Quick Dinner: Egg Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Caps

egg stuffed mushroom caps

Just a quick meal for you today. This one is really easy to throw together. All you need are portobello mushrooms, eggs, oil (or whatever you use to grease a pan), some salt and pepper, and if you like it, some shredded cheese.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and grease your pan. Cut the stems out of the mushrooms and then put them aside, and then put your mushrooms in the oven for a few minutes until they let out most of their moisture. After they’re pre-baked, crack an egg into each of the mushroom caps. Then dice up the mushroom stems and sprinkle them on top with some salt and pepper and the shredded cheese. Throw them back in the oven, bake for about 10-15 minutes (until the eggs are cooked) and there you have it!

Using a separate pan with tin foil on it for the pre-baking step might be a good idea – the mushrooms let out a lot of moisture, and it’s helpful to just be able to transfer them to a new, clean pan and wad up the dirty tin foil at the end.

I served mine with roasted asparagus – the temp and cook time for that is basically the same as the for the mushrooms. Just coat the asparagus with some oil of your choice, salt, pepper, and maybe some garlic or onion powder (depending on your preference). Lay it out evenly in a pan, and throw it in the oven at the same time as the mushroom caps with eggs. 15 minutes later, you’ve got a whole meal!

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

blogging-award3

Emma from BlueChickenNinja has nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! I imagine re-nominating the person who nominated you is probably against the protocol here (though I totally would if it wasn’t!), so I’m just going to say go check her out. She’s pretty awesome, and creates some seriously beautiful and impressive art and graphic design. Thanks for the nomination, Emma!

So now that I’ve been nominated, there are a few rules I have to follow:

  1. Thank and link the amazing person(s) who nominated you.
  2. List the rules and display the award.
  3. Share seven facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
  5. Optional: Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.

So here goes nothing.

Seven Facts:

– I play more instruments than any sane person should. I’ve been playing cello for 17 years now, and am also a well trained soprano voice – I studied in an opera program for two years while I was in college before I switched my major to English. I also play French Horn fairly competently and can get by on violin, viola, bass, and trumpet (as long as I’m part of a section – you don’t want to hear me solo on those things). I’ve also played marimba and xylophone in a pinch.

– I was a 3+ cup a day coffee addict by the age of 14. I detoxed myself this winter, and now do not HAVE to have 3 cups by noon to stave off headaches. But still, oh, do I love coffee…

– I love Labrador Retrievers. Our family has had labs basically my whole life, and in the off chance I can ever afford a dog, that’s what I’m getting.

– I was really into drawing as a tween/teen, but shied away from it because my main inspiration was Akira Toriyama and I was afraid of being branded as weird for being an anime fan. I was pretty dumb as a tween/teen. I now wish so much that I had kept it up/had the time to get back into it.

– I had never been to a Disney park until this winter when we went to Disney World (which I still need to write posts about… booooo bad blogger). It was totally everything I had ever imagined (and more!), even at the age of 27.

– In college I spent a month traveling to and performing in four cities in China with my University’s Opera Workshop. I guess a lot of Americans lose weight when they travel there for long periods of time because the food is very different and whatever. But not me. I gained 10 pounds in a month because I ate all the things, and all the things were beyond delicious. I’m apparently an adventurous eater when I travel.

– In trying to write this post, it became apparent that my RSS reader is in total disarray, and so many of the blogs I follow have fallen into the abyss of inactivity over the years. So I need some fresh reading material! Any recommendations for blogs would be seriously appreciated!

And then, last but most importantly, here are my nominations, in no particular order (and not nearly 15 of them – see last fun fact above!):

Ali Does it Herself: Adventures in Grown Up Living: Ali has about a bazillion amazing DIY projects, and ohhhhhh, the baked goods… my mouth waters just thinking about them.

With Luck Blog: I love Jenn’s blog to pieces, and her ootd and polyvore posts have had a big impact on me as I try to fashion a more professional, but still young and fashionable looking wardrobe for myself. Bonus: her puppy Allegra is just the cutest!

