Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A very special phenomenon.

Finals week does funny things to you. It makes you have hopping contests down the hallway that end in an uncontrollable case of the giggles outside someone else's door. It makes you bake more food than anyone needs to eat. It gives you dreams about softening butter by sitting on it, and about friends who drive many miles to see you, then scale the wall of your dorm to tell you happy birthday through your window. But mostly, it screws up your eating schedule.

Example: yesterday.
9:30 - breakfast in my RA's room: apple-banana oatmeal bake. Nutritional value: adequate, not awesome.
11:30 - about five or six (3-inch) ginger biscotti from a Secret Santa gift. Nutritional value: are you kidding me right now?
2:57 - realization that they stop serving salads in three minutes, run to get one, and eat the chocolate chip cookie bar in line because "there's no place for it in my salad box!" All this is followed by the realization that I'm not hungry enough to eat the salad now. Nutritional value (of cookie bar): even better than the biscotti.
7:30 - a couple more ginger biscotti to finish off the box with roommate and co. Swear off sweet foods for lyfe. Nutritional value of biscotti: just as great as it was eight hours ago.
9:00 - finally get around to eating the salad.  Nutritional value: probably worse than I'd like to think, but infinitely better than anything else I've eaten, so nobody cares.

Example 2: today.
9:30 - breakfast after my chem final: wait, the dining hall calls these cupcakes "muffins"? Excellent! Also, a little yogurt and granola, plus a wee bit of hash browns for "balance." Nutritional value: better than yesterday.
12:30 - kids meal at Chick-fil-A. Nuggetz 4 da win. Nutritional value: meh. It's tasty.
2:30 - decision to make parmesan black pepper biscotti to counteract yesterday's sweeter variety. Probably ate five nine of the little guys over the course of the afternoon and evening. Nutritional value: sugar-free, right?
9:00 - going-away party for a girl who's transferring: chips and salsa, a gluten- and dairy- and sugar-free brownie. Nutritional value: rotten.
9:45 - exam treats: "pretzels and beer," which were decidedly subpar and disappointing. Nutritional value: lousy as usual.

ALL of this to say that my life needs a little help right now - help that doesn't come in the form of cookies or cakes. Because this is ridiculous. (On the upside, those parmesan biscotti were crazy good, and you should all go make them now.)

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Aaaand a jolly good evening to you all. Today was an exciting day, full of unintentionally basing my self-worth on the number of "happy birthday"s posted on my Facebook wall.

But today was also a day where I forbade myself from doing work. As such, I spent my day not writing papers or practicing, but caroling, watching Bones, reading, and most importantly, making a cake. That's why we're here now.

I ultimately decided on a chocolate cake with a coffee-cinnamon (plus a hint of cocoa) frosting, and guys, it was really tasty. The cake was just the slightest bit on the gooey side, and the frosting, though sweet, had some fanciness in there with the coffee and the cinnamon. And a plus: it was a good-lookin' cake:

A note: I felt the lab goggles would be useful for a weapon such as my kitchen knife. Never know when cake might go flying.

And now, we venture into finals week, where work abounds and sleep suffers. No turning back.

See you on the other side.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Yes, I'm busy. But this is nothing compared to this time last year. I seriously pity high school seniors, particularly those whose college application process is more about auditions than the paper application. This time last year, there was so much tension and so much stress. No idea where I would be a few months later. My senior recital looming. The monthly push to put out a newspaper. The simultaneous desire for a break and hope that high school would never end. Let's just be real here: completely uprooting and rebuilding your life as a freshman is hard, but it's so much more draining to know that everything you do, you could be doing for the last time, so it has to count, and it has to be perfect.

All of this is why, even though I have zillions of things to do this week, I consider this to a time of relief. I know where I'll be for the next few years. I know my major with relative certainty. I don't have to worry about a senior recital in March. And I don't have to part with a whole hunk of my life in May. For these reasons, I have whole bunches of sympathy for current high school seniors. But also envy. Their whole year is so charged with energy and excitement. Anything is possible. And though they'll have good-byes to say come June 1, they also will have developed immense pride in their school and will feel an extraordinary sense of accomplishment. Props to you, seniors, for getting through it all.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bittersweet farewell, or whatever.

December is knocking, and I'm not hesitating to answer. It's been a nice little month of daily blogging. I don't fully understand how it's such a challenge to post every day, though. It's just like brushing your teeth or eating breakfast dessert or taking a shower: it's something you just make sure you do every day. Still, it takes a little extra time, and it'll be nice not to have it looming as another thing to do before I sleep. (For sure thought I could make a whole post out of that topic, but this well's running dry.)

On a completely different note, it's my understanding that most people in the world like chocolate. And I would hope that most of you like me, so what I'm about to say should be followed by great excitement: someone in the Wheaton Symphony got the bright idea of having us sell chocolate bars as a fundraiser, and you, yes you, can buy some! Or all 32 of them! So many different flavors! Chocolate mint! Mocha! Almond! Peanut Butter Crisp! Chocolate Melt! Chocolate Crisp! Just plain Solid Chocolate! Point is, folks, the holidays are coming, and if you want to keep up on all the treats your extended family expects you to ingest, these bars are a must, and you can get them for the low, low price of $1.50 each! What a deal!*

And now, I apologize once more for a month full of ramblings that you really didn't need to read. In the coming weeks, I can't promise you that I'll post every day (who would want that anyway?), but I'll do my darndest to give you the dose of excessive verbosity that we all crave.

*I know, I'm just such a great salesman. Who needs college when you can sell candy? (Answer: this kid.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I swear, I bring this upon myself.

Tell me something.

I go all gung-ho on productivity, finishing French workbook pages in record time and memorizing choir music like nobody's business. I reward myself with banana bread in my RA's room. AND THEN. Instead of being a responsible person and writing a little two-page letter for a class tomorrow, I decide to play with wrapping paper. Because it's custom to wrap our doors in it. But I can't just be satisfied with a ten-minute wrapping job. No no, I have to quilt the wrapping paper first because one kind just isn't enough.  So I count squares on the back of the stuff and cut here and tape there, knowing full well that I have a little bitty paper to write. Silly business. Tell me why I do all this. (Note that I did use a wee bit of self control, making myself stop the insanity at 9:40 if I hadn't finished, which I haven't.)

And then to make it all better, instead of beginning immediately on the assignment, I decide to blog about how much time I spent being crafty. It's all your fault, you readers. (See how I did that there, pinning the blame on you guys?)

And the best part? If I had to make a prediction, I'd say that I will most likely bang out the letter in a half hour (fingers and toes crossed) before staying up entirely too late to complete the wrapping job. At which point I will add a photo to this post. (Update 11:29 p.m.: door complete, photo added.)

Interior designers, watch out. I'm coming.

Some days, I swear I should be a four-year-old, albeit a very precise and exacting four-year-old.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Three weeks notice.

[Disclaimer: This post is more of a pep talk for me than it is entertainment for you. Whoops.]

