Monday, December 7, 2009

Engineers save more lives than doctors!

If you ask many girls what they want to do when they grow up, they will answer, "I want to be a doctor, because I want to help people."

Here is one woman one who is working hard to expand the career choices before girls and young women. Engineering (if done right) can help bring clean drinking water, life saving medical equipment and many other things that impact lives every day.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A favorite Song from 7th Grade

Verse by verse, dissect a favorite song you had in 7th grade.

I had trouble narrowing this one down. I remember so many songs that I played over and over and over and over..... I am going to try to pick one from my first two albums (When I entered Junior High, I became too mature to buy 45's) - John Denver Greatest Hits and Elton John Greatest Hits.

When I looked through the list of songs online the one that resonated with my 12 year old heart was Follow Me by John Denver. Oh the angst that I went through wondering if I would ever meet my soul mate, my one true love, my all-that. sigh

Does any one out there remember it?



I can't decide if it is wildly romantic or just a bit creepy.

It's by far the hardest thing I've ever done

To be so in love with you and so alone


(Do you hear that - He loves ME!!)


{Refrain}
Follow me where I go, what I do and who I know

Make it part of you to be a part of me

Follow me up and down, all the way and all around

Take my hand and say you'll follow me


(If you love me so much, why don't you follow me?)


It's long been on my mind, you know it's been a long, long time

I'll try to find the way that I can make you understand

The way I feel about you and just how much I need you

To be there where I can talk to you when there's no one else around


(Now you are talking, remember you NEED ME!!)

{Refrain}


You see, I'd like to share my life with you and show you things I've seen

Places that I'm going to, places where I've been

To have you there beside me and never be alone

And all the time that you're with me, we will be at home


(Yes, yes, YES, let's travel and see the world together.)

{As refrain}

Follow me where I go, what I do and who I know

Make it part of you to be a part of me

Follow me up and down, all the way

Take my hand and I will follow you


(Do you see why I love this song? He will follow me, just as it should be.)


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

An ER Visit

This week's writing prompt from MamaKat is:

An ER Visit...


I teach safety for a living and I like to use real life examples as illustrations what to do and even better-- what not to do. To be fair I tell a few stories about myself.

One summer night Mr. Geek and I were cooking a great dinner -- Steaks on the grill, asparagus with cheese sauce. yum. I was multitasking, checking the steaks out on the patio and making the cheese sauce in the kitchen. I started melting the butter in a pan, added some flour and was ready to slowly add milk. When I open the refrigerator, the milk carton was empty. I grabbed the new gallon of milk and went to untwist the cap, but the stupid safety ring wouldn't give.

This was where I usually go get a fork and pry off the plastic ring, but I looked down and there was a butter knife right there on the counter. How perfect, I thought, I will use the knife to pry off the plastic ring. It will work just like a fork and I will have one less utensil to clean. Who was I fooling, I was not worried about cleaning up I was more thinking about convenience - I was hungry and I was in a hurry. I did not want the steaks or sauce to burn and I WAS HUNGRY. (Did I mention that?)

I took the knife with my right hand and put it into the plastic ring in order to to then pry it off when with out warning, the plastic ring broke. The momentum that I had carried the knife down to where my left hand was holding the gallon of milk. The knife cut into my left pointer finger (Can you picture this?) It was then that I found out that you can indeed cut yourself with a butter knife.


I saw blood. I turned off the stove. I grabbed several papertowels and put pressure on the cut. I held the finger above my heart. Then I thought, I think I should sit down.

Along came Mr. Geek. concern about .... the burning steaks. He was hungry too.

"What happened?"

"I cut myself"

"Well get a band aid."

(Can you feel the concern?)

"I think I might need stitches"

At this point, Mr. Geek finally actually looked at me. He stopped rushing around and said, "Let me see it."

Yes, it was going to need stitches. We were able to call a neighbor girl over to watch the kids (the little geeks were still toddlers) and we went to the ER.

