Things I Can Talk Voluably About for Extended Periods of Time, But That Only Have a Limited Audience

In no particular order:

-The dairy industry
-Raw milk, specifically
-Chris Thile
-The process, science, and history behind wool felting
-Tiny houses
-Straw bale construction
-Composting toilets
-Food policy
-L.M. Montgomery
-Louisa May Alcott
-John Green
-Edible gardening/landscaping
-Herbal remedies
-Public radio
-Saturday Night Live
-Arrested Development
-Bread baking methods
-Various oddities of various animals
-Natural history and art museums
-US Education policy and it's deep, deep flaws
-Montessori/Waldorf education
-YA fiction
-The Dewey Decimal System

This is absurd.


Want to lose weight? Use these tried-and-true 20th century solutions for the every-day, career-minded employed-professional


  • Eat only egg whites, the least nutritious and tasteless part of the egg. These are best consumed pre-de-yoked out of cardboard cartons
  • Instead of eating fewer Oreos, eat only the half with the frosting and throw the other half away
  • Unless you know the exact caloric content of every facet of all ingredients, the meal is not worth eating and is, in fact, dangerous and highly suspect.
  • When preparing toast, eat only the slices of bread that are not symmetrical on both sides, crust-wise. Only butter (excuse me, margarine or margarine substitute or similar) the smaller side, so as to consume fewer calories.
  • When drinking coffee, add only pre-sweetened, shelf-stable cream-product, as actual cream is essentially poison, as is every dairy product other than skim milk. (NOTE: skim milk should only be consumed on Sundays)
  • Preparing meals from scratch is overly dangerous, as farmers do not provide adequate nutritional data along with their organic kale and carrots (see third bullet).  **Stay tuned for the change.org petition.**
  • Plain rice cakes should be kept on one's person at all times, with extras in the glove compartment of your car.
  • Only chew sugarless gum
  • Use only 0 calorie toothpaste
  • Under no circumstances should you actually consume a cinnamon roll. Not only will this lead to an appreciation of cinnamon rolls, it also is a gateway into the dangerous world of the cinnamon challenge.
  • Be advised that calories, when consumed healthfully, only come in increments of 100.
  • Should you be tempted to drink anything other than sparkling water, pomegranate juice, or FiberPlus, wash your mouth out with soap.
  • Bread will literally kill you. Pasta will only sometimes kill you.


Itinerantly Wandering the Midwest

This has been a very... MUCH summer. It's not even over yet, and it already holds several [Ellen] World Records. For instance, this summer I have:

-Been to and slept in six states: Iowa, Alaska, Washington, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota
-Slept in 17 beds
-Lived out of a suitcase for 71 days
-Driven many, many miles, more than I care to count.
-Visited two new states, Alaska and Washington
-Driven in big-city traffic (I had to let go of a lot of anger)

Not in the realm of records:
-I flew for the first time completely alone and unassisted
-Stayed in a hotel on a spur-of-the-moment whim of flight authorities
-Did many and varied things completely out of my comfort zone
-Moved my life around three separate times
-Moved to a state and moved out again within three weeks
-Made dozens of new friends
-Went to ALA for the first, and I can't imagine the last time
-Read lots of new books
-Got three new library cards
-Graduated college
-Got tonsillitis
-Ate tapas
-Took a plane, train, and automobile, in that order, in one day

But yes, it's been a muchly much summer. For those of you keeping score at home (and by home I mean Facebook), you've been privy to the exciting adventure of me Moving For Good, and then saying Oh No Wait I Am Going Somewhere Else Haha Faked You Out (how do people type that way all the time, capitalizing every word? It's exhausting).

What happened was I moved to Madison, because Madison is where I'm going to library school. I hadn't deferred yet, because I was kind of anticipating digging up a mass of gold or finding a sizeable chunk of ambergris or something like that, but unfortunately that didn't happen and I decided to defer school for a year. Not a big deal, this way I can get in-state tuition and save money and possibly get other awesome funding (preferably in the form of an on-campus job like a TA or something). In the meantime, I decided to look for a job and an apartment in Madison, so I could stay for the year. Unfortunately, nothing at all was panning out: no jobs responded to me (except for the movie theatre, where the interview generated a good story and worse impression, remind me to tell you when we have coffee next), none of the apartments I saw were terribly habitable or in my price range, and it was proving to be a daunting task to get to know people when I A. knew no one else and B. don't do anything that people generally do in club or group form.

