20091231

Thankful Thursday - A Year of Gratitude

As it is the last day of 2009, I want to express my thanks to the people, rabbits, and stars that made 2009 a successful and exciting year for me.

I am thankful for...
  • Angie, Carolyn, Ursula, the volunteers, and the incredible children I worked with at Primary Children's. I miss holding infants, losing at video games with those genius 10 year old boys, and learning/improving my poker skills with several patient teens. Some of the most touching moments in my life took place at PCMC.
  • The U of U's FCS department. The professors who helped me through the process of applying and choosing a graduate program (especially Nick and Russ), the research group I was a part of (Jackie, Mike, Beverly, Marissa, and Cheryl), the toddlers from whom I collected stories, the grad students I met (JuleeAnn and Alta), Heather, with whom I had great conversations with when we probably should have been working for Family Retirement Issues, the most helpful people ever (Jenny, Sandra, Sandy, and Ribana), and my fellow fabulous Kappa Omicron Nu members!
  • California tax payers -- thanks, guys!
  • At UC Davis: The members of my cohort: Stephanie, Amy, Erik, Cheryl, Lisa, Mayra, Ina, Diane, and Caitlin. Without them, I would fail. Grad school is a group effort and I am so grateful to be surrounded by intellectual and friendly people. My professors for the first quarter, Larry, Rose, and Kathi, who pushed me straight into the literature. The graduate advisor, Denise... I am so indebted to her! And the other grad students, particularly my peer advisor, Maciel.
  • New and old friends! I want to list you all, but that might become tricky! :-P I keep being reminded that in the gluten-free cookies of life, friends are the chocolate chips! I have so many friends supporting me in my decisions (whether or not they think they are good ones) and always keep me optimistic when things go a little sour. You guys have made me laugh on the roughest days and I have never been without a shoulder to lean on. You make my world.
  • Family. My mom and grandmother made it possible for me, financially and emotionally, to move to Davis. My older sister, Emily, played a huge role in helping me make my decision on where to go and kept me going during the quarter when the going got rough! My younger sister, Ali, who is always a positive and optimistic person, and shares with me fascinating facts -- she's my history teacher! My brother, Wes, who introduced me to a number of things this year... possibly my favorite is Always Sunny! My sweet rabbit, Ben, who is always there to listen. And the newest member of my family, Taylor! He has transformed our family in the best of ways! I am lucky to have a family that believes in me. The only way I can survive in California is by knowing they are my stable home.
  • Finally, my lucky stars. A year of good health, opportunities, friends, family, and experiences. If 2010 is only half as good as 2009, I cannot wait for it to begin!

20091230

Written Wednesday - 40 Things in December

(I stole this from a writing prompt website... lets see how I do...)

  1. Finished my first quarter of grad school.
  2. Met Kevin and John.
  3. Got to know Sarah better.
  4. Ate at Tercero Dining Commons -- gluten-free options!
  5. Wrote cards, made mix cds, and picked two pictures to print out for friends.
  6. Wrote two papers.
  7. Wrote part of one paper in the UC Berkeley library.
  8. Ate a LOT of gf pizza.
  9. Got my second dental crown.
  10. Celebrated Christmas three days early with my siblings, mom, and my new-to-the family brother-in-law, Taylor.
  11. Went to a missionary homecoming.
  12. Reconnected with Vanessa, Julie, and Melissa.
  13. Watched several documentaries on Netflix.
  14. Became homesick for Davis (a very strange feeling!)
  15. Saw the Fantastic Mr. Fox a second time with my younger sister and dad.
  16. Researched GPSes, talked Santa into getting it for me, and was totally happy with the gift!
  17. Wore a skirt and high heels in freezing Utah weather.
  18. Stayed up until 4 AM watching Always Sunny with Khrystine.
  19. Shoveled snow.
  20. Went Christmas shopping in Berkeley and Salt Lake.
  21. Thought about my friend, Natalie, on her birthday. She is far away in Switzerland!
  22. Laughed really hard while watching videos online with Caitlin. There is a definite deep bond between us now...
  23. Had many deep, philosophical discussions with quite a few people.
  24. Played a great game called Balderdash! Lost each time, as I am really bad at bluffing (happily so).
  25. Made celebratory Bloody Marys for my new friend, Kevin, on his 21st birthday.
  26. Got a sketchy message on OkCupid! from Arie... haha.
  27. Ate some delicious new cheeses.
  28. Rediscovered the early 1990s Mickey Mouse Club.
  29. Came to the realization that I'm not afraid of physically having a baby... unless she/he comes via c-section.
  30. Flew to Salt Lake from Sacramento.
  31. Ate a steak tostada from Cafe Rio -- my new favorite item.
  32. Made lots of Jell-O. Mormon-style!
  33. Received a nice Christmas present from UC Davis (read: $)
  34. Played Christmas tunes on our baby grand.
  35. Cuddled with my favorite floppy-eared and fluffy bunny rabbit.
  36. Received one of the nicest emails ever from one of my professors.
  37. Drank an actual corn-syrupy Dr. Pepper out of desperation for sugar and caffeine.
  38. Explained on several occasions that, yes, California has economic problems but it's still the best state in the union.
  39. Watched the Hunchback of Notre Dame with my younger sister who explained to me all the gothic architecture (she's a smarty pants!)
  40. Enjoyed the company of my immediate and extended family on Christmas Day.

20091229

Tasty Tuesday - Gluten-Free Options

This is sort of for self-reference, but other people may find it handy.

