Sunday, March 31, 2013

What-What?! Week of March 31st

This has been a pretty good week; probably the slowest week I’ve had in a while, including over Spring Break.  I’m pretty sure that my capstone class will be a cakewalk for the rest of the semester, now that we’re through the external analysis paper.  My team’s currently working on the internal analysis, which is made up of a lot of educated guesses, but it’s the best we’ve got.


My husband just had his birthday on Thursday, and I got him some geeky things.  One book I bought him is this one, Dangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic Adventure, by Arthur Conan Doyle.  This book is Conan Doyle’s diary from his six month trip in 1880, as ship’s surgeon on an arctic whaling ship.  I first read about this book from a New York Times article back in November, and was planning on buying it for Pete for Christmas, but unfortunately, the book sold out at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  Now, though, it’s back in stock and only $25!  :P
 

The big news this week is that I’ve started a Facebook page for this blog!  I will try to keep it updated, but I really want to limit the amount of time I spend on FB.  Starting that page was pretty interesting, especially when I decided to like some peoples.  So, I liked Epbot, because who doesn’t, and then I got to Princess Celestia, who I didn’t like.  This is why:

 
Then, after you go to the actual Princess Celestia page, it is fanboys and rude humor.  So, I decided not.  I found that the Stig has more likes than Jeremy Clarkson’s fan club page, though Clarkson’s page is much more entertaining to visit.  Clarkson’s real page ("Power Hungry Clarkson", LOLz) is kind of ho-hum, though interesting to see his thoughts on Top Gear episodes.  James May has a fan-run page, and no others.  Richard Hammond has a page, and more than that, his personal official website is www.thehamsterscage.co.uk.  It is brilliant.



This week I also made these delish scones.  I left out the onion, and I doubled the amount of ham, and it made for a great lunch along with some apples.  This time, I decided to use my KitchenAid mixer to cut the butter into the flour, and that worked brilliantly.  It was much, much easier than doing it by hand.  The husband liked it, as well as my daughter, though my middle son didn’t much care of it.  All in all, I am definitely making these again.


This woman has been in the news recently, for something that utterly surprised me; Elise Andrew is a science blogger who runs the Facebook page, “I F###ing Love Science”.  When she set up her Twitter page, she let her fans know about it, so they could follow her.  Then everyone found out she’s a woman, and all heck broke loose, with people saying “whoa, you’re a woman?!” and so on.  It just staggers me that our society has yet to recognize that a person’s interest in science has nothing to do with their gender or attractiveness.  As a society, we have spent years trying to get young women and girls interested in science, and now we act surprised when women promote it?

I absolutely recommend checking out her page, or the PG-13 version, “Science is Awesome”.
Oh, this week I also saw this, which is made by Crazy Dog T-Shirts:

Geek trollin', huh?

'Til next week. :)

(images via Amazon, Facebook, Zulilly)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What-What?! Week of March 24th


Not too much this week; spring break was a nice change of pace.  I’ve actually had the energy to do some cooking, though not much by way of new recipes.  I did still have to meet with my capstone team to practice our presentation so far, which went pretty well.  I think our recent meetings have really improved our communications and reduced friction within the group.  So that’s nice.

Shopping: Buy all the Ponies! D:<

The other night, I went looking on Amazon at My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic stuff.  That was a huge mistake, though I didn’t actually buy anything.  I did find this Rainbow Dash soda, Fizzy Cherry Splash.  I have no idea where you buy it, but there it is on Amazon, for $9.00.  Another thing that I’ve looked at for a long time is the Twilight Sparkle boombox, which is awesome, but poor quality.  I think that it would be better to put MLP stickers on a nicer radio, so you could get some decent sound.


Sounds brilliant, doesn’t it?  Bananas, chocolate chips, and cookies?!  I saw this recipe on Pinterest, and it’s taken me a couple of days to track down the original source, which happens to be the Burlap Bag.  I did this because it’s got two ingredients, bananas and oatmeal, and I had all of them.  Then I threw in some chocolate chips, and baked ‘em.  I thought these were good, but not very cookie-ish.  The kids were totally sold on them, though, and I think they’d make for a great, healthy snack.  If I was looking to make them more like a cookie, I’d add one-quarter to one-half a cup of flour, a bit of baking powder, and some vanilla.  Maybe some peanut butter or an egg.  This is what I will do next time, whenever I next have old bananas.  Also, I kept finding people writing banana’s, rather than bananas.  A banana’s what?! xP


This past Friday we did go to the Monterey farmers market; this market is open year round, Fridays from 10-2pm, at Monterey Peninsula College.  I had been interested in going, because this market is operated by the Monterey Bay Certified Farmers Markets association, whose markets I had never visited before.

Sadly, this market actually kind of disappointed me.  Finding the place was somewhat difficult; there were no signs at the street or entrance to the parking lot.  It is held at the Monterey Peninsula College, which apparently offers classes on Fridays, making it even more confusing as to where to go, because you can’t simply look for a grouping of cars and people.  There were no garbage cans whatsoever, the porta-potties were placed oddly in a planter, and I didn’t see anyone who looked like a market manager the entire time we were there.  Granted, I could have just missed him/her, but there was also no booth specifically for information about the market or to meet the manager.  One of the vendors also had dogs with them in their stall, which is a huge no-no.

