Off to the land of mountain men...

I'll be back in a week after some TLC with the mountains in Montana this week. And with Mr. Man.

I'll miss you!

This way-too-long post made ME blush

This is going to be one of those posts where you are going to say "Oh no she di-nt!" Or "Oh my, this is soooo inappropriate." Or "I am sooo glad my relative didn't write this!"

Today we are talking about waxing. More specifically, waxing your uh, how shall we say...hoo ha, down there, va-jay-jay. You get the idea. So, grandparents and gay men just move along, move along. Nothing to see here.

I am writing about this because anytime a girlfriend finds out I get my bikini area (yah, that's a nicer way to say than anything in my list, but where's the fun that?) waxed she immediately wants to know EVERYTHING. So, many questions out there. And there are some answers, but it is hard because you want to get this type of information from someone you trust. If you trust me, read on. If not, you can move along with my grandparents and the gay men to some other benign post, like this one or this one.

I have been around the proverbial waxing block. I have had the Midwest, the Russian, the random salon, the northwest, and most disturbingly, the self-wax experience. So, I think I have some insight here.

Also if you are curious about the difference between a Brazilian and a regular bikini wax go here for a more tactful explanation than I could ever give you. It describes it well, but does not point out that the Brazilian includes your backside too. I had to include this extra tidbit because I once tried to explain what was going to happen to a friend during her first Brazilian and I forgot to point that out. Yah, she was a little surprised. I don't want to make the same mistake with you.

The home wax

The first time I ever waxed anything, I decided to start with my bikini area and do it on my own. I am cheap like that. Even though it was a few years ago, I remember the few times I tried self waxing vividly. I have a couple of friends that manage to self wax. In fact, I have gotten lots of advice and have tried to wax everything from my legs to my toes to my bikini area. They have all been disastrous. Basically, I am a huge wimp. Every strip requires me to give myself a little pep talk before I rip the strip off. It takes a few minutes, many false starts, and heavy breathing. The worst thing you can do when you are waxing yourself is to anticipate and to pull the strip off without any real gusto. I can't seem to get either of these skills down, so it is way more painful for me to self wax than to just pay a professional to do it.

I thought about doing it again as a sort of how -to was yourself post for ya'll. But, I just can't drink like I used to. However, if you insist on trying this, I recommend making sure you coat your skin in baby powder first and you start with some of those strips that you warm between your hands, like Parissa. It is great for beginners.

The Russian

Well, let's jut get the obvious out of the way first. She's Russian. I found her on Yelp back when I lived in San Francisco, and she is fabulous. She was a nurse back in Russia so she is privy to all those concerns you might have about cleanliness or what have you. We got to know each other a bit over time, Irina and myself, and that made the experience much more pleasant. But, make no mistake, she is Russian.

This is a no frills sort of wax, especially if you are getting a Brazilian. There is no courtesy towel or ho-humming over your precious insecurities. I think part of this is because she used to be a nurse. It's just not that big of a deal to her. So, for the Russian wax be prepared for her to be like, looking and stuff. That woman is committed to getting every last hair. Every one. Take a minute to really examine where you have hair down there. Go ahead, I'll wait. Yah. She's gonna get all those. No one out there does a thorough of a job as Irina. I would recommend her to anyone living in the bay area. This is where you can find her.

The Random Salon

I once went as a walk-in with no recommendation to a new place in my neighborhood when I lived in SF. This is by no means a way to get a bikini wax as I learned the hard way. I went because I was feeling a bit broke, didn't want the full Brazilian, and Irina was a little on the spendy side (for good reason, as it turned out). The most memorable part about this wax was that I was on a tall table and the woman waxing me was a VERY short woman. Uhhhh, I don't think I have to paint much more of a picture for you to see why this was awkward for me. Also, the quality of wax makes a difference as I learned, because a poor quality of wax or waxing job leads to a lot of ingrown hairs.

The Midwest

I was home once, back in West Virgina, for a summer right before I started graduate school. I was about to leave for a last hurrah vacation to Hawaii and I hadn't had a proper bikini wax in quite some time. I was a little wary, but I found what I thought was the best option. First of all, there were two things that should have warned me what sort of experience I was in for. One, the hard wax was pink. Two, there was not just a choice of regular or bikini wax. There was a whole host of choices I had never heard of, including things called the Sphinx. Basically, this woman had carved out a name for everything in between a regular bikini wax and taking it all off. Very confusing. Usually, you just tell your esthetician how much you want her to leave and then she does it.

Also, this woman was the complete opposite of Irina. She went through great lengths (mostly by telling you where to put the towel and your hand) in order to not actually see any part of know. That sort of weirded me out. Plus, it left me wondering how she would actually do a real Brazilian should anyone be willing to pay her exorbitant prices. Or maybe she just charges a lot to keep people from ever coming in for one.

