another day. Tuesday in fact, which is definitely my least favorite day. Too much stuff to do, and I doubt my piano will be prepared enough for my teacher. Such is life.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Hurray for Dinner Parties!

Last night six of my friends came over to my apartment, sat down at the table, and enjoyed a very thick Italian bean and pasta soup. I cannot begin to tell you how thrilled I am at the success of my first dinner party. The company was good, the conversation was good, the food was good, even the drinks were excellent (Thanks Kimberly!). I was so happy to sit down and eat a good meal with people that I care about. I think the quote that sums the evening up was when we were passing around the bowls of soup and someone commented "Wow, I feel like I'm eating with family." And that's exactly how I felt. I love to cook, and I love to eat, but more than anything else, I love to feed other people. The only thing I regret about last night is that no one took any pictures. Very unfortunate.
Well, now that I've cleaned all the dishes up and recycled all the bottles (unlike my house mates, I clean up after my parties) it's time to start in on the music theory homework! I don't think I have to tell you that I would rather have another dinner party. Ah well, the homework has to get done sometime.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

My apartment smells like beer

I can't imagine why. Sometimes I worry that my house mates can't have fun or relax without a substance. It's their lives and I don't have the right to impose my values on them, and I don't want to be judgmental, but I really think that they could benefit from a little less drugs and alcohol. I'm finding it difficult to reconcile my desire to respect their life choices, and my values. oh well, on a brighter note, my herbs have finally sprouted!Aren't they cute? Soon I will be able to walk out onto my balcony and pick fresh herbs! Hurray! Until then I make do with dried herbs in a jar. Speaking of dried herbs in a jar, check out the pasta Orvieto (Thanks to Nick Stallino for the recipe) that I made last night!

Mmmmmm it was good. I was pretty proud of myself. It was very delicious. Now I'm off to practice scales! hurrah...

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Mmmmm... food

Now that I'm back in school, in my own apartment, with my own kitchen, food has taken over my life. Eating has to be my favorite thing to do. I absolutely adore being able to putter around in the kitchen for a while and sit down with a delicious meal.
My only problem, is my limited budget. It's not that I can't afford to feed myself, it's just that I don't have enough money to buy things and then let them go bad. So things like fruits and vegetables are turning out to be an issue. I'm eating, but not a balanced diet. I'm sure with more practice budgeting and cooking I'll get the hang of eating healthy.
Last weekend I made a dish called Pasta Matriciana (thanks to Nick Stallino for the recipe out of his marvelous book which I don't know the name of because my father won't part with it. I have to copy out the recipes I want and cook from my chicken scratch notes! harrumph!) which was delicious, even if I didn't use fresh basil (how I miss my garden!). It cost me just under $5 to make (of course I didn't use freshly grated Romano cheese) and fed me for four days. It would have fed me for five or six days, but I shared some with Robert. My second favorite thing to do is feed other people (aka show off my mad cooking skills).
This weekend I'm making buttermilk chicken, which will be a little more expensive, but I need to take a break from the pasta. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

It's the Right Time for Applesauce!

It's that time of year again! The time to go buy apples by the box and spend whole mornings jarring applesauce!
Every year my mom and I make homemade applesauce out of local apples. This year we had Fuji and Granny Smith apples from an orchard near my grandparent's house (we were visiting). Unfortunately, my mom didn't look at the name of the farm, so I can't tell you exactly. They were oh so delicious though. And now we have small footprint apple sauce!
My mom and I were trying to think of all the reasons why our sauce is better than store bought while we waited for the apples to cook down and here is our list!

1) Ours is flavored exactly the way we want it, not too sweet, and not too bland
2) The apples were bought directly from the farmer, so they didn't need to get waxed or have any funny preservatives sprayed on them, and all the money went to the farmer, not to the grocery store execs
3) The jars are reused for years and years, over and over
4) No added preservatives other than a little lemon juice
5) It didn't get shipped, so it used less limited fossil fuels
6) It costs a fraction of the store bought stuff
7) Exactly the right amount of chunks
8) The peels and cores (that didn't get eaten) got composted in our backyard
9) It was fun to make!

Here's Kenneth helping to dispose of the apple peels.

Sierra the dog helping dispose of the apple cores (apparently this is one of her favorite foods)

Mom cooking the apples. Yum yum!!!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Saving Some Money

One of my favorite things to do is save money. It's my father's brainwashing in action (if you think I'm cheap you should meet him!). In any case, my family discovered a great way to save ourselves some money every month, and have a smaller footprint on the environment all at the same time! What is this magical wondrous thing you might ask. Well, all we had to do was call up our city, and ask for a smaller trash can!
It turns out we were paying $33.00 to have the city pick up our big black can full of garbage. Now we have a 32 gallon can that we pay $23.12 a month to get emptied! That's almost $10 a month, or $120 a year! Just by being aware of how much packaging we consume, and how much stuff we throw away we saved ourselves the city fees, and the money we would have spent on disposable stuff. Think of all the Christmas presents we can buy in December with all those savings, or we could invest it and do something extra special with it, like pay for grad school. That would be nice.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


