Dallas Day 1 – ROAD TRIP!

Fernando in the car. If you look closely at the steering wheel, you should be able to see Gustav…

We’re back from Dallas! It was an awesome trip full of good friends, tasty food, LOTS of photographs (I just uploaded 1.6 GB of photos from my DSLR and I have more on my iPhone…..), warmth, flip flop wearing, and a lot of driving. Yay. We did so much exploring my legs are sore from walking. Seriously, even when we drove somewhere, it was usually just to walk around more. Awesome. Anyway, it was apparently warm in Colorado the whole time we were in Dallas but now that we’re back, it’s decided to start snowing again… Thanks Colorado… :p

I am kind of in a picture coma right now because I get really overwhelmed with anything over 100 photos and I have ~700 from the DSLR alone so I have been doing a lot of sorting and trying to figure out how I want to present everything on here. Regardless of what I decide, the Dallas trip has earned its right to have multiple posts. We’ll start with a day to day summary (complete with pictures) and then maybe certain days will get extra posts because of the LARGE amount of photographs that accompany them. Are you excited? I am… I’ve already narrowed my ~700 pictures down to a “mere” 80…

Today’s post is primarily going to be about the first day of our trip but before we get there, I want to tell you my dear readers that you have a say in how the next few posts will go. We went to the Ft. Worth Zoo and the Dallas World Aquarium so if you have a favorite animal you’d like to see, leave me a comment and I’ll see if I have any pictures of it for you. :) In related news, I kind of had a camera love affair with a toucan at the zoo and the shark tank at the aquarium (who’s surprised about that one?) so they might be getting their own posts or at least large chunks of the zoo/aquarium posts. Yay!

Okay… let’s start at the top.


was mostly spent driving. I also spent a good chunk of it sneezing (thanks Colorado for another cold…). Cobalt and I picked up our friend A at 6:00 am and we rolled out of town around 6:15 am after a brief stop at Einstein’s Bagels for some tasty breakfast. Mmm…

We stopped in Burlington, Colorado for our first coffee/bathroom break. I used my fancy phone to tell us where a coffee shop was and it picked out this amazing local coffee shop. We ended up chatting with the barista for a while about farming and GMOs, etc and then she gave us a few sheets of monster and owl stickers that she uses to put over the lid of her coffee cups (the adhesive is non toxic!). She said they are very popular in town but that she wasn’t going to use those colors. Cobalt’s car is decorated with stickers now….

Then we entered Kansas and it took forever…….. Btw, shout out to my friend E if you’re reading this. We wanted to go see you but I think you live too far away from where we were… :( I made Cobalt look it up though just to make sure…

Potassium and A and their respective sharks (Gustav, Scrarmpl, and Fernando) at a rest stop in Kansas

Once we got to Oklahoma, we headed to OKC for dinner with our friend/Cobalt’s best man T. We ate at this restaurant called Nhinja which you should totally check out if you live in the OKC area and like sushi. It was tasty and kind of a neat little restaurant. Plus it was good to see T. Then we were back on the road for the last ~4 hours to Dallas….

Here’s where we started to go a little car crazy after spending so much time in the car… When we stopped next for gas, it was at this station that was across from a huge casino with all these bright lights and colors. A and I were mesmerized by the colors and lights and we dragged Cobalt across the street to the casino for our bathroom break. We thought it’d be funny to take a picture of us in the casino as if we actually went there to gamble (which we didn’t… we like our money thank you very much!). See below…

Warning: these people are CRAZY

After another hour or so of A and I giggling every 5 minutes and Cobalt trying to ignore us, we settled down into impatient waiting… Luckily it wasn’t too long until we reached Dallas and got to Jem’s house (around 11 pm)! We unpacked the car and then proceded to stay up until almost 1 am catching up with Jem before crashing into well earned sleep.

One other thing: my favorite conversation with a random lady in Oklahoma. We were washing our hands in a gas station bathroom and she turned to me and asked “What is it about driving that makes us look so tired and ragged?! We’re just sitting there…” Yes… it’s so true.

Now it’s your turn. When was the last crazy road trip you went on? Where did you go? How long were you in the car? Did you feel like you were going to go insane by the end?! Don’t forget to tell me what animals I should be posting in the coming posts (most likely next week)…

“Spring” Break?

Gustav wonders why we aren’t still skiing because he wants to make it all the way to the Flatirons you can see behind the hill we are on…

It’s spring break here in Colorado. Unfortunately for grad students like me who are done with our classwork, spring break doesn’t really mean much except that there are less undergrads everywhere. We still have to go to lab and we still can’t park on campus because spring break doesn’t count as a holiday for the crazy parking police. Booo…

Even with that said, my spring break has been pretty exciting so far. First my mom came to visit this weekend! We had so much fun even though it snowed almost a foot (yeah Colorado doesn’t really get the whole “spring” concept). Below is a list of fun activities that my mom and I did together:

