21 August 2013

Cookbook Collection

Let's  call this a series. This post was originally published 15 September 2011 at folioleaves.wordpress.com.

A while ago I started my collection of cookbooks. It's not much yet. But I am proud of it. I particularly like 19th century English cookbooks, but I think it will be a while before I really am in a position to start collecting those. So, for the present my cookbooks are early-mid 20th century.

I find it absolutely fascinating to see how different (and yet the same) cooking practices and recipes were. I also think it is fascinating to watch the evolution of the cookbook over the centuries. I'm hoping that I can share more of my cookbook fascination with you over the ensuing months and years.

The beginnings of my little collection

19 August 2013

Kool-aid--Did you know it's useful for more than just drinking?

Let's call this a series. This post was originally published 18 October 2011 at folioleaves.wordpress.com.

I have been waiting for a reason to dye paper for a while and due to some recent events (that I may or may not ever tell you about) I finally had a good reason to do it. So on Saturday I popped by Giant on my way home from errand-running and purchased the "dye". I had decided that I wanted to dye my paper red and I had thought of the perfect thing that I hoped would make the same kind of red on paper that it made on my mom's carpet when I was kid (It was my brother's fault--not mine). Kool-aid.

By the time I had actually started the dying process I'd realized that really my paper was going to be more pink than red and I was ok with that. And the light baby-girl pink that I ended up with I think will look fantastic in my next book. Though oddly enough the Kool-aid did turn my hands about the shade of red I had been hoping for on my paper.


16 August 2013

Stowaway Magazine

Let's call this a series. This post was orginally published 22 September 2011 at folioleaves.wordpress.com.

Here is another super old post from the other blog that we're reposting here. Note to the world: I worked for Stowaway in the Fall of 2010--on the Winter 2011 issue.

About a year ago I worked on the staff of the a publication called Stowaway. It is a student produced magazine that is the culminating project in the editing minor at Brigham Young University. It is a fantastic project and I am thrilled that I had a chance to work on the Winter 2011 issue. My work was in design, but I also wrote several articles and provided a little of the photography throughout the magazine.
Yesterday I discovered that Stowaway has lately received several national publication awards. Check out the article here.

14 August 2013

What should we do with abandoned warehouses?

I thought this was a very interesting idea--actually a pretty fabulous idea. Why not turn an old Walmart into a library? What could be better than a Walmart's worth of books?



13 August 2013

Sometimes my life is pretty awesome

Recently I found myself with some extra time and I was catching up on some of backlog blog reading. I hadn't read very many articles before I found that I was feeling a little down on myself. Many of my friends are having lots of big life changes right now (like buying homes, or having kids, or getting married) and I felt a little left out--especially since it had been a fairly stressful week for me anyways. So, I thought I'd write a post about how awesome my life is. Because, let's face it. It's pretty awesome.

This summer, I worked two part time jobs. But since they are pretty flexible, I've been able to take time off to visit Chicago (for ALA), Maine (camping with Melanie), New Hampshire (to visit a friend), Rockport, MA (for kicks and giggles--and to try lobster), and Rhode Island (drove a friend to the airport). I'm in the middle of finding a third roommate (which is actually super stressful) for the new apartment that I'm moving into in the fall--which I found nearly all by myself. I have done all the leg work for the new place and even successfully navigated realtors and brokers and such.

I live in Boston, where there is always tons of stuff to do. Granted, many of my exciting plans have been rained out this summer (Shakespeare on the Common, Rear Window on the side of the Harbor Hotel), but hey, I'm no weather god.

As a library student I get all kinds of exciting opportunities to do cool things like work in two awesome libraries and have a *hopefully* awesome internship in the fall. I'm also helping the senior missionary couple in my ward to reestablish a lending library for the Institute library in our church building. I get to basically build a library from scratch (ok, maybe not quite from scratch--most of the books are already catalogued--but practically).

I've started shopping around to buy my first suit. And I'm pretty excited about what I've seen so far. I had an excellent experience with the sales lady today who knew way more than I did about the way the clothes were supposed to fit. There is something super refreshing about having a sales lady look at the skirt you have on (that you thought fit well) and say "that looks a little big, let me bring you a smaller size." And then you put on the smaller size and lo and behold, it fits way better.

What makes your life awesome?

22 July 2013

Quotes of the day

For a brief period of time I thought that having a quote of the day would be a nice thing for that other website. Clearly it didn't last too long, but here are some lovely quotes.

--We'll call it a series.

"It's been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will." —L.M. Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables)
"Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation." --Walter Cronkite
"A University is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. The library is the University." --Shelby Foote

Oh yeah, my daily quotations lasted real long...

27 June 2013

Belonging vs. Fitting In

A while back I read Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. It was a pretty good book, though not as life changing as Susan Cain's Quiet. Nevertheless Brown made some interesting points. One thing inparticular that I liked where the responses (p. 232) that a bunch of 8th graders gave her to the difference between belonging and fitting in:

"Belonging is being somewhere where you want to be, and they want you. Fitting in is being somewhere where you really want to be, but they don't care one way or the other."

"Belonging is being accepted for you. Fitting in is being accepted for being like everyone else."

"I get to be me if I belong. I have to be like you to fit in."

I think they got it right. Do you belong or do you fit in?

24 June 2013

National Book Festival

Welcome to part two of our "series." This a post from when I went to the National Book Festival back in 2011:

I went into the District on Saturday and headed the National Book Festival--2 days where the nation (or the DC Metro area at least) celebrates books. When I heard about the festival I thought to myself , "I like festivals, I love books, this seems like the perfect way to spend an afternoon." It was amazing. And I got a cool earth friendly bag. I can't wait to go again next year.

19 June 2013

We'll call it a "series"

Posting in "series" seems to be all the rage these days in the blogosphere. So, it seems appropriate that I join the trend in my sometimes I post and sometimes I don't sort of way. And truly, my series is more of a series of re-posts than anything.

A number of years ago I started a wordpress blog because I'd heard that wordpress was pretty cool and I felt the need to have separate blogs for food and for books and for everything else. I still think that wordpress is pretty cool, but I've realized that one blog is really almost more than I handle.

Last year for one of my classes I took my wordpress blog and completely redid it so that it now functions as an online portfolio. Feel free to visit it and check out the cool things I do (or not, whatever). When I revamped that blog I kept all the blog posts that I had posted in their own neat little tab. All the posts were book related and were pretty interesting. I've since decided that they don't really go with the rest of the content of my website, but since they are interesting and kind of cool I've decided to repost them here so that you all can enjoy them.

As a disclaimer. When it seems like super old news, that's because it is.

To kick this series off I present to you:

A reference desk made entirely out of used books!
And there are even more photos of this desk here.

18 June 2013

Book dominos

I watched this video today and thought it was pretty awesome. I will admit though that I watched it on a computer without sound, so I have no idea what kind of explanation/audio the video has. I'm sure something informative. But it's still a cool movie. Way to go Seattle!

17 June 2013

More Gardening Tales

I commited the number one gardening crime this weekend. I pulled my tomato plants up by their roots to see if they were growing. Now you all can gasp and sputter and wonder why I would commite such a heinous (and obviously stupid) crime. Well, I had some (questionably) good reasons for digging up my plants.

My tomato plants were grown from seed by someone else. And they had been grown in some kind of peat-y thing that had a sort of fabric-y thing surrounding the roots (which made them super easy to transport) and I'm sure is the best way to grow seedlings. For whatever reason it didn't occur to me that the fabric-y thing would be a problem for the roots, so when I planted them, I just planted them as they were.