So! I remembered that Minnesota has a reciprocal tuition agreement with Wisconsin, where if you are a resident of one you get practically in-state tuition in the other. After a lot of thought and a lot of people telling me I was not, in fact, a crazed lunatic for proposing the idea, I decided to move to the Twin Cities for the year. Papa was gracious enough to send out some networking emails (a new concept to me. My net experience with networking is meeting people and saying "Oh my gosh, you like that thing too? Let's be friends, here's my twitter account") and in about two days I had a place to live lined up an a job interview. That was on a Wednesday, and the interview was on Tuesday, so I decided to move on the next Monday. And  then I did. That night I got a call about interviewing at Barnes and Noble as well. Needless to say, it was a bit of a whirlwind. But here I am, both interviews went well, I found a very nice bakery, and my bike gets to live indoors. Everybody lives, Rose, just this once.

(IMPORTANT NOTE: I'm still going to grad school in Madison, just next year)

Picture time!:

Being impatient in the Seattle airport after my stuffy ears and my aviation inexperience caused me to miss my connecting flight. Spoiler, everything turned out okay.

Later that same day, but in Alaska with food in my stomach. Amanda took me to the Mendenhall Glacier and we probably almost saw a bear on the trail.

I spent an wonderful and absurd amount of time in Chicago, except it was all split up and never all at once. This is by Lake Michigan when it was all foggy and lovely out.

During one of the trips I went to the ALA conference. They had different musical acts just wandering around the convention center on each day. The first day was a mini-marching band. To see a super coincidental video of me taking this picture, click here.

I turned 22, along with my Grandma. I love sharing my birthday with one of the coolest women in my life! We had a great time and went shopping and out to lunch and everything.

Another one of my adventures was farm-sitting for a professor for three days. They have  eating chickens and egg chickens and eating ducks and baby ducks and egg ducks and cats and a dog, not to mention their expansive garden and strawberry patch. Needless to say, I was in heaven:). This is the take for the day, egg-wise. Two of the eggs are blue, and the big white one in the corner is a duck egg. I pretty much existed off of eggs, toast, peas, and strawberries for the week. Absolutely zero regrets.

We had Cousins Camp at the beginning of July, and as you can see in the picture we carried on the tradition of Diet Coke and Mentos. There were 11 of us this year, and it was completely wonderful from start to finish! A little lower-key than previous Cousins Camps, but we all enjoyed hanging around the farm a little more, turning gallons and gallons of water into balloons, eating lots of ice cream, and flying our kites.

Soon after that I moved to Madison, and now here I am in Minneapolis. Like I keep telling Papa, I'm sure I'll be off to Namibia any day now.

In all seriousness, I actually feel really peaceful about being here. When I got to Madison I cried practically every day, which I assumed to be me just doing my thing and figuring out the whole Living On My Own thing and moving and whatever, so I wasn't too concerned. But starting on the day that I decided to come to the Cities, I haven't cried once, and I've simply felt good and reasonable about the entire enterprise. Probably a good sign.

Now: I need to save up money to go see A Prairie Home Companion and tick that off my list.


What I'm digging

I dig a lot of things, among them Ashley English's blog Small Measure. Every week she makes a post of all the things she's been digging lately. I thought I'd do the same!

This is my garden being tilled. I can't believe it's getting ready to be actually done! The weather has been so crazy this year, first too cold, then too wet, just all over the place. Thankfully it got tilled right before yet another big rain storm, so everything is doing great. We're doubling digging some beds, and getting a lot more structure in place for future years. It's going to be SWEET.

We did Rite of Spring again this year. My friend Andrew came again, and we were all suitably crazy and painted and wet at the end. 

I've been dying a lot of slippers recently, because that's all I've been making, because they're super easy and cute and everyone likes slippers! These were for Molly. I dyed them a really neat blue, and then dyed some roving orange to make a carrot on them. I'll try and take a picture to post soon. 