Salt Lake City:
  • Cafe Rio
  • Pei Wei
  • Chipotle
  • Thaifoon
  • Z'Tejas
  • The Old Spaghetti Factory
  • Sage's Cafe
  • Red Iguana
  • Salt Lake Pizza & Pasta (limited to salads)
  • Vertical Diner (limited to salads)
  • Pier 47 Pizza (downtown only)
  • Wendy's
Davis:
  • Farmer's Kitchen Cafe - 100% gluten-free
  • Steve's Pizza
  • In-n-Out
  • Wendy's
  • Chipotle
  • Sophia's

20091228

Scholarly Sunday - Educated and Employed Women

Dear Blogosphere,

An old friend of mine got back from her LDS mission and gave a talk yesterday (erm, sorry about the belated posts... ha ha). Afterwards, family, neighbors and friends co-mingled at her brother's house. One person, after asking me what I was doing, stated, "I didn't know there was such a field as Child Development." Which is understandable... the interdisciplinary approach to social science is relatively new. But another person told me how great a degree in Child Development will be for my kids.

I feel like I come from a culture that believes family should be the primary and, often, only focus for women. Once you have a family, yes, family should be the primary focus. But I'm not remotely close to even finding someone to date, let alone marry, and start making kids with.

The first question someone asked me was, "So, are you dating anyone?"

Nope. I am a loser.

I'm starting to be active again in the Church and I'm having a lot of trouble handling this. Certainly, I hope my possible future family will benefit from all the information I'm gathering and the fact that I will someday (if I ever find someone to love and be loved in return) be a parent does on some level explain why I picked this field. You cannot study developmental psychology without looking at yourself.

But I want to work. I've read a handful of studies that show all the benefits to children, particularly girls, who have working, well-educated mothers. I am incredibly proud of my mom who raised my siblings and I while she worked in law school and as an attorney. Both of my parents taught me that I, with plenty of hard work, could get an advanced degree. But my mom showed me I could.

But, you know, she got a lot of negative feedback. An LDS woman attorney in the 1980s...

Coming back to Utah is strange. So many of my friends are married. A handful of them have children. When I'm in California, I feel normal. 22, single, figuring things out. But in Utah, there must be something wrong with you (and maybe there is something wrong with me?) if you aren't dating. I am open to a relationship, it's just one hasn't happened yet.

This wasn't very scholarly but it hits topics in the vicinity of education. Women in the US in general find themselves in an awful bind between work and family. But when you add in borderline oppressive cultural ideals... well, I think it gets even worse.

-Natalie

20091226

Fantasy Friday - Plans for Next Weekend

In one week, I will be home (?) in Davis. So I need to make some plans for January 1st, 2nd, and 3rd...

So I have to do probably two trips to the grocery store, one trip to Target and another to Save Mart. Stock up on rice, pasta sauce, tofu, etc. I will try to get those done the first day I'm back. I need to have a Sims 3 day... an entire day devoted to the game. Then, probably on the night of the 3rd, I am going to do one of my favorite things and hang out on my couch watching a movie or some just some TV. Then the next weekend, Sarah, Kevin, John and I are hopefully going to have an Amelie and Fondue party. The weekend after that, Stephanie and I are going to go to lovely San Francisco to window shop and go to a supposedly fabulous dueling piano bar.

After that, I will have to start studying for a genetics midterm. Gah! Crazy quarter system...

I don't know when I'll be back in Salt Lake. Stephanie and I are thinking of going to San Diego for Spring Break which would be a blast. Just lay on a beach... oh, how I'd be so up for that right now (why is Salt Lake so cold?!).

But, at the moment, I haven't regained much steam. I really need to kick back this next week and muster up the strength for winter quarter. I am afraid I might start it in procrastination mode... which is never, ever good. So I think I'm just going to relax until the 4th. Then I will be pumped for what is sure to be a fantastic 10 weeks!

Thankful Thursday - Past Due

I am thankful for...
  • Friends with whom you can share the most intimate of details
  • A particular floppy-eared rabbit who sweetly nudges my hand when he wants a nice petting
  • My aunt and uncle who went out of their way to make me a gluten-free meal on Christmas Eve
  • The moment of brief euphoria after a little breakdown
  • My family, who continually give and support me unconditionally

20091223

Written Wednesday - Sense

I stood on the pier. The waves crashed beneath me. The salty air and distinct smell of the Fisherman's Wharf filled my nostrils. I closed my eyes and felt the wind pick up strands of my hair. I let them go. The wind can take control.

I stood on the golden sand. The cool Atlantic water brushed my feet bringing with it fragile seashells. I would pick them up and look at the intricate patterns that Mother Nature has created. The ocean disappears if you look far enough. But I closed my eyes, and heard the sound of children laughing and screaming with delight as the waves pulled them onto shore.

I laid on the warm, baked rock. The world beneath me. Nothing above but the delicate sky. His arm wrapped around me, we looked to the stars. They gently twinkled above me. I closed my eyes. Nothing. No buzzing, no honking... silence. I opened my eyes. The stars alone were enough.

I planted my feet on the cool, dewy grass. "Where does the dew come from?" I asked my mother. She responded, but I was too fascinated by the feeling of summer. Morning breezes through my bedroom windows and fresh condensation on the lawn. The sound of cars driving through the neighborhood and the taste of lemonade on my tongue. What more does a girl need?

Tears grew in my eyes as I drove up the Silverado Trail. I quickly pulled the car to the side of the road and crawled out. Trespassing into a vineyard, I sat down between the vines and took off my shoes to feel the soil between my toes. I laid down and watched the clouds pass by. I realized that my hope is in the soil, the sand, the grass, the wooden planks beneath me. That my spirit is amongst stars and clouds. That my life is found within the laughter of people, the sweet and sour taste of lemonade, the smells of strange cities, and giving up a little control to the wind.

20091222

Tasty Tuesday - Cheese!

Dear Blogosphere,

Today was our official Christmas at my mum's place. Early in the day we went grocery shopping for Christmas dinner. My mom also let my younger sister and I both pick a "fancy" cheese. I spotted an herb & spices havarti and Ali chose a fontina.

