In defense of night owls

As an avowed morning-hater, I was happy to read new research indicating that if allowed to operate on their own schedule, night owls can "outperform the morning types." In the study, late risers were more alert and were able to perform tasks more quickly after being awake for 10 hours. Apparently, a predisposition for early or late rising is genetic with 15% of the population having a strong preference.

My favorite quote:

Those who hit their stride at midnight are often required to then get up early for work or school. They may appear to be lazy or unmotivated – but are really just sleep-deprived.

Amen to that.

Photo by Woodwalker via Wikimedia Commons

Landscapes from above

This week's Big Picture features human landscapes seen from the air. The colors and patterns are amazing. #5 freaks me out, #10 is strangely beautiful, and#12 just makes me ask, "Why?"


A beautiful day at my alma mater

Visiting IU yesterday almost made me wish I were a college student again. If only there weren't classes to spoil the fun.


Looking for a good read?

If you're looking for a good read, check out What Should I Read Next? You enter a book you like, and it recommends a list of 10 books you might also enjoy. You can register and keep a list of books you love to increase the accuracy of the recommendations even further.

Photo: One of my favorite places in Paris, Shakespeare and Co., taken by me in 2007.


Mango lassi

Mango season has begun! For the Indy readers, Kroger has mangos on sale 2 for $1 until 4/29. I picked up two and made mango lassi - basically an Indian mango smoothie. Healthy and delicious!

Mango lassi
serves one

1 mango - peel removed and flesh cut into chunks
6 oz vanilla yogurt (regular, not the extra thick)
6 oz milk
generous pinch ground cardamom

Puree ingredients until smooth using either a traditional or a hand blender. Serve immediately.

- Since the fruit is tender, my hand blender did a fine job. Plus, you can make it right in the glass.

- I measured the milk by pouring it in the empty yogurt container. I'm all about reducing dishes.

- Some recipes say the cardamom is optional, but I disagree. It's a perfect complement to the mango, and the lassi didn't taste right without it. While expensive, a little goes a long way, and you can also use it in chai.


No brainer dinner: Tex-Mex pita pizza

Tex-Mex Pita Pizza
serves one

1 pita flatbread (no pocket)
1/3 c refried beans
3 T taco sauce
1/2 c finely shredded cheddar-jack cheese
Topping options: diced jalapenos, diced tomato, sliced black olives, shredded chicken, diced onion
Sour cream

Heat oven to 350. Spread beans on pita to cover. Top with taco sauce, cheese, and toppings. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Cut into wedges and serve with sour cream.

Scenes from Japan: Tokyo Tower


Easy lunch: Tuna and white bean salad

This one could be embellished many ways, but I usually keep it simple. Serve it on a lettuce leaf, and you've got an easy, healthy lunch.

Tuna and white bean salad

1 5 oz can solid white albacore tuna in water, drained
1 15 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 small red onion, diced
3 T olive oil
3 T red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

In a medium bowl, break tuna into bite-sized pieces and stir in beans and onion. Add olive oil and vinegar and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Everest '09

I am obsessed with Mt. Everest. I've read every book, watched every movie, and each spring I keep track of the news from the mountain during climbing season. While I know I'll never summit myself, I hope to one day make the trek to base camp. For anyone else similarly obsessed - or even mildly interested - you can follow the 2009 season through daily postings on climber Alan Arnette's website and at Everest News. Hopefully it will be a safe month.

Photo by Pavel Novak


My 2nd favorite xkcd ever

Click here for my favorite. Apologies in advance for the profanity.



Check out MapEcos to find polluters in your area. Apparently I live near a business that puts out a high level of nickel emissions. Yeech.


For the allergy sufferers

You can buy the old formula of Actifed (pseudoephredrine and triprolidine) at Walgreen's behind the pharmacy counter as "Wal-Act". You will have to show your driver's license and feel vaguely criminal, but such is life these days. I'm just happy to be able to find it again. While it makes me a bit drowsy, I've yet to find anything else that can compare when I need cold or allergy relief.


Race For the Cure - 2009

The weather was glorious, and nearly 42 thousand people attended this year's Race for the Cure in Indianapolis. This was my 8th race and one of the best yet. I've walked every year since my mom passed away from breast cancer in 2002. Here's to you, Mom!

The start of the race

Me and Dr. H.

Elephants for the Cure!

For Mom
Mark your calendars! Next year's race is Saturday, April 17, 2010.


Into the rabbit hole

Consider yourself warned: National Geographic's infinite photograph is addicting. Move the yellow square around the image, click, and you will zoom in to see a close up of the photos that compose that section. Each photo is a mosaic made up of hundreds of other photos (which are in turn mosaics themselves). Double click on any image to get more information about the photograph. All of the photos are user submitted, and there's a link that allows you to upload your own images for inclusion. It begs to have Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World playing in the background. Truly beautiful!

Friday in Paris: Flowers in the 7th


The coolest pics of Tokyo you'll see all day

Time-lapse video of the Shinjuku district of Tokyo. I can even make out my hotel in a couple shots. Good memories!

remanence : variance from Samuel Cockedey on Vimeo.

Oh George!

I admit it. I have a soft spot for George Will. I blame it on my weakness for men in bow ties. Nonetheless, he lost me with this week's article on the evils of denim (??!!). The highlight was his standard of appropriate clothing:

This is not complicated. For men, sartorial good taste can be reduced to one rule: If Fred Astaire would not have worn it, don't wear it. For women, substitute Grace Kelly.

