Friday, January 29, 2010

Chocolate nachos

It sounded odd. I was dubious. Was the chocolate IN the nachos or ON the nachos? The answer is both. Plus vanilla and strawberry ice cream. Plus strawberries. Plus rainbow sprinkles. If heaven were a dessert, it might be this.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

just in the nick of time

150 gold stars acheived; massage scheduled for Monday; thank God.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Baby Glory

So last week Mel and Mike were in Virginia to visit friends and had a Sunday afternoon slot available for a Scott House mini-reunion. Jason and Kate and i drove down from Baltimore to meet them and the lovely Colleen for lunch in Ballston. It was a fun faux-British pub with both football (soccer) and football on large tvs. It was wonderful to have a chance catch up with everyone and spend time with the far-flung relations. Mel and James Mike and Matthew The twins were well behaved through napping, eating and being passed around. Kate had Matthew while I took James Is it my imagination or does it look like i am imparting tips for world domination to him? After not being able to even touch the boys when i saw them in the hospital over the summer it was pure joy to get to play with them. At one point there was even more reunionary as Colleen's mom showed up table side with her granddaughter (Colleen's niece), Mallory. I love my friends that are like family and wish i could spend more time with 'em.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

2009 book breakdown

I read a lot last year -because that's what i do- but i realized as i was culling my commonplace book to put this post together that it wasn't really a stand-out year for books for me.
I enjoyed almost all of what i read.
 I found some new authors.
I started some new series.
 But there were no books that after i read them i thought, Man, i need to write a blog post about that or Everyone i know must read this book. There also weren't any Jeez that was so bad i feel like i should get a time refund from the author moments either. I guess some years are just like that.
Anyhoo, since no great truth or hidden wisdom was revealed to me during my perusal of last year's books, here is just a super quick breakdown of the literary habits of the Nikiverse, circa 2009:
Total books read: 132
Re-reads: 6
Mystery/ action: 68
Children's/ YA: 37
Graphic novel/manga/comic collections: 19
Short story collections: 6
New series started: 7
Most read month: August, 22
Least read month: March, 0
Most read author: Charlaine Harris, 25
Most interesting read: Lullaby, Chuck Palahnuik
Most surprising reveal: the Mysterious Benedict Society, Trenton Lee Stewart
Most quotes gleaned from: The Book of the Unknown, Jonathon Keats
Best title: the hollow chocolate bunnies of the apocalypse, Robert Rankin
The story was better than the movie: "Quantum of Solace", Ian Fleming
The movie was better than the book: The City of Ember, Jeanne DuPrau
It will be interesting to see how things go in 2010, especially since i just finished a book by a cartoonist that features a dachshund with a soup ladle for a leg.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Fun for biologists and linguists alike

You know that semi-awake state right before you go to sleep or right after you wake up?
The one where you know you aren't asleep, but you aren't really focusing on reality?
 The one where words and images slip by you in your stream of consciousness with little to no link to each other? Y
ou know what i'm talking about here?
I love that place.
 Some of my best ideas come from that place.
Of course, sometimes i get chickens bawking Christmas carols instead.
There is really no rhyme or reason.
I bring this up because this morning i didn't have to set my alarm clock (best day of the week) and slowly woke up on my own. As i was laying curled up in my warm, fuzzy blanket the word equine drifted through my brain.
Who knows.
But, it is kind of a cool sounding word. Say it with me - equine. Sounds like an over-priced drink in a french restaurant, but of course we know it actually means horse-like. As i pondered the word over and over in my barely awake state it was joined by the words canine and feline.
I like it when words rhyme.
They rhyme because of the suffix so i started thinking about other -ine words, like bovine and lupine.
Huh. Those are animal words, too.
So then the half-dozing brain started looking for connections between the words.
 First i thought about feline, canine and lupine all referring to carnivores - what other carnivores are there and did they have -ine adjective forms?
Foxes... goats - wait, they aren't carnivores
... panthers... lions... tigers... bears... Bears! Ursine!
In the happy, drifty place my brain likes playing games and gets really excited when it wins. Maybe the link is that all of the words are adjectives for carnivores.
WAIT - horses and cows aren't carnivores; they are ungulates.
My brain pouts when it doesn't win.
So the link isn't carnivores.
hmmmm... ungulates... hooves... are there any other ungulate examples? Porcine!
This is fun... canine, feline, equine, porcine, bovine, lupine, ursine, quinine...
WAIT... that last one is a chemical that you add to tonic water - it treats malaria and fluoresces under UV light. Strike it from the list!
okay... drifting... canine, feline, bovine, porcine, lupine, ursine, equine...
HEY - those are all mammals... maybe the link is that they are mammals.
Let's check for other mammals.
 hmmmmmm... no rodents... primates... weasels... ermine -no, that's an actual animal- whales... marsupials.... monotremes...
At this point i was interested enough in the thought stream that i had to start actually concentrating on it which made me fully wake up. As i opened my eyes to the sunshine in the room the word serpentine jumped into my head.
Yea to another example, boo to defeating my mammal theory.
So here we are hours later and i am still contemplating this set of words.
I wonder if there are examples i've missed. It isn't just mammals, but i can't think of any insect, fish, amphibian or bird examples. We could probably take the latin/greek root of any animal and slap on -ine, but i am looking for actual words that someone might use in a sentence.
I'm sure i could look it up somewhere, but where is the challenge and fun in that? I prefer mulling it over, cogitating, pick-pick-picking my brain.
And yours.
 So come on, people - can you think of any other -ine animal adjectives besides the one listed below?
canine: dog-like
feline: cat-like
equine: horse-like
bovine: cow-like
porcine: pig-like
lupine: wolf-like
ursine: bear-like
serpentine: snake-like
[and no Frack, porcupine doesn't count]

