Wednesday, December 10, 2008

16 things.

'Here are the 16 things that I have spent more than 16 hours thinking up. 16 random things, shortcomings, facts, habits or goals.The deal is, if you read them, you should write 16 of your own. Maybe we will get to know each other better or maybe it will be cathartic?'

My sister tagged me with this on facebook but I though my blog was a better place for this list.

1. Since seventh grade, or perhaps before, I’ve been setting my alarm clock so the last digit is always a 3.
2. I will always remember the first time I met my nephew Sam as the moment that I realized that ‘Love at first sight’ could really happen.
3. I have a extremely hard time initiating communication. This translates to pretty bad phone anxiety. Calling anyone, except my sister, mom, dad, Mike, Courtney and Elizabeth, gives me at least a slight twinge of anxious butterflies in my stomach and sometimes makes me procrastinate phone calls (and even emails) a lot longer than is reasonable.
4. I’m as sure as you can be, that I will be with Mike for the rest of my life.
5. I enjoy making things; food, crafts, messes, it doesn’t really matter.
6. I have low self esteem in regards to my own intelligence. I am perpetually afraid to make mistakes because people might find out that I am not as smart as they think I am.
7. I am a big day dreamer. At any given time I have at least 3 fictitious scenarios playing out in my head.
8. If you ask me a direct question or for my opinion, I will give it to you (even if I don’t think you want to hear it). If you care enough to ask, I’ll tell you anything.
9. Spell check is truly the greatest thing to ever happen to me. If it weren’t for the red squiggly line telling me that a word is wrong, I wouldn’t be able to communicate and about 1/4 of all words in this post would be misspelled.
10. Hulu and full tv episodes on network websites have the potential to be my complete downfall.
11. Chips and dip are my kryptonite and UTZ sour cream and onion chips are my crack equivalent.
12. I’ve been told on multiple occasions that my brush stroke while brushing my teeth is ridiculously fast. But when I try to slow down, I feel like I’m not getting quite as clean.
13. I love earlobes and I always have. I find comfort in playing with them.
14. I am terrified of house fires and hate the sound of the any fire alarm. I can trace this fear directly to a video they made us watch in the 3rd grade where they showed a black screen and said ‘this is what you see in a fire’.
15. I love lattes, especially when Mike makes them, but I never drink the last sip.
16. I hate the feeling of being late, so I’m usually at least 5 minutes early for everything.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Other People's Crafts

It seems a little off calling the event we went to on Saturday a craft fair, but I guess that’s what it was. Craft fairs, especially during the Christmas season, conjure up images of overly crowded gyms filled with old women looking at over flowing booths containing cutesy-wootsy, potpourri smelling decorations that people with names like Bambi or Candy put out for every different holiday season. The Renegade Craft Fair Holiday Sale, however, is basically the opposite of almost everything I associate with the stereotypical craft fair. First of all, the event had the highest concentration of people from the Indie crowd that I have ever seen in one place. Mike and I both felt that our jeans weren’t tapered enough, because they weren’t at all, and that our shirts didn’t make ironic enough of a statement. We basically felt totally uncool. Second, instead of household decorations, the booths were mostly filled with screen print t-shirts, hand-made jewelry, and other things similar the stuff you can buy on etsy and manned by people with multiple tattoos and piercings. To top it all off, the whole affair was in the Pulaski Park Field House, an incredible building from 1914. Anyway, I really had fun and got a few people checked off my Christmas shopping list.

Here are some of my favorite vendors:

(family, be warned; looking at some following links may give hints of your Christmas presents) - This is like the fourth indie craft related thing I’ve seen that includes orange in the name. Orange is the color of indie.
- Cool prints, they just ask for storybooks to be written around them. - my first stop after I get my new sewing machine.
- cute kids clothing. - neat looking earrings, but some of posts looked a little thick and heavy. - hand printed clothing, mostly organic looking prints. - I like the simplicity of the things here. - Awesome puzzles, beautifully crafted, but a bit out of my price range.

And of course, I have to give a shout out to the only storefront of the Renegade movement, Renegade Handmade.

My boyfriend is better than yours

- On thursday, we watched a musical on Netflix, he actually liked it and I liked it because Mandy had a small part.
- On Friday, Mike took me to see Twilight without complaining too much.
- On Saturday, we went to a craft fair and it was his idea.
- Today, we took my grandparents to a see ‘The Norwegian Singers’ and then had more of my family over to our place.

