If you've got it, flaunt it...?

After all the things that came together to make up last week, I have come to the conclusion that I absolutely have to start practicing voice again. Why? Let's see... Many of the first-year grad students have some kind of serious sports history - playing Ultimate Frisbee, or swimming, or training for marathons... and this makes me feel kind of silly, because the one thing I do very well (aside from Physics, I guess I have to say now that I'm actually a grad student) is singing. That, and apparently I blew people away sufficiently at the visiting weekend when I sang karaoke that they still remember, and if I let that slip, that'll just be silly.

Most of all, though, I just love to sing. The phrase is nothing original, the sentiment is genuine. When I finally had the opportunity to take voice lessons, I found that diligent practice actually made it more fun... partially because practicing meant I sang more every day, but also because I was able to actually find my own sound, as opposed to the adolescent choir sound I had developed. Then, somewhere along the way, I buried myself in musical theater pieces, and have since found all kinds of fun in expressing character and moods through tone and physical expression. Now all I need to do is find an amateur MT group so I can stroot my stoof.

But that is a different project. This week, as usual, I baked more cookies (8)! These ones have banana, semi sweet chocolate chips, toasted walnuts, and wheat flour in them (aside from the normal things). The recipe called for chocolate chunks, but when I was at the store, I found it was less expensive to purchase 12oz of chips than two 4oz bars.

These cookies ooze healthiness. I have to admit, I was one of those kids who LOVED white bread, and couldn't eat wheat bread unless it had all kinds of stuff on it. I eat whole wheat bread now because it's good for me, but I'm always very aware of the taste and it's not my favorite. That whole wheat taste is present in this latest batch of cookies, but I think it goes pretty well with the walnuts and bananas. The chocolate chips kind of save the recipe, though, by putting in something that's not so healthy. I think I may have put too much banana in the batter, since the cookies are a little spongy...but in a good way.

Of course, I will take these to the physics building on Monday, when people get together to do their homework (how lame are we, that we're taking our day off to go to work), and they will probably be gone by the end of the day. And hopefully, so will our homework.

**re-made on 7/19/10


it's not about aptitude, it's the way you're viewed...

I will begin this post by promising that I am not baking cookies so I can be popular. I will also promise that I will not start doing Kristen Chenoweth yodels, if only because I am not a coloratura.

Classes here begin this Monday, so I have been savoring my free time. This fall I am taking two upper-level undergraduate courses and a graduate-level course, plus teaching three sections of Physics 101, which is about as basic as it sounds. My courseload is somewhat heavy for a TA, but I'll survive, as I always do.

It turns out that this year I am sharing a grad student office with two other first-year women. We have decided to make an effort to make our office more comfortable. So far this has meant getting rid of a desk and purchasing a coffee maker from the YMCA garage sale thing. Next weekend we'll probably try to find a small sofa. Right now we're having some difficulty with people coming by to hang out in our office (it's good because I like people but it's bad because it makes work nearly impossible), so it might become harder to be productive when there's a couch.

Oh, right, and another reason why too many people will come by next Monday is that I made cookies (7)! These tasty morsels are made with a basic cookie dough (flour, sugar, eggs, butter...), and then have white chocolate chips, sweetened flaked coconut, old fashioned oats, chopped walnuts, and golden raisins added in. I have to admit that this recipe called for a little more elbow grease than is typical of a cookie recipe. It was worth it, though: I usually don't like nuts or raisins in my cookies but the blend of all the ingredients is phenomenal. In any other cookie I think the white chocolate would be too rich, but the coconut and oats really beef up the cookie such that the chocolate is a nice addition. Plus I can lie and say that they're healthy, because there's raisins!

I think that's about it for now... I should get to sleep so that I can continue my church shopping in the morning. I know there was something I was thinking about a couple days ago that I wanted to post here, but I've forgotten it. If you're lucky, I might post my thoughts about church shopping. Or TAing, although FERPA forbids me from referring to actual students (by name, at least.. I've got to check those rules out).


I want data, not drama!

I am now two days behind on my normal posting schedule... oops? Although this is no excuse, it's been a busy time now that I actually am in the middle of the cornfield which led to this blog's name.

