Monday, December 14, 2009

the greatest commandments.

I've been talking about community for a little bit now, but not actually voiced (typed?) my intentions. Read on.

Columbus has a lot of needs. Columbus has a lot of people. Columbus has a lot of resources. Columbus has a lot of churches. Sound like an oxy moron? One way to bring restoration and community revitalization is to create a sense of community beyond the church pews and free coffee. (Which I know how to make now, by the way. Made my first kraft of coffee in my life on Sunday!) The goal is to bring together a small "community" of people who are passionate about bringing restoration and revitalization to neighborhoods in Columbus.

The greatest commandments, according to Jesus, are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself. This means the house will intentionally plan to hold each other accountable for loving God, for loving His world, for loving oneself, and for loving neighbors. We'll commit to spending time with neighbors, building relationships, using our talents where it helps, and creating new talents when ours wouldn't. (I'm sensing a pi-day party...) I would like to not have this be a piece of a particular church, but supported by the Church in the broad sense. And it will probably end up running under the umbrella of a church to allow for donations, grants, and funding allocations from the church. For example, I could apply for a grant to create a community garden, and get neighborhood kids in on the planting and picking. Someone else could give music lessons and we could have a Christmas carol sing-along. We could have a "supply closet" of coats, mittens, bicycles, things that others around us might be in need of.

What would you get behind? What  needs do you see in Columbus?
If you want to talk more with me about this, please do! We don't know exactly what it will look like, but we're in the midst of forming backbones and when the group solidifies, we'll be working on the details.

"Let us live with passionate worldliness in the brilliant and fleeting time of our mortal life, and let our witness to peace grow out of the convictions of our faith, the audacity of our hope, and the generosity of our love. Let us never forget that the community of Christ exists as a structure with four sides open to the world."
 - Charles Marsh, The Beloved Community: How faith shapes social justice, from the Civil Rights movement to today , p.213

 I am currently making an Egyptian lentils dish (kusherie) and if you feel like learning - when lentils are browning on medium heat in a large pan, and you have to add three cups of boiling water - be prepared. Lentils act like Mexican jumping beans! That was a fun few seconds - lentils were flying out everywhere, a foot above the Dutch oven. And yes, I made a note in my cookbook. It says "CAUTIOUS: POPCORN IMITATION" by that step.

Friday, December 11, 2009

You can't always get what you want -

Still in love with butternut squash, and it's still sort-of in season, which means I pretend to like it even more. I made a butternut-squash-spinach lasagna - which is in the background, because that's where it deserves to be. For some reason, lasagna is my kitchen enemy. Oven-bake noodles? Yeah, right. "Easy?" Yeah, right. It tasted okay, but it would never make it in Ben's slice of pie and lasagna restaurant. Something tells me people like their noodles as a part of the lasagna.

However, the silver lining - or orange-lining is that I used the leftover squash to make hash/ diced/ fry-like things. I made them like sweet potato fries, with basil and oregano and some olive oil, and then I also sprinkled some with italian-seasoning bread crumbs. Delicious.



Thanks to all who gave recipes. I only made sugar cookies, but now I have about 15 other kinds that I guess I will have to make for just me. Below, see me working so hard to roll out the dough that I'm blurry! Note the lovely flour towel underneath.. thanks, Grandma!



The table with cookies, decorators, eaters, ... They were impressed by my cooking skills. They would not be impressed if they'd seen meals (or knew that I was trying to make a brussel sprouts and pancetta dish right now, but with bacon instead of pancetta, and vinegar instead of cider vinegar... At least I like bacon!)




Like true Buckeyes, they settled into making sugar cookies into spectacular shapes.


Can I also commend Pandora on their music selections? I mean, I know I'm recommending the artists (and yes, Pandora, you should develop a way to "hide stations") Or develop a "Glee" station.

More will be coming shortly - I have other updates too!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Looking for best Christmas-y (and that's flexible) cookie recipe!

I'm planning a small Christmas cookie party for the girls in my program from Korea - they've never made Christmas cookies before!
Obviously, we'll be making and decorating sugar cookies. And no faux-sugar cookie recipe like I tried last year, no vegan recipe that I've been dying to try, just for fun. This one will just be the tried-and-true good stuff.

But I think we'll need a second recipe, and I'm having trouble deciding which one. The ones I want to make (and yes, these are all real links) are Chocolate-Hazelnut Thumbprint cookies or Macadamia Butter cookies, or Tingalings. I recently received another issue of Cooking Light and it had an almost-infinite number of dessert recipes that I wanted to try. What recipes shout CHRISTMAS COOKIES? Or - what is so delicious that I shouldn't pass it up?

Speaking of Christmas... Whenever I run into movie/ television quotes that I like, I try to remember them whether they're situation-specific or not. (Hey, if I ever get pregnant and go visit the adoptive children of my future unborn children asks if my parents are worried about me, I have an answer... Or if I'm ever out on an African safari and the pride's king has died and the son comes to me for advice and I don't want him to worry, totally covered.) What this also means is that... between the snow and the first Sunday of Advent, I knew it was time to watch Elf.
And I've made a commitment to myself that if I ever ruin someone's life and have to leave them only with a note, I won't be able to resist: I'll have to cram 11 cookies into the VCR just to be able to use the quote.

"I'm sorry that I ruined  your lives and crammed 11 cookies into the VCR."

On a related note, cookie recipes don't have to be skinny enough to fit into a DVD player. So no need to worry about that.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Caramelizing your dreams... Delicious.

I made a delicious meal the other day - if I may say so myself. I recently rented a cookbook from the library (A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen) and found a recipe for the slow-cooking, caramelized onions. This recipe required me to open up a bottle of wine (thank you, online directions!) which I completed successfully.
After slicing the onions, you cook them for a few minutes (until soft) in butter or olive oil, then add white wine to the pan and let the onions simmer for about 30 minutes. Then, the lid comes off and you stir constantly so that the "brown goo" (book's words!) gets incorporated into the onions for another 25-30 minutes. Sorry that there are no measurements, but that's not really my cooking style. I mean, who really wants to clean out a half-cup, and a whole-cup, and a teaspoon... when estimations rarely* mess up?
*Note: ALWAYS measure baking powder and baking soda. ALWAYS. Or it's gross.


