Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Faraway Land - Monday August 29th 2011


(click images to enlarge)

*not to worry, both girls are very well trained with regard to knife safety and there was an adult supervising (besides me taking pictures)

For our our other recent adventures in faraway land...

Faraway Land - Sunday August 28th 2011

(click images to enlarge)

For our our other recent adventures in faraway land...

Have you guys ever heard of the Burning Man festival?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Brain Droppings Vol 7 - Tummies!


Hellloooooo! It's time for an (on-time) Brain Droppings post!
With all the talk about stomach acid last week, I ended up doing a bit of research on the digestive system...

When you're hungry and your stomach hurts, it's because of the waves of muscle contractions along the digestive tract, called peristalsis.  These contractions move food along and mush up food, drink and digestive juices into a ooey-gooey mess called 'chyme'.

The noises your stomach makes when it growls are called borborygmi (from the greek borborugmos, which is an early example of an onomatopoeia!)

Your stomach can potentially growl at any point but it's louder when your stomach is empty.  I liked the example this article gave comparing an empty stomach to shoes in a dryer (loud!) vs. a fuller stomach which is more like shoes PLUS some towels (muffled).

The size of someone's stomach is in no way related to their weight (i.e. larger people don't have bigger stomachs).  And stomach sizes don't change... If you've ever experienced the feeling that your stomach has shrunk when you repeatedly eat less food for some time, what's really happening is you're resetting your appetite thermostat.

Wasn't that enlightening? 
Do you know any other interesting facts about the 
stomach (or digestive system in general)?
Leave 'em in the comments below!


For more....[link] [link]

Monday, August 29, 2011

Faraway Land - Saturday August 27th 2011

(click images to enlarge)

 
For our our other recent adventures in faraway land...

Now that I'm settling into the groove camping (i.e. feeling okay being 
extremely dirty, sitting still with no agenda...), I want to know...  

What is YOUR favorite part of being in the wilderness?

Faraway Land - Friday August 26th 2011

(click images to enlarge)

For our our other recent adventures in faraway land...

P.S. Like my necklace? Here are the links to Natasha Hanson's etsy and blog

Faraway Land - Thursday August 25th 2011

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For our our other recent adventures in faraway land...
Monday - August 22nd 2011
Tuesday - August 23rd 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Faraway Land - Wednesday August 24th 2011



(click image to enlarge)
For our our other recent adventures in faraway land...

Faraway Land - Tuesday August 23rd 2011

(click image to enlarge)
For our our other recent adventures in faraway land...

Faraway Land - Monday August 22nd 2011

Well, it's been a week so I thought it was time for an update!

But first I'd like to clarify something.  I've repeatedly used the term 'podunk' when describing the town we're visiting without thinking about the negative connotations to the term.  In my mind, it just was a cuter way of saying, 'small town'  but my dear madre pointed out it could mean 'dull or insignificant' as well.  So, instead I'll be referring to it as faraway land.

Without further ado... This is what's been happening.
(click image to enlarge)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Awkward / Awesome Volume 12


Awesome: Falling asleep to the stars in my see-through mesh tent roof.
Awkward: Waking to the feel of rain in my see-through mesh tent roof.

Awesome: Finishing my Brain Droppings post 2 days ahead of schedule.
Awkward: Thinking Tuesday was Wednesday and posting it a day late.  Days mean nothing to me out here.

Awesome: Our one day delay in leaving (this post) allowed me to remember somethings I forgot.... Like my pillow!
Awkward: Out day delay and subsequent unpacking for the extra evening at home allowed me to forget some things I had originally remembered... Like my toothbrush.

Awkward: Driving 12 hours with kids in the backseat.
Awesome: They didn't ask for a potty break once!
Awkward: They still spilled cheetos.

Awesome: Due to the free time allotted by this vacation, I'm almost finished with the book club blogger's book...
Awkward: ...for the month of January.

Awkward and Awesome: Semi-Camping... When we're around our property, I can look like I'm camping.  When I head into town almost daily, I have to look like I'm not camping.


Awkward AND Awesome: Answering the call of nature in nature.

What's been awkward and awesome in YOUR week, peoples?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Brain Droppings Vol 6 - Coffee vs Espresso


You'll have to forgive my Brain Droppings post being a day late and all.  I honest-to-goodness thought today was Tuesday until this very moment.  Ah, vacation... Jealous?

Being away from convenient coffee shops AND my beloved espresso maker has got me thinking about my caffeine addiction...

When I was 18 and job hunting, I only applied places where I wouldn't be tempted by my wares.  I did not want to fall prey to the weight gain and pimple increase experienced by my pizza joint, donut shop or ice cream parlor employed friends.

So I only applied at butcher shops (being vegetarian and all) and cafes (because, *GASP* I didn't drink coffee).

Probably for the best, I landed a job as a barista. Alas, during my first vacation from my employment, I got these rather strange headaches that Google kindly informed me were 'caffeine withdrawal headaches.'