  1. We went out to lunch at this fancy French restaurant in Boulder. We pretended we were in Paris and babbled a little bit in French while eating our super fantastic meals… mmmmm
  2. We made homemade rosemary crackers from scratch… Oh man they were so easy to make and so delicious. I wish I could post some for you guys to try on here…
  3. We watched the crazy snowy USA vs Costa Rica game (which happened in Commerce City, CO… not too far from here) on Spanish television and screamed GOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL along with the newscasters. I also babbled along with them in Spanish whenever I was happy that I knew a word or phrase.
  4. We made delicious shrimp tacos for dinner for Cobalt since he had to work late.
  5. We braved the crazy snowy streets to go run some errands and get tasty breakfast at Mom’s favorite breakfast restaurant here: The Buff (it’s on Man vs. Food – the Boulder edition if you want to learn about it).
  6. We had a party for the 50th anniversary of The Birds because it was mostly filmed about a 30 min drive from my hometown/where Cobalt and I stayed on our minimoon and because my mom had never seen it. I always get super homesick when I watch it so it was nice to watch it with my mom…
  7. I worked on trying to make alligator earrings in a similar style to my shark earrings
  8. We planted the seeds for Cobalt’s and my summer garden. Obviously they won’t be heading outside for a while…

    Yay! Mini plant greenhouse!
  9. Did I forget anything Mom?

After my mom left, I took advantage of the crazy snow everywhere and went cross country skiing around the hill by my house. No one else was out so it was a peaceful adventure through the fluffy snow for me and my sharks (Gustav is featured in the picture on top).

And now for the reason why I didn’t write on Thursday last week – I’ve been working extra hard in lab (except for when my mom was here) so that I can take some time off to actually have a spring break. Cobalt, our friend A, and I are road trippin’ to Dallas to see our friend Jem later this week! So exciting (so excited about WARMTH too…)! So I might not write this Thursday either… Or maybe I’ll make Jem cowrite a post with me (you were warned Jem… ;)). Jem and I have already planned to work on our street photography techniques as she shows us Dallas. Also, maybe Jem and I can finalllllly get our Etsy store up and running! So much excitement!

Now it’s your turn. What kinds of things do you do with your family when you visit them or they visit you? Is it spring there yet? What is your ideal spring break activity? Do you want that tasty cracker recipe? Have you been to Dallas? If so what do you think of it?

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… :)

Green chiles are delicious

Attempting to make chile rellanos last week. This was our first one and it is a little messy but it was still delicious… Don’t judge that cheesey fried chile goodness until you try it!

So it’s green chile season here in the southwest (I know Colorado isn’t very southwestern but you can still buy fresh Hatch green chiles here so it gets to be part of the southwest for the sake of this post) and all the stores are selling fresh Hatch green chiles (some of them will even roast the chiles for you!). Cobalt and I are ridiculously green chile starved most of the year so this month or so when green chiles come to Colorado is pretty special to us. We pretty much eat green chiles for the whole month. Anyway, the point of this paragraph is that we tried making chile rellanos on the other night and they turned out pretty tasty. Yay!

Speaking of the southwest, Cobalt and I ventured down to New Mexico this weekend for a baby shower for a good friend and to see his family (and friends who didn’t get to come to our wedding). It was a very short trip but it was nice none the less. My new mother in law and I spent a good few hours watching a bunch of Friends episodes. Awesome. :)

Finally, today marks the official first day of my fifth year of grad school. Whew… We’re gettin’ up there! Still all that remains is for me to get some results to write my thesis about (and maybe publish some papers along the way… you know how these things go…). Everyone please think some awesome thoughts that my research works out so I can be starting to wrap things up by the end of this year! Yay science… :-/

Anyone have an epic weekend? Does anyone love green chiles as much as we do? Is there a food that’s special to the place you grew up in/a place you’ve lived?

Kind of the best wedding cakes ever…

But of course I’m biased…

So back in January, we met with our wonderful cake lady to talk about what we wanted on our wedding cake. She showed us the album of all the other cakes she’s made and then we sat down to get to work. The conversation went kind of like this:

A (our cake lady): “What are you guys thinking?”

Cobalt and me: “So… we have this cake topper of a skeleton bride and groom and also we really like sharks… what can we do with that?”

About a half an hour later the three of us had designed that super amazing cake up there: a shark bringing a skeleton bride and groom to the beach. We loved it and she loved it. She was already planning on how to make the beach look beachy – with seashells and seaweed. Also everything on this cake (minus the cake topper of course) is completely edible – from the sand to the shark’s teeth… Makes me happy to look at it. Also, it was delicious. The shark was chocolate (his fins are graham crackers) and the beach was lemon with raspberry filling (with real raspberries!!!). Plus she made us another shark cake to save for our anniversary (and it survived the trip back to CO!). Yum.

Speaking of awesome cakes, I also want to show you the amazing groom’s cake Cobalt’s mom made! It’s a red velvet armadillo cake (Steel Magnolias anyone?) and the armadillo is a ghostbuster (Cobalt’s favorite movie of all times). We loved it! Cobalt’s mom did such a good job on it… This cake went pretty fast too… I didn’t even get to try it. :(

Thanks to our friends K and J for taking these respective pictures (I’ve totally been stealing all of them because I didn’t have my own camera… seeing the cakes is what made me miss my camera most the whole day…)!