These are two of my suitemates, Tim and Danny, right after their last Jazz Band concert! It was wonderful, and they played TWO encores. 

This is my friend Molly. She's awesome.
This is my roommate Courtney with a chicken. We have a lot of really cool adventures together.

This is my view from a hammock on campus. Beautiful!

So, briefly, that's what I've been digging recently! What are you all up to?


What is Ellen up to? A Frequently Asked Questions guide

Ellen enjoys working at the library. Once a boy asked her to recycle a single staple and it was hilarious. She completes many projects, but the two most exciting have been buying $1,000 worth of e-books and helping with the digitization of the college archives.

Grad school:
Ellen got into graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to study Library Science. She isn’t sure if she’ll go in the fall because of money reasons, but she really would like to. If she does not go in the fall she’ll look for jobs in the greater Wisconsin/Minnesota area for a year in order to get in-state tuition. If she does go to school she will start orientation the last week in August, with classes starting September 3rd.

Ellen is currently in her 7th block at Cornell, in a low-level biology course called “Sex and Food”. This SOUNDS really exciting and provocative, but really it’s all about evolution and miosis. She has two tests and very little homework. Her professor is really wonderful, studies the sexual activity and evolution of fruit flies, and is pretty crazy (but in a wonderful sort of way). She does not want to graduate for sentimental and academic reasons, but is still looking forward to new things. (Update: She is now in 8th block Senior Seminar for Education, and is writing about introversion and collaboration in the classroom).

Ellen recently bought a 2003 Hyundai Elantra from Dan Deery’s in Cedar Falls after looking for eight months. After taking it to a trusted mechanic, she bartered for it with a nice man at the dealership and paid a fair but not ideal price for it. It has around 70,500 miles on it, and gets 32mpg highway. It is grey with a purple cast to it, and she enjoys it greatly.

Ellen is not currently involved with anyone at the moment. She had a crush on a boy but it turned out that he had only ever been to the school library once, so she dropped him.

Summer Plans:
Ellen does not currently know her summer plans, beyond traveling to Alaska in May. She may stay in Mount Vernon and live with a professor’s dogs while he and his family are on a research trip in Oregon, or she may move to her new job (see: Grad school).

The garden is doing well, granted that it stops raining soon so she can get it tilled and get everything put in. The new gardeners are wonderful, and she is only having sort of a hard time letting go.


I can't even tell you

How much I really truly and deeply enjoy most aspects of my life right now. For instance, today:

I got up and went to dig potatoes for some people I'd never met before. I heard about Dot and Don from one of the professors here on campus, and they came highly recommended as wonderful people. Was she ever right! They have a massive garden, at least an acre, on land that Don has farmed his whole life. They feed themselves, their kids, their neighbors and their friends off of it, and it is a beautiful, gorgeous thing. This year they've had a little trouble getting the crops in (they are both 84-year-old farmers), especially the potatoes. Don has chronic bronchitis, and since he is usually the digger and Dot the sorter, they found themselves at a loss. Thankfully people have been coming by to help them out, and they aren't quite sure what to do with the extra hands, but I think they're getting used to it. Dot fed us oranges, peanut butter and cracker sandwiches, grapes, coffee, and Reeses, and Don told us all about farming in Iowa during the Great Depression.

Then at 1:00 (still dressed in farmer clothes, straight out of the car), Courtney and I went to a book binding workshop led by Peter and Donna Thomas. They are currently trekking around the country in their hand-built (by them) Gypsy wagon, spreading their book arts knowledge. I've gone to a book binding workshop before, and loved it, so this was icing on the cake. We made three different miniature books with three different binding/cover styles, and it was incredible! I believe the Cole Library Facebook page should be posting picture soon. For now, here's me with a book, taken by Jen:
Woo farming clothes!
They gave us a tour of their Gypsy wagon (see link. No really, go look at it), whereupon my eyes nearly fell out of my head, as it is a small house and we all know how I feel about those. Oh my. It was amazing. Peter got out a ukelele and played us a song about bookbinding (Bookbinding girls won't you come out tonight, and bookbind by the light of the moon. Not joking), and then revealed that the ukelele contained a handpainted book about ukeleles. I mean, come on.

