Sunday, June 22, 2014

Hummus Revamped

Tonight we tried hummus again but altered the recipe to our taste and avoided the IPA.

Here's the new (and much more tasty, in my opinion) recipe:

1 can of drained and rinsed garbanzo beans
4 tablespoons tahini
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup very finely diced tomatoes
1/8 cup very finely diced jalapenos
2 tablespoons freshly minced basil
cayenne pepper (to taste)
paprika (to taste)
ground pepper (to taste)

In food processor, blend garbanzo beans, tahini, and olive oil until smooth. Add spices. Spoon into serving bowl and fold in tomatoes and jalapenos.

Lucky Friday the 13th

There is nothing that compares to waking up in the woods and the process of getting ready for bed is what makes it all the more rewarding. Brushing your teeth around the fire pit under the blanket of stars, when the cool night air has creeped its way into camp, then sleeping-bag-cocooning yourself after quietly crawling into the tiny door of your highlighter orange, nylon tent, trying to avoid simultaneously blinding your "roommate" with the headlamp perched on your crown while using said headlamp to avoid trampling your unsuspecting snoozing friend with your new L.L. Bean hiking boots

We ventured out of Richland Friday night to watch my godfather/super cool uncle play a show at a tap room called "The Phat House" in Spokane. About an hour out of Richland, trees began popping up alongside us, the hills became more pronounced and suddenly, we found ourselves in coniferous rolling mountains, reasonable temperatures, and moisture in the air. I felt like I could finally breath leaving behind the dry suffocating heat of the Tri-cities. After driving aimlessly in circles for about 20 minutes upon entering Spokane, we realized we had been driving around the tiny slate blue house that was the Phat House, shadowed by the interstates bridge, the entire time. We were welcomed by red coca cola umbrellas crookedly perched on their bases, sporadically scattered about the front porch and we snuck in, receiving much needed hugs from aunt Joan and my younger cousin, Jacob as Joe was playing master story of telling, as per usual, on stage. 

My uncle Joey, musically known as, The Wrong Omar, is a one man band of sorts who plays  guitar, harmonica, tambourine on one foot, bass drum on the other and sings simultaneously.
Tell me this probably isn't the coolest person you will ever meet
Joe's not only a fantastic musician but an incredible performer and has a witty story that accompanies almost every song. I have listened to some of these stories what seems like a thousand times and every time, without fail, I am totally and completely engrossed, even eager to hear punchlines I've heard before. When I was younger, we would pop in his c.d. on long road trips and every time I am lucky enough to hear him play, especially hearing his classics a.k.a Ms Ellie or Monopoly, I can close my eyes and imagine, staring out the window sleepy eyed  in the back seat of the minivan as we made our way back from Quetico into a sea of black studded with twinkling city lights.

After Joe finished playing, we stole my cousin Jacob and followed my aunt and uncle to our campsite in the nine mile wilderness of Washington. The Honey moon glowed ethereally above us as we sped through the hills with windows rolled down and chilly night air keeping us awake. In a sort of "Travis Moser camping trip" turn of events, we ended up driving around for an extra hour searching for our campground and finally found it around midnight. We finished the night with I.P.As, pink lady apples, and a type of cheese that's name is momentarily lost to me but was cheese so delicious nonetheless, and began a year's worth of catching up under the stars.

If you want to listen to some of my uncles music:

Monday, June 9, 2014

A week and a half later...

After three staggeringly slow, stale, days of training, the past, first whole week at work was a refreshingly busy turn of events. Wanting to prepare us for beginning our projects next Monday (eep!) we jumped into a slew of molecular techniques and lab protocols and as Elsa, one the senior scientists explained DNA extraction to us Tuesday afternoon, I'm sure she was staring at 4 glassy eyed interns with slow drips of drool tumbling from our open mouths. Whether it was in either sheer excitement or overwhelming fear of touching expensive equipment in a national lab, well that I'm not sure. Much to our surprise, our first DNA extraction of parking lot soil was not the burning trail of broken micropipettes and self-contaminated DNA samples that we all foresaw. (to our utter shock and disappointment we weren't playing with pathogens our first day in lab). The three other interns, although, much older than myself, are a great time, and always looking to help one another out.  Pleasingly different from the competitive U of M atmosphere I've become accustomed to.