AND to top it all off, I think we both had a fun weekend. Man, I’m lucky.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Split Personality

From reading another blog, I found a website that, through some unknown method, analyzes your blog entries and determines your blog’s Myers-Briggs personality. According to this site my blog in an ESTP or an Extraverted, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving person. I wanted to see how accurate my blog represented me, so I went to another site and took my own Myers-Briggs. According to this site, my blog represents my personality’s polar opposite. This sites says that I am an INFJ or an Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging person. I find it interesting that our of 16 possible personality types that my blog and I did not share a single common trait. Am I not representing myself well on my blog? or is my inner voice that different from the outer? or is all of this just hooey?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Waking up from the Turkey Coma

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Great food without the stress of christmas gifts. Mike and I hosted a fried turkey festival at our apartment for those who had nowhere else to go. We ended up with about 20 people at our place, with a majority foreign grad students. However, we had a better american showing than last year, I think there about 5 of us. Where as last year, Mike and I were the only ones who actually celebrated Thanksgiving.

Fried turkey is wonderful and not quite as dangerous as many youtube videos make it out to be. The turkey friers you buy in the store have more safety features than your average car. First, you have to pass an IQ test to properly put it together. Second, there is a max-fill oil line on the pot that helps remind you that you have to account for the volume of the turkey and the expansion of the oil. Finally, the gas valve to the system has an automatic shut off valve to ensure you don’t leave the turkey unattended for more than 20 minutes. That being said, I can still see how many people can burn down houses with the apparatus. Case in point: our neighbor saw us getting the frier set up and came over to make sure that we knew that you shouldn’t fry a frozen turkey. He then proceeded to tell us that he thought it silly of us to fry the turkeys on the cement patio in the back of the building and that we should just do it on the deck of our place. He also recommended that we cover our deck with tinfoil incase there is a spill, just to be safe. He then asked us if we “liked to party” and said that he had many flavors of marijuana in his apartment if we wanted any. We graciously declined his offer and his advice. Moral of the story, frying turkeys is dangerous if you do it while high on a tin foil covered deck, but not very dangerous if you are sober, responsible, engineering/physics grad student.

Happy Holidays.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The subtle sexism of conferences

After waiting in a sea of the stereotypical engineer on the first day of the conference to register, I finally got a program of the talks for the week that resembled a small town’s phonebook and my name badge. As I tried decide the best place to clip the over sized badge to my shirt I came to the realization that those types of badges are really meant to be worn by men. They clip perfectly to suit jackets or the front pocket of a men’s collar shirt, they did not however clip well to any of the outfits I brought for the week (with the exception of the suit I planned to wear to my talk). As someone who is a t-shirt and jeans kind of girl I find it hard enough to put together a week of business-ish, conference appropriate attire. I only own one suit and I really don’t have the need (or money) to buy another one and I don’t want to be the stinky girl who wears the same suit all week. So not only was I stuck in heels for four whole days but I also spent the week trying to find the perfect place to display my name. BAH.

Fig 1 - yup, I look dorky. Stupid name tag.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I'm Crafty

So the past month or so I've been flexing my fine motor skills by crocheting what seemed like a million potholders. This week I've finally stitched those potholders together to form a full afghan. I will admit that I'm pretty proud and impressed with the end product. Crafting, in general, brings me pleasure and a big sense of accomplishment.

The yarn dust is just starting to settle on this project and I am already trying to figure out what my next project should be. I'll admit that my reinvigorated interest in making 'things' is getting a little out of hand. Proof: I really want to buy a sewing machine, soon.

Well anyway, no crafting for me this upcoming week. I'm headed to Philadelphia tomorrow for a week long conference. I'll let you all know how the cheese steaks are when I get back.

Friday, November 14, 2008


So I’m having a little trouble with this whole blog thing lately. I started this blog as a way to share my ideas, my opinions and daily life with people who want to get to know me better. But what happens when my opinions and daily life involve negative views of work, of the scientific community and of social interactions? I feel that if I write honestly about my feeling that somehow it will come back to bite me in the ass. I can’t vent my frustrations about my research or academic interactions in this forum because a future employer might stumble across this blog and not like what she reads. We all feel a false sense of anonymity sitting in front of a computer. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t feel like I can be a hundred percent honest with this blog and I don’t like it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Now where's my sticker?