I've got 3 more weeks until the semester's done! Let's break it down now, y'all.
This week:
  • rehearsals every afternoon, gearing up for the legendary Christmas Festival at week's end. Totally going to be worth it. Plus, I've been through so much worse. A couple hours each afternoon is nothing compared to five or six hours in the pit. I'll be fine.
  • a little writing assignment due Wednesday. No big deal. It's two pages. A letter to a friend. I write letters all the time. Really, it's all fine.
  • a chem test Friday. Hey, we've had three already. Think of this as prep for the final. Plus, it's just one out of four. It's just a test. And I like tests.
  • Mom's coming. All that really entails is a wee little trip to the airport. Airports are fun. And driving is fun. Nothing to be worried about.
  • playing for studio class on Friday.  Hey, if I can't pull this off, then there's no way I'll be ready for juries. It's like a practice test.
Next week:
  • basically a dead week. All tests will be over. But instead of having a big testing and rehearsal week, it's...
  • party week. Chorale Christmas party, 3-South Christmas party, freshman class Christmas party (what is this, elementary school?), and "secret sister" exchanges...twice. All that really means is that it's a big...
  • baking week! Because there's a bake-off for Chorale (basically a big ploy to feed the Glee Club), my suite may or may not be housing a gingerbread-house-making set-up for the 3-South party, and I'm sure not about to go get people gifts when I can bake them things they'd enjoy more.  Plus, I brought back all those spices, with a rolling pin and cookie cutters to boot. I'm asking for it.
  • birthday! which means I have another excuse to make a cake and force-feed it to innocent bystanders. Current plan is a chocolate cake with a cinnamon-coffee frosting and potential caramel hiding between the layers and drizzled on top.
  • studying? No no, that's what the weekend is for.
Finals week:
  • exactly what it sounds like: finals. Except that from the looks of it, I'll only be taking one, maybe two finals during the three-day span that finals are supposed to be going on. Silly. Guess that means there'll be an abundance of food laying around.
  • juries! on Reading Day. Lamest decision ever. Way to go, Wheaton. 
  • packing: more fun than packing to go back to school, but still, a pain. 
Three weeks. It's go time. This is all completely doable. If people have survived it every year, there's no reason I can't do it this year. Still, I'm thinking I need to plan some arts and crafts sessions.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


A couple matters of business to attend to today:

Firstly, a handy feature of blogs on Blogspot is that you can see some little stats about those who view your blog - particularly, what country they're in. Here's what freaks me out: apparently fifteen of you are reading my blog from Russia, and one of you in Germany! And I know no one in those countries! So if your name is Vlad or Igor, you should know that I'm onto you.

And secondly, I feel it is my duty and privilege to let you all in on a secret. It's universally acknowledged that the majority of college students spend a good chunk of their allowances buying baking ingredients (don't laugh; you know it's true). I'm here today to tell you that your worries will soon be gone, thanks to HEB. Today I ventured to the potentially overwhelming cornucopia of foodstuffs to claim my prizes, and in a mere $5.11, I procured three-fourths of a pound of crystallized ginger (gingerbread men, here I come) and more thyme, rosemary, ground mustard, cardamom, allspice, pepper, and ginger than I could possibly use this year. Oh, it's a good day. Now off you go to do the same. Together, we'll save MILLIONS.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Day in the life.

8:53 a.m. - rolled out of friend's futon.
8:58 a.m.* - began crafting chocolate chip pancakes, far superior to Saga's.
9:06 a.m.* - ate chocolate chip pancakes as they came off the griddle.
9:45 a.m.* - began watching some of the most excellent episodes of Alias, ever.
11:15 a.m.* - flopped around.
12:45 p.m.* - made toasty sammiches and ate them.
1:10 p.m.* - preliminary readings of a new song by one Wiley DeWeese regarding a duck named Twinkle Toes.
2:05 p.m. - began creeping through the blinds at our soon-to-be-expected guest.
2:12 p.m.* - guest arrives! sight-reading and accompanying commences!
3:20 p.m.* - flopping resumes.
4:00 p.m.* - Chick-fil-A run for peppermint milkshakes. Mmmmmmm minty.
5:40 p.m.* - cooking! little sweet potato wedges with some nice spicy things.
6:20 p.m.* - ate more food, against my will.
7:00 p.m.* - more flopping.
7:42 p.m.* - departed for home. =(
8:10 p.m.* - many, many rounds of Scattergories. OK, just six. Still.
9:00 p.m.* - memory gap.
10:35 p.m. - hem and haw about what to blog about.**
10:54 p.m. - subject you all to wasting whole minutes of your life reading this.

*time is approximate
**ultimate inspiration came from ever-trusty sidekick masquerading as sister.

Friday, November 25, 2011

And we'll have fun, fun, fun...

Probably one of the best things about having incredibly different musical tastes from the rest of your family is that when you're playing cards, you can start rattling off phrases about a guy stuck in a cave in Kentucky or a man being tried for a crime he probably didn't commit, and as long as you throw in a southern accent, you just sound like you're making up crazy poems on the fly. There's really not much of a reason that this is fun other than that it's silly, and that you can do it while winning the card game you're playing. That's fun.

Note: Once again, I apologize for not giving you something a little meatier (yes, like a tiny asteroid is a little meteor), but when life is short, posts are too.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Big sigh.

A big sigh because it's time to exhale all of the day's efforts:
  • in cooking cranberries and tarts and biscuits and scones and sweet potatoes and galettes and green beans, and then eating them all.
  • in talking about politics and vaccines and all sorts of things that really don't affect my daily life at all. Excuse me while I go destroy things violently.
  • in being patient with people.
  • in scratching behind puppies' ears until they're satisfied, which would be... never.
And now that all that has been blown out, I can take a nice deep breath of leftovers and reading and catching up on TV and friends.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Up, Down, Touch the Ground

Today was kind of like this:

The high parts were the ones where I got to do two of my favorite things at the same time: cooking and seeing my friends.

The low parts were the ones where I (1) got an earful about all sorts of things I'm doing wrong from a very opinionated brother: taking the wrong classes, holding the knife wrong, cutting onions the wrong way; (2) watched Say Yes to the Dress, which is possibly one of the most inane, mindless shows ever; and (3) tried to kill the mosquito in my room. Ah, Houston.

But the high parts aren't really high unless you have something lower to compare them to, so I can't complain too much. Nevertheless, I could really go for more of the cooking and time with friends thing. That'd be awesome.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


You know, it's exciting being home. (It's also weird blogging while knowing that half the people who read it are right downstairs.) But it's a little considerably different from being at school. You're with people who knew you before you left and haven't really seen you since. Every time you see them, you learn how they've changed and they notice differences in you - when you talk and when you stay silent, what's funny to you and what's not, when you socialize and when you stay in your room.

Some scrutinize how you make ice cream, questioning whether you curdled the egg yolks or not. Some wonder exactly how non-traditional the food for this year's Thanksgiving meal will be. And some, you just have to remember that they're in eighth grade and you really aren't sure what they're interested in at the moment other than Angry Birds.

