A lush green forest with a trail and a tree growing out of a rock covered in moss

In the valley of the silent Potassium

When I get angry or sad, I shut up.

I shove it all deep inside me and I make myself small, watching the world from behind my eyes, the windows of my self-imposed prison.

We don’t really need to get into the why — maybe it’s that I tell myself that a person who looks like me is much more desirable if I am happy, smiley and agreeable, that it’s not socially acceptable for a person like me to express the rage that boils inside of me — or the how.

All I can say is that it’s been the case for my whole life, and that recently, it’s become the all-encompassing state that I live in. At first, it was just a happy, agreeable mask that I wore. But then it shifted. I stopped being able to talk around certain groups of people. Instead of being my gregarious, flappy self, I saw my brain consumed with a whirlwind of thoughts that left me powerless to speak as I sifted through all of them trying to figure out what they meant, what, if anything, was worth sharing, what to do with all of them.

Then, with the murder of George Floyd, COVID-19 and all of the drama, I just stopped talking all together. Instead I spent my weeks draining my energy trying to appear competent and thoughtful at work and on the ice rink and I spent my weekends falling into a severe depression because I had no more energy left to do anything else.

I tried so many things to help myself. I stayed off social media, especially on the weekends. I couldn’t handle the photos of people’s seemingly perfect lives, as if nothing was going on, as if they were unaffected by everything that has led to so much trauma for me. I couldn’t handle the rage other people were displaying, even though I agreed with most of it. I couldn’t handle what people were saying, and how they were saying it. It all just made me retreat further into my brain.

Working with my hands has always helped me not really forget how I’m feeling, but at least divert some of the energy stuck inside of me into something else.

  • I made stuffed whales — at first for a friend’s new baby, but now I have a growing pod on my desk.
  • I made up a pattern from scratch for stuffed sharks in the style of the whales, and now the best ones sit behind me in all of my Zoom/Teams calls every day.
  • I learned how to make matcha souffle pancakes, practicing the recipe each Saturday morning until I was happy with it.
  • I set to work perfecting the best buttermilk biscuit recipe, and once I did that, I started working on a variety of biscuit toppings. The newest one is a peach and rosemary concoction topped with homemade whipped cream.
  • I bought five pounds of clams and turned them into a decadent and creamy clam pasta sauce.
  • I took photos of things in the sky, both comets and birds.
  • I designed a figure skating step sequence that forces me to think about how the steps tie together, what it really means to be “on an edge” and what’s physically possible when you tie steps together.
  • The list goes on.
three stuffed sharks, two are blue with purple bellies and one is orange with a cat on its belly. The orange one is upside down on top of the other two, which are right side up.
A shiver of stuffed sharks posing for my iPhone camera.

It’s all great. The stuffed animals are soft and huggable, even the early shark attempts, which I have deemed “shark blobs.” The food is tasty. My photos are neat. The figure skating is challenging (in a good way) and I’m stronger than ever. But it all still feels like grasping at straws. At the end of the day, I don’t really feel any better. Still lost. Still afraid. Still lonely. Still broken-hearted. Still disappointed in everything. Still angry. Still silent, because I don’t know what to say about all of it, and to whom.

Yesterday, we went for a hike through part of what is called the Valley of the Silent Men. It was a trek to get there and suddenly we were on a tiny, twisty, easily lost trail in the middle of a huge forest. Everything was covered in a layer of moss. Trees somehow sprouted from the tops of giant rocks. And it was silent, hauntingly so. How could a place so obviously teaming with life be so quiet?

And I recognized myself in this forest, buzzing under the surface of nothing.

Please don’t use this post as an excuse to connect to me if we haven’t talked in a while or as a place to provide me with advice or cheering. This isn’t a cry for help, and it’s not even really for you. This is my attempt to break the silence, to free myself a little. Even though I know it won’t change the situation I’m in — that we’re all in whether we admit it or not — I want to be able to talk about it.

Loafing about

Hi everyone, how’s it going? I’m still pretty upset from all the craziness with the fires in and around my hometown last week. But today we are going to talk about bread.

Cobalt and I have been enjoying fresh bread from a local bakery. But then our friend K gave us a jar of sourdough starter and a recipe so we could try it ourselves. So on Friday night, we rolled up our sleeves and started the process. It’s long. Most of the steps aren’t really time consuming — just add some flour here or some water there — but there is a very specific order to things… and there are a lot of six-hour wait times. Also, there are a lot of steps where you only keep a little bit of the dough/starter and toss everything else, which Cobalt and I found wasteful. Oh well. Let’s get to the details!