5:30pm addition: computer locked, jacket on, briefcase on shoulder, keys in hand, heading away from my desk when i suddenly realize that vulpine means fox-like. YEA!

Quick Update

Thanks for all the love, guys.
Mom had what we like to call the ice cream scoop procedure on Tuesday [physical removal of mucus from the brachia - ewwww] and went home yesterday afternoon.
 She seems tired, but feeling a LOT better when i spoke to her last night.
Thanks for thoughts and prayers.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Gooooo Team Marge!

In an effort to do at least one new thing per month I joined a trivia team at Applebees.
 There are six rounds of three questions each that are point weighted by comfort with the topic.
 The topic pool is reeeeeeally broad, but I've determined that we need someone with sports knowledge to round out our expertise.
We bombed the first round, but did great in the second round.
 We ended in the top 10, winning 3 tournament points.
I just love trivia.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

POed, but determined

You know what, World?
I know that you are trying to stromp on my last nerve.
I know that you are trying to break me down with the "taking away a member of my team" crap and the "sort through 16 years of your life, reliving every victory and defeat" crap and the "heat going off 2 nights in a row in the apartment in the middle of January" crap and the "mom in the hospital" crap and the "losing your voice during a show" crap and the "you now have no voice, but are supposed to do 2 shows tomorrow" crap and the "staff bathrooms are broken; we don't know when they will be fixed" crap and the "i think my gym changed ownership; why do they have a new name; is my membership still valid" crap and the "can't find khaki work pants that don't make me look like an oompah loompah so i have to wear the same 2 skirts and wash 3 times a week" crap and the "have pictures for 5 blog posts but never seem to get around to doing it" crap and the "i know i've chosen to be poor, but this is ridiculous" crap and the "spell check doesn't recognize your language" crap and the "state tax return is literally 10 cents" crap and the "former co-worker has cancer" crap.
I know that you have turned me into a Crankenstein lately.
But i also know something you don't, World.
No matter how hard you try to push me down or how often you make me cry or how simply pissed off you make me,
i will win in the end.
How do i know that?
Because when you present me with a situation where we are late to a school, dealing with the world's most dour office secretary, setting up in a space as far away from anything like water or a bathroom as possible and there are no parking spaces left because the last one is half covered with a schmanky pile of leftover, plowed snow i will simply drive back and forth over the snow creating a space for myself.
I will not be denied, World.
You can make me feel awful for a period of time, but the sparkle ponies will always kick your a** in the end, World.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

For Rea

Phonemate received your message last night and loves you, too.
Today i was drying a piece of glassware that i have dried hundreds of time and noticed this
for the first time.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Generally i am a fan of all the automatic doo-hickeys that are finding their way into our lives;
 the automatic soap dispensers at the airport particularly tickle me.
But have you all seen the crazy hand dryers?
Ready to xlerate!
I was a bit alarmed by the command to
Feel the Power
especially when it seemed like it was going to remove the water from my hand by removing the skin
  from my hand.
Do i really need that much power just to dry my hands in the library bathroom?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

