Thursday, April 30, 2009

Don't forget - you're here forever

Sorry slipped into Mr. Burns mode for a second there.

Just a gentle reminder that my little giveaway is about to end. On the stroke of midnight I'll turn into a pumpkin so I need everyone to clap their hands super hard to keep that from happening. Or at least keep Ichabod Crane away from me.

Once again we are all playing for a vinyl decal from Thoughts That Stick: It's 15" X 5" and you can choose whichever color you like to match your walls.

Since I'm feeling so magnanimous after a rather good day in lab (I didn't set anything on fire) you can just leave a comment after this post to get another entry.

So that means if you left one before and leave one today you get two. And as we all need something to talk about in the comments here's the latest Target Women that makes me quite glad I sort of skipped right past that whole single scene:

Picture a Day - Day 148

All you people posting about your gorgeous weekends, yeah I know who you all are, you're going to get it.

It's been raining/cloudy here since last Thursday. One whole week of clouds, darkness, and drippy yucky water. No major storms (though Sunday was quite a doozy) just a constant feeling that if you stand outside too long you'll be drenched even though you never spotted a rain drop.

So I tried to take some pictures of this malaise spring storm. Then I realized it takes a lot of work to get a picture of moisture hanging in the air. And since I don't have a microscope attached to my camera I took this instead. You can always tell it's been raining around campus by the number of bags tied to bikes seats. I wonder just who came up with this idea? I don't remember them being as popular when I was younger, but then again I was younger aka stupider and didn't care much if my ass got all wet from a bike seat.

This picture was a random snap. I spotted a robin and hoped I'd get enough time to turn on the camera, line it up right and snap the picture before she flew off. I just managed to beat her as while the camera was loading she zipped away:Actually I liked this picture so much I decided to try copying it (sort of) in a painting.

I like to think of it as a weird combo of the two things I'm good at, abstract colors and branches.Is anyone else trapped in a horrible cycle of never ending gray clouds and rain? Do you feel like your keyboard should be moist thanks to all the water in the air?

Do you want to join me in my campaign to smash up the lemonade stands for everyone who's had wonderful weather every weekend? Because I just got my hands on a really nice big hammer and rented a van.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Little Woman

We mark life based not upon the date but your standing in life.

Are you single or married? Home owner or renter? Parent or childless? Each time you pass from one to the other society says that you must don a certain hat, fill a certain shoe, and basically conform to their own stereotype to fill that mold.

There was so much focus on not wearing the veil that turns you into THE BRIDE upon getting engaged and planning the wedding. It seems like every wedding blog has to at least have an article once a year about how to not be the dreaded zilla. Women can never be right. Too opinionated you're bridezilla, not opinionated enough you don't take marriage seriously.

It was hard enough striking the right balance for the year or so we were engaged. Managing to talk about the wedding just enough so that I didn't bore people but they also didn't feel left out. Only in all that time I never really stopped and thought about just how I pictured becoming THE WIFE would go.

Overall our life didn't change much once the wedding was over. We already lived together, we were both working at the time of the wedding, and had our routines down pretty well. But something was going to work on my brain, slowly nibbling away and it wasn't til 6 months in I even began to realize it.
Just because I am a wife now I must suddenly hold myself to higher standards. When you're single doing the laundry or having a week of home cooked meals is almost something worth celebrating.

Once that ring goes on society expects you to keep the house miraculously clean, create 5 star dishes in under 30 minutes everyday, hold down a high paying job and love every second of it. Because after all you're a woman and that's just what you're expected to do.

Too bad no human being can be this perfect all the time (even robots have down time). And mentally I know and realize this, but intrinsically society just keeps hammering away that you must be this, this, and this. And if you aren't then you are worthless. You're a horrible person to even fail for one second.

These thoughts have been slowly invading my mind. Used to be if I failed at dinner, something burned or wasn't cooperating properly, no big deal. I'd just improvise, or fall back on hot dogs.

Now I get mad. Mad at myself for screwing up something so simple that anyone can do, mad at the fact that I have to be perfect all the time, and really "about ready to kick it across the room" mad at whatever just turned into a black crust.

I'm also sick and tired of being everyones cruise director. Why is it that women must instantly become the CEO and Director of their household? Every day it is my job to not only plan what dinner we'd have but to also prepare everything the night or two before and know what we're out of when going grocery shopping.

Then there's entertainment. I must think of not only how to keep myself entertained but also my husband and plan out our weekends. Is it any wonder that it generally devolves to me running off to the kitchen table canvas in hand for a few hours and leaving him to his video games?

So not only must I create and totally plan delectable meals that must be perfect at all times, I must also dictate everything in our lives and plan when we should have fun, what type of fun we should have, and just how much fun was had.

Oh and make sure to do all that while also holding down a full time job, because only lazy women stay at home nowadays. Remember you can have it all, as long as you plan on having a heart attack by the age of 43 from all the stress of trying your damnedest to be perfect and keep 30 plates spinning in the air.

Most people probably want to put the blame on the husband, after all he's the second half of the duo. But I cannot fault mine (okay aside from me having to plan everything, this is what happens when parents never let their children make their own decisions. They suddenly can't do it as adults, what a shocker!). He helps cook by making sides and he has a few certain things he cleans.

No this pressure to be perfect to fit in comes mostly from one big source of estrogen and cold shoulders: other women. We are constantly trying to out do each other. Our house must be cleaner than hers, our children fluent in three languages, our taco salad miles beyond hers.

It's gotten so much worse thanks to the 24/7 peep show into other peoples lives. I can't count the number of times I've seen envy posts, people saying they wish they had enough time/money/talent to do something they saw someone else do. In just a few steps that little thing only a few people do (like say making your own ketchup) turns into a requirement of daily life and soon people are scoffing at you if you don't spend hours every month making and bottling your own ketchup. After all they're just thinking of your family and how much your squandering their lives by being selfish enough to not devote your worthless time making ketchup.

I don't know if I'll ever really be able to fully reconcile this insane push to just be perfect in everything I do, because everything I can do is worthless anyway. But I do know that just ignoring the problem because it affects everyone, or is anti feminist or anything else like that is just going to make it worse.

