Aug 29, 2012

Adventures in Bread Making: Soft Vegan Whole Wheat Bread

The search for homemade, vegan, healthy, whole what soft sandwich bread has come to a happy ending with a warm and delicious discovery!

Aug 25, 2012

Gamer Birthday: The No Lie Portal Cake

Last weekend, Caleb had his big video game themed birthday bash. It was so much fun! His friend Tami put together some amazing decorations and a very cute snackies layout that went on to be completely demolished by Om-Nommy gamers.
Side note: if you are a gamer or someone who, like me, likes to watch other people play games, you can check out Caleb and Tami and lots of friends play games streaming online at - they have a Resident Evil marathon coming up in October!

Aug 22, 2012

YarnLove: Cozy Slippers, Funky Luna Lovegood Style!

On my very last day of summer before I begin a crazy work schedule that has me doing 7 days, 56 hours per week (it's true, and it starts tomorrow), I decided to spend my time re-reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and crocheting - hoping to make a dent in my embarrassingly large collection of random yarn. I manage this with a digital copy of the book on my lap top next to me, my cat at the foot of my bed, some iced tea on my night stand next to my crochet hooks, and lots and lots of yarn everywhere (mostly the cat's fault).

Aug 16, 2012

Gamer Birthday: Metroid Cupcakes (for 2)

I sure do love to bake, and I also love my boyfriend :D It's his birthday today and I've planned a special treat for us to celebrate with. He's a real big science fiction/ movies/ video game fan (er... nerd <3) and it's one of the things I love about him. He plays lots of games with his friends on a stream channel online, which you can catch at Gamers Northwest. One of his favorite games EVER is Super Metroid, and in case you're not so familiar, this is a metroid:

Aug 14, 2012

Healthy Eats: Zucchini Nugs

I have a really awesome co-worker who gardens and makes her own wine and brings in lots of treats to share all the time. She's also a badass when it comes to training big dogs, running a whole Planetarium, and talking science :D This summer, her garden was particularly fruitful so she brought in lots of zucchini, kale, garlic, and beets for us all to take home. I was especially grateful because I always want to cook with fresh produce, but I can never get to our local farmer's market on time since I work weekends :/ But with Sue's goodies from her garden, it was like the market came to me! I came up with a list of recipes I've always wanted to try, but have never gotten around to because of my lack of certain kinds of produce.

Aug 12, 2012

How to Get on a Bike and Ride to Work!

Everything to know to ride a bike to work!

When I moved up to Oregon for grad school a few years ago, I decided to leave my car behind with my parents. I can't remember the justification for it - maybe to save money on gas? - but I do remember that I was excited to try public transportation and get my own bike to ride around town. This was a big time in my life; I was trying all kinds of new things like grad school, living in Oregon, not having anyone I knew within 400 miles of me... that sort of thing. So I added "bike hippie" onto that list in case it didn't seem overwhelming enough. And it was ultimately a good choice - I avoided the usual weight gain that comes with big life transitions, I got to know my new adopted town on a street level, and I gained a wonderful sense of freedom. When things did get to feel like too much pressure or too crazy, I would go for a quick little ride around town, maybe explore places I hadn't been before and just relax.

Aug 10, 2012

Science Toys: Cartesian Devil

There are a couple of ways I am like an elf - not the archery or magical spells kind, I mean elf as in little guy in pointy shoes works in the North Pole variety. I like to do things that make kids happy, and I love to make toys (I'm also adorably short at 5'0", tiny, just like a real elf)! My favorite toys to make are the kind I can dig through my crafts and recycling drawers to find the materials for, and the kind that teach something amazing in a simple way. I'm slowly but steadily building up my personal collection of homemade science toys that demonstrate all sorts of things like molecular polarity, cyclone formations, air pressure... the list goes on! About a year ago, I made up one of my first ever science toys, the Cartesian Devil. This is a nifty little thing that demonstrates Archimedes' Principle about how pressure relates to the buoyancy of an object. It's also super simple to whip up at home with 4 common materials. I had to make myself another one after my original one made its permanent home at the museum.

Aug 8, 2012

Reusable Sandwich and Snack Packs (Pattern)

I like to make some small efforts in being environmentally friendly, especially when it comes to waste. I try to have those reusable grocery bags on hand when I go to the store, and even though I forget sometimes, I save all my plastic grocery bags to use to make plarn (plastic yarn), so at least they're not going out into the dump. I also try to be conscious of my daily waste, especially my lunch stuff. I already use reusable lunch containers - I like my To-Go Ware stainless steel tiffin and my little bento-sized Lunch Bots - but sometimes I still use little plastic zip bags for snacks and sammies. I always feel bad when I throw one out, too. I have a couple of reusable snack baggies that I picked up from Bed Bath and Beyond (they are also available at, but those are a little pricey for just a couple of bags. And then I thought, this can't be that hard to make at home... so I made a pattern for snackies packs! And then I made another pattern for sammies packs!