There's the browning onions. Cooking these onions meant I had to use them, so my next thought was "What can I eat these with?" So I cooked up some Giant Eagle tri-color tortellini, red bell pepper, and broccolini. That's a real vegetable! When the tortellini was almost done, I put the veggies into the water to steam them.

I paired it with white sauce from More with Less (yes, you knew that was coming...) which is just some melted better, some flour (really, measurements here just make it thinner/ thicker. I think it's 2 T of each?) After that gets all clumpy (yum?), you add in 1 c milk (ooor you add in some dry milk powder and water without measuring and just spend the rest of the cook time trying to fix the consistency) and I also added in some cheese and the caramelized onions to make the pasta sauce. I broiled bread with butter and garlic powder for garlic toast, as you can see in the background.


And it was delicious. Sprinkled with parmesan.


You might be asking yourself, "Julie, why are you doing this food thing? You are not as good at photographing, much less cooking, as Bakerella, Joy the Baker, Technicolor-Kitchen ... (insert other good ones in the comments!) And you don't really redeem yourself with the so-called "writing skills" either."
To you, I say ... "So what?"

Just kidding. To you, I say - there's a metaphor behind this one! Sometimes, you have a great idea - something you really want (like caramelized onions). And you can daydream about caramelized onions, but there are some logistical things you have to think through first. Such as, what does "dry white wine" mean? Answer: cheapest wine at Giant Eagle. And "What time is okay to buy wine on a Monday morning since they don't sell it on Sunday evenings?" Answer: At least 8:40 am! Beyond the logistics, there are accompaniments. I started with my idea of the gooey, sweet, brown onions, and compiled a healthy(-ish) meal. I needed a grain, some vegetables... And I wanted it all to taste good together.

It was an analogy for this dream of forming a community/ household that's intentional about forming relationships with each other and with the community around. I've got a few conversations scheduled with pastors to start the conversation, but I'd love to hear more thoughts. I've got the dream - and it has the potential to be better than caramelized onions. I do need to think through the logistics (set it up as a 501-3c? Contracts?) and through accompaniments, like what it would look like. Some of you have started to send met other programs - keep doing it! I'm welcoming knowledge, advice, anything but a "this is stupid and onions give you bad breath anyway." (Time to quit the metaphor? Fine.)

My mother and I are enjoying each other's company and cooking a pre-Thanksgiving dinner tonight, including:
Butternut Squash with Mustard Vinaigrette
Stuffed Turkey Rolls with Cranberry
And for dessert... This. That's right. I did it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Intentional living/ Christian community

"God is not satisfied with the state of this house [the world], and he calls us to share in his holy dissatisfaction.

In our hearts he wants dissatisfaction and hope to kiss. He wants us, every day that we live, to embrace the gospel promise of a world made new. He wants our lives to be shaped by uncompromising honesty and undiminished hope.

He wants us to face how bad things really are, not as survivalists but as restorers. He wants to pick us up in his hands and use us as the hammers, saws, and screwdrivers of a brand new world. He wants us to believe that because of what he has done there is hope for new beginnings and fresh starts.

...One day his work will be over and the world will be completely renewed. In the meantime, he calls you and me to live in this broken-down house with hearts of patience and eyes of promise. He calls us away from paralyzing discouragement and the nagging desire to quit. He welcomes us to live in the patience and grace that only he can give."

- Paul Tripp, Broken-Down House, p.20-21



I'm going to use the phrase "on a kick" but realize that, as a marathoner (har har), "kick" is more like an ongoing, long-distance thing. Metaphorically, I'm not kicking a corner shot (enter appropriate soccer term?) but kicking an ultra-marathon in the butt. That said - I'm on a kick to be in an intentional living/ Christian community. I have sat at my computer, drooling over certain websites and examples, but recently realized
I can do something about this, after someone asked me "Why don't you do something about this?. (I want to make that the subtitle, but little blogger doesn't allow for subtitles. Or italics in the titles. Enter subtitle in the middle of the entry.)


I agree with Tripp's quote and think that an intentional community would help create an environment of hope and restoration. Hopefully, I can get some Columbus conversation started about this!

Friday, November 6, 2009

So much joy!

Currently, I'm sitting in a swimmer house in Grand Rapids under a blanket (not a Snuggie. How will I survive the weekend without Megan's?) I visited Catherine Ferguson Academy in Detroit yesterday - it was amazing. There was so much joy radiating from the educators, students, their kids, and the principal. The student who gave me a tour was very friendly, and interested in psychology - really talking and working with people. I thought it was great that she got to do everything she did. Hopefully, I will share more, but the point of this post is following... If you want more information on the fact that the students for biology had to CATCH their own chicken to dissect from the farm, you can watch this video. Formaldehyde is bad for pregnant women, so dissections had to be - fresh? live? There's a term for it.
www.grownindetroitmovie.com

Before I appear to be a rude guest (I already skipped out on the 6:15 am dryland session) - does anybody have interest in coming to the OSU/ Iowa game this weekend? I think I have tickets.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Unanswerable letters


thank you, Columbus. (marathon training group + a sister)

Dear Makers of Snuggie,

I believe I have found something that is better to do in a regular blanket than in a Snuggie. I was sitting at my computer, wearing my roommate's OSU Snuggie, pretty much looking as attractive as I get - as I'm sure my Michigan fan-friends agree - when the timer rang for the cookies. Unfortunately, cookie tray removal is something that is harder in a Snuggie than in a regular blanket. While I often appreciate the sleeves, they do not act as effective potholders. While I often get annoyed that I slouch enough for the Snuggie to slip forward off my shoulders, it is ever-so-much-more annoying when it slips forward into the oven's vicinity. Luckily for me and my lack of renter's insurance, I was able to handle the difficulty. But, Snuggie Makers, if I were to make a commercial for a regular blanket, I might use an anti-Snuggie moment of pulling cookies out of the oven. I might not be able to change the channel or answer the phone, but I would be able to lean into heated kitchen appliances.