Also, don’t forget to tell me if there is anything in particular you want to hear about now that the wedding is over. I’m making a list of post topics. I know that people want to hear about the fortunes so don’t worry, that’s coming soon to a post near you! (Also we ended up with a lot of extra fortune cookies/fortunes so if you can’t wait for the post maybe you can get a fortune in the mail…)

Tell me about your wedding cake! What did you have on it? Was it something you designed yourself or did you see it and just fall in love? If you’re not married, tell me what you would want on your wedding cake. :)

Geez with all this talk about cakes now I am hungry………

Pasta Party!

Yesterday, Cobalt and I went over to our friend L’s house to hang out with L and our friends T and C for a day of adventure. We made homemade pasta. L charged us with two tasks: making mushroom ravioli and spaghetti carbonara. So we divided into two teams – Cobalt and T on the spaghetti and C and me on the ravioli while L started on the ravioli filling. That picture up there is my sad looking mummy ravioli. He surprisingly didn’t explode when we cooked him so I guess I patched him up pretty well! C said he was delicious… :)
Anyway, it was really fun/tasty! Here are some more pictures:

First we have C mixing the ravioli dough:

Next we have Cobalt and T working on making the spaghetti… The pasta machines were of course the best part…

Once the spaghetti was ready to be cooked, everyone switched over to team ravioli and we had quite the assembly line going on (someone painting the dough, someone filling the dough, someone making the little raviolis, etc). Look at C’s cutting skill!

And two hours later, we have the final dishes:

Spaghetti Carbonara

Mushroom Ravioli

Oh man… it was so delicious… Have you ever made your own pasta? What is your favorite kind of pasta to make/eat? Did you do anything amazing this weekend?

Reflections on a busy week

WOW! It’s been a while since I wrote. Thanks grad school for making my life insane for a bit there. It’s funny. I am done with all my qualifying exams and my classes so all I have left to graduate is “just” research. That’s right. Do enough research to be able to publish two scientific papers on new findings and then I can graduate! If only it were that easy… Sometimes the “just research” part of grad school is awesome. You go in, get your work done, you go home, no sweat. Life is great. Sometimes the “just research” part is insane… so insane it makes you wish you still had classes left because at least classes have a finite length and obvious expectations (write this paper? DONE. Study for and take this test? DONE… vs… I looked at bacteria under a microscope for HOURS and I took HUNDREDS OF PICTURES and I still have NO idea what anything means… Whyyyyyyyyyyyy?). Anyway, you get it. Plus we packed up our whole lab and moved it a mile away into a new building. There was some moving drama in there last week too.

ANYWAY – I have been really sad that I haven’t been able to write recently. So much stuff has been going on AND I got tagged by Karyl to write a post on marriage and I am worried that she thinks I forgot about it. Don’t worry Karyl, I’ve been thinking about it all week and I hopefully will be able to finally publish my thoughts tomorrow or Thursday this week! Yay! So, I talked about grad school being dumb and moving being time consuming… What have else I been up to, you ask?

Well, besides apparently freaking out small children at church on Sunday, here are a few things I did since the last time I wrote.

1) Had really good barbecue in Longmont, CO. Seriously. Amazing. Best BBQ I’ve had so far in the state. Go check them out. Obviously skip this recommendation if you are a vegetarian.

2) Moved the lab – already talked about this but here are some pictures:

Old Lab – see that big thing of pink bubble wrap? It was probably 3 times as big when we got it and then we used it and another whole roll up moving all our fragile stuff… intense… There is nothing worse than trying to get lab tape off of bubble wrap for your information…

New Lab – my new bench bubble wrap free! In other new lab news, I learned today that it is about a 2 mile bike ride to the new building and it is almost alllll downhill on the way there. Fun times coming home this summer… :-/

3) Saw President Obama speak at my school. Regardless of your politics, how cool is it to get to see a president speak in person? Obama pictures in a minute. I just want to emphasize on here that part of the awesomeness of all of this was actually all the waiting in line to get into the events center.

We had to wait for the bus…

In the line, we had a race across a random patch of grass/compared our weird feet/did other silly things. If you look closely in the top left hand corner, you can see the line behind us…

We were all distracted by this helicopter that we thought Obama was in but then he drove right past us…

Obama on the jumbo screen of the events center. I’d say that’s a typical Obama face…

Live Obama and jumbo screen Obama in the same shot! Because our lab move day was the same day as Obama’s speech and because that was the same day my boss decided to tell me how much data analysis she needed me to do in the next few days, we didn’t get to get in line until later in the afternoon so we didn’t get the most amazing of seats. But you can still see Obama!

4) Took a road trip with Cobalt to see his family

On the road again… Cobalt and I enjoyed rocking out to crazy mashups (courtesy of Milkman) as we drove along…

Anything exciting going on in your lives? Do you obsessively photograph everything like I do? Discuss!

On the docket for tomorrow (hopefully… or Thursday… sorrrrrrrry) – What do I look forward to in my marriage? Stay tuned. It should be exciting… I have been thinking about what to say for a week now…