Sunday, June 8, 2008

ask and you shall receive

well, with the cost of gas being a million dollars a gallon. my need to get a bit more exercise in with this crazy summer school schedule, i broke my bike out of storage and decided to ride it to school.

however, school is 5.5 miles away and the "good" roads have fairly high speed limits. speed limits that scare me with my limited knowledge of commuter biking and i need to avoid them.

so i started looking around on the internet today and found a website, Long Beach Cyclists they seemed fairly "in the know" about LB, so I emailed and asked if they would find me a route. If you click on the link above you'll see he found me three! I then confessed my utter and undying love to him.

So I've decided on this option. I will ride the 1/3 mile to the bus stop, pay 90 cents and take the bus directly to school. I then will take the leisurely route home on the bike path along the bay and LA river. It makes it a 10-mile trip home, but it is much safer and prettier than going on all those grungy streets, plus 10 miles is a good workout when I haul all my stuff with me. I don't have to worry about being sweaty or smelling when I get to school (well anymore than usual.) So horray for LB cyclists.

I also found a really cool thing in LB for cyclists called bike station. It's a non-profit bike shop, storage facility, cycling & commuting class place. I haven't been there yet, but I can't wait to go. Apparently if they know a part is cheaper somewhere else, they'll tell you. They also teach you how to fix your own bike, how cool!

I am really hoping that I get into this biking thing. It's sooo good for the environment and it's just healthy for me to be outside and exercising. It will help with my newfound crazy anxiety...sigh.. well, you win some, you lose some.

Monday, June 2, 2008

diy - heat blocking curtain

so. i moved to a new apartment in long beach and it's awesome. well, the space is awesome, i'm quite happy with it... however.. it's had some downfalls. namely, the cockroaches, damn those bugs, but they are few and far between now that i did all that patch work. I think i need to do more, but that will come gradually.

anyway, the other big issue is the HUGE window my my front room. It is 9x6 and faces the morning sun. It's poorly insulated, it's an aluminum frame, thin windows, not so great on those sweltering 95 degree days. So I needed a something to help me keep it cool. I did not want to spend well over $100 to put up a curtain rod and the type of material it would take to keep it cool, nor did I want to deal with installing the hardware in a place that I'm not sure how long i'll be here.

it was so hot one day, i thought, i'll just put aluminum foil on the windows, i don't care how ghetto it looks... that's when i came up with my brilliant plan.... emergency blankets.

I thought, well they are reflective, they can keep heat out or in, and they are cheap. They were also much bigger, way easier than trying to figure out how to put up a whole bunch of aluminum foil. However, I really didn't want to have a huge sheet of aluminum looking stuff hanging from my window, so i did a bit of research and found one other person who did this. She suggested putting a white sheet in front of the blankets, i thought, perfect.

i was originally going to sew the thing together, but then some common sense kicked in, and i decided to use packing tape and staples, as you can see above. it worked like a charm and took about 20 minutes.

i hung it up by using clear adhesive hooks from 3m, they are about $3 per package and I used 6 of the heavy duty kind. I then put medium size binder clips on the "curtain" and hung the clips on the hooks. This is what it looks like inside when my blinds are all the way open, on the inside. When they're closed, well, they look like blinds.

And this is what the whole thing looks like from the outside. We haven't had a super hot day to test my theory yet, but it is noticeably cooler in here every day and for that, i'm thankful.

so let's see, if i were to have bought a curtain rod ($25 at Ikea), curtains ($100 for them to be thick enough and fit the whole window), then spent the time to hang it, it would have been really time consuming and expensive.

Instead, I paid $3 for a twin size sheet at Ikea, $9 for three emergency blankets at Target, and it took me about 20 minutes to assemble the whole deal.

I'm a happy camper. No only if the blanket would search for cockroaches and kill them in my house, i'd be elated.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

new bookmarks

i saw this on someone else's blog...

i loved it. way to recycle and be original. i think they'll make cool gifts if done correctly.

Yoshida Brothers

Karen, may, and I went to see the Yoshida Brothers a few weeks ago. They are two brothers in their late 20's from Japan. They play the Shamisen, a traditional japanese guitar. I had never heard of them before, but apparently they were on a wii commercial a few years ago.

Anyway, they were amazing. Very glad I went to their show. It so nice to see people play who have such command of their instruments. Check out this video of the pair.

"Kodo" by the Yoshida Brothers

cauliflower jalapeno soup

this is one of my favorite soups. it's super easy to make, super low-fat, and really easy to make. It only takes about 30 min. all together.

shopping list:
1 head of cauliflower (i used brocciflower this time, because it was cheaper)
1 med onion (whatever kind you want)
2 jalapenos (this is to taste, i have a high tolerance for heat and sometimes use more than two)
1 to 2 medium potatoes (pref not yukon or russet, but I'm not sure it really matters)
2-6 cloves of garlic (whatever you like)
5-6 cups of chicken broth
olive oil

here's what you do:

1. Take a 5qt. dutch oven, I warm it up for about 5 min on medium.
2. I add about 3 tbsp. of olive oil and let that warm up for a minute or so.
i then add my garlic, crushed, minced, whatever... i just let it warm up for a min in the oil.
3. I then add my onion, again chopped to your preference (the smaller it is the easier to manage, you'll be blending it anyway.) Cook until onions are tender.
4. Add potato, the smaller the pieces the faster they will brown (i do live skins on.) Cook that for about 10 min.
5. Add 6 cups of chicken broth
6. Add your chopped up (small pieces) cauliflower and jalapeno
7. Let that simmer for about 10 minutes.
8. Turn the heat off. I use my immersion blender and blend away.

most cookbooks will tell you to let the soup cool before you blend. this is a great idea in theory, but i am way to impatient for that and i take my chances w/ the hot liquid. That said... i do put a towel across my body, because it does tend to splatter no matter how hard i try.

add some grated cheese or cream to make it creamer, but i think you'll find it's fairly darn good on it's own.

you can substitute green chiles if you can't deal with spicy things.

this is the best chicken broth i've found and it doesn't take up space like the boxes do. the taste is divine.