The northwest

This is the best one yet. Fortuitous, since I live in the northwest. Susan owns the business herself. I have been seeing her for almost two years now. She is a real gem out here in waxing land.
She is really an expert at not only doing a wonderful job, but creating a setting that is warm and inviting. Susan is one of those people who really makes you feel comfortable and you come to think of as your friend. Perhaps, the one friend that only sees you when you have your pants off, but a friend nonetheless. Susan is also wonderful because her prices are really reasonable, making it affordable to those of us that are apparently going to be students for forever to visit her often. I would recommend her to anyone within driving distance. Here is her website.

The plight of the field biologist

I had hoped to be joyfully reporting on all the progress I am making down here in the Sacramento Delta. I had hoped to be posting pictures with all the cage building, clam numbering, and cage placement, but I forgot my camera cord.

Also, I seem to have not only been very optimistic about what we could accomplish during a low tide, but to have also angered the wind Gods.
The answer my friend, is sure as hell not blowing in the wind. The wind is ruining my project! It is making what is already a very short window of opportunity to work in the marsh, even shorter. It is blowing all the water back into the marsh making the low tide hardly discernible.

To give you an idea, I had hoped to collect 216 clams on Monday and place them in 45 cages Tuesday. We collected 108 clams, most of which are probably going to be too big for my study, and placed 20 of the clams in 10 cages yesterday.
I am usually good at rolling with the punches when I am conducting field work down here in the Delta.

The problem is that I have a very limited time frame to conduct experiments and collect data using methods that I have never done before. They are all made up in my own little head. So, it is impossible to know just how long most of the work will take and how the weather will, or in this case will not, cooperate.

Usually I am off, but not by so much that I am not able to pull out my handy dandy Plan B (sometimes we even get to Plan X).
However, this time around the tides and winds are conspiring to make it so difficult to work out there that it doesn't matter how many plans I make or how many alternative methods I come up with, there simply isn't enough time. We are operating in a two hour time frame, at most. Monday it was more like an hour. And part of that time has to be spent actually wading into the sampling area.

Okay, are you confused yet? Why am I putting clams in cages, you are wondering? Why is she complaining again, you ask?

Or maybe you are on pins and needles with this field biologist soap opera of mine. Perhaps you are wondering, will she collect and cage enough clams to get the proper statistical analysis? Will the wind ever die down?

If it's the latter, stay tuned to see how our heroine fares in the rugged landscape of Liberty Island and her plight to research the invasive Asian clam against all odds.


Mr. Man swears that this girl is my doppelganger. Skip ahead to the 45 second mark to check out the coffee girl.

I think Mr. Man sees the similarity because I often give him that incredulous look.

I would like my head back, please

First, allow me to apologize for being a bit on the absent side this past week. It isn't because I am hiding from you, I promise.

My thoughts have been overtaken by power analysis, estimates of variance, field travel coordination, building clam cages, and marking clams. There is almost no room left in my head for anything else. Seriously, I have tried to cook a few things this past week, and had a couple of disasters.

One was the Squash Gratin over at 101 Cookbooks. S made it on her blog and I thought I might try it out too. I wanted to make it easier to cook, so rather than listening to my intuition and substituting the potato's, which had to be sliced paper thin, with something like white beans, I kept them in. I know better, I am no Iron Chef when it comes to knife skills. I made a few other substitutions and adjustments, and the gratin did taste good, but it took forever to make. And I wouldn't do that to you.

I have tried a few other culinary experiments to no avail, such as an eggplant gazpacho. The recipe called for a ridiculous amount of lemon juice, and I once again brushed my intuition to the side and put it all in. It overpowered the whole soup. Imagine a eggplant, tomato, and tahini flavored lemon. Disgusting.

Just now, I burned a grilled cheese sandwich while I was in the kitchen. This morning the lid wasn't tight enough on the coffee pot and it brewed onto the counter top. I almost licked it off, then convinced myself to wait the extra five minutes to make more. Close call on that one. I can't be held responsible for decisions made BC (before coffee).

Basically, I have only had use of 10% of my brain. Oh wait, haven't researchers told us that we only use 10% of our brain on average? Crap, that means I am only getting about .01%. The rest is consumed by math and experimental design.

I guess that this post is just one really long excuse for my absence here this past week. I seriously do not have enough brain power to conduct normal activities. The simplest things you can do in the kitchen are to read a recipe beforehand to make sure you want to invest whatever time it requires and to follow your intuition and think about whether or not every step makes sense for you.