The mix of vendors was also a little odd; there were numerous flower and plant vendors, but relatively few vendors with staple foods.  I did like the vendor that was selling walnuts and dried fruit (did not get the name), and it is always good to see Beckmann’s, but when I decided to buy cucumbers and green onions, the only vendor in the market selling those items was all out.  Keep in mind that this was right about noon, so only halfway through the market time.  There was a surprising amount of organic farmers in the market, which was nice to see.  I think the problem with this mix of vendors is the time of the market; at an evening or afternoon market, like the Tuesday market in old Monterey, the emphasis is on hot food and entertainment, while morning markets tend to have an emphasis on general grocery shopping.  This market was not good at either.  Overall, I’m not sure I’d go back again; it does have some great vendors, but nothing unusual enough to make the special trip.

Until next week!
(images via The Burlap Bag, Amazon and the MBCFM website)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

What-What?! Week of March 17th

This week I’ve survived my husband being out of town, extra classes, turning in a major paper, and my first practice presentation for my capstone class.  But now, it is spring break!  Ooooooh yeah!

News: I’m in the Wall Street Journal! (second letter down)
In my post last week, I discussed an article titled #SequesterThis.  I did some editing and tightened it up, then sent it in as a letter to the editor.  And it was published!  It makes me quite happy.

Homeschooling:  Word Practice Eggs
Egg-cellent Reading Game
I got the idea for these from FamilyFun magazine (which I believe is a Disney publication?).  Using plastic Easter eggs, write consonants on one side, and word endings on the other.  On mine, I did “at” words:  On one side it has a c, m, r, and b, and on the other, “at”.  Putting the two sides together makes the words cat, mat, rat and bat.  The example in FamilyFun is good up until you try to figure out additional word endings.  Bring in this website about word families, which has a huge trove of different word possibilities!

The only warning that I have on this project is that, though I used permanent marker, it slowly rubbed off the eggs.  I don’t know what else to use for writing on the eggs, but this was otherwise a huge hit with both my oldest children (ages 5 and 3).


I made these last night, with some changes; I skipped the flour, used milk instead of half-n-half, and added salsa to the eggs as well.  It came out okay.  It wasn’t bad or anything, but it wasn’t very exciting to eat.  I think some sour cream or guacamole on top would have hit the spot.  Or maybe some black beans in the enchiladas?  I’ll have to think about it.
News:  5 Startup Naming Rules via Entreprenuer
 
This is a well-timed article on naming your business.  I particularly think that rule number one is good; you're creating a brand, not naming a business.  If the domain name you want for your business is taken, find a different one with the same name, or choose a different name all together.  Don't wind up adding, deleting or changing letters because of this.  No one will be able to remember it, and your website will just be lost in the vast sea of the interwebz.  I have one example of this that is pretty close to home: The California Farmers' Markets Association has the website cafarmersmkts.com.  I have been to this website numerous times, and still have to Google it every single time, because I just cannot remember it.  Californiafarmersmarkets.com is not taken, and neither is thecfma.com.  I think those would be easier to remember.


Last week, Wreck-It Ralph was released, and being a video game geek, I had to pick it up.  I actually liked this film better than Brave; in Brave, there was all this buildup of characters and story, but then the ending was far from the epic conclusion I was expecting.  Wreck-It Ralph does not have this problem; it remained exciting the entire way through, with subdued humor and a great plot twist.  My only real dig about it is the toilet humor: I know it’s a children’s movie, but really?  Did we have to go there?  The other thing that bothered me was how the villain was dealt with; I’m not sure that my kids really needed to see that.  Of course, after the scene in Tangled, where Mother Gothel turns into dust, I’m getting the idea that Disney isn’t sugarcoating or hiding how villains are killed.  I just remind myself that, in the original Cinderella story, the evil stepmother had red-hot iron shoes put on, dancing to death for Cinderella’s amusement.

Despite these issues, it was redeemed by the nostalgia factor, interesting characters, and creative setting.  Oh, and the music; I thought that the music, especially the theme for the “Sugar Rush” game was brilliant.  It sounds exactly like something you’d hear in an arcade.  I give it 4.5/5 stars.  I expect to watch this film often over the summer.

Wasting Time: More Princess Celestia as the Stig

Yes, more.  See you next week!  :)
(photos via FamilyFun, Inspired Taste, IMDb)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

What-What?! Week of March 10th

This week hasn’t been good either.  A lot of this week has been nose-to-the-grindstone, just trying to get this external analysis done.  Meanwhile, we’ve had issues with our client, I have had issues with my teammates, I’ve forgotten important projects for my other classes, and so on.


