Saturday, February 26, 2011

valentine's day

So, the free week that I previously posted about is long gone, but I did get to do a few of the things I wanted to do, like making pizza:


and these brownies:


which were actually very good. I was simply intrigued by the ingredient list and needed to know what they would taste like. I used egg whites, a spoon of coconut oil and a drop or two of mint extract and they really tasted like fudge. (You can trust this review because I'm a very picky eater who wouldn't eat beans in the first place.)

Valentine's Day was pretty wonderful. Andreas was home from tour for a short vacation and the Staz made a brief appearance. My mom had all of our places set with little gifts because none of us have significant others this year and we needed some extra affection.


We all got Hunbun mugs and chocolates. I'd created and ordered the mugs, so this wasn't a surprise, but the parents and Andreas had gone to a Russian shop in Colorado and managed to keep it a secret long enough to make the Russian chocolates they brought back for me a surprise.


From what I've heard, Russia isn't particularly known for good chocolate; something about the Soviet monopoly of its production that wasn't really interested in a quality product? How long these chocolates had been in the shop they bought them from is also questionable. At any rate, I enjoyed the surprise, having no idea how many calories were in each one, and the thought that was behind them. They also had pretty papers. When you have these little obsessions like I do (Russia, Britain, Doctor Who, 19th Century Lit, Portmeirion, baking etc) people tend to get you presents along these lines and this makes everyone satisfied. Staz has fashion things and Andreas has his music stuff. Get a hobby-- it makes gift giving so much easier. My older sister, however...well, we used to get her Hello Kitty presents, but now no one knows what to get her.


Anyways, the 14th was a gorgeous day with lots of sun and WARMTH. It was about 40 degrees F! (It has since plummeted to the negative degrees again, so this is a distant but happy memory.)


I planted this amaryllis bulb on November 1st. Really.


We all went outside for a walk in the huge, melting snow drifts. Everyone got a little stuck at least once-- dogs and all.


I knitted that scarf, by the way. Pretty good for someone who barely knows how to knit, eh? I've been meaning to take a picture of it.


We've had at least two blizzards since these photos were taken, but the thaw was nice while it lasted.


Doggies stuck below.


Dad stuck in the corner of this one:



That snow is REALLY deep. We were only able to walk on it because the sun had melted the top and then it had refrozen.





Yours truly wearing her jim-jams:


It actually wasn't cold enough to warrant the hood, but it was very windy.

This one felt left out:


(Photo not from the same day, but she did give us the same expression when we came in).

Friday, February 18, 2011


I got into a PhD program with full funding today!

If this is all a dream, please never wake me up.



Sunday, February 6, 2011

winter wonderland


It is sort of amazing how the temperature here can vary by fifty degrees or more at any given point during the winter. For the last two days it has been quite warm at about 30 degrees. My sister actually came home last night, from the cities (about two hours drive away), wearing shorts. This temperature is especially nice because it melts away ice and snow on the roads/other blacktop that has been there for a long time.


We'd been tirelessly removing the snow all week from our drive, because it kept blowing in again, so this thaw was much appreciated as it has melted the top layer a bit, and then froze it again, so that the snow isn't blowing about anymore.


I took these pictures whilst doing a few chores outside. Among them: getting the mail, an action which is always fraught with anxiety over possible acceptances/rejections. I'm getting the house to myself this whole week as my parents and Andreas have gone skiing in Colorado (something I'd like to do, if only I didn't have to drive 16 hours there and stay in the same condo!) and I've been left to house/dog-sit. Please don't use this information in any nefarious ways.


I was looking forward to a nice weekend of relaxation when my erstwhile twin came home to do her laundry. She only stayed one night, so I couldn't feel terribly bad about not wanting her here because she obviously didn't come home to see me in the first place. She did, however, want me to act the mother for her and make dinner and do her laundry while she was sleeping. This wouldn't have been that objectionable had she asked nicely, but she seemed to think it was a given and so it became intolerable. She doesn't clean up after herself, one of her less admirable qualities, and this is a well established fact. She enjoys coming home to make elaborate stews that require many knives, chopping boards, bowls and utensils, and that-- she thinks-- magically clean themselves and return to their drawers. But no. Someone, usually my mom, cleans them. However, my Mom was gone this weekend so this household magic was necessarily supplied by me. It was not so unreasonable, I thought, in light of this precedent, to ask the Staz to clean up the kitchen after she mentioned that she might make chocolate chip cookies the next morning. But nooooo. This brought a slew of righteous indignation! When did she ever not clean up after herself, she asked? And got into a huge humph about my "nagging" her about things.


