Overnight Oatmeal

This could also be called ‘cold oatmeal’ or ‘refrigerator oatmeal’.  I’m including this in the Reddit 52 week challenge under dairy, because it is in fact, over half dairy. Or in my case, non-dairy. Here’s the thing about me, I’m not a strictly non-dairy person. I’m more of a limited-dairy person. I’m not entirely intolerant, but more like ‘moderately bothered’ by dairy. That’s why you’ll see me posting recipes that use coconut milk instead of milk, but still will include butter. Sometimes I just dairy it up like crazy, guts be damned. Enough about my guts. I very loosely based this recipe from one I found here, but modified it like crazy, so now it’s MINE, all MINE! Muahahaha!

Raspberries and whatnot!

Raspberries and whatnot!

This is my very informal recipe:

2 Cups Old-Fashioned (non-instant) Oats
1 can coconut milk (I used low-fat but you could use whatever. You could also use regular milk or goat milk or soy milk or almond milk or emu milk or whatever milk you kids are drinking these days)
1 glug of maple syrup (If I had to wager how much that was exactly, I’d say 2.5 Tablespoons)
1 shakea shakea of vanilla extract (maybe a teaspoon?)
1 sprinkle of cinnamon

Dump everything into a bowl, mix it, cover it, put it in the fridge overnight. This was a BIT too liquidy for me, but I like my oatmeal kind of dry. The kids said it was perfect, though.

You can eat this cold, or you can heat it up in the microwave or stove top for a minute or so. Top it with whatever you want. I used frozen raspberries and toasted coconut. My kids lobbied pretty hard for some whipped cream on top, so of course I let them have some. That makes it even more dairy-tastic.

If you want to be a super hipster, you can put this in a jar and take it to work. Enjoy!

Thoughts on an On-line Education

Bahaha! Look at this olde school setup. It is not unlike the USM computer lab.

I just got off the phone with USM tech support about a video issue with one of my classes. It’s a simple, 1 credit class. OK, it’s yoga. Yes, I’m paying to take a one-credit college-level yoga class. Don’t judge. Anyhow, the sound on the video sounds like Greedo:

Now, I’m not a tech-idiot. Here’s what I’ve done to fix the situation: Restarted, checked all software for updates, used 3 different browsers, tried to view it on my phone and iPad. Nothing. It doesn’t work. E-mailed the professor. Apparently I’m the only person with this problem.  * Update* Apparently ALL Mac users are having the same issue. Why? Because the professor created the video THREE YEARS AGO.* E-mailed and finally called tech support. You know what the end diagnosis is? My software and computer are TOO new and TOO updated. Fuck me. I mean come on. They told me to find a windows computer and use that. I do not have a windows computer, nor do I want one. I would be less stabby (maybe) if this didn’t happen every semester. Not this problem exactly, but this is now my 6th or 7th online class, my 3rd and final semester with this method of education and I can tell you, the first week is always spent messing around with problems like this. This is a long segue into my critique of online education.

I was so happy to learn that USM was offering a Liberal Arts major online. When I signed up I only had 36 credits left. I’ve been wanting to finish school for awhile, but I have 2 kids and limited time. I wasn’t interested in finishing up at one of the ‘churn and burn’ online schools either. USM seemed like the perfect solution since I’d done nearly all of my classes there anyway. So far my experience has been…OK, but there are some major issues both with tech and with teachers.

NO ONE USES THE SAME TECH

Every one of my classes has required different tech. They also use the ‘Blackboard Gateway’ but from there teachers go bananas. When you fill out the survey to see if online ed is right for you they ask if you are ‘comfortable using a computer on the internet and visiting various websites’ or something like that. Of course you are! What you should know is, you will have to use at least 2 sometimes 3 or more programs for each class. I’ve had teachers require that we watch lectures via Youtube, Quicktime, and worst of all try to run a Power Point presentation and sound via Itunes simultaneously. That was for one class. You may also be required to use VoiceThread, which actually isn’t that annoying, but another new software that you will have to register for and learn how to use. This semester I’m taking a music class that requires your sign up for and pay $85 for an online text-book/course materials. Well, it’s music, that makes sense right? Oh, guess what, you also need Spotify to listen to the music.  I beg you, USM. Please, please, start making your professors use the same tech. Personally, I would suggest having them use: Youtube for video lectures, and VoiceThread for presentations etc. These two seem to work phenomenally well for everyone.  I understand that Online courses will require different materials, videos etc.  That’s great! But let’s try to condense some of this shit. I never know going into a class what software I’m going to need. It’s stressful and detracts from my education.