It seems like no one ever wants to ask the hard questions. Just why are women expected to be perfect while men can just float through life? Why is it that everything to maintain a household falls under women's duties even to this day? How come you never see a commercial for a cleaning product directed towards a man? Why are men praised for trying their hand at cooking/playing with the kids once a month but a woman is just expected to do it even if they both work the same hours?

We really haven't come that far from the 50's after all.

Picture a Day - Day 147

Last night was our first big curry experiment. I crawled pub med looking for some papers on curry and their affects on gastronomy only to be led in circles to an experiment I'm pretty sure never existed in this reality (sorry, science joke there. I'll stop now).

So instead I turned to the little pamphlet that came inside our box of spices. The first mission, should you choose to accept it, make a simple chicken curry.

The main ingredient (aside from the chicken of course) is our Maharajah Curry Powder and helping out our friend is Garam Marsala. Scary names but you can probably get a curry powder at most grocery stores. The garam marsala is a bit harder to track down, but it isn't necessary.

Heaven help me I actually have a recipe here. Hang on. I know I put it somewhere. Ah here we go.
  • 1 lb chicken
  • 2 TB butter (or just enough to slick up a pan good)
  • 1 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic (or as many as you want if you're anti-vampires)
  • 2 tsp Curry powder
  • 1 tsp garam marsala
  • 1/2 cup water plus 2 TB
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (I love all these recipes that call for plain yogurt. It's so sad what we've done to the poor thing here. Declaring it just for dieters and ripping all the very helpful fat out or deciding it's perfect for incontinent people and adding more fiber than a shipping box. Yogurt really need a better agent).

The first step is to combine all the dry spices in a small bowl and add the 2 TB of water over top.

While that's busy getting wet, mince up the garlic and chicken (well cube it, mincing it would be pretty silly).

Saute the garlic in the butter, then dump in your wet spice mix. Stir quickly and stir often as it'll clumpify. You're looking for a smooth paste. I fear I didn't stir enough because ours came out kinda clumpy but I had a bigger fear of it all burning. I still have to come up with a better answer.

Once it's a smooth paste add the chicken, saute to get the sides a bit then add the water. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes stirring when you remember. Add the yogurt and raise the heat to remove some excess water. In about 10 minutes you should have a thick sauce that's a lovely gold color.

It doesn't look the prettiest but aside from the weird clumps it tasted really good.
This curry isn't hot at all, just spicy. I can easily see some people's tongues getting overwhelmed by all the flavors, but my husband loves it. He all but licked the plate clean.

If you want to get into curry in anyway this is a good starting point. It isn't going to knock your socks off, but it still has that familiar curry flavor and fairly simple ingredients.

Does anyone else have a favorite curry recipe we could try? We still have the balti I'm not sure of. Maybe when summer is in high season and we get lots of tasty fresh veggies to try a more subtle veggie curry.

What's your favorite "ethnic" food? Do you venture a lot away from what you had growing up or are you more likely to stick with your few tested recipes?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Canadian Uniform and Dress

Oops, I talked about how I had to turn a blue uniform green and then promptly forgot to show it off.

Colors are a giant pain for me. When a picture is taken and sent to me over the interwebs it's really hard to take a stab in the dark as to exactly what shade that is. What looks blue or dark green in real life comes across as black. So I just had it in my head that this was a blue uniform (probably too much Stargate did it) and painted it that way.

Thankfully it's a lot easier to cover up and change colors with acrylic paint. I just had to redo most if not all of the details. Oh well, it looks good in green (though I say the blue was better).
This was the bride's dress and not only my first dress with sleeves but also the first real attempt at a bouquet. I'm not such a big fan of the pure white ones (from a painting stand point, monochrome is a real pain) but with a little pink I think it turned out quite well.Okay so this whole order was one big learning experience as not only did I do my first uniform, first bouquet, it was also the first international order.

I must say it is damn near impossible to send stuff over the border. First I had to get a special envelope from the postal office (which took twice as long to get as I did to create two paintings and even fix one), then I had to fill out a very important form stating that everything contained within the envelope was just a few pieces of canvas, cardboard and acrylic and wouldn't cause anyone harm unless they tried eating them both and jumped off a cliff.

I wound up waiting 10-12 days to get the stupid envelopes. I was so tempted to just get in my car, drive north, and chuck the thing across the border. But it's mailed off and, crossing fingers, I won't get it back.

I'm also ready to take any orders over seas. I have another 9 extra special magical envelopes(what makes them so special is they have international stamped on them *sigh*) So if anyone across the pond wants a painting just say the word.

I've actually had a lull in paintings. I didn't think I would but a whole lot of people contacted me about a painting and then suddenly vanished so I actually took most of last week off (aside from a possible "yay you gave birth" present that is pissing me off to no end and could wind up on the grill).

When I'm getting super frustrated and it just isn't fun anymore I think I need to rethink some stuff. Tonight shall be a journey back to abstract I think, with lots of blacks and blues.

Picture a Day - Day 146

My office looks like just about any other typical room in an institutionalized building. White/ivory/yellowing with age vinyl on the floor. Three walls painted over so many times they've gained a good 5 inches to sound proof any screams of anguish and one brick wall, because nothing screams productivity and working yourself into an early grave like a brick wall.

Throughout winter and most of this spring; however, one thing has been the bane of my existence. This would be the heater (left over from some missile bunker from the 50's) I sit right next to that keeps the office a wonderfully balmy 80-90 degrees each day.

In winter I must wear light T-shirts and drink my body weight in water each day just to keep from passing out due to dehydration. It's gotten much worse in spring as the temperature fluctuates wildly. While it could be cold one day, the next it's a bright and warm day both outside and in.

We have no idea just where the thermostat is, but judging by the scribbled map I found under my desk there's something about a jade monkey hidden in the temple of the damned. Apparently I have to get the key of knowledge to secure the staff of Ra from some janitor or something.

In threatening and cajoling the heater to just stop doing its own job so I could do mine I discovered another little friendly reminder that in all things it seems the left hand is never informed of just what the right gets up to.

For inside of the heater that takes up the entire brick wall sits this:I don't know if they were thinking that little elves really need an outlet to be able to plug in their hair dryers when they sneak in from the arboretum or if they figured in the future we could just wirelessly plug everything in but we'd still need outlets.

I can just about imagine the debate between the electrician and the heat guy.