And now I'm working at the library for a few hours, and then going home to watch a movie (let's be real, it'll probably be Midnight in Paris), or listen to A Prairie Home Companion, and then sleeping. What a perfect day. And reasonably representative of my life right now. Except for student teaching but that's another post for another time.


The Joys of Shopping for One

The local supermarket. I haven't met Gary yet.

I've done a lot of grocery shopping in my life, let me tell you. When I'm at home, it's a weekly ritual Mom and I go through, and it's great. But until this summer, it was always a rather passive thing. Mom made the list, Mom knew the deals, Mom chose the shops. Now, though, I shop to feed myself, not to buy into the familial pool of food as I have my whole life, which is very strange and sort of liberating. Not that Mom hasn't bought excellent food, but now I get exactly what I want in the quantities I'll eat it in. I know that sound incredibly normal, but right now it's still a novel idea.

For instance, the first week I bought chunky peanut butter. We've NEVER had chunky peanut butter at our house, ever, but I've discovered that I LOVE chunky peanut butter. So much so that I actually eat it with a spoon right out of the jar. I think for about three days mostly what I ate was open faced PBJ sandwiches with jelly from the Amish. A winning combination, my friends.

I also bought Tang. I am a huge fan of water and milk, but sometimes I'd like something with a different flavor. At school I drink juice or lemonade, but I don't have juice machines here that provide me with infinite juice (unfortunately), so I comprimised with Tang. So good, and I get to put as much in as I want.

My other shopping thing I do is I buy one luxury item a week. One week it was ginger snaps. Another it was chocolate milk. This week it was Fresca. I bought grape juice one time but I liked it so much that it's now a staple. I swear I could drink a jug of grape juice every two days, easy. I refrain from that particular excess, however ;).

I guess the whole point of this post is that 1. It is weird to buy straight up groceries for myself and 2. Little indulgences are nice.


World traveller?


I've never been outside the U.S., sad as it may be. I've been all over INSIDE (approximately 32 states, both coasts, north and south), but never even made it to Canada. Recently I decided that this needs to change. I need to get out and go do things while I can! So, I think after I graduate next spring, I'm going to take off on a plane for somewhere that is not North America.
Current list of top places in no particular order:
  1. Ireland
  2. Nigeria
  3. India
  4. New Zeland
  5. Japan
  6. Paris
  7. London
  8. Italy
  9. China
  10. Amsterdam
  11. Sweden
I have some limitations, however.
  • I don't speak any language with any sort of proficiency outside of English
  • I'd like to KNOW someone where I'm going, as then I will have someone to call if I'm in trouble, and they'll know the area instead of me just going and getting stuck in tourist traps, etc.
  • Going alone may sound fun, but I hear it's more dangerous and probably less fun than having someone to share it with
  • I don't have a fantastic amount of money to spend, but I think I'm willing to pay about $2000. 
So. Where should I go? London seems nice, as it takes away the language barrier, is a relatively cheap plane ticket, especially if bought in advance and I'm guessing it would be easier to find a travelling companion to London than other places. I don't know anyone there, however.

Nigeria would be great, as I know some wonderful people there, but Jos is kind of in an uproar so I'm not sure if it's the best choice right now.

I think we have more missionary friends in China/Hong Kong, so that would be fun. The ticket price is a little prohibitive though.

There is always the option of North American travel, however.
In relative order:
  1. New York
  2. San Francisco
  3. Prince Edward Island
  4. Toronto
  5. Washington DC
  6. Boston
  7. Seattle
  8. Portland
  9. Asheville
 Cheaper, even easier to get someone to go with me, probably more likely that I'd know someone wherever I go, language not a problem...

But the point is that I'm stretching myself and getting OUT there and doing things I wouldn't normally do. 

So I guess what I'm saying is if any of you want to go somewhere with me next May, let me know. 



Since this weather is so incredibly nice, I thought I'd post about my summer plans!

This summer I have been presented with three incredible opportunities.
1. Work in a garden
2. House sit all summer in a house with 5 cats, rent free except for cat maintenance
3. Work in a library

I know what you're thinking: Those are Ellen's three favorite things: Gardens, cats, libraries! Add in Sharpies, bluegrass music, and a healthy dose of bread making and you've got yourself my perfect life.

