Saturday, August 30, 2014

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Spring into Summer - The McCormick Project

It's amazing how much of a transition there is between March and May!  I miss those flowers, goodness.

March 2014

April 2014

May 2014

June 2014

July 2014

August 2014

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

IWU Book Club

I can't believe we hadn't thought of this before, but after two years of skyping into book club, here we are!  While they're usually held in Illinois, this one was in Texas for friendiversary, the celebration of when we all met our first week in college back in 2008.  I'm still in virtual attendance; god bless technology.

In honor of the occasion, I made a pinterest page of all the books we've read!  Quite a range, for sure.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Double Rainbow Quintet is Back in Action!

After many fun (and hot) evenings rehearsing up in the Penthouse, we presented two concerts this August - one at a local church, and the other in a living room.  Salon style concerts really are wonderful, and completely underutilized, in my humble opinion.  Being up close and personal to see and feel the music is a unique experience.

And while it's great for the audience, it's even better because we all get along really well, laugh at the same jokes (or laugh when nobody else gets our jokes), and genuinely nerd out about music.  We're a good fit. 

The only hard time we've had has been coming up with a name that sticks!  We haven't had a problem coming up with names, but dreaming up with one that we'd actually use has been notably difficult.  Hospital Bound Quintet, Paradoxical Inequality Quintet (aka PIQ), The Double Rainbow Quintet and about 18 others have been thrown around, but we haven't really landed on the perfect one quite yet.

Our first piece was Maslanka's third woodwind quintet - as our bassoonist described it, "comically difficult."

Our second piece was Three Sea Shanties, by Malcom Arnold.  I was in charge of talking a bit about his background, and he was quite the interesting fellow: he both composed the Oscar-winning score to The Bridge Over the River Kwai, but also an orchestra piece featuring vacuum cleaners and a floor polisher. 

Our final piece was a suite of Brazilian dances by Medaglia that was deceptively tricky to put together. 

Next up?  The oboist is arranging Darius Milhaud's Saudades de Brasil for quintet (in his free time).  I told you we were all nerds.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Puppy time!

This is me, basking in puppy kisses from a friendly young puppy named Buddy.

(and yes, dressed like an Easter strategy of wearing out my current wardrobe in the lab has made for some, erhm, not pretty outfits)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Boston Eats: BT's Smokehouse

For all of your smoked meat needs

So many good things.  The Atlanta native gave the hush puppies her stamp of approval, and the pig newton (fresh figs and pulled pork squashed between a pastry crust) - well, let's just say that went over well.

(The onion rings just reminded me that I haven't been to Snuffy's in ages, for my toasted-in-two-tablespoons-of-butter bun surrounding a perfectly good diner-style hambuger, a huge pile of onion rings, and an entire hot fudge malt to myself)

Monday, August 18, 2014


On a gorgeous day, I finally made it out to Tanglewood, the summer home of the BSO.  As a lover of all things Ravinia and picnics and music and friends, it was long overdue.

Cheese and wine acquisition.

Pre-picnic ice cream.  Obviously.

Lobster tracks!  Chocolate and fudge and other stuff.  Delicious.

All smiles!

Yeah, we kind of didn't want to leave our picnic spot.

So ready for Firebird!  (they played the entire ballet, it was great)

You know you're in beautiful country when even the parking lot is this pretty.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Penthouse Garden 2014

A strange growing season, to be sure - spring was wet, June was dry, July started with downpours, August was cooler, and now it's looking like it will get humid and hot (joy).  But, after the rain finally came in July, the herbs finally started to recover and grow.

Great performers
Oregano, sage, chives, chocolate mint, rosemary (bought new plants this spring), cilantro, thyme.

Okay performers
Borage, dill, tarragon, hyssop, spearmint, peppermint, feverfew, marjoram

Just the bergamot!  But I've had trouble with that side of the penthouse, though the sage and tarragon did well. 

And of course, the whole "Always Windy in the Penthouse" thing makes it nearly impossible to take good photos...I feel like I've taken about 400 this year, to very few that are actually decent.

My other project this summer was to make up fact sheets to put in the elevator to introduce the girls to the plants in the Penthouse, and how to use them.  The dining hall is the main consumer of the herbs, but I've always wished the girls would cook with them more often, and see them as accessible.  Fresh herbs are great, plain and simple.

Borage flower


Tangle of chives

Strawberry blossom!


Chocolate mint



Thyme (I just love the colors here)


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Niles Lab in the News!

Read the full article here for more information on how this new technology works!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


One of the founding members of articles club has graduated and is moving to Switzerland for a postdoc (jealous?  me?  guilty as charged).

She and her husband hosted an open house before they left so everyone could say goodbye - it was hard to believe that I won't see their family until their son is walking and talking!  Thank goodness for skype.