SOME TEACHERS SUCK

I am very, very fortunate that most of my professors get it when it comes to online ed. They run it like a regular class as much as they can. That means they give a lecture. Sometimes they even give a real-time lecture and students can ask questions and interact in a sort of regular class discussion format. It works very well, and I like it. I have had a couple of professors that I feel have made my classes completely boring and a total waste of money. This is what they did: assigned reading from a text. Assigned a homework from that text. They did not do any online lectures or offer supplemental materials. It actually really pissed me off. It seemed like they were just saying, “Oh this is awesome, I’ll just make a syllabus once and chuck out the assignments. Easy Peasey” In fact one professor couldn’t even be bothered to make sure that she changed the dates on the assignments from the previous semester to the most recent one. Unfortunately since USM has decided to fire all their professors, I’ve noticed that the good ones I’ve had are being replaced by the half-assed ones. Not cool. A good on-line teacher needs to be engaged as much as a real-time teacher. She needs to give lectures. She needs to at least pretend she’s excited about the materials and the students. That makes a good teacher in general.

ONLINE CLASS MEANS ONLINE

OK, this only happened once and it still pisses me off. Last semester I had an online class that required I travel to an onsite location to take an online, proctored, open book exam. That’s right. I could have taken the test at home easily. In fact, the test was administered THROUGH Blackboard. I had to drive to Portland and sit in the computer lab so that I could show the professor my ID and prove that I’m not cheating on this stupid test. It really, really makes me mad. I’m taking an online class because 1. I hate going places. 2. It’s a pain for me to do so. Why did they feel the need to make us drive there? Basically because they think all students are cheaters, I guess. If you don’t trust a group of grown adults to take the test online in an online class, then don’t offer an online class. And don’t be surprised that people are angry when you make them take time out to drive 50 miles to take a test that they could have taken at home.

WORKSHOPS DON’T WORK

I am currently taking an online creative writing class. For a long time I believed that online writing workshops would be great. They aren’t. Sure, people post their work and other people comment on it, but it’s just not the same as real-time workshops. This summer I was able to attend Stonecoast Writers’ Conference, and have some real life workshopping. It was incredibly valuable. The biggest difference is that the online discussion is too nice. Everyone points out what works but no-one has the courage to say what doesn’t. Yes, I’m saying, and I know how weird this is: on-line workshop students are too nice. I also think there is something that happens when a group of people get together in a same room and discuss their writing in person. You have to trust each other not to be jerks, and you’re sitting in the same space as the person you’re critiquing, so you want to give them good, constructive advice. Now, that said, I think it MIGHT be possible for workshops to work if they were done online in real-time conference call style format. I can’t say for sure, because I haven’t participated in a class like that, but I think it might be an OK medium.

GENERAL ADVICE

Some final thoughts:

  • Do not assume that online classes are going to be easier.
  • Get a good printer
  • Get some good PDF reading software. I like Evernote. I like Evernote for a lot of things actually.
  • Make a schedule for all your work. I put it all in Google Tasks.
  • Software that saves to .docx. If you have Word, no problem. If you use Pages or Google Docs it’s kind of a pain but can be done. Just make sure you learn how to do it before your papers are due.
  • Be patient. A lot of your professors are thrown into this and are just learning how to use the tech too.

ASK ME ANYTHING

Got questions about online classes, NOT tech support 🙂 Drop me a comment.

PS. Han shoots first.

Non-Diet Diet Meal.

This year, for the first time in at least a decade, I did not include ‘lose 20lbs’ on my list of yearly goals. I do plan on eating healthily and getting lots of exercise this year, but with overall health and happiness as my main objective.  So, of course this year for the first challenge of the 2015 Reddit 52 Weeks of Cooking was Diet Foods. After reading the description, you can see it’s meant to be pretty tongue in cheek, in that with all the diets out there, you could make pretty much anything and have it fit into the category.

I was a little behind on the challenge this week and made my food on the 8th (deadline, 7th) but y’all know that’s how I roll. What did I make for ‘Diet Food’? Well, I had a wisdom tooth out and had to have a ‘diet’ of mushy food for at least 24 hours. Did you think I’d eat t jello and chicken broth? Oh, hell no. I made myself some high-quality mushy food.