I'm actually torn about whether the nagging is worth it, because it ensures that she does clean up after herself because otherwise she'd be proving me right, which she hates to do. If I hadn't mentioned anything, however, she would have left me with a big mess.


She also brought back a certain library book, in quite a sneaky way, and left it here. This book is part of a big feud stemming from last November when I was in the throes of application anxiety, when our local library took back all my research books (remember?), and I asked the Staz to pick up one from a library five minutes from where she lives. She didn't want to, because she was tired and had other priorities, including parties and picking up a friend from the airport. This was base treachery, of course, because it was my future compared to a few less cinnamon snapps shots or what-have-you. We never quite forgave each other for the hurt all this caused. She eventually got the book, in very bad spirits, after making me feel less than worthless and when it was no longer needed. After reconciling at Christmas, I gave it to her to return it so that she wouldn't get late fees, in what I thought was a nice gesture. This created a whole scene and she got worked up over it-- arguing that she wouldn't return it and that I would have to. This is/was ridiculous because I have no business in the cities and I'm not about to drive four hours to return one book. She doesn't seem to grasp, either, that she isn't hurting me by doing this, but only her own reputation with the library.


Bah. Well, this is a girl who a few months ago started drawing a bath and then fell asleep letting her apartment flood for several hours. I might just win at life in the larger scheme of things.


But anyways, enough about my evil half. I plan on spending this week patching up all the long-neglected tasks I've been accumulating and doing some nice alone things. Namely I hope to:

1. Read the manuscript chapter the BU professor sent me, and a write an intelligent reply. Hope desperately that she isn't offended by my seeming dismissal of her kind gesture by my procrastination.


2. Groom myself in various time consuming ways.

3. Bring the entire house into a pleasant state of cleanliness that will only be shattered once people come home again.

4. Finish quilting my quilt.

5. Work on knitting Staz's scarf...maybe not.

6. Read at least one novel by Walter Scott.



7. Make pizza with the new thin crust recipe from Cook's Illustrated. (I found really adorable miniature pepperonis that don't have icky bits.)

8. Launder things I'm not allowed to launder when my parents are around-- like pillows. They always worry it will damage the machines but I love pulling fresh pillows out of the dryer.

9. Take really long baths at really late hours.

10. Listen to very loud music.


11. Shop online with my hoard of gift cards.


12. Go fabric shopping for the throw-pillow cover I've been meaning to make for months. Get an insert for another one that I have cover fabric for already.

13. Take more pictures and make better posts. About food and books and less about whining.



14. Go on more walks with the dogs. Bring tiny dog outside too. Take pictures of said tiny dog wearing coat and boots.


15. Read in bed.


16. Do yoga videos without worrying about anyone seeing my awkward poses.


17. Have fun doing all of the above.


18. Not think about graduate school.

Oh, and I was doing so well!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

february is not very spring-like

Going to work was a treat this morning as it was -14 degrees F with a windchill that was probably -30. This wind is what makes these temperatures very bitter because it whips away all your warmth between your gloves and coat sleeves and freezes your legs between your coat and boots. I was freezing all day at work until I got to the gym.

(this is a second story window, under which I sit, that was slowly covered in drifting snow)

Most people in the country experienced a lot of snow on Monday and are not very happy about it. We, in Minnesota, were relatively unfazed because the infrastructure exists to pretty quickly remove the snow from roads and get things working again. Too fast actually; I would have liked a snow day.

It promises to be warmer tomorrow, though. Perhaps even up to 20 degrees! I just hope it doesn't snow again next week because I'll be responsible for all snow removal while dog/house sitting and I don't want to get out the tractor. It snows-- WITHOUT FAIL-- whenever my mother drives to the cities area in the winter. She just so happens to be going on Friday and snow is forecast. Super.