Modern Notebook: Erin is a lovely and versatile writer who chronicles her adventures at Modern Notebook. She mixes up the blog with writing exercises and stories and her link roundups are always amazing! I also love her Cool People Series.

Icantmakethisshitup: Not the happiest blog on this list, but the stories contained within, and the fact that she still manages somehow to be so positive and uplifting has made Icantmakethisshitup a continual source of inspiration.

Crochet Thread: Ann from Crochet Thread does the most amazing vintage crochet pattern reproduction, and truly amazing free-hand crochet.

SpinKnit Up: An old blog friend I made through ravelry back when I had my old blog, Timiae constantly impresses me with what a prolific knitter she is, and how beautiful the finished products always are. I have no idea how she does it!

The Traveling Pantry: One look at the homepage alone with have you drooling and itching to cook.

Dr. Chop Suey Knits: Another blog friend from back in the day, Suzy’s lacework constantly amazes me!

The Twisted Yarn: TheTwistedYarn has made a mission of yarnbombing her house as much as possible, and the results are always mega-inspiring!

Mani Monday After An Accidental Vacay…

mani monday julep

So I accidentally took a vacation from this blog. Whoops.

The past week my allergies have been truly horrendous… it’s been migraine city. Add that to some crazy work stuff this past week, and I have basically been avoiding screens and computers like the plague.  I never thought it’d last a whole week, and so never announced anything here. So that’s my bad.

But for my triumphant post migraine week return, I have the first Mani Monday in a while, and it marks a kind of special milestone for me. Not only are my nails long enough and healthy enough to paint again (finally! No more cello gigs for a while), but this mani has the distinction of being the very first manicure I’ve managed to wear chip-free for an ENTIRE week! I painted them last Sunday, and actually am still sporting them today – although I got my first chip this morning so they’ll be off by tonight.

I can honestly say I never thought I’d see the day.

But anyway, the polish: the base is Julep Evelyn (which I got in a maven box recently) and the glitter for the gradient is China Glaze Pizzazz (from the 2012 Holiday collection). I was going to use my OPI Rainbow Connection (Holiday 2011 Muppets Collection), but I decided the smaller glitter in Pizzazz would make for an easier job, and I think I was right. Evelyn is just a hair darker than in the picture, but without losing that very pinky-purple tint.

mani monday julep closeup
Pardon my dry cuticles and the tip wear – nail blogger I am not…

Both polishes applied beautifully, although Evelyn took an absurdly long time to dry, even though I used very very thin coats – but it was also very hot and humid that day, so it may be less a formula issue, and more a quirk of the weather conditions. Pizzazz was a very dense glitter, which made doing a gradient a little more difficult, but I figured out if I pushed it down the nail from the tip instead of painting thin coats like I normally would, it worked beautifully in terms of glitter distribution. It did leave some odd textures in the clear part of the polish, but a coat of my trusty Sally Hansen Insta-Dri topcoat evened that right out.

Overall, I love both polishes (both were untried for me), though the dry time was a bit irritating. I ended up with some thin patches (evident in the closeup) because I got frustrated and wasn’t willing to wait another hour for another coat to dry. But I love the color and the finish, so I’ll have to use Evelyn again on a less rainforesty weather day to see if that makes a difference.

FINALLY Finished.

reading outside

Today I have some photos from our annual end-of-the-year retreat with the students at the lake property our university owns, and some good news!

I FINALLY finished First into Nagasaki.

lakeside boats

This has become the breaking point for me, and I’ve finally just accepted that I cannot read for pleasure during the semester. It’s simply not possible. This book should have taken me a week max, and instead it took me a whole semester. I think I just have to accept it.

Lakeside

That said, the book was a great read. Some amazing insights into Japan post-surrender, and some amazing stories from the POW camps.

Trees

It can occasionally be a little plodding, because these are essentially reporter dispatches, prepared for publication in newspapers (after assuredly editors had chopped things out). So the writing is very, well, reportery: concise, to the point, not flowery at all. I sometimes struggle with this kind of more technical writing when it comes to speed even when it’s not during a semester, having been mainly educated as a lit person until I hit my MA and switched officially to history.

