Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bento Lunches

Hello there, the fabulous Stumble Upon has introduced me to yet another hobby I never knew I missed. Bento boxed lunches are easily the cutest culinary habit since the invention of Peeps.

Popular in Japan, the idea is to make adorable your packed lunch, not only the container, but actually the food inside it. I found a few Bento Blogs that showed me all sorts of cute ideas. My favorite is easily, but for some reason the owner of the site doesn’t post anymore. (I think she had a baby.) I also like and and especially

I saw all of these and I had to buy a bento box and try it out myself. I’ll admit when I got my box I was shocked at how small it is. I insist on getting a microwavable box even though the traditional way to eat them is at room temperature, because you do not refrigerate them at work or school. (The food safety issues here are obvious.) But my box looked about the size of my fists closed together. I couldn’t imagine how this would fill me, and it doesn’t entirely, but I usually bring something along on the side. I also realized how this could better help me with portion control. Here's a picture of my little Bento Box. Ooooh the cuteness! Oh and it's microwavable.

This bento is not my first, I will try to post that one later, but this is my most recent one. I made a little wrap of spinach, turkey, cheese and humus. Those little balls are wasabi dried green peas. In the top level is a little wedge of Laughing Cow Lite cheese and Triskets.

My first bento was a cheese, onion and green pepper quesadilla cut into little animals using a Noah’s Ark animal cookie cutters. The excess I ate for breakfast. The little piggy of sauce has hot pepper sauce from Trader Joes. (If anyone has a non-wasteful way of getting sauce into pig please enlighten me, I had to put it in a bowl and then squeeze the container to suck up the sauce leaving lots of leftover sauce in the bowl.) The bottom level is my baked ziti. Eh it could be cuter. I'll try harder next time, I have a few cool ideas.

And here's another attempt , a humus smiley with celery sticks and spaghetti.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Taking notes for a large Research Paper

Writing a large research paper is daunting on the best of days, but staring at a blank page can be intellectually crippling. Even after reading dozens of articles, people will procrastinate to avoid starting the writing process.

Today’s tip avoids this research roadblock completely. When I write my research papers, I almost never have to start with a blank screen because I take notes on my laptop while I’m conducting my research. If you can read papers online, make sure you take notes along the way in a Word document you’ve pulled up along side the articles. Feel free to cut and paste great quotes into your Word doc, just MAKE SURE that you have a system to differentiate between your original thoughts/comments and your direct quotes so you don’t accidentally plagiarize someone’s work.* Also, go ahead and put the full citation information and make each note a footnote ahead of time. This way you will know exactly where you got each quote/argument.

Doing this work ahead of time is a great way to make use of the murky procrastination time. You can “work” on your paper and get some information down, without stressing that all of the arguments are in line.

If you do this you must be ready to cut some arguments out and you should also start to create an outline for the whole thing as you go along. Often research papers, especially in the humanities, start to flesh themselves out, but if you have to write a literature review in and department, this tip should help you.

Software tools can help, like Adobe Acrobat Pro which will let you comment within a PDF, but you still have to cut and paste the notes from several documents into one. Also, helpful are citation management products like EndNote and ProCite, but it is difficult to take actual notes in these too.

I hope this research tip helps you get over the procrastination monster and start writing your research paper with organization and ease.

*You may have to download the newest versions of Adobe Reader to be able to cut and paste from PDF documents. Otherwise using HTML documents when available is advised.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Get Full Text Articles in Google

Recently, I have heard a lot of frustration with Google returning searches that are full of articles and webpages that most people cannot look at. Here are a few options to

1. You may have access to this article through your school or public library, so contact your local librarian or go to their website, you probably have access to more than you realize.

2. The second option you have is to go to the Google Advanced Search and select the “Usage Rights” section and change the option to “Free to Use or Share.” (See circle below) This will give you only the articles that have full text. I could not find this option in Google Scholar, however the Advanced Search is usually good enough to locate some great research. If you will look at the picture above, I have circled the drop down menu you will need to use in the Advanced Search tool to find the "Free to Use and Share" files.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Christmas Bread Gifts

Here is the second Holiday Tip that I would like to add, again sorry it’s late, but you can keep it in mind for next year. This is a very flexible idea so you can probably use it sooner.

This year for some of my office mates I made Christmas Focaccia. I case anyone doesn’t know, Focaccia is an Italian bread that is a cross between a thick pizza dough and flat bread. It contains about a gallon of olive oil and you can put any toppings on it that you like. For my Christmas version, I used fresh rosemary needles to emulate pine needles and then I also used onions and Red and Green Peppers. For a little extra flavor I kneeded in garlic powder and dried basil.

There are a number really easy recipes to make Focaccia, and I have included a few below. I also have a recipe that takes half a week to complete, but I wouldn’t recommend that unless you have absolutely nothing better to do.,,FOOD_9936_309,00.html

Another Lazy Girl Idea is to use frozen bread dough. You can usually get them in packs, and all you have to do is let them thaw in a bag with olive oil overnight. Once it’s thawed, you can just punch it down and add a little more olive oil and let it rise again. It’s a pretty easy idea and the end result is super cute without a lot of work. (But no nice girl would ever admit to using.)

Once the bread is cooled, you can wrap it in Saran Wrap and then I found these cute Christmassy clear plastic wrapping at the Dollar Store and wrapped each loaf with the Christmas wrap so that the recipient can still see the bread below. A great thing to include with the bread would be a nice bottle of flavored olive oil or a jar of bruschetta.

If you want an Easter Focaccia, try some Yellow and Orange Peppers with some nice purple-y Red Onion. Or what about Orange Peppers and Black Olives for Halloween! The possibilities are limited only by the number of Holidays you celebrate.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Magnet Craft Project

I am very sorry for the delay. Christmas was a very busy time for this girl but I do have a few holiday gift and craft ideas to share. Part of the reason I waited till after Christmas to share these is because I wanted to take some pictures for you to help illustrate my directions. Also, I didn’t want to ruin the surprise for any of my gift recipients.

The first project I will tell you about is an idea that I got from the great craft blog, Not Martha. They are homemade magnet sets made from recycled magazines as well as online Images I located on Google Image search.

The supplies needed for this project I picked up at Michael’s and consisted of one tube of clear drying glue like the one seen here.

The glass balls are actually the marbles that people use to make flower arrangements. They do have some in the mosaic section of the store, but I found these in the flower arranging section which gave me more pieces for less money. Little magnets are also available there in packs of 20 or more. I also did a little spin on the magnet idea and created some pushpins using thumb tacks to glue to the back of the pictures. While Not Martha recommended using a circle stencil to cut out the images, I found that just generally cutting out the images and then gluing down the marbles and then trimming up the edges after the dried to be the best process for me. I feel like this way I got just the right angle from the marbles which were not exactly round in the first place.

I made sets of the magnets of 5-8 that would match each other. Some of the sets I made were,

"Dogwood Blossoms"

“Impressionist Paintings”

“Old Masters Paintings”

“Butterflies and Roses”

"Puppies and Kittens"

"Colorful Gods”

...and then of course there are my Christmas Images.