The garden I have the privileged to work in is the Cornell Community SIFE garden. SIFE stands for Students in Free Enterprise, and is a national club where students start businesses and go to competitions with them and do all sorts of interesting and wonderful things. This garden project is three years old, and this is the second year in this particular location. My good friend Henry was the gardener last year, but he is going off to do bigger and better things (an internship in a museum, I think), and so I am taking over! The garden is about 8500 square feet, so it's going to be quite an undertaking. I ordered all my seeds, and realised that I am tentatively planning on growing about 45 different items. Wow! For more updates on this, please see my Garden Blog.

As for the house, a professor on campus has had me cat-sit for him several times over the past year, and this fall he asked if I would be interested in living in his house and taking care of them full time this summer. This was right about the time that I was starting to consider the garden plan, so it was incredibly serendipitous! There are five cats: Mahogany and Ruth are both blind, Claire and Cubby are both missing one leg, and Polly has nothing wrong outside of a poor thyroid. They are quite the bunch, let me tell you!

I wrote a few days ago about my new job at the library. I'm given to believe that I will still have a job come summer, but that it will be different. My supervisor mentioned quite a few possibilities, or perhaps all of the available possibilities being rolled into one, so it will be very exciting!

I would LOVE for any and all of you to come visit. Come for a day, come for three days, come for a week, I don't care. We'll have fun, make a lot of good food, do some gardening, and play with some kitties. If cats aren't your cup of tea, I also know a good many dogs in town, so I can hook you up!


Long time catch-up!

Hello everyone.
I've been gone for a while, mostly because my life has been pretty boring.
Or has it.
I think I am predisposed to think my life blog-worthy boring, but that might just be that the beauty is not in the eye of this particular beholder. So, here is a life catch-up, bullet-point style (my favorite).
  • Right now I am in a class called Children's Literature. Last block I was in Methods of Teaching Elementary Language Arts, so this is basically just a continuation of that. 
  • I have a practicum component to both of these classes. Practicum means that it's kind of half-way between student teaching and just observing. I only teach every once in a while, I do a lot of grading/paperwork for the teacher, and I'm mostly there to just absorb knowledge and classroom atmosphere! For these two blocks I have a 5th grade class in Iowa City. They are wonderful, though VERY different from the 1st grade one I had last semester. I am learning a lot from them:). Unfortunately it has not helped me make up my mind about which grade I want to teach in the long run. Both ends of the spectrum are so much fun, but for wildly different reasons. I guess we'll just let God handle this one!
  • I got a job! About a week ago the librarian who did my library internship with me emailed and asked if I'd be interested in a reference desk job a few nights a week. Of course I said yes! When all the details were hammered out and the dust settled, I became (as of... A hour and a half ago!) a Reference Peer Consultant. That means that I am on the reference desk from 7-9, Monday-Thursday, for the rest of the school year. So far it's been very fun, and the librarians have been great at training me and answering all my questions. 
  • The garden is slowly getting started! As some of you might know, I am spending the summer here at Cornell, tending the community garden. This topic will have its own post in the future. Suffice to say for now, my back hurts, my hands are getting callouses (more slowly than I would like), and things are moving! It's been super unseasonably warm out (I think it was 70 degrees today), so I've been doing a little pre-planting work.
  • I got a new roommate! Sarah took a leave of absence, so I found myself with an extra bed. Thankfully my friend Amanda was willing to move in! We've had a really great time talking late at night and getting up early in the morning.
I think that's all for now. I'll try to keep it up :)


Milk and Milk

Today I went ROGUE and replaced the water in my breadmachine bread recipe with MILK. The results were fantastic. Very soft bread, with a crackle-y, very dark crust. I hereby reccomend this to everyone.

Also I've gone through a lot of peppermint essential oil since Christmas... Who knew you could add it to so many things? My favorites have been bathwater (4drops/bath), which made the whole bathroom smell incredible, peppermint tea, and cocoa. Just add one drop/glass, though, because it's mighty strong.


Christmas is almost here!

I find it much harder to get into the Christmas frame of mind without snow. So far this year we haven't had any significant snow at all, and only had two instances of snow sticking. But tomorrow there is a forecast for some. All I really want is about three inches on the ground so you can't see the grass. Grass, which I might add, is still mostly green here because the weather has been so "great". Ug. I am never resigned to cold unless there is snow!