I voted and all I got was this lousy piece of paper. Well, this piece of paper and hopefully Sen Obama as our next president. But I honestly do miss having the "I Voted" sticker to display to the world. I even chose my outfit today to with the sticker in mind. Well, regardless, I love voting and today was no exception.

Lucky for me, Illinois is not only the land of Lincoln but also the kingdom of Obama. Chicago has been the perfect place watch this election unfold and I really hope that the 'party' in Grant park tonight will be a joyous conclusion to election season. Mike and I don't have tickets to the actual rally but I think we are going to head down town to just see. Hopefully, I'll have pictures to share with you all tomorrow.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Things I am looking forward to this week:

1. Making a big pot of chili today and watching Mr Smith Goes to Washington
2. Voting. Hopefully my 0-3 voting record, 2 presidential and one primary, won’t continue and the person I vote for will actually win
3. Making progress on the afghan I’m crocheting (only a few more granny squares to go)
4. Mike’s mom coming to visit
5. Seeing Jersey Boys
6. More beautiful weather

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I like Vampires

I enjoy the supernatural, especially vampires. I like ass-kicking vampires, vampires with consciences, interviews with vampires, parting gang vampires. But I’m not sure I understand the hype behind teenage vampire romance stories. The Twilight series of books is a best seller, the basis of a new motion picture and some say the series will be/is the next Harry Potter. I just finished the first book in the series and I’m not that impressed. Was it an easy read? Yes. Did it kept my attention? Yes. Was the story line unique? Yes. Did it live up to the hype? Nope. Will I read the the other two books in the series? Probably.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Winter has officially begun. I am pretty sure I saw my first snowflake today.

On a side note: The baking/cooking master now has her Masters Degree! A big congratulations to Ms Sophisticated Pie M.S. It was lovely seeing you this weekend. I am so lucky to have you as a friend.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

It’s getting cold and I’m getting a cold...

... and that means it is the perfect time for a spicy soup. I am currently coming down with the same funk that Mike is recovering from. Therefore, last night was the perfect night to cook up a big pot of soup, relax and watch college football (poor hokies and their lack of offense). Since my taste buds are kind of cattywampus as a result of the stuffy nose, I wanted something with a little more flavor than your plain old chicken noodle. There is no one to turn to but Bobby Flay if you are ever looking for something with a little spicy southwestern kick. I know some people don’t like him because they think he’s arrogant and kind of an ass. But hey, he is a native New Yorker, what do you expect? I think I would be cocky too if I could create dishes as well as he can. Regardless, I’m a big Bobby fan (I get that from my father). Anyway, the Roasted Cauliflower and Green Chili Soup from his newish Mesa Grill cookbook is wonderful. In the book, he suggests serving it with a blue corn-goat cheese nachos of sorts, but tonight Mike and I were looking for something heartier to accompany the soup in order to make it a fuller dinner. We finally decide to grill up some chicken quesadillas. The dinner really hit the spot!.

Roasted Cauliflower and Green Chili Soup

2 heads cauliflower, cut into florets
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 cups Chicken Stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 poblano chilies, roasted and pureed (we ended up using 5 small poblanos from the farmers market)

To roast chilies
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Rub a small amount of olive oil and season with salt and pepper, place in the oven on a baking sheet, and rotate until charred on all sides (this can also be done on the burner of a gas stove or on a grill). This will take somewhere between 15 to 17 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the roasted peppers in a paper bag, and let sit for 15 minutes to allow the skin to loosen. Then peel, halve, and seed before throwing the pepper flesh into a food processor. Add a small splash of water and puree.

Meanwhile, toss the cauliflower florets in approximately 3 tablespoons olive oil and place in a baking dish, salt and pepper and cover with foil. Make sure to puncture the foil to allow for some steam to get out. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft. Transfer the cooked cauliflower to a big soup pot and add chicken broth. Let simmer for 15 minutes. In batches, carefully, puree the the cauliflower and return to the pot. (At this point the recipe says to strain the soup, but that seems like way too much work and mess for me to deal with). Bring pureed soup to a simmer, adding more water or broth to reach desired consistency. Whisk in the cream and the poblano puree to taste. Since poblanos are a mild pepper, they add more flavor than heat to the soup so don’t be too worried to add a lot of the puree.

