Monthly Archives: July 2009

How does my Garden grow? No really, how? Part 1

So, I’ve been lax this winter. I didn’t weed at all and my garden ended up looking like this:


Eeek. That’s a few hours work with a pitchfork, and I know (from experience, heh) that dumping dirt on top of things like that doesn’t generally stop them growing.

So I covered the plot in plastic.

Sort of.


As you can see my garbage bags were not quite big enough, so some improvising happened. Very ad-hoc. Hopefully the lack of sun will kill off at least some of that growth. Or provide an interesting study of black plastic in a high UV environment, you know, either way. (New Zealand has a high UV index).

In the meantime- newspaper pots!


Oh so sophisticated. 1. Cram newspaper around mold 2. tape in place 3. fill with dirt and seed 4. allow to sprout on waterproof something. 5.plant

Not sure how many to make really. This is just 12 and obviously still need dirt and seeds.


I’m going to start the garden with tomatoes, eggplant, and assorted squashes including spaghetti summer, and zucchini. I can plant the tomatoes and eggplant in August, but will get good sized plants of the others before setting out. Probably in October. Not sure if I want to get a few beets in (I’d be the only one eating them), and since I don’t have that much space not sure about broccolis or cabbage either especially as those tend to be cheap year round.

I also need to fence it off as the dogs like to hop in there from the deck. Also Toby pees on things because that’s what boy dogs do.

To take advantage of more sun I’m going to get a bit vertical. I plan to sew something like this from some canvas stuff I bought at the fabric store. I can grow some herbs and such in there and maybe some larger things in the bottom. I think green onions, basils, chilis, parsley and try for cilantro at the very least. I may also keep some other things in there like smaller tomato plants or spinach.

More when I get dirt (and seeds, and that grass monster in the garden plot dies)!

Pretzels, StumbleUpon and watching what I eat.

This morning I stumbled on on this pretzel recipe.

Mmm <insert Homer Simpson drooling noise here>. Soft pretzels.

Things I have serious weaknesses for: Gingersnap cookies, peanut butter and jelly, and soft pretzels.

Ok, there may be some other things.

So I decided to make some. Of course by the time I got around to looking at the recipe in detail they had to be part of dinner. Instead of doubling the recipe I halved it because I don’t have good control in regards to things with flour. Rolls, breads etc right out of the oven..? I have to restrain myself and I don’t like having things I need to restrain myself from eating in the house. Also it doesn’t seem to be particularly good for me. As it was, 2 pretzels giving me 450 calories of simple carbohydrates and saturated fat, eh… Sometimes food indeed.

Here is how they turned out (with the other ingredients of my meal on tiny plate: a hamburger with edam, mustard, and not shown because I ate it, a carrot). As for the process the original blog does it fine justice picture and direction wise. I kind of sucked at rolling them out.


(My camera does not do the close up pictures so good, eh?)

Ended up being kind of a huge portion of my calories. Oh well.


(I love this thing, have I mentioned that yet?)

Considering this is my usual dinner…


So, thanks StumbleUpon for giving me recipes and allowing me to track what I eat.

Yogurt chicken

Or something. Been eating a fair amount of beef lately (because the store had a good sale of $5 per kg for hamburger and the beef here is much less fatty, so yum) but was wanting some chicken. After all I could probably eat beans and rice and beef and onion all the time, but I like other things too.

So, feeling particularly hungry (it’s lunchtime and I’m making dinner) I grabbed us 3 drumsticks each.


I mixed up some plain yogurt with cinnamon, salt, garlic and dill seeds. The key word here is some. I’d estimate maybe a cup of plain (nonfat) yogurt (it’s been sitting in my fridge for a bit as the last batch of homemade turned out watery), 1/8 tsp cinnamon, and a large pinch of dill seeds. I garlic-pressed 2 smallish cloves (2 small or one large) into the mix as well. Also maybe 1/4 tsp salt? Stir that all up as best you can. The cinnamon will not stir too well.


I spooned the mix over my (fresh out of the freezer-soo lazy) chicken.


Don’t forget the pepper!


This will sit in the oven (not on) until time for dinner to start cooking. This gives it a chance to marinate a teeny bit and for the chicken to defrost.

And all done:


Slightly better picture:


This turned out nice. It was tangy, almost lemony, with dill tones.

Gaining some letters

So I think I’m going to apply to graduate school. Not sure exactly how it will be paid for, but I figure if I can find an advisor I have a fair chance of getting funding as I have already written up a decent proposal/outline and thesis chapter type things. Lots of if’s going around in my head though.

Is it a good idea? What are my exit career options? I don’t want to be a professor type as it has always looked like work that takes you away from lab work. All that finding money, and supervising people and teaching, of course, isn’t terribly exciting to me. Not something I’m interested in. Around here at least there seems to be positions that require a doctorate that aren’t professor track. More like one ends up working for a commercial entity as a pet scientist. I guess that would be ok.