"So then we'll put an outlet on every wall."

"But the heater will take up all this space. Why would you want an outlet inside the heater no one can get at?"

"Like I said, we put an outlet on every wall and charge double for the instillation because we'll have to work around the heater."

"Oh right, and we'll have to charge double to put up the heater because there's an outlet there."

Bureaucracy at its finest.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Giveaway 500!

Drop the balloons, Introverted Wife just hit 500 posts!

*Runs around in streams of confetti spraying everyone with champale*

And just what does one do on such a majestic occasion? Well aside from throwing paper goods at each other of course.

Why a giveaway of course!

I thought long and hard what is something that I think is cool, sweet, thoughtful, and all around the greatest thing on the face of the planet?

Sadly Disney World isn't for sale.

Then I saw this Vinyl Wall Decal from Thoughts That Stick and it just seemed too perfect for words:
It's 15" X 5" and you can choose whichever color you like to match your walls. This would make a great addition to a bathroom for those bad days (and if I actually owned a house I'd be keeping it for myself) or even as a gift to remind a special person that they're their own kind of beautiful.

So just how do you win this awesome prize? It's surprisingly simple really.

You get one entry just by leaving a comment. Doesn't have to be anything thoughtful or Shakespearean. You can just bang on the keys with your palm and hit enter if you'd like.

You get two entries if you mention my giveaway on your blog or if you hack wikipedia and get it broadcast on the front page (I will however have to disavow any knowledge of it).

You can score the ultimate three entries if you do all that other stuff above and also include a mention about my etsy store, my paintings, or the wedding dress stuff on your blog. If you've already done so just mention it again in the comment section and I'll give you your three entries.

Finally if you can provide documentary proof that you can put your elbow in your ear then you get an infinite amount of entries.

So what are you waiting for? Your walls are just aching for some decorating.

Picture a Day - Day 145

For the day I am going to assume the mantle of two other much more popular blogs.

First I don the cod piece and tights of Fail with my own contribution.

This one is pretty much self explanatory. There's something almost poetic in the fact that it's only a hair cut that separates the dieters from the pizza eaters. Or the diet center had big dreams of standing outside picketing and shaming everyone who entered Pizza Hut.

Now onto a blog about epic human stupidity. What you mean there isn't one? Well okay yeah you could argue that just about every blog can have elements devoted to human stupidity. But still no one is cataloging those moments that just make you shake your head and really wonder what happened to natural selection?

Well let's assume there is one and I shall put on its dunce hat and laugh bladder.

What you may not be able to tell from the picture is that sign that says boldly "Out of Order" is covered in water.
So basically even shrink wrapping a sink and putting a big ol' "Out of Order" sign on a sink still isn't going to stop people from trying to use it.

I have a sneaking suspicion that even ripping the sink out of place and hiding it in the corner isn't going to slow people from having a go to see if it really works.

And now for my last blog play date. Don's the chef's toque of Cake Wrecks and pulls out the rusty spatula. Time to get sugary!

This is an actual demonstration cake for all those graduates of muppet studies.
What is it? Some kind of strange doll made out of old ottoman pillows? I can't blame the poor thing for being so angry, thanks to some god awful plastic surgery her face is slowly sliding into itself. I don't forsee the removing all bones and stuffing yourself with goose down look taking off much myself.

Whew, that was a lot of work. I think I'm just gonna stick with regular ol' me here on out and leave all this to the professionals.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Picture a Day - Day 144

My husband has been struggling to try and recreate the flavors we get every time we visit our favorite Indian restaurant at home (I am certain he'd bathe in curry if he could).

For Christmas we got an Indian Cookbook that called from some very exotic spices (like fenugreek, green cardamom and salt) that just were not available in our little grocery store. We could have bought our weight in steak rubs though.

Yesterday our prayers were answered as this came in the mail:We set right away to just rubbing the Tandoori on some chicken and my husband did something with the garam marsala to couscous. We still have a very long learning curve to go as while the chicken was okay the couscous was basically inedible and had the smell of if a dog got into a ton of curry and resulted in the expulsion of curry flavored gas.

The other funny thing, my In-laws brought the Penzey's catalogue with them when they visited where I caught the Curry box. This catalogue came out around Valentine's Day (judging by all the pink hearts) and said there were no store outlets anywhere close to Nebraska so I turned to the Internet.

When we got our set in the mail they of course included the latest catalogue which now claims there is a store in Nebraska. They must just roll up on the back of a truck or something.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Picture a Day - Day 143

I prayed it would never happen. Every morning I'd check to make sure but despite months of training and preparing it finally happened.

I forgot my wedding ring at home!

I'm not of the variety to feel like once that thing was put on my finger it should never come off. In fact it comes off at least once a day, but it has a permanent residence in our bathroom every night for sleepy time. I have a deep fear of catching one of the prongs on something and promptly shredding our blankets better than a pack of small dogs with an afternoon to themselves.

But in the 6 months since getting married (and adding on a year of being engaged, let's face facts it's basically the same ring) I had not once forgot to fix it upon my finger as soon as I was awake. Not until yesterday.

I had to spend all my very busy day typing up very fancy scientific stuff without my ring providing a familiar pressure to the sides:I missed my poor old ring while taking a big swig of water to try and combat the 90 degree day: I even missed my ring when I'd inextricably raise my hand up to the sky to rejoice in the bright blue sky. Yeah, that works. Why not?As soon as I got home I dashed to the bathroom and secured that ball and chain back onto my all important finger (it's the best one for getting into pudding cups).

Does anyone else take their ring off to sleep or for any other reason? Have you forgotten it for a whole day before and slowly gone stark raving mad?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sex in History

My husband and I were discussing how sometimes it seems like the education curriculum is set up to discourage children from enjoying reading. They are forced to read books that they may have not a singe interest in (I still loathe Don Quixote to this day and all but run shrieking away when I see a copy) just so they can get a grade and pass the state mandated test.

I retain very few memories of all those books we were supposed to read but the one English class where we were allowed to just pick certain books off a list was wonderful. I discovered Dumas and The Count of Monte Cristo and found an entire era of literature I could really sink my teeth into.