Actually, that is a lie. The simplest thing you can do in the kitchen is make a grilled cheese and I can't even get that right.

Vishy-swishy, gitchy-gitchy, or if you can pronounce it better than I can, Carrot Vichyssoise

I know I promised you some great fourth of July foods. But, as it turns out, fourth of July food is really quite simple. Especially when the weather is amazing and you want to be outside rather than heating up your house by turning on the stove.

I ended up just making a giant bowl of guacamole, cutting up a watermelon, and making some veggie skewers (Mr. Man's fabulous idea) to grill over at a friends' BBQ. All delicious but nothing that really requires a recipe. I don't even have any pictures of the event like most blogs have.

However, I will offer you these helpful tidbits regarding the skewers. If you are using wood skewers, be sure to soak them for at least 20 minutes before you make them, otherwise they will just incinerate. Also, we marinated some tofu that had already been fried (found at our local asian mart) and they were the best. Even, if you can't buy it pre-made like this, I highly recommend marinating and frying it up before you skewer it, on your own. Made a world of difference.

So, instead of a BBQ recipe I have a soup that I made yesterday. I had to ask Mamacita how to pronounce it and I already forget. So, don't feel bad. If someone asks you what it is, just say it's an easy summer soup that you can most likely make without having to make a special trip to the grocery store. Fine, that is silly. Just call it cold carrot soup. Better?

I am always on the look-out for cold summer soups. There just can't be enough of them in my opinion. They are so refreshing and tend to be quite simple. I found this soup in Paulette Mitchell's book "A Beautiful Bowl of Soup." I bought the book so I could try out this recipe and a couple of others that caught my eye. Now that I have the book in hand, and have had time to flip through it, I want to make them all.

This soup is quite easy. I made it in the morning, let it cool all day, and then served it with little baguette sandwiches.
Carrot vichyssoise with a Balsamic reduction
adapted from "A Beautiful Bowl of Soup"
serves 4

This recipe originally called for leeks and russet potatoes. I used a regular ole onion, gold potatoes, and added in garlic. Just use whatever variety of onion and potato you have on hand. I think that shallots would be really good in this soup in place of the onion. Also, you can use whatever milk product you choose in this recipe as Mitchell points out (she calls for half and half in the original), just make sure the it's not sweetened if you use soy milk. I happened to have a little fat-free half and half and some fat-free milk and it tasted plenty creamy.

3 cups vegetable stock

3 small potatoes, diced (about 2 1/4 c.)

1 small onion, diced

1-2 cloves garlic, sliced

3 carrots, sliced into coins (about 1 1/4 c.)

1 c. milk product (half and half, milk, soy milk, whatever)

salt and pepper, to taste

Place the stock, potatoes, onion, garlic, and carrots into a saucepan and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and continue to cook, covered for approximately 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
Then puree the soup either using a blender or hand-held blender. Once this is done whisk in the milk product. Add the salt and pepper to taste and then chill for at least four hours.

Balsamic reduction

This was the first time I have ever made a reduction. Allow me to pass along some lessons I learned. First of all, definitely do not substitute pomegranate molasses because you are too lazy to go to the store. Just omit the molasses if you don't have any. Also, it is better to under-reduce rather than over-reduce. Otherwise you will wind up with a "reduction" that is more the consistency of hard candy or some weird derivative thereof. Also, if you just don't feel like dealing with any of this, just drizzle some balsamic vinegar over the soup straight from the bottle. Oh, and if you are using super-high quality balsamic, omit the molasses, it is there to make it taste expensive. Okay, I think that is enough notes on this reduction that takes two ingredients (or one).

1/2 c. balsamic vinegar

1 Tbs. molasses

Combine both the vinegar and molasses in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring it to a simmer and continue to cook it, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has reduced by half. This should take about 5-8 minutes. Just keep an eye on it and the reduction will turn out just fine.

Remove from heat, and chill until you are ready to drizzle it over the soup just before serving.

Some bits, because it's Friday and I am too tired to think up one coherant post

This week has had some ups and downs. Thankfully, it's Friday and I get to relax all weekend and not think about school. HAHAHA. Not really, I do have some work to accomplish this weekend. At least I will get some fireworks between days though.


I completed my committee meeting without any feeling of completely blowing it. In fact, I even got a positive comment from my most difficult committee member. She said something about the presentation being clear and well organized. This is the best compliment I have gotten on my thesis research and my work at grad school in general so far. Hmmm, I wonder why so many of us (and by us, I mean the people in my particular program) get a little more than burned out and dissatisfied? Yah, I don't know either.


Is it just me, or does Jillian, from The Bachelorette, look a little more than tipsy every time she does her little date recaps at the end of the night?


