Friday, October 31, 2008

I need a new major

I spent four hours today hunched over a microscope searching for diatoms and dinoflagellates. My eyes are tired, my back and neck hurts. I have a presentation on Monday, a physics test on Tuesday, a bio ocean cruise later on Tuesday (and VOTING, everyone should be VOTING on Tuesday!!!!), a chemistry quiz and qualitative analysis of an unknown sample due on Wednesday, a bio ocean exam on Thursday, and then finally, on Friday I get to put together kabobs for the Oceanography Society's table at the football game on Saturday. Whew. Oh yeah, and another presentation the following Wednesday.

I'm still alive, and I promise a real update is coming soon, but for now, I'm going to rest. Happy Halloween everyone!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Away at Sea

It's been a long weekend, and overall, not a great one. So, instead of blogging, I'll leave you with this. We had a friend visit us while we were out on the R/V Coral Sea yesterday. Oh, a do me a favor and watch this on mute, since there's just a lot of boat sounds and us sounding like idiots (a group of us were "chumming" when this guy appeared, so we weren't exactly at our best).

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Stockpiling for the winter

This year, for whatever reason, I've felt the urge to store the harvest. Pack it away for the winter months when food isn't as abundant as it is in the summer. Which is a little odd, since I've always been able to get summer produce in winter by going to the store. But not this year. Whether from my efforts to eat more local food, wanting to prepare for the lean times that look to be ahead of us, or from wanting to be a homemaker in some small way, I've spent the last several months buying extra produce from the farmer's markets and storing it for later.

So far I have (all local):
* 2 quarts + 3 pints tomato sauce (sadly already all used up :( )
* 6 pints applesauce (3 cinnamon, 3 plain)
* 11 half-pints blueberry syrup
* 5 cups blueberries in the freezer.
* 10 lbs. potatoes of various varieties
* 4 lbs. dried bean mix
* 3 quarts + 3 pints bread and butter pickles
* 7 long lasting squashes
* lots of garlic
* 15 oz. + 1.5 lbs. pumpkin puree

I've also done some baking for the freezer, but have had to back off since there's no more room in my tiny freezer! I have:
* whole wheat bread
* 2 loaves pineapple zucchini bread
* 1 dozen peanut butter oatmeal cookies

Overall, definitely not enough to truly make it through the winter if I was only relying on my stockpiling abilities, but I feel like we could survive pretty well over the next several months on my preserved food as well as the non-local staples such as rice and flour I always keep on hand if something happened to keep us from being able to buy food easily. It seems a little silly, but it's made me feel more independent of rising food prices and like I am providing for my little family.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Lucky to Study

Although this week was less stressful than last week with all it's tests, we got our tests results back this week, which added some stress. I didn't do as well as I wanted to, but I consistently did much better than average, which is good when the grades are curved at the end of the semester. Overall, I'm happy.

In the next week or so I'll start taking plankton samples from the Trinidad Pier to analyze for community structure and to monitor for harmful algae blooms (HAB). This project will be my bio ocean final project, my senior thesis project (comparing community structure between Humboldt Bay, Trinidad Head, and Big Lagoon), and a part of a state wide program monitoring HABs. Yay for multitasking! As of right now I'll only be sampling once a week (Tuesdays) and analyzing on Thursdays. I may start sampling on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but I need to see how much of a time commitment this is going to be. But the good news is, I love looking at all the little critters under the microscope! So hopefully the hours of peering through the eyepiece and getting headaches will be worth it.

A perfect sampling day.

Speaking of headaches, I've had a massive one all day today that started last night. Aspirin has been keeping the headache to a dull squeeze instead of ice picks drilling through my skull, but it's still been pretty painful and annoying. The weather has been changing the last couple of days, which usually seems to trigger my headaches. Hopefully it will be gone tomorrow.

In the mean time, I'll leave you with some pictures from Trinidad Marine Lab, where I'm lucky enough to study oceanography twice a week.

A Jr. Gull on Trinidad Pier.

I get to grab a quick snack of native blackberries on the walk back to class from the pier.

Looking north from the cliffs across the street from the marine lab.

Before lecture starts, a classmate catches some waves.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Fall is by far my favorite time of the year and now that the first round of midterms are over, I can focus on cooking yummy fall foods. Almost everything this week will be local from the farmers market or homemade.

Sunday: David requested chili dogs. I'll be using veggie dogs and some leftover frozen chili from Vegan Lunch Box.
Monday: Lasagna rolls. They were so good David wanted them again right away.
Tuesday: Stuffed acorn squash, sliced vegan sausages with a quick tomato sauce
Wednesday: Something quick like pasta and sauce or leftovers
Thursday: Soba noodles with roasted broccoli and either a peanut sauce or a soy sauce based sauce. (idea from Vegetarian Times)
Friday: Seitan porkchops with apples and ginger, roasted beet salad, butternut squash

Head over to Organizing Junkie for more menu plan mondays. Remember, this month is Vegetarian Awareness Month, so add a couple of extra veggie meals to your plans!

Fall is in the Air

I love fall. There is no better season than fall. Crisp days, orange leaves, apples, squash, beans, hot apple cider, geese, storms, Halloween, the big Thanksgiving dinner with the family. Yep, fall is definitely my favorite time of year.

The last two weeks have been test after test after lab report after speech after test. I don't generally like waiting until the night before a big assignment/test to start preparing, but this time I was continuously staying up after midnight starting to study for a test the next morning. But the good news is, I think I did fairly well on everything. I already received my grade on the Chem II exam; 70/100. The average was a 56 and he said if he were to curve each test, a 56 would be a C-, so it's like getting a B. Not too shabby considering I haven't been successful in chemistry since high school (Mr. Null just explained everything so it made sense!). Talking to classmates it seems like I did about the same as everyone else on my physics midterm; I think I pretty much aced bio ocean, and my speech...well, I didn't black out this time, but I wish I had. It wasn't pretty. I'm not sure why I'm having so much trouble in this class, I did fine in Speech, but for some reason I get out of control nervous whenever I'm giving a speech in this class and everything goes right out the window. Oh well....

Tuesday before class I hiked out to the cliffs across from the marine lab and sat in the sun and worked on homework. The ocean was perfectly flat and there were barely any clouds out. Thursday, after the Bio Ocean exam, I had some extra time so I went for a hike up Trinidad Head. We had a storm moving in, so the waves were fairly big and beautiful. I planned on heading back out there yesterday when the waves were supposed to reach 17 foot swells, but the storm didn't move in as planned and the waves weren't nearly as high as predicted, so I decided to wait.

The storm not coming in though meant yesterday morning was a beautiful day for Pastels on the Plaza and the farmers market. Since it's fall, and fall is my favorite season, we bought five squashes (3 pumpkins, an acorn, and a butternut), lots of honeycrisp apples, some broccoli, local dried beans, local mushrooms, and beets. Afterwards we went to the Big Blue Cafe on the plaza and got pancakes.

This morning I baked the pumpkins, then froze the puree (about 1 1/2 pounds) to use later and roasted the seeds. I'll probably get a couple more pumpkins next week and do the same thing. I might also try to cube some squash for freezing, but the ones I bought this week are already spoken for.

I love fall....