Today I loaned $25 to a woman in Azerbaijan who runs her own business. I feel good. I'm very picky about what kinds of charities I donate to, and I like this one. Kiva makes what are called micro loans to small business owners in third world countries. In this way I can support someone who is pulling themselves out of poverty without giving a handout. In twelve months when she has paid back my loan, I can loan the same $25 to someone else. Even though I'm working a minimum wage job, and attempting to finish college, I can help someone else out. I highly recommend this website. Kiva.org

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Oh so Bitter

When someone starts to get on my nerves, I try to ignore it. It's what my mother taught me to do. But sometimes I develop a little irritation that won't go away. I complain and gossip. And then everything that they do that didn't irritate me starts to. I begin to harbor the bitterness.
Now, many years ago I promised myself I wouldn't let other people control my decisions or my life. By harboring that anger, I am letting other people control the way I feel. I am trying today to let go of some anger and bitterness. We'll see how that goes. Perhaps at the end of the day I'll be a slightly better person. Or maybe not.

Monday, September 3, 2007

A Trivet

I needed something to set hot pans on when I move into my apartment, and my parents were not going to let me take their nice wooden cutting boards. I don't like to buy things that I can make, so my first instinct was to go out into my father's wood-shop and find a pretty piece of wood to turn into some sort of trivet. Unfortunately my father's wood-shop is under a fairly thick layer of junk. His shop is worse than my room, why do I still get yelled at? I can't wait to go back to school. If I had to pay rent here, I would move anywhere else. Anyhoo... That idea didn't work out... so on to the internet I went. I can't remember where I originally saw this idea, but making my trivet out of corks was genius. I love it for so many reasons. It's beautiful, and better for my pocketbook, and maybe even better for the environment. The corks would have gotten thrown away anyway (I got them from my relatives who saved them all summer for me) but the hot glue was perhaps not the best option environmentally speaking. Oh well. I love my trivet the most of all because it is completely unique. One step closer to who I want to be.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

My Super Cool, High-tech, Solar Powered Clothes Dryer

I dry clothes on a clothesline even in the middle of the creepily 50's style suburbia that I live in. Not very many people in my neighborhood do this, and I don't understand why! It's not that much more work, it works just as well (particularly in sunny California), and it uses less electricity. My brother would tell you that I'm a crazy hippy to be worrying about electricity, and maybe he's right. Despite his efforts to rain on my parade I am still convinced that I can help by drying my clothes outside, instead of in a machine. Besides, electricity costs money! That at least we know is in short supply. One more inch towards the ideal me.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

My discoveries in Yosemite

I recently spent several days in Yosemite with some very dear friends of mine. Beyond the beautiful scenery, stunning displays of lightning, adorable chipmunks, delicious camping food, and refreshing hiking that I expected, I enjoyed several other unexpected discoveries.
First I rediscovered my need for independence. It wasn't that other people were planning the trip, or that I wasn't in control of what we were having for dinner that bothered me. It was the little things. I needed a chair, but they were locked in my friend's car. I had to wait for everyone to wake up to start on a hike (I am a die hard morning person) or have the planned breakfast. My need to be completely self-sufficient made this trip very difficult for me. Fortunately my friends are so wonderful and fun that I enjoyed being dependent on them anyhow. I just need to remember this quirk of mine when deciding which friends to vacation with.
Second, and vastly more interesting, I discovered that you can get to Yosemite by train/bus! It didn't take me any longer than driving, the connections were really really easy and short, and it didn't cost much more than that much gas would have! There are four different stops in the valley, and Yosemite has such a fantastic shuttle system that once you're there you can get anywhere within the valley. If you're staying there, or backpacking out of it, Amtrak is definitely the way to go. More time to watch the scenery, and it's better for the environment, AND you don't have to deal with parking or the crazy one way roads in the park.

Friday, August 31, 2007

My philosophy, and why I'm blogging

I have found myself monologuing to myself on several occasions this week. Not only do I find this irritating, but also unsettling. I hope to put some of my semi-interesting monologues into the blogosphere for no other reason than it will get them out of my head. Perhaps someday, someone might actually read them too. In the meantime, I will clear my mind with some good wholesome blogging.
My life philosophy is not original or interesting, but it explains the name of my blog. It is in short, everything can be accomplished in baby steps. I continually make small steps toward what I want to do and be. Learn to play the piano? Ten minutes at a time. Have a more organized room? I start with one drawer. Develop a greener lifestyle? Start with a few little things.
The frustration is that I never finish anything. I'll never sit at the piano one day and say, "aha, I know how to play the piano now. I can stop practicing." I'll never decide that I live environmentally friendly enough, or that my home is organized well enough. It might be that because I choose such vague goals for my life this philosophy appeals to me. In any case I continue to wade through life in an ongoing and difficult journey to make myself into the person that I want to be.