ru: (science geek)
As some of you already know, herbaria hold a special place in my heart for their general awesomeness. I think, however, that this video made by the New York Botanical Garden says it all as to why I find herbaria so fascinating.
ru: (Default)
For those of you in more northern climates who are still fighting out of winter, I PROMISE spring is coming. It's definitely warming itself up here. Usually it's heralded around here by the smell of dead fish, thanks to the twelve BILLION Bradford pears planted by all the landscaping companies, but there are also other, quieter little heralds.

While walking to where I get picked up in the evening, a rather shocking bit of color caught my eye. I looked up, and saw a redbud tree full of closed flower buds that were the most intense shade of magenta I think I've ever seen, particularly when placed against the grey the sky had taken on this afternoon. The tree was also sporting some leftover pods from last year, small, delicate, and almost silver. If I ever got a free trip to Fairy Land, I imagine there would be trees like this everywhere. And chocolate rivers. Gotta have chocolate rivers in a fairy land.

And there are subtler signs too. I took a walk around the yard this evening to see how things were doing. The mint is fixing to make a busting comeback, putting out little tiny rosettes all through the herb bed. The tulips are still breaking through the soil, thick and smooth and a lovely sea green. The Japanese magnolia has put out dark purple flower buds that should open very soon. The sinocalycalycanthus (no, I didn't make that up) is putting out thick black buds that I had to brush my hand against to make sure they were an actual sign of life. In a few weeks they should start putting out tiny, delicate leaves that look like they're carved out of bright green crystal.

I really love this time of year. Everything has so much potential, and I love watching everything gear up for another season.

On that note, LETTUCES. I want to do some sort of leafy green this year. I don't know why. But darn it, I want lettuces. I should look into that.
ru: (book and flower)
And now, some random updates and tidbits. <3

While I am still, of course, still all about the knitting, lately I feel like I've been having an affair with my spindle. I got ahold of multiple samples of different blends of yarn, and I have been a spinning fool as a result. In the evening I would want to rush home so I could pull out the spindle and try a new fiber out. It's been great practice, and I have lots of teeny selections of yarn that I could use on little projects. I do wish, however, that I could spin a yarn with an even weight. Maybe that will come with more practice. Don't worry, knitting, it all comes back to you, you'll have lots of new yarns to play with soon. <3

When I have been knitting, I have been all about the hats. I'm expecting something of a minor baby tsunami later this year, due to my parents' coworkers apparently all feeling the need to procreate all at once, so I've been using this as a good excuse to make baby hats. It's actually kind of fun, and nice for instant gratification. I've made a stripey hat, a milk hat that came out WAY too big and will probably go to my cousin, and an eggplant hat. Yep, an eggplant hat. It's a hat that looks like an eggplant. I'm going to need to make the recipients aware of the fact that I'm going to want pictures of babies in hats. I demand to see eggplant hat in action. I've also still been working on the Citron shawl. I'm hoping I'll have enough yarn to make it the size I want it to be, as I think the yardage is starting to get low, but I'll need to get a bit further into it before I can be sure.

On the cooking front, yesterday Eien-chan and I got experimental and we made what basically amounts to avocado pudding. To those of you in Kingdom, amazingly, this is not something Alice dreamed up (although I wouldn't put it past her XD). It's actually Brazilian, and it's surprisingly good. Basically it involves taking avocados, mashing them up, mixing in lime juice, and letting the mixture sit in the fridge for at least half an hour. During that time, the acid in the lime juice breaks down the avocado, making it smoother and creamier. You serve it up with sugar so people can adjust the sweetness accordingly. It really doesn't taste all that avocado-y, and comes off more like a lime pudding. I think the next time, I should try adding some whipped cream. Mmm, whipped cream.