Huh? What gives?! Turns out caffeine can seep into your skin (hence, caffeinated soap).  Sneaky.

After a few headache-relieving lattes, I was hooked. Drat. While there IS a cafe in the closest town to where we're camping, it's not always open, nor is it convenient to make the trek every day.
So what's a girl to do? Coffee seems like the natural solution... easy to carry, store and make.  Unless, of course, you're me. 

For some reason, I never could make the switch to coffee.  My own dear mother accused me of bourgeoisie-iness but honest to goodness, I can't handle the stuff! Even a teensy, tiny sample cupful often leaves me doubled over in tummy pain.

Aside from the added expense of a latte vs. coffee, this preference hasn't proved too much of a problem.  Unless of course, it's a holiday and the cafes are closed (but I solved THAT in this post) or I'm removed from a convenient espresso source as I am now.

In my self defense, I did some research which brings us to the topic of today:
My theory as to why Rachael's stomach 
can handle espresso but not coffee
Espresso is made by quickly passing extremely hot water through finely ground beans, extracting antioxidants and deliciousness.  Coffee is brewed at a lower temperature over a much longer period of time, which seems to allow more stomach hating ingredients to join the party such as volatile oils and caffeine (yes, coffee has MORE caffeine than espresso despite it's weaker taste).  Lastly, according to some recent studies espresso contains stuff that actually decreases stomach acid!

But there's hope, turns out dark-roasted coffees also contain this stuff*, so there may be a chance for me yet.

How about you guys? Which do you prefer? Does anyone else have problems with coffee (or problems with espresso)?
*N-methylpyridium

For more info: [link] [link] [link]




Sunday, August 21, 2011

Feedback please!

So, we were originally supposed to leave for our trip on Friday morning.
THAT didn't happen.
It got tentatively rescheduled to Saturday morning.
THAT didn't happen.
The new plan was today at 8am.
THAT didn't happen.
We finally packed both cars and were ready to go at 10am.  I had the littles in my car*, a 16 hour book on tape, a bag of snacks and lots of handwipes (you know... for child hands [shudder]).
Biggest little

Littlest little

As we were backing out of the driveway, madre waved her arms and hollered at me.  The other car had a dead battery. A very, very dead battery.  At that point, it was just too late to start the trip as it'd be dark by the time we arrived and it's no fun setting up camp with flashlights.

While it's frustrating, I always like to believe that waylaid plans were derailed for a reason. Who knows? Maybe we would've come across worse problems if we HAD gone... like traffic or a fender-bender!

Some definitive good that's come of today:
1) The adults got to get a few more pre-leaving-for-a-trip-things done.
2) The littles are just a little bit closer to being bored with running water.
3) I got to see madre work from home!
Isn't she the coolest?!

AND (here's where you come in...)
4) I get to ask you what car games you recommend for the littles and I when we re-re-re-embark tomorrow!

Leave your favorite vehicular time wasting endeavors in the comments below (please).

***EDIT: Thanks guys! I loved the suggestions! Feel free to keep 'em coming as we have another loooong drive when we head home!****

*we're taking two for lots of reasons including storage space, having one for emergencies (including such cases as big sister NEEDING to go to town for caffeine) and the option of me coming home early should the need arise with the whole grad school starting and what not.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Summer in Civilization

I'm so happy to be back with my sisters!*
(*but I miss you loads, Faja and Brutharrr)
From left: Littlest little, biggest little and me!
(Drawing by biggest little)

Our days have consisted of...
Sleeping in...

Doodling at coffee shops...
With intermittent staring contests, of course!

Body crayons...
The arteest
I'm the girl with the dragon tattoo!

Nail painting...
Bigger little picked out both polishes- 
the mermaid green underneath and the black crackle on top.

Treats! 
Including cupcakes...

and ice cream....

(Treats come with post-treat slumps of course...)

Then there's karate...

and fort building...

and pool fun!

Also, I've been very domestic... 
I busted out my espresso maker  and have been whipping up 
hot chocolates for the little ladies...

And I made Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins!

I titled this post 'Summer in Civilization' because we're all packing to go up to 
Podunk town, USA for the next two weeks.  
We'll be semi-camping (electricity but no running water).

To give you a refresher of what semi-camping is like....

And the last time I was there...

What are YOU guys looking forward to in the last 
remnants of summer?

Friday, August 19, 2011

465 days ago...


465 days ago, I kissed my sisters goodbye saying "I'll see you in a few days" as I headed north for my cousin's wedding and a potential internship/job interview.
Little did I know that the interview would go so well that I would be offered an internship on the spot.
 Starting immediately.  
This is the post I wrote then.
I didn't have time to go home and pack my stuff.  I found a sweet family to stay with two days later and lived off of the clothes and toiletries I'd packed for what was meant to be a short trip (good thing I'm an over-packer!!!).  The internship became a job on day 2 and I eventually got my own place.