I remember also in my college honors theatre class (which was awesome in and of itself. I loved being in honors classes because there was almost no focus on tests or grades. You just got to learn) being shown how the Shakespeare play The Taming of the Shrew would have been performed in his time. It was so much easier to understand what was going on than sitting down and trying to understand all the allegories and made up words the Bard used to get his ideas across.

Instead, most people's first introduction to Shakespeare is through being forced to read Romeo & Juliet (which I also cannot stand, though I think that's mostly due to what it's been turned into) and only after struggling through it and taking a test are allowed to watch it. Who wouldn't build up a resentment to that?

It feels like the same is done to history, the life is just sucked out of it. Instead of learning all the interesting and fascinating quirks of what life was like in Medieval Europe or how much the founding fathers came to hate each other you get to memorize names and dates so you can pass a test. It doesn't help the history seem more tangible and exciting.

And forget learning what every person is really interested in, the dirt. There are wars and violence (cause we sure love that in the states) but anything even vaguely associated with sex is blacked out or censored with thoughtspeak. Which is really sad because it's amazing just how much sense society makes when you put the sex and love back in.

For a Valentine's day my husband saw that I was eyeing a book hidden in the Romance & Relationship section of Barnes & Noble (we're weird, but it's fun to flip through those things and just see the god awful advice given) and bought it for me.

It's called Sex in History by Reay Tannahill and what I really love about it is that it doesn't just cover western Europe once we get past Egypt. There's a section devoted to China, India and Islam and eventually gets to some of Latin America when colonialism comes into play. There's still no Africa it is by far more world comprehensive than most history books I come across.

While there is a range of topics from contraception, prostitution, and talk of numerous forms of intercourse it is mostly a study on female and male relations throughout history. It's interesting how it seems like women had quite a bit of power just before the formation of a religion or civilization and then it was quickly stripped away.

It's almost as though as soon as men get a taste of power, the first thing they do is to suppress half of the population. It appears over and over from the Greek and Romans to Christianity (probably by far the worst) and Islam. There is only a bit on Judaism that is mostly tied into Egypt and the Christianity sections sadly.

Homosexuality is discussed as well. Believe it or not but the early church actually viewed contraception by far as the worst sexual sin and put homosexuality up there with masturbation in terms of penance as they were all just ways you weren't making babies. It wasn't til quite some time that the "ick" factor came into play. The church had (okay still has) some twisted views on sex thanks to Augustine and Thomas Aquinas and thanks to those gave women as little power as possible.

China during Taoism was in fact the only culture to ever hold female orgasm above male. It was thought that everyone had to balance their yin-yang. Women had an unending supple of yin while men a limited amount of yang (better known as ejaculate). In order to receive as much yin from a woman he must bring her to orgasm. Men were also discouraged from ejaculating (and losing their yang) during certain times of the year.

These are just a few little fascinating tid bits I've found in this book. If you have any interest in men and women relations throughout recorded history or want to see just how certain taboos began and then receded I'd really suggest picking up this book.

Or if there is just one topic you're curious about I'd be more than happy to talk about it. This book really covers a very wide range right up to almost present day (it was published in 1980 with an addendum about the AIDS scare in 1992) and is really fascinating.

Picture a Day - Day 143

It wasn't til watching the food network replay the Candy Expo of 2001 for the 10th time that it slowly began to dawn on me. Wow every single occupation must have its own expo.

I wonder what Fast Food would be like. Mascot companies hocking their wares while simulated children play with the latest in Kid Meal technology. Maybe a presentation on how to get all the ketchup out of the little sachets.

Pen expos where there is a bitter divide between black and the blue and there's always that one weird guy trying to push the exploding pen.

Construction expos, they can build their own hall during the expo!

Science does have its own trade shows and sadly they just aren't that interesting. Oh sure we still flock to them for free food and possibly a t-shirt (but really you can only take some many with MDS or Phizer emblazoned across the frot). Usually it's just to show off the latest in pipeting technology, some unnecessary breakthrough for tips and a nice ol' centrifuge.

On Thursday my cell, I mean, lab mate attended one on the other campus and scored the strangest thing I've ever seen.Apparently it's eco-friendly (not that that means a damn thing) and by buying this thing I could kill off some bacteria with a magical disappearing foam.

Well aside from the fact that the foam leaves a weird sticky feeling to your hands (I loathe sticky hands) is there really much point to this when I have my good friend Mr. bottle of 70% ethanol sitting right there?

I already need it to get myself in and out of the hood, and to clean up the bench top after any bacteriological experiment. If that isn't going to kill everything, there is an entire container of soap as well (or Mr. Bleach sometimes gets to come out of the cupboard).

Soap and ethanol seem a ton safer than this little thing:I think it just salts the bacteria to death anyway. Maybe if I started carrying around a big bag of salt to dip my hands into afterwards I could call that eco-friendly and sell millions.

Do you have any fun expos or free stuff companies are sending to you for your job? Any chance you can get my tickets to the next candy expo? I really need something that lights up and spins around. Um for an experiment, yeah that's it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Deja huh?

I remember in 1990 I became a bit popular in my little after school group babysitting thing (don't worry, it didn't last). Not because I had the latest perfect Lisa Frank accessory or was sporting temperature changing clothes.

No, it was all because I could easily imitate the Little Mermaids singing voice. I have a passable singing voice and can sing in a normal octave range (I'm an alto almost leaning to tenor) and have a pretty good grasp of pitch (being able to read music sure helps).

But my real talent comes in my weird audible fixation. My hearing is by far my best tuned sense. I learn based upon what I hear. If I'm told something I'm much more likely to remember it than if I ever saw it or wrote it down myself. I tend to recognize an actor not based upon what he looks like but his voice first.

Okay this is where I'd include some samples of me modulating and changing my voice but uh I'm no where near my mac and its awesome built in mic and iMovie. Maybe later if someone demands proof.

Anyway back to the point. Like just about every girl my age I too fell in love with Ariel with her wild redhead loving to sing silly song ways.

This is not the Ariel I fell in love with:

From Sociological Images, this is a mock up of a magazine cover girls can hang on their walls.

This is super sexed up Ariel being targeted at tweens but probably hitting only the much younger girls who need everything princessey because Disney says they do. When did she give up her dreams of being free to discover a different world with forks in order to pose for Maxim, sorry I mean "Princess Style?"

It isn't just Ariel getting the weird magazine treatment, but I never felt the same connection to Snow White or Sleeping Beauty as I did the quirky red head.

