Saturday, April 30, 2011

Gluten Free Lasagna

Yeah, this lasted us two dinners, then lunch ALL week!
 Two weeks ago I borrowed a manicotti recipe from The Food Network's Giada.  I subbed in gluten free lasagna rice noodles and made a lasagna instead of manicotti.  It was amazing!  The main difference between this and regular lasagna was this awesome ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan layer.  (See below.)

I used Prego Original for my marinara sauce and added in a can of diced tomatoes into the top layer. 

You HAVE to try it!  Here's the original recipe from Giada:  Beef and Cheese Manicotti.

Lasagna cheese layer, pre-mixed

Friday, April 29, 2011

Pantry Organization

Back in February, I turned 29.  My mom is the best about sending gifts!  This year I told her that my pantry was in shambles.  We have an open shelf system that Dave made when we moved in due to a lack of cupboard space and it was cluttered with bags of flour and all kinds of odds and ends.  Mom sent me these awesome containers that are clear and have a sort of suction top to them.  She must have gone to every store back home before she finally decided these were what I needed.  Boy, was she right! 

I put all of our bags into these containers and my pantry finally looks organized!  We've got Dave's flour for bread and pizza making (white and whole wheat), my gluten free flour, my baking mix (Pamela's), powder sugar, sugar, brown sugar, gluten free oats, regular oats, corn meal, corn starch, coffee, quinoa, gluten and gluten free pasta, and rice!

Today is my mom's birthday and all I managed to send her was a vase of flowers.  Happy Birthday Mom! This is one of those days where it would sure be nice to live a little closer to home. 

I just finished my last day of class yesterday and am desperately trying to grade everything so I don't have to take any papers with me on my trip to Boston for the Polar AMS conference on Sunday.  I'll be back less than 24 hours before finals, so I had to write two of my finals and make copies already yesterday.  One more to write and a whole lot more grading to go, but my semester is nearing its end.  I am really excited for a few weeks off before summer session starts up, but I can't jump the gun just yet.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Peeps Show

There is a long history of my infatuation with peeps, particularly the yellow bunnies.  These folks took it a step further and made peep dioramas.  I love clicking through them each year to see what people come up with.  2010 was so much better than 2011.  Here's the link.

This is their winner from 2010, entitled "Eep."
For their winning diorama based on the Pixar flick "Up," Michael Chirlin and Veronica Ettle of Arlington constructed a miniature Victorian house from plywood and Popsicle sticks, and placed it atop salvaged mattress springs to give it an airborne quality. Up ," Michael Chirlin and Veronica Ettle of Arlington constructed a miniature Victorian house from plywood and Popsicle sticks, and placed it atop salvaged mattress springs to give it an airborne quality.


Not my pillow, but imagine my excitement when running across this guy!
 Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 23, 2011


This sly squirrel enjoys eating our bird seed.  Every now and again, he lifts the whole feeder off its hook and drops it on the ground.  Whenever one of us sees him do it, we go out and yell at him.  I've even thrown flip flops at him.  Nothing keeps him away!  He cleaned us out today.  I'm going to have to look into ways to keep him away.  Any ideas? 
Our poor bird feeder is being assaulted by a squirrel!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Spring Snow

Last night it was pouring rain and we even had a tiny bit of lightning.  This morning I woke up to a few inches of snow!  I decided to make myself a latte before my shower, wandered into the kitchen and was shocked!  It was super heavy and our tree had a hard time with it since its blossoms just came out.  I went out and shook it off.  I was ready to spend my day playing in the snow, but remembered it was a school day and ran back inside to get ready.  It was nearly all melted by the time I got home and Denver had none.  :( 

Last weekend I went for a hike out the back of our neighborhood near the flatirons and everything was crispy!  It is DRY here.  A few pine trees had been blown over by the wind and lay there just waiting for a spark.  We are in a major drought on the front range and I am a little relieved that we got so much liquid in this last system.  Now we just need a few more! 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


"I don't watch TV!" I arrogantly claim when my students ask if I've seen the latest whatever or when they ask what channel news I watch.  As if!  As if I'd sit around and watch some local reporter tell me about all of the depressing things that have happened locally that day and get a bunch of meaningless headlines that are made to get my blood pressure up but have zero researched or useful information behind them.  I recently even stopped my Time Magazine subscription because, frankly, I don't care for it anymore.  My Google Reader kicks your magazine's butt any day! 