But in any case, I'm here for the week, and I'd bet that by week's end I won't be quite ready to go back. Here's to figuring out how this whole family works together all over again.

Update 11/27: I was right. I'm not ready to go back.

Monday, November 21, 2011

the home stretch: too punny?

We're almost there.
Almost in my own kitchen, a land of colorful things that I get to smash, chop, roast, and stir.
Almost in balmy Houston, where scarves are merely for decoration.
Almost able to call a cease-fire on rehearsals.
Almost knocking on the doors of my friends' homes.
Almost in my own house, where I don't need a key card to get in.
Almost in my own bed, where I don't need to stretch before climbing on up.
Almost, almost.

But I've made a second home here.
A home where my room always smells like baked things.
A home where scarves have purpose.
A home where I don't often have to worry about finding things to do or people to talk to.
A home where friends in the horn section give out glow-in-the-dark stars to tack to our ceilings because "we're all stars."
A home where all my belongings fit in 100 square feet.
A home where I scurry across the room to turn off the alarm in the mornings, then look down to find myself holding a fluffy cow and a squishy giraffe.
Homey home.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Teaching preschool taught me so much.

I feel like all I've been doing recently is getting in touch with my inner three-year-old. First the Halloween costume, then the gingerbread men, and now this. Maybe it's because I refuse to half-do anything, but I just can't see how you can really make a knife costume for yourself without looking ridiculous.

So here's what this is all about. Wheaton has its fair share of crazy floor events, and one of them is called roulette. It goes like this: your roommate finds you a mystery date (cue big eye-roll), and neither of you knows who the other person is, but you decide on a paired costume (mine was a knife and fork). Everyone finds their person in the lobby of the dorm at a designated time (4:30), and then you do fun things like play games and eat food.

Our roulette was Thanksgiving-themed. Our "game" was a competition where groups of three pairs went out into Wheaton proper to collect the greatest quantity of clothes, nonperishable food, and furniture to donate to various shelters. Some people forgot to inform their roommates' dates that we would be outside, which resulted in our standing on many people's porches like this:

After these festivities, we returned to our floor to compare our loot piles and eat dinner, which my overly ambitious RA made for 60 people. Really, she's crazier than I am. But she pulled it off, baking sweet potatoes and steaming green beans and heating up turkey and rolls and baking pies and serving ice cream. Really. It was super cool (especially because I got to serve as food prep consultant in the days leading up to roulette).

And then we ended the night with watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. After some much-needed clean-up, there was a photo taken (which I know you all scrolled down to see) of my friend Abby (cowgirl), my RA (center), and myself (pretty obvious):

A few notes:
  • my costume was too tall for our hallway. Supa.
  • in an effort to make all my costumes award-winning, Abby deemed mine the Awesome Roulette Costume 2011. I'd like to thank Tallowood Preschool's Penguin Room for giving me the skills to make my knife.
  • about my fork counterpart: I'd never met him before in my life; his fork showed a little promise, but he did not. He left before Charlie Brown because he "had a paper to write." Um, sir, I have a paper to write and practicing to do, and I've spent my last two afternoons making a cardboard knife. No excuses.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The banana Saga continues.

You might recall that a few weeks ago, I gave a nice rant on bananas, the obsession Wheaton's student body seems to have with them, and my inability to obtain them. And until this morning, I hadn't had a banana since August. They say you never know what you've got 'til it's gone, and that really is true. Guys, bananas are fantastic. And I would have missed out on them again if my roommate hadn't texted me "huge banana pile at saga" this morning at 10:45. Understandably, I booked it to Saga, found the huge banana pile (she wasn't kidding), ate one glorious banana, and took one with me for the road. That was when I knew my Saturday was off to a good start.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a ridiculous costume to make from a giant cardboard box. Oh, floor events. What would I do with my free time if it weren't for you?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Little pumpkin.

So last night, my floor had a baking party.  I couldn't have been happier when my RA suggested it. And I convinced them that it was totally feasible to make miniature pumpkin pies in muffin tins without a real recipe for mini pumpkin pies.  Despite the fact that my record with pies isn't so stellar, and despite the fact that I not once in my life had made a pumpkin pie, much less many mini ones.

But make them we did, piecing together pie crust recipes and filling recipes from various websites and substituting honey for molasses and my newly acquired pumpkin pie spice for cloves and ginger. And they were even cute. See?

And THEN we found out how little pumpkin pie filling can actually fit in miniature pumpkin pies once the crust is in there, so we decided to make more crust and make a funny rectangular bigger pumpkin pie. Final result: a bunch of pumpkin pie, all of which was very generous on the crust.  But hey, when you convince the people to make their own pie crust instead of going with that silly store-bought stuff, nobody minds a little extra crust.

But the pies aren't as important as what came out of it. During our kitchen time, my RA lovingly suggested that maybe once a month or something, we can have some 3-South baking lessons whereby everyone contributes a dollar or two for the cost of ingredients and I share my "wealth of knowledge" (ha!) with the greater 3-South area. Therein lies the good part and the bad part: good, that it would be super fun, but bad that I'm pretty sure that the pie party pulled out a great majority of my knowledge, and that there's not a ton left there before the well runs dry. But you know, I'll just throw in some winks and giggles and puns and hope nobody notices. It works most of the time.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The two things I learned today.

1. Whether it's people, classes, recipes, musicals, or otherwise, the things you appreciate the most are those whose limitations and faults you recognize yet count as negligible.

2. Some winter wear manufacturer could make a killing on mittens for your face.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The month ahead.

You know, every year I go into Thanksgiving break with this theory that this December won't be as busy as usual. It's a lovely, seductive thought. I fell victim to its wiles again, and only now am I beginning to see the light. Now, pretty much right on schedule, December's filling up. Winter vocal, band, and orchestra concerts have been replaced by the ridiculously hyped-up Christmas Festival. (Let's hear it for three shows in two days!) Finals are still there. Birthday is still there. General Christmas festivities are there. And excessive baking is still there. And this year, I've got a party, a dinner, and a jury to throw in.

Not that I mind. If you know me at all, you know that I'm happiest when I'm busiest.  Especially when that busyness is an effect of fitting a bunch of fun things, like performing and baking, into my schedule. And then the fun part for you guys is when they post these performances online (like they just did with the second half of the most recent orchestra concert at wetn.org) and show huge close-ups of my face around the 7:15 mark. I wasn't even playing. Seriously, cameramen.

Again, I'd like to apologize for the lack of substance in all of these posts. But surely you understand that when really all you have to talk about is life itself, it's hard to get variety in there. My plea: reward my mediocrity with fun comments! Or rather, help me aspire to something greater by letting me know that you're there. Cyberspace can be a very lonely place, so leave a comment. (Please.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It's just not OK.

So I was minding my own business, reading a book today. No big deal, just killing some time. I had seen some questionable punctuation, but nothing that couldn't be reasoned away.