In the realm of the garden, we're starting to gear up for the growing season. The tulips I planted last fall are coming up, and we've got some new plants to go into the front yard, including some daisies, a lilac, and a couple rosemary plants to replace our huge rosemary bush, which tragically up and died over the winter. I'm still not entirely sure what caused it. I've started thinking about what to put in the beds for growing. I still want us to construct a fourth box for pumpkins and cucumbers so that they can fight it out, gladiator-style, and we can have delicious cucumbers and pie pumpkins. I'd love to add dill and lavender to the herb box, the former because I like it, the latter because I could use it in soaps and the like. I also really want to try out growing some edible flowers. I got a cookbook a couple months ago that has lots of recipes that use flowers and other more peripheral edible plants, which I would love to try out. We'll see how that goes.
ru: (Default)
I'm probably going to regret it in my thighs tomorrow, but for now I'm going to be AWFULLY proud of myself. A couple weeks ago I attended the local arboretum's annual plant giveaway. This event is an exercise in controlled chaos--a mass of plant lovers and a mess of plants, all essentially free, minus what you pay in arboretum membership of course. They've got it to the point where it's fairly well controlled, but it's still a frantic sight to behold.

In the end I came out with ten happy fun plants, including something called a bronze loquat, which I think produces fruit after a fashion, some new butterfly bushes, an unusual lavender, an elderberry (not sure if it's edible or not, though.), and some Cotoneasters, which supposedly produce red berries and will hopefully attract the waxwings we supposedly have in the area. And today, with the exception of the lavender, which I planted last week, I got them all in the ground, with a little help from Dad to dig the big holes, and a lot of non-help from Arnold, digging dachshund extraordinaire, who was more apt to get in the way of my trowel, attempt to garrote the plant I had just planted with his rope, or, in his enthusiasm for dirt, dig in the pile of dirt next to the freshly excavated hole, dumping it back in in the process. I also managed to plant some tulip bulbs, including some nearly black Queen of Nights. I'm hoping they'll do well in the spring. <3

On a different note, the cooking bug is starting to gnaw on me again. I got some new cookbooks with some really interesting recipes that I want to try, including some ice cream recipes that look like they don't need an ice cream maker. There's also some neat looking desserts and breads I want to try my hand at (including naan bread and pita bread. Mmmm). I just need to get the time and ingredients. I'm not sure I'll have the time this week, though, as the upcoming week is going to be hectic and insane. But we'll see, I guess. <3

I'm also getting the urge to work on soapy goodness again. I still really want to work on the Gesma soap idea, and I learned of a couple new ideas for soapmaking that I want to give a try, thanks to things like this blog. Oh, so many things so many things.

Darn it, somebody invent that 36 hour day already!
ru: (Default)
I'm partially posting this as a reminder to myself, and partially because I have to share.

Top 20 Unique Cupcake Finds of 2010

I don't know that I would call them the top 20, particularly since we're not quite halfway through the year, but DAMN I want to try just about all of these. The cherry Coke cupcakes, the cider cupcakes, and the margarita cupcakes look especially intriguing. I think trying them will have to be spread out pretty widely, though, else I turn into the Goodru Blimp.

In other news, I have a drop spindle now! I'm excited about this, as I've been interested in learning how to spin, but I didn't want to invest in a wheel, at least not right now. Not to mention there'd be no room for one. This promises to be hilarious, frustrating, satisfying, or all of the above. The instructions look pretty simple, but there's NO way it's as easy as it looks, I just know it. But I also have some silk roving that I'd looove to get spun into yarn. I figure I'll need to start with some wool roving first, though.

On the gardening front, stuff continues to grow! I'm very pleased with just about everything (and was pleasantly surprised to discover that a passionflower I had planted last year is still hanging on, and even thriving despite being bullied by some wild honeysuckle), although I'm starting to think the cucumbers I planted are Mongol cucumbers. They're trying VERY hard to take down all the other vegetables, particularly the corn and the tomatoes. I may need to teach them some manners if they don't behave. Alternatively, I think maybe next year we should consider a box just for Cucurbits, so I can plant pumpkins and cucumbers, and let them have epic battles for supremacy on their own without molesting the other plants.

