Monthly Archives: April 2010

The Hula Hoop Post

I have found a new love in life:  hula hooping.

That is me, with my hula hoop. I'm obviously loving life.

Our church friend and regular trivia night partner Mrs. Lovell first got my mom and me interested in hooping as a form of exercise.  When I first got my hoop and was only using it for 15 minutes at a time, I felt like the whole “it’s a fitness technique” thing was possibly erroneous, but it was still fun, so I kept at it.  Now that I’m up to hula hooping for 30-45 minutes (or even an hour sometimes), I really think that it actually is working my abs!

According to Wikipedia, hula hooping for 30 minutes can burn 200 calories!  Awesome!

Side view of the hooping!

Even if the hula hoop’s fitness claim isn’t true, it’s still SUPER fun and a great way to relax and center yourself.  I’m addicted.  Also, since you have to hold your arms up the whole time, it’s also a little bit of a workout for them.  I hula hoop a lot while I’m talking on the phone to various family members, friends, and boyfriends.

My hula hoop is weighted and larger than regular kid hula hoops.  Apparently, the heavier it is the slower it rotates, so the weighted kind are actually easier to use than the kid kind.  So if you were never good at it when you were little, maybe all you need is a weighted hoop!

Ok, so obviously I'm mid-sentence, which is never a good look for anyone, but look how the hoop seems like it's floating!

Now that I’ve gotten the hang of it, I can keep the hula hoop going for 10 minutes at a time before it falls because I quit paying attention or accidentally hit it on the porch rail or something.

I’ve told my friends at school about it, everyone I’ve talked to on the phone while I’m hooping, and I even took it to the children’s home one night to show the kids/adults in the art room.  I’m obsessed, and I’m determined to convert more people to hula hooping.  We’re hoping to start a hula hooping club this summer, so we can all get together and talk while we hoop!

Look, it's fun for the whole family!

I’m serious– everyone should try it!  Let me know if you want to borrow my hoop!

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The Children’s Book Illustrator Post

I have several fantasy career ambitions.  One is to own a toy store called “All Little Girls are Princesses.”  (Name the quote!)  The bottom floor would be all little girl toys and pretty princess dresses and tiaras.  The top floor would have all the little boy toys: Matchbox cars and action figures and dinosaurs.

Another fantasy career is to become a children’s book illustrator.

The fall of my senior year at UNC, I took a class called “Reading Children’s Literature.”  We read awesome stuff (Huck Finn, Little Women– which is not as good as you remember it from childhood, Wizard of Oz, 5 Children & It, Alice in Wonderland, The House on Pooh Corner, etc.).  We had several options for our final project in that class: we could write a paper about the evolution of children’s lit, we could write a memoir about our own childhood, we could do a service project and make a scrapbook of it, we could write our own children’s book, we could create a multi-media project, OR we could choose to illustrate a children’s book.  Guess which option I chose?

I decided to illustrate the fairy tale “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.”  (It was always my favorite from Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theater series.  If you’ve never watched any of those, let me know, I’ll loan you the DVD set.)  I figured it’d be easier to illustrate a fairy tale because they’re pretty short and don’t really have iconic images that accompany them (a problem you would run into if you chose to re-illustrate Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, for instance).

“The Twelve Dancing Princesses” ended up being a great choice, although actually creating 12 dancing princesses for one of the pages took a little too much manpower.  For those of you who never got to see the finished product, here are some of the illustrations:

The king finds 12 pairs of worn-out dancing shoes outside of his daughters' room.

The old woman gives the soldier a magic cloak of invisibility.

The soldier (wearing his invisibility cloak) follows the princesses through an enchanted forest with trees of silver.

The 12 princesses dancing w/ 12 princes.

The soldier showing the king proof of where the princesses went at night.

I also made little vignettes to go on the opposite pages w/ the text of the story, but I don’t have any pictures of those saved.