Your fan,

Me.

Dear Unknown Song,

You were amazing last night at Veritas' service. I knew I would want to copy down the lyrics and listen to you on repeat, but I only remember one line ("you are strong, when I am weak") which is, apparently, in quite a large number of Christian songs. If I figure it out, or we sing it again - I will be sure to give you credit for slowing me down on such a glorious Sunday.

Your fan,

Me.

To My Personal Library,

Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge on factors influencing parenting teens and educational attainment and program evaluations of community groups desiring to help. If only there was a nationally representative sample of data, or more input on the directionality of the influence... But alas, poor Yorick, it seems like this will be a good topic to write a 10-12 page paper on these methodological issues.

I was intrigued, MPL, by Julia McSweeney (assuming she's related to McSweeney's literary site) and her article in This American Life on learning more about the Bible. She reads the controversy, which most people do skip right over, and makes some great points that are worth discussing. For example, Jesus speaks in parables all the time - not even His disciples understand - why didn't he just switch to speaking so that others would know what He meant?

Lastly, I am hoping you will continue to grow. I appreciate the time-filling you give me, the time you take away, the non-fiction and the fiction, but I'd love to learn of some good (amateur or not-as-amateur) creative writing blogs. I recently introduced you to Three Stories High, a poetry/ creative venture sight by an educator in Baltimore. Unfortunately, she is so much aligned with my interests that I am afraid to keep looking and find some duds. So, if you want to get to your other library friends (dear readers, this is a metaphor for you) and share any creative writing authors or sites that they enjoy, I would gladly thank them.

Thanks again,

Me.

Dear Grand Rapids,

I am coming to visit in a few weekends. Get excited.

Sincerely,

A Former Resident.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Get ready for the longest post ever - a.k.a. Blame it on the cin-ci-ci-ci-cin-cinnamon....

I am going to try to keep this short, but I kind of had the best. weekend. ever. and want to share it this way in case you don't really care and only want to glance at pictures.

Friday: Family wedding in Cleveland - lots of fun. Also, rented Billy Collins' Sailing Around the Room and The Best American Non-required Reading of 2006 which has some good short stories, Onion headlines, a military blog, and more. I may have officially dropped any desire I previously had to be a barista. On the plus side - nothing like a good laugh, right? We also developed a game where you say a mood (the more obscure, the better) and immediately take a picture. None were on my camera - perhaps Adventures in Waco or facebook will eventually pop up with pantomimed hunger, indignance, and bad-Christmas-present.

Sunday: If you want to see pictures of me running 26.2 miles (don't worry, it's not a 4:33.12-long video), go to marathonfoto.com. My bib number was 4525, and yes, we are doing the Single Ladies dance at the beginning pictures. By the end, Kristi and I are dancing to Miley (we knew two lines) or Taylor Swift (who is quite hard to sing when you're out of breath, turns out.)

Summary of the Columbus marathon - I loved it! I am sore, but not as much as I thought I'd be, and running with the gang was so much fun. I didn't walk at all - but I did not have the stomach to eat Buckeyes at mile 26. Sorry, Mr. Thomas. Great idea, sort of. And if you want a good laugh, ask my friends what it was like to watch me on the subway stairs. And if you too just ran a marathon, and you've heard that walking backwards feels better- it does, but I caution you: walking backwards UP the stairs is not as helpful. You might fall down, back to square zero. (It's worse than square one.)


I had this cake waiting for me, courtesy of my roommate, who cheered me on in a couple of places.


Then, I darted off to a last-minute trip to NYC. Do you all know how much I miss the city? Long story short - I got randomly invited (as an interested observer) to a "convening" / critical conversations meeting on pregnant and mothering teens. People whose research I have been reading for the past few years were in attendance, in addition to educators, NYC lawyers, and community organizers. It was really interesting, and I'm really glad I went. Hopefully, I'll be able to stay in touch with them and possibly have a vested inference in helping the orhan-widow-exile-case of the pregnant and mothering teens. If this interests you, I can tell you more later. Or in future blog posts, you may not have a choice.


The meeting was at Fordham's Lincoln Center campus, so afterward, I walked through Central Park. (I didn't even walk backward for any of this walk!) I stayed with some friends and had a lot of fun. We also briefly played the moods-camera game, but I am not attaching any of those photos. Most with me in them end up looking like the suggested mood was "laughing really hard!" and who wants to put up pictures that they're not in?




We went out to eat Monday night at Dok Suni, a Korean restaurant, and then to Max Brenner's, a chocolate bar. While we may not have had the best experience - entertaining, at least - I had a s'mores sundae that was so rich and tasty I didn't know what to do with myself. Below, you can see the marshmallows - and that's not a spoon-out-of-the-jar-marshmallow creme. It's the real stuff.





Today, I flew back to Columbus. One thinig that I learned on my trip is that my approachable-ness breaches even New Yorkers' codes of conduct. I like hearing random stories, and when randoms say hello to me as I'm searching for cocoa sprinkles in Starbucks.

Long story short - er, long story long - running = awesome. friends = awesome. new york = awesome. convening = awesome. cake + s'mores ice cream + naps = delectable.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mashithhaa conversations

I have been involved in some amazing conversations in the past few weeks - OSU and the COTA bus system has provided me with some great conversation fodder. With big kids, little kids, kids who climb on rocks - many people. (Even kids who have had chicken pox - four times!)

First, the bus system. If you're not aware of "bus etiquette," it generally means - never sit next to somebody unless all possible rows are filled, and maybe offer a nice smile of pity to the person you are forcing to sit with you. I, however, have had a number of different experiences - I must look quite friendly!

