Sunday, March 27, 2011

Orchid Show


Today I had another science workshop at the Botanical Gardens. Far less interesting than the others, this one was on sticks n' stuff. Observing them. Um. It's brown... and long.... Lucky for us though, the Orchid Show was going on in the Conservatory and our instructor let us into the exhibit for free. Holy Moly! These people know what they are doing. The flowers were bountiful, beautiful, vivid and totally thriving! I am still bewildered at how the botanists (I think that is what the plant people are called) keep such a wide variety of plants alive, and not just alive but perfect. 


I can see your reproductive organs!

Many old people and huge cameras.

These aren't Orchids, but are very cool.

Looks like an architect traced the vein skeleton of these w/
a fuchsia marker. 

See spot blossom.

This Gardenia smelled SO good. It was right at nose level too,
so I just stood there for a few minutes sniffing it. 

Took this one for mom :)

Super cool. I almost bought one, but then realized that they only
live in bogs. I'm not really interested in making a bog in my
living room. 

This is the Jade Vine Orchid. I think it looks
like elves shoes. I also think it is kind of ugly.

Grande Finale of the exhibit. Talk about a chandelier!
Click on the picture and look at it close up. Gorgeous.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I saw the sign, and it opened up my eyes, I saw the sign!

This either means the joke is over, or this is
the coolest kitchen supply store ever.

Grammar is a bitch. 

Energy juice targeted at kids for consumption IN SCHOOL!
This is the work of the devil.

Not sure why...

I wonder what this table was like under old management.
Probably pretty similar.

Who is to say what's reasonable? A pint glass of Makers?
A manhattan? Rail vodka?

One of these adjectives is not like the others:
Elegant, provocative, latex

You go ahead with your bad self, Hawaii.
I'm all for day drinking, too. 

I first thought this was an anti-smog ad. 

Fair enough.

Denver love/hates exercise groups

And now for the cherry on top:






Savasana

Savasana is the final resting pose in yoga. You just lay on your back on the floor and it is the most pristine few moments to soak in all of your hard work and treat yourself to doing nothing. It can be hard to just lay there and not think about the to do list or what to eat as soon as you leave class. One thing New York Sports Center yoga instructors were really good at was talking you through a meditation and helping you visualize a calm, wonderful place. I love taking imagination trips while in savasana and usually go to one of the following three places:

The end of the dock at Craftsbury Sculling Center (aka Family Rowing Camp) in the Northeast Kingdom in Vermont. There are three long, floating, wooden docks used for launching boats into Lake Hosmer. I would usually opt out of the afternoon row in lieu of basking in the sun on the dock, which absorbs the heat from being in the sun. As I laid on the dock, I could see pine trees in the periphery of my vision and bright blue above. Thats it. Quiet. Warmth. Nothingness. The best part was that I could dip my toes in the water, which was usually perfect for toe dipping- not too cold. This usually where I go while in savasana.

The front lawn at 26 Dunkirk road, my home in Baltimore for most of my life. As I lay on the floor, I imagine that I'm laying between our house and our next door neighbor's house in the long, borderline overgrown green grass. Above me I see the Japanese Maple (perfect for climbing) and the pine tree (bad for climbing) entering my line of sight from each side. This one smells like mulch and I probably have dirty feet.

The black sand beach in Waimanu Valley on the Big Island in Hawaii. Surprisingly, this one is not a hot place and the sun comes and goes. It's kept cool by the fog rolling off of the town of Waimea on the cliffs that create the valley. Laying on the beach, facing the ocean, I can see the fog descending from behind and disappearing into the vast ocean and sky beyond the mouth of the valley. The cliffs create a 2,000 foot tall cocoon of greens and browns on either side and the sand is cool and perfectly soft. It is completely silent except for the shuffle of trees against each other behind me and crash of the waves in front of me.

After spending 5 minutes imagining the quality of the quiet or the feeling of the sun, I'm usually ready to face the city with a renewed sense of calm (and find myself walking much slower on the way home).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Updates

How did it get to be the end of March already? I guess time flies when you are having fun fun FUN FUN. Here are some project updates...

Gardening
Harriet knocked the peat pods w/ lettuce seeds off of "her" window sill, so we are no longer growing lettuce. We are growing tomatoes, habanero peppers, and yellow peppers and they are progressing along swimmingly. The tomatoes are excited to be alive and doing the best. They are inside right now, but will move outside in a few weeks. We just got hanging window boxes for them. Exciting!

Beer
We bottled our Summer Farmhouse Ale last week and now all 50 bottles are in the fridge. We have quite the interesting beverage:food ratio (about 2:1 bottles to food units). The bottles have to be in the fridge for 3-4 wks. I hope it tastes good. Our IPA (the one from the BK Brewshop prepackaged mix) is mediocre and varies from bottle to bottle. The Farmhouse Ale had way more TLC put into it though. I'm sure you'll be able to taste it. You better be able to taste it. Tasting party will be in mid April.