Greenery

But struggle aside, the stories and information contained within was well worth it. The main surprise for me was that very little of the book actually concerned itself with Weller’s experiences in Nagasaki, which is originally what drew me to the title. It was actually more about the POW experience than anything else.

Book

End verdict? Highly recommended.

And now onto the next thing.

[photos taken with my point and shoot]

Per Aspera Ad Astra

Through Hardships to the Stars

Cosmos_spacetime_odyssey_titlecard

For the past few weeks every Sunday night I’ve been sitting down and watching the reboot of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos with my father. Yesterday was the last episode, and I must say I feel a little hollow knowing that that was the end. The series has been so inspiring and touching, and made me remember why I fell in love with not only space, but history as well. Neil deGrasse Tyson drives home the wonder and beauty of our world like nobody else can, and watching this series has left me with a feeling of awe that even all my training and study can’t help me fashion into words.

To put it bluntly, yesterday’s episode left me dumbstruck. Just thinking about how far we’ve come in my lifetime alone is enough to floor me. The things we’ve learned… the discoveries we’ve made… the challenges we’ve overcome, both natural and man-made… and the mysteries still to solve… It’s astounding.

Voyager_golden_record_12_earth

I remember sitting as a small child with my brother on my father’s lap, as he read to my brother and I about the Apollo Program, the Space Race, Voyager, and the then hypothetical mars rovers with childlike wonder in his own voice. After all, he would say, when he was our age he’d have never dreamed this was possible.

We have come so far.

I remember sitting hushed and tense but excited in front of the TV in my grandmother’s basement on July 4, 1997 as the rest of our family “picnicked” around us (it was rainy that day). I held my breath as word came from the newscaster that the Mars Pathfinder was bouncing its way down onto the martian surface, waiting and hoping with everything my 10 year old self could muster that little Sojourner had made it through the landing unharmed.

We are capable of so much.

I remember reading about 51 Pegasi b for the first time, huddled away in my high school library during study hall. I was about 6 years late on the discovery (our science curriculum had never really been great about staying on top of the most recent astronomical discoveries), but even so I was so shocked and so astounded. We’d discovered a planet. A planet outside our solar system. A planet orbiting around a star like ours. Sitting in a corner, surrounded by outdated science magazines and books, my world view was forever changed.

We are so small.

Most recently I remember sitting with my parents, huddled around my brother’s big TV in our dark living room at one in the morning, holding our breath along with the NASA crew as we live streamed Curiosity’s descent. I cried tears of joy and pride as the Curiosity team erupted in cheers after a successful landing.

Dare Mighty Things.

Watching Cosmos brought back all these little, perspective changing moments with a visceral urgency for me. And capping off the Cosmos experience with a focus on Voyager and our “Pale Blue Dot” just seemed like a perfect way to end the series and bring it all back into focus. It really hit home. After all, Voyager signifies our reach into the universe – the little piece of us that’s gone further than anything else that, in the words of Tyson, has been “touched by human hands.” It’s our legacy. The Golden Record contained on the craft contains our little piece of history. A little slice of all that we are sent racing into the vastness of space.

The_Sounds_of_Earth_Record_Cover_-_GPN-2000-001978

And so after that slightly rambling post (an unfocused love letter to space discovery, really – my writing teachers would be blowing a fit if they saw how unpolished this is, but I don’t want to wait and have the feeling of awe dissipate), I leave you with a taste of that. A little bit of what we sent of ourselves into the universe on that Golden Record. I hope that Cosmos has inspired an interest in a whole new generation of kids, so that the discoveries will only continue into the future. Dream big, everyone.

“We step out of our solar system into the universe seeking only peace and friendship. To teach if we are called upon, to be taught if we are fortunate. We know full well that our planet, and all its inhabitants, are but a small part of this immense universe that surrounds us, and it is with humility and hope that we take this step.” – Spoken Greeting on the Voyager Golden Record

PS – Check out Cosmos, if you haven’t already. It’s pretty awesome.