Joe is 32 and from New Jersey. He studied Psychology in undergrad and now is looking to get a masters in Bio technology. He is tall with a mop of dark curls, a hoop earring in each ear, and a HILARIOUS laugh and sense of humor. He's super laid back and will be a great time to work with.

Whitney is 25 and from the Tri-city area. She is tiny, Hispanic, and when she smiles, her eyes crinkle up into teeny crescent moons and it's the most adorable thing on the planet. She has two little girls who take the cake on some of the cutest kids I have ever seen, which I know because I may, or may not have hardcore creeped on her Facebook... She's already established herself as the office mother and last Friday brought us in snacks to have around for when we get hungry. She's the best.

Finally, Beren is also 32 and from the Tri-city area. He is tall (ok, everyone's tall to me) with light sandy hair, glasses, and his favorite three words are probably "peace", "groovy", and "sugar". Least to say, he is a riot and has a wonderfully quirky personality. Additionally, and much to my benefit, he has an awesome taste in music and has been funneling me all sorts of fantastic bands I haven't heard of before just in the past week. I am basking in the riches of all sorts of new good music my friends. He also plays bass in a local band called Citizen Hi Fi which is a bluesy sort of rock and roll group with some great sounds. They are on Spotify and I definitely recommend giving them a look.

In a week filled with dirty pipette tips, ethanol soaked gloves and UV light mania, I have an inkling I will be learning more than I could hope and working with some awesome people this summer.

Ahaheim pepper
Our "cheeky" little Green pepper 

This past week, Trevor and I FINALLY began our garden, and with little Internet knowledge, and hearts full of hope (plus a wallet with $100 from the best grandparents ever) we made our way over to a local nursery in Richland and bought two zucchini plants, one golden tomato, one green and one yellow pepper, and four hot peppers (Serrano, jalapeno, Poblano, and Anaheim) in addition to a gigantic bag of chicken manure starter soil that smelled particularly "fresh". We returned with our goods and dumped them in front of the patch of garden space we hoped to transform into a jungle of fresh vegetables and stared into the soul sucking patch of earth that was so cracked, rocky, and dry, it made you thirsty just looking at it. After some TLC and a lot of "I don't know what we're doing..." "was this supposed to get direct sunlight?", "WHY ARE THERE SO MANY FUCKING ROCKS?", and "Oh, the hose isn't working? Let me see it." (which was possibly an evil plan to douse my older brother with water) we found ourselves with something along the lines of a garden. The learning curve with the climate here is a little steep and we had to discover very sorry looking zucchini to decide to water it twice a day, in which after watering it we both swear it had perked up in minutes. Upon digging up our sorry patch of soil we found at least 20 (what we think were) tulip bulbs and two tiny succulents. We relocated the tiny guys to the tops of Trevor's speakers in the living room and so far, they are doing pretty well.

 Saturday night involved a little disc golfing with a friend of Trevor's from PNNL
I sucked at disc golfing, nothing has changed
Finally, Sunday night, we made homemade jalapeno, IPA, Hummus. Here's the recipe we used:

  • 2 fresh jalapenos, stemmed, seeded and chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 3 tbs tahini
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced (about 1 tbs)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup IPA Beer 

The tahini was a paste made from sesame seeds and olive oil, 1/4 cup oil to every cup of seeds, ground in the food processor until smooth. We actually used the coffee bean grinder as the seeds were too fine for the food processor and there may have been still worked this morning though I swear...

Here's links with further directions to both recipes

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

First day of work + ... first day of ultimate Frisbee?


Can't tell you guys much because top secret government shit, or I'm just really lazy, other than I did about four hours of computer online training and it was wild. End scene.

Trevor didn't get home from Seattle until much later than expected so I went with our duplex neighbor, Ben, to play ultimate frisbee down at the park. The group we played with was nothing short of comical, they call themselves, The Desert Lorax, and one man who they referred to as "Swede" had to be in the range of 60-70, was indeed Swedish, an aerospace engineer, and he rode a motorcycle. It is safe to say I think I just met the coolest person of my life. Oh, and he was the boss at ultimate.