Abbie and Mikes Grilled Quesadillas

1 chicken breast
1/2 tablespoon ancho chili powder
bit of olive oil
half a red onion
splash of balsamic vinegar
Goat cheese
Corn Tortillas

Sprinkle the chicken with a small amount of the chili powder and grill. In a small saucepan, over med to low heat, saute the onions in the olive oil. Once onions are really soft as a splash of balsamic vinegar and cook for an additional minute. The vinegar will add an extra layer of sweetness. We decided to make more of an open-face quesadilla because the goat cheese doesn’t make quite as good cheese glue as other gooier cheeses and the prospect of flipping the quesadilla sandwiches seemed grim. To put the open-facers together, put a small amount of olive oil on one side of a tortilla, so it doesn’t stick to the grill. Then, crumble goat cheese on to the tortilla and add some sliced grilled chicken and the red onions. Place on the grill or a few minutes. These guys turned out pretty tasty and folded in half nicely for easier eating. However, next time I would add a thin layer of cilantro mayonnaise for some added creaminess and consistency. Overall, I think we came up with a pretty good side for the soup! Enjoy!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Some people run 26 miles, others walk 8

Sunday was the Chicago marathon. Inspired by the beautiful weather and the insane runners, Mike and I decided to walk. We ended up walking about 8 miles south of our apartment (map). One of the things I like about Chicago are the diverse neighborhoods that, together, make up the city. And there is no better way to get to know a neighborhood than meandering through the streets.
We began our journey by walking through the Loyola campus on our way out of Rogers Park. Since we got kind of a late start, we needed to stop for lunch pretty quickly. We had our first stop at a diner in Edgewater. Mike has a true love for somewhat sketchy dinners that give you the feeling that you've been transported back in time when you enter them. I humor this love. Standee's was tasty and my steak sandwich definitely gave energy to trek onward.
Crossing the border into Andersonville we happened upon the Senn High School, my mom's school. It is a very beautiful building/campus but from the stories that my mom has told me, it wasn't always such a serene environment, at least not for her.

Chicago has some really neat architecture. You can see influences from all over the world just by walking down the street and looking at different buildings.
Onward from Andersonville, we passed through the north side's mini Asia-town. This area is not as impressive as China town, but not much is. For some reason I really like the Uptown area and I can't wait to see what happens to the big Uptown theatre now that it has new owners. Next stop Lakeview-Wrigleyville. Along Halstead, this area is more commonly referred to as Boystown. Notice the Hancock building peaking out from behind the corner building.
In Lincoln Park, we stopped for nourishment at a cool little coffee/tea/sandwich shop called the Bourgeois Pig. I have a feeling that if I lived anywhere near this place while I was taking classes, I would have spent a million hours here.
Next stop, quick peep into Crate and Barrel and CB2. Small world, we ran into my cousin and her husband. Lauren could not, or maybe did not want to, believe that we had walked that far when we could have just driven or taken the CTA.
To round out our day, we had dinner at Goose Island and had a pint or two of good Chicago beer. I really do love Chicago and I can't wait for more long walks with Mike.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I got macaroons

I got homemade birthday macaroons in the mail from the one and only Ms. Sophisticated Pie. I predict that they will be gone before my actual birthday.

The macaroons also came with a very cute card (left). It plays a royal fanfare of sorts and then applause when you open it. For the rest of the weekend, I'm going to carry the card with me and use the music to announce my entrance to every room. Good idea? doot-da-da-dooo, doot do da-da, doot-da-da-dooo.

In other news, Mike and I are celebrating my big 26 tonight by going to a new wine bar that opened up about a block from our place and then going to a new theater that's two blocks from our place to see Taj Mahal. Today is a good day.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

soup's on

I'm no Sophisticated Pie, but I made a tasty soup for dinner tonight and wanted to share the recipe. Yesterday, in addition to the mini pumpkins I also got a couple of beautiful squashes. I've made this recipe a few times and it's always good for a cool fall day.

Butternut Squash Soup

1 medium butternut squash (about 2 1/4 pounds)
Vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups chicken broth
water, as needed
Salt and pepper to taste
Sour cream for garnish

Preheat oven to 400F. Cut squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Arrange the halves cut side down in roasting pan that has been lightly oiled. Bake squash in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until very tender. Set aside to cool. When the squash is completely cool, scoop the flesh from the skin. While the squash is baking, cook the onion and the ginger in the butter in a saucepan, over moderately low heat, for 5 minutes or until the onion is softened, Add the broth and simmer the mixture for 10 minutes, covered. Add the squash pulp to the sauce pan. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor, in batches, and puree until smooth. Add enough water to achieve the desired consistency, and salt and pepper to taste. Return the soup to the sauce pan and cook over moderate heat until it is hot. Garnish each portion with the heaping teaspoon of low-fat sour cream.