Anyway, so on Friday night before we went to bread bed, we fed the starter. Turns out it eats flour and water, which is good because I don’t know if I could afford to feed a starter that liked steak or sushi. We got up on Saturday morning and took a little bit of that fed starter and fed it again. Same diet. Then on Saturday afternoon, we mixed some of that starter with more flour and water plus yeast and salt to make the actual bread dough. On Saturday night, we split the dough in half and set up an experiment. One loaf got to proof at room temperature and the second loaf got to proof in the fridge.

On Sunday morning, the room-temp loaf was huge. Waaaaay overproofed. We spent the morning quoting Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood from The Great British Baking Show. But we baked it anyway. And it didn’t turn out too bad (Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood would say otherwise, I’m sure ;)). It still looked and tasted amazing, which is what really counts. Plus it crackled as it cooled, which we found heartwarming. It reminded Cobalt of a line from the movie Ratatouille: how the sound of the crust will tell you how good a bread is going to be.

It was a bit flat but still delicious. :D

Tarantula was very curious about our baking. We’re starting to wonder if it’s the smell of yeast. She was intrigued as we set up the overproofed bread Sunday morning and even more intrigued during its photoshoot an hour later. Crazy cat. You’re supposed to be a carnivore!

Endlessly curious…

The fridge-proofed loaf turned out much better. We baked it on Sunday afternoon and it just looks lovely.

Yay bread! We saved some of our starter so we’ll definitely have to make more soon. Maybe even next week? What fun recipes should we try next? So many options…

Apparently Tarantula likes cinnamon

It’s been a rough week, you guys. There is so much going on right now, and I’ve been feeling super anxious. It helps to make my kitchen an absolute mess while I bake something delicious. Unfortunately I get the idea to bake something after the sun has gone down so we have some less fancy iPhone pictures for you today.

Two weekends ago, in honor of Fall, I decided to make apple cinnamon rolls! I have a tasty cinnamon roll recipe from an old version of Joy of Cooking (apparently my version is too healthy to have the recipe for something so buttery…). Then I scoured the internet for how to make them apple-y. Turns out it’s easy. Just add chopped up apples!

So the kitchen turned into a cinnamon, brown sugar, and butter mess while I rolled out the dough, painted it with tastiness, and sprinkled apples everywhere. While I was bustling around, Tarantula showed up, apparently very interested in what I was doing. She even stood on her hind legs to try to get closer to the dough! CAT! Go away! I shooed her away because I was pretty sure cinnamon isn’t great for cats. But she didn’t get the hint. She spent the rest of the evening hunting for cinnamon chunks in the kitchen… even after I cleaned the whole room and hid the cooling apple cinnamon rolls in the microwave.

She was back at it again the next day when I was trying to photograph the completed rolls (see that pic above). Who would have guessed that she liked the way cinnamon smelled?

In other baking news, this past weekend Cobalt and I made Smitten Kitchen’s red wine chocolate cake. After we’d served a few pieces, the cake started to look like a pac-man.

For some reason, Cobalt decided to spread the whipped topping across the cake like it was frosting…

That’s all for today! What do you do when you have really bad anxiety?

Year of the Monkey!!!

Hellooooo everyone! Today we are going to postpone this week’s science post because I was too busy to finish writing one Cobalt and I made dumplings for the year of the Monkey and I want to talk about those instead. Also apparently this is my 400th post so in celebration let’s talk about food!

I think one of the best ways to make new friends is to share a tasty meal together and talk about traditions. When Cobalt and I were in Germany last year, we met a girl who had participated in this crazy dinner activity where she and a few other random people that she didn’t know had to make dinner together. She said some people there only spoke German or English, but that was okay because most Germans know some English so they could still communicate pretty well. Then there was someone who didn’t speak English or German! Extra challenge! How are you supposed to communicate about recipes?! I guess it all worked out because their dinner sounded fantastic.

Anyway, weird-slightly-not-related anecdote aside, the point is that I like learning how to make new foods from different cultures. A few years ago, my friend T taught Cobalt and me how to make dumplings for the Chinese New Year. It was super fun and really tasty so we did it again the next year. This year T and her husband are in China with her family for Chinese New Year so Cobalt and I had to make our own dumplings.