The herb box, however, is thriving. I'm thinking at some point I need to make sauce and use some of the herbs, particularly the oregano. Actually, I could make it thesis sauce! i.e. Sauce that is monumental in the time it takes to make, but allows for time for other things, like working on the thesis. Hmm, I'm liking this idea!

On the RP front, Sushi and I have been poking at the idea of resurrecting Cosmic Windjammers. It wriggled its way into my heart, and I'd really love to see it reopen. If anyone's interested, I've started a brainstorming doc here. I've compiled a fair bit of things that were present before, but I'm also trying to add some new things in as well. If anyone has any suggestions, do toss them my way! <3
ru: (Default)
--The scent of Southern magnolias is forever burned in my mind as a sign of summer in North Carolina.
--When I was young, I had the hardest time saying "synthesizer". Now, I can say "synthesizer", but I can't for the life of me say the word "statistically" without getting hopelessly tongue-tied. This is highly problematic when you're talking research and trying to sound intelligent.
--I'd really love to have another silk patchwork skirt like the one I got at Animazement. I wonder if I could make one. Although that would require a pattern and silk scraps. I wonder where I could find some.
--The cucumbers have floooooowers. <3 This would make me more excited, though, if we had some female flowers. Cucumbers aren't bisexual, so you need to have both male and female flowers present to get cucumbers. And female flowers are shy.
--The nasturtiums have flowers too. I'm tempted to go outside and nibble on one all rabbit-like, seeing as they're edible and all, and I'd like to find out what they taste like.
--I also need to do some more soap practice. I'd like to experiment with strawberry and lime together. Maybe I'll give that a try tonight in between working on thesis stuff. I also need to find an outlet for my soap, since I'm producing a fair bit in my practicing. Anyone want some soap experiments? XD;
ru: (Default)
On Saturday I went into the woods with my advisor and one of my classmates, a freshly minted master's student who is getting started on his thesis project, and wanted some help. The project itself is kinda neat, and it was nice to be out in the field when it's NOT blazingly hot. However, this was also my first significant encounter with Smilax.

I'm quite convinced that Smilax is the rose's evil twin brother. It's a thin, green, whippy vine, with big, WICKED thorns. Profuse amounts of thorns. That will claw anything they can get their prickles on. And did I mention they are whippy? And also springy? So if you push one away it's gonna come right BACK in your face, clawing and biting like an irate cat.

The research area was COVERED in the stuff. I realized retrospectively that the reason I wore my Wellingtons that day was not because of standing water (it was bone dry), and not because of bug protection (the ticks should be mostly dead by now). It was for protection against the Smilax that would bite and claw at my legs whenever I stepped in a patch of it. I still managed to get scratched up a bit, even with protection. I think it's the closest thing we've got to a man-eating plant here, because it will GRAB YOUR ANKLES AND NOT LET GO. At one point while fighting to escape a swath of it without falling over an image flashed through my mind: The scene in the original Star Wars movie when Luke gets pulled under the water by the tentacle monster in the trash compactor.

You know, it would be awfully silly if my obituary said that I died fighting a patch of Smilax. Still. Vicious.
ru: (Default)
Mmmm, I like today. Today I got stuff DONE.

My funding proposal is IN. Good gods I'm glad that thing is out of here. One less thing.

I made SAUCE. It was delicious and full of herby and tomatoey goodness.

I also planted SEEDS! I'm trying something my grandmother apparently does, which is start them inside in egg cartons. They certainly have handy partitions. I suspect I'm going to need to transfer them at least once before I put them outside, though. There isn't much room in the egg cups.

But I'm planning to plant some lovely things this year! Multiple types of tomatoes, onions, sage, pumpkins, watermelons (one which isn't striped but SPOTTED. It looks so cute), green beans, and poppy seeds. I hope they work well! I'd love to get some decent produce this year. I'll also need to keep a better eye on the pumpkins, I think. Last time they tried to take over the whole yard. They were MUTANT vines.

I'm so looking forward to planting season. <3
ru: (Default)
Well, it's still only January, but I've started gathering things for this year's growing season. I think I may have gotten a little ambitious. But the seed packets look so interesting!