One lady was going to be a caseworker because she thought she could really help people, which is awesome, and one younger guy was impressed by my attending grad school. I asked him what he wanted to do - and he stuttered for a minute before laughing and saying I asked him too quick. (He turned to his friends, who had taken up the last empty seats, to share his mirth.) I tried to remember a time when I didn't have at least three responses to the question "What do you want to do?" Granted, it's ranged from ice skater to actress to math teacher to my current answer of "research question mark" ... but I've always had one. I wish I could run into him again so that I could find out if he'd dreamed up a goal yet.

I've also had a conversation end with the rock and the guy telling me (censored version), "God's f-ing awesome!" These stories neglect to mention random guy who was stunned by me.

Other conversations have been with my cohort. I ate a real Korean dinner a few nights ago, even eating anchovies (because they couldn't remember the name in English, I didn't know what they were until they were up close, in my sesame leaf.) The whole meal (spicy hot soup, sesame leaf "wraps" with bulgogi and other toppings, and rice) was really good and four of the five Korean students in my program were there, so I got to learn about the culture. Nobody had eaten apple crisp, which is what I brought for dessert. Together, they decided it was mashithhaa (pronounced closer to mash-ta) - delicious - so I was happy.

In other news, every time that I go see a movie, I have dreams about vampires, apparently. And we didn't even see any previews for Twilight or Twilight-inspired movies. (The Informant! really confused me - but I laughed a lot.)

For those of you who are looking for ways to help, I have a friend who is doing Teach for America in Miami, Florida. She's teaching second graders at a high-poverty school, and she just recently put her classroom on "Adopt-a-Classroom." Find the information here for her classroom site. The site is neat because 100 percent of the donated money goes to her classroom; nothing is taken out for administration or upkeep. If you want to read her blog, it's miami2miami.blogspot.com and she tells fun stories and admits her struggles with moving from Miami of Ohio culture to Miami public-school culture.

To make you smile:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My bologna has a first name - and my applesauce has a surprise ingredient!

I went apple picking last weekend and picked up pounds and pounds of apples. I have been making applesauce almost daily and eating apple crisp all the time. (Of course, with classes going on now, I am a little busier, too.)
Here I am waving to the camera - really to Calah, because I've made applesauce with her for the past few years, but was unable to this year. "Hi, Calah!"

Then, I chopped apples, put all the chopped-pieces on the knife and slid it off into the pan. This process worked, most of the time, but when working with knives, that 5% of the time makes a big difference.
Here is me wincing at my little wound/ gigundo paper clip. I'm icing it and elevating it because I'm halfway into the applesauce and I want to finish.

Side note to everyone that I have delivered applesauce to: You did not receive this batch. I'm eating it - but only me, just in case the redish tint is not from the Johnathons.
This was supposed to be a picture of the time I finished, to let Calah know that this goes a lot faster when she's helping me. She can also see my second gauze pad attached to my thumb, and that I remembered to peel the apples this time! You win some, you lose some, I guess.
This is how my roommate found me when she came home. Stirring the applesauce with one hand and elevating the other. I'm just glad there's no picture of me using the computer with an elevated hand. (I ended up sitting on the floor with my computer on the table so that my elevated hand could still type - who says blondes aren't - what's that word? - smart. (Sorry, relative who actually forgot the word smart, I had to include it.)
While I took this for Calah, who you can pray for, by the way, because she got sick over the week - this picture applies to everyone who reads this blog, and probably some more people too.

I wish you were here! (x 100). (+5.)

That much.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

backpack + pink lunchbox - naptime + developing humans - some understanding = first day of grad school

Things I learned today:
  • I like factor analysis. There are some matrices (w00t! math!) and the professor made a few jokes in class. I'm already reveling in the lecture notes where everything is organized into nice rows and columns and all inter-related... Oh, the life of made-up data!
  • I can be doing a lot more with the world. Being at a school as diverse and large as Ohio State, and working with Somali immigrants in my practicum (Columbus has the second-largest population of Somali refugees in the U.S. to Minneapolis) will force me to step outside my comfort level. I am looking for ways to - and for strength to - rotate my focuses (foci? foxen?) in life so that I am going to the widow, the orphan, the exile - the disadvantaged, the unwanted - with long-term help and with the love of God. I've pretty much got that down pat.
Not!
  • Where Somalia is.
  • Where Korea is.
  • (Over the course of the summer) - That eating less meat requires more than just eating fruits and veggies. And that taking care of my eyes means more than taking out contacts when they make my eyes cry. However, for those of you who actually took me up on eating less meat - which lots of famous people are doing, although not per my recommendation - make sure you get your omega-3s. Or else you get poor tear quality.
And you know things are bad when even your tear quality is poor. But on the plus side - tomorrow I can wear my contacts for SIX hours! Cornea = not inflamed.
  • I didn't just learn this today, but to sum up the other courses you'll inevitably be reading about, I am also enrolled in Family Development, a seminar for all new HDFS students, and Research Processes and Analysis.
  • Lastly, I learned a great joke.
A snail went to a car shop and wanted to buy a red sports car. But he had one request for the salesperson - "Can you please paint s's all over it?" The salesperson said, "Well, sure but why do you want that?"
The snail said, "So that people can say "Look at that S-car go!"

I'm interested to know what kinds of things you readers are interested in - what "breaks your heart." By reading my blog, you probably start to have an idea of what breaks mine - what breaks yours? Don't feel like it has to lead to any action, because mine rarely comes to fruition too. I'm just interested to know.
What makes your heart cringe?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

hey, I "twied"

goliatHulk - pick a man, @SaulsServants - if he takes me down, you can rule@PhilistineFans... my win, we rule you. anyone in? 41 days ago

IsraeliteSoldier not me. @JessesOldest? @Abinadab01? @ShammahShema? @SaulsServants? @KngSaul? 41 days ago