Then. Horror of horrors, I found this:
Excuse me? "You can write you're own check"? What editor was half asleep this time? This falls in a long line of errors in published books that just shouldn't happen. It's not arguable. You can't convince me that in any circumstance, "you're" would be correct. It's like that time I found a paragraph that ended with no punctuation. It's just not OK. And that's really all there is to say.

Update: as I was reading the prompt for my next lit paper (noting that the prompt is as long as the paper is supposed to be), I found yet another you're/your error! This is an English professor! What is the world coming to?!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Excuses, excuses, part 2.

Yes, I am extending the grace period of the gingerbread men door frame to my blogging another day. Oh, but you wanted real, coherent thoughts from me? My apologies. Mondays don't allow that. 

Instead, I'll tell you about how my thoroughly antisocial four-hour gingerbread men project became an outlet for socializing. When my suitemate asked me if I could just make her one little gingerbread man, I said that sure, I'd love to because actually, I had one extra man that wasn't needed for the door and wasn't it funny how life worked out that way. And so I gave it to her.

But beyond that, I decided to go door to door on my hallway, asking each person to come adopt a gingerbread man as her own, please and thank you. Though I was chastised many times for putting up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving, I countered with the statement that I had no other way to fill my Sunday afternoon-turned-evening. Luckily, this often turned to an "I don't understand your life and your random spurts of being really busy then having time to do crafts!" conversation, diverting everyone from the issue of decorating for holidays that are arguably too far away. Now, I have many claimed gingerbread men, just waiting for January to hit so they can find their new homes on people's doors.

Of course, we all know that this adoption-of-gingerbread-men shenanigan was really just a stunt to get people to ooh and ahh over my laborious measuring and folding and cutting and crafting. But they all knew that, and I knew that they all knew that, and you all know that I and they knew that, so I think we're really OK. And if any of you out there would like your name on a gingerbread man, speak up. There are still plenty of little people with earmuffs and scarves and bowties and neckties looking for a good home (and some admiration).

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Excuses, excuses.

You won't be getting a real blog post tonight.  I could make up all kinds of excuses, but the real reason is that I've spent the last four hours doing this:
Each one carefully fashioned with love and outfitted with everyone's favorite white correction fluid. That's why you don't get a real post: because I figured this would suffice.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sunshine! Ponies! for real this time.

this poem dedicated to Laura and Mary Helen-

It shines
brighter than Edison's lightbulb
brighter than Raffles Durbin
brighter than the light in the hallway that never shuts off
brighter than the eyes of one with a bushy tail
brighter than the eyes of a pony with a bushy tail
ambling down the alley
blazing through the beets
curtsying through the corn
dancing on the dairy farm
eating with the elephants
filling up on fajitas
grazing on the grass
hiccuping throughout the hour
idling on the isle
jousting with jackalopes
kicking down kayaks
laying with lambs
making muffins
neighing at the neighbors
ogling the oats
packing in the pudding
quacking through their quarrels
racing to the rink
spitting out seeds
trotting to the tents
undulating with Ukranians
venting to their vegetables
wailing their worries
x-raying their xiphoid processes
yodeling in the yard
zipping down the ziplines

Friday, November 11, 2011

Feed me.

Even if a genie gave me three wishes, I might only need one: different food.

Now I understand that we're best in the country for dining hall food (thank you, Princeton Review), but even the best food eaten for months on end gets dull. It's not really that it's bad food. It's not. And I really appreciate the panini press option. But it has its problems:
  • You never get the food when it's just been cooked. Nothing's ever really hot, or when it is, it's because you got the very bottom of the soup kettle that's nearly gotten crusty.  That's just not fun.
  • Nothing's ever properly seasoned. Either they go overboard with the salt in an effort to make it flavorful, or they just use the same three or four spices they use on everything else.
  • Everything on your plate is the same color.  It's that nondescript beigey orangey brown color. A hunk of chicken or turkey, some rice or lentils, potatoes or squash, bread or pizza. The occasional floret of broccoli or stray green bean livens things up a little, but I miss having a truly colorful plate. It's fall! Where are my reds?! Oranges?! Oh yes, in the arbitrarily colored frosting on the blah cupcakes.
  • No deserving food ever gets the spotlight. Why can't anything ever taste like its main ingredient? Chicken doesn't taste like chicken; it tastes like whatever sauce they put it in. Tomato and pesto pizza doesn't taste like tomato or pesto; it tastes like all the salt they cooked it with. And anything in a cream sauce doesn't taste like that "anything"; it tastes like a clogged artery. And that doesn't even count all the mislabeled things! Blueberry pancakes should have blueberries in them! Blue pancakes are not blueberry pancakes! (And I'm worried about why they're blue in the first place.)
  • If you're not going to make good eggs, don't serve them at all. Really. Reconstituted eggs are no fun. 
Despite the eggs and pancakes, breakfast is the best meal.  Bagels and cream cheese are hard to screw up.  Same goes for Raisin Bran.  And yogurt with granola is always promising.*

As always, I don't know how much I'm allowed to complain. At least I have food. At least I haven't gotten sick from it yet. At least they have chocolate milk. That's really the kicker. But all this is why I'm so ready for real food, and by extension, for Thanksgiving, where I will run the kitchen. Then I have only myself to blame.

*though I have no idea what they were thinking with a "sunrise yogurt" the other day. Really, I don't even know what was in it, but I think of it like fruitcake in yogurt form.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

White and fluffy.

Today, my lit professor made the grave mistake of telling us all to turn around and look at the weather! Because it was snowing! As such, I heard nothing else he said for the rest of class until "now I'll hand back your midterms as you leave." And I didn't even do too poorly! (Believe me, I was shocked.)

Then, as I was walking to lunch, it snowed again! I can only guess as to what my face looked like.  Probably a mixture of wonder and confusion. I mean, it was both sunny and cloudy, and there was snow falling, but the dots on the ground looked like rain. CRAZY.

Then! To make the day even better, I got a letter! See?
Now I know what you're thinking, and the answer is yes! You, too, could write me a letter!

And now I sit here writing a little blog post, eating lunch, and listening to The Light in the Piazza.  It's hard to believe that so much good has been packed into a day with so many hours* still to go.