A week or so after I planted my tomatoes I was attempting to repot a couple of my indoor plants and one I was trying to split one of them into two pots I discovered, among other things, that it was planted in styrofoam (this is a story for another day). While I was trying in vain to split the two halves of the plant I broke up the roots and generally gave the plant a good shock. I figured I'd killed it. But it sprang back better than ever in less than a day. I've never seen that plant look so good--which was fabulous when I gave it to a friend for a house warming gift. (Apparently I've become one of those people who has plants and gives them as gifts and stuff--this caught me by surprise. Almost as much as when I discovered that I'm one of those people who actually really likes vegetables.)

And then not long ago I was reading a blog post about planting/designing pots for your front porch and it talked about the importance of making sure you break the roots up and such when you repot things. This seemed to jive with my experience with repotting my own plants. And seemed like a good explanation for why my tomatoes after having been in my garden for a couple weeks are no bigger than they were when I planted and if anything looked worse.

So, I decided the only thing to do was to pull them up and take off that fabric-y stuff I should have taken off originally. And I did (and you know, pretty much none of them had any roots that had poked through the fabric-y stuff). Sadly, I can't say that they've since grown amazingly or even look any better. But maybe when the sun comes out they'll grow?

05 June 2013

Tomato plants

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently became the owner of four little tomato seedlings. Last weekend (when it was stiflingly hot outside) I planted my little plants in my garden. And then today I put tomato stakes in too.

Getting the tomato stakes was quite the ordeal. I have a friend who had offered them to me a while back and for a number of reasons I hadn't picked them up yet. Yesterday this friend moved out of state and told me to just go behind his house and get them out of his garden. So I did. I wasn't prepared for what I found. I had figured they'd be a couple feet tall (like the ones my parents have) and so riding my bike there on my way to work in a dress and heels would be fine. Nope. These tomato stakes are about four feet tall and were still tied to the remnants of last years tomatoes. I quickly realized that there was no way I could get these stakes home on my bike after work. Some quick thinking though found me a solution. I called up my roommate and arranged to drop them by her work on my way and she'd bring them home with her. I'm pretty sure I looked a sight riding across the JFK St. bridge on my bike, in my dress, wearing heels, and hauling three large pointy tomato stakes. One other biker did compliment me on my self-defense-resourcefulness. No one was going to mess with me...He had a point.

Tomato Stakes almost as big as my bike
Moral of the story: Don't try to haul tomato stakes on a bicycle. Get someone with a car to pick them up.

But at least now with my giant stakes my tomato plants can grow to be huge.

Heels anybody?

30 May 2013

Quick update

I feel like things are pretty same ole' same ole' here and that consequently I have little to write about. But at the same time I definitely have had some interesting things happen in the last couple weeks that I keep meaning to write good posts about. Clearly that isn't going to happen today, so here are some one (ish) liners about what I've been up to.

I got about a wardrobe's worth of clothes for free from a good friend's attic. They're amazing. They're clothes that are my size and my style.

I watched the parade for my town over Memorial Day and got lost in Mt. Auburn Cemetery (which is easier to do than you'd think)

I had some really good fish. It was so good that my leftovers were still amazing. That's how moist it was.

I rescued a 7-speed bike from my basement. It's pretty cool.

I worked on my own bike and learned how to true wheels. Yeah, I felt empowered.

I took an awesome book repair class. It involved ripping pages out of books (which is surprisingly satisfying) and then putting them back in.

I made samosas. I got lazy though and baked them instead of frying them. I should have fried them.

I started reading Zero Waste Home. It's fantastic. I can't wait to finish it. 

I became the owner of 4 baby tomato plants. And spent an hour getting my hands dirty today weeding what will soon be my very own garden.

16 May 2013

Bathroom inspiration

Remember last week when Melanie posted pictures of her bathroom? Well, I was a little bit inspired. The apartment (/house) that I live in is old. Very old (though compared to some apartments around Boston it's just a baby since it hasn't quite reached centenarian status yet). And because it's old, it's also dingy. About every time I have a break from school I do some deep cleaning and a couple weeks ago that resulted in me spending several  hours cleaning my bathroom. And for about 10 hours it looked great. Though the dinginess doesn't go away. Now I'm not ambitious enough that I painted my bathroom, or even hung pictures in it, but I did get a new shower curtain. And I think it's an improvement.

14 May 2013

Bay State Bike Week

This week is Bay State Bike Week!! As part of the festivities there have been a number of free breakfasts. With a little planning I'm pretty sure I could get free breakfast nearly every day this week. I haven't quite managed to arrange my schedule to take advantage of all of them, but this morning I headed over to Broadway Bicycle School before work and had some delicious free pancakes. They were good. And something that I liked even more was that they were served on real plates, with real silverware and real cups. And you know it didn't seem to be that big of a deal to have to wash the plates before they could be used again. And it seriously reduced the amount of trash generated by this event.

One of the other great perks of this event was that Mass Bikes was there giving free mini tune ups. Nothing big, mostly just lubing chains and pumping tires, but the guy was super helpful and explained some things to me that I should get adjusted on my bike (my new-old bike--a story for another day), and it was great. My tires were super low and so riding since he filled them up has been wonderful.

I love that I live in a place that has such a strong bike culture. And it was great to get to spend a quarter of an hour in the company of people who think that bicycling is important.

29 April 2013

Giving back

I had a pretty exciting weekend this past weekend. I gave back to my community. A couple weeks ago there was supposed to be a community wide service project to clean up the Charles River. This is an annual event, but owing to shootings and what not it got pushed back a week. This was very fortunate for me because the delay made it so that I could go (my classes being over and such). My ward got up a group together and we were assigned a section of the river to clean up. We spent a couple hours and collected tons of trash. It was fun, and it felt good to do something to help my community.

And then on Sunday I was lucky enough to participate in a choral concert at Trinity Church. The music director at Trinity Church decided last week that he wanted to put together a community-wide concert to help bring peace back into our community after our recent tragedies. The concert was called "A Song of Peace" and featured about a dozen different choirs from around the area that each sang one or two pieces and then they all joined together to sing one piece at the end. It was cool. The ward choir for one of the other wards in my stake was invited to participate, and they extended the invitation to other members of the stake. We sang "Come, Come Ye Saints." It was really cool to sing in that church. The concert was wonderful and very much invited the Spirit. 

I'm very grateful to have had the opportunity to give something back to my community this weekend. It was wonderful.

16 April 2013

Life Plans

A little over a year ago my bishop gave a talk in sacrament meeting where he outlined for goals for our ward (congregation). One of those goals was for each of us to create a plan for ourselves. From what I remember he specifically talked about a one year plan. At the time I remember sitting down one day and establishing that one year from then I'd still be in school. In other words my plan was to keep doing what I was doing. Plan made? check. So I kind of checked that off my list and every time my bishop has mentioned making a plan since then I haven't paid too much attention, I mean I'd already done it.

A month or two ago I met with my bishop about something else and he asked me about my three year plan. I thought really hard, and decided that my three year plan was only as developed as my ability to do the math to add three to my age. He encouraged me to work on it. On my way home that day I was thinking "wait a minute, where did a three year plan come from? Last I remember it was a one year plan!" And then I realized that it didn't matter what he'd said back then, because either way I'd already lived out my one year plan.

