Summer Time = Good Food

Being that I haven’t posted in a while, I have a lot to talk about, but one thing that has been more on my mind (as it always is this time of year) is food! Wait…I don’t think there is a time of year when I don’t get excited about food! Summer is an amazing time for food, especially when you have good friends and family that farm and garden, and got their crops out earlier than you and have things ready to eat! My favorite summer food; tomatoes! My husband’s family introduced me to my first garden fresh tomato, and I haven’t looked back! I don’t even buy them in the winter time, and if a salad has tomatoes on it, I push that mess to the side! I am a bit spoiled. Mama Kay Lynch has a ton of summer recipes, and one of my favorite is this tomato pasta salad she adapted from a side dish served at Lambert’s Cafe (home of the throwed rolls). Anyone touring through Missouri, or in Alabama has to stop by a Lamberts. they only have three locations, unlimited side (the tomato salad, fried okra, fried taters) and yes, they literally throw the rolls at you! Best dining experience of your life! Me and the husband are lucky enough to have family in, or close to two of the locations lambert’s has, so we have had our share! So yeah, Kay created her own version of the tomato salad, and I have to say, I like it better than Lambert’s! shhh….don’t tell! But it’s simple, and so delicious! Without further ado, here’s what you need!

-tomatoes (depending on how big the bowl, one to two medium sized ones)
-elbow macaroni
-lots of bacon
-onion
-salt and pepper to taste

get your noodles boiling, however you cook it! I oil and season the water.

cut up the bacon into small cubes ( I have those kitchen scissors that you use to cut chicken and other raw things. ) cook up until crisp

while waiting on the bacon and pasta to cook, cut up your tomatoes into cubes (you can cut the skin off first if you prefer) and cut your onion, and put it all in a big bowl.

drain and rinse your pasta in cold water, add to the bowl

add the delicious delicious bacon!

salt and pepper that mess and mix it up with a big spoon! You will prolly want to eat it straight from the bowl, I guess you can resist temptation, that’s optional of course.

So there is my first recipe for the summer! Hopefully I will be sharing a lot more as the crops come rolling in. I am still eagerly anticipating the ripening of many of my crops, in the mean time, I’m sure my fellow gardeners will keep me well stocked! So, go cook delicious food! sniff your tomatoes hard, and enjoy thier summer flavors!

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Can’t Tell Me No!

Spring has finally arrived, fashionably late as usual! but it is here!!! So, that means leaving the confines of our houses, and venturing outside! Time to come out of hibernation and start scratching our backs on the trees people! Me and Adam have quite literally hit the ground running with transforming our yard. Like I mentioned in previous posts, we bought our house short sale, and there were renters occupying our house (more like wrecking it!) and with every wall we paint, or ceiling we fix, or bush we remove, we rid more and more the personality of the previous owners, and making this house ours! Along the way we are cursing every terrible choice the previous owners made of course, but I think we are finally making moves! I have to say, I had no idea how much I would enjoy yard work! I am sore, exhausted, and my laundry is getting backed up, but there is a serious sense of pride when you know that you dug that hole your self to plant the gorgeous hydrangea bush , you cut that ugly bush with the thorns down, you burned that other bush you hate, and yelled ‘burn bitch burn’ at it’s flames. It’s amazing! Funny story, at the bank when I’m telling the stories of working in the yard, I have ladies tell me “let your husband do that stuff”…they walk away, and I say hell no! first of all, not my husband! second of all, why should he get to have all the fun! power tools, and manual labor is no longer just for boys!
We have been doing a lot of purging in our yard, but we have also been doing a lot of rebuilding, and trying to restore our little piece of land, trying to get grass to grow, growing some more attractive bushes and flowers, and we have a garden! Our garden is part of another adventure we are starting. 1. we are inviting people to come grow things in our garden for a kind of mini community garden and 2. we are going to try our hand at canning and preserving some things, and once it gets cooler, we are going to try to create our own mini green houses! more to come once the fall hits of course!

Now on to my next topic, zombie running, or running away from zombies rather! It’s actually going pretty well, the hardest part is still getting up early (as usual). Me and Adam ran together one day, and that was actually really helpful, he runs so much faster, mostly due to his long legs! But, I pushed myself harder to keep up a steady pace. I haven’t spent as much time at the gym lately, mostly because i have spent so much time outside! Don’t worry, I will be going back, I’m just not ready to go back inside yet! So some things that I think has been helping my running adventure; hiking! me and Adam went to the pinnacles a couple of weekends ago, and It was a great workout, it made me feel empowered (as hiking always does!) and when it came to doing my run on Tuesday, I felt more ready to dominate the run, and to push myself harder. Why? I think it’s because cross training is essential to being successful. I get bored easier the older I get. So, mixing up my routine has really taken my workouts to another level! I do feel like I need to rest my body more in between work outs, but it has helped tremendously! I’m not an expert by any means, so I could be completely wrong! but, it’s working for me so far! I also feel like talking about it helps. Recently at work we have all started our own adventure to healthier lives, and we get excited to talk about what we are eating and what we are doing, and that helps, because I feel like we hold each other accountable, or at least I feel a little accountable, and it makes me feel good to motivate someone else to stick to their goals. What are my goals? to be strong and healthy, and energetic! Of course I want to run a 5K this year, and I’ve always loved the outdoors, and I just want to be stronger so I can enjoy more of those things without being exhausted or not having the energy. Like I said, can’t tell me no!
well, here’s some pictures of our house! I’m like a proud mama!