*also with so much work still to go, but that's beside the point.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sometimes I pity my roommate. I mean, not that often. We help each other with chemistry. We make each other fatter with baked goods. We turn off each others' alarms. (OK, I mostly turn off hers, but whatevs.) But there are so many things she endures:
  • the thumping of my keyboard.  Sure, the Mozart I was memorizing the other day got a little old after the fiftieth time, but I can only imagine hearing the clunking of the keys without the more melodious sounds that I get out of it.  And with six hours a week, it can't be much fun.
  • my laughing/wheezing fits. The first time I had one, I think she was legitimately worried. I would be, too, if I didn't know that my lungs equate "that was funny, you should laugh" with "you're allergic, quick, close all airways!" It happened again tonight while I was reading this. Am I sorry to alarm her (and her friend who was studying in our room)? Yes. Do I regret laughing? Absolutely not.
  • my habit of waking up at 6 three days a week. I mean, she claims she falls back asleep really easily, but who are we kidding? No one likes being woken up at 6, even if she goes back to sleep right away.
  • my rants. This is why I've tried to spread the love, running down the hall to my friend Abby's room to rant to her instead. Plus, she thinks they're funny (though I do apologize to her roommate, who always answers the door).
But you know, as much as I feel sorry for all she has to put up with, I feel like it could be a lot worse. Instead of laughing, I could have a compulsive need to hum all the time. Or an obsession with trimming my toenails. Or I could be a really dreadful but blissfully unaware baker. In any case, we're sharing a room until May, so wheezing, ranting, and thumping might just be some things she has to get used to. After all, it could be a lot worse.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Let's just throw out a little scenario here:

Say there's an English assignment.  It's a quick one, a one-pager.  Prompt: Pick an image from our illustrated edition of Beowulf and talk about how it enhances the literature.  I take the assignment lightly, write a seriously snarky essay about how the whole concept of an illustrated edition is ridiculous because the images aren't even remotely related to the text. Thirty minutes, bam, I'm done. I get a check-plus (these college grading scales, they're intricate), a few stray exclamation points, some checks, an "excellent voice," and a "good!"

Now let's say there's a longer assignment.  Four or five pages.  Crazy open-ended prompt about why literature is meaningful. I write an outline. I find evidence. I give some cute commentary. I take a risk, throwing in a cute line about Athena's funny sandals.  It's some serious effort.  I get it back and get the same grade as roughly 85% of the class...coincidentally, it was an 85%.

No big deal, I can handle that. But why is it that the quick little things that don't count for much of anything turn out so much happier than the clunkers that take up so much time and make up so much of my grade? It just doesn't make sense. Then again, neither does half the stuff that comes out of the man's mouth.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mozart was crazy.

Really though. I've spent a good chunk of the last few days working on memorizing the first movement of one of his sonatas, and oof. He doesn't make it easy.

Coincidentally, neither does my piano teacher. When he first introduced to me his method of memorizing, I thought he was nuts.  Here's how it goes:
1. Starting at the end of the piece, split the whole thing up into nice little chunks.  (My Mozart now has 24.)
2. Starting at the end, memorize one little chunk at a time.
3. Know them well enough that he could ask me to play section 7 or 16 or 22 or whatever and I wouldn't have to think twice. 

The good news: I'm actually almost there because Mozart's simplicity is both a blessing and a curse.  Sections 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, and 15 are nearly identical to sections 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1. You know, except for the fact that they're in different keys. And random chords are missing certain notes. (For those of you who are in no way musically inclined, think of every run-through of the piece as a perpetual state of déjà vu.)

I really don't have all that much to say, other than that it's frustrating but twistedly fun and surprisingly productive.  So I guess I can't complain, but it looks like I just did. Oopsies.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Too much too much.

Major coincidence ahead.  Prepare yourself.

In May of 2007, I went with my eighth grade class to Washington, D.C. Not being very much enthralled with politics, it was just kind of an excuse to get on a plane, sleep in hotels, and dress fancy to meet "important people" at the Capitol (John Culberson, I'm looking at you). But there was one particularly fun event that I'm sure I enjoyed more than most of my classmates: we attended a musical at Ford's Theatre. It was an obscure one, Meet John Doe, based on Frank Capra's film in the 19somethings. Still, it was a musical, and it was a nice break from our bus tour of monuments and memorials. I especially remember thinking that the people - primarily the female lead - were talented. But that was eighth grade. What did I know? Any musical was a good musical.

Then. Last year at some point, I became acquainted with [title of show], a ridiculously entertaining and fairly endearing (if highly inappropriate) musical about writing a musical. It featured just four cast members, all of whom were (and are) very funny and very well-versed in the realm of musical theatre. (Duh, Margaret.) Thus, the show made reference to more musicals and plays than any one person could catch, poking fun at everything and everyone. It's a good little show.

And now I'm musical-hunting for shows to see in New York when I go right at the start of Christmas Break. Despite my relatively strong aversion to Brooke Shields, The Addams Family piqued my interest, so I looked into it a little further. Turns out, one of the cast members of The Addams Family (Heidi Blickenstaff) was one of the four in [title of show]. How cute. But wait, there's more. Thanks to my well-practiced stalking skillz, I also discovered that she, yes she, was the lead in Meet John Doe. Mind. Blown.

Step 1: Meet John Doe

Step 2: [title of show]
Step 3: Addams Family

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Wicked Wich

Today's topic of choice: sandwiches. Yep, welcome to NaBloPoMo, where life is literally as interesting as sliced bread.

I ate an exciting sandwich today, really: blackened tilapia (I know, whitefish...but it was blackened) on a pretzel roll with some funky Cajun mayo, lettuce, onion, and tomato. It was excellent in theory, but it left me wanting something more cohesive. You can't just put a bunch of stuff that tastes good together on some bread and call it a sandwich. It's an art.

The problems I had with the sandwich I ate today are these:
  • The lettuce made the fish go all slippy-slidey on the bun, which just isn't fair.  If you're feeding me fish on bread with bonus stuff, I want it all in one bite. 
  • The fish was too big for the bread. This is the whole reason they invented the fish po-boy: filling should span the breadth of the bread, not spill out all over the sides. Also annoying is when peanut butter and other spreads don't make it to the corners of your sandwich. I didn't ask for bread; I want a sandwich. With stuff. On the bread. All of the bread.
  • Picture a medium white onion. Peel it. Cut a generous quarter-inch cross-section from the center of the onion. Slap it on the fish. Eat it. Yeah, see, I didn't want to either. If you're going to put raw onion on a sandwich, go easy. No one wants to cry his way through lunch.
  • The biggest problem I had with it is that it wasn't really a cohesive unit. There was no reason that fish had to go on pretzel bread, no reason it should have, even. You match your fillings and breads so that pairings complement each other. The fish has a nice little crisp on the outside? Great, give it a little crunch from some nice French bread. You want the lettuce to actually add something to the sandwich? Super. Make it serve a function other than a tilapia blankie. Grilled sandwiches do a nice job with unity. Some extra heat and smushing makes all the ingredients get to know each other a little better. Cheese makes 'em stick. Tomato is your little juicy oasis in the land of crisptastic bread.  
Having said that, the sandwich was tasty. That might have something to do with the fact that it was 3:00 and I hadn't eaten anything yet today. Take it as you will.

Side notes about sandwiches:
  • Ruth Reichl (former editor-in-chief of Gourmet, former New York Times food critic) is a strong proponent of putting slimy things (e.g. mayo) on the meat, not the bread. She thinks that if you're going to throw in the fat content, you might as well be able to enjoy its texture instead of having it all absorbed into the bread.
  • Alton Brown follows the rule that squishable spreads go on squishable breads. You don't put roasted pork on fluffy sliced bread, and you don't put peanut butter and jelly on ciabatta.  You just don't do it.
  • Toasting is always a good idea.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Four days in, and I'm lacking.

