Jul 23, 2012

Feed the Hunger Monster Oatmeal Snack Bars!

I'm one of those people who are prone to crankiness due to hunger... which may be putting it mildly. Ask anyone who loves me enough to stick around after I've gotten hungry and let loose the brat within, and they'll tell you I can be a wee bit unbearable those times. I'm not the only one; chances are you know someone or are yourself a cranky hungry person. I had to research this and I did find some interesting things. Of course it all leads back to brain chemistry: it turns out serotonin levels are affected when the body is hungry. Research from Cambridge University, cited in two articles I found in a quick search online (Huffington Post, US News), reveals that serotonin is needed to for different parts of the brain to communicate, and weakened communication can lead to *less rational* thoughts and behaviors. Interestingly, serotonin is also related to social dominance as it is particularly related to a perceived availability of resources - a.k.a FOOOOD. This "social dominance" affect can translate into agression in some vertebrates (including humans) when the perception of resources is low (see this 2002 Stanford University article). Evolutionarily, it might be more advantageous to scare off competitors with agression when there are limited resources.

Jul 22, 2012

Summer Road Trip: What and How to Pack

What and How to Pack it up...

This summer, I'm going on a road trip with a youth group I help counsel. It will take us from Oregon down to San Diego on three charter buses for all 130 of us! The whole trip will be 5 days long, and since there are so many of us, I need to think about how to pack what I need lightly. My goal is to pack only my essentials and to limit myself to one duffle bag and one small backpack. My duffle bag is a typical Nike gym bag (it's pink!) and my backpack is a child's sized hiking pack (I'm a small person) with lots of extra compartments and straps. In all this I need to fit clothes, toiletries, bedding, entertainment, snacks (see How to Healthy Nom), and chaperone essentials like my itinerary, first aid, and all the emergency contacts for our group. It's kind of like packing for a hiking trip, and I actually really like that! I often go out of town for a day or two to stay with friends, so I always have a "go bag" on hand with miniature and condensed versions of my daily needs, and that will help a lot with keeping myself organized for this trip.

Summer Road Trip: How to Eat Healthy

These days, my eating choices have been pretty good and I'm proud of how much whole and fresh foods I've been working into my everyday meals. Almost every single meal I've had in the past couple of weeks have been homemade (I made an acceptable exception for a veggie burger and fries the other night before the midnight premier of The Dark Knight Rises). But with the big road trip coming up, I'm going to have to be even more diligent to keep up my healthy eating habits.

Jul 19, 2012

Na-na-na Batman! Paper Crafts

Me as Batgirl for Halloween 2012
So today I showed up to work in all my complete Batman ensemble, and I got some looks. From my hairpins and earrings to my Barbara Gordon pin and yellow "utility" belt, I am as ready as I'll ever be for tonight's midnight opening of Chris Nolan's final Batman installment (only 9 hours and 19 minutes away). I am very excited!!!

Jul 18, 2012

Nerdy Crafts: Space Invaders Wall Decals

Today is a no work day, which means it's time for some crafts! My boyfriend's cubicle walls at his work are sadly bare, so I thought I could spend part of my day off making him some fun decals! He's big into video games (you can watch him and his friends play through some of their favorites at Gamersnorthwest) and I thought some pixely decals would make his cube a little more exciting. I saw some cool Space Invaders decals for sale at Blik, which were my inspiration for a DIY project. I know a lot of DIY wall decals are made with contact paper and I got a couple of rolls from the Dollar Tree. My problem was, though, contact paper comes in a small selection of varieties usually meant to look like drawer interiors: wood, vinyl, and floral... and classic Space Invaders are not usually wood, vinyl, or floral. In fact, the only other kinds of contact paper I could find at the Dollar Tree were white and clear, so I nabbed those up. I could have ordered solid color contact paper online, but then it wouldn't be a $2 project and I'd have to wait for it to be delivered. So I came up with a different solution with a few extra steps to make the decals...

Jul 11, 2012

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies with Lime

My boyfriend and I agreed to cook two healthy meals together for every one going out to dinner date to save on money and eat a little healthier. Both of us individually are pretty good at eating well and exercising regularly, but we're not so diligent when we're together. Today is one of our home-cooked meal days, and we're planning on making Curry with Coconut Milk from Skinnytaste (awesome site for yummy, btw) and it looks so good! But, inevitably, I know I will want dessert after. So to keep it still in the acceptably healthy range, I turned to another food blogger I really like, Chocolate Covered Katie and her "World's Healthiest Chocolate Chip Cookies" aka "Not Guilty Chocolate Chip Cookies". I love her site because she's vegan and so she only puts up recipes that are dairy- and egg- free, and she has some really creative ways of making desserts from whole foods, which I like.

Jul 10, 2012

3 At-Home Science Experiments

Just for the heck of it, and because science is fun, here now are three science projects, tried and vetted by me personally in my adventures as a museum educator. Of course, I can't help but put a little science blurb about each, but you don't have to read them :)

Jul 9, 2012

Strawberry Chocolate Fudgesicles

It is definitely summer up here in the Pacific Northwest! Today is supposed to reach the 90's, which is downright shocking when you consider we were trudging through the 50's just a couple of weeks ago. I'm not complaining, of course; as a native Californian, sometimes the rainy Oregon winters can seem like they go on forever and I sure do miss the sun those days. But now it's here, and it's HOT! So, naturally I have stocked up on cold beers, cold pickles, and cold popsicles ;D I've also been looking around for some homemade treats to keep cool. When I was little, we had a popsicle making set and my parents used to fill them with Gatorade for us (that's pretty much the only way I like my Gatorade). Out of an urge of nostalgia, I got some funky popsicle molds from Bed Bath and Beyond the other day, and I set out to find some yummy cold treats to make (Gatorade pops are so 1990's, psh). I found a really simple fudgesicle recipe on Pinterest that uses Nutella and I was like YES (because what every dieter needs is a jar of Nutella in her house). The original recipe is from 52 Kitchen Adventures, which has lots of really great om noms. I adapted the recipe a little bit: I don't really like milk and I never have it on hand, so I substituted almond milk, which is my favorite non-dairy alternative. I added come cut up strawberries because I noticed I had some that were pretty ripe, and then I could make the pops kind of like chocolate-dipped berries. Also, I used Jiff Chocolate spread instead of Nutella because it was 70¢ cheaper and I'm cheap, and chocolate spread is chocolate spread as much as I can tell.