It was pretty fun. We googled a bunch of recipes and sort of cobbled together our own version of the filling: including ground turkey, shrimp, and bok choy! Looking back on my dumping pictures from previous years I am thinking of other tasty things we could have added to the filling but I guess that means we will have to make them again soon! Anyway, during the folding of all the dumplings, I got inspired to take some artsy hand model pics so now you can see them! This part was made especially tricky because Tarantula was very interested in this meaty doughy stuff on the table and kept looking like she was going to try to get up there (humannnnnnssss I want that in my belleh!!!)!

First you put the filling in the wrapper… if you look closely you can see an almond. We put almonds in some of them to make them “lucky.” If you eat a lucky dumpling then hopefully your year will be great!
Then you fold the wrapper in half – taco style.
Cobalt took this one of me making the fancy ridges because I wanted to show off my sweet nails (nail wraps from Espionage Cosmetics)!

Once all the dumplings were folded, we tried steaming them instead of boiling them as we had done in the past. They turned out great! Then it was time to eat them…….

Cobalt! Stop eating my art! ;)

Now it’s your turn: Were you born in the year of the Monkey? What did you do last weekend? What’re you up to this weekend? Last weekend, Cobalt took me to see My Neighbor Totoro, which is my favorite movie evarrrrr, in the theater. It was amazing to see everything so big and I enjoyed having a closer look at all the beautiful backgrounds, which look like watercolor. I am so excited about this weekend because Cobalt and I are going to┬áhang out with one of my blog friends! We finally get to meet in person! Excitement….

Stay tuned for that science post, y’all. It’s still on its way. :D

Mmmmm macarons…


A few weeks ago, our lab made cookies for our floor’s cookie hour. I decided to attempt to make macarons which are a delicious cookie I discovered when I was in France (note: because they are made with ground almonds, egg whites, and powdered sugar, they are gluten free! Yum!). A few weeks before cookie hour, I found a recipe book for macarons so I flipped through the book and decided to attempt chocolate macarons and raspberry macarons. The weekend before cookie hour, I made a test batch of the chocolate ones. My first attempt made for some crunchy macarons…

I think that I overcooked the shells a little. Also it turns out that recipe has you add a lot of coccoa powder to the shells and I think that crushes the fluffiness of the egg whites that make up the shell.

Fast forward to the day before cookie hour – Potassium running around the kitchen covered in chocolate and raspberries. The raspberry shells turned out really pretty and much fluffier than the chocolate shells. Look at them!!!

Anyway, I was so excited for these shells that I might not have let them cool enough. They were so fluffy that they were really fragile and I had a lot of trouble getting them off the parchment paper. On the other hand, the raspberry jam I made for the inside turned out great! :) My second attempt at the chocolate turned out really well I think, though I can’t tell you for sure because they were gone before I had a chance to try them… oh well… I guess that means I should make another batch!

Next thing to try: maybe alter ground almond to egg white ratio. I still want fluffy shells but maybe slightly more ground almond would help them not be as fragile. (heads off to the kitchen to try this out!)

Now it’s your turn. What have you been up to while I’ve been slaving away in lab? Maybe one day I’ll finally have a degree to show for all this work but for now, I need to go. There are cells and a microscope and a lot of data analysis that need my attention RIGHT NOW. :-/

Oh wait… I have more questions for you. What is something you have spent a lot of time perfecting? A delicious dessert? A tasty snack? Something totally unrelated to food?

Photo Grab bag

Today is a random assortment type of a post. Here we go:

Lately I’ve been:

  • Doing an Instagram photo challenge with my friends – some of my favorite entries are below
    This was day 3: 5pm

    This was day 6: self portrait
  • Teaching high school students about DNA/heredity/genetics research. I got them excited about the concept by first having them extract DNA from strawberries using household supplies (dish soap, water, salt, and rubbing alcohol). The boys thought it was COOL and the girls thought it was GROSS but it got them asking questions.

    This was also an Instagram Challenge pic. Luckily for me, the day of the DNA workshop was also day 4: food
  • Making delicious egg and bacon sandwiches in home made biscuits and pondering how to make Cobalt’s and my meals more healthy but also delicious while on a budget… Ideas?