It's 9:22 p.m., my roommate has gone to bed (say what now?), I've baked, and I am at a loss.  So why don't we just approach the somewhat drab task of debriefing the week, hmm?
  • Yesterday, I began the exciting little process of becoming a Music Ed major. Yes, that is my mother you hear celebrating in the background (and I say that lovingly, of course).
  • As if my schedule isn't full enough, I picked up an application for the Orientation Committee on Wednesday night. Chances of being chosen: slimmy slim slim. Still, there's hope. (Fun note: my deciding factor about whether to apply was when I have to come back in August because this year, I will play for all the Bit of a Stretch shows.)
  • Rehearsals continued for next Saturday's orchestra concert (which you'll be able to watch next Saturday live online at 8:00 at wetn.org). The theme? Music of Passion! Melodramatic, maybe.  But hey, it's better than the posters for our last concert, which featured your typical yellow and orange postcard-perfect sunset with the billing "Majesty and Mystery." Come on. It was cool music, yes, but understatement is always preferred to setting people up for disappointment. 
  • It was confirmed that Dante and I don't get along. Ditto for the professor teaching Dante. Note of clarification: nothing bad happened. No papers or tests were failed (I trust). But every Tuesday or Thursday I spend in that class reminds me how fabulously ancient literature and I meld, which is to say, not at all.
  • We learned genres of film, television, and radio programs in French. Probably the best part of that news is that when the professor asked us to name films of certain genres, the best I could come up with for un film policier was Paul Blart: Mall Cop, a film to be bested in the category of Worst Movie Ever only by Kazaam. (I tell you, those special effects just can't be put into words. Oohs and ahhs are insufficient.) Bonus: everybody in the class thought it was hilarious.
  • About half of the text from the powerpoint in today's theology class made direct reference to a Players script. (OK, fine, the Bible.)
  • Thanksgiving side dishes were pondered. As if there were much room for doubt, I'm happy to confirm that a good majority of the recipes will hail from everyone's favorite food blog (no really), Smitten Kitchen.
  • Enough work was assigned that I'm done writing tonight.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What am I thankful for?

In no particular order:
I'm thankful for little nuggets of clarity.
I'm thankful for friends who will go hunt down your lab partner who completely forgot you were supposed to meet in the lobby at 2:30.
I'm thankful for a horn section that comes up with secret signals in orchestra like the good-job kick and the heel-clicking thank you.
I'm thankful for chocolate.
I'm thankful for Bones returning tonight! (9/8c! Be there when I cannot!)
I'm thankful for a fuzzy hat with a ball on top for enduring blustery days.
I'm thankful for 1:05, when Dante is done.
I'm thankful for Burt's Bees.
I'm thankful for trains that allow you to meet friends in Chicago on Saturday.
I'm thankful for having free time to plan a Thanksgiving menu.
I'm thankful for you people, who see something in me worth reading about.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sunshine! Ponies!

"Write about what disturbs you, particularly if it bothers no one else."

If you haven't noticed, this quote applies quite a bit to me.  In fact, you could substitute in for the word "write" so many other verbs (rant, complain, get worked up, vent, talk), and they would fit.  The problem with this lies in others' response to it.  Complain about too much, and you run the risk of sounding whiny.  Rant to others too much, and you might unwittingly make them more easily irritated by the same things that irritate you, which just isn't fair to them.  People deserve to keep their ability to overlook the little things.  On the other hand, some things in this world won't be changed or fixed or improved if no one says anything.  We can't all just be complacent, accepting whatever we're given without ever asking for more because nothing spontaneously fixes itself.  Professors don't suddenly convey their points clearly when the whole semester has been a string of unfinished thoughts.  People don't magically eliminate annoying habits.  Hardly anything gets done without some prompting.  The task at hand, then, is to find a balance of pushing for more and letting people know that you really do appreciate the progress that's been made thus far.

A lot of what I write (or rant) about bothers only me, and thanks to the month ahead of daily posts (already sort of starting to regret that decision), it looks like you might be getting a few doses of criticism.  Just know that regardless of how annoyed I sound, writing about what disturbs me, particularly if it bothers no one else, gets things done far more effectively than scribbling down poems about sunshine and ponies.  The sunshine and ponies are there; they're just not as entertaining to read about.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


To understand what happened this year on Halloween, you have to know the expectations I held.  Coming from PVA, where Halloween is so highly anticipated and so thoroughly enjoyed, I just sort of assumed that everyone viewed Halloween as a chance to show off your imaginative costume-making skills.  I was feeling the pressure on the night of the 30th, realizing I had no costume, and that that was practically inexcusable.  So I looked around the room and started crafting my new persona.

Initially, I had the idea of wearing a mixing bowl on my head as a sort of half-costume, clearly something different from the norm but not too difficult or time-consuming.  Still, a lack of a real costume bothered me.  I started adding other random articles from around my room to make this beauty:
But a costume this eccentric demands an explanation.  With much ruminating and mulling-over, I decided to make a connection to Lewis Carroll's poem "Jabberwocky." Now imagine explaining this to many, many confused college students: "Lewis Carroll wrote Alice in Wonderland, right? Right.  He also wrote its sequel, Through the Looking Glass (And What Alice Found There).  In that sequel, Alice finds a book that she holds up to a mirror so she can read this random nonsense poem called "Jabberwocky," and in that poem, a boy is playing make-believe in his room, using whatever he sees lying around to defeat the imaginary monster he conjures up. I am that boy. Bowl is helmet. Towel is cape. Lamp is sword-slash-object-of-bludgeonry. And I'm only wearing one boot because there were too many toys on his floor to find the other one."

It was exhausting. Initially, people were hesitant to ask me what I was because they assumed I was something super obvious, in which case it would be stupid to ask for an explanation. I had hoped there would be enough people dressed up that I was just passed over as one of the costumes too obscure to care about. Unfortunately, Wheaton disappointed me. I could count on fingers and toes how many people were dressed up for classes.  I might even be able to get away with just toes. Effect of this: I had to repeat my very long explanation more times than a little boy playing make-believe would have patience for. It didn't help that I had three classes, chapel, a rehearsal, a meeting, a seminar, and a costume party to attend in my costume. 

All this to say, I miss the enthusiasm of a school where the lame people were the ones who didn't dress up, or even worse, the ones who had store-bought costumes.  Where Facebook is littered with pictures of the day's festivities.  Where the senior theatre kids conspire to make the greatest set of Toy Story costumes ever.  (But really.)

On the up-side, I did win silliest costume at the party, and that's gotta be worth something (even just a fold-up pirate hat from the dollar store).