People talk of American Idol and some funny TV show that is now on Wednesday nights and I can't contribute to the conversation.  They reference Saturday Night Live skits and make fun of artists who sing about days of the week.  They speak of basketball tournaments, baseball seasons, and Superbowl commercials.  Really, though, I don't watch TV.

I used to turn on the Food Channel or HGTV when I got a weekend moment to myself, but then our perks at the cable company wore out and now we get basic cable, which kind of comes with our internet or maybe we pay $5 for it.  This is for the better, though.  The Food Channel just makes me hungry and HGTV just makes me want to buy a house.  When the cheapest house in my neighborhood runs about half a million dollars, it's simply unhealthy to dream of owning.  Plus, when the hell did Bravo turn into the housewives of ______ channel?

I do, however, watch instant streaming Netflix whenever the mood strikes me.  I'm pretty sure this appears in that book, Things White People Like.  I'm white, and I don't watch live TV, but I'll watch movies and old TV shows on Netflix. My Netflix runs through the PS3 and appears on my TV, so it's LIKE I watch TV. 

Here's the difference.  You go home and say, "Yay!  It's Thursday!  Grey's is on!!!!"  You sit through annoying commercials and are left hanging at the end of an episode.  Why not wait a few years, then go back and watch it on Netflix commercial-free and you can seamlessly go from one episode to the next as your heart desires.  You can watch Grey's on a Monday!  Or a Saturday!!!  Imagine the possibilities!

I'm currently on Season 2 of Lost.  This came out in 2005 and it is hard to believe I waited this long to get sucked in.  What an amazing show thus far!  If you've never given it a try, Netflix streaming has all(?) seasons right now.  Be careful, set rules, it is addictive!

Of course books are a nice alternative to TV as well.  I fall asleep to one every night and have recently phased out the reading of textbooks before bed.  REAL books it is!

Anyone else out there use the 'net for their entertainment and forgo the live television?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Green bean or asparagus deliciousness

It is asparagus season!  Part of decreasing your carbon footprint and saving society from global warming one little bit at a time, should include trying to eat seasonal foods grown nearby.  Hey, they taste better and are more nutritional than foods that spent days in the back of a truck or on a ship before getting to your grocery store anyway!  I mean, eating watermelon in January is just plain wrong!  Take it from a girl who just ate hard, tasteless tomatoes from my local grocer for lunch.  Yuck!

Asparagus is one of the first veggies to pop up out of the ground in the spring, usually around mid-April, but depending on your latitude (sorry, Mongolia), or hemisphere (hey there, Australia!), you might have to wait a little longer before bunches of local asparagus pop up at your local farmer's market or grocery store.

We always had an asparagus patch at my parents house.  I think my grandparents are to thank for starting it, since asparagus takes a few years to really take and start producing.  My grandparents owned our orchard before we did and they did a good job of planting a little of everything (apples, cherries, bing cherries, pears, plumbs, grapes, strawberries, and asparagus).  Anyway, before dinner most nights in early spring, my mom and I would go down to the asparagus patch with a bowl and a steak knife, and cut ourselves a family-size serving of asparagus.  A few months into the season, we let the patch grow out and all of the little asparagus became trees, which I assume seeded for next year's batch.  

Last weekend, good friends came over for fajitas and we made a green bean salad to go with it.  This original recipe calls for asparagus!  Perfect!  I suggest adding carrots or green beans, but if we're sticking with the seasonal veggies, asparagus is it.

The cilantro, garlic, jalapeno dressing is killer!  Sliced, sauteed almonds top this dish.  It is craving-worthy!

You can find the recipe here at 101 cookbooks:  Carrot-Almond Salad.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Chemistry is fun, science is awesome!

I teach an integrated science class that covers physics and chemistry and this semester I tried a new chem lab that I thought was pretty successful.  Each semester I tend to forget how labs are set up or problems that we had the semester before, so this year I started taking pictures while we were doing the labs so I can remember the next time!  Here's a few fun pics from my chem lab last week.

Okay, so the only balloons at King Soopers had smiley faces on them.  I think it adds a nice touch.  This was Alka seltzer and water creating carbon dioxide.   

Ammonia + epsom salt solution = gel precipitate

Steel wool soaked in vinegar to remove outer layer rusts really quickly, using oxygen and sucking the balloon into the flask. 

I included this just to bring back chemistry nightmares for those of you who haven't seen it since high school.  Muahahaha!  My students will learn how to balance chemical equations next week, but they learned from this lab that mass is always conserved.  I say that they learned it with confidence that it was actually learned, which is not typical of all of my labs.  
This week my students will present to me a project they can do with their future elementary school students to promote science.  I usually get some really neat projects!  I did mine for them the other day and we made a battery out of six lemons, zinc coated nails, copper (old pennies will do), a tiny LED light, and some alligator clips.  It worked and it was so easy.  I'm excited to see what they come up with this year!