getting your money's worth

We were setting up for a chemistry show yesterday morning while some students were finishing their breakfast.
As a rule you don't make eye contact with the kids during set-up because we are a HUGE distraction to whatever they are supposed to be doing.
Still, you can't help but hear the kids talking about you and we do respond to direct questions.
There was a third grade gentleman walking through the cafeteria slowly taking in all of the promised glory of our chemicals. He was talking to himself as he walked, This is gonna be great. This is gonna be so great. I paid 5 dollars and 25 cents; this is gonna be GREAT.
Thanks for that vote of confidence, sir, but do we really need that added pressure?
It was such an odd perspective for a kid to have on the situation, but was so very sincere that i had to laugh after he left the room. An adult would have said that it BETTER be good because they paid for it, but instead he was simply convinced that it HAD to be good because he paid for it.
I feel he really got his $5.25 worth. It was a great show: the audience was fabulous, TM Amy and I were having a great time and as an added bonus, we set off the fire alarm!
Yep. With an experiment that has never set anything off before.
 Luckily i got to the office fast enough to have them call the alarm company before any fire trucks were dispatched and before too many people had evacuated. It was exciting.
I hope that boy went home and told his parents that it was $5.25 well spent.

Feast or Famine

I like to utilize all of my resources, which is why, on Sunday morning, my refrigerator looked like this. I was looking to make some breakfast and was taken aback. I don't think i realized things had gotten so lean in ye old ice box. Let's see here... one serving of beans and rice that i had taken out of the freezer on Wednesday to thaw for dinner, but never got around to eating. I'm thinking it's defrosted, but doesn't really scream Breakfast to me. (and what's with that one lone tea bag? i don't even keep tea refrigerated - where did it come from?) Then we have several honeybell tangelos left over from the box shipped from Florida (Christmas present from my dad) nestled next to the jar of Chinese take-out condiments that i can never bring myself to throw away. Next - yes, that is a gallon on cocktail sauce; no, i don't actually like shrimp. Well, that tour was just pathetic. I think i had an english muffin with Papa John's garlic butter on it for breakfast and went shopping. If i do grocery shopping I believe in seriously doing shopping. That's more like it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Soooo, about your trash

You know when you are walking along and you see something so odd you just stop in your tracks? This is the trash can outside of my library. What in the blink-blankety is sticking out of the trash. Is that a kite? Is that a dragon? Yep. Where? When? Why?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Empty desk

I've lost my Logistics Coordinator. I don't mean that the team member left. I mean that the position has been discontinued. The good news is that Wendy isn't going to be laid off; she's moving to Visitor Services tomorrow. The bad news is that management is taking a full-time position and spreading it across several people who already have full-time positions. I have faith that the staff in question will figure out how to get everything done without dropping any of my bookings or paperwork, but it is going to be a tough adjustment. Plus it is kinda not right to put more work on folks who are already underpaid. I am a team player and will take this hit for the greater good of the museum, but i just wanna go on the record as saying that THIS BLOWS.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

when the side dish takes on a life of its own

I firmly believe that cooking is art. (except for baking, which is science) Since i mostly cook for myself these days i often find myself being far more adventurous than i would be if someone else were expected to eat my concoctions. I like to use whatever is on hand, even if it doesn't seem obvious. Sometimes i am inspired by a place or a theme or a color and just toss stuff together based on that notion. It is rare for a dish to be inedible; most of the time it is good, but not crazy amazing. Every once in a while I will hit on a combination that is spectacular. The problem lies in not being able to reproduce the fabulous dishes. When you cook by feel or color or smell there really isn't a lot of measuring going on. Earlier this week I made a side dish that knocked my socks off. It started with leftover chicken bones that i boiled to make stock. I tossed in some dehydrated onions just like i would if i were making a normal stock, but then inexplicably added bay leaves. Why? I have no idea. It just seemed like a good idea. As i started to smell the bay leaves i thought it might be fun to add a sweet note - something completely different from the norm. In went some whole cloves. After the bones, onions, bay leaves and cloves boiled together for 40 minutes I strained out the stock. It held both a savory and a sweet aroma which felt a bit exotic to me so in went yellow curry and garam masala. I chopped up carrots and put them in to cook. I was planning on using the last bit of orzo from the bottom of a container, but i knew that wouldn't be enough pasta for the volume of broth - i wanted a stew or side dish, not a soup. Hmmmmmmm... i poked around the pantry and found some barley from a mushroom soup i made for New Year's about 5 years ago. Huh. I didn't realize i still had that. So in went some barley. How much? ohhhh, enough to cover the bottom of my smallest strainer. After the barley and carrots cooked for 20 minutes, in went the orzo, some frozen corn (cause everything is better with corn), cracked black pepper and at the last second i sprinkled in some nutmeg. I cooked it for about 15 more minutes, or there abouts - basically i cooked it until it was the consistency i wanted. It was freakin' awesome. I would describe it as savory, but there was a sweet undernote and after 6 or 7 bites i felt residual spiciness on my tongue. Delish! A few years ago i created a dish that fTM Annie dubbed spicy ricey - it was really good and she begged me to make it for her about twice a month. At first i was able to reproduce it, but after 3 times i could never capture to essence of spicy ricey again; much to both my and Annie's disappointment. After that i tried to keep track of what i was doing when i cooked, writing down each addition and keeping track of cooking time. What i found was that i had recipes for several unextraordinary dishes. The act of recording what i was doing changed what i was doing and the art of the dishes was lost. Any suggestions for how i can cook with innovation, but capture the results? I really want to have some of these dishes again.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