Monday, October 31, 2011


Tomorrow marks the beginning of November, a month which also happens to be National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo).  As such, tomorrow also marks the beginning of thirty consecutive days of posts.  It will be a long, arduous task, not just for me, but also for you, dear reader.  You will likely have many incoherent ramblings chucked at you through the miracle of the internet.  I hope you won't stray too far, difficult though the month may be, and in return, I'll try not to make the coming month too painful in terms of what I write and you (hopefully) read.  Take my virtual hand and I'll pull you along; I hear there's strength in numbers.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

These people and their bananas.

Story time!
By Me

It's a lovely Saturday morning. I get up, put in an hour of practice (all the way across campus, no less), pretend to be athletic at the SRC, and take a shower, all by 11:30. Feeling excellent about my productivity for the morning, I make my way to the dining hall (hereafter "Saga") for some serious brunchin'. I get excited as I approach, seeing at least half the people I pass carrying one, two, or even three bananas. 

(Side note: bananas, I have learned, are only available at Saga on Saturday and Sunday mornings at brunch.)

This means bananas haven't run out yet! Even as I swipe my card, people walk past me with bananas in tow. I, nearly giddy with banana joy, make a beeline for the fruit baskets and see...a lack of bananas? Excuse me? This is why I'm here. My purpose in life this week could be to make that banana cake I mentioned a few weeks ago. And that purpose has now been thwarted by the greater Wheaton population. The worst part? This happens every week. It's more disappointing than checking my mailbox and seeing another pizza coupon.*

The solution:
1. People need to follow the "only take one piece of fruit with you when you leave Saga" rule. Rest of the week, I don't care. Take as many bruised apples and oranges as you want.  Saturdays, save some bananas for the rest of us.
2. Saga staff should regulate the replenishing of banana supplies throughout the morning. Don't put them all out at 10. Fifteen minute intervals, a giant-sized gumball machine, special banana monitors - do whatever needs to be done; the problem must be remedied.
3. Saga chefs should realize that we'd clearly rather have plenty of bananas on the weekend than a lame banana bread Monday morning. Seriously.
4. Don't eat ten bananas at one meal. I promise, you can get potassium from other foods. Yes, bananas are rumored to calm nerves and soothe mosquito bites and stimulate production of hemoglobin, but come on. Moderation.

region orchestra auditions: George calms his nerves

What I'd like to see at brunch.

Seriously, though. These people and their bananas. It's ridiculous.

*new tactic for combating depression: send college students mail. Anything but pizza coupons and ads for study abroad programs. Send it to me at:
Margaret Winchell
CPO 3216
501 College Ave.
Wheaton, IL 60187

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Final answer.

Yes, college is good.
No, I don't know what I'm doing with my life.
Yes, I'm majoring in everything.
Yes, every major has classes I'm dreading.
No, that doesn't mean I plan to give up.
But no, I can't do everything.

Yes, my roommate's fine.
No, we're not best friends.
Yes, I have other friends.

Yes, I understand that the summer is a good time to do stuff and learn stuff.
No, I haven't even begun to think about what I'm doing this summer
Because yes, summer is still seven months away.

Yes, I miss high school.
Yes, I would love to edit paper* for life.
Yes, classes are good.
But no, I'm not ready to go back yet.

Yes, I'm conflicted.
No, answering questions about it won't help.
Thank you.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Stick it to the wall.

It has gradually dawned on me that I’m a visual learner, and tonight, that little sunrise of realization made its way onto my wall.  I now introduce to you the Post-it Brick Wall method of outlining a paper.

  • How it works: main points of thesis (orange) each get a column, ensuring that everything relates back to that pesky thesis.
  • green stickies are sub-points within each paragraph to keep rambling at bay.
  • each brick represents a paragraph.

Why it’s preferred to simple Roman numerals outline:
  • post-its are so. much. fun.
  • color makes life more interesting.
  • it can be adjusted far more easily than copy-and-pasting and redoing all the Roman numerals.
  • no stupid tabbing.

  • very little guarantee that all post-its will still be there tomorrow morning.
  • funny looks from your roommate.
  • potential for ink smudges on your hands after sticking them to the wall. (Note: this could also be seen as a pro if you like the “hard worker” look of inky hands.)

I also give myself points for resourcefulness with using the provided bricks as paragraph breaks.  Now if only inspiration would strike before midnight, it’d be really lovely.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Describe your perfect date."

"I'd have to say April 25."

OK, not quite.  But as far as describing the perfect day goes, today came pretty close, especially considering how it could have gone down.  Wednesdays are my busiest day.  My first class starts at 8, and my last ends thirteen-and-a-half hours later, with few breaks in between.

But I had a chem test today, which could have gone terribly awry.  Thanks to a couple solid hours of studying (which is kind of new for me), it was a really great test.  I very much appreciate well-made tests.  It was perfectly suited to the time frame we were given. It was entirely fair in that it corresponded to what we learned in class. I doubted myself more than once, but pushed through to find that I actually did know how to figure it out most of the time.  It was hard, but I came out of it thinking that I had actually done a pretty OK job of the thing, and that’s what’s rewarding - knowing that it could have gone awfully but didn’t.

What came in the middle of the day was something of a blur.  Chapel was fine; French included the usual songs and jokes; and my wellness class was laughable as always. 

Then more randomly exciting events transpired: I got my bizarrely high practice requirement for the week fulfilled by 3:00 this afternoon. I finished my reading of this week’s Greek tragedies. Symphony sectionals ended half an hour early, allowing me a full fifteen minutes extra to go back to Chorale rehearsal, and then another extra fifteen to take my sweet time getting to lab. 

And even better was the lab itself: combustion!  It was a lab requiring some patience, but I can be methodical when I want to be.  Despite the fact that I had to miss all-school communion because of lab, it was very satisfying watching paper and acid burn off, leaving nothing but some little white chunks of BaSo4 in a cute little crucible.  (Equally satisfying was our instructor’s unintentionally funny remark that we can “feel free to bring back acid from the hood.”)

And then at its lovely, breezy, mid-sixties conclusion, I discovered quite the little gem: CocoaNova, courtesy of the 'rents.  Soooo delicious. And I even had time to blog about it.

The day wasn’t great because anything unusually fun or exciting happened, but because it was all close enough to normal that it seems plausible for it to all happen again.  After all, there’s not much better than a good day than the prospect that many more days like it are waiting in the wings.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Theoretical Baking

Entertain this thought with me: what if I were able to bake more (and more easily) by supplementing my ingredient stash with dining hall offerings? 

For example, I just found a recipe for a banana cake that uses these ingredients:
2 2/3 c. all-purpose flour minus 2.5 tablespoons
2 2/3 c. sugar
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
3 large or 4 small very ripe bananas
3 eggs
1/2 c. buttermilk
3/4 c. canola oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Of those, I lack buttermilk and bananas.

The rules of the dining hall permit taking one piece of fruit per diner per meal with you when leaving the dining hall, and it’s quite a common practice to bring your own cup and fill it up before you leave.  So what if, theoretically, I got two (well, two large or three small) friends to each take a banana with them when they left, and I brought a lidded cup, filled it with milk, squeezed a sufficient number of lemon slices from the hot tea area into the milk to make homemade buttermilk, and nabbed a banana myself?