Disney has tried to ret-con her to fit the more strict standards for females. She can't be goofy, she has to be come hither and sexy at all times. She is only worth something to get other women to realize they aren't perfect enough and should always be working hard to get great legs at any cost.

I miss the ol' care free days of things like popples, cabbage patch dolls and Little Foot (by far my favorite toy was a stuffed brontosaurus). I grew up with little to no sexed up toys and look at what happened to me. I don't give a shit if every single male on the planet wants to sleep with me and actually use my brain.

I'm the worst thing imaginable to the Advertisers and Big Business!

But really, I can do a mean penguin voice if you want.

Picture a Day - Day 142

"Knowledge comes in two flavors. One is what you spend most of your life studying and paying for, the other comes when you've just stuck your fork into a toaster and realized it is plugged in."

This week I experienced that second flavor of knowledge (I like to think of it as the Cherry nut of knowledge. No one likes it, we're not really sure why we need it, but once it is gone we get our ear chewed off by very cranky grandma's.)

I've been feeling a bit run down. Not so much from work (bacteria continue to do bacteria type things) I'm just sick and tired of always having to plan meals. Especially as summer rears its big ol' ugly head and I have to retire a good half of my fall back meals because who wants an oven on when it's 80 degrees out?

At least that's my excuse for what I did to achieve Cherry Nut notoriety.

After Easter we scored a great deal on a leg of lamb (at least half off), and I thought oh crock pot with lots of lemon and garlic. Easy peasy. So I got up early, chopped up the garlic and got the whole thing put together.

Just as my husband was coming in to start making lunch I flipped the switch and left to get dressed.

Fast forward 8 or so hours later and we're coming home, looking forward to some crock pot type meat. I should have known as soon as I got in that something was wrong, it didn't smell right, but I was obsessed with the mail.

Then I open the lid and spot my elemental mistake.

A crock pot only works if you actually plug the damn thing in!
No, I didn't mix up pictures. I was so pissed that I didn't take a picture of the crock pot looking all sad and forlorn, begging for someone to plug it in.

Instead this is a picture of my latest book (about the death of Poe, I'm still in it and it has its pluses and minuses, but I like to wait til the end to decide for myself if it's worth recommending) surrounded by some pretty flowers at the arboretum.

I like to steal a few minutes to head outside every chance I can, if not to read at least just to enjoy nature. As soon as temps break the 60 degree barrier there is a magnetic pull to get me outside. Too bad I don't have anything much to do out there yet or really a good place to go.

What do you like to do when you only get a few minutes to yourself? (I am guessing few people will say run around like an idiot snapping pictures of flowers or posing a book just for the hell of it) Have you had any Cherry Nut experiences lately?

And the most important question of all, just what do you make for dinner in the summer?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A canvas wedding dress

First up, I've been doing a little spring cleaning. Melissa from the lovely M&M wedding (and a Nebraska native, yes we are all this awesome) got married recently so I moved her over to the Newlywed side of links. I also realized that a few, okay so just about everyone, have given up on the picture a day thing except me (cause I am insane like that). So those who were Newlyweds also got bumped over there.

I also changed the one link list to stuff I find cool and visit every day. I'll admit I am a bit selfish when it comes to my link list and probably use it more than anyone else. Google Reader and I don't get on, it knows what it did.

Now onto the wedding dress. This is actually my first wedding dress ever painted on canvas. I know that doesn't seem like such a big deal but well to me it is. I rely on a lot of little detail and being able to make fine lines and canvas can have a much different grain from canvas board. So for this I actually got a much nicer piece of canvas just so I wouldn't, frankly, fuck it up.

This is what the original dress was based on. I'm thinking I should start asking for links to the manufactures page if only for detail shots. I love adding the tiny details, as they are what make one white dress different from all other white dresses, but photographers never seem to capture those as well. Though I will always base the dress upon the shape of the person wearing it as they make it their dress (and also photoshop lies, this dress didn't look even close to so mermaidey on the owner).It's a little shiny cause I took the picture just after covering in protective gloss. I get impatient sometimes.

Hopefully my next wedding project will either be a dress from a nearlywed involving two cats or Jennifer's with a hot dog cart. The race is on to see who gets me pictures first!

Oh and Linda when I finally dig myself out of this wedding dress hole I will get to painting your friends bouquet. It'll be quite a challenge but I'm up to it. Plus I may go mad if I just paint little white dresses on nothing but black backgrounds. In fact some may even say I have gone mad.

HA HA HA HA HA HA ha ha ha. Sorry, forgot to take the caps lock off.

Picture a Day - Day 141

I've tap danced around this issue a few times but I think I should finally be frank and up front about it.

I don't own a purse. I have never owned a purse. Unless there is some sort of chromosomal combination I shall probably never own a purse.

What I do use (aside from some lap top bag spillover for work) is an ID holder that contains all the cards and 30 forms of identification I could need as well as a nice clip for my keys.

We used to get them free from the University when I lived in the dorms but they could only stay together for a year at best as they were made from plastic. Then I moved away and that very year they put out a fancy ID holder made out of fabric and everything.

Using my old connections (not so much my fiance who was too embroiled in grad school work) I managed to swindle one and used it for 4 years. Look at the poor thing, it's on its last tip toes.
This is what I'd look like if I were a ghost, haunting people for the fun of it by writing messages in their cereal or appearing in random pieces of tupperware! Woooo! This just couldn't keep going on. I felt so bad for the poor ol' girl, the key ring was dangling on a few pieces of thread. I knew I had to do something.

So I went out and got myself a new one.Look it's blue! And leather so hopefully it'll last me longer than four years before it starts to look like someone ran it over with a lawn mower. I was slightly sad to throw away the last free ID holder I ever got from the University. With it goes those wild and carefree dorm days.

Guess this means I really do have to grow up. And I was so hoping a little pixie would show up and fly me off to Neverland. Or at least leave behind some of that delicious fairy dust.

I just learned that a stray dog my best friend took in a few months ago left a little surprise for them this morning in the form of a little puppy (or possibly more). I know, it's a big inconvenience and unexpected, but awe! Puppies!