The day was great, the people were good, and I'm trying to prolong breaking everything at the lab for as long as possible.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Birthday Boy goes for a hike

Today marks 24 years of T-man being alive and we celebrated with a hike in the Blue Mountains in Umatilla National Forest near Dayton, WA, about two hours away from Richland. The birthday gods played in Trevor's favor and our weather, although the pictures don't show it, was a very mild 70ish degrees, sunny, and blue skies, perfect for a day hike. We hiked about seven miles with some pretty steep uphill. Again, I discovered how terribly out of hiking shape I am; Washington has been honest with me, guys. Trevor and I were both badly sunburned (don't tell mom) regardless of wearing sunscreen. My farmer's tan is not to be competed with.
I apologize for the terribly over-edited pictures, I had no choice because I discovered not only was my camera battery dead upon arriving to Washington, but I had also left the charger at home. Good to know I haven't lost my forgetful qualities over the years. Bear with my shitty i-pod pictures until June.

Herp derp birthday hike

I forgot to weave....

We ended the night with Gladiator and a rhubarb strawberry pie which turned out edible. We used Mom's rhubarb she grew from home and sent with me when I left. I would've liked to use more rhubarb in the recipe but unfortunately 2 cups is all I had. Next time I'd like to do higher ratio of rhubarb to strawberries but the bitterness of the rhubarb still came through. Here's the recipe I used that my awesome roommate from last year, Megan Satterfield, gave to me.

3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
2 cups rhubarb
3 cups strawberries
1 teaspoon of Cinnamon

1 pre-made pie crust (I suck I know, not home made)

Trevor contributes to the blog, take two (and out writes me in 1/8 of the words):
Serendipitously celebrating circumstantial subsistence. Solicitously swaggering the sweeping slopes of southern state. Semblance of simplicity? No, some sense of surreal survival in spite of silly alliteration.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

For Mom

The notorious floral overalls- mom's old ones  

Trevor and I also tried out the new grill (one of his birthday gifts from my parents): Zucchini and red peppers obviously, but also a spicy beef thing of sorts, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes
herp derp grilling is hot

Today I met Chris

Trevor had to go into the lab today (wtf I am never doing a PhD) so I rode my bike to Roasters, a local coffee shop that he recommended to me with the caveat "It's really good, but it's like, the high school hangout." So far, they've played a lot of Alt-J and Vampire Weekend so I swear they knew I was coming. It's an eclectic, indie style coffee shop (whoa, that's new) BUT they have a huge garage door that they open when it's nice out, which is literally all the time. It was a nice place to hangout for the day. 

I was sitting reading yet another research paper and noticed a guy that, I kid you not, looked exactly like Buster from Arrested development (except for he had both of his hands) kind of awkwardly looking at my computer. He then sat at the closest table possible to me, in the shop. After a couple minutes, he stood up and pointed to my computer.

Photo for reference, I'm pretty sure he was wearing that exact shirt

Buster looking man- "What painting is that?"

me, laughing because I already know this is going to be the most awkward conversation of my life- "Starry Night, by Van Gogh, you like?"

Buster looking man, not making eye contact- "Oh, yeah, huh huh, (HE SERIOUSLY LAUGHED LIKE THAT WITH A STRAIGHT FACE, I'M NOT KIDDING.) you must be an art major then"

me- "Nope, microbiology"

Buster looking man, into his iced snickers latte- "mmasdfsfrff"

me- "Uh, what?"

Buster looking man, into his iced snickers latte, again- "I just said thatmsldkfs too"

me- "haaaa....sorry I am pretty hard of hearing, one more time"

Buster looking manthis time making eye contact(!)- "Oh...I just said, that's fitting too."

I then introduced myself and he said his name was Chris and he joined me at my tiny table. We talked for about 15 minutes. Chris was born in  Seattle and moved to the Tri-cities as an infant but has a strong distaste for his hometown. He prefers Portland and told me if I go anywhere on the other side of the mountains, go there. He also indulged me with his most recent breakup. He was seeing a girl who is a PhD physicist at PNNL working on electron microscopy (which then led into a tangent about Trevor). He said when she told him she was a PhD physicist he "was like whoaaaaa, I just have my A.A. over here." I then tried to ensure Chris, I bet he was plenty smart and asked him if he worked nearby.

Chris- "Oh yah but I get bored a lot so I just leave. They always say, "Chris are you going to get more caffine? Are you bored again? and I say, "uh huh" huhhuhhuh."

He then politely and abruptly excused himself and told me it was nice meeting me, and returned to work. I returned to Iodine isotope 129.