I’m also worried about funding. If I could find a job (another if) I could expect probably 40k per year (take home would be around 31k I think?), whereas max funding for being a PhD student if I could get any would be take home 26k. I guess that isn’t a huge difference. With my potential income we were planning on saving almost all of it toward future house building down payment. It behooves me to find something that at least pays. I’m more worried about not getting funding as that would be 5k expense per year just for tuition stuff and that’s about the lower range of what we are saving currently. Me bringing in money:good; me causing money to go out: not so good.

I just applied for a job in one of the labs I’m planning to contact in regards to my research. Is that awkward?

Hi, I just applied for a job with you and I know you probably didn’t even consider hiring me, but I’d now like to be your student. Stalker? Me? Nooo…

I somehow don’t imagine I’ll get the job because of the lack of NZ experience thing, and because the past however many jobs I applied for I either didn’t get a response or got a flat no with no interview even.  Funnily enough they would probably be happy to have me as a student. I have fairly good qualifications and experience, but the cultural thing of hiring people with NZ experience outweighs any benefits I would bring to the job. I’m also not sure what the job pool for people with my qualifications is like. I kind of wonder if this area has a glut of science-y lab types or something. Anyhow, the closing date was Friday the 17th. I applied when the position opened (about 2-3 weeks ago), and have been thinking about this grad school thing seriously for maybe 1 week. It took me less than a week to formulate a research plan, so, hey that’s something. Or not. So I’d expect my rejection fairly soon. I’m not sure if for that particular lab I ought to wait for the rejection (or for a week which ever comes first) before contacting them in regards to being a student.  Am I moving too fast out of being motivated by boredom?

Then there are other things that make me wonder if this is a poorly conceived plan.  Our general future plans etc.  But if I don’t get a job that isn’t helping either.

Pros include: something to do, gaining local contacts, meeting people, changing my skill set to something locally beneficial.

Potential pros include: possible funding stipend, better salary on exit

Potential cons include: not getting funding

Cons: most of the people that would make better advisors are at another university far away (where they are also many more jobs for me, go figure)

Well, looks like the actual pros outweigh most anything. I do wonder if considering graduate school mainly because I can’t find a job/am bored is really wise though.


Time to actually make a soup post I think. I have been eating some variation on this all winter so far. Warm and cheap and generally nutritious.

So here is what went into this batch.


Carrots- 2 large

Onions-1 and a half

Cabbage-1/3 to 1/2 small head. I usually use 1/4 large head so ended up with more than usual in this batch.

Potato- 1 medium

Blue peas- 2/3 cup dry (these are some southern hemisphere thing as far as I can tell. Just peas, but a bit higher in protein)

Split peas- 2/3 cup dry

Garlic- 6 cloves (you’d think it’s a lot, but the potato absorbs most of the flavor really)

Ginger- 1 small knob sliced up (so precise!). Less if you don’t like crunching on ginger.

Pepper and salt


Lamb neck chops- 3


I bought a lot of them because that’s what the store had. Last several weeks of soup were goat based, and sometimes beef, sometimes chicken.

As for the other ingredients I mix up some things, but generally always cabbage, carrots, garlic, onions, potato, ginger. I often make the soup without peas, I tried rice once but it cooked into sludge, and beans don’t work because beans need to be soaked-rinsed-cooked-rinsed otherwise they cause the gas.

Ready to cook for hours (I also add around 3L of water) This is before water in a 5.5L pot. Lotsa veggies.


Yum. When done it goes in a giant tupperware box thing and in the fridge. Makes about 7 large bowls full. Glenn wont eat it because he doesn’t like vegetables, so it’s mine…alll mine.

Generally when it is done I need to fish around and debone (and sometimes defat) the meat chunks.

Sewing with old clothes

So I had this shirt I liked. I wore it as a regular shirt for a while but after a while it migrated to being a gym shirt. Unfortunately after many months as a gym shirt it kind of developed a ground in stink. Washing and baking soda soaks did nothing and wearing it to the gym became impractical (and stinky).

So I ripped the seams out and used it as a pattern to make a new shirt. (Seam rippers are a great thing)


As you can see it was a pretty standard V-neck tee. It kind of fit (which none of my clothes do these days due to me shrinking out of them), thus it’s popularity. I think I bought it at Walmart for $5. Maybe $3.

However, I have tons of this lovely bamboo fabric that I brought and I wanted something to wear made out of it (next project is sheets, then possibly undergarments-whee!)

I decided to make the sleeves both longer than they originally were, and a different color than the body of the shirt. Since for some reason I can’t upload the pictures here or Flickr or ImageShack (been trying since last night) I’ll just tell you they are brownish. And about elbow length. I finally got them to upload using the browser uploader rather than the flash version. Maybe I need to update Flash?


The original shirt was a v neck, but I just went with a scoop neck (front and back the same), though after I was done sewing it is really more of a boat neck. Once again, no pics. The body of the shirt is white by the way.


One of the shoulders ended up a little funky and of course I suck at hemlines (especially on stretchy fabric), but overall worked fairly well. Mainly I need practice since this was the first time ever using my brand new sewing machine. Did I mention I realized I had no pins?…so I used needles. I had a bunch of them for some reason.


I think this could work for ugly-fabric-nice-pattern items from thrift stores.

If I ever get those pictures to work I’ll add them. Otherwise I may include a picture of the finished shirt at some point