I know it's blurry, but this photo reminds me of Mary Cassat's portraits of mothers and children, so I had to keep it in the album.  

I can see the face of grumpy teenage boy here..."Mom, come on, stop, ugh, stop it!"

A blurry one that is not quite as profoundly pretty as the one that started the post, but they were both teasing Chase with bright shiny things that he can't have, and he was just loving it. 

Until Switzerland!

Sunday, August 10, 2014


August 10th, 2014 (click through to see it larger)

A beautiful night, that's for sure.

A gorgeous look at the moon over Woods Hole.  While you can't really see the color of the moon in my photo, this is exactly the shade of orange that it was over Boston!  (from The Big Picture in the Boston Globe)

Friday, August 8, 2014


I had the honor of surprising a lovely girlfriend of mine for her birthday - and what fun was had! 

Since the party was on a Friday, I didn't have a chance to bake.  But with Flour Bakery nearby, I picked up treats, Central Bottle's cheese and bread were perfect, and Trader Joe's filled in the rest. 

The key to a good summer spread is having vegetables and fruit to go along with cheese and bread.  I thinly sliced some golden beets, soaked them in water overnight to make them crunchy and perfect for dipping, and cut up some kohlrabi and zucchini to add to our colorful spread  Add blueberries, and figs, plus some marcona almonds for crunch, oh, it was perfect.

Taken from here.  Happy birthday, Lo! 

(also...nothing is better than birthday brownies and birthday beer.  This girl, she has smart friends!)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

August at the Farmer's Market

So much produce, so little time!

Monday, August 4, 2014

1000th post!

I can't believe it, not really.  My personal corner of the internet is now seven years and 1000 posts old.  So much history, so much experience, so many new friends.  It's hard to believe how much things have changed, and downright exhilarating and frightening to think of what the next seven years will bring.  A chateau in Switzerland with adorable French-speaking children?  A cute little Craftsman by the green line in St. Paul, with a kitchen that's the perfect size for my cooking projects with natural light streaming in?  A job in a science museum bringing the subject matter I love to life?  World travels?  A postdoc at 3M?  Midsommarfest held in my very own backyard?  Graduating?  (ha)

Who knows!  Part of the fun of life, I guess.**

**Yeah, right...I'm sitting here making myself anxious just thinking about all the things!  "Patience, young Jedi," I say, "It's all worth it in the end, and things sort themselves out.  And if they don't, hey, there's always the goat cheese and brownie ice cream from Toscanini's."

Saturday, August 2, 2014


Since I can't get a puppy, or a baby, or a hedgehog, or take a vacation, or go to the lake, I am left with the very dangerous habit of buying kitchen appliances.  The newest addition to my kitchen?  The prettiest blender you ever did see. 

Notice how tall it is compared to the Kitchen Aid.  It's not just perspective, the thing is giant.  This is the crazy blender you see on Iron Chef and Chopped, and with the hulking motor comes a slightly different way of using a blender.  You don't choose a number of what you want and go from there, that messes up the motor.  Instead, you turn it on a 1 variable speed, turn it up to 10, and then turn it up to high.  With that 10 second sequence comes an astounding amount of noise.

But with that kind of power comes the ability to turn lots of leafy things into a green smoothie. 

Green Pineapple Surprise**
**the surprise is that it tastes very, very green.  And minty.  But mostly green.  This isn't a smoothie that hides the greens, not at all.

226 grams whole fat yogurt (8 ounces; 1 cup)
25 grams mint leaves (about 15 large stems, leaves removed)
250 grams melon
250 grams pineapple
75 grams kale leaves (about half of a large bunch without stems)
60 grams parsley leaves and stems (about one bunch)
14 grams honey (2 teaspoons)

Layer in a blender and blend until greens are incorporated.  This will not be an ultra smooth drink; but neither are the green smoothies that you buy in the store.  With that texture comes nutrition.  

I would make a plug for using whole herb leaves in smoothies, as well as spices.  They just make things so much more interesting!  Who says you can't put cinnamon in your smoothie?  Or a couple of beautiful sage leaves?  Or curry?  Or sliced up ginger root?  Or Chinese five spice?  No one.   Turmeric is also so good for you, but it stains all the things, so I hardly ever use it. 

This recipe makes three servings, the perfect size for my jars (originally coconut oil jars from Trader Joe's; they don't leak with liquid in them!)

Nutrition facts for one serving: 144 calories, 2.6 grams of fat, 25 grams carbohydrates, and 5 grams protein

I tried doing this for breakfast, and it was an utter failure.  But for an afternoon snack, absolutely.  These smoothies will keep in the fridge for a couple days, and they will separate out a little bit...but just shake to resuspend and enjoy!