I love cheese and am so glad that I can eat it. If I had to ditch both gluten and dairy, I think I would die. Cheese is what keeps me going!

The herb & spices havarti was very tasty. Creamy, as usual, and I do prefer the flavored havartis over the plain. The fontina was also delicious. Soft and with a nice bite to it.

There are a few things I do miss with the gluten-free diet, though. One is the gyro at Yannis. I would get it vegetarian, which just meant pita stuffed with feta, tzatziki, tomato, and lettuce. So good. And I also miss spreading brie on a good and fluffy baguette.

But I can still indulge in feta and brie, I just have to come up with more interesting and novel ways to do it!

Hope you are all enjoying your Christmas week!

-Natalie

P.S. Speaking of gyros, if you ever, ever see gluten-free pita let me know. :-)

20091221

Scholarly Sunday - Biology is Not Destiny

I keep thinking about a debate my science class had in 7th grade. The topic was "nature vs. nurture." And we were instructed to pick one. I can't recall which one I chose but I remember being passionate about it.

Sometime during the second semester of college, my dad asked me where I thought "personality" came from. I was taking Introductory Psychology as well as the second course in the Introduction to Biology sequence, so I should have had something remotely close to an answer of sorts. I didn't. He proceeded to tell me that he thought "personality" was created by a God or a force greater than us, unchangeable and concrete.

Tonight, whist having a conversation similar to the nature vs. nurture one, my younger sister asked me if I thought personality was plastic. After majoring in Human Development and finishing a quarter where I read 4,000 pages on child development especially current research on infancy through five years, you would think I would have an answer. But all I have are more questions.

What is personality? The definition could change the answer. If personality is temperament, then yes and no. Depending on individual differences, either from genetics or environment or the intermingling area between the two, yes, personality can change but it may not. But I don't think personality is temperament and I don't think most people mean temperament when they say personality.

Maybe it's time I take a Personality course?

I think everyone wants to believe that it is "nurture" that makes us who we are. That means that we don't have to become our parents. That means that we can take the good or bad behaviors/actions we see others doing and utilize them in our lives. (It also makes for good policy in rehabilitation.)

But I don't think it's just nurture. We are not born as blank slates. I think we come in with a whole lot of genetic predispositions to things. Just because we have predispositions, however, doesn't mean it will happen. How we untie heredity (genes and the like) from "environmental" influences, I have absolutely no idea.

I like the saying Biology is Not Destiny. It acknowledges the salience of both biology and environment. But I am quite a fan of Erikson's Epigenetic Principle that he discusses in Identity and the Life Cycle. He describes humans has having a blueprint (genetics and the like) that everything grows from.

To bring this idea down to a physical level (as behavior can be rather abstract), Celiac Disease is a great example. There are a handful of alleles that must be present for someone to have Celiac Disease. All people with CD have these alleles. But, all people with these genes don't have the Disease. My cousin's wife has CD and her daughter is positive for CD genetically, though, at the present time, she is not a Celiac. It is highly possible that one or both of my parents have the genes and that one or more of my siblings do too. Yet they are healthy. So something in the environment, combined with the genetic predisposition, causes the immune system to go haywire and attack itself. I don't think anyone knows what the triggers are, but before I started having symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes, I had a series of flus and colds. And before the symptoms of Celiac Disease appeared, I had a very strange virus that almost completely closed my throat up, necessitating the need for a steroidal treatment. (Did the shot of cortisone make a difference?)

So if you think about this with, hey, lets make it interesting, psychopaths, they probably have some biological difference than most of us normal folk. But it is possible that combining that biological difference with environmental influences creates the "pathology."

I don't know. But I certainly don't think it's a case of Nature Vs. Nurture.

And that's a rambling Scholarly Sunday, for you!

20091220

20091219

Fantasy Friday - Summer Plan A

Dear Blogosphere!

Happy Fantasy Friday!

So I am in the process of applying for an internship for this summer. It is paid (yay!) and is at the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. For those of you who are nerds, this is the home of the General Social Survey!

I'm not sure how well-known or competitive it is, but I am hoping I land it. It's 10 weeks of learning about surveys in a new city that can't possibly be as hot as Davis. Cool!

And there is the first Fantasy Friday!

-Natalie

20091217

Thankful Thursday - From Novocaine to Etiquette

I am thankful for
  • Novocaine
  • Whoever came up with cheese... or accidentally made it
  • The women in my life, who have taught me everything from applying mascara to jumping batteries
  • My professors and high school teachers who keep in contact
  • And the few people who still see the value and importance in thank you cards

Written Wednesday - A November Second

The gray scent of winter had already settled in. I drove up the steep hills of the avenues to see a view of the city. I talked along the way, saying a whole lot of nothing, probably making little sense. In my head I was asking myself why followed by why not.

I wanted to feel, if only for a few moments, what it means to be alive. To feel like I was taking an opportunity. My twenty-second birthday around the corner... I had, for the first time, a fear of not living life. The weight of mortality felt heavy on my shoulders. Twenty-two. Easily, a quarter of my life over.

In a way or two, you were there. You were telling me secrets. The truth. Or, well, at least some of it.

This feeling of raw, unbridled femininity took over. Words like connected and life and mother and earth and sea seeped into my mind. I was empowered with a sense of myself and a sense of womanhood. I felt beautiful. I felt like I had touched heaven with my feet planted securely on earth.

The tiny head and tail lights zoomed up and down State Street. A Winder Dairy truck passed. I looked up at the stars. And realized, though I feel so far away from you, each night we fall asleep under the same sky.

I never wanted to see you go. There were not, there are not words. Only the silent tears as I put my head down to rest.

20091215

Tasty Tuesday - Omelets and Good News!

Dear Blogosphere,

Sleep is a wonderful thing and I am pretty sure most people don't get enough of it. I usually do. In fact, sometimes I get too much sleep. During snooze-time, your brain works through problems and figures or sorts out all the new information you gather each day. (This is why it is better to get a good night's rest before a final as opposed to pulling an all night cram session.) Sometimes these show up in dreams. Other times, you just dream of making omelets.