In a few months maybe I can go play with the puppies!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Weight Watchers at Guantanamo Bay

Any woman who has grown up in this Western Society has at some point been told that if you just eat 1,200; 1,000 or just 800 calories a day you'll meet our body standards and be accepted into society.

Apparently something else can come from limiting energy for your body and forcing it into starvation mode. You can also get a prisoner to talk.

Quoted from The F Word

In a footnote to a May 10, 2005, memorandum from the Office of Legal Council, the Bush attorney general’s office argued that restricting the caloric intake of terrorist suspects to 1000 calories a day was medically safe because people in the United States were dieting along those lines voluntarily.

“While detainees subject to dietary manipulation are obviously situated differently from individuals who voluntarily engage in commercial weight-loss programs, we note that widely available commercial weight-loss programs in the United States employ diets of 1000 kcal/day for sustain periods of weeks or longer without requiring medical supervision,” read the footnote. “While we do not equate commercial weight loss programs and this interrogation technique, the fact that these calorie levels are used in the weight-loss programs, in our view, is instructive in evaluating the medical safety of the interrogation technique.”
Here's the gist, the Bush administration is taking a cue from companies like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig and saying that because people elect to do something it means it must be healthy and okay to inflict on prisoners. Well hell then I think they just said that Marijuana, huffing paint and meth are all healthy for you because people do it.

There have been some great thoughts on just how mind blindingly asinine that is from the great Sweet Machine at Shapely Prose.

What kills me the most is the simple fact that what every single woman across America is expected to do in order to fit in, what we are bombarded and ordered to obsess about, what we must do every day for the rest of our lives was being used to get alleged terrorists to confess.

They held dieting up there with things like water boarding or walling (where they slammed someone into a false wall) because they truly believed dieting was a form of torture.

Yet every fucking god damn day we are told that we must diet, not eat enough to fuel our bodies, just to be allowed to exist. We must torture ourselves every day for the rest of our lives to be worth something.

I say to hell with all of that. To me diet is not some counting calories obsessed nonsense, or putting foods on good or bad lists (newsflash: foods can't rob convenience stores or build homes for the homeless, food has no morality. Everything can kill you).

A diet is what you eat, it is not what you don't eat. I learned that in my Animal nutrition class where societal prejudices didn't come into play. We didn't learn that animals should only eat pomegranates because one flawed study found that feeding it exclusively to mice kept them skinnier. Instead you work to get that animal all the energy it needs to live and grow.

Meanwhile out here in the people land we are telling people they must torture their bodies, that flour is evil, and babies are going on diets.

Sometimes I wish I could wake up and find out all this is some sort of screwed up television show.

And please think before you respond. I would love a world where we actually think before we open our mouths instead of spewing the same old doctorine. Really, diets were used for torture. Let that sink in for a minute. What you have been told to do your whole life was used to get information from alleged terrorists. How would you feel if say you found out they used your beloved cosmetics to kill people?

Picture a Day - Day 140

The Internet is down!

Repeat, the Internet is down. This is not a drill. Please get to your emergency stations and prepare yourself. The Internet is down.

At least it did go down for a good chunk of yesterday. And it was awful. Hair tearing awful, mind numbingly awful, um eyebrow arching awful. A giant bowl of cheerios with no milk awful.

There I was, calmly surfing the internet and in no way tempting fate by doing 30 things at once on my little browser. I just finished my post and was looking to see what else was new out there on this magical ride, then the unexpected happened.

"ERROR 404: You are not connected to the internet." All across the entire university howls of rage and frustration rang as someone must have accidentally sprayed their morning break's donut jelly all over the server.

You never really realize just how much you rely on something til it's gone. Now I could no longer go looking for new papers on M.haem, no blasting genomic sequence, and certainly no perusing the fisher site for new pipettes. So while I was waiting for my little bacteria to grow up just what could I do with myself for the rest of the day?

I know! I'll organize and catch up on my lab notebook:Please don't steal any of my lovely graphs and data that you can't really read. Especially all the experiments that didn't work right. Trust me, it really isn't worth it.

The lab notebook is the albatross around any scientists neck. You shot the damn thing so you have to wear it but there's no good reason to like it. (Okay so all I got out of the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner is never ever talk to strange old men on the way to a wedding, as they're probably just making stuff up on the spot to screw with you).

In theory you're supposed to record every little thing you've ever done in lab. Only if you did write down everything you did in lab you'd never get anything done. There's a good amount of time when all I do is maybe mix up some lab staples and nothing even vaguely experimental, so then it becomes a debate. If you're fresh into research and just ecstatic to have your own notebook you'll write down every time you refill tip boxes or get more nanopure water.

Spend a few years in lab and you filter yourself based upon just how badly you think you or someone else reading this will need the information down the future. The alterations made to a program, important. Writing out the important 30 times when you can just refer to it on page 10, not quite so important.

Also for job security every lab notebook must be read as though an orangutan got a hold of a pen and had a grand ol' time of it. They can't fire you if no one else can read it.

Anyway, the point of all this: There is no need to panic when the Internet is down! Just get into your special "No Internet" suits and take a little nap. We'll wake you once it is up and you can get back to work.

P.S. Does anyone know how to get into contact with Megan from My Maui Wedding? I got her painting back in the mail even though I mailed it over a month ago. I tried e-mailing her 4 days ago and haven't heard anything. I'm not sure what's up.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Only attractive people are worthwhile?

I'm sure by now you, your cat, and possibly your best friend's rhododendron have all seen Susan Boyle sing her little heart out over in Britain somewhere while people gasped in shock and awe.

Yes yes, it's a heart warming story. Can't believe she did it. Blah blah blah. But stop and think about it for a second. Just why the hell was everyone surprised?

You do not have to have plucked eye brows, be 110 pounds and 20 years old to be able to belt out a great rendition of a song from Les Miserables. (In fact I've since learned that your voice actually gets better with age up til about 45 and if you know how to take care of it, it can last 10-15 years past that.)

Our society is digging itself into a deeper and deeper hole of plasticized culture. You can no longer have any worth unless you are young, attractive and thin. Truly, you could be the best singer this world has ever seen but unless you look like Shakira if you dare to appear in public you shall be scorned and ridiculed.

But it isn't just the music industry. To get published you can't just send in an exciting page turner you spent your life on, no you also have to be able to sell that book when you make the talk show rounds. So you'd better be as hot as possible or no one will buy it.

