November, 2011

Milwaukee Museum Part 3

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

I have no recollection of every being in a butterfly room at any museum, ever. I like looking at all the trays of the pinned bugs, but this joint had LIVE butterflies.

The first thing that hits you when you go in the Puelicher Butterfly Wing is that it’s damp and warm, which is really nice during a midwest winter. It’s like a greenhouse in a museum, so it instantly sets you up for feeling tropical. It didn’t look like there were too many different types of butterflies in the room itself, and there wasn’t much information that I could see about the different species. I like reading that kind of thing.

Right at the entrance to the room is a case full of chrysalides. Some of them are absolutely crazy looking:

I thought these looked like crazy jade beads with gold accents.

Seriously, these were shiny gold. Like polished gold. You could see your reflection in them!

After you stare at the case for a few minutes and start to make your way through the room, you are struck by two things: holy crap that butterfly tried to eat my face, don’t instinctively squish it, and holy crap there are butterflies everywhere, don’t step on one.

The amazing thing is, even with my crappy little digital camera I still got some amazing photos. So, this is for real a must stop if you like taking pictures.

Milwaukee Museum Part 2

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

The first exhibit we went to in the Milwaukee Public Museum was the “Streets of Old Milwaukee” which is meant to look like oldie-timey Milwaukee circa late 1800s and early 1900s. We always like looking at these kinds of things since it tugs at our “sad that hipsters have taken steampunk from us” heartstrings. Also, they have a candy store in the middle of the exhibit that had Bottlecaps candy which was awesome. Right next to this was the “European Village,” which displays these rooms that represent the different European ethnic groups that immigrated to Milwaukee back in the day.

My father is Czechoslovakian, from back when Czechoslovakia was a country and not two countries. I suppose I’ve mostly considered myself Slovak rather than Czech, but I really have no idea how that kind of thing is supposed to work, so whatevs, I took pictures of both!

The wall hanging translates to something along the lines of “if you want to keep your man learn how to cook.”

Also, I happen to have tons of that painted wooden utensil/plate/stuff at my house from the old country, including a shot glass set, so it was cool to see more of it.

The info thing for the Czech room said something about guys chasing girls around and hitting them with sticks, but we didn’t see any sticks in the room.

Also, Christmas tree? Maybe my deeply ingrained love for Christmas decorating isn’t a personality flaw but a CULTURAL TRADITION so stop judging me.

We went to the Irish room expecting to just see a dude passed out on the floor. Instead, just a grandma knitting, and a spinning wheel, not a whiskey bottle to be seen.

Seriously, there were five or six spinning wheels in this exhibit, but all the fake wool looked like synthetic wigs and distracted from the magic. The rooms also had lots of taxidermied cats for some reason.


Milwaukee Museum Part 1

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

So, I really, really like going to museums. We spent most of our NYC/DC trip going to museums. There is zero pressure or obligation in going to a museum as a trip; you don’t have to be anywhere at a specific time unless you want to go to a special exhibit, and you’re free to decide which areas you want to go to first, second, third etc. We almost never make it through an entire museum when we go because we’re really, really slow in the areas we really like. I probably spent over an hour in just the American Museum of Natural History’s Rose Center for Earth and Space Hall of the Universe. FORGET the Metropolitan Museum of Art; I think we were there for a few hours and saw only about ¼ of it, and it would easily take four or five trips for us to see all exhibits. I really REALLY like going to natural history museums. I am all about DINOSAURS and OUTER SPACE and ANIMALS and BUGS. So, during a visit to Milwaukee, we hit up the Milwaukee Public Museum, which my husband has been to many times, and apparently I’ve been there before (in grade school?) but have no direct recollection of ever going.

Of course, this presents something of a dilemma for my poor husband. Taking me to a natural history museum guarantees that I’ll be in a good mood the whole day. It also guarantees that I’ll make an utter fool of myself in public and embarrass him because I pretty much turn into an eight year old boy at museums. Guaranteed, I spend the first five minutes pretending I’m a dinosaur (T-Rex, specifically) and stomp around with mimicked short arms and three fingers biting him repeatedly. Interspersed in this carnival is me whining about wanting to see either the outer space exhibit or the dinosaur exhibit RIGHT NOW.

Now that I have a camera and three blog readers, I also feel compelled to take photos of every stupid thing I find because they are ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS and I MUST SHARE THEM. This is the only reason I have this photo:

I do actually have cool photographs of the butterfly room and the village thingie, which I’ll share later, but I leave you with this photo of another diorama, which, if I had to guess, probably pretty accurately reenacts what you’d see if you ran into me at a natural history museum.