Omelet cooking is my latest recurring dream. It is amazing. I see myself putting a good sized serving of butter into a non-stick pan. It melts and once it gives off that browning aroma, I pour two fresh, beaten eggs into the pan. It smells like heaven. Once it is mostly set, I flip the beautiful golden, soft disc. In some dreams I add various cheese, vegetables, and even meats, but usually I just have a plain, all eggs and butter dream.

Isn't that delicious?

Anyway, the good news is...

Olive Garden now has gluten-free pasta!

Although I'm not a huge fan of Olive Garden, it is wonderful to have a new option for eating out! And it is just one more chain that has picked up on gluten-free. :-)

Until tomorrow,

Natalie

20091214

20091213

Scholarly Sunday - More than Myth

Dear Blogosphere!

Today I have read quite a few articles and really enjoyed one of them.

"More than Myth: The Developmental Significance of Romantic Relationships During Adolescence" by W. Andrew Collins

I felt like this was a fantastic introduction to the study of adolescent romantic relationships. He begins by making the case for studying them, talks about why we haven't been studying them, and jumps right into methodological and contextual issues.

But one of the reasons we haven't been studying relationships is because they are "private" and relationships should be up for scrutiny. I think this is at the heart of why we haven't been studying child development or parent-child relationships until recently. Another point he makes is that it is rather hard to study relationships purely in a lab. Which brings me to my next point...

The idea of a "hard science." I'm sure you've heard the term. Mathematics, physics, and chemistry are hard sciences. Which, I guess, means that anthropology, sociology, psychology, and developmental science are soft. When I told a neighbor that I was studying child development she asked my why I decided to leave the hard sciences. Sometimes I feel like people think studying people is some sort of cop-out. "Physics was too hard, so I decided to go for something a bit softer."

To get off of my soapbox, I read an interesting thing this past quarter in the Handbook of Child Psychology. It said, and I don't recall which chapter, that developmental science is somewhere between psychological science and biological science. In reality, this is what made the switch from biology so easy. It all boils down to effective reproductive strategies, survival, and adaptation.

Well, I think that's it for the first Scholarly Sunday! Just by the nature of my field, there's a range of opinions, so if you agree or disagree or would like to add something, I'd love to hear it!

Until tomorrow,

Natalie

Collins, W.A. (2003). More than myth: The developmental significance of romantic relationships during adolescence. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 13(1), 1-24.

A New Year's Resolution

I know it is a little early to start making resolutions but...

Jenn L. does posts for various days (like Thankful Thursdays) which I have decided to steal! Here are mine. And though it isn't 2010 yet, I thought I'd get started today!

Scholarly Sundays - Where I shall indulge you with whatever I am reading
Media Mondays - Where I will talk about movies, music, books, or television
Tasty Tuesdays - Where I will post a recipe or just talk about something delicious
Written Wednesdays - Where I will attempt to write a little prose or poetry
Thankful Thursdays - Where I will post something(s) I am thankful for!
Fantasy Fridays - Where I will talk about dreams and aspirations or just plans
Snapshot Saturdays - Where I will upload a picture or two

I will be posting later today a bit about Peer and Romantic Relationships in Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood. Are you jazzed? You should be!

20091202

November Flew By

Dear Blogosphere,

November flew right by and I didn't get another post in! I apologize.

So what happened in November?

*School, school, school and more school. It never ends.
*I went on the most delightful road trip from Davis, to Winters, to Lake Berryessa, to Calistoga, to St. Helena, to Napa, to Fairfield, and back to Davis.
*I gave my first big presentation on Socialization in the Family: Ethnic and Ecological Perspectives.
*I turned TWENTY-TWO.
*I ate the most delicious turkey and gluten-free stuffing with my family in Salt Lake.

I am thrilled because I only have one more day of class left! I still have plenty of work ahead of me, but soon I will be back in my beautiful Utah for the holidays!

-Natalie

20091104

Yes. I am a Nerd.

Me: "I found out a few days ago that I am a nerd."

Him: "Huh, it took you that long?"

But it's not a bad thing! Really! I mean look at this definition:

"An intelligent, single-minded expert in a particular technical discipline or profession."

Let us hope we both had that definition in mind, and not this one:

"Foolish or contemptible person who lacks social skills or is boringly studious."

:-/

20091030

I Am...

One Annotated Bibliography and
One Bus Ride and
One Plane Trip
Away from Home.

In Thirteen Hours and Five-Hundred and Fifty Miles
I Will Be Home.

20091024

Lisa Jane

Lisa and I danced together for several years at Janet's. I remember a few of our chats before ballet class would start. I was about 10, I'd say, and she was 13 or so. She and I would laugh, she would give me fashion advice, and we became pretty good friends. And sometimes we'd get in trouble for talking during barre. She stopped taking at Janet's but then we ran into each other again at Highland. She was a senior -- in dance company, of course -- and I was a freshman. I haven't kept in touch... but I was speechless when I found out that she had passed away. So, here is her obituary.

June 14, 1985 - October 17, 2009

Lisa Layton Okland passed away in Tempe, AZ on October 17, 2009. She was born to Clark and Renda Layton in Salt Lake City, Utah on June 14, 1985. An honors graduate of Highland High School in 2003, Lisa was a student leader and served as Dance Company President. She married her high school sweetheart John Christopher Okland on June 23, 2006 in the Salt Lake City Temple. Lisa graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Fine Art in Photography. An accomplished dancer, artist, photographer and triathlete, Lisa set a standard of excellence.