Just yesterday I sat down at my computer and had a moment of total self-pity thinking that no one was reading. Traffic has tapered off, rather than picked up. Just as I was about to give myself another pep talk I got a comment on my cookie post. It was my first real comment from someone I didn't know. I was probably more excited than one person should be. I was also excited because by her leaving a comment, I found her blog, and it's great.
Go take a peak.


Also, I have been reading a book called "My So-called Freelance Life." I have to admit that I have been more than entertaining the idea of becoming a freelance writer. I have lots of ideas of things to write. I also know that I need like, a back-up. One of which is to be my own little environmental consulting firm. I actually have experience in this field, which is more than I can say about freelance writing. Either way Michelle Goodman's book is a very helpful how-to guide to setting up shop for yourself. This is not my reason, for rambling about it though. My point is that I wrote to her on her
website, even though I still feel like a stalker when I leave comments. And she wrote back! She was very nice and invited me to attend an event for freelancers in my area. I feel like this is the start of something. And I am excited. More excited about a future potential career than I have been in a long time.


I applied for a teaching assistant position at school for the fall. I found out this week that I got the position and I am elated. I really like teaching, at least I think I do, and am looking forward to doing it again. I have to admit though, I am also excited because I think it might make for some good blog posts.


I plan to cook up something yummy for the fourth tomorrow so hopefully, the next post will be, you know, like, not lame.

Laziness is delicious -or Za'atar spiced grilled zucchini and faux aioli sandwiches

Around this time of year some of you start complaining about how much squash you have. I was hoping to be one of them too. But, my garden is suffering a bit. I ruined it. But, let's not dwell on that shall we?

There is plenty of squash popping up at the farmers market to keep me satisfecho. And there is still plenty of time for eating it and trying new recipes before you get so tired of it you just want to throw it straight into the compost.

I think I mentioned the stove-top grilling pan for the tofu a few weeks back. This pan is a new found summer favorite for me. I love the perfect dark black lines it leaves, the way it makes everything crispy on the inside and crunchy on the outside, and most of all I love how gosh darn easy it is.

This recipe calls for za'atar spice. If you are curious about it you can read about it over here at Wikipedia. Basically, it is a middle eastern spice mixture with any range of spices, but most commonly it has marjoram, thyme, oregano, sesame seeds, and salt. It is delicious. Usually, I mix it with olive oil and bake it on some bread with goat cheese and tomato's. But, this time I had zucchini to eat and was too lazy to think up some sort of marinade or spice mixture. So, I threw in some za'atar spice and grilled away. Sometimes, laziness is delicious.

Za'atar spiced grilled zucchini sandwiches with caramelized onions and Faux aioli
serves 2-3

Two zucchinis, sliced on the diagonal or lengthwise if you're handy with the knives
2 Tbs. olive or canola oil
2-4 Tbs. za'atar spice
other sandwich fixin's ( I used lettuce, tomato, and cucumber)
3 Pita's, cut in half and toasted just before assembly
2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 Tbs. butter

Heat up your grilling pan to a med-high heat. Heat the butter in a non-stick frying pan over low heat. While it heats up, mix together the zucchini slices, oil, and za'atar spice and slice your onions.

Once the butter has melted, but not started to turn brown, add the onions and continue to cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes. You will know they are done when they are translucent, light brown, and have a very sugary taste to them rather than the typical pungent, biting taste of onions.

While your onions are cooking, place zucchini slices onto the grilling pan and let them grill until the black lines form on the bottom. About 5-8 minutes. Then flip them to until the black lines form on the other side. It will take less time on the second side. Remove them from the pan and let them cool on either a paper towel or wire rack while you cook the rest.

Faux Aioli

I looked up a lot of recipes online. While many of them are surely better they all took more time and effort than I was willing to spend. This recipe uses Nasoya because that is what I have here (and I hate mayonnaise) but I am sure regular mayonnaise or whatever mayonnaise substitute you have will work fine.

1/4 c. Nasoya
1 small clove garlic, pressed through a garlic press or finely minced
1 squeeze of half a lemon 1-2 Tbs. olive oil

Mix together the first three ingredients. Then add the olive oil and mix it up. Nasoya has a tendency to be a bit lumpy, but this will make it smooth. If you are using real mayonnaise, give it a taste before you add the olive oil to see if it needs to be thinned a bit.

Once you are done with the zucchini and faux aioli, toast your pitas, then make those sammies! I also ate some sweet potato fries on the side, cause otherwise this would be way too healthy.

Before grilling.


After. Yum.

P.S. I will look for places you can find za'atar online if you don't have a middle eastern market in your home town. Or, perhaps I will look for and experiment with some recipes to make it at home.
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