All I have left between me and home (and thusly Christmas) is one final paper, hopefully just five pages long. We'll see how it goes.

Merry Christmas!


Mason jars mason jars

I like few things more than using items in ways that they were not meant for. My newest discovery (thanks internet!) is that you can use a mason jar as a blender attachment.
Delicious multi-tasking

It turns out that the part of the blender with the blade screws onto a mason jar perfectly. So far I've blended up coffee beans to make coffee chocolate (melt chocolate in double boiler, coarsely blend espresso beans, mix, let sit for a few minutes, spoon onto wax paper, freeze, consume), and this smoothie (yogurt, blueberries, strawberries, milk). But really, I mean come on. The possibilities are endless. Whipped cream? Butter? Ice cream shakes? Anything else you can blend, but in smaller quantities?

But also, I just love mason jars. I drink tea and coffee out of them whenever I drink tea or coffee, because they have lids that screw on and absolutely prevent spilling. I store all manner of things in them, and greatly intend on having a large collection of large mason jars for baking item storage. Mom just gave me one with a handle (see picture) which is nice, though I do need to make a cozy for it.


Audiobook mania

I love audiobooks. Forrest and I went through a lengthy period where we would both listen to an audiobook as we went to sleep, which was always fun because you might fall asleep at one part and wake up at an entirely different one. My favorites (almost to the exclusion of all else) were a recording of Little Women read by Kate Reading, the whole of the Harry Potter series (obviously the American version, which, like the cover art, is obviously superior), and the dramatic reading of The Chronicles of Narnia. Little Women with Kate Reading is by far my favorite. I got it as a birthday present a few years ago and it is an obvious must for all long car rides. Kate isn't, I guess, the best I've heard, but I have grown quite attached to her, and thusly will not listen to another version of Little Women. If only she had done Little Men, too....

Quite recently I rediscovered Librivox.org and oh my. So many audiobooks, you can't even imagine! And all for free! Of course, I have discovered the depths of my audiobook snobbery. For instance, I really will not consider any book not read in an English accent. Unfortunately, they are very hard to find, but I have found one woman who has read so many of my favorite books and so I have bookmarked a lot of her catalog. I am about two chapters away from finishing her version of Pride and Prejudice, and intend to start next on Anne's House of Dreams, or perhaps (finally and at last!) and decent version of The Secret Garden, which, I assure you with all the snobbishness of my snobbery, is very difficult to find indeed (do not even get me started on the Focus on the Family version). But beyond that, I have found a version of Little Men in an English accent (Kate Reading does not, in fact, have an accent, and Little Men is an American book bred and born, so I am not sure why I insist on it here. No matter). I cannot seem to find an English-accented version of any Anne book except for House of Dreams, but my day may yet come!

Audio books are so wonderful, though, as you can do all manner of things while listening to them. Just yesterday I made a whole batch of coffee chocolate and two batches of cookies while listening to Pride and Prejudice. Another advantage (or perhaps, disadvantage) is I start speaking like the books. If I am listening to Jane Austen, for instance, my text messages get quite long and use many more words in a quite un-American style. But that's okay. I'm not really upset at all.

Moral of post: Listen to more audiobooks, and do so at Librivox for free.


New Adventures in Old Tea

There's this tea that Aveda salons carry that I love, called Thé Tea. It has this interesting after-sweetness that is great because then I don't add sugar. The only downside is that it costs $15/20 tea bags, so I usually just get it from my aunt for Christmas. Last night I was buzzing around the internet and found a recipe for it and decided to try it. Thankfully the local health food store has a pretty nice selection of dried herbs, and had everything I needed.

1 1/4 cup powdered licorice root
1 cup peppermint
1/8 cup fennel powder
1/8 cup basil (I used sweet basil, but I can only imagine it works with both)

The whole set up cost me less than $5, and it tastes exactly the same. My only problem was that since the licorice root and fennel were powdered, a tea ball wouldn't be of much use, so I sewed up a nice little drawstring teabag for myself. I think it'll be a pretty rare day that I purchase teabags again. I got a cup of peppermint for about $0.40, and since mint and this tea are my favourite and pretty much all I drink, I might as well just buy the straight herbs. Plus, I can make up my own teas! How fun!