The past year + 100 days have been some of the hardest and best of my life.  At some points, I have been lonelier than I thought possible. But I also have met some of the greatest people to ever grace me with their presence.  I've worked harder than I ever have before.  I did things I couldn't imagine myself doing (including flying across the country to present scientific data in front of a crowd!).  In some ways, it's been a very productive year (working as a research assistant in a neuroscience lab, taking the GREs, getting into grad school) and at the same time, unexpectedly my stomach clenches as I wonder if I've wasted a whole year.  The latter comes from the fact that I'm single, I think.  There's something in me that doesn't feel like it's a real accomplishment if I can't share it with someone. Does anyone else experience that?


But all of it... the happiness, the loneliness, the new friends, the hard work, the opportunities, the exciting future... through all of these, I have grown so much and know myself 200x times better than I ever had before.

Here's to a new beginning!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Awkward / Awesome Volume 11

Awesome: Parking my car outside a bakery in such a way that it looks like my vehicle is pastry laden.
I wish!

Awesome: Having a going away gathering the night before I moved.
Awesome x 2: Having some friends even come from as far as 3 hours away!
Awkward: The morning after with aforementioned people who needed to stay the night.
Um... Thanks for driving out here and all but I can't hang out today.  
But have a nice (long) drive home!


Awesome: Being told to do an 'awkward' pose by the photographer and immediately busting it out.
Awkward: Being the only one doing so by the time the shutter goes.

Awkward: Not only being familiar with but actually catching myself singing along to nearly every song that came on in the teeny-bopper-preteen store I took my sisters in. 

Awkward: Having my macbook power cord break.
Awkward x 2: Finding out a new power cord costs $90!
Awesome: Being under warranty still.
Awkward: Not having this particular item covered.
Awesome: Them giving it to me anyways.

Awesome: Having a gift card for Borders.
Awkward: Not knowing how much was on it and discovering that the only way to find out would be to wait in the long check out line.
Awesome: Finding several options of varying prices to bring to the front.
Awkward: Getting the grumpiest of all cashiers who proceeded to stare me down growling, "So you're NOT going to get this item?"
Awkward x 2: After each sheepish admission of 'No', she continued to lock eyes as she flung the item in question hard over her shoulder, smashing it into the wall behind her.

Awesome: Having a perfect stranger spell my name correctly.
Awkward: Having my own sister spell it wrong.
 Who cares when it's that cute! Am I right?

Awesome: Remembering to be polite by asking the other person the same question they asked me.
Me: "So what do YOU think about the issue?"
Awkward: Finding out I already asked them that 5 minutes ago.
Them: "Um, I just told you that..."
Me: "Yeah, but see, I was paying absolutely no attention to you then."

Awkward AND Awesome: Being emailed by a coworker that 'even so-and-so misses you.'
I didn't know they wouldn't....

What awkward & awesome things have happened to YOU this week?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Brain Droppings vol 5

Ah, Tuesday... the day of enlightenment.  Hopefully.
For example, did you know that you can sharpen your sense of smell by wetting your nose?  Oh, you went to sixth grad science camp, too?  Well, my mom didn't know this factoid but she quickly used her powers of reasoning and noted that it probably explained why smells were more pungent on humid days. Smart woman.
Try it yourself!
Speaking of pungent things... I'd like to take this time to explain people's love/hate relationship with cilantro, the leafy part of the coriander plant. Well, I wont get into the 'love' aspect but I'll see if I can enlighten you on the hate part at least. 

While there are foods I loathe, nothing comes close to the revulsion I have for cilantro.  It affects me viscerally, causing nausea from the smell and often worse effects from the taste (I'll spare you the details).  When I confide my true feelings for the leafy green, I'm either met with shocked faces or exuberhantly sympathetic 'Me too!'s.  So what gives?
There are several theories, including some involving a genetic disposition to hate the herb but the one I'll go into today is the explanation for why many people think it tastes like soap or lotion.  To me personally, it tastes like neither... But it does taste like danger and the following theory explains that just as well.
The characteristic smell of cilantro is made up of molecules that are the same or similar to many found in soaps and cleaning agents. 
That's so straightforward, it makes me wonder why the herb doesn't taste rancid to everyone...
Well, our senses of smell and taste are tuned to evoke strong reactions because they are critical for avoiding poisonous or spoilt food.  You wouldn't want to have to try something several times to find out that it makes you sick.  You've probably had trouble overcoming this hardwired system when you tried to eat a food that you ate before getting the flu.  It took me years and years to like eggs again.
So, if you grew up in a culture that uses this herb in many dishes, you would associate that taste with food, nourishment and family.  If you grew up without many cilantro run ins, when you do first taste or smell it, the closest reference your brain has to compare it to is to cleaning agents and our brains are smart enough to know THOSE are not edible. Yuk!
So there you have it.  That's one theory.  It's probably not the whole story because certainly some people in cilantro-infused cultures despise it as well but it sure does make me feel better about my crippling aversion.