I also like to garnish the soup with toasted seeds. To roast the seeds rinse them a few times with cool water. Let seeds soak for a few minutes in salt water. Spread the seeds out onto a baking sheet and put in oven with the Squash for the last 10 min of baking.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008


I love the fall but I love pumpkins even more. Today I bought the most incredible little pumpkin at the farmers market (left). He is almost perfectly round, he can easily fit in the palm of my hand and he was only fifty cents. Walking back to lab from the market I wanted to stop everyone I saw and show them how cute my pumpkin was. I hope this picture of my new little pumpkin brightens your day as much as it brightened mine.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

home, sweet home.

Our new apartment from the front to the back. We still have a lot of pictures to hang and a few things to buy here and there but I think that our stuff mixed together pretty well. let me know what you think! Click the pictures for bigger images.

Living room/Sun room

Guest bedroom/Elizabeth's RoomDinning RoomKitchenBack deck
Back garden/Parking
Hope you enjoyed the tour, now come visit.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


So it seems that it is physically impossible for my frisbee teem to win the first game we play on any given day Saturday. I really think that we, as a teem, need a few beers in our collective system in order to really be competitive. However, we are almost always golden by the second game. Todays second game we were leading by a significant margin, and so it was determined that we would switch up positions. Not playing any sport as a kid, my athletic self confidence is pretty low and therefore I really wasn’t interested in doing much more that my usual stay out of people’s way and try to make a few cuts to the disk. So, anyway, long story short, I was totally peer pressured to be one of the handlers (kind of like one of two quarterbacks for the team) for a couple points. I did alright. It was fun. I had a few good throws and my team was proud. So I guess i might not be quite the athletic dolt that I though it was. A little less of a sports wallflower. Go team!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Go Cubs Go?

This is a pictorial representation of one of the reasons Mike doesn’t like the cubs. With fans like this guy, home field advantage might not really be an advantage. We can only hope that going to LA may actually help the cubbies. Good luck tomorrow boys.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Experimentally Insane

A great man once said, and I paraphrase, that ‘insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.' I say this man never did experimental research. I just wish that I was insane because I keep on doing the same experiment over and over again and can’t for the life of me get repeatable results.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hello, my name is Joe.

I was approached by a man in a tan three piece suit this morning as I was walking out of Starbucks with a small (I refuse to use their lingo) skim latte. He introduced himself and asked if I was registered to vote. I immediately recognized his name, as well as his face, from the numerous Rogers Park blogs I read. I have read very few good words about my ward’s alderman. If I trusted those blogs, I would believe that he is solely responsible for all the poverty and violence in my neighborhood and that he may very well be the Antichrist. But in all honestly, I have no clue about anything related to this man. Heck, I don’t even know anything about the responsibilities of an alderman. So, there I was standing in front of a controversial elected representative of me, a man who I have a lot of questions about, and in true perennial wallflower fashion, all I say is “yes, I’m registered.”

Even though I now look at this interaction as a missed opportunity, it did get me thinking. Lately, I’ve heard several people mention that they don’t want to register to vote in Illinois but would rather file an absentee ballots from their ‘home’ state (the state their parents live in) because they believe their vote would “matter more.” I don’t know if I agree wholeheartedly with this logic. I understand that the whole blue state, red state thing makes the presidential vote more complicated but I still think my vote for local politics matters just as much as my presidential one. Don’t get me wrong, I know this is the most important presidential election in a long time but I just hope it doesn’t completely overshadow the other elections that are also taking place on November 4th. That being said, I think I need to get googling and educate myself on what else will be on the ballot.

Monday, September 29, 2008

blogs, blogs, blogs

I read blogs. I read blogs of old friends, new friends, friends of friends and sometimes of people I’ve never met. I read gossip blogs, science blogs, food blogs, local blogs, crime blogs and sometimes the occasional reality television blog. Blogs are fascinatingly voyeuristic. They give me the ability to remain invisible while being able to peer into other’s daily life, read their opinions and discover their sense of humor. Blogs allow me to get to know people without having to worry about what they think of me or how should I act or respond or what I should say. So, I guess by starting a blog of my own I’m trying to stop being the constant observer, to open up a little to those who care to get to know me better and to stop being such a cyberspace wallflower.