Isn't my teabag fashionable?



Today I cleaned the turtle tank at the school where I have my practicum. It was fun and all but I don't think I'll ever have turtles. You can't knit sweaters for turtles.


Weird things I like

-Fruit on otherwise normal pizza
-Cinnamon and tomato sauce
-Flannel sheets in the summer
-Making up recipes
-Most foods
-Knitting graffiti
-Bubbles all the time
-Big flannel shirts
-Slide stairs
-Mini animals
-Mini houses
The day before I came back to Cornell this year I stopped by the high school to pick up a copy of my old A.P. Psychology textbook for Forrest (I already bought my own copy. Nerd alert). I’ve been back on several occasions since graduation, but every time the smell and atmosphere of Cedar Falls High School hits me in the gut and time travels back to journalism classes, the Alpha room, and speech team. It’s a powerful whack out of reality and into the past. The smell always stays the same.

I unconsciously start becoming more conscious of who is in the hallway with me (librarians are notoriously strict about the cellphone policy), I jump down the last three stairs like I always did, and peer around corners to make sure it’s okay that I’m out of class without a pass. Eventually I shake off the old feelings, talk on my cellphone in front of a librarian, and stride confidently through the halls. But for that first minute or so I’m just a shadow on the wall again.

Kids with cars...

(This is a draft I saved like a month and a half ago and promptly forgot to finish, ta-da)

Tonight Marshall, Sarah, Danny, Cate, Rachel, Alyssa, Henry, Colin, Brooke, a few other lovely souls and I went to the state park and had a grill out/bonfire/italian baby talent show/sing out/dance party. It was lovely. I can't quite describe how wonderful it is to be out with people who are a little crazy. We ran around and didn't fall in the lake and made banana boats and ate fresh tomatoes from Henry's garden. It's nice to just lay around with people and eat food.


Last Night I Went to a Honky-Tonk Bar.

I was not really expecting what I got. I thought I was getting myself into more of a Jane Austen-type scene, with skirts and reels and bowing. So please imagine my surprise when we pulled up to the “Dance-Mor” in Swisher, Iowa and I saw 10 legitimate looking cowboys leaning against the building, smoking like chimneys. I clung to my hopeful delusion and thought that maybe they were just simply local color who enjoyed dances from the 1800s. 

This delusion was quickly dispelled when my friends (who apparently knew exactly what we were getting in to) and I walked through the doors to hear an electric guitar make itself loudly evident. We exchanged our $6 for tickets from a severely bearded man and walked through the double doors into everything I was not expecting: Oversized belt buckles (regardless of gender), oversized cowboy hats, flannel, WalMart chic, cowboy boots, and dim lighting. Despite my reservations about the government telling me what to do, I silently thanked them for the Iowa Clean Air Act. 
As we walked further into the fine establishment that is the Dance-Mor, I realised what kind of dancing I was expected to do: Synchronized. I have a pretty well established phobia/general ineptness at synchronized dancing, which was made especially evident when I attended a Zumba class and ended up in tears. I found a chair and made myself responsible for watching over everyone else's sundries. And then, just to make sure every person in the room knew that this girl, dressed as I was in non-cowboy boots/hat/flannel, did not belong anywhere near a dance hall in Swisher, Iowa, I began to crochet a scarf.

All in all, it felt like a high school dance except with beer and very little grinding. But I did have fun, mostly because it was just so entertaining to be expecting one thing and to get the complete opposite. Like that one time when I drank milk and thought it was going to be Mountain Dew. Yeah, kind of like that.



NSO was okay this year. Last year it was inarticulately fabulous, I had wonderful kids, they've pretty much all gone on to do wonderful things, etc. This year, training was great (as usual, how could it not be), and I made SO many new friends with the other PAs and staff members. For the sake of my sanity, here is a list of the awesome things that happened during NSO:

-I love all the PAs, world without end!
-Bonding time was lovely
-On move-in day my job was to smile, wave, and knit
-All of my children were polite to professors and myself

Too bad I can't do it next year. Student teaching!