So far I've gotten more brandywine tomato seeds, some multicolored cherry tomato seeds, some watermelon seeds, more snap bean seeds, some poppyseed seeds, some sage seeds, and some onion seeds. I'm also going to dig up the packet of pumpkin seeds I have and try growing pumpkins again.

I've also started saving egg cartons to use as teeny seed cups so hopefully I can start growing things a few weeks before the last frost. I think I may try doing some actual garden-growing as opposed to doing everything in pots. It's probably going to require several bags of topsoil and other soil things, as, well, this is North Carolina. Our soil is CRAP. It's all red clay, which most foodstuff plants don't like. So we'll see how this goes.

On a different note, I finished a hat I made for Dad! It's always so satisfying when I finish a knitting project.

Speaking of knitting projects, the second Dalek is nearing completion! Its body is done, so all I need to do now is weave in the ends, give it some appendages, stuff it, and knit up the bottom. I'm calling it Dalek Redshirt, for reasons that will become apparent when I take pictures. <3
ru: (angry fleas with KNIVES)
I've been meaning to do this. Since they're in full bloom now, it seems now would be a good time.

A true rarity for me: A plant rant! )
ru: (gummy worm battle!)
You know what is not cool?

Getting fifty-year old, most likely pesticide-laden seed fuzz up your nose. Ew. Ew ew ew. My throat is still going WTF?!?
ru: (Default)
Whee! Holographic egg hatched! It's an embryonic gecko! I shall name him...George! For George is a good name for an embryonic gecko!

ALSO ALSO. Lookit! DIGIVOLVING OCCURRED!!!!!! Sylvia is now a bigger winged fox! With wings! And Felix has become a big radioactive cat...lizard...thing. With a big fluffy tail! OMG HE MUTATED FROM THE RADIOACTIVITY. ;_;

So, um, yeah. I guess while I'm here, may as well give an update. I'm alive! Barely. School is trying very hard to give me a beating I won't forget. The problem is there's still about half a semester to get through. I want it to be over.

Right now I'm in the midst of trying to finish up the analysis part of my project, and trying to get resources together for my ancient/medieval science course's term paper. GOD it's hard. You'd think it'd be easier to find stuff on alchemy, but nooooooo. I'm having a very hard time settling on an exact topic. I want to do something on the Philosopher's Stone and its relation to concepts of nature, but my prof seems to think that might be fruitless. So she instead suggested I look at one of Bacon's works and try to figure out what he was thinking. The funny thing is, I think I'm finding less on Bacon than I am on the Philosopher's Stone. So I dunno what to do. And I really want to turn in my proposal tomorrow. Sigh.

I'm also fighting with the problem that I *desperately* want to write something that's not school-related. I've got two stories and three RPG characters bouncing around in my head, and allowing myself fifteen minutes to working on them each day (usually when I'm eating), just isn't enough. I wish I could use the upcoming spring break to work on them, but I doubt I'll have much time. I've got several projects to work on over break. Oh well. We'll see.

Other things...um...the weather screwed around with the trees. In particular, it killed off all the flowers on my favoritest tree on campus--a humongous Japanese magnolia that looks absolutely gorgeous in bloom. Seriously. The flowers are so prolific the tree is downright NEBULOUS in its floweriness! I call it my star tree, mostly due to the fact that I walked up to it one day on my way to class when it was in the midst of budding, and between my sleep-deprived state and the fact that the large yellowish buds were fuzzy enough that they could catch the light and give them a little bit of a glowing look, it looked almost like the tree was growing not flowers, but tons of little stars. <3 <3 <3 <3

Also, the Bradford pears are blooming. Ugh. Remind me to write a rant on Bradford pears.