Science is awesome, and the more MY students think so, the more they'll inspire their future students to think so.    Not only do we need more scientists and engineers in the US, we need everyone, particularly journalists, to have a general appreciation and understanding of what we do.  Therefore, when science appears in the news in some form, it gets reported properly and the audience is capable of understanding it at a level beyond a headline. A few examples from today's news include ignorance about climate change among politicians and the general public as well as ignorance about nuclear energy safety and fear of the seemingly magical processes that takes place inside a reactor.

Think how easy it was to inspire young children to become scientists and engineers when we had an active space program and President Kennedy said, "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard."  Then you see these inspirational astronauts and the teams behind them actually going to the moon!  What sort of equivalent do we have in today's society?  Today, great scientists in my field have had their reputations dragged through the mud by politicians and the media.

So, I only can touch 100 students each semester and inspire a fascination about science, whether it be physics, chemistry, meteorology, or next fall, climate science.  (And no, I am not naive enough to believe that all of them leave my class inspired.)  How can I make a bigger impact?  How can I educate a public that doesn't care about education?  Help!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Spring has sprung

I spent my morning in the sun on the hammock reading and it felt amazing!  I needed a sun break, so I came in for lunch and some blogging, but am heading right back out for a walk after this.  The unidentified tree in our yard has started blooming its blossoms, the tulips are close to peaking out, and the lilac bush is starting to bud.

Our fence will eventually have lush grapevines ensuring privacy and creating a jungle-feel in our tiny condo yard.  We have ivy that likes to creep across our grass and crawl up everything.  Between the grape vines and the ivy, it is a jungle out there!  I can't wait for the lushest time of the year.  I just hope that our intense drought still allows for a lush season!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Things I am looking forward to

I seem to have made it over some sort of mid-semester hump where my to-do list seems finite, my schedule is manageable, and I can work on tasks that aren't due the very next day.  It's crazy when your 40-hour a week job only takes 40 hours a week, right?  Don't worry, I plan on making up this hour on Sunday. 

Therefore, I think it's time to lay out a few things that I'm super excited about that now seem within reach
1.  I joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and come mid-June, I'll get a box of organic, locally grown veggies every week until December!  I also have to put in 18 hours on the farm, which I hope will bring back some nostalgic feelings of my apple orchard back home.  I went with Grant Family Farms due to positive experiences my friends have had with them.  I can't wait to start getting these mystery boxes and cooking new foods!  I'm currently reading Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle where she and her family eat locally for a year and reading it each night is making me crave vegetables like crazy!  My lettuce in the garden can't seem to come up quickly enough for me.  My 4X8' plot is clearly not going to sustain me, so the CSA is my key to reducing my carbon footprint via eating local foods.  My garden, after the lettuce finishes, will consist of only tomatoes and basil if I have my way.  I look forward to sharing food ideas with you as things get rolling! 

2.  I'm going to Boston for a week!  I have a conference in Boston coming up and I'm excited to spend a few extra days there and check out this historic city.  You should let me know where to stay and where to visit while I'm there if you're at all familiar. 

3.  I am only teaching two days a week for 8 weeks this summer, which means I can work from home the majority of the summer.  I worked from home last summer and loved it.  I worked maybe 6 hours a day, read out by the pool, gardened, cooked, and got lots of class prep done.  I'm only on a 9 month contract, so technically, I don't get paid for summer work, but I can't keep myself from working.  Summer school will give me a tiny amount of extra cash, maybe just enough to pay for a few plane tickets I have to buy for summer travel (wedding, family vacations, extra days in Boston at $200 a night).  This leads me to my next one...

4.  I am going to teach a new class in the fall for freshman called "Global Climate Change" and I am dying to get to May so I can start prepping for it.  My colleague and I proposed this course ourselves, so I can't wait to put all of these great ideas into action. I'm also putting this goal out there, that I'd like to get back into my Greenland research since shit is hitting the fan on Greenland with that whole melting thing and I'd like to help out in any way possible in the research world. 

5.  Lastly, since I have to go meet folks for happy hour, I'm looking forward to late-spring weather!  Summer is too hot around here and I don't actually have air conditioning, but late-spring weather is the best!  70's, storms, cool nights, lots of sunshine, it can't be beat!

What are you looking forward to that seems almost within reach?