Friday, November 27, 2009


Inspired by my niece who ran back and forth across the living room to hand me alphabet blocks for part of the morning (picture a bouncy-waddling step, waving hands, and shrieks that sounded something like the 5 vowels), here is my Thanksgiving gratitude list, in alphabetical order.

Butter (the real stuff)
Cell phone reception
Frequent flier miles
Harry Potter series
Light & truth
Nieces & nephews
Two percent milk
Undergraduate education
Vacation to Vancouver
Yam fries

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Need a touch of fall?

I could always do with more autumnal festivities. This morning I made these pumpkin spice muffins, and they were just the thing.

The pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg really stand out against the subtle molasses flavor. Also, they are incredibly moist, but not dense. Delicious.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins
2/3 c butter
3/4 c brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 c molasses
1 egg
1 c canned pumpkin (plain, not the pumpkin pie mix - I used a very generous 1 c)
1 3/4 c flour
1/4 t salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

crumbled walnuts and extra brown sugar (opt)

Preheat oven to 400. Cream butter and sugar. Add molasses and beat until light and fluffy. Add egg and pumpkin and stir until well blended. Fold in flour, salt, soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Spoon into 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle with crumbled walnut pieces and extra brown sugar (opt). Bake 15-20 minutes, until the tops spring back when touched lightly.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Nature! (Part II of Vancouver!)

Although it rained for an entire day when my sisters, mom and I went to Vancouver, we did get some good time in with nature.

We went to a suspension bridge (there were 2: one cost $35, the other was not quite as high and not quite as long cost $0 - I'll let you guess which one we went to). The colors of everyone's coats are almost as beautiful as the fall leaves.

We took many walks and drives around Stanley Park. Here is a view from part of Vancouver from the park.

On the day that happened to be warm and sunny, we had trips to 2 parks planned. Pictured here is Queen Victoria Park, including a photo of the Vancouver skyline. The other park, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen's Memorial Garden, will be featured in the future Vancouver! vignette Chinese!

Monday, November 16, 2009


Over Halloween weekend, I met up with my mom, 3 sisters, and sister-in-law in Vancouver, Canada. We flew into Seattle and drove up, taking enormous pleasure in answering the border guard's question of "Where are you from?" with "Virginia, - Michigan, Wisconsin, and Utah - plus our other sister who's already at the hotel is from Arizona!"

One of my favorite things to do is order from a menu. So my first documentation from this trip is all the food choices I made while there. More reflections to come later.

Thursday evening. Dinner at Joe Fortes Seafood. It was highly recommended and delicious. After careful deliberation between white fish and salmon, I realized that what I really wanted were prawns.

Friday afternoon. Early dinner in Gas Town. We hadn't eaten all day and were reaching desperation. I said pizza sounded good, we went to the first Italian place we saw, everyone ordered pizza and I got pasta, soup and salad.

Late Friday. Crepes downtown while watching various costumed college students and a homeless man with a fat, white, pet rat. My crepe was filled with dark chocolate with hazelnuts.

Later Friday. Cupcakes from a shop we stopped at while walking home in a downpour. Red velvet, pumpkin, chocolate diva ...

Saturday afternoon. Shrimp and noodles from Chinatown. Taken with a refreshing glass of hot water.

Late Saturday afternoon. BBQ pork bun snack at Queen Victoria Garden (bought earlier in Chinatown). This may have been my only regretted food choice. Someone BBQ pork just wasn't the thing for a light sunset snack.

Saturday night. Dinner at Vij's, top-rated Indian restaurant. We arrived 20 minutes before opening and were one of the last groups to get a seat before they were full (closely avoided a 1 1/2 hr wait). We shared lamb popsicles (fully cooked and warm) the best saag paneer and lentils I've ever had, and several other dishes I can't remember. I ate until I was full, and then ate for about 15 more minutes and still wanted more.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

chat with Abe Gong

3:55 PM
me: how's it going?

3:56 PM
Abe: not bad
the lab was very chatty, but I finally found a quiet place to work
me: good

3:57 PM
Abe: you?
me: okay

3:58 PM
me: my strategic plan write up took a little longer than i hoped
Abe: mm
me: i'm getting nervous about this NSF grant
it's okay
there's sort of a sense of inevitability to it
whatever plan and partnerships and needs case we have now is basically what we'll have when we submit the grant
i can try to dress it up with good organization and word choice

4:00 PM
me: but even right now, the project is either there or it isn't
i don't know if that's right
but it has sort of a zen feel to it

Abe: hm
4:01 PM
Abe: sounds like the serenity prayer to me

me: haha

4:02 PM
me: the serenity to write the things i cannot change, the courage to change the things i cannot write, and the wisdom to know how to submit a grant through

Saturday, November 7, 2009

things our pumpkin is bigger than

We got our pumpkin from a u-pick patch where every gourd was $5, regardless of size. We got a little carried away.

Our pumpkin is bigger than:

A banana

Our heads

A 50 lb bag of rice (almost)

We each carved a side. Abe did a goblin...

...dressed up as a phd student.

I did a mummy. (I completely copied an online photo of someone else's mummy.)