Speaking of mid April, I'm looking forward to skipping town for a bit to go see my sister, Clare, in Denver during spring break. Hiking in Breckenridge, yoga (she is getting certified!) and climbing are all on the agenda.

Jewelry
Website done! The line is called Sunlit Projects. Business cards are in the works. My friend Jen is designing and printing them via her side project/printing company, Pete and Berg. It is exciting to work with her on the design. It feels like we are up to something. In cahoots after the work day is done :)

I hope to have a tupperware party style gathering this spring to show some new pieces. Much work to be done on that front, but at the same time, I feel good about the progress I have made since the fall.

Tri Training
Ha. Umm yeah. I have been playing this game with myself called, "Staying Active is Basically like Training." Except that if that were the case, I would be able to run, bike and swim with ease. Time for a reality check!

I have been having a great time rock climbing and practicing yoga and will continue to do so, but have just begun a training plan. 2 runs, 2 bikes and in a month or so, 2 swims per week. I have been biking to work about 2x a week and started doing short runs a few weeks ago. Easing in and hoping to avoid any knee injuries/flare ups. The swim thing requires a little more effort, but I'm going to do a combination of public pools and triathlon training swimming sessions. Translation, combination of super cheap/laid back and pricey/intense.

159 days to go. (Friend's Sharon and Ryan are getting married the day of the Chicago Triathlon. Their wedding countdown is also my triathlon countdown, conveniently located on their wedding website)

Work
I've been going. They've been learning. Kids are getting rowdy. Meetings have met, spring has sprung, hormones are hopping, and test prep is testicular. no. test prep is tormenting. Alliteration is always awesome although agonizing amongst average Americans. We just began our poetry unit and are visiting the Botanical Gardens in 2 weeks to go write Haikus :) In the meantime, I've written a couplet for my students (I free styled the first four lines today in math. Pretty proud of myself. It was an accident.)

Last Period/Everyone Wants to Go Home

You leave me no choice
but to raise my voice.
If you're in a side conversation,
you'll never learn decimal notation.
Oh you don't care?
That you can't subtract bus fare
From your monthly metro card?
If you shut up, its much less hard.  

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Elly Jelly

On Saturday I went out to Coney Island to a professional development workshop at the New York Aquarium. I biked out, which I have done before, but was much easier this time around (having a better sense of Brooklyn from biking to Brooklyn Boulders, cat sitting in Flatbush, to visiting friends in Park Slope certainly helped). After Prospect Park, it's a straight shot down Ocean Parkway, through the Hasidic neighborhoods of Midwood and Gravesend to Coney Island. Being a Saturday morning around 7am, the bike path was packed with families on their way to Temple, decked out in Jewish regalia. I refrained from snapping a pic of a 70 year old man with a cane, in a suit, yarmulke, and tallit, attempting to hop a fence from the street to the bike path and using both hands to lift his second leg over the fence. Though he was struggling, he looked like he had done it before, so I did not stop to see if he needed help. 

And you thought Avenue D was out of the way...
The beach and boardwalk were pristine. Looked nothing like the sea of people that I know from mid summer Coney Island on a Saturday, crowded with obese people in tank tops, double fisting corn dogs and funnel cake. Everything was closed and the rides were empty, which sounds kid of sad, but wasn't. It felt more like spying on what Coney Island does when no one is paying attention. Locals were power walking and old people were bundled up and walking hand in hand down the boardwalk. Very cute.

8:00 am. Who knew Coney Island was beautiful?

Deserted boardwalk. 
The workshop was on Elly Jelly, a jellyfish (now called sea jellies because they aren't really fish, they're cnidarians) character and her ocean friends. Elly Jelly, the story, was lame. Appropriate for 1st grade. 4th graders won't buy it. However, the jellyfish exhibit was beautiful. Very calming to watch jellyfish undulate in their bright blue tanks (see the video at the bottom). We were taught that undulate is the correct word to describe their movement- not flap or pump or contract. Undulate.
Ice breaker activity on the beach- graphing w/ people as the data.
Will definitely use this w/ my class.

Navy + bright green + seahorses = put it on a wrap dress, DVF 
We hit the aquarium exhibit early before the families got there. Genius plan. We had the place to ourselves. I stood in front of the Western Sea Nettle tank for a full five minutes just watching the pink and purple patterns change and the tentacles trail along behind like ribbons. Gonna getcha ribbons full of poision, but beautiful nonetheless. I also enjoyed watching the dwarf caiman aka miniature alligator. He didn't blink or move the whole time I watched him. As I sketched him (for my worksheet of course), I began to doubt that he was alive. He could have easily been a high quality rubber alligator like, from FAO Schwarz or something.