Anyway, all of this backstory is necessary to say that I am now planning on undertaking a project this summer to write and illustrate my own children’s book.  It’s gonna be based on Biff’s work in his lab.  For the handful of you who I haven’t already told, Biff works with little bitty worms called C. elegans.  (That seems to be always italicized.  I have no idea why.  I guess maybe all official names of species are italicized?  But I digress.)  The lab he works in mostly deals with issues surrounding aging.  Right now, he’s mainly studying these worms to try to figure out a gene that will predict lifespan.  He’s found some really cool data so far, and I could tell you all about it if you’d like to call/email/ask me in person, but I won’t put it up here to prevent someone from Berkeley or Yale reading this blog and scooping him on his discovery.  Apparently, this is a legitimate concern.  (Someone scooping him, that is.  Not someone from Berkeley or Yale reading this blog.  That seems pretty darn unlikely.)

Anyway, one of the things he does with his little bitty microscopic worms is inject something into them (I think it’s injected, but I might’ve got that wrong.  Don’t quote me) so that he can shine a special light on them and they glow green.

Here’s a pic of the fluorescent greenness:

Glowing green worm!

Some of the green circles inside the worm are eggs, but they’re hard to see because the mother worm is also glowing green.  What Biff really needs to be green are the eggs, because when the yolk inside them glows green he’s able to measure how much yolk there is easier.  (Did y’all know that the yolk is what the babies inside the eggs eat?  I had no idea that’s what it was there for!  I learn new things all the time dating a biologist.)

Here’s a pic of the green eggs:

Green eggs!

The aim of my children’s book is going to be to teach kids what kinds of things scientists study and encourage them to want to become scientists too.  An added bonus: they’ll get to learn all about the typical lifespan of C. elegans.  (Come on, admit it, you’re surprised I know anything at all about worms’ lifespans, let alone enough to write a book about it.)

To give you an idea of what the character of Scientist Biff will look like in the book, here’s a picture of the graduation card I made for him 2 years ago:

Illustrated Biff!

Anyway, I will definitely keep the blog updated w/ the progress of the book this summer.  It’s my goal to get it ready in time for Biff’s b-day in July.  And I’ll definitely post picture of the finished product here when I’m done!  That is, unless I get inundated w/ publication offers.  In that case, you’ll all have to buy copies.

Oh, and yes, all of the green pictures have given me the perfect name for my book:

Green Eggs and Worms.

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The Chicken Strips Post

When I was home over Easter, my mom got me hooked on a new blog: thepioneerwoman.comCaution: Don’t click on this link if you need to be productive at all over the next two weeks. It’s written by a woman who lived and worked in L.A. for several years before meeting, falling in love with, and marrying an honest-to-goodness cattle rancher.  She now lives in the middle of nowhere, has a pack of cute kids, and writes hilariously entertaining blog entries about life on the frontier.  (Her account of her courtship w/ her husband is especially fun, but again, don’t start reading it if you need to get anything done today.  Or tomorrow.)

Anyway, she also has recipes on the blog, including a whole section of recipes her husband, a strictly meat & potatoes kind of eater, loves.  Guess what?  I am a meat and potatoes kind of eater!  Obviously, this section is perfect for me.  So Friday night, I struck out to fry my own chicken strips.

Here’s her recipe.

And here are my pictures:

This is my raw chicken strips marinating in buttermilk.  I might not have let them stay in it long enough– I had a little trouble getting the breading to stick once they made it into the oil.

Here are my 2 plates of breaded chicken. (And because my mom will ask: the green/purple stuff on the plates is PART of the plates.  It’s painted on.  I did NOT just suddenly decide to eat lettuce/eggplant.)

Here’s a picture of my last batch of strips frying.  At first, I started with the chicken trying in a deeper pan, and I think it was too deep.  The strips looked  like they were drowning, and the breading kept flaking off.  The regular skillet worked a lot better.  Plus, I think that my oil wasn’t hot enough for the time limits she listed in the recipe.  This last batch I left in there longer than recommended, and they turned out the crispiest.

The finished product: my plate of chicken strips!  Even though some of them weren’t as crispy as they should’ve been, they were still delicious!

I also tried her “How to Cook a Steak” recipe last night.  (Sorry, forgot to take pictures.)  It was pretty good, but a little too buttery.  I think I prefer mine cooked on an outside grill.  I’ll let you know if I end up cooking anything else!

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