mass frustration

I've been blowing off going to the gym since the holidays. Today was the day i returned triumphantly to my schedule. After waking up and doing crunches i dressed in ugly gym attire and drove to the gym. Which was closed. ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? Closed for 2 days for renovations. Are you kidding me? Is this a joke? Fine, universe; have it your way. I went and got an egg and cheese biscuit instead.

Friday, January 8, 2010

sack o' joy

I am ambivalent about living alone. I really like having my own space and sanctuary. I like always having control of the remote and choosing what movie or music is on at any given moment. I like wandering about in whatever mode of dress i deem appropriate. However, i am a social creature and the solitude can become bothersome; there is a delicate balance between alone and lonely. What i dislike the most about living alone is coming home to an empty house at the end of a long work day. I think that is part of the reason that finding this when i open the front door to the house is so exciting. I always love presents, but the joy of seeing something waiting for me at the apartment door is a present in and of itself. It is a long distance hug, a vicarious welcome home from someone you love. This particular red package was waiting for me 2 nights ago. It came from Mel and Mike and when i cut it opened to peer inside all i could see was glittering joy. Oh yes. Apparently the local Chapel Hill JoAnn's was having a moving sale and I was the lucky recipient of some fabulous finds. Do my friends know what makes the sparkle ponies of the Nikiverse dance, or what? There are beads and bling, words and metal, plus purple glitter argyle paper What more could a girl need? Thanks to Mel and Mike -not only the presents themselves, but for making me smile after a particularly tough day.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Quick Christmas Pics

So i have a bunch of pictures from my break, but have decided to just share a few and move on. I spent the beginning of the week at my dad's house tooling around in the golf cart decorated for the holidays (look, there's me) Cruising around the neighborhood in my sweet ride i was able to relax and become one with the holiday decorations and giant garden snails. We played games, ate good food and drank seasonal adult beverages Mid-week i went to my mom's house, spending the actual holiday with her. We went shopping, decorated the tree, ate good food and opened presents. This year we tried something new : the stocking challenge. We bet a dollar over who get get the most stuff into the other person's Christmas stocking while spending the least amount of money. It has been fun over the last few months hunting and searching for awesome- but cheap- gifts and trinkets. Here is Mom with her reindeer stocking chock full of fun. Notice there was one thing that couldn't fit in without being damaged, but overall i thought i put in a good showing, staying within the guidelines. Now here i am on Christmas morning with my stocking of insanity Not only is it full of stuff, she tied presents onto the stocking itself. She even tied things to the poor, poor bear on the front he looks jaunty, but will circulation ever return to that paw? Though she was waaaaaaaaaaay over the guidelines of "in the stocking" i have to concede that she seriously rocked the "more for less" idea. I wonder if i ever gave her that dollar... Then we rested, ate some more yummy food, did some more shopping and i went a-visiting. This year David suggested that instead of me driving all the way up to Deltona from Nort Port we meet someplace in the middle so we had lunch at a Smokey Bones north of Tampa, where Kaaren and Isabelle presented me with my homemade cookie bouquet Check these out, people! Not only were they huge and beautiful, they were delicious as well. Thank you, Kaaren! Then i slept and read and watched some tv. Then back to my dad's to open presents and fly home. the end

Monday, January 4, 2010

Welcome 2010!

Some good things happened in 2009. I went on an awesome vacation. I started a real art collection so now there are things hanging in my living room that weren't just made by me. My family and extended family grew through marriage and birth. Good things - really good things, all of them. But let's just face some facts here: 2009 was, for the most part, a giant sucking hole of suckiness. It blew. A lot. I'm glad it is over. How much did 2009 suck? It sucked so much that i am not going to even review my resolutions from last year. You know that i LOVE reviewing and evaluating resolutions before making new ones. Not this year. Suffice it to say that though i was more courageous in some aspects of my life, i failed miserably at all of the other ones. sigh (did i mention how much i hated being sick?) But that was the past. I'm healthy and looking forward to the new year so here are... Niki's Resolutions for 2010 1. Regain productivity levels without sacrificing health 2. Establish consistency throughout my life 3. Do at least one new thing a month 4. Make volunteering a priority