Spending time with family was Lisa’s greatest joy. She cherished her role as a wife; her greatest blessing was her loving and supportive husband, Chris. They shared many adventures in the great outdoors from the deserts of the Southwest to the Fjords of Norway, often joined by their dog Ralph and always by Lisa’s camera. Children adored Lisa! She lovingly nurtured many children in her family as an aunt, in her community as a nanny, and abroad as a teacher in Ukraine and Mexico. Sweet, giving, creative, selfless, kind, energetic, fun, thoughtful, and helpful, Lisa rained light and love on our lives. She was a blessing from above. Her grace, beauty and goodwill touched and charmed us. Always expressing appreciation, Lisa was a supreme example of what it means to be grateful.

Lisa choreographed her life with passion using every part of herself: a mind for learning, an eye for composition, an ear for listening, a heart of kindness, a hand outreached, a smile for everyone, and of course . . . a sense of humor.

Indeed Lisa showed us all how to “take life by the hand and dance.”

Lisa is survived by her husband John Christopher Okland, her parents Clark Layton (Christine), Renda Layton (Robert Strong); her grandparents Arthur and Joy Wiscombe, Richard Layton; her brother Jacen; sisters Melissa, Katherine; half sister Elizabeth; and step siblings Brian, Randy, Darren, David, Amy.

In honor of Lisa’s passion for dance and photography and her dedication to the pursuit of higher education, a memorial scholarship fund has been established in her name. Contributions can be made online at www.slc.k12.ut.us/sites/slef/ or mailed to the Salt Lake Education Foundation, Lisa Layton Okland Scholarship 440 East 100 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84111.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, October 24, 2009 at 12:00 noon, at the Monument Park Stake Center, 1320 South Wasatch Blvd., Salt Lake City, UT. Friends and family may gather Thursday October 22nd from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 West Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, AZ, and Friday, October 23rd from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Larkin Sunset Lawn Mortuary, 2350 East 1300 South, Salt Lake City, UT and from 10:45 am to 11:45 am prior to the services at the Monument Park Stake Center. Interment at Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park.

20091019

Cinnamon Sugar Chips

So, while reading about infant cognition, I started craving a churro. I knew that wasn't a possibility, so my mind wandered to gluten-free snickerdoodles or just vanilla ice cream with cinnamon in it. Then I remembered my corn tortillas for which the clock is ticking! I decided to turn them into cinnamon sugar deliciousness! Easy as can be and very economical, too!

What you'll need:
3 corn tortillas (I used white, but it doesn't matter)
Vegetable oil (around a half-cup)
Ground cinnamon
Sugar

The gear:
A medium sized saucepan
A large slotted spoon
Plate topped with paper towel

Pour the oil into the sauce pan. Make sure you have enough to cover the bottom and come up about an inch or two. Heat the oil on near-high.

Cut your tortillas into eighths. Once oil seems hot, test it with one tortilla triangle. If it bubbles, you are in business! Add two or three more. Once golden brown, quickly remove the chips from the oil with your slotted spoon and drop 'em on the plate. Immediately sprinkle with a good amount of sugar and a little cinnamon. Repeat until you have a plate full of goodness. Give one a little taste. If it is lacking flavor, add more sugar!

These would go lovely with some vanilla ice cream or even a fruit salsa! Double, triple, or even quadruple the recipe if you've got friends coming over!

Enjoy!

20091018

Fact.

"I apologize for the length of this letter, but I didn't have time to make it shorter."
-Mark Twain


Dear Blogosphere,

Summarizing is hard. Shorter papers are harder than longer papers.
Maybe you don't believe it. But it's true.

-Natalie

P.S. Hello to my readers in SoCal and Japan!

20091016

Where in the World is Davis, CA?


Dear Blogosphere,

Darling Jenn made an inquiry on my last post as to where Davis is in relation to San Francisco! I decided to snag a map off of Google to give you an idea! So, Davis is about 20 minutes outside of Sacramento. The Amtrak train follows I-80, down all the way to Emeryville (not labeled, but just south of Berkeley and north of Oakland). It takes about an hour and twenty minutes to get to Emeryville, then about a half-hour to get across the Oakland Bridge and into the city by bus.

I consider that to be quite close! Indeed, many UC Davis students go home to San Francisco on the weekend. UC Davis was originally an extension of UC Berkeley (the University Farm). I think it's a bit far to commute, but hey, it's California! Someone probably does it!

So, while this map is up, I might as well tell you about some other spots I want to visit/have visited. Walnut Creek is a gorgeous town! I would love to live there. There is an $8 bus to UC Berkeley on the weekdays, so in the future, if I decide to go to San Francisco on a weekday, I might take it and then take BART into the city. But I also want to check out Berkeley, so that will probably be my next trip.

I've heard great things about Suisun, so I want to go check that out and take a tour of the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield. I also want to go kick it in amongst some redwoods. And, of course, I want to go see some tasty wine country!

So there you have it!

Writing from Davis,

-Natalie

San Francisco!

Dear Blogosphere,

Here are my favorite pictures of my trip to San Francisco! They are in reverse chronological order... so, keep that in mind. :-)


Above: Me at Pier 39. A storm was starting to blow in!


Above: The sea lions! Arrgk! Arrgk!


Above: Me kicking it on the pier.


Above: The boats!


Above: The Historical 'F' cable car! This goes along the wharf, through the shopping district, and apparently up to Castro (famous for good old Milk)!


Above: Ding ding ding!


Above: Shopping district/Union Square-ish area.

San Francisco is my favorite city. I love the architecture, the hills (get those thighs burnin'!), the bay, the seagulls, the sea lions, the smell of sourdough, the shopping, the people! I plan to visit often!

Thanks for readin'!

-Natalie

October Sobfest and News!



If you haven't seen The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, get your hands on it as soon as possible! I decided to watch it because it was on Netflix online, I am in love with San Francisco, and I am fascinated by birds. But I forgot that it is a sobfest! So I spent a good twenty minutes of the film crying! If you watch it, you will know why. But it's just one of those few films that is inspirational, through and through.