So, now I'm working on a three year plan. Except, I can't even begin to fathom where I'll be in three years. I mean, I want to have gainful employment (read: a full time job), but I don't really know in what field of librarianship. And I don't really know where (read: where ever someone offers me said full-time job). This week I think my struggle is in trying to understand the difference between a plan and goals. I feel like making specific goals is dumb because a lot of what will impact my life three years from now is semi out of my control (I don't get to decide if/when I'll be offered a job). I think the other thing that worries me is that if I make specific goals then I feel like I'm limiting myself somehow--like if something totally different (and better) came along then I'd feel guilty to abandoning my goals or something. I don't know why this is such a struggle for me.

What do you think? Do you have three- or five- or ten- year plan for yourself? How did you go about making it?

12 April 2013

National DEAR Day

Happy Drop Everything And Read Day.


Go read something. :)

19 March 2013

Mansfield Park

Today I worked on watching the 1999 version of Mansfield Park. It has a pretty all-star cast, including: Frances O'Connor (The Importance of Being Earnest), Jonny Lee Miller (Emma--2009), and Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey). I haven't quite finished it, but I've read the book and I've seen other adaptations and so I'm pretty sure I know how it ends. I definitely would say that I enjoyed it more than the other film version I've seen (the 1983 version), though it isn't as true to the novel (or at least what I remember of the novel). Several major plot points were quite different. For example Fanny's brother isn't in this version at all. And Sir Thomas doesn't seem to particularly care for Fanny here, whereas I could've sworn that he kind liked her in the book. But it still is very good. I especially like Jonny Lee Miller as Edmund. He makes such a fantastic Mr. Knightly, and he did just as well with Edmund.

I still have yet to see the recent 2007 version, so I can't comment on that one. Apparently I'm a couple decades behind on this Austen adaptation. (I just love Persuasion and Emma so much...).

18 March 2013

Crossing the Red Sea--a logistical nightmare

Last night we watched The Prince of Egypt. For whatever reason I'd never seen it all the way through the before. It's really good. I enjoyed it. It struck me though when they were crossing the Red Sea just how miraculous that is. One of the guys we were watching with made the comment that it had only recently hit him that the Israelites crossed on dry ground, not on muddy ground, or slightly damp ground, but dry ground. That's pretty amazing. That made me think for a minute. Sure I've always known it was dry ground, but I guess I'd never thought of it as actually being dry, I guess I'd always assumed that there were still puddles and stuff around. This kind of got me thinking and then it struck me how big the Red Sea is.

I've always read the story and kind of assumed that they crossed the sea and it took them just a few minutes or hours or something, but the Red Sea is huge. At its widest point its over 200 miles wide and at its narrowest its around 16 miles (I can't remember where I found that fact, but somewhere on the internet). Now I feel like it's pretty safe to assume that they didn't cross at the widest part, but they probably didn't cross at the narrowest part either.

Just as a comparison. According the National Oregon Trail Center a good day traveling for the pioneers was 18-20 miles. And I don't remember for sure, but I imagine that pioneer companies were probably 600 or so people, maybe more, but I don't think much more than a thousand (I found this chart, which seems to support my assumption pretty well).

Back to the Israelites. According to Exodus 12:37 the Israelites numbered 600,000 men on foot, (besides women, children, the elderly, etc.). So if you figure that all the men on foot were your adult aged men then they probably all had wives, and probably a couple kids. And then you include some elderly people and the Israelite nation could very easily be around 2 million people. That is so many people. That's like the population of Houston.

So, lets say the Israelites cross at a narrow-ish part of the Red Sea where it's about 50 miles across. Now if the pioneers were doing that it would probably take them a little less than 3 days (at the rate of 18 miles a day). But that's only 600 ish people. One Wikipedia estimate said that 2 million people marching 10 abreast would make a line 150 miles long (not including sheep and animals, etc). Suddenly this is sounding an awful lot like one of those horrid story problems from elementary school math.

I tried to figure out how long it would take, but I wouldn't be surprised  I'm pretty sure I didn't do it quite right, because really who is good story problems? But I think the first person who crossed the Red Sea would have been about 9 days ahead of the last person to cross (a line 150 miles long divided by 18 miles per day equals a little more than 8 days--so I rounded up). And then you account for the 3 days it took him to cross and we're looking at the better part of 2 weeks to cross the Red Sea. When it was parted. On dry land.

The whole thing kind of blows my mind. You read the account or listen to the story and you kind of think, ok that took like 20 minutes, or maybe the whole night (which is what The Prince of Egypt implies). But no, it seems very possible to me that they were camping in the Red Sea, for several weeks. It was a good reminder for me of the awesome power of Heavenly Father. He can do anything, even keep the Red Sea parted for two weeks.

13 March 2013


Back when I was living in DC, I went with one of my friends to the movies and we saw a trailer for the movie Restless. The trailer looked pretty awesome, and so I was looking forward to it coming out a few months later. Well, life happened and I missed the movie while it was in theaters.

Then I moved.

After I got a job at the library here I decided to see if I could check out Restless, because by this point it had come out on movie. And while on paper I feel like paying $1 to get it from redbox is reasonable, in practice why would I spend money if I can get it for free at the library with a little patience? Sadly, only a couple libraries in our system have the movie, and none of them were eligible for me to put on hold because they were too new. I could have driven to one of the libraries in question and picked it up (but I'm too lazy to do that). I decided I could be patient and wait a few months. And then I forgot about it.

Then late last fall, I remembered that I still hadn't seen this movie, so I put it on hold and just had to wait a few weeks for it to come in (since it's still popular). It came in right after Christmas. For whatever reason I was insanely busy that week and didn't have a chance to watch it, but I couldn't renew it either since there were still holds on it. It always makes me sad to return items that I haven't watched or read yet. But that's the beauty of libraries. I can put it right back on hold.

It finally came in again several weeks ago. And I almost didn't have time to watch it this time either. But I did take a couple hours out of the middle of the day one day and watched it. I'm so glad I did. It was a fabulous movie. It was just cute and fun and worth the wait.

Restless is about a boy (Enoch) who is friends with the ghost of a kamikaze pilot who goes to the funerals of people he doesn't know. And while at one of these funerals he meets Annabel, who later admits to having cancer. They begin spending a lot of time together. It is a really interesting film. I'd recommend it.

12 March 2013


Remember the good old days? When I lived in London? Oh those were the days. One of the many things that I fell in love with in England were  baguettes. I remember mostly eating ham and cheese ones--usually a Swiss cheese like emmentaler or something. One place (or maybe the main place, it's hard to recall now) that I enjoyed getting baguettes was at Pret A Manger. They were good. Though thinking back I don't remember them being particularly cheap.

A number of months ago I was walking around in Back Bay and I walked past a store front that had a sign saying something like "coming soon Pret A Manger." I had to cross the street to investigate. A couple of weeks ago I was on my way to class and I decided that what I needed was some lunch and that a baguette would fit the bill nicely. I decided that I'd swing by Pret and see how they compared to London. They are definitely a little pricey (which is what made me think back to the pricing in London--really I think they're comparable). And they wouldn't heat up my sandwich. Apparently Americans are to lawsuit-happy and they ruin things for other people. The sandwich was still tasty, though it could have done with a little English mustard.