After lunch, we got a behind the scenes tour of the Coral nursery and Sea Jelly labs. I can't remember the last time I was in a science lab. It was cool to see science going on in real life. I often wonder where science happens, like when you say you want to "grow up and be a scientist." Where does that happen and what it looks like? I guess on CSI in the forensics labs. And if you work for Pfizer, but who wants to do that?

Laboratory
Mini Nemos!

Coral nursery. The center/biggest ones have taken 3 months to
grow from a 1" cutting

Jellies have to live in a round tank or they will get stuck in the
corners and die. Stupid Jellies. Get a brain. These are Japanese Jellies
We rounded out the day by writing poems, doing crafts and watching some videos about anemone. I was surprisingly exhausted and super cranky coming home in the cold. Biking in traffic wasn't helping the frustration level. I collided with the Prospect Park Farmer's Market and took a time out for a cookie and apple cider. 10 minutes of people watching and a little snack and I was back to feeling like a happy person again!

Love watching jellyfish:

video

Thursday, March 10, 2011

GO CUSE!

let's go or-ange! (clap clap clapclapclap)

Big East Basketball Tournament this week. Cuse plays St. Johns today at 2. I'll be teaching decimals while totally wishing I had a $9 Bud Light in hand at Madison Square Garden. GO CUSE! For what's sure to be a sure to be in depth analysis of the game, check out my friend Mike's blog: http://orangehatblog.blogspot.com 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Field Trips

I just went on a Field Trip booking Frenzy. Here is whats on our schedule this spring:

March- Sony Wonder Technology Lab
April- NY Botanical Garden, NY Hall of Science
May- California Pizza Kitchen for How To Pizza Lessons, Wave Hill
June- Yankee Stadium, MOMA, Central Park, Possibly the Frying Pan for an end of year party

Field trips rule because many of my kids don't get to see their city. They know their neighborhood and they know New York City rules because I mean really, there are t-shirts that say "New York Fuckin City." How can you not have heard? But they can't tell you the really awesome things to see and do. I like to give them some things that they'll remember for awhile. I mean, in addition to being able to multiply multidigit numbers (ohh yeah)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Homebrew


Zach and I are in the midst of our third beersperiment. Our first two have been pretty straight forward. One of them was almost prepackaged. I bought it from the Whole Foods beer store and you just follow the directions. Over winter break though, Zach asked me to go pick up the ingredients for our next beer at Brooklyn Homebrew in Gowanus. I thought I was just going to walk in to the store and say something along the lines of, "Uh yeah, that one looks good." And pay for some stuff and leave. Turns out there is a lot more to it than that.

First you pick the beer that you want to make out of a recipe book. I wanted something that was more than the typical ale or wheat beer. I wanted something delicious like Magic Hat #9. I wound up sitting on a footstool flipping through a beer clone magazine. It was pretty crazy looking at and trying to read the recipes for some of my favorite  breweries. They had recipes from Long Trail in VT and Lefthand Brewery in Colorado.

Malt bins

Now the ball is in my court. We are going to make 50 bottles of this stuff, so I needed to figure out what I'd like to drink this spring. As I'm faced with this question of What is your favorite kind of beer? I can't answer it. I've had lots and lots of beer and lots of kinds of beer, but I can't decide. I try process of elimination. Not porters. Not stouts. Not wheat beers. Not lagers. Not sure what Bocks are, Do I like Scottish Reds? I like Ales... but not all ales... Long Trail, Magic Hat and Red Seal are my 3 favorite beers and they're all ales.... Hm. It sounds so boring saying, "I just really love an ale."But, I do. So I chose the Saison Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale Clone. It has cardamom, orange peel and coriander in it. Along with 2 kids of hops and 3 kinds of malt.

You order the hops at a counter. I ordered Strisslespalt, though
not with a straight face because that is a funny word.


On day one you do the boil. This took about 3 hours, start to finish with all of the sanitizing of tools, heating and cooling of water and steeping of delicious components. For the first two hours, our apartment smelled like fresh baked bread while we made the mash. Then after we added the hops and spices it smelled like potpourri. After the boil was complete, we cooled the liquid and put it into the 6.5 gallon carboy. We had to aerate the liquid after adding the yeast, so Zach and I sat on the living room floor for about 15 minutes trying to vigorously shake a two foot tall glass container full of liquid w/o a lid. Twas an interesting sight to see. I'd say we were pretty successful. Now it sits for a week then goes into bottles for 3-4. Tasting party will be on the first nice Saturday in April.

Below is a video of the wort (the liquid that we made that will become our beer) on Day 2 of fermentation. Yeast is crazy!


video