So, after watching it, I decided to read up on when and where to visit the parrots on my next trip to San Francisco. The babies take flight in September, so I'm thinking that it's not too late.

So news! I will be coming home for one of my two favorite holidays! Halloween! I'll also be in town for Ben and my mom's birthday! I'm so excited. I am starting to get homesick so I definitely need some sister and mom time! Yay!

Well, I am going to put together a San Francisco post. So... look above! Haha!

-Natalie

20091012

Manicish Monday

To do list!

-Cook lunch + dinner
-Laundry
-Tidy up apartment
-3 journal articles + attempt to get ahead
-1 outline of an additional journal article
-Plan meals for the week
-Go to the grocery store

Woo hoo!

P.S. I love this bag. So cute and it's the dimensions I'm looking for to tote my huge binder to class + purse-y stuff. What do you think? And where might I find the money to buy it?



P.P.S. I went to San Francisco on Saturday. I have some pictures to post. I'll post them soon!

20091009

Graduate School

Dear Blogosphere,

I have been trying to think of a word to describe my experiences so far. I have come up with two. It's both exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. Here are some details:

-By the end of the quarter I will estimate that I will have read at least 3,500 pages. I read about 350-400 pages a week.
-This isn't "easy" reading by any means. For one class, we only read chapters from the Handbook of Child Psychology. These chapters make journal articles look like picture books! It makes me miss textbooks!
-I'm taking three courses. The first focuses on early development (conception through 5 years). So far we've been reading quite about about genetics and neural development. The second is where we read The Handbook. The third is sort of an independent research course. My faculty advisor and I come up with reading lists and at the end of the quarter I'll write a traditional term paper or an annotated bibliography. I ultimately want to look at romantic relationships during adolescence and emerging adulthood. For now, I am getting background information about emerging adulthood and peer relationships in adolescence.
-I used to procrastinate by hanging out on Facebook or chatting on MSN. My new procrastination techniques include: hole punching, printing off articles, cooking, and reading for another class.
-After a weekend of reading, my eyes hurt so bad that I don't want to watch TV or look at a computer screen!
-In order to maintain my sanity, I have required that I leave enough time (or make enough time) in the day to do one of the following things: go on a walk, knit, or write in a journal. It keeps my brain from melting!

Now, I'm looking back on this, and it does look a little like a list of complaints. So I want to add that...

I AM LOVING THIS!

Sounds a little masochistic, perhaps, but it's like those few really, really good classes in college where you work your butt off but every minute you put into learning the information you get right back. I'm looking forward to December 11, when I sit back, relieved that the quarter is over, and am able to look back at who I was in September and smile.

I am amazed at how much information I'm processing. There's a lot of really cool concepts to wrap my head around!

Until next time,

-Natalie

20090927

In Lieu of a 'Real' Post...

Enjoy this lovely quote from one of the articles I am reading this weekend:

"Nature wants children to be children before they are men. If we deliberately depart from this order, we shall get premature fruits which are neither ripe nor well flavored and which soon decay. We shall have youthful sages and grown up children. Childhood has ways of seeing, thinking, and feeling, peculiar to itself; nothing can be more foolish than to substitute our ways for them."

-Jean Jacques Rousseau

P.S. A very special shout-out to my regular readers in Pelotas, Brazil and San Francisco, USA! You guys are cool!

20090923

It's the End of the World as I Know It!

Dear Blogosphere,

Tomorrow, I finally start this big thing I've been working hard towards for a long time called Graduate School. I am going to start getting over-educated, over-worked, and over-exploited. And I am excited.

We (my cohort, that is) have already had a reading assignment. It wasn't bad by any means. Only 10 pages. It was the preface to the Handbook of Child Psychology. We will be reading most of the Handbook. :-D I didn't have to buy any books this semester (thank goodness, since the Handbook on Amazon used is $400!), but all of that money I thought I was saving is going straight to the printer. For only one class, I had to print out 88 pages for Tuesday. For the other course, we will have over 100 pages to read by Tuesday. The weird thing is... I don't think it will be hard to read it all. I think it will be hard to remember it all sufficiently enough to recall it and take part in meaningful discussion!

I was talking to my mom last night about how everyone says grad school is really, really hard. She told me that it isn't that bad. If it was really bad, no one would do it. I completely trust my mom, especially in this respect, since she went to law school. My sister, Emily, gave me similar advice (she survived law school, too). I figure this will be easier than law school. Probably the same amount of reading and need to understand the text, but I don't think my cohort is going to be at each others' throats for the 'A.' I will be rather surprised if there is sabotage in the Human Development Graduate Group!

Anyway, I hope to give you a nice report somewhat soon!

-Natalie

20090918

Brown Rice and Fresh Tomatoes


It's a well known fact that refrigerating tomatoes kills the flavor. So the opposite must be true, right? The cherry, grape, and pear tomatoes' flavor reaches new depths in this simple, tasty, and nutrient-rich dish.

You'll need:

*About 2 2/3 cups cooked brown rice
*1 pint of cherry, grape, and/or pear tomatoes, washed and without their green parts
*1 small red onion, chopped
*1 tbsp olive oil*
*Garlic salt to taste
*3 dashes of crushed red pepper
*Ground black pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan on medium heat, add the olive oil and rice. Stir. Warm up the rice if it has been refrigerated.
Stir in the tomatoes, onion, crushed red pepper, and a good amount of garlic salt. Cover and stir occasionally. The tomatoes will begin to pop under pressure (this is just one of many things we and tomatoes have in common!) and the rice will soak up the juice. Keep covered and stirring when you feel like it for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Once the tomatoes are all popped, the dish is done!
Serve with extra garlic salt and black pepper.

Yields 2 entree servings and 4 side servings.

*If the rice, onion, or tomatoes start to stick stir in more olive oil.