11 March 2013

Thai food

I had plans to go into Boston today and I thought it'd be a nice treat to have pizza at Ernesto's. But then I discovered that the store I needed to go to has a branch in Cambridge. So I decided to go to that one instead. Of course this ruined my North End plans. Luckily, I am resourceful and it didn't take me too long to track down the name of a good restaurant in Porter Square. So, today I had lunch at Rod Dee's. It's a Thai place. I had the pad thai, it was delicious. This restaurant is a cash only place, so I had to run to the ATM, because my limited amount of cash just wasn't enough. And that got me thinking if there is a correlation between good food and cash only. The best pastry shops in the North End are cash only. I feel like it's the mom and pop shops that don't take cards and they always seem to have such good food. I should eat at more of them.

06 March 2013

Food Advertising

I bought a package of tortillas when I went to the grocery store last week. I am super picky about my tortillas, but I decided to give the store brand a shot because good tortillas are hard to find in Boston. When  I went to use one the other day I noticed that right under where it says that they are 10" burrito sized tortillas, it advertises them as being "microwaveable." I find this slightly disconcerting. I don't think I've ever heard of food that was advertised as being microwaveable. I mean it's food. Of course it's microwaveable. It makes me wonder if this is a "new feature" of these tortillas. Where they previously made of metal? Sometimes I wonder who makes these sorts of marketing decisions.

In terms of actual tortilla quality they were only about half a step above Mission brand. blech. I may have to go back to importing tortillas from home like I did when I lived in Utah.

01 March 2013

February Goals re-cap

According to the calendar the dreaded month of February is finally over (it still amazes me how that month drags on while being so short). And with the advent of March it is time for me to report on my goals for February. I had three main goals that I started in February:

1. Being Facebook-free for all of Lent.
2. Finding homes for the homeless items in my room.
3. Taking care of the stack of magazines by my bed.

So far I have been good at staying off Facebook. It is funny to me that I really don't miss it. ever. And it is also interesting to me to note that every time I find myself with an urge to check Facebook is always when I'm bored and avoiding doing something more important. If nothing else, this is a good learning experience for me. I'm learning about my own habits. It's quite enlightening. As for my other two goals, I've failed pretty miserably at them. But, this just means that I can recycle them for my new March goals.  I am excited for March.

28 February 2013

Woven books

I was reading a blog post the other day (I do that a lot don't I?) about woven books. It is a short video about a book of hours that was woven for the 1889 world's fair in Lyon, France. It's really kind of fascinating. Imagine something like a tapestry in the form of a book.

It's a short video, only about 4 minutes.

27 February 2013

Ariana Restaurant

Last weekend I went with some friends to check out an Afghan restaurant in Allston. I took the bus to Allston and had the realization that I really stick pretty well to my regular routine. I had kind of forgotten how much bigger the diesel busses are than the electric ones and I had forgotten how the demographics of Allston are radically different than the part of town I live in. I don't think I remember the last time I rode a bus that was crowded with people all about my own age and felt so old. Since I live in the 'burbs with more regular, gainfully employed adults I forget how much of a difference there is from the undergraduate days. wow.

But semi-drunk undergrads aside the outing was superb. We went to Ariana Restaurant. It was fantastic. I had a lamb dish. The lamb was tender and juicy and just fell apart in your mouth. I do love lamb. Maybe someday I'll learn to cook it. And the rice was just like I remember my mom's Afghan friend used to make us. So good! And we had baklava for dessert for which there are no words to describe. I'm already looking forward to the next time I can go...

26 February 2013

The shortest month

I've been catching up on my Google Reader today and was impressed (or maybe anti-impressed) with the number of blog posts from the last three or four days that feature as the subject how awful February is. For the fact that February has the fewest number of hours in it of all the months it sure does seem to go on forever. I'm not sure what it is about February that makes people want to tear their hair out (though I am certainly about ready to tear my own out). I guess after having survived one month of winter it just seems too hard to be asked to survive another (snowier) one. And while I heartily agree that February is a cruel month (though perhaps not the cruelest, I reserve that for April) it did have some nice redeeming qualities.
  • We had a nice snowstorm that while shutting down the city for two and a half days did leave the lawn nicely blanketed in snowy whiteness. 
  • I watched a pretty awesome movie today (more about that another time). 
  • I got to train at another desk in the library.
  • I got to work at one of the branches. That was fun.
  • I spent some quality time (and meals) with good friends. 
I'm sure there were more good things that came out of February, but those five I think will suffice for now. Who wants to count things on more than one hand anyway...

21 February 2013

A mission call

Yesterday afternoon my mom texted me (which is pretty unusual) to let me know that my little brother had received his mission call. While this is very exciting news it made for a bit of an anticlimactic story when I got home, since he hadn't opened it yet.

Today, I had lunch with a close friend and she told me a story about when she had gotten her mission call. She was very excited to tell everyone that her call had come, but she didn't want to tell them where she was serving. Se wanted to focus on the fact that she was going to do the Lord's work, and not so much on where she would be doing that work. Few people accepted that. Everyone wants to know where you're going, and that is exciting, but that's not really the point.

While it's very cool to know where my little brother will be serving his mission what is more important is that he chose to dedicate two years of his life to the Lord.  For that I am very proud of him.

19 February 2013


You know what's cool? Libraries. They are a place where you can borrow books and movies and it doesn't cost you anything. That's pretty cool. Just saying.

18 February 2013

Happy Washington's Birthday to you!

Happy Washington's Birthday! Did you know that Washington's birthday never actually falls on the day that we celebrate it on? George Washington's birthday is actually on 11 February (or 22 February depending on whose calendar you're using...), but since the holiday got moved to the 3rd Monday in February in the 70s, when they rearranged all the Monday holidays, it never actually falls on the 11th (or the 22nd). Also, despite the fact that everyone calls this day President's day and assumes that we are celebrating both Washington's and Lincoln's birthday, the name was never officially changed. And because the name was never changed you can spell it Presidents' day or Presidents day, and no one can correct you.

If you don't believe me, you can check Wikipedia for yourself (though believe me, when I learned all this information last semester for my Reference class, I had a solid citable source for it.)

14 February 2013

Susan Cain in Boston (or more correctly, in Cambridge)

About a week ago I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to take half an hour and attend part of an author event at the Harvard Book Store. Susan Cain came and did a Q&A and book signing. Of course, she came to a bookstore two blocks from where I work, while I was working. But I managed to convince the library to give me an hour off in the middle of my shift, and so I went for the first 40 minutes or so of her talk. It was a good talk. Most of what she talked about came from her book and so very little was brand new information for me, but it was still really neat to get to see Susan Cain in person. The bookstore was packed, standing room only, and so I didn't have a very good view, but I did get one fuzzy cell phone picture of her.

After I got off work later I hurried back to the bookstore  to see if maybe she was still there (I had a couple books I wanted to get signed). She was definitely still there, but was in the middle of giving an interview. I skulked around in the stacks for a few minutes trying to figure out my next step. Did I wait till her interview was done and then see if she'd sign my books? Or did I interrupt her? Or did I just go home? I figured that interrupting her was out of the question since that's pretty rude. And in the end I decided that I didn't want to be that crazy fan who hangs around a bookstore waiting who knows how long to see if Susan Cain would maybe sign my books. So I went home. And I feel good about that decision. Sure my copy of Quiet is unsigned, but I feel good knowing that I'm not a creeper.