JessesOldest not it. 41 days ago

Abinadab01 have you SEEN @goliatHulk? 41 days ago

ShammahShema shaking in my armor. 41 days ago

SaulsServants dismayed. 41 days ago

KngSaul terrified. 41 days ago

KngSaul wealth, my daughter, tax exemption ... any takers? 40 days ago

JustaShepherd @davyboy bring some food to your brothers. no tweets from them for a while now! about 18 hours ago

davyboy camp looks deserted. about 4 hours ago

goliatHulk - @davyboy boo. about 4 hours ago

davyboy giant JERK over there. lol. about 3 hours ago

JessesOldest go home to your sheep, @davyboy. about 3 hours ago

davyboy can't hardly speak in here. #GRR. about 3 hours ago

davyboy @KngSaul i'll take on @goliatHulk! about 3 hours ago

KngSaul @davyboy rofl, munchkin. about 3 hours ago

davyboy the lord looks at the heart, not the height. anybody know where a good rockbed is? about 2 hours ago

johnaSon @davyboy down on the other side of the valley. about 2 hours ago

KngSaul little boys think they can do everything. fending lions and bears not equal to@goliatHulk! schwatever. about 1 hour ago

goliatHulk 40 days and you send me this n00b as your god's representative? lolz. 50 minutes ago

davyboy @YHWH - you sent me this grandn00b for you to deliver us? not even a challenge. plz. my @YHWH saves, fights, and wins. 48 minutes ago

davyboy FTW!!!!!!!! 46 minutes ago

PhilistineFans takin' off. know any good hiding spots? 45 minutes ago

KngSaul w00t. 45 minutes ago

IsrealiteArmors attacking. @YHWH delivered! 43 minutes ago

JessesOldest speechless. newfound respect for @davyboy and @YHWH 31 minutes ago

davyboy ndb. 4 minutes ago

KngSaul hail @YHWH! and @davyboy, son of @JustaShepherd. but only a little. 1 minute ago

Friday, September 11, 2009

What I've been doing - the visual version

1. Listening to Ingrid Michaelson (I really like her. You might want to listen to normal songs, because the one below is a fun version.)



2. Moving


As you can see, "decorating" is not included under "moving."

3. Cooking (failblog-worthy, for most of the endeavors.) But I did make some apple-dentures the other day. After realizing it's a tasty combination, I tried to get more creative and threw in raisins for missing front teeth. We didn't have any golden raisins, or I could've had some crowns. Or bling. And when I did it with green apples, it looked like Shrek's mouth.
4. Becoming a Buckeye! Went to the Navy game last Saturday. Almost got to have a blog post entitled "O-H-I- Uh oh..." Unfortunately, now I had to stick my horrid pun in the text of the post, since we did win. Classes start the 23rd.


4b. Also includes continuing research on dropout prevention. I'm seeing starkingly alarming rates on minority and low-income students and school engagement. My previous math education knowledge taught me about the international TIMMS study - where the US ranked pretty low in academic achievement for math (and science, but I really only have the math information.)

Truth: In math, the average scores of eighth grade students in twenty nations were statistically higher than those obtained by the U.S.

Truth: If we took the top 10 percent of students from all nations, five percent of U.S. students would be chosen in mathematics, significantly less than Singapore or Japan, two top-scoring countries.

New possible finding (that I only read about, not actually read yet): The Post-American World says that the top-achieving two-thirds of American students are very competitive internationally. It's the bottom third that the U.S. is failing to adequately educate.

Just thought it was interesting.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wrestling when you know you can't win

We all do it - at least, I do it enough for all of us: wrestling when I know I can't win. Arguing for better grades, a sister who picks up her bathroom towel, an easy version of swim practice... But I realized that's a lot of what I'm going to be doing this year, and it's a big part of why I wanted to go into research in the first place. I want to wrestle with the rough stuff: poverty gaps and racial/ ethnic disparities and education... There is no way that I - or anyone else - can win those bouts.

Luckily, there's some Biblical support for my underdog wrestling matches. Normally, when I think of Biblical underdogs, I think of David and Goliath, and try to interpret the story into "Look what I can do with God's help! Face the giants! And slay them too!" But there's another story, where Jacob wrestles with God (Genesis 32; the Jacob who ends up fathering Joseph with his amazing, technicolor dreamcoat). Jacob is going to meet his brother, whom he has wronged, but spends the entire night before wrestling with God/ an angel of God. If there was ever an uneven match... (Maybe this is an idea for Shaq's new show? Or, to fall closer to the Genesis line, perhaps pitting me against Shaq/ Michael Phelps/ Mohammad Ali?) They wrestle through the night, and the angel ends up wrenching Jacob's hip out of the socket when he sees he can't overpower him. But when the day comes, Jacob, who just spent the night wrestling with an angel of God, ends up getting a new name (Israel) and a blessing. Pretty incredible for Jacob to put up a fight - a good fight - against something that he knew he couldn't win against.

I've been doing some research on dropouts, and this is a match that I/ we/ the nation/ the world can't win, but I think it's something worth wrestling against, even though failure is imminent.
  • An estimated 1 in 8 children never graduate from high school
  • 60 percent of high school dropouts can be identified in grade six (due to chronic absenteeism, disengagement, school refusal behavior, etc.)
  • Minority students, students from low-income families, students will limited English-speaking skills, or who have parents with a high level of mobility are all more likely to drop out before graduation.
  • Not only are dropouts severely affected, by social, occupational, and marital problems, etc., but societal costs for dropouts are estimated in the billions between lost revenues, welfare programs, unemployment programs, underemployment, and crime prevention and prosecution.
What can you do, one might (rather, I hope one might) ask? I learned about this website donorschoose.org. It's an online charity that makes it easy for people to help students in need. You can search by location (there are a lot of Ohio projects), by subject (there are a lot of math topics!), cost, poverty level, popularity... Anything that "makes your eyes twinkle!" You can even donate unused portions of gifts cards (the average household has $400 in unused gift cards, according to Plastic Jungle). When you're wondering what to get me for Christmas - this will be it! I know a couple teachers participating in Teach For America that have used this site and receive their projects - a class library, a microscope, and beyond. It's a really good idea.

I respect their wrestling efforts, even though I know they're going to lose. Probably won't even make it into an over-time round.


(sources:
Christenson, S. (2004). School dropouts: Prevention considerations, interventions, and challenges. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13(1): 36-39.
Stanley, K. (2008). Improving high school graduation rates. Center for Evaluation and Education Policy (CEEP), Indiana University.)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I have not failed, and I still have yet to find 10,000 ways which do not work.