Summer Corn Salad, Summer Not!



I am so happy to live somewhere where produce is quite affordable! Indeed, these bell peppers were only $.33 each! This salad is, in a word, refreshing. Sweet and savory, I think you will love it!

-2 ears of sweet corn, cooked, cooled, and cut off the cob.
-2 small white onions, blanched in boiling water until semi-translucent
-2 purple bell peppers diced (any color will do)
-2 small tomatoes diced
-Garlic salt to taste
-Ground black pepper to taste

Simply combine in a medium bowl. Enjoy!

Makes 2 side servings

Simple Egg Salad

I know... egg salad? Probably haven't eaten it since you were a kid but this is a great way to get rid of those extra hard boiled eggs you have! There are only five ingredients... mostly due to my lack of a spice pantry, but you needn't worry. This has plenty of flavor!

FIRST: How to hard boil an egg

I prefer the cold water method which goes like this:

Put X number of eggs in a medium saucepan.
Fill the saucepan up with cold water, until it reaches an inch or so above the eggs.
Boil the water until it is a rolling boil.
Pull off the head and put a lid on it (feel free to listen to Squirrel Nut Zippers).
Wait 22-24 minutes.
Get the eggs out of the saucepan immediately and into a bowl of cold water to prevent further cooking.

SECOND: A smashing good time

Ingredients:
-4 hard boiled eggs, quartered or diced coarsely
-1 small red onion (or half a medium), diced (or less if you aren't an onion lover)
-1 1/2 tablespoons gluten-free ranch dressing, like Kraft (eyeball it)
-Garlic salt to taste (start with 2 teaspoons or so)
-2 or more dashes of crushed red pepper

Put all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Using a fork, smash the eggs and mix it up! Give it a taste. If it is too dry, add some more ranch.

Makes 2 Servings

I put it on some gluten free toast (Glutino's Corn Harvest) but it would be great on a bed of lettuce!

(I apologize for the lack of a picture, but my camera just wasn't at my side quick enough!)

20090911

A Bunch of Random Davisy Pictures!

My first visitors!

Me with my bike!

New saddle baskets!

New bottle, bell, and headlight.

Cherry, pear, and grape tomatoes from the farmers market.

Purple bell peppers!

The crowd at the farmers market on Wednesday.

Orange tree!

My campus home!

Chester, Ben's younger sibling, selling a bike.

Me in two weeks.

Gluten-free restaurant and store!

California produce.

Lime tree.

Sign for the farmers market.

Palm trees in front of the Union.


Dear Blogosphere,

Davis is great! I'm loving the California sun!

-Natalie

20090908

The Coolest Apartment Ever.






Dear Blogosphere,

As promised, here are the pictures of my apartment! I love it! The town is great and the weather is nice. The humidity is doing wonderful things to my hair. Haha. Anyway, will update you more later!

-Natalie

20090905

Peace Out!

Goodbye Salt Lake. I love your mountains, your residents, and your plain old awesomeness. But, alas, it is time for me to move to California and its green pastures, fine men, and that little thing called graduate school!

I am about to completely pass out. Because it is 4:30... and I will be leaving at about 8 AM. But I felt like I should post once more in Utah. I will certainly post here again (I'll be back for Mithras' birthday celebration) but it will be a while.

Get excited blog-readers, for I will be posting pictures of my apartment when it is all decorated. That will be in a few days, though, so hang tight!

I love you all! And apologize for any grammatical/spelling errors that are probably in this text but I am too tired to even give it a second read through.

:-)

Write again in Davis, CA!

-Natalie

20090903

Empty

Dear Blogosphere,

My bedroom is looking rather bare. My shelves are mostly empty, closet full of hangers, nothing on my dry erase boards... it feels strange.

I guess the weirdest thing is to be making a move where I don't need to pack everything. I get to leave stuff behind, like my snow boots.

So there is going to be a giant sobfest on Friday when I see my older sister and brother for the last time until Thanksgiving! And on Saturday morning, there will an even bigger sobfest when I say goodbye to my little sister and my rabbit. And on Monday, I will be in pieces when my mom leaves for the drive back to Salt Lake. I can already see myself. Standing alone in 390 square feet with boxes.

Just keep moving.

So, a couple of things have led me to kind of be low lately. My mum keeps bringing up how hard it is to plan meals for someone who can't eat gluten and is trying to cut down on red meat. And then I was sort of rejected by a guy for not being worthwhile. My words... paraphrased. But I am feeling great because, today, I was talking to my good friend Arie and he was depressed because he got a rejection letter from a grad program he applied to. We talked about applying to grad school and getting rejected for a while and I told him that it sucks and some days you just gotta lay in bed, letter in hand, with tears in your eyes.

After a while, he told me that I had (and I paraphrase) cheered him up. And that it was so good that I was a step ahead in the world and that I am exactly what everybody needs. He didn't know about the thoughts going through my head or anything going on but it just meant a lot to me to help brighten someone's day and get complemented like that. I'm not one to get completely wrapped up in what people think of me, but I have felt like a huge bother to so many people lately that it feels great to be appreciated and wanted. I love you, Arie!

Ok, so now that it is 4 AM, I am going to dig my way to my bed, curl up with a book, and rapidly fall asleep.

-Natalie

20090901

Some of My Favorite People

Caitlin and I enjoying some Thai iced teas after watching Julie & Julia

Aurora and I enjoying some drinks at SLP&P

Russ and I in fabulous AEB 220

Cheryl, Jenny, and I, again, in fantastic AEB 220


Dear Blogosphere,

Unacceptable number of updates in August. I do apologize. The past weeks have been CRAZY. It's like I've been on vacation in Salt Lake. To update you...