13 February 2013

Happy Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lent. Last year, I thought it would be a fun and interesting experiment to participate in Lent and I decided to give up meat. I know, crazy huh? I figured it wouldn't be that difficult because I don't eat a ton of meat anyways, and financially I wasn't in a position to be able to really buy much meat--so I figured it would be an easy thing to give up for my first Lent. It turned out to be much more difficult than I expected and I wasn't perfect at it. Turns out there are a number of meat things that I do enjoy quite regularly that I hadn't been aware of. But I do think that overall it was a good experience. I learned a lot more about the kinds of foods that I eat and where I eat them.

Since my experiment went well last year I decided that this year I would give up something for Lent again. This time around I've decided to give up Facebook. You may remember when I took a holiday from Facebook back in August. It was pretty awesome. And lately I've been noticing myself slip back into old habits, so I think another Facebook fast will be good for me.

I think I'm also going to use the Lenten season as a way to make some other goals too. At this point in the month making a "month long" goal is becoming questionable, but with Lent being about six weeks long that's a pretty reasonable time frame to work with. I noticed in re-reading the two posts I linked to above that some of the things that I was having trouble finding a home for when I first moved to my new apartment in September still don't have a home and so that is one of my goals--find homes for those leftover things. I also have a stack of magazines on my floor that I need to take care of. .

So to recap. My goals for Lent this year include:
1. Being Facebook-free for all of Lent.
2. Finding homes for homeless items in my room.
3. Taking care of the stack of magazines in my room (which is sort of a subset of #2). 

12 February 2013

Articles in the Atlantic

Before you think that I'm going to talk today about the debris people leave in the oceans...

I was reading a blog today and it mentioned this article that appeared in The Atlantic a few days ago and then this response from Susan Cain that appeared today.

The first is an interesting article written by a teacher about the difficulties of teaching introverted and shy students. Most teachers factor participation into their grading and so it becomes something of a quandary when trying to figure out how to help introverted students participate more. She said (and Susan Cain agreed) that introverted students need to participate in class just like extroverted ones do. But the challenge is how to effect that. Susan Cain in her article provided a few good suggestions, like waiting a little longer after asking a question to give time for introverted students to ruminate or trying a method called "think, pair, share"--where you ask students to answer some question on their own first, then to pair up and share with one other person and then to share as a larger group or a whole class. This is supposed to make sharing a little less daunting.

Susan Cain also mentioned an idea that one education professor at Montclair State University came up with, and that was to divide participation grades from grades based on subject knowledge. So you'd get a grade for knowing math or history or reading and you'd get a grade based on character qualities like listening skills, persistence, behavior, participation, etc. I think that sounds like an interesting idea. In some ways it kind of reminds me of Susan Cain's "culture of character," which I think is sadly lacking in our society today. I wonder too if something like this could be used to help close the gender gap in academia.

These two articles are interesting ones, definitely worth taking a few minutes to glance over.

11 February 2013

We had a few flurries over the weekend

When I got a text from school on Thursday afternoon saying that the college would be closed Friday and Saturday because of the impending blizzard I was a little skeptical. I had seen the weather reports and understood that snow was coming, but it was sunny, clear blue skies, and relatively warm (I think above freezing) at the time and it seemed a little weird to be cancelling my class on Saturday when it hadn't even started snowing yet. And since I didn't have class, I also had no motivation to do any homework over the weekend. Why should I do homework if I don't have classes?? Friday dawned, and while it did start to flurry in the morning I still took the opportunity to run to Target and the library (my neighborhood branch was open for one hour on Friday). And then I settled in for a lazy weekend. or not. I came home and cleaned the bathroom and fridge. (yay, no more fridge-smell!). Friday night I introduced my roommates to the amazingness that is What's Up Doc?. Sadly, they had never seen it before.

Not long after we finished our movie the lights went out. We definitely got the best end of the losing power deal. We lost electricity (but not heat) for only about 2 hours, most of which I spent in bed reading a book by flashlight (and I didn't get in trouble for it!). When I woke up on Saturday this is what greeted me:
Drifts on our back porch

We spent the majority of Saturday digging ourselves out. And I have the sore muscles to prove it. We ended up getting about two feet of snow. So most of our drifts were only about knee deep, but it was windy enough that in places the snow came up to my hips.

Things like blizzards are a funny thing. I felt like somehow our neighborhood came together and bonded a little bit. I saw so many people I had never seen before out shoveling. I can't say that we were all helping each other, but people walking past had encouraging words, and just seeing that that there were people living in all the houses around me was kind of nice. And with the ban on driving it was kind of cool to get to walk down the middle of the roads and have it all to yourself.

The front walk
The snow we had was very light and powdery. I had hoped to build a snowman, but powdery snow just doesn't pack well (though it is certainly better for shoveling). In stead I made a snow angel. Or rather, I tried. When I jumped in the snow I sunk in more than I had planned on, and so I rather ruined the bottom part of my snow angel trying to get up.

Snow Angel
Part of our lengthy sidewalk

07 February 2013

Forbes--at it again

You may remember a while ago, I posted an article that Forbes published that said that a degree in librarianship was the biggest waste of everyone's time.

Today in class one of my classmates made a reference to another recent Forbes article that was hating on libraries. Some how I missed it when it came out back in January. This article is a listing of the 10 "least stressful" jobs. Luckily, unlike the last Forbes thing Librarian wasn't number 1, it was number 9. But still. Listen to this: "A peaceful atmosphere and unlimited access to literature makes librarian a welcoming career option for the bookish" (careercast).Umm, I don't know when the last time you walked into my library was, but peaceful isn't a word I'd usually use to describe it. Sure, being a librarian certainly isn't any where near as stressful as being enlisted military personnel, or a police officer, but it's still no walk in the park.

I realize that these lists and studies aren't done by Forbes, but it does make me wonder what Forbes has against libraries (and what the people doing these studies have against libraries). Come on, we provide excellent services for many, many people. I wonder how the librarians at Forbes feel about all this. I don't know for certain that they have their own librarians, but most big corporations do. There's a whole field of corporate librarianship.

Also, just to defend the university professors who apparently have the number one least stressful careers out there. I'm pretty sure they are all extremely stressed out.

05 February 2013

Ideas that become mainstream

Back when I read My Ideal Bookshelf last month I came across this quote by Chuck Klosterman:

"If a non-fiction book experienced a massive spike in popularity then the idea behind it becomes mainstream and then the book itself disappears" (p.110).

I can't remember now which book in particular he was talking about, but it was a book written some decades ago that had a revolutionary new idea in it and when he talked about the idea I thought "well, of course, I knew that." I was familiar with the idea, but had definitely never heard of the book (can I be any more vague about this?).

This made me wonder if a book like Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, could be a book like this.  I both hope that it will, but hope that it won't at the same time. I would love for the ideas embodied in this book to become completely mainstream, but at the same time I think I would mourn the loss of the book. It's an excellent book.

04 February 2013

Educating our youth

You may remember how my roommate currently takes a subscription to the NY Times and how I enjoy reading it everyday (in fact, today I even did the crossword. It was only the Monday puzzle, but I'm still proud that I nearly finished it--my sports knowledge was less than adequate today).

Yesterday there was a fascinating article about the gender gap in education. For many, many years men have out-shined women in education but in recent years women have not only caught up to men but have surpassed them. According to the article women now account for about 60% of college degrees (excluding PhDs--though they are getting close to out-striping them there too). This is an interesting phenomenon. The author of the article (Christina Sommers) explores one of the contributing factors to why men are no longer top performers.

Sommers looked at test scores from a variety of ages of boys and girls and noted that in elementary school boys and girls test scores are very comparable, but despite that boys often received lower grades overall. What happens is that elementary school teachers (and others) take more than just test scores into account when assigning grades. They also take into account things like behavior. And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that boys are typically more rambunctious than girls.