    Yummmmmmmmm
  • Running another glow in the dark 5K and actually running it this time (last time I was out of shape and it was so disorganized there was no way we could actually run anyway…)
    Potassium and A before the race with all their glowy stuff on

    Potassium, A, and Cobalt being silly before the race…
  • Finally getting around to hanging the beautiful wall hanging Cobalt and I got as a (late) wedding present from a family friend

    I am so mesmerized by the patterns on this quilt…. I could stare at it all day.
  • Getting excited about art and painting and the idea of art journals?
  • Finishing my challenge of reading 50 books this year (up to 53 now… guess I should go back to trying to tackle Crime and Punishment…)
  • Feeling super excited for all my friends who just got engaged or married recently!!!!!!!! So much love! Also, if any of my said engaged friends want some sweet engagement pictures, I happen to know someone who’s pretty good at that kind of stuff… her name’s Potassium… Seriously. Let me know! I would love to take some pictures for you!

Your turn: what have you been up to?

One Slimer Cake Coming Up!


So my friend J wrote a blog post last week about this crazy vegan avocado chocolate cake that she made. I was intrigued because 1) what would a cake made with avocados instead of eggs taste like? and 2) it has freakin’ green avocado buttercream frosting to go with it. So I got the recipe and Cobalt and I set about making the cake. It turned out pretty good actually. It doesn’t really taste like avocados – mostly like chocolate and bananas strangely actually… Also, if you don’t like the idea of slime-green frosting, you can add cocoa powder to your frosting. I think it’s kind of neat green though. Might make for a fun cooking activity for kiddos…

Anyway, upon frosting our cake yesterday afternoon, Cobalt and I decided that it reminded us of Slimer from Cobalt’s favorite movie ever, Ghostbusters. Thus, Cobalt decorated our cake in proper Slimer fashion! Shown above – our claw machine Slimer gazes in awe at himself in cake-form. Below – slimer cake eaten… Yummmm…

In other news, I’ve been in kind of a photography funk lately. I tried to challenge myself this weekend – taking some self portraits of my new octopus earrings (Now I have black ones and I got some yellow ones as a gift too!) and taking some pictures of the ice we acquired from rain/snow on Saturday and I was frustrated with both activities. Booo… I just got some new photography books from the library… I’m hoping they’ll inspire me…

You know what time it is now… Your turn to comment on my post. How do you feel about avocado chocolate cake? Yay? Nay? Curious about that ridiculously green frosting? It’s REALLY sweet. I’ll tell you that… How about hobbies? What do you do when you’re feeling frustrated with your hobbies? Any advice?

Happy Snake Year!


In honor of the Chinese New Year this weekend, Cobalt and I had friends over to make dumplings! It turned out to be a hilarious endeavor because the recipe was written entirely in Chinese (meaning that only my friend T could read it) and instead of discrete amounts of ingredients, all of the ingredients were listed “add to taste” so T ordered us around in the kitchen – chop this, cook that, let’s wait for this – for a bit while we made the filling.

While T and our friend L were busy cooking the filling, A and I felt that there were too many people in the kitchen and retreated to the living room to make snake jewelry in honor of the year of the snake. As you can see from that top picture, I made a snake choker and A made a snake headband. Here’s another picture of my snakey choker.

Once the filling got made, we were all recruited to make dumplings. T taught us this super nice way to fold the dumpling skins so that they look professional. Look at these dumplings all ready to be cooked! I think we made at least 70 of these guys!

Then we cooked them and then we ate them! Yummm… they were delicious. We actually put sunflower seeds in a few of them so that if you ate one of those, it was extra luck for the new year. Unfortunately, the sunflower seeds went pretty well with the filling so we had a hard time telling if we ate a lucky one or not. We all found sunflower seeds on our plates after eating though, which suggests we are all lucky!

Tasty dumplings ready to eat (some of them exploded in the cooking phase but they were still equally delicious)!

Did you do anything for the Chinese New Year? How do you feel about the year of the snake? Tell me about it! Have any special plans for Valentine’s Day coming up this week?! Tell me about that too! Cobalt and I have plans but I think grad school is going to prevent them from happening on Valentine’s Day proper (boooooo lab… whyyyyy) so we will have to celebrate this weekend instead! :)

Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit eating gluten…

(Oven) Mitt Nomney did his job of helping me get the hot pan out of the oven and now he wants some breakfast bars as payment!