Happy Saturday Guys.

Even when it's cold it's hot.

Friday morning involved more exploring and little relief from the heat here. I ran only four miles and the sweat return was not equal to the work being done, let me tell you. This dry heat is a different beast and I realized I more or less have to double my water intake, otherwise sad cells, yanno?
Late in the afternoon, it cooled off to around 73 and rained a little which was a pleasant surprise. Trevor got out of work and we rode bikes to one of the many parks located along the Columbia river trail to play soccer with a group that plays every Friday. It was an eclectic group of people, a couple men in the range of 40-50 and the rest in the age range of Trevor and I. Needless to say, I was the only girl and it showed. I am pretty rusty on the field and HOLY CRAP I AM NOT QUICK ANYMORE. Apparently two years of long runs and lifting does not make you speedy. I need to work on that. Regardless it was a great time playing, even if it was with, as Trevor put it, with a couple "washed up high school soccer stars".
Tonight, there was supposed to be a meteor shower around 11 pm here, which I had wanted to go someplace cool to see with the brother bear but Trevor went to bed around 10:00. I snuck out to our backyard at 11 to watch alone but couldn't see anything, so watching a meteor shower was sadly not crossed off my bucket list.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Day 1: Go West, young man

I was welcomed to Washington with a vibrant pink and purple sunset in the last hour of the flight and landed around 9:20 pm in a blanket of black hills and city lights of Pasco, about 20 minutes east of Richland.Trevor greeted me in baggage claim in the most affectionate way that Trevor knows how, he strolled up from behind and stood next to me until I noticed his presence. I turned to give him a big bear squeeze when I noticed a brown fleck in his eye accompanied by some serious red irritation:

Me- "What's up with your eye dude"
Trevor- "I dunno, I think I'm going to go to the emergency room after I drop you at the house"

and that was probably the most appropriate commencement to my summer with Trevor in Washington. 

To those of you that I haven't already bombarded with my excitement for the summer, I (somehow) acquired an undergraduate internship at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, WA (Trevor is working on his PhD in the same lab). I am working for Dr. M. Hope Lee, who is an Oceanographer/Environmental Engineer/Microbiologist. I've had several conversations via phone and email for her and I'm pretty excited to work with her, especially after her summary of government lab dress code primarily entailed, "don't wear shirts with  "I hate the government" and "I have a bomb"."

The project I'm helping with is studying the mechanisms and microbes involved in the cycling of Iodine isotope 129 in the environment. Needless to say I have been reading research papers and interwebbing out the wazoo because, well, I don't know anything. Hopefully I don't break too many things in the lab and avoid sucking at everything too much.  

Trevor lives in a small, two-person, "duplex" which is one of the homes that was built in the 1950's with the population boom during the Cold War as  Richland was a quickly growing city as it was home to the Hanford nuclear site, a portion of the Manhattan Project.  Most of the homes in the surrounding neighborhoods are one of two layouts when housing was being mass produced. Trevor's place is quite open and very "airy", especially due to Trevor's minimalistic style of decor...
My favorite part of the place is there is more beer than food in the refrigerator.  

My first morning in, I rode my NEW, AWESOME, road bike to work with Trevor to become familiar with the ride and explore a little bit. At around 8 am it was in the 70's and apparently this is very mild weather for the Tri-city area. I'm probably going to melt this summer. It's very dry climate here unlike the Seattle rain forest that most associate with Washington and it's what I would consider to be scrub land? Richland is located right on the Columbia so there is a fair amount of vegetation and some big old trees down by the river, thank god. I already found my favorite tree which I will have to share with you all later.

Here's the new beauty herself:

I explored the city a little bit by bike this morning while Trevor was at work. All the streets in the Manhattan engineering district are named after U.S. Army members of the Corps of Engineers and the streets corners have tiny "plaques" of sorts with a small description. Around our neighborhood there is a crumbling strip mall with a haphazard collection of stores like "Bible Shoppe" and  "Emerald of Siam Thai Restaurant" which looks fairly sketchy and I am determined to eat there. I then rode the same work route as the morning but stopped at a pavilion of sorts on top of a hill by the Columbia and read some research papers, but mostly napped. All in all, a pretty okay first day.
This was Trevor's contribution to the blog today:

lol poo