Just think of all those literary giants: Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde. Do you think they'd really stand a chance to have their ideas heard in this day and age when youth and beauty are far prized over experience or talent? Can you imagine Jane Austen or Emily Dickinson competing in a wet t-shirt competition. Or Dante being told he has to sex up his image to get more people to buy their own copy of the Divine Comedies?

It's just accepted that unless someone looks the part there is no way they have anything interesting to say. I'm reminded of a humor novel written by one Michael J. Nelson that actually touched upon this idea where an older man writes a fictional adventure novel. Only no one will take him seriously so he hires a young strapping actor who looks the part to pretend to be the author and suddenly there's talk of the book hitting the best seller lists.

Honestly, I foresee something like that happening in a few years. The question though is will we praise the author who has to hide her mind behind a pretty face as we do Boyle for doing what she can to get recognized or will we shame her for lying to us all on Oprah's couch.

P.S. There's a new Target Women that makes me so glad I use Gillette, though then I can't actively start boycotting Schick for these god awful commercials:

Picture a Day - Day 139

There are a few things I start to get the itch for once about April rolls around.

I wanna plant something and actually have it grow instead of stubbornly refuse to come out of its room.

Every meal for about two weeks will have been grilled in some form or fashion regardless of how practical it is (pasta is a bit of a challenge).

Finally, I want to smack a bright yellow-green ball all over the place.

For most of my life I've had trouble getting someone to play with me. It isn't that I'm really that good (or honestly good at all), I just love playing it so much I can do it for hours and hours in just about any weather. And I get so excited when anyone does agree to play I wear them ragged.

We actually do have access to a free court but it's also where we work and sometimes you just want to limit how much you have to see the same building every day. So instead, and also to sort of tie in with That Wife's April Lifestyle challenge , I present for your consideration Parking Lot Tennis:Parking Lot Tennis is a lot like Street Tennis I used to play as a kid. There's no net for the ball to get caught up on and no high fences to keep it from winging its way into the neighbors yard and down the block.

You'd think we wouldn't have to be on the look out for cars, but you'd be amazed how many people are too lazy to want to walk to get their mail.I actually took all these pictures while simultaneously playing so if they look a little weird that'd be why. It is kinda interesting holding a racket in one hand and a camera in the other.The Parking Lot right outside our apartment complex slopes just a tiny bit (about 45 degrees) so there is a whole lot of chasing after the ball (and you just come to accept divots as part of the landscape). Luckily there are no storm drains to catch and eat it up (I can't tell you the number of times I had to go down into the sewers to retrieve a ball or hockey puck). ACTION SHOT! I made my husband look like he's missing an arm, oopsie.

Well that is my suggestion for what you can do for free round about town on a bright sunny day.

All right, so it's mostly free if you already own a racket and a can or two of balls. Though balls don't really last very long so I suppose there's a good chance you'd have to buy a new set.

Okay slight revision, Parking Lot tennis is a great game to play for free if you find some old rackets in the attic and also stumble across a fiver so you can pick up a can of balls at Wal-Mart.

Thank You.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Picture a Day - Day 138

Okay so I was mostly joking on Friday about being old and stuff there's no need to go and give myself white hair.

And it wasn't just a few strands hidden up at the crown either. This was more like a big gloop all along the bottom. Almost as through I accidentally drug it through some sort of white liquid like substance. Perhaps a dye for turning things from one color to the next:I am notorious about this. When I am doing something that say requires just a touch more focus than normal I will enter into a different mind frame and won't notice a single clue my body is telling me.

There have been times when I've strained a muscle trying to stay perfectly still to get just that perfect shot, usually on tip toes or crouched down in some crazy manner. Back when I was in school it was pretty common for me to sit down for a few hours, crank out a paper and just as I was getting to the conclusion suddenly realize I had to go to the bathroom RIGHT NOW! (Or the other hilarious time I had my leg up to act like a desk and was working on another paper and the phone rang. It was a wonder I didn't fall on my face as my leg was completely dead and would barely move.)

Probably the scariest tale of this strange focus of mine was when I had to edit a video I'd shot for an honors class. I spent 10 hours locked in a small room and I only came out 3 times to go to the bathroom. Otherwise I never once wandered away from the screen.

Basically all I'm saying is that I am a freak that should be shunned and feared. Friend good? Fire bad!

Oh I also require your help, once you're done brandishing that pitchfork in my face. See I've come to realize that I should include some kind of cute little Thank You note type thing with my few random Dress painting purchases. Some shops at Etsy seem to also include say a small little sample.

So then I thought, hey what if I do a little sample only I also use it as a chance to use up most of the extra paint left over from a job. Here's what I've come up with so far:
Where do I go from here? Should I attach them to some other backing? Just write "Thank You" on the back? Or be really lazy and just slide it in with the painting in its mailing envelope?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Picture a Day - Day 137

Last night I got the weirdest craving for toast, and not just any toast it had to be cinnamon sugar toast. (Though there's a good possibility it's thanks to this)

So I used our toaster that really should be designated no longer as something for browning bread but more as a storage unit that once every 6 months I pull out to use for its manufactured process.What is it about the toaster that pretty much guarantees it prime counter space while it may get used less often than your cake stand? Blenders and the like usually get stashed but that good ol' toaster gets left out.

Is it a holdover for the 50's when every new appliance was just the coolest thing ever and had to be shown off to taunt your friends? Does anyone actually eat toast every day?

Yes these are the kind of things I think about while I'm waiting for my golden brown tasty toast.

Friday, April 17, 2009

My own greeting card

You know that crazy little thing called inspiration. When deadlines are looming, you gather up the most expensive tracking equipment and try to track your prey down. Only inspiration is always one, two, or twelve steps ahead of you.

So you give up and flop down into a bath (if you must maintain tradition it should be Greek) and just when you're about to give up, inspiration sneaks in and knocks you on the back of the head. (This is why creative genius is usually closely associated with bags of ice and severe head trauma.)

Recently I got smacked upside the head courtesy of one Jenna Cole. I rather doubt I'm telling anyone who doesn't know about her gorgeous photography but That Wife has dived feet and head first into professional photography and I swear you'd never believe it. All of the stuff she's put out echos with years of hard learned (and earned) experience and an artful touch.