So some of you may know this but I love eating. I would eat even if we didn’t have to to survive. I also eat pretty much everything, even if it’s something I claim I don’t like. If I am hungry enough, I will probably eat it. Really, the only surefire way to keep me from eating something (if you are Cobalt trying to protect your food from the hungry Potassium for example), is to eat something that could kill me or makes my stomach hurt a lot. Basically, that leaves the nuts that I am allergic to (pistachios and cashews) as the only foods I will definitely not eat. Pork makes my stomach hurt but sometimes ham and bacon are just so delicious that I will even steal a bite of those things.

Okay, we are getting majorly off topic here – the point is that I love eating but I also am realizing how important it is to be aware of what I am eating. I’ve been noticing that I kind of just shove food in my mouth all the time without thinking about how many other bagels I’ve already eaten today or how I should probably not eat this entire block of cheese (or I do the “T-rex” when Cobalt and I make pot roast for dinner – eating waaaaay more than I should because it’s so freakin’ good, I can’t stop). So I was thinking about diets like the paleo diet and gluten free diets where people just totally abolish certain food groups from their life (though sometimes the gluten free diet is necessary for those friends with celiac disease). I am not sure I could force myself to stop eating such tastiness like cheese and bread and rice completely but I think I like the idea of thinking about how MUCH tastiness like cheese and bread go into my body every day. So as I was pondering all these diets and what my life would be like if I stopped eating all that tastiness, I had a horrible thought cross my mind. WHAT WOULD I EAT FOR BREAKFAST?!?!?!

So breakfast is really important to me, partially because I get hangry (hungry/angry) if I don’t eat regularly. If I fail to eat breakfast though, I get hangry and super out of it and it’s just bad. In general though, most of the breakfast foods I eat would not be allowed for someone on the paleo diet. So I went on a mission to learn about what people on the paleo diet eat for breakfast and I found this delicious recipe for Blackberry Breakfast Bars which are: gluten free, dairy free, and paleo appropriate. Then I went to the store and got all the ingredients and made them. Here are some pictures from my adventures:

Yay! I found all the ingredients (either after digging through our cabinets in the kitchen to find them or running through the store to find them)!

I decided to make my own coconut flour out of coconut chunks – mostly because all of this was really spontaneous and it was actually kind of late on a weeknight and I didn’t feel like driving to the health food store to get coconut flour. However, it turned out to be really easy to do once I figured out how to work the food processor.

The final product cooling on the stove! It was delicious. Tasted like banana bread with blackberries and coconut in it. If you had fed them to me, I never would have guessed that they weren’t your typical flour and milk type banana bread bars. Yum.

All in all I think it was a good adventure for me because 1) it really did make me think about all the food groups and what I eat every day and 2) it was actually really good even though it was slightly more of a pain to track ingredients down for. In conclusion, I’m probably never going to switch to a diet like the paleo diet but I appreciate the recipes for forcing me to think about the amount of carbs, milk, etc I put in my body.

What do you think? Are you on a diet like the paleo diet or other diet? How did you give up cheese (and bread?! Think of the bagels!!!!)? Would you ever consider going on a diet like that? What is your favorite kind of food?

Who can make the longest udon noodle?


This weekend was full of activities. On Saturday, Cobalt and I volunteered by getting college students registered to vote. We were strictly not allowed to discuss politics or political parties (seriously, all we could say was “Hi! Have you updated your voter registration information? If not you can do it now and it only takes 90 seconds…”) and people replied by yelling all sorts of insults at us about the presidential candidates… It was a bit awkward. Oh and we were in the sun for 2.5 hours and we only got two people to register. That was kind of depressing. Come on Colorado! It’s fun being a swing state! :-/

Then yesterday we made salmon teriyaki with homemade udon noodles! The recipe called for stretching the noodles out after we cut them and before we boiled them. Cobalt and I had a lot of fun with that part, as you can see from the above and below pictures.

Aw yeah… This noodle is gonna be great!

The salmon teriyaki also turned out pretty delicious as you can see from the following picture. Result!

You know you want to eat this…

What did you do this weekend? Have you noticed that almost all of my food posts are about noodles? Maybe I should try some other recipe just to be balanced. Do you like cooking? What is your favorite thing to make from scratch? I have to say that pie crust is kind of fun. I got a little obsessed with making homemade pie crust during my first year of grad school… It would probably be easier to make now that we have all these sweet cooking wedding presents… :)