I made these this weekend, using my Kitchenaid mixer.  Delicious!  I actually did not follow this recipe, though I did use the method; I simply used my regular bread recipe, and added cheese.  Next time, I will add cheese at the end of mixing/kneading it, because adding the cheese at the beginning macerated all the cheese into tiny pieces.  I was looking more for chunks of cheese in the bread, which I didn’t get, but it still tasted very strongly of cheddar.

This is an article that criticizes the USDA for partially funding the California Small Farm Conference, which occurs this year on March 10-12 in Fresno, despite having to lay off meat inspectors due to the sequester debacle.  I have a few problems with this; everyone knew that there would be a chance for the two percent spending cuts, however when they made the decision to fund this, I’m not sure sequester was even on the table.  Also, although the article paints a picture of the conference as being all about fine dining and frilliness, it does deal with some important subjects, like food safety,  smart water usage, how to choose crops, and information on new WIC requirements for farmers’ markets.

According to the USDA, the number of farmers’ markets in the United States has increased 49 percent from 2009-2012.  With this increase comes a greater amount of consumers buying produce from small farmers; therefore, it makes sense to foster food safety strategies for these farms.  In addition to this, the increase in farmers’ markets and small farmers benefits the economy, brings in revenue to the state, and encourages local entrepreneurship, especially by minorities.  Is it worth laying off meat inspectors for this?  I am not sure.  However, I think it is a mistake to present this conference as nothing more than wasteful government spending.

Wasting Time:  Princess Celestia as The Stig
I was talking with my husband, and somehow this came up.  So then I made it, when I should have been working on my paper.  It made me happy. :)  Though, I would not go to Google and type in "princess celestia as the stig", because there's fanfic.  I was too scared to look at it, because of Rule 34.  I've already had one Rule 34 experience while looking up pictures of the Stig. xP

See you next week!
(images via The Frugal Girl and the California Small Farm Conference)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

What-What?! Week of March 3rd

I keep telling myself that, by six weeks into the semester, things would quiet down.  Well, we’re at nearly seven weeks in now, and it’s just as crazy.  This week, I’ve been writing about the language services industry, which has been pretty interesting.  If anyone’s looking for an industry to invest in, this is one that I would recommend; the industry has experienced a 50 percent growth from 2007-2011, and grew by 12 percent last year alone.  This kind of growth is expected to continue, and with the languishing economic recovery, that’s not doing too bad at all.

This week’s post is basically all about grocery industry stuff.  I have been so overloaded with school that I have just needed to do something else that’s interesting.  That something else has been reading about the state of the grocery industry.


Yesterday, I did make some scones.  My husband had seen Yvonne and her husband Matt from G:M:Me bakery last week, and they gifted him some of their delicious scones!  After eating those, I had a hankering for more.  Yvonne is out of the markets right now because she is taking care of her baby (who is beautiful!), so I had to do it myself.  I chose this recipe specifically because it included butter, which, in my opinion, is of utmost importance in a scone.  Something interesting I found while I was looking for this recipe is that, in the UK, on the box of Bisquick there is a recipe for scones, while on the U.S. box, it’s a recipe for biscuits.  In this recipe,   I subbed the 1/2 cup blueberries for dried cranberries, because that’s what I had on hand.  It turned out okay; not the best, obviously, but not bad for 20 minutes’ worth of work.  Next time I’m adding more butter, I think.

News: Nob Hill Offerings Sub-Par

On the topic of grocery stores, according to what I’ve read on a few couponing forums, it sounds like shoppers aren’t impressed with Raley’s/Nob Hill; the deals have just been sub-par.  This week I’ll be shopping there to pick up some peanut butter, but otherwise, I haven’t stepped foot into that store in weeks.  It makes me wonder if the recent union issues have eaten away at some of Nob Hill’s ability to compete with Safeway’s loss leaders.


This article discusses some things that I’ve experienced in the last few years of couponing; reduced number and value of coupons that I want to use.   Apparently, there’s been a 6.5 percent reduction in food coupons in the past year, though really the thing to look at is the value of the coupons, which has declined to an average of $0.99 for food products.  Compounding the reduction is an increase in the number of items you have to buy to use a coupon; 45 percent of all food coupons require you to buy two or more items.

My experience reflects this; a year ago, it wasn’t difficult to find a one dollar coupon for one box of cereal.  Now, it’s neigh impossible, as the values have been reduced to one dollar off two, or even a dollar off of three boxes!  The food coupons have been replaced by more coupons for items like lotion, shampoo, and so on, and even those have been reduced in value as well.

I’ve reacted to this by buying less, and buying more private, store brand items.  My family now eats a lot more oatmeal and eggs for breakfast rather than cereal, and we eat a lot more whole foods in general.  As for non-food items, I stock up when I can get them inexpensively.  I no longer coupon over at the drugstores anymore, as the increased prices, shoddy sales, and reduced coupon values have combined to make it no longer worth the effort.  Many other couponers have made the same kind of changes in their shopping habits.  Overall, I think that companies are shooting themselves in the foot by reducing coupon values.

Yep, that's it for this week.  Next week I'll be more interesting, promise. :)
(images from everywhere xP )