Anyway, I should work on getting going. My supervisor for the project is currently off in the West Indes collecting specimens, so I'll have the herbarium to myself. I dunno that I'm really up for spending the next several hours completely by myself, but oh well. I can always keep myself company by singing along to the grooves of ELO. <3 <3
ru: (Default)
TMI? Maybe? I'll cut it to be on the safe side. )

In other news, today's yoga subject seemed to be "Twist the Hell Out of Your Back". We were doing tons of bizarre twists and things today. There was one in particular that I wish I could find a picture of to show you all, because it is INSANE. The moment our instructor mentioned that the objective of the pose is to get your left armpit over your right knee, with the back of your head resting on the ground, and then proceeded to show us, I went "O_O My body will NOT do that!". But, much to my surprise, I think I did okay with it. Maybe with a little practice I can get to the point where I can grab my heel and get the hand sticking up in the air to be touching the mat. Maybe.

Still though, I think I enjoy the class. My back actually felt pretty nice afterwards (of course, that was before I slung my backpack onto it and proceeded to race across campus for my next class). I think that after I get a job and a car and actually get a little spending money and am somewhat in a stable routine, I might try to enroll in a local yoga class.

They say there will be flurries tonight. And the daylilies and the magnolia back home are poking up out of the ground in total "It's spring!!!" mode. Oh *please* don't die my little green ones. ;_;
ru: (Default)
Okay, the fact that it is the beginning of FEBRUARY, and it is 73 DEGREES is starting to bother me. For one thing, all the plants are thinking "Yippee! It's spring!" and are starting to bud out and such, which means the time is perfect now for some horrible cold snap to come through and do some serious damage. For another thing, it's just the principle. It should not be this warm in February. I should not be putting away the heavy coat until March.

Mama Nature, lay off the gin. Your drinking problem is getting out of hand, and if you don't shape up and stop being drunk while doing your weather duties, we're all going to have to get together and stage an intervention.

In other news, we got a gardening catalog in the mail that is positively awesome. The sucker is THICK, and has got tons and tons of really lovely plants, including things that I have never seen in a gardening catalog before, including honeysuckle and blueberries. I could not. Stop. Drooling. The only drawback though is that a fair amount of their things were rather pricey, which made me sad because I want something like one of everything. I guess if nothing else, we could use it as a resource for the sorts of things out there, then go searching to see if we can find them cheaper someplace else. Some of the plants don't look too expensive tho, so they might be feasable for one or two unusual plants we can't get elsewhere. Oh, and they do have a website: waysidegardens.com In case anyone's interested. <3 <3
ru: (Default)
I ask for help from my gardening friends! <3 <3

My father and I have two gardening projects slated for this spring--one is to give the funny patio-blocking fence thing next to our patio a little decoration in the form of vineage. The other is to populate a patch of dirt in our lawn. Since it's smack dab in the middle of the shade, grass won't grow there, so I suggested we use the area to make a planting of shade plants. Dad seems to like this idea, perhaps because it means he won't have to fight to coax grass to grow there anymore. ^_^;

So if anyone has any recommendations for either of these projects, I'd greatly appreciate it! For the shade area, anything will do, but I'd really love to get some flowering things in there. I would've loved to put bluebells in the shade area, but I can't seem to find them anywhere. Maybe they wouldn't work in our area. I've got a couple ideas for the fence, perhaps maybe a climbing rose, a clematis, or perhaps some honeysuckle if I can get at it, but if anyone else has any other ideas, I'd greatly appreciate those as well. <3 <3 <3 <3
ru: (Default)
So, my favorite local plant nursery, which has been around for eons, and at which I remember romping about the rows of plants and riding about on the rolling plant wagon as my parents shopped, has closed.

I believe the correct term is WAH. ;_;
ru: (Default)
--I'm starting to get very worried about the Japanese magnolia. Like all the rest of the deciduous plants, it's losing its leaves, but when I went out to water it today, I noticed something troubling. It looks like it's putting out more leaf buds. Despite what the weather's like now, winter *is* coming, and I'm really worried that it's going to get badly hurt because of this move. I could be wrong, and they could just be winter buds, but I really don't think so. They're green and fuzzy and cute and look like they belong in the spring. I guess I'll need to look at the Japanese magnolias at school and do a comparison, since they're losing their leaves too. I think it may just not yet be accustomed to the weather here, which can be odd in the winter. We typically have a mild winter up until December(right now it's *really* nice outside, when it should be getting, you know, cold), at which point the temperature plummets and we have a bitterly cold winter until about early March or so.