After eating a hot dog (reason number two why I couldn't be a vegetarian!) at a restaurant in Port Clinton, I wanted to make hot dog buns. The bun, rather than being your typical hot dog bun, looked like it had been sliced from a hot dog bun loaf. The sides of the bun weren't brown enough to have cooked all by itself, so I decided to make a short loaf of bread and try to slice it hot-dog style. I started with "Buttermilk bread," a recipe for a simple bread that included only ingredients I had on hand.
If you ever have the time, making a loaf of bread is quite satisfying - between the risings and the mixings, it doesn't take up a lot of your time, but it's a couple-hour endeavor from start to finish. (If you've seen the book about having artisan bread in five minutes a day, don't believe it. It didn't work for us.)
Combine 2 cups unsifted flour, 2 Tbsp. sugar, 2.5 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp. baking soda, and 1 pkg active dry yeast (at room temperature). I also added in some dry milk powder for added protein.

Heat 1 cup buttermilk (i.e. 1 Tbsp. vinegar + enough milk to make 1 cup, after a few minutes), 1 cup water, and 1/3 cup vegetable oil. Mixture will appear curdled, so the recipe says, although mine didn't... I also used brown rice vinegar, but my critic (dear Mother) did not say anything, so it must not have been noticeable.
Add to dry ingredients, beat for 2 minutes at medium speed. Add 1 cup flour, beat at high speed for 2 minutes. Stir in enough flour (I ended up using a little over 5 cups total) to make a soft dough. I also dunk my hands in flour to make the dough easier to knead.

Knead on floured surface 5 to 8 minutes. Place in greased bowl; cover with a damp - not dripping - kitchen towel; let rise 1 hour until doubled. I used the outside, but if you're in Texas where the outside cooks the bread, or you're in Grand Rapids from September - April, simply heat up the oven to low and then turn it off when you put the dough in to rise.


I gave our porch dog a little "water dish" for the hour. After rising, shape into two loaves. Place into two greased 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf pans. Cover again; let rise about one hour until doubled. Bake for 35 minutes at 375; I pulled mine out closer to 30 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks. Because I was attempting a hot dog bun loaf, I made one loaf shorter, although not short enough... but I still tried slicing it about halfway down to put in some nice apple chicken sausage from our local farmer's market.


First glance, it looks good. And the bread itself was A+, in my opinion. I'd be hard-pressed to put an exact taste to it, so it's good for jams or other tasty toppings, but it was almost a sweet taste. Unfortunately, my cutting skills failed: just like a normal hot dog bun, the sides fell apart. And when the pieces fell off, it felt weird to eat it with only ketchup. Chicken sausage = sad.

Then, I used my ice cream maker to test a recipe for peanut butter, honey, and banana ice cream. Only, when they say "half-and-half," I think they mean half-and-half, not melted butter plus milk as the correct substitution, and when they say "2% milk," I think they mean 2% milk, not skim. So I'm letting it settle in the freezer. It was a bit liquidy, even after churning for a while.

Currently reading: Off the Deep End by W. Hodding Carter, on a midlife crisis goal to qualify for the Olympics in swimming. (Written before he knew the results) and Total Church by two Englishmen about the pervasive connection between the church and community. And life.

Currently learning about: drunk driving rates of 21-24 year olds, the age group with the highest percentage of alcohol-impaired drivers in fatal crashes. Drunk driving in 2007 killed the equivalent of one person every 40 minutes. (See more information here.)

Monday, August 10, 2009

we all want to change the world.

Rascal Flatts, Dierks Bentley and Darius Rucker were in Columbus last night. It was a good concert: Dierks is my secret crush. In addition, I've now been to three Rascal Flatts concert and I think this one was my favorite. Not only did they sing a song called "Take me back to Ohio" in which the crowd, including my former housemate Michigan-fan Monica (normally just referred to as "Monica") had to follow up the O-H with the normal I-O. For the encore, the band came out in football jerseys to sing the Beatles' Revolution, along with bringing out Thad Matta and Kirk Herbstreit. Then they brought out Dierks and Darius and the three acts sang together. I thought it was really well done!
Yes, Darius sang songs from his pre-country days, when he was known, for many logical reasons, as Hootie from Hootie and the Blowfish.

But the most exciting part of the concert?

I finally got voted into an elite running club! I must have figured out the unspoken rules, some of which are:
a) never beat anyone (horribly)
b) never complain about the run until it's started
c) know a little something about everyone in the group.
i. know enough to make fun of everyone, a little bit.
Wish me luck. I hear rumors of initiation - but I'll have to let you know when I figure out why they keep talking about "plenty of cliques that joined a queue." Who even knows these things!

Classes start September 23, at which point you will read uber-smart posts and see me push my glasses back up the bridge of my nose. Until then? Hang in there, I guess. Or, you could watch literal music videos. There are some on youtube, if the newspaper article link doesn't work. I may or may not have watched all seven posted in the article... If you haven't figured this out yet, disclaimers and apologies are automatically included in each blog post. No exception.

Friday, July 24, 2009

like Matt Nathanson, I get by with little victories

I was making these delicious treats using my new apron (and switching shortening for butter, as always with cookies) and took some pictures for you. The two pictures illustrate a song that I remember from my Girl Scout days. Be sure to hold your cursor over the pictures to see the scrollover text and you, too, can get the song stuck in your head.

In an effort to act superior, I'm going to spew some facts at you. Blame it on my More with Less cookbook and trying to eat like Jesus! I don't see anything morally wrong with eating meat, but I've decided to reduce my meat consumption so that most of my meals are vegetarian or use meat as an accent, rather than the main dish, as I've heard most non-U.S. countries do anyway.