I'm not sure if I find the sentiment sweetly out of touch or maddeningly snobby. Probably a bit of both. I am tempted to see how much of what I own would pass the "Grace Kelly" test. I'm thinking very little (and I'm ok with that!).


Elizabeth Gilbert on the creative process

I love Ted, and this is one of my favorite talks. The ideas are similar to those Julia Cameron presents in The Artist's Way. Scientifically accurate or not, her perspective is anxiety-reducing (and thus sanity-producing) for anyone trying to create. Maybe it's time for me to have a little talk with the genius in my walls? It can't hurt ...


Easter 2009

Easter around the world.

#2 is remarkable, #3 is beautiful, and #14 is heartbreaking. My favorite? #28.


No brainer dinner: Spicy peanut noodles

Spicy Peanut Noodles

1/2 box whole wheat spaghetti
1/3 c crunchy peanut butter
2 T soy sauce
1.5 T white wine vinegar
1/2 t sugar
Hot sauce, cayenne, and/or crushed red pepper to taste
3-4 drops sesame oil
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1 small cucumber, peeled and diced

While the pasta cooks, whisk together peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, hot sauce/cayenne/crushed red pepper, sugar, and sesame oil. Thin with water to the consistency of heavy cream.

Drain noodles and rinse under cold water. Add sauce and veggies. Stir to combine. Serve at room temperature or cold.

A blow to the machismo

The groomer meant well with the Easter bandana, but I don't think Ernie was feeling it. Poor little guy.


My favorite Easter salad

This salad is always a hit - it just tastes like spring. I'll be making a batch sans sesame seeds to take to Easter dinner Sunday (allergies on the scene!).

Spinach-strawberry salad

1 bag baby spinach (6oz)
1/2 pound strawberries, sliced
1/2 c canola or vegetable oil
1/4 c white wine vinegar
1/3-1/2 c sugar (I use about halfway in between)
1/4 t paprika
2 T sesame seeds (optional)
1 T poppy seeds (optional)

Toss spinach and berries in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, sugar, paprika, sesame seeds and poppy seeds. Pour over spinach and berries, and stir to coat.

Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving. The longer it rests, the more the berries break down and flavor the dressing. Leftovers the next day are especially yummy.

Happy Easter!


Peep madness

Kroger has Peeps for $1 a pack this week. Remembering Easters of my youth, I happily bought two - green chicks and yellow bunnies. I got home, ripped open the package of chicks, and excitedly popped one in my mouth only to learn ... that these things are seriously nasty. Not just sweet, but overwhelmingly, nausea-inducingly sweet. I guess my tastes have matured in the last few decades. Now I'm stuck with 9 chicks and 12 bunnies that are too cute to throw away but too vile to even consider eating.

So I do what any 21st century woman with too many peeps and too little sense would do ... I turn to the internet. Apparently, peeps are a muse for modern times. Some travel, others become jewelry, some take their place in s'mores or milkshakes, and others inspire entire books. The unlucky ones meet their doom in the dreaded microwave. I'm still deciding the fate of my little peeps.

My favorite Peepscapade? The brave chick who donated his wee fluffy body to go where no peep has gone before. Godspeed noble peep!


Neti 101

For many of us, spring in Indiana means sinus trouble. From sneezing to congestion, it can be a miserable time of year. I've found that a twice daily nasal rinse using a neti pot gives me great relief. The limiting factor is my remembering to be diligent and do it preventatively when my sinuses are clear. I've learned the hard way that it's much easier to prevent sinus problems than to solve them. If you are more congested, you can use the neti pot up to 4 times a day until you're back on track.

For those wondering what a neti pot is and how to use it, the Sinucleanse videos explain it better than I could. Yes, it looks weird/horrible, but once you relax and find the right water temperature, you won't feel a thing. The first time I tried it, I was not so relaxed (understatement!), and it didn't go well at all. My mind thought "water in nose = drowning" and panicked. If you have this reaction, stick with it and take deep calming breaths through your mouth. I found that within days, I was able to do it comfortably.

I use the Sinucleanse system which is available at CVS and Walgreens, but you can get a nicer (read: not plastic) neti pot at most yoga centers.

-- Instead of buying pre-made saline packets, you can make your own solution with 1/8 t baking soda and 1/8 t pickling (non-iodized) salt for 1/2 cup water.

-- Try to get the water as close to body temperature as possible. Hot water can cause swelling, and cold may sting. Ideally, you will not feel the water as it passes through your nose and sinuses.

-- Do a yogic drying technique after: 10 breaths with the head upside down, 10 facing the floor, 10 quick breaths with each nostril closed.

-- Don't bend your head too far forward during the process.

-- Check and double check that you added the salt/baking soda to the water. I forgot once and will never make that mistake again. Paaaaaaaain!

-- Don't use the neti too close to bedtime. You want to be upright to allow your sinuses to drain. I find that an hour before bed works well for me.

Happy neti'ing! I hope it helps you as much as it has me.


The daily shirt

While I'm a huge fan of Threadless, they only come out with new designs once a week. Those wanting a daily fix for their artsy t-shirt needs should check out TeeFury, Woot Shirt, and Design by Humans. All three accept artist submissions and let user votes decide which tees should be printed. TeeFury and Woot Shirt are the most economical options, with shirts from $10-11 shipped.

Me? I'll check 'em out each day but probably hold out for the next Threadless $5 sale. They have a tongue-in-cheek vibe that suits me to a ... well, you get the idea.