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Challenge Accepted! June Edition Part 1

So we’ve made it to Day 19 of our June Challenge.  Time to tip our hands on at least part of our challenge work so far.

Our very own bees

For my lino print, I started with a simple sketch of a honeybee with random honey comb. I have an arguably (not so) strange attraction to honeybees. At least four generations of my dad’s family have kept hives of domesticated bees, successfully introduced wild swarms into built apiaries, and collected jars of honey and comb.  I’ve spent many summer evenings in lawn chairs situated just behind and off to the side of hives watching the straggler workers return home, their rear legs heavy with pollen deposits, as the hive slowly settled down into a composite fuzz of a social collective.  As long as we brought their sugar water early enough in the morning and sat quietly at night, they didn’t mind the audience. Our honey tasted of sourwood and clover and the comb was candy. We don’t collect as much honey these days, in spite of mite strips and other remedies, but I would gladly give beekeeping a shot again once I had my own land. In the meantime, I’ll make prints.

Outlined with SharpieI started from a simple sketch and transferred it as best I could, under the advisement of the patient and noble Professor Staci, to the linoleum square by poking holes in the main lines of the sketch and then tracing the sketch with a Sharpie marker in such a manner that the ink bled through the pinholes to lightly stipulate the image on the lino. I have always enjoyed the entomological/anatomical look as a science fantasy throwback to pulp era. Could I pin bugs? Not sure. But I like their lines, segments, and symmetry. I always remind myself, though, that “Organisms vary.” So my bee giving the viewer the stink eye is just an expression of the variance in heritable traits that allow for Darwinian natural selection. Right? Right.

Free-handed Honeycomb!As always, my personal hang up is making the first mark. Or in this case, the first cut with the lino tool. But after I chilled and channeled a bit of the Huber Farms Starlight White provided by the generous and wise Professor Dez, I got to carving. And, wow, I didn’t realize how physically rewarding this project would be. Once I got into a rhythm, I figured this could be an extremely effective destressor. I randomly threw in some honeycomb that kind of reminded me of organic chemical rings.

Artist's ProofThe most exciting and tangibly rewarding part of the night was no doubt the printing process. It was neat to roll the ink, coat the print and then use additional physical force to transfer the image. Despite the fact that it was midnight on a work night, I couldn’t keep the smile off my face. I really liked how my print turned out and the process my friends taught me to get there.

I enjoyed this printing technique so much that I hope to develop it into a skill. As a preview of the June Challenge Part 2, I plan to continue my Honeybee series, with a print of an empty lawn chair situated to the side and behind an apiary. This print will involve lots more carving so that the lines of the picture are black and the background light. I have an initial sketch but need to work on the composition/perspective type things that I have no clue about. Luckily, my husband lent me his copy of How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, which I am thrilled to check out and touched that he offered. I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

One fish at a time

I now work in a lab where my primary responsibility is the care and feeding of research zebrafish along with all the requisite fish room maintenance, and brine shrimp and paramecium culture. We have 1000+ fish in the room at any given time from embryo to adult on a large central filtration equipped aquatic housing system, a small stand alone aquatic housing system, static table top tanks, and the 28.5 degree incubator. I love it.

A lot of people ask me why there are labs that use zebra fish as model organisms. What use are they in research and how do they practically relate to human disease. In short, they are good genetic model organisms because you can house them at a relatively high density, a pair can make hundreds of embryos in a week that will reach sexual maturity after only a few months, their embryos develop externally and it is easy to develop lines of fish with specific mutations relevant to the study of certain human diseases. Our lab specifically works on retinal degeneration and a variety of genes expressed in retinal development.

One of my more zen job activities of late has involved a system wide changing of tanks in efforts to battle a progressive algal invasion that had flourished between the departure of the last technician and my arrival. Transferring all the fish to new tanks is probably one of the most relaxing jobs I’ve had in a lab setting. But one thing I’ve found is that, in the end, your net size is limited.  Sometimes you just can’t cast it any wider. In spite of this fact, I try to wait for the perfect moment when the fish align so in one fell swoop, I can clear half the tank. Unfortunately, this does not work. The fish scatter and none into the net. Instead, I have learned that catching one fish at a time, repeatedly over a longer period of time is a much more reliable method. It may not make complete sense, but that’s how I’ve been getting stuff done lately.

What stuff you may ask? Capstone stuff, family stuff, friend stuff, cat-sitting stuff, home organization stuff, work stuff, and fun stuff. Capstone is keeping my mind busy even when I’m not working on it. I would much rather be writing to my Errant Easel friends, reading Hellbent by Cherie Priest, writing novels, knitting cowls, visiting University exhibits on 120 Years of Bugs, playing an Eladrin Sun Elf Mage who bends the universe and people to her will as part of her obsessive compulsive tendencies, rolling up a Legend of the Five Rings character, picnicking in the park, shopping for home accessories, organizing cabinets…

Going to have to stop there, it’s starting to sound a bit…depressing, really. Thankfully, I have a great team of life coaches on call 24-7 who include the great minds of Simplesaurus, Adam Lynch, D3Z, and Stacigilliam. Hoping to wow them with a completed introduction sometime this week. For now, that’s the fish I am staring down through the murky tank walls. I’ll keep you updated, particularly with procrastination posts reviewing recent publications and events in our area (I have a backlog in my mind!).