Turns out, meat production is pretty harmful for the environment (I'm going to skip the obvious harm for the animals.) According to vegetarian.about.com, with real citations listed at the end of the articles, I learned that more than 1/3 of all fossil fuels produced in the US go toward animal agriculture; ten times the amount of carbon dioxide is emitted from a calorie of meat than a plant protein... and that going vegan for a year reduces more emissions than driving a hybrid car.
As for water usage, a pound of beef requires about 2500 gallons of water to produce, whereas a pound of soy requires 250 gallons and a pound of wheat 25 gallons. So, although I've spent over a year learning to shower in under 5 minutes, by going meatless, I could exchange the water I'm saving for encores in my shower concerts! Which might explain why my family/ housemates never really support my meatless endeavors...

With 6 billion people (plus some, but who's counting?), obviously one person is not going to make a difference. But if enough people are doing it - I sure don't want to be the one person who's holding us back!

I'd love meatless or barely-there meat recipes that you enjoy, and if you want any recipes from me, just comment/ send me a note! Links to recipe pages in the comments section so all can see, or emails are fine as well.

If you're feeling up to it, I challenge you to eat only one meated-meal a day - or no meat-centered meals for a week. Let me know how it goes - I have a really hard time obeying at restaurants. (Eddie George, why do bacon bits make your macaroni irresistable?)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sauteed squash and shiny shoes

Sauteed Baby Squash with Basil and Feta (from Cooking Light)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 4 cups total - thinly sliced zucchini and summer squash
  • 2 cups sliced leek (about 2)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/8 t black pepper
  • 3 T crumbled feta cheese (I actually used a lot more than this...)
  • 2 T finely chopped fresh basil OR basil to taste
Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pain, swirling to coat; heat 20 seconds.
Add squash and leek to pan; saute 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.
Stir in salt and pepper.
Transfer squash mixture to a serving platter. Sprinkle with cheese and basil.

yield: 6 servings (serving size: 2/3 cup)
* Kristi and I made it last year, and then I made this for a family get-together, and they requested the recipe. It's a winner!


added to a list of things that cheer me up:
















Bought these at The Shops in Waco, Texas.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Not my gumdrop buttons!

I know what you're thinking - "what? A post by Julie? Is she still that bored?" Perhaps you've been wondering how long this whole blog-fuss is going to creep on because I am leading a fairly normal and uneventful life. Or maybe you're wondering what it means for the earth to laugh in flowers. In any case, you're out of luck.

At Cold Stone today (chocolate pudding ice cream with Oreos = yum.), a little boy walked up and said hello to me. I love supervising swim lessons because then it's okay for little kids to stare.We got into a little conversation and found out he's 4 1/2.
1. How do kids know halves? Who tells them which month is halfway around the year from their birth month?
2. Poll question of the entry: when do you quit counting by halves? (/Quarters/ twelfths, for those of us who know that 12/12 is one.)
Also, we were not able to decipher the boy's birth month to verify his fractional skills. His sister was born in DE-cember, but he wasn't; he was born in De-CEM-ber. Perhaps there's a 13th month, which would just make halves a lot more confusing.

I made some cards that I'm proud of. If you happen to get one of these in the mail, still act excited. If you have a good phrase (or occasion) for the button card, let me know!

On a more serious note, I read in the Cincinnati paper today that only 3 percent of foster children graduate from college. About a third even enter college. It makes me want to do something - like research, since I'm not really in a place to foster any children. It makes me wonder what I should be doing to be a good neighbor.

In Luke 10, Jesus is asked what makes a good neighbor. He answers with the parable of the good Samaritan, someone who stops to help a robbed and beaten "half-dead" man, bandaging his wounds, taking care of him, paying for a night at the inn and leaving more money for the morning. The neighbors immediately realize that the Samaritan acted as his neighbor, and Jesus tells them, "Go and do likewise."

Immediately following the parable, Luke tells a story of Mary and Martha. Martha is the perfect neighbor - preparing everything for Jesus, cooking, cleaning, probably dragging in the orphaned, the widowed, and the exiled off the streets for her Jesus as well. And yet, her sister Mary, who simply sits at Jesus' feet listening to Him, is the one whom Jesus praised. He said, "Martha, Martha, [Martha] - ... Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

I don't have a good summary or way to tweak the two stories so that it's easy to tell when I'm being a good Samaritan and when I'm being a Martha. I present them together as Luke did so that it's easy to see the tension between the stories. When I'm daydreaming about Samaritan-ing the world, one study at a time, one child at a time, I must remember that it's possible, and easy, to become distracted by the duties and forget the inspiration. Choose what's better.

I find I have no real idea what that means, but I know it's true.
Just like the earth laughing in flowers. Or a Taylor Swift and T-Pain duet named Thug Story.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Summing what up, exactly?

indexed.blogspot.com + bakerella.blogspot.com = juliesumsitup.blogspot.com
Now entering my Bakerella- NON-fail blog:
I thought I'd start this out like Bakerella does hers, with a little picture of the ingredients. Here, you can see butter (softened, not melted), yellow cake mix, and brownie mix. All the signs of a good cook and a meatless burger.
Then I decided to go where few have gone before, at least in public. Here's CAKE MAN. He's very happy; doesn't realize that soon, his nose and eyes will be blended into oblivion, only to be put in a scorching oven until his skin blisters and his atomic make-up changes. (Or whatever happens that makes salmonella non-existent.) I baked cupcakes out of the cake mix, filling them high enough that they were going to bake up and over the sides a little bit.
After baking and cooling the cupcakes, I baked the brownies and put them in the freezer for easier cutting. I cut the cupcakes into thirds, and cut the brownies into circles with a glass. Lucky for me and other brownie-lovers, circles do not tessellate very well. Lots of scraps!
Sesame seeds (listen, Mitch!) stick on the tops of cupcake buns with just a little water on the cupcake.
To squirt the homemade icing out neatly, it worked really well to put it in plastic baggies and cut the tip. It was impressive, even for someone with the patience and attention span of me!
So I layered them... and ended up with a delicious-tasting meatless burger!
Cupcakes + icing + brownies + sesame seeds = one pretty good imitation. If I do say so myself.
And I do.

Monday, June 15, 2009

it takes two. it always takes two.