While some would say that it's "too bad for the boys. If they are inattentive, obstreperous and distracting to their teachers and peers, that’s their problem," Sommers suggests that we should make a "concerted effort to give them more support." That's what we did decades ago when girls were languishing in schools and it worked marvelously. She proposes that we follow the example of Canada, Great Britain, and Australia, who have all decided to focus on reigning in boys' "tendency to be inattentive" through more structure in schools and more boy-friendly curricula.

It's a very fascinating article. One thing in particular that stunned me was a quote from Judith Kleinfeld a professor at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks who said that "almost one in four boys who have college-educated parents cannot read a newspaper with understanding." The boys she is talking about here are high school graduates. I definitely think that these kinds of issues in our education system need to be addressed. It seems like there are many solutions out there that can help close the gender gap. I agree with what Sommers said at the end that "the rise of women, however long overdue, does not require the fall of men." It is fabulous that women are performing to their full potential, but that shouldn't be any reason for men not to reach their full potential too.

31 January 2013

Passions or stability?

A couple days ago my good friend posted a blog post about following your dreams. It is a thought-provoking post. I think many of us are torn in the desire to "pursue our passion" (perhaps not-lucrative ones) and the desire to lead a stable life, with a steady income. I feel like society sends us a lot of mixed messages. Like "Pursue your passion!!!", but at the same time, societal norms dictate that the American Dream includes a mortgage (and recently it seems that it demands a mortgage on a house that is really too big). With so many mixed messages being sent it's hard to know what to think.

I have found it a challenge to reconcile my passions and the desire to live a lifestyle where I can afford the things I need, and live within my means, all while not living in a box under a bridge. At the same time I also struggle with the idea of finding a "passion" that I can pursue as a career, that I'm both passionate enough about to do 40 hours a week, and yet not so passionate about that I'd hate spending 40 hours a week doing it. I'll admit that I also never really imagined myself as having a career. I'm not sure what I imagined, because I've known for sometime that I will most likely need to work the majority of my adult life, but I've just never envisioned a career. That's kind of a big scary word. Career. It sounds so final, and so irreversible. Even though I know that's not true. I remember hearing a statistic once when I was a freshman in college that for people my age they were likely to have approximately 8-10 major career changes in their life. That news stunned me. I had never imagined changing careers every 4 of 5 years. I still have a hard time imagining that. I mean, after you look at the nearly 20 years I've put in to educating myself for this one career, I really hope it sticks. But at the same time it seems a little ludicrous to ask a bunch of twenty year olds to know themselves enough for them to pick a career they're going to be happy in for 35 or 40 years. Things change. When I was 18, I wanted to be a high school band director. Then I wanted to be a museum curator (actually I still think that'd be cool). And then I moved on to other things... Even in the one year that I've been in library school (which has a fairly obvious career destination--librarian) I've changed what I want to be several times (did you know that there are about a million different kinds of librarians?). I'm still not sure what I'll end up as when I rejoin the world of gainfully-employed people.

I think pursuing your passion perhaps has more to do with creating a lifestyle that allows you to have all your priorities in balance and that gives you opportunities to be your best self, than about choosing between a single passion and some kind of stability.

I've been thinking a lot about lifestyles lately as I'm getting to a point where I think that the light I see ahead is actually the end of the tunnel, not just an oncoming train. Before I started grad school I worked professionally for a year, and the lifestyle I led then would never have been sustainable in the long term.  And so I'm trying now to develop a lifestyle that is sustainable--and it's hard. But I think that when you hit the right balance of work/life/hobbies/etc, then you can find fulfillment and both be following your passion and leading a life with the stability you want.

29 January 2013

The New York Times

This semester one of my roommates has a class that requires that she read the New York Times everyday. So she dutifully took out a subscription last week. I'm not sure how much enjoyment she has derived from it, but I definitely am benefiting. this morning I sat down and at breakfast over my morning paper. It was delightful. I already feel more informed about world affairs and I've only read the paper two days out of the last four. It made me feel good that when one of my patrons mentioned how the fire in Brazil a few days ago reminded him about another fire some years back that I actually knew what he was talking about.

It feels good to be even a little bit more informed. I recommend reading a paper for everyone--in print or online, whichever you prefer.

28 January 2013

To multi-task or not to multi-task?

I read  this article last week for one of my classes. It is an interesting article about multi-tasking. I can't say that it revealed anything I didn't already know (i.e. that people are bad at multi-tasking), but the author did express some interesting "side-effects" of his experiment to stop multi-tasking--things like having less stress.It sounds like an interesting experiment. I may have to try it someday. I thought it was a good read. I particularly liked one part at the end where he says that "giving yourself less time to do things could make you more productive." I know that for myself I am most definitely more productive when I am busier. It seems a little counter-intuitive, but I find that if I just have loads and loads of time to get something done in then I have no motivation to do anything.

I've been trying to be more aware of when I try to multi-task and to not do it so much, but I know that I still have a long ways to go.

25 January 2013

When does a pizza stop being a pizza?

yep, that's lettuce on there.
As you are well aware, I love pizza. As I was eating my pizza today I wondered at what point something stops being pizza and it becomes something else. I don't know. I think that as long as it is on a crust I will consider it pizza, though I admit that the one I had today was pretty far removed from traditional pepperoni pizza.

Today I decided that an excellent pizza topping would be sweet potatoes. Because, really, sweet potatoes are delicious and why wouldn't they be delicious on a crust? So I chopped up a couple small ones and roasted them on the stove till they were nice and soft and then threw them on a crust with some cheese. So good. Granted, my crust had been in the freezer a little too long so it ended up being a very thin crust pizza, but that's ok too. I also thought that it would be nice to have something with the sweet potatoes, but I didn't have a lot of other things, so I threw on some romaine lettuce. I figure, people cooks lots of other kinds of leafy greens, why not lettuce? But, I was a little bit wary, so I only put it on part of the pizza.

It turned out pretty good. The lettuce gives it just a little different texture, but it doesn't really change the flavor a lot. I think next time I'll put lettuce on the whole thing. And the sweet potatoes were just as delicious as I figured they would be. They are such a versatile root. I am grateful for them.

24 January 2013

I may be a bit crazy.

Today I spent part of my afternoon volunteering at the library in Charlestown. It's a bit of a hike from my house, but it was nice to do a little service. I helped them set up for a children's event they were having this evening, that involved children getting to pick out two free books of their very own. It sounded pretty cool. I was expecting to be there for a couple hours and had planned my day accordingly, but there were several volunteers so it went quickly. Long story short, I ended up with the better part of 3 extra hours before I had to be at work.

I'm a little bit crazy. Before I left Charlestown I had decided that I was thirsty, but the library there doesn't have a drinking fountain, so I decided I'd walk over to the O'Connell branch of the Cambridge library and use their drinking fountain. It wasn't exactly on my way, but I didn't have any set plans. (Yes, I am aware that there were probably many other drinking fountains on my way--like at the mall I passed--but somehow that didn't occur to me at the time.) So I set off walking. In case any one is wondering, today the high was something like 20 F. And it definitely hadn't hit that high when I was out. And it is windy out--which means that the wind chill factor couldn't have been much above 0 F. Part of my walk took me across a nice long overpass. Yeah. Overpasses are especially windy. And therefore especially cold.