-Saw Rushmore at the Tower Theater with Caitlin.
-Did the Great Music Swap with Khrystine.
-Saw The Hangover and The Jerk at Brewvies with Wes.
-Rode a long and crazy emotional roller coaster. I am finally disembarking.
-Paid lots and lots of money in rent.
-Bought clothes and stuffs.
-Enjoyed a delicious meal made by my darling Aurora.
-Ate at SLP&P like... 20 times?
-Visited the U and will be visiting again before I go.
-Set the official date for leaving lovely Salt Lake. September 5!

Enjoy the pictures above. Of course, they are only some of my favorite people. Not all. :-)

-Natalie

20090811

Quick Ham Fried Rice


The recipe creates one of my favorite comfort foods: Ham Fried Rice.

Enjoy!

-1 tbsp butter
-1 large egg
-1 cup frozen vegetable mix, cooked (like carrots, corn, peas, & beans mix)
-5 slices diced gluten-free deli ham (Buddig Deli Cuts is gf)
-1/2 tbsp fresh minced garlic (no fresh garlic? add garlic salt to taste)
-1 cup cooked white or brown rice
-1 1/2 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce (Great Values, San-J, and Western Family are gf)

1. Using a medium sized no-stick skillet, melt butter on high. Once butter is melted, add egg and scramble.
2. Add veggies, then ham, and, finally, garlic. Stir for about a minute to let the flavors get acquainted.
3. Stir in the rice. Try to break up the rice as best you can.
4. Pour in the soy sauce, stir to mix it all around.
5. Grab a plate, dish it out, and serve!

Serves 1 (large portion) or 2 (side portions)

20090810

I promised...

to bore the Blogosphere with the details of my life, so, voila! a shopping list.

-Carbon monoxide alarm
-TV stand
-Hand tool set
-Pyrex prepware set
-Cookie sheets, cake pan, etc
-Various vegetable peelers
-Wall clock
-Desk lamp
-All-in-one printer
-First aid kit
-Nifty flashlight that turns into lantern, more flashlights
-Iron and ironing board
-Blender
-Electric kettle
-Hangers
-Toilet brush and plunger
-Broom and dustpan
-Serving tray
-Jars
-Pitcher
-Coat rack?
-Dry-erase board
-Step stool
-Tape
-Pins
-Desk
-Bookshelf
-Chair
-Butter dish
-DVD/VCR
-TV

Hmm... not as bad as I thought it would be! T-20 days, my friends!!

-Natalie

20090809

Garlicky Pesto Potatoes


These little devils are delicious. Potatoes are cheap, tasty, and nutritious. Comparatively low in calories, this starchy veg offers fiber, vitamin c, and vitamin b6. Russet potatoes are very easy to bake, just poke them with a fork, stick 'em in the oven at about 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and in an hour to an hour and a half come back from studying and enjoy! Then put the extras in a ziploc bag or container and refrigerate.

Now, to the recipe:

-2 small baked potatoes; cold, sliced, and quartered.
-A little less than 1 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
-1 tsp or so salt; +extra to taste
-1 tbsp minced garlic (less if you are having a studying/make-out session; if you or someone you know has a Costco membership, get a thing of Spice World fresh minced garlic. It's about $3 and will last you at least 6 months.)
-1 tbsp gf pesto (homemade or store-bought - Classico is gf.)

1. Put potatoes in small frying pan. Add oil and salt. Turn on heat to medium-high.
2. Toss the potatoes around, coating them with the salt and oil. Keep hanging out with them until they start to turn deliciously golden.
3. Add the garlic and stir it a bit. Turn up the heat to high. Keep stirring for, oh, about a minute or so.
4. Invite the pesto to the gathering. Keep stirring. Turn down the heat to medium. And let the flavors meld. Keep casually moving the potatoes about. And once you can't take it anymore...
5. Serve and enjoy! Add more salt if you feel like it.

Serves 1

(This would make a great breakfast with eggs, too. Of course, adding other roasted/cooked root vegetables would be great - think carrots and onions - to make it a full meal. Add however much more pesto/oil/garlic/salt you feel necessary!)

20090808

What I'm Listening To: Pulp


Dear Blogosphere,

I am in love with Pulp these days. This is one of my favorites. Jarvis Cocker has this uber sexy voice (OK, he's pretty sexy in this video, too...) and he plays his guitar a la early Beatles which reminds me of Chris in jazz band. Good times.

Enjoy!

-Natalie

20090805

Cost Comparison

Wheat flour? $0.34/lb
Brown rice flour? $1.89/lb

Wheat bread? $1.09/loaf
Gluten-free bread? $6.00/loaf

Wheat pasta? $0.87/lb
Gluten-free pasta? $3.69/lb

Chocolate chip cookies? $2.69/lb
Gluten-free chocolate chip cookies? $12.83/lb

Wheat crackers? $1.63/lb
Rice crackers? $9.12/lb

...Um, yeah. Pretty scary. These prices are based on the super cool Consumer Price Index. You can see the original article here.

20090804

New Blog and Other Updates


Dear Blogosphere,

I have a new blog entitled "Little Money, Little Time, No Gluten." If you are interested in checking it out, here is the url:gfgrad.blogspot.com

I have been trying to find websites and blogs that focus on eating gluten-free on a budget... and with little time. I wasn't able to find it, so I started my own! It should be helpful to everyone -- unless you have a surplus of money, are a glutenphile, and like to spend hours, even days making dinner.

The other bit of news I have is that I found out my TA assignment! It is a 50% position (meaning 20 hours a week of work) which makes me happy... I think. More money = good, right? The course is Human Sexuality. I took Human Sexuality this spring and loved it. So I am pleased.

Enjoy my blog! Hope your summers are wrapping up nicely!

Lake Tahoe






Dear Blogosphere,

Here are pictures from Lake Tahoe, where I was about a week ago. It was one of the prettiest places I have ever been... possibly the prettiest. Unfortunately, the pictures just don't do it justice.

-Natalie