I learned how to debone and deskin chicken breasts today! And I'm making chicken stock tomorrow! Hooray!


Two in Two

My lovely parents took a short vacation while my lovely brother was in Colorado, which left me and Groucho home alone for a couple days. I took advantage of the (relative) peace and quiet and invented a couple new recipes that are really just riffs on normal things.

The first one I made for my lovely friends Honor and Torie. I'd been wanting to have a dinner party for awhile and it happened that they could both come over on Friday and then I have basil growing out front so it just kind of fell together.
I made some chicken, which is always good. First I flatted the chicken out so it wasn't quite as thick. Then I combined some flour, fresh and dried basil, lemon pepper and salt. I dipped the chicken in a beaten egg and then into the flour, after which I browned it in a pan and then put it in a small pan (along with lemon juice and a little more fresh basil) and placed it in a 350 degree oven for... Probably an hour. Very tasty, though I would have browned it a little more.

I also fried fresh (red) tomatoes. This was a completely new experiment! I dipped them in some olive oil that had fresh basil and lemon juice in it, and then into the flour mixture from before. I melted some butter in a nonstick pan and fried away! They tasted MUCH better than I thought they would. They actually went pretty well on the baked bread with olive oil that I also made.

Tonight I was hungry and didn't have bread and had had cereal for breakfast. I got out a pound of hamburger, fried it up with some onions, garlic and green peppers, and then added some cooked wild rice. I added some mozzerlla cheese before I ate it and let it melt a little. Very good!

As always I was to busy eating all these good things to get pictures of them, but I promise you that they were wonderful and my tablesettings were something indeed to behold.


Best sandwich

I made a really good sandwich today. I'd show you a picture but it was so good I ate it before I even thought about pictures (or anything else).

- Homemade bread
-cream cheese mixed with a little lemon basil from my plant
-Tomato fresh from the Farmers Market, sprinkled with salt and lemon pepper
-Caramalized candy onion (from the Farmers Market too)
-a little fresh grated parmesan cheese.

It was so good I laughed while I was eating it. No jokes.



Recently I've fallen in love with mini cows. And mini sheep. And mini goats. Picture:
Yes, this woman literally has a cow in her kitchen and it only comes up to the countertop.
 Again, a kid the size of a rabbit.
Personally, I think that among the trifecta (cows, sheep, goats) of new mini farm animals (Horses are old news at this point), goats are the best. Not as stupid as sheep, but with the benefit of fiber production, not as (presumably?) smelly as cows, but with the benefit of milk. All in a nice, compact, dog-sized animal that has potential to be housetrained. I'm excited.


Small houses

I love small houses. No joke. They're lovely. The whole idea behind small houses is downscaling to just the things you need. This part is hard for me sometimes, as I find myself thinking "Well, couldn't I use that for something? Isn't there a way to upcycle or reuse it?" and then I keep it and never actually get around to upcycling or reusing. My current vice is t-shirts. I've been making yarn out of them to make rugs like this one. But I digress (blogging is so fun! So many things to say!)

Small houses, though. There's a lot of diversity in the size (well, as much as you can have within the "small" range) (which is usually between >100-1000 square feet). Okay, picture:
 I believe this is one of Jay Schafer's creations. Mr. Schafer built his first house in Iowa City, which just makes my heart a little happier to see my state getting a drop on all the others. But look at it. Look at how small. This one would be somewhere around 100sqft. Click the link below for more wonderful stuff (their "Tiny House in a Landscape" posts are particularly wonderful), or just google "small houses" or "Jay Schafer" and you'll get enough links to keep you up all night.

It's my dream to live in a small house. Probably not that small (100sqft is pretty hardcore, not going to lie), but somewhere in the 800-1200 range. With a garden. And a mini goat. Those are two posts unto themselves though :)


I went away for a week and you wouldn't believe the things that changed! The corn tasseled out, my basil plant grew and inch and a half, my mint got flowers, Groucho looked like he lost weight (it may have been an optical illusion), and last but certainly least, the cicadas started their yearly assault on my hearing.

Around the corner:
-Sweet corn
-Getting my list of PGMs for fall NSO!
-Dog sitting
-Obtaining more things to make tea out of this fall!