By the time I got to the library I thought my ears would fall off. Turns out that branch doesn't have a drinking fountain either. Luckily one of the librarians took pity on me and got me a cup so I could get water from the sink. yay. Then I traipsed back out in wind (after the other librarian questioned me on the warmth of my pea-coat--which by the way is plenty warm when it's not windy). This time I caught the bus figuring I'd just head down to work and find a book to read there till my shift.

But half way there I realized that this was the perfect opportunity to visit the quilting (/yarn) store I've been meaning to visit since I finished my first crochet project "in the round" (a story for another day). So, like the masochist I am I got off the bus a few stops early and walked to the quilt store a few blocks away. I did find some nice yarn. The ladies at the store were more than helpful and they both thought the hat pattern that I picked was a great one. Eventually I made it to the library. When I walked in, there just happened to be an express copy of the book I put on hold yesterday just waiting for me to check it out. yay. Now I don't have to wait the three or four days for the hold to come in. hehehe.  

Despite the cold, I do think it was a good adventure. Though somehow walking around in the cold and wind really takes it out of you. I think I'll sleep well tonight.

22 January 2013

My Ideal Bookshelf

I feel like this year has started out pretty strong in terms of the books that I've read. I've been quite pleased with most of what I've read.

My Ideal Bookshelf was fascinating. It is a compilation of short (500 ish words) essays written by a variety of important/famous people (granted I'd only heard of a handful of them, but apparently they're famous). Each essay is about that person's "ideal bookshelf." They were asked to pick out the 10 or so books that would be on their perfect shelf. It's an interesting exercise if you think about it because your "ideal bookshelf" actually probably changes from year to year or month to month or day to day. The perfect bookshelf you might have made as a 12 year old is probably quite different from the one you make at 25 or 40 or 87. And they weren't all necessarily a person's favorite books, or even ones they'd read. The essay accompanied a painting of the bookshelf and made for a lovely spread.

It was interesting to see which books cropped up a number of times or who picked a book written by someone else included in this collection.

I'd probably classify the book as a coffee-table type book. It has lovely illustrations and there isn't any particular reason to read it cover to cover straight through. It would be very easy to pick up and read at random. 

I pulled a few interesting quotes from it:

"If a non-fiction book experienced a massive spike in popularity then the idea behind it becomes mainstream and then the book itself disappears." --Chuck Klosterman, pg. 110

"A room is not a room with out books." --Mina Nair, pg. 137

"It's important to leave enough space for other books, ones that don't always line up like iron filings. Let the shelf build itself." --Jonathan Zittrain, pg. 202

"Fashion is a way to inform others about who you are, or who you want to be, without ever opening your mouth." --Robert Verdi, pg. 186

And if my recommendation isn't good enough, there's an article from Fine Books and Collections. It does have a tiny mount of sales-pitching, but the middle part is a good description of the book.

21 January 2013

Almond Cranberry Cookies

Happy MLK day! As a total aside to what this post is really about (cookies) I just wanted to wish you a happy holiday. I took an hour today and went in to Cambridge and participated in a service project at City Hall. They had a variety of activities going on (blanket/scarf making, emergency room kits for children, valentine's day cards for shut-ins, etc.) I met up with some other people in the ward and we made a good stack of valentine's day cards for elderly people in the community. It was a lot of fun. There is something exciting not only about serving, but especially about serving in your own community. It's a lot of fun, and I feel good for having served today.

Now, on to the cookies.

One day last week I was trying to come up with a dessert to take to a dinner. I wanted something fairly light and relatively healthy. Recently Janssen had posted this about her favorite healthy cookie and so while I was at the store I picked up some almond meal and decided to give these a shot. For whatever reason I really struggled to make these right and to follow the directions. First I miss read how much vanilla to put in, so I put in three times as much as I should have, luckily there weren't too many ingredients in there already and so I could dump out some of the vanilla. But then I had to add more water, since some of that dumped out too. And then I miss measured about three other ingredients, necessitating that I increase the whole recipe by about 50%. All told, I really am not sure how much of any ingredient ended up in my cookie dough. But, it turned out ok. The cookies were really quite delicious. They were sweet, but not overly so, and they tasted good, while also feeling healthy. I definitely will have to make these again. And next time I think I will make each cookie a little bigger, because I made them a little too small this time.

18 January 2013


Last weekend I took a load of clothes down to Goodwill and decided that I needed a new vase. Now, we have about half a dozen vases at our house so there really is no reason for me to need one, other than the fact that the bouquets I always buy are always too small for the large vases we have. So, while I was at Goodwill I looked around for a smaller vase. I found one I quite liked--except it was $4! Can you imagine? $4 at Goodwill?? I was astounded. But it was the only one I really liked and so I still paid it. sheesh. Well anyways, today I picked up some more flowers and they do look so nice in the smaller vase. I just love having flowers in my home.

17 January 2013

An epidemic of mumbling

While I was home over Christmas I found this article that was cut out of the newspaper and floating around the kitchen counter. I stopped to read it one day, because it sounded interesting. It's about how to teach teens (and people in general) to speak clearly so that they can be understood and so that they don't mumble. I feel like this is a huge problem that is plaguing our society. In the old days people learned to speak in school and now days they don't. But being able to speak well is still a very important part in our society. How many times do you speak to people in the course of one day? And if you're like me how many times do you have to repeat yourself to make yourself understood? (albeit, part of that problem is probably a lack of listening too, but that's a problem for another day). Card suggests that if we simply slowed down we would speak more clearly. It isn't a race. And yet, how many of us feel the need to race through things that we are saying at the cost of clarity? Read the article, it's really very interesting.

16 January 2013

First day of school

That time is once again upon us. Today is my first day of classes for the semester. I woke up this morning and there was a little bit of light in my room and I remember thinking that it couldn't possibly already be late enough to be light out and that if it was then I was late for work. Luckily that's why I have a clock, so that when I wake up at 4:30 in the morning and I can be comforted in the fact that it is indeed not time to get up. The light coming in my window was just light pollution from the fact that it was snowing. When I got up at a more humane hour I was pleasantly surprised to find it snowing outside and the world nicely blanketed in white. The morning commute wasn't too bad, though I'm glad I left myself a little extra time to get to work, I needed it. With the new semester comes a slight variation in my work schedule, since my class today is a night one. Hopefully classes this semester will be good.

15 January 2013

Dinner for one (or two)

Back in November my ward hosted a Service Auction. Several of the committees in the ward banded together and put together a lovely dinner and silent auction. And many people in the ward (and the two other invited wards) contributed service items for the auction, myself included. I volunteered to cook dinner for someone--the catch was that it had to be on a weekend, since I work weeknights. At length, today I finally prepared this dinner for one of my good friends who won my service item. And since we're pretty good friends her dinner for one really turned into dinner for two, since she came over to the house and enjoyed a pleasant evening with me.

I spent quite a while trying to work out the menu and waffling back and forth on what to serve. They all happened to be new recipes (yeah, I know you're not supposed to use guests--and paying ones at that--as guinea pigs, but what can I say?). I got a couple marvelous vegetarian cookbooks over Christmas and I was just dying to try out some new recipes. More on those later.

So I got this far in writing this post last Friday. My plan had been to take a couple pictures and then post it that night. But you know how good I am at taking pictures. Despite the lack of photo-documentation my dinner was a success. I ended up making a frittata from my Vegetarian Kids' Cookbook, and an apple dessert pizza. They were both pretty delicious. In fact, I'm looking forward to making the frittata again this week. It featured potatoes, peas, and broccoli--three of my favorite vegetables. mmmm, broccoli.