Moving last Monday was a real adventure: we had a late start getting out of my house, and so by the time we got down here the landlord's office was past its closing time! Fortunately I called ahead and someone stayed so I could get my keys (apparently this is something they usually won't do, so I am extra thankful that it worked out). My dad and brother helped me move my things into my new apartment Monday night, and Tuesday morning we went to complete my furniture collection. Between Craigslist and the Habitat for Humanity Restore, my loft is fully furnished.

After a little shopping for bakeware (because some person ruined my cookie sheets last summer), I was ready for my Saturday baking, as usual. This week I made Cream Cheese Blondies (6). My choice of recipe was dictated, like last week's, by necessity: the recipe calls for the usual flour, sugar, eggs, etc., plus a brick of cream cheese. This batch turned out a little tall, but pretty good. I really enjoy the cream cheese taste, although I think that I prefer the taste and texture of some of my earlier cookies.

This week finds me in the midst of TA training, making new Physics friends (they're really cool people, I swear), and watching more Olympics. That means that for now, all is well.

We'll have to see how things go come next Monday, when classes start.


making a mess

Since I'm moving in a couple days, I decided to take care of my weekly cookie baking on Friday evening instead of my usual Saturday afternoon. The same circumstance also led me to choose a simple recipe, so I only had to purchase butter (I use unsalted butter so I can control the amount of salt in the things I make).

This week brings another version of chocolate cookies, this time made to be crunchy instead of soft (5). They're supposed to be large, too, but I always end up making my cookies too small. This means that instead of ending up with 8 cookies, I find myself with 11. I find them pretty tasty, but don't enjoy them quite as much as the earlier chocolate cookies I made.

As far as the rest of life goes, I've been watching the Olympics, as many other people around the world have been... This past evening I watched the opening ceremony (not live, unfortunately). The production was fantastic, but for me to talk about it would mean parroting the same things as are available on any news site.

My experience of the ceremony was particularly international: I've been watching a Canadian television station broadcasting an event in China. From my American living room I set my computer up for video chat with a very good friend of mine who is currently in Austria, so that she could watch, too. To bring it all the way around the globe, she's from Singapore.

So I've been watching live gymnastics, cycling, and beach volleyball (sailing is delayed for lack of wind), and it's just lots of fun, partially because the broadcast has a Canadian focus, but also because I'm always amazed by the abilities of all these athletes. I find myself also somewhat shocked by the amount of haze and smog visible in outdoor shots of Beijing.

There are several things I would love to say about what impressions all this gives me about China, but I realize that I don't understand enough about the culture to make judgments. It seems to me that China is trying their hardest to appear strong and perfect to the world. While they do have economic strength, the country is far from perfect (and between the propaganda thrown at Americans about "Dirty Commies" and all the current human rights issues, it seems like many Westerners are not going to take China seriously).

All that said, I'm going to pack/watch volleyball. It's a good time.


apple & cookies

I'm a little behind this weekend for several reasons... on Friday I went to my old apartment to move all my stuff out and clean it up, and only got back in the early evening yesterday.

Last night was dedicated to baking (as usual) and playing with my new laptop. Like so many people I know, I finally got fed up with Microsoft and purchased a Mac. It's a fun time, but I'm not used to the OS yet and have to go through the hassle of installing software and moving files and learning the commands, since I've always been a shortcut girl. Despite the frustrations that inevitably come from getting a new computer, I am excited that the hardware is faster (my other laptop is four years old) and the speakers are louder. Awesome.

But I did not come here today to alternate between complaining about and cheering for the features on my computer. I'm here to post a picture of my lovely chocolate chip cookies (4)! I realize that these are a staple sort of food, but I happened to have the correct amount of chocolate chips lying around (from a s'mores mix experiment) for the recipe. These cookies are just what you hope for - soft and chewy, and full of more butter than you really want to know. They are awfully tasty, and in a nice continuation of tradition, I had some fresh out of the oven with a glass of milk (I shared them with my stepsister too, she was pretty happy about that).

Over the next several weeks I'll need to make sure I pick some quick and easy cookie recipes - between my roommate ruining some of my bakeware, moving, and starting training and classes soon, I fear I won't have the required time or resources to do the more interesting baking experiments. I'm sure I'll still find the time to take photos and post them here - no amount of busyness can keep me from wasting time on the Internets.


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