I planned on waiting until I had something that you would be interested in reading, but alas, I do not have the patience. Instead, I'm going to throw some lessons I've learned post-graduation.

Lesson #1. Things happen in twos.
Two weddings (see Lesson #2), two different people cracking headlights on my car... Once in a hotel parking lot graduation weekend (rear tail-light cracked) and once this morning parked on my own street (front tail-light MIA.) Luckily, both parties left notes with numbers and apologies. I'm hoping the Kia dealership has some sort of frequent-buyer deal. I bowled my two worst games (found out in the 6th frame of the second game that I was using the wrong fingers; never did find out which hand I should be using.)

Lesson #2. Bridesmaids surprisingly have a lot of free time on their hands.
Weddings of friends are lots of fun. Two of my housemates got married the past two weekends, one in Cincinnati and one in Grand Rapids. I don't have any pictures from the Cincinnati ceremony - but I figure that's all right, since this blog is about me. (I did include one of the bride and groom from the second wedding. Her family is a little more on top of facebook.)

Ex. 1
Sneaking pudding at Tessa's wedding. I've spared my conspirator by not putting in any pictures of her.














Ex. 2. We were waiting in the nursery for Cara

Friday, May 15, 2009

Another Sammie post?

A year ago, I was avoiding studying for finals by learning Photoshop. This year, I am out of ideas for how to not study. My creative juices appear to have dried up, so no Photoshop. We lost internet in our house, and my phone is lost, so no easy contact with friends. I completed the Confessions of a Shopaholic series before finals started, and I'm pretty much as packed as I can be. Graduation is a week from tomorrow, the 23rd - it's all coming down to the end!

This is what I was doing during the studying-phase of finals last year: Remember the story of how Sammie ripped a wing off of a bird? I have illustrated it for you, in a lovely version of the circle of life.



I've also been searching for housing in Columbus, and deciding what's important to me. I found an experimental suburb (classy, right?) in Germany that is not a housing option for me, but a unique and interesting idea. I'm trying to remember to follow it.
A reason NOT to dislike suburbs

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I'm no Brown Sharpie rival...

Brown Sharpie is a comic site written by a math graduate student. I'm not smart enough to understand everything, but I can pretend to laugh at almost anything. (You can search by title, this one is under culture.)


Hilbert's paradox of the hotel (wiki it here) is a hotel with infinite rooms that are all full. Luckily for this comic, both the rooms and the bus sets are countably infinite, so there really should be enough rooms. But what a dilemma for the concierge! My favorite part of this is in the speech bubble. Go ahead, laugh (or just sparkle your eyes in amusement.)

Now, there is no reason to ask, "What has Julie been doing with her time since swimming is over?"

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Haiku contest

I hate the stench of
coffee. It snarls, "Morning's here!"
but I just want dreams.

Join in the contest. Haikus (5/7/5) about anything specific, not abstract. I'd like to test your creativity.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Talent is overrated


The plan was to make these "Spring Chickens" from Bakerella, a blog Kristi showed me. Unfortunately (but quite fortunate for the purpose of a humorous blog entry), I did not read the difficulty level until I was way too far into the process. Thus, my spring chickens met varying fates: some lost their lollipop sticks, some lost half a body, most were recklessly abandoned, and a select few made it in a pathetic chicken state.

The select few chickens are heading to my friends who drove from afar for Easter. It's little balls of crumbled cake mixed with chocolate frosting so that it molds into a ball. The cake balls are stuck on a lollipop stick and dunked into candy melts.



This is me holding one that has no faults.

Er, very few.

And the lucky abandoned / crumpled-heap ones are destined to be snacked on since I lost interest in creating chickens, once I found out I have no talent in this area of chick cake-ball making.

Monday, April 6, 2009

"Hey! I'm immortal!"

Browned Butter Bananas in Orange-Brandy Sauce
*note: we are not ritzy enough (ritzy may not be the right adjective there) to drink brandy, so I actually made this just in Orange- Sauce.

Ingredients

* 4 medium bananas
* 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
* 3 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
* 2 tablespoons thawed orange juice concentrate
* 1 tablespoon brandy
* 1 tablespoon water
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 2 cups vanilla low-fat ice cream
* Mint sprigs (optional)

Preparation

1. Peel bananas, and cut bananas in half lengthwise. Cut each half crosswise into 2 pieces.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter to pan, swirling to coat. Cook butter 1 minute or until lightly browned. Add bananas; sauté 1 minute or until browned and tender, turning once. Add 1 tablespoon sugar, stirring gently until sugar dissolves. Place bananas in a medium bowl.

3. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, juice concentrate, brandy, 1 tablespoon water, and salt in pan. Bring to a simmer; cook 1 minute. Drizzle sauce over bananas. Serve immediately over ice cream. Garnish with mint sprigs, if desired.


This is much funnier if you've watched Twilight but watching the official trailer first also helps.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

i did not write this. not even a little.

Introduction To Poetry, by Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

"It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we."
- GK Chesterton. Because he sums God's joy up much better than I.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"I knew things were going to turn around some time!"

I went to St. Louis for the end of my spring break and it was a lot of fun. We saw the arch, the art museum, Missouri Botanical Garden, the St. Louis Walk of Fame (although it was rainy) and a myriad of restaurants and basketball games.

Kate Chopin is one of my favorite authors. I'm sure there was something saddening and artistic I could do with her description halfway underwater, but since it was currently raining, I felt no real need for inspiration. Alas, to quote Kate herself, "so the storm passed and everyone was happy."












Yogi Berra, born in The Hill (close to where I stayed.)







































Our gelato server inspired me. I found a penny under the counter, and told him as I dropped the penny in, "Look, a penny for you!" He responded with (not despondently or sarcastically), "I knew things were going to turn around sometime!"
What a joyful outlook! I've also been reminded the past few days that it's not always about God answering with a yes or no to our decisions, but it's about us honoring God with our choices. That's helped me as I thought about racing at Nationals, as I think about The Future, as I contemplate the trappings of life... And who knew, the deliverer of good gelato was also a deliverer of good news!