[photo credits: all photos from wikipedia; photo of earth was included on voyager, and the last photo is the cover of the golden record. Youtube playlist was not compiled by me.]

DIY Adjustable Wire Charm Bracelets

Wire Charm Bracelet header

One of the (non-career related) benefits of teaching college students – adjunct though I may be – is that it helps keep me on top of fashion trends. Some I’ve by far already aged out of (apparently midriff shirts are a thing again?). But others I’m totally still young enough for, and the wire charm bracelets I’ve been seeing everywhere are right up my alley.

Bonus, they are TOTALLY DIYable. Which is great for me, since most of the actual brand name bracelets are hella expensive (for my budget anyway) at about $30 a bangle. That said, the actual bangles (I do own one – Jim bought me one for my birthday!) are made of much higher quality materials, and are far sturdier than my DIY version, so just beware.

I had many of the materials needed beforehand (tools, wire, jump rings, and some charms – many still unopened! Craft supply stashing has its benefits sometimes). After raiding my stash, these bracelets cost me a minimal amount of money. However, if you’re starting from scratch, this project may end up costing as much as one of the original bangles – the pliers you need can run the bill up pretty easily. That said, you’ll be set up to make a whole bunch instead of just one, plus the pliers (at least in my experience) pay for themselves in jewelry repair beyond this project. I can’t tell you how many necklaces and earrings I’ve salvaged and fixed over the years with my set.

Tools

Tools:

  • Flat Nose Jewelry Pliers
  • Round Nose Jewelry Pliers
  • Wire Cutters

(here’s a set of jewelry pliers on amazon that aren’t too pricey)

Supplies

Supplies:

  • Thick Jewelry Wire – I used 16 gauge dead soft wire that I got forever ago at Michael’s (they’re all the same brand – luckily I still had the tag on one coil!)
  • Large-ish Charms to match your wire
  • Jump Rings (or you can make your own out of the wire – I have a whole stash of them, so I didn’t bother.)
  • Small charms for accent purposes – I bought a variety from Michael’s and Hobby Lobby

wire start

First, take your wire, and cut enough to go around your wrist tightly about one and a half times – the circumference of the wire I used means I cut about this much:

cut wire

Next, bend each end like so:

bend ends up

There should be a little more than half an inch for each bend – enough to loop over the wire comfortably. Then, if needed, bend the wire in so the ends overlap by about an inch and a half, like so:

bend wire in

Then, take your round nose pliers and bend one of the little “tails” over the wire above it, trimming off the excess and then using your flat nose pliers to clamp it down so the wire won’t escape, as the following three pictures (hopefully) illustrate:

round nose pliers step one

First Bend

finish first bend

Repeat the process with the second “tail:”

second bend

Once you finish the second bend you’ll have a bangle base that looks like this:

Finished base

From here on out, it’s a breeze. Open up a jump ring…

open charm jump ring

… and attach your main charm to the bangle base between the two wire bends.

charm attached

Then take your little accent charms…

little charms

… and attach them to the main part of the bracelet. And Voila! All done!

bracelet all finished

Each bracelet takes about three minutes once you get the hang of the bends. I had a bunch of charms (I admit I went and bought more, even) and so within 30 minutes I had a whole bunch of bangles! They’re not nearly as nice as the real ones, but I like the fact that I can make them with any charm of my choice, and they’ll certainly do for now. At least until I can actually afford to treat myself to the real ones!

Finished Bracelets on

Enjoy (and don’t mind my pasty pale arm)!

Gridtastic Egg

Grid Egg front

Another pysanka for you today. I’m not so pleased with the front of this one – it’s a little boring. I had some blobbing and sort of ran out of ideas about how to cover it up because I was concentrating so hard on the plan I had for the long band around the egg. As for that, I like the idea and think it came out alright, but next time I try it I’m definitely going to implement it differently – it turned into a huge pain in the ass, and I didn’t quite keep track of where I was putting what color like I should have. I’d also love to figure out how to avoid making the grid in white first. I was originally going for a stained glass sort of effect, but the white kind of ruins that.

Oh well, live and learn!

Grid Egg side