Vegetarian Wonton Soup Recipe

When I was 11, I made the horrifying discovery of a purplish rubbery tendon in my chicken sandwich at a fast food place. Since then, I've been a steadfast vegetarian. It wasn't very hard, I never really liked meat anyway (something about the texture makes me feel ick). I did go through a brief period in college when I would eat chicken on a dare, but that was always more out of my challenge-y side than out of appetite. For the most part, I've stayed true to my vegetarianism, or rather ovo-lacto-pescatarianism (eggs, dairy, fish). There were only a handful of meaty foods I actually missed when I stopped eating meat, all of them yummy memories of my childhood: tamales at New Year's with my Hispanic family side, lumpia and wonton soup at the Asian family side. I've found some substitutes in fancy-pancy grocery stores and in some amazing food carts (gotta love the Pacific Northwest), but few have stood up to the homemade goodiness of my grandmothers. Being far from home and all my family, sometimes all I really need are the flavors of my childhood.

Aug 5, 2012

Classy Noms: Baked Crab Rangoon

Every now and then, I put down the Stormtrooper action figures and put on a flowy dress and high heels and go out like a grown woman. I know, it's shocking to me, too, but it's fun to get dressed up and sip wine and talk about grown up stuff. The other night, I went out with some friends to a local winery for some live music and yummy wine. We went to Sweet Cheeks Winery out here in Eugene and it was soooo beautiful! The weather was perfect, the scenery was gorgeous, and the wine and music were lovely.

Aug 4, 2012

How to Get into Reading Comics

Maybe you've gotten into some of the recent awesome Superhero franchise movies like The Avengers and the Batman series. Maybe you can't possibly wait one more moment for new season of The Walking Dead or the next video game episode release (I feel you, brother). Or maybe you're a hip mom or dad who wants to fit some visual and language literacy in to your kid's everyday and in a cool way (which I recommend as an educator, BTW). Maybe your reasons are something else entirely, but the basic thing is you want to see what the fuss is about comics and you want a way to get into comics without feeling weird about it. Unfortunately, comics, like video games, suffers a sometimes characterization of being exclusive cultures; if you don't know about the really obscure stuff and use the special jargon, you're not cool enough to hang out at the shops and try new things. That's baloney. I honestly don't know a single comic nerd soul who would try to alienate anyone who was interested in getting into comics for the first time. And as a side note - if you are also interested in getting into video games for the first time, communities like streamers on TwitchTV are a good resource to turn to (Gamersnorthwest are a bunch of high quality chaps always ready to talk games with everyone).

Vocab Round Up: Comic Book Jargon

Like I tell my art students, always be willing to try a little something new. If you're not big into comic books and you think you might want to try giving them a shot, there are some simple ways to get in and not get overwhelmed. Along with my How to  Get Started Reading Comics post, I want to put some basic vocab terms out there to help you navigate the shop shelves and know just what people are talking about. Be sure to also check out Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics for some background and tips on how to read comics and why they are so special to some people.

Aug 3, 2012

YarnLove: Lucky Möbius Shawl

While I was off exploring Southern California with the youth group, I hunkered down during the 18+ hour bus rides with my crochet hook and a couple of skeins of some soft bamboo mix yarns. I had it in mind to make a prayer shawl to send to my grandmother. See, the trip was centered on a Catholic youth retreat in San Diego, and I was going as a chaperone. This whole past year and a half has been pretty Catholic for me: I finished RCIA and took my first Communion and had my Confirmation last Easter, I became an art teacher at a local Catholic school, AND I was one of my own students' sponsor for her Confirmation this year. Then there was this trip with the youth group last week for a huge retreat called Steubenville. It was really cool, and the whole time I kept going over my Catholic journey in the back of my mind. My grandmother is inseparable in my mind from my religion. Well, my whole family is part of my religion. But my grandmother is most closely linked with my conversion in my adolescence because of her great and gentle influence.

Aug 2, 2012

Wingardium Leviosa: Levitating Water Science Trick

"Wingardium Leviosa" by Arieare on DeviantArt
Personal confession for the day: I am a serious fantasy and science fiction fan; in fact, I have what could be considered an "unhealthy" fascination with Harry Potter and his Wizarding World (admitting it is the first step to recovery). But I'm also super into science, which I think I've mentioned before. My job as a museum educator is so awesome, I can combine these passions for the fantastical and the empirical in cool ways to get kids interested in science and have a little fun with it. I really like putting together science magic demos and showing my art students how optical illusions work in the brain. When I was going through some of the demos we keep around in the museum for a special outreach event, I re-discovered this  very awesome water trick. I get geeky excited when I find a science experiment that demonstrates interesting real science AND looks like a wizarding spell from HP himself. I mean seriously, you can make water levitate, this is some real sciencey Wingardium Leviosa, baby. It's so simple and easy to put together, you can do it at home, right now, on a whimsical impulse if you want (those are the best kinds of science, BTW).