14 January 2013

The Center for Adult Education

Back in the fall I decided that I wanted to take some kind of dance class for fun. I'd heard of the Cambridge Center for Adult Education and knew that they offered all kinds of classes. After looking through their catalog I decided that I wanted to take a tap dancing class. It just sounded like it'd be a nice change of pace from my regular school work. While the classes are quite reasonably priced I wasn't sure if I could make it work in my budget. And then one day before I made a decision about the class it got made for me. I had to get some of the fluids in my car flushed and it cost more than I anticipated, thus eating up any funds for the class. So I set aside that plan for another semester.

Jump forward to December. I decided that the tap class would be perfect for winter because it is an added source of exercise (which I find more difficult to get enough of in the cold weather). This time I jumped on it, and registered for the class and brought my tap shoes back with me from my parent's house. It was a good thing I didn't wait to long to register. A few days later the battery in my car died. If I hadn't already paid for the class I probably wouldn't have gotten to take it this semester either.

So, today it began. It was a lot of fun. There are about a dozen other people in my class, and it was just a lot of fun to spend an hour today tap dancing. Hopefully it will continue so.

10 January 2013

Eggnog Pudding

After I returned from Christmas, naturally one of the first things I did was hit up a grocery store. I noticed that they were still selling eggnog and I figured that since it was still for sale that that meant that I should buy some. One day as I was pouring myself a nice glass of eggnog I noticed that there was a recipe on the side for "eggnog pudding." And you know how I like a nice creamy, gelatinous dessert. Essentially, you just take a vanilla pudding mix and replace the milk with eggnog. I promptly went out and bought a pudding mix--about a week later.  And when I made my eggnog pudding it turned out delicious. So delicious in fact that I forgot to take a picture of it (sounds like me doesn't it?). So you'll just have to imagine what eggnog pudding looks like. I'm sure you're up to the task.

09 January 2013

Sense and Sensibility

With all my free time before classes start I've been re-watching excellent movies. So today I started watching the 2008 BBC version of Sense and Sensibility. I'd forgotten that it stars Dan Stevens. It was a pleasant surprise. The first time I watched this adaptation I remember being impressed with how well Stevens portrayed the mild awkwardness of Edward Ferrars without it being overly awkward. And I was so used to Hugh Grant's very awkward portrayal of him that this was like a breath of fresh air. And now that I've become so familiar with Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley I was very excited to see him walk on screen today. If you haven't seen this adaptation of Jane Austen's novel, I really recommend it. It's fabulously done. Granted I'd expect no less from the BBC.

08 January 2013

On haircuts or the absence of them

Near the beginning of October I got a haircut. It wasn't anything big, just a trim to more or less maintain the short hair I got in the summer (because let's face it, short hair is cooler in the summer, and always uses less shampoo...) I figured I'd go back for another trim either at the end of December, or early January. At the time I got my hair cut in October, my stylist (it makes me feel cool to say that I have a stylist) commented on how well my hair had grown out and that it had more or less just grown into a new style. I thought that was kind of cool.

So somewhere around mid-December, several people (like 3 or 4 maybe) commented on my new haircut; they all liked it. The first time it happened it was weird, but when several people said the same thing I was a little confused. Then I went home for Christmas and everyone there liked my haircut (which didn't surprise me since I hadn't been home in a year, and then I had long hair). And then I came back, and I've gotten 3 or 4 more comments on my recent haircut. Apparently, my hair grew out nicely into a very attractive new hairstyle. In December I was getting a little tired of my hair and was just trying to put off getting it cut so there would be a little more to trim off. But now I'm not sure what I'd even tell my stylist to do. I kind of like the new style (though admittedly I can't really tell how it's different than what it was before). I still don't quite know what to say though when people ask if I just got my haircut. Oh well, one of these days I will get it cut and then it won't be a problem anymore.

Also, for another mildly amusing anecdote. While I was home I had two women from my church compliment me on my haircut. The first told me what a "grown up" cut it was (which is flattering considering my grad-school status). About an hour later a second woman complimented me on how my new haircut made me look "twenty years younger" (do I look like an elementary schooler now? or did I look middle-aged before?) I find the totally different reactions to be quite amusing.

07 January 2013

Textbook Trade-in

Perhaps this information is coming a little late for all you fellow textbook-owners out there, but I have to share my love of Amazon textbook trade-in with you (and no, Amazon is not paying me to talk them up).

How it works is that you start with a textbook that you never want to see again. You go to the textbook trade-in portion of Amazon (books--textbooks--sell your books). Type in the ISBN of your book. Select the right one from any options that come up (usually, there won't be options since ISBNs are unique--it'll just take you straight to the book). Then you can select to trade-in your book for whatever price they list (I've found it's usually a pretty decent deal). Then it takes you through a "check out" type experience, where you select the address you're shipping from and what carrier you want to ship with, etc. Then ultimately, it gives you the shipping label (at no cost to you). You print it out, slap it on the box with your books and drop it in the mail. After Amazon receives your books they will credit your account with however much money in Amazon gift cards.

So, to sum up. Amazon will take your unwanted textbooks off your hands, at no cost to you, with comparatively little inconvenience, and they will give you Amazon money in exchange.

Oh wait, it gets better. Since Amazon sells books to people everywhere if you can't sell your book back to your local bookstore because a new edition came out (or some other equally stupid reason), Amazon may still take it.

What spurred all this was that last night I finally got around to taking care of my textbooks from last semester. I managed to sell both of them back, one for a pretty fair price (I bought it for $60 and sold it back for $40) and the other one I made a profit on--I bought it for $20, and sold it for $22. Ok, so maybe $2 profit isn't much, but in the world of textbooks that's huge. When was the last time you sold a textbook at profit?

04 January 2013

First loaf of bread for the year!

Well, I've made my first loaf of bread for the year. And now I finally get to keep bread in my new bread tin (one of the legacies from my grandmother). I made this recipe for English muffin bread. It's pretty good, though I can't say that it is particularly English muffin like. Granted, I haven't had an English muffin in quite some time, so maybe I just don't remember what they are like, but this feels like normal bread to me. But it is yummy, and so easy to make. I love things that are easy.

03 January 2013

Film Noir

Because the library was closed for New Years, I had the rare opportunity this week to be home in the evening on a weeknight. So I headed over to a friend's house and we made french toast for dinner and watched a movie. We decided to watch Flawless, which (sadly) I'd never heard of. It is a crime thriller/suspense movie about a diamond heist in the 60s set in London. In many ways it felt like a nice film noir movie to me. It's pretty fabulous. 

02 January 2013

Pretzel Bites

 A few weeks ago (before I left for Christmas), I happened across a recipe for "Pretzel Bites."  They looked pretty delicious and incredibly easy. I admit that while this recipe is a gluten-free recipe, I actually just bought regular gluten-laden pretzels so mine would have not been nearly as enjoyable for any of my gluten-free friends. Nevertheless, they are fantastic. I mean who doesn't love chocolate covered pretzels? I made these for a small movie night I had back in December and they went over so well that I connived my mother into buying the ingredients while I was home so I could make some more. My youngest brother (who is 10 years old and a rather picky eater) was a bit skeptical of them at first, but was sold after eating a couple and he really enjoyed helping me make them too. They are an excellent treat for kids to help with.

01 January 2013

New Years!

Happy New Years!