First I made this:

Doesn't this look delicious?

Doesn’t this look delicious?

I know, flesh-colored pudding doesn’t exactly make you say, “I want to eat that!” But listen to me, this is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. It’s Butterscotch Pudding from Smitten Kitchen. No, it doesn’t taste like that horrible brown Jello Pudding Mix. It’s creamy and sweet and a little salty. I modified it a bit and used full-fat coconut milk, but I did use butter, so it’s not entirely dairy-free. Seriously, make this. It’s delicious.

For dinner I made this:

This looks a bit yummier, right?

This looks a bit yummier, right?

The Perfect Potato Soup by Pioneer Woman.  This has been on my ‘to make’ list since it came out 2 years ago. I used butter instead of bacon because I couldn’t eat bacon due to my tooth extraction, and I have to suffer, everyone has to suffer! I stirred the cheese in until it melted. I also skipped the heavy cream. As I blog more recipes that I try, you will realize that I almost NEVER follow them. I can’t help it. I mean I CAN help it, I just don’t want to. Anyhow, this soup is extremely delicious – Oh! And another thing I did was I pureed all of it, she leaves chunks. But I felt it was a very nourishing and hearty meal, and I ate two bowls of it.

Don’t these look kind of…gross? I”m sorry! I’m a horrible food photographer. Go check out the links to the recipes, the authors are much better photographers than I am. You know who else sucks at food photography? Martha Stewart. At least I’m in good company.

 

 

Why Amanda Palmer Is Like a Farmer

Via Creative Commons. If you read the book you’ll get it.

 

I just finished The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer last night. I’ll try to tell you about it without spoilers. You should read this book, especially if you are someone working in the creative economy right now. If you don’t know who Amanda Palmer is, read her wiki. I’ll wait. Also, watch her TED talk.

Her  book is part autobiography, part expansion on her TED talk. She explains in depth  how she’s made a living as a musician making some pretty bold choices, like: ditching her label, not charging for music, creating a Kickstarter to fund making a record. She’s gotten a lot of flack from these choices from other artists and just the general public. A lot of people seem to have a big problem with crowdfunding, and I have mixed feelings about it, in certain cases. However, the way Palmer, and many reputable Kickstarters set-up their ‘asks’ is not unlike the CSA I join each year for vegetables. I prepay a certain amount of money in the spring, and then throughout the summer I get vegetables. The prepayment allows for the farmers to have money when they need it to buy seeds, equipment etc. This is exactly how Palmer’s Kickstarter worked. She needed money to make a record. People prepaid for the record and other goodies (some even bought private concerts) when the record was done, she sent it to them. That said, she already had a really good fanbase and was vetted as a known and reputable artist. She made sure to give some examples in her book of Kickstarters that have failed, what went wrong, and how it could have gone better.

This book is not entirely about Kickstarter, it touches a lot on her personal life, more than I was expecting actually, and I learned a lot about her life and her marriage to Neil Gaiman (who is an amazing writer). But she also speaks volumes about trust and how in her experience people are willing to help, if they are simply asked.

Finally, another thing that stuck with me from this book is that there are, as you know, lots of haters out there. People who were just generally shitty and said horrible thing to her and about her in the press and directly via her website, on many various topics. Palmer is very frank about this. People say mean shit and it hurts. She hears it, she sees it. What I want to know is, what do people gain from it? In this lovely book about trust and empathy, the trolls sneak in. Just as they do in real life. Of course not everyone likes Palmer’s music or how she dresses or how she looks or how she makes her living. That’s OK. We don’t all have to like each other. However, what is gained by being mean to her, just for the sake of being mean? Does it make people feel better when they write shitty things? One of my final thoughts, and I had many while reading this book, is that we all need to do better to just keep our mouths shut. If you don’t like something and it’s not hurting you or anyone else – especially if it’s art or music or writing, just shut up about it. Nothing good is coming from personally attacking the creator.

In conclusion, no matter what you think about Amanda Palmer personally, or about her music, this is a great book. Highly recommend.