Theoretically, then, this banana cake wouldn’t even require a trip to the store, which would, in a very non-theoretical way, be delicious.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Bibliovore, Literally

It’s not often that I recommend a book before I’m finished reading it (and by “not often,” I mean that it’s something I’ve never done).  But here we are, and I have a book for you.

It wasn’t long after starting to read The Odyssey that I decided that if I wanted to retain my ability to finish a book, I should probably read something written more recently than 1000 years ago.  So I made my trek to the Wheaton Public Library with a very specific goal: this book. After searching through many, many books with nearly the same call number, I found it, went through the hassle of sitting down with the little old ladies who run the library, signing things, filling out forms, watching them print out my name on a little label-maker, and getting my library card.

But I’m telling you, it’s worth it.  This book doesn’t only have happy little stories about food and all the people the author grew up with, but it also has recipes.  Lots of them.  For delicious things like banana bread with chocolate and crystallized ginger.  Like little corn cakes with bacon, tomato, and avocado.  Like a bread salad with cherries, arugula, and goat cheese (a little weird, but delicious, I’m sure). Like fresh ginger cake with caramelized pears. Like rum cream pie with a graham cracker crust (though I’d be hard-pressed to find rum in Wheaton).  So excited. 

Get it, read it, eat it.

And do visit the woman’s blog.  It’s a winner.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

One Side of Boredom, Two Scoops of Crazy

Because I hate to think that blog posts would ever be the spawn of a sense of obligation (I mean, I love you all, but...), I’ve put off writing one recently.  Instead, I’m proud to announce that this a post born of boredom!  Indeed, I’ve worked ahead enough - making moms and dads proud since 1992 - that I literally have nothing else to do at the moment.

The other evening, though, boredom was very much at bay as Laura, David, and I went to Alinea (Chicago’s #1 restaurant for fancypants foodies).  Among the bizarre things we ate were these dishes:
  • a peach dish composed entirely of cubes
  •  a delicious banana-ginger something battered and fried on a vanilla bean
  • a loofa’s worth of liquid nitrogen-frozen chocolate mousse
  • little stacks of lamb and French croutons with cute little potatoes melon-balled out to look like hazelnuts
  • a crazy-elaborate stick-looking thing made mostly out of a dehydrated and deep-fried skin from the top of a pan of simmering soymilk
  • a clear glass tube with who-knows-what sloshing around inside
The sheer number of hyphenated words in that list is a testament to the creativity (or maybe insanity) of the chefs at work.  And then the servers were the quirky, smart, attentive people you’re sure could do much more than give you a new napkin every time you go to the bathroom. Despite the glory of all this incredible outrageousness, the cost of the whole evening was equally outrageous, and that was what really got me.  I don’t doubt that the expertise, ingredients, and service that go into the meal warrant charging a lot; the question is whether it’s responsible of anyone to pay that much.  Nevertheless, the meal is done, it was a fantastically tantalizing experience, and I do very much appreciate it.

The next few days hold the usual insanity (though we were graciously given a reprieve from sectionals tomorrow), but I also hope to cram in a few bonus activities:
  • a trip to the Wheaton Public Library (now doesn’t that sound adorably quaint?)
  • baking in the dorm kitchen (choosing between scones, coffee cake, and shortbread - do leave a comment with your vote)
  • a blog post with fewer references to my boredom when really, it’s not actually that bad
And a final anecdote from the day, at no extra charge: I got to sight-read in a vocal masterclass for a girl who definitely forgot to get an accompanist.  Oops. (“We needed an accompanist? Oh, well, can you play it?” “Oh yeah, sure, sure, but I’m gonna need that music right about...now.”)

Friday, August 26, 2011

And we're off.

I would never let anyone else plan my schedule.  If they did, I would never get anything done.  By anyone else’s definition, I am overcommitted.  By mine, it’s looking like it’ll be just right.  Despite the guerrilla-esque style Wheaton music faculty decided to employ for auditions, I managed to get myself in with a piano teacher who ran class sitting in a tree today, a choir director who goes to the same 6:15 a.m. pilates class I’ve convinced myself to attend, and a symphony conductor I’m sure has some quirks up his sleeve that I’ll find out about just as soon as rehearsal starts.

While I stand behind most of the decisions I’ve made thus far, there are a few where I really do question my judgment in a few decisions:
  • scheduling my classes through lunch.  I mean, it wasn’t all that intentional, and I’m overcoming it with graham crackers, peanut butter, apples, and sharp cheddar cheese (big thanks to Sargento for making string cheese that tastes like something)
  • auditioning for ensembles where sectionals for one overlap with rehearsals for the other
  • agreeing to go to the square dance tonight just because Urban Passage people said I should

Some of my finer moments:
  • telling the conservatory that really, I think two ensembles is enough
  • answering my French professor’s plea for a verb to conjugate with manger (to eat) just so I could also provide the most fun food items as direct objects: je mange du pain, tu manges un pamplemousse, elle mange du yaourt, nous mangeons des croissants...
  • taking my roommate’s decision to go to bed early as an opportunity to hang the PVA panoramic picture up on the wall
  • mentally putting an overzealous lit classmate in her place when she mispronounced the city “Bath”
  • emailing last year’s English teacher to tell him of the satisfaction I found in knowing how to pronounce “Bath” as the locals do
  • using downtime in my piano lesson to scan the walls for pithy posters. I’ll leave you with the text from one of my favorites:

The Senility Prayer
Grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, 
the good fortune to run into the ones I do, 
and the eyesight to tell the difference.

It'll be a good year.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Murder on the Orient(ation) Express

Whoever came up with the idea of orientation has serious issues.  It is becoming my firm belief that the best way to orient students to a new environment is not through cramming as many awkward “ice cream socials” (the kind that actually don’t end up having ice cream at all) and mandatory floor meetings into the day as possible, but through giving people time to assemble lamps, go to Whole Foods, practice for auditions, and sleep.  If only the world would catch on.

Highs and lows of orientation:
  • Low: saying my name, hometown, and major for the umpteenth time
  • High: watching people’s reactions when I tell them that I’m taking introductory classes for three thoroughly unrelated majors (music, English, pre-med things)
  • Low: all the competency tests and auditions for ensembles
  • High: getting an email telling me I was competent at Theory and Aural Skills
  • Low: stuffing 80 people into a lounge built for 20
  • High: running around campus with 12 of those 80 people for a nighttime scavenger hunt
Exciting things in the future:
  • 8:00 chemistry class.
  • A day of service in Chicago tomorrow (and I hear there’s painting!)
  • A follow-up Passage meeting-turned-slumber party at our professor’s house
  • Sporting some spiffy biodegradable lab glasses at Wednesday night labs.
  • Making my first foray into the dorm kitchen (in order to gradually win the affection of millions through their palates)
  • Service project Monday! Advisor meetings Tuesday! Classes start Wednesday!