In either case, I really hope it realizes that, you know, the days are getting shorter. Winter is coming, despite the temperature. I don't want it to die. ._.

--I finally saw "Run Lola Run" last night. That was definitely an interesting movie. I wouldn't mind seeing it again, because it seems like I could probably find a lot more if I saw it a second time around. The music was definitely fun. I should poke around for the soundtrack.

--I should look around for a recipe for vanilla cream sauce. It seems like it'd be a really useful and versatile recipe to have. I've had it in a really runny form on apple streudel, which was delicious, and last night when we were at a restaurant, I had a dessert that seemed to be a much thicker version of it(almost like not-quite-set pudding) with fresh berries. Uhnngod. So good.
ru: (Default)
I think I'm being stalked by ginkgo trees.

No, I'm serious. After three years at this campus, I've only been aware of two ginkgo trees--one by the library, and one by one of the dorms. I've only ever seen those two. They must have been the scouts, because now, all of a sudden, I've seen THREE new ones since I got here this semester--one near one of the big fields, one between a pair of buildings, and one REALLY BIG one near the dorm where the second one is. I suspect the big one is their leader. Maybe the littler one nearby is the right hand man. Plant. Right hand plant. Right branch plant. Whatever. In any case, after several million years, they've decided to begin the invasion! Beware the ginkgo trees! They are coming! Don't be fooled by their primitive vein structure--THEY ARE SMARTER THAN YOU THINK.

In other news, I am wearing a spangly skirt. It swooshes and sparkles. It is awesome. I am awesome in my spangly skirt.
ru: (Default)
So, at least tentatively for right now, I've decided to do a basic research paper for the honors part of my medicinal plants course. Taking a cue from the lecture, I'm gonna research the Solanaceae family, which includes tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, petunias, henbane, belladonna, and everyone's favorite vegetable, nightshade. It's the fact that tomatoes and potatoes are related to things like nightshade that I found intriguing about the family. So hopefully I can find some interesting things to talk about in a paper. I'm hoping I can get ahold of some info on the studies done on tomatoes involving lycopene, since cancer prevention is an interesting contrast to, say, poisioning someone with belladonna. And whatnot. ^_^;

You know, between this, and the herbarium project, and the plant presentation on myrrh, and the genetics tests, and the 90+ page screenplay I have to write, I'm gonna be a busy girl. ^_^;
ru: (Default)
Making this list partly because I want to organize my thoughts, partly because I'm still in hot and heavy brainstorming mode and would like some input. Having taken leave of my senses, I've decided to try and do my medicinal plants course as an honors course. However, this means that I have to figure out a project to do. After talking with the prof and brainstorming on my own, here are the possibilities thus far:

--Do a study on what sort of herbs a local ethnic group uses for medicinal/cooking purposes. I'm thinking maybe Chinese--it'd give me an excuse to go to the local Asian market.
--Research a plant family and do a paper on said family.
--Along the same lines, focusing on the mint family, collect a conglomeration of various extracts/plants from several mint family plants and get several people to smell and possibly taste said extracts/plants. This thought came from Friday's class, wherein we got to examine orange mint, and during the process that not everyone smelled the same thing--for instance, I thought it smelled like basil.
--Research the sorts of plants used by a company/companies that put out organic/herbal bath and beauty products, and see what's the goodness in there. Maybe I could do something somehow related to aromatherapy?
--Research a family of medicinal plants, find out what chemical it is that makes them medicinal, and see why the plant makes it for itself.

Opinions? Furthermore, if anyone has any ideas/suggestions, or if there's a particular medicinal-planty thing that would be interesting for me to babble about for the next semester, feel free to suggest it. <3 <3 <3

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