 

2015 Reading List

Via Creative Commons

I haven’t done this before, though I LOVE lists, so I’m surprised I haven’t. Here’s a list of books I am definitely going to read in 2015. A lot of these just showed up on ‘Best of 2014’ book lists (which I can’t get enough of) but some of these are books that have been on my to-read list on Goodreads for a long time.  I set a goal of 12 books this year, which seems really low compared to the enormous goal lists I’m seeing out there. I don’t really care. I’m finishing my last semester of college. I have two kids. If I can read a book a month, I consider myself a smashing success. I may bust through this list with lightning speed, who knows. Anyhow, here it is:

1. The Art of Asking, Amanda Palmer – disclaimer ( I am already cheating. I got this book for Christmas but am only about 1/2 way through. I’m counting it for this year. It’s pretty good.)

2.  Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson

3. Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe, Yumi Sakugawa

4. Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, Anne Lamott

5.Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel

6. Father of the Rain, Lily King

7. We Are Water, Wally Lamb

8. White Teeth, Zadie Smith

9. Yes Please, Amy Poehler

10. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry

11. Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls, David Sedaris

12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

What an odd list, eh? If you know me you’re probably like, “Where’s all the horror and murder?” Truth be told, I’ve kind of lost my taste for it lately. I’ve been super into biographies and memoir. Novels. Less violence. Also, as you can see by my last entry, I have a renewed interest in reading the classics. True confession, I am woefully, woefully lacking in classical reading. Thanks to a set of ‘Read The Classics Comic Books’ my grandmother gave me when I was about 10, I at least have a pretty good idea of the major plot points of all the greatest hits. I have never read the Brontes, either one. No Dickens. No Tolstoy. Moby Dick? Nope. I know. I’m a horrible creature. Luckily I can get most of them for free on my Kindle.  Well, that’s the list. I have no idea what order I will read them in. Oh, well actually I take that back. I am currently reading The Art of Asking, and next will read Traveling Mercies because I just got it at the library. Other than THAT I have no idea what’s next. Probably I’ll work my way through depending on what’s at the library – aka free.

2015 Unreasonable Goals!

Many of you know that for the past 7 years (holy cow) I have posted a list of unreasonable goals to complete over the course of the year. I started it back when I was 29, and I called it ‘The 30 List’. I am now way over 30. Each year I list off a  bunch of stuff I want to achieve, some difficult, with some ‘ringers’ tossed in for good measure. I aim for at least 30, but cap it at whatever age  I am. Anyhow, that’s a long explanation.

2014 was the best year ever in terms of completing goals. Personally, it was one of the worst years of my life, but this post is about goals! I consider my list a success if I hit 30%, this year I was at over 50%. I’m pretty impressed with myself. I was able to cross things off the list that have been on there for years. Things like: Complete Dynamic Dirt Challenge! and Install Veggie Garden! and Get a Compost Bin! These goals had floated from list to list year after year, and now they are done. 2015 I’ve stuck to a lot of my old faves, such as ’12 books’ and ’12 movies’ as well as added some new ones, ’10 minute mile’.

This year, for something completely new, I would like to invite you, my blog readers, to complete some of these goals with me! I mean, if you want to. Totally up to you. One in particular that you all might like is the 52 week Reddit Cooking Challenge.     I would also really love it if some of you would like to share what you’re reading with me, maybe we could do a book club or something? Or not?Knitting and sewing projects? Yes? Let me know what you think. I want to be more connected with people this year, and not on Facebook. More on that later.

I really, really cross my heart, plan on expanding and updating this space a lot more this year. I also plan on sharing more horrible photos with you! No really, I’m a terrible photographer. go look at my instagram.

Space Case

Many times I’ve written posts about what I’m going to do with this space.

“Now it’s going to be a cooking and lifestyle blog!”

“Now I’m going to share funny cartoons I draw and scan in!”

“Now I’m going to write deeply personal introspective posts!”

“All humor all the time!”

“I’m going to curate all the awesome things and get off Facebook!”

I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to stop trying to define this space. It’s only taken me about 8 years to come to that decision. That said, I like most of the ideas I’ve had in the past, and I don’t see any reason why I can’t just stick all kinds of things on here. In fact, I can. Because it’s my space. I have a big problem with being overly conscious of audience and branding. That’s what a blog is for, right? Getting your shit out there so somehow you can get a book deal or make some money right? If you’re going to do that you need to FOCUS. You can’t be all wishy washy. (These are all the things that *they* tell you.You know, all the big successful blog people that give conferences and talks and whatnot. Their blogs are all about…blogging)

So, all new for 2015, whatever I want! Will I update more than once a month? I don’t know!