Bento Philosophy

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

I pack bento boxes for lunch almost every day of the week. Bentos make it easy for me to do a couple of things with my lunches that, through other means, I’ve found personally difficult to control. I have almost no impulse control.

~Portion control: I’ve gained and lost a lot of weight over the last 7-8 years, partially due to job changes, partially due to a chronic condition that maybe I’ll talk about later. I really like eating, and cooking, so I enjoy planning my food for lunch at work. However, if there’s a big container of taco meat in the fridge, I’ll take the whole thing intending to spread it over two or three days worth of lunches but just eat it all that day. Bento boxes are small. They force you to think about how much of any given thing you want to take with you, and make maybe a more reasonable choice.

~Variety: There is a specific philosophy about how a proper bento is packed. Traditionally, it’s 3 parts carbs, 1 part protein and 2 parts other stuff (veggies & fruits). I don’t follow this specifically, mainly because I feel as though I need more protien than this in my diet. Really though, because a bento full of taco meat might be tasty, but boring, I’m more inclined to include a bunch of different things to make it interesting. And, I can have a little of all of the things I want.

~Using up the leftovers: Not in the traditional sense of using them. More like, these last three crackers will fit just fine in this space I have left in my bento. Or hmm, I have a little more room here, what do we have that will fit.

~A pretty lunch: Not all of my bentos are particularly attractive. In fact, most aren’t. Many, many bento websites are devoted to making attractive bentos. However, just having some variety in a bento kind of naturally makes it more appealing, especially if you have colorful food. And you can often pack them in such a way that they look like fancy-pants restaurant meals.

Now, I’m not a full-fledged bento lunch packer, for a couple of reasons. First, bento boxes are small. Really small. When packed according to traditional ratios, a bento box is supposed to be about 500-600 calories. Really, this is a pretty accurate measurements, and is a perfectly suitable lunch for a normal person. I have two problems with this though: I don’t pack according to the traditional ratios, so my bentos usually end up being a bit lower calorically. Also, since I run a lot, I need to eat an average of 2100-2300 calories per day to maintain my current weight and activity level. Since I don’t eat breakfast either, this means that a measly 600 calories won’t cut it if that’s all I eat until I get home (usually between 730 and 830pm.) So, to deal with this, I pack about two and a half bentos per day. Usually, I have my primary bento (which is lunch,) and a secondary bento (which is replaced by a can or bowl of soup, or a big fancy salad occasionally) and a snack bento (veggies, a cheese stick or some crackers or something like that.)

So, really, a bento is just a fancy way of packing one or more tiny cute lunchboxes. Anyone can do it. You don’t even need the tiny cute lunchbox part, though having some form of compartmentalization helps. I got most of my information when I started making bentos from Lunch In A Box and Just Bento. Both of these sites are really great resources, have faqs and recipes and all sorts of stuff.

Pumpkin things 10-12: The rest of the things!

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

Pumpkin pie squares. These were pretty tasty, but a little bit too deep to eat as squares, per se. Next time, I’ll double the crust and make in a 9 by 13 pan instead.

Pumpkin bread! I always make pumpkin bread. I made what was called “Pumpkin Gingerbread” this year, but it didn’t taste much like gingerbread to me, so I’ll be going back to my other recipe. Still pretty good though.

Finally, the last pumpkin beer:

Honestly, this was pretty gross. The good news is, it’s big and so halfway through, you stop caring and just chug it.

I have two more pumpkin recipes that I really wanted to make but didn’t get to in October, so I’ll still probably post about them later. My grand total for 2011 was only 12, so not as good as last year, but whatevs!

Happy 3 days after Halloween!

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

This is my friend’s pumpkin. She did a kickass job and got a lot of compliments from trick-or-treaters!

My pumpkin looks pretty awesome in a regular picture…

But when lit…eh, not as awesome. This was my first ever try at that fancy-pants carving where you don’t carve all the way through. I didn’t hollow it out enough.

I actually have quite a few more pumpkin things to share from October, but I was side tracked on Halloween by this pretty thing:

While I was photographing the pumpkins in their natural habitat, she wandered up on our porch, rubbing things like she owned the place. This was clearly someone’s pet, but there weren’t any tags or anything, so we decided to take her inside for the night.

We posted a bunch of stuff online to try to find the owner, and set her up with some food, water, and a litterbox. We have three other cats, so we had to keep her separate from everyone else. She was pretty sad about that and made very cute and sad meows when we left :(

The next morning, I took her to the vet to check and see if she had a microchip (she didn’t.) Fortunately, later that day her owner contacted us and they were happily reunited. The end!