If you go to her website you'll see in the banner this lovely picture of a bride relaxing with a book in a field of blue bonnets. I'd never seen anything like this before (I mostly mean the field of flowers though a bride feeling relaxed enough to curl up with a book is pretty damn awesome too) and it's been gnawing on my brain for a few days.

So this is what finally came out:

It is more of an abstract representation as this is a little bigger than Thank You card size but I really love the perspective and the chance to actually paint bright blue flowers.

This was also done on one of my ur nights (maybe I'll share all the horrific details when I get that other wedding dress up) so I think my second or third go around will look much better.

But I can happily say this is my first hand painted greeting card. Now to decide what to do with it.

Picture a Day - Day 136

Hi everyone! This is where I live:And this is where I travel to everyday to get my very important letter, packages and junk ad fliers that make a huge mess when you pull them out of the box and usually wind up leading to a whole lot of cursing on my part:You want to know what's on those little keys? Well we really shouldn't. It could be very important post office business and okay okay, don't make that face. Stop crying! There's no reason to throw a tantrum over it. Take a look for yourself: There, you've seen the thing. Now, can we go? Shesh, kids shows are one giant pain in the ass. No wonder the old host held up a liquor store in Peoria.

I suppose this could be the point where I talk about how I get the mail everyday while my husband has little to no idea where the box even is, but that's a little trite. So instead I'll show off just what I got in Mr. Mail slot yesterday.

Why it's the form to renew my Driver's License only 90 days before my birthday! Yay!You know what this all means? I am officially old. Not only am I old but I now get pamphlets on how to know when my eyesight is going or if I'm leaving my left turn signal on all the time.

No longer do I have to go through the 2-3 year torment of getting a learner's permit, going back to the DMV a year later to take the test, then getting another more real one I guess at 18 and finally being considered a full citizen by 21.

Nope, now I'm over 25 and I'll never have to visit the DMV again. Every 5 years I can just mail this little thing back and laugh as they were once again thwarted from checking my peripheral vision.

It is kinda funny in a sad sort of way how after your 25 birthday you really have no more birthdays to look forward to. No major milestones like being able to rent a car (I have never understood why they wait til 25. Do they think you would never travel til you're at least 30 or what?) or imbibe of some yeast infused beverage.

Anyone else want to join me in feeling just a little bit older and wiser? Or at least wanna nip out and get in on one of the Early Bird specials at Dennys?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Beading 101

I've been hard at work on wedding dresses this week (guess that's what free advertising will do for you). So prepare to be seeing a lot of these (well just three really).

I'm really digging the return to a simple single colored background. It focuses the eyes on just the dress. I also had one bride request I do her bouquet so if there's room I'm trying to work that in as well. Maybe I should try shoes to. Anyone want a painting of their shoes?

Anyway, on to the dress. I think I've finally started to get a good grasp on beading, relying more on texture (and my secret weapon silvery paint) and less on trying to mimic exactly what the beading looks like.For comparison this would be the dress I was trying to mimic.I've actually got another order sort of done. I fear my blue fixation has gotten the best of me because what I thought was a dark navy uniform is actually a dark green uniform. Oh well. Another few coats of paint won't hurt it.

Tonight I shall hopefully turn blue into green and create flowers from paper.

Best commercial ever!

Okay so I have no idea if this was a real commercial or not but oh my God I cannot stop laughing.

I'd believe that the program is real and probably Microsoft's answer to garageband (which I know looks nothing like this SongSmith and sounds a lot better) but just the over acting, the incredibly cheesy music and lyrics, the fact that some guy in a band sounds like he works for otis elevator.

Can't stop laughing!

This life long Mac user sure hopes that it's a real commercial but a part of me doubts that even Microsoft is that out of touch with reality. Glow in the dark towels?

"Help me find a way to make my groove on?" That's Engrish at its best there.

Can't breathe! Laughing too hard! Need some sort of oxygen tank!

Picture a Day - Day 135

Isn't it amazing just how tightly coiled spring is? When you least expect it BAM! It jumps out and pokes you in the eye. At least that's my theory on why my eyes start watering from mid way in April all through the end of May.

I'm sure you're all getting tired of them but it seemed as though overnight suddenly everything was blossoming. So strap on your allergy proof masks, we're diving in.

I have no idea if this is a cherry or dogwood tree, I am leaning more towards cherry but probably the hallucinating kind to discourage college students from eating it:
Oh how about one more?
We have a dairy store on campus with some very tasty freshly made ice cream, so this is a rather common sight. Still kinda sad though: The Magnolia trees are blooming like crazy too. Bet ya didn't think we'd have any magnolia trees, did ya. Well me either til I wandered around and looked at the sign. Aboretums make identifying plants a whole lot easier.If anyone is a big lilac fan, the campus arboretum has something like 30 different types. It's still a little to early for them, but here are the baby lilacs just starting their growing journey: These last ones are just some pretty little flowers I spotted on the ground, kinda like an afterthought. Poor little underdog, needed their own little portrait:
I'd offer some funny and entertaining commentary but I fear I may be going through a bit of burnout on pictures. You know it's bad when pretty pictures of the outside don't even capture my attention much.

Though I have no intention of giving up on it, I just fear I've reached my third slump and just need to be inspired again. I'm beginning to see why most normal people who do this either take just one picture of something and write a sentence as opposed to a whole paragraph or so about it, or take a bunch of pictures and just show off one each day based around a theme.

I invented crazy rules for myself so every picture you see I did take just the day before (I am tearing through batteries like crazy) so I also have to edit and upload it the night before. There is a part of me that can't wait til all this is over, but even now I like to look back at say January or December and see how quickly everything changed from dark white and cold to bright sunny warmth.

It is interesting too how much I've learned about the camera I use, how I hold myself in very strange positions just to get the right shot, and how daylight has become my best friend (I just about never use flash anymore). I also used to feel incredibly self conscious taking out a camera in front of people and taking a picture. Now I'll pull the thing out and snap away sometimes taking two or three if I'm not sure if it was in focus.

Sorry, just some thoughts I've had in my head for a while about the project. I'll be back to my regularly scheduled snarky self tomorrow. In the mean time I think I'll try dark and self reflective to match the clouds and rain outside. Anyone got any Morrisey?