We finally ate our steaks at 10:00 that night.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Memorable Thanksgiving

This week's writing prompt from MamaKat is:

A Thanksgiving to be remembered...

(inspired via Twitter by @knitmyrhino from Crafting With Rhinos)

I can not remember any on particular Thanksgiving but for some reason there is one Thanksgiving scene that is vivid in my memory. Why with all of the memories in my head this one scene stick out? Was it tragic? Was it touching? Wait for it....

First I have to set the scene.

We always had Thanksgiving dinner at my Grandma's house. My Grandma's house was not very big, maybe 900 square foot with a galley kitchen. My Grandfather at some point had added an extra room of the kitchen that we called the Breezeway (yes with a capital B). This was before such inconveniences as Building Codes and Regulations.

The grownup all sat in the Dining Room (also with a capitol D). The point at which you moved from the kid's table in the Breezeway to the grownup table in the Dining room was a decision loaded with controversy. You see it depended on much more than just your age. It really depended more on how much room there was at the adult table. After counting heads and comparing that number to the amount of room at the table, my Grandma then looked for a natural break in age. For example, my two older sisters are 18 months apart, so they would always be seated together. This had some logic behind it but as you can expect it was met with some arguments like - How come Linda got to sit at the grownup table at 14 and I had to wait until I was 16?

Me? I was always content to sit at the kids table. I fell in the middle of a pack of cousins, all two years apart. My cousin Lisa was two years younger than me and my playmate for most of my life. Her brother Mark was two years older and lots of fun when he wasn't teasing me until I cried. Then there was my brother, whom at this point in my life, I tolerated.

The adults were talking and laughing and completely oblivious to anything that was going on just several feet away in the Breezeway. Left to ourselves we came up with our own entertainment.

And the one memory I hold after all these years? Are you ready for it? My cousins and I spent time learning to swallow peas and corn whole. And the stakes got higher eat round. Could you swallow one peas and two kernels of corn? For the record, I was not the best at it because I had a pretty big fear of choking. If I remember correctly (and I doubt very much that I do) the boys ruled this challenge and my cousin Lisa and I claimed moral superiority such like - "What kind of idiot would want to swallow their food without chewing it?"

What do you remember about Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 16, 2009

10 Random Things

This was in my Draft box. I am not sure where I borrowed it from.

1. Your favorite bev
erage: Coffee, Coffee, Coffee. When planning my trip to Haiti, I first packed coffee.



2. Your hometown:




3. Your favorite television show: The Amazing Race

Yes, that is the host Phil Keoghan wi
th Mr. Geek.


4. Your occupation/you are in school for:

5. Your first car: The first car that I drove was my Dad's Chevy Monza.



The First car that I owned was a 1984 Plymouth Colt.


6. Your favorite dish: Any thing made on Top Chef. (Hey I can dream, can't I?)





7. Celebrity you've been told you resemble: Leelee Sobieski - but only when she has a geeky role like the one in Never Been Kissed.



8. Celebrity on your "to do" list: Chef Robert Irvine I was so happy that the Food Network hired him back for Dinner Impossible.



9. Your favorite childhood toy: Stuffed Animals. I owned lots and lots. Each one had a name, a birthday, and a personality. I had them all enrolled in school where I was the one-room schoolhouse teacher.




10. Any random picture


Friday, November 13, 2009

7 Quick Take Friday

I don't have the focus to write a complete blog posting on any one subject. So this is my opportunity to let everyone know what the Geeks have been up.

1. Soccer, Soccer, Soccer. Most of the games were rained out (field too soggy) in October so the weekends in November are packed. Also indoor soccer has started, oh my.


Here is the Middle Geek attempting a trick shot.



2. Lance - the Dog Geek. The little Geeks LOVE playing fetch and soccer with Lance. The do not mind feeding him and giving him water. The walking and cleaning up poop? Not so much.








3. Safety Training - I have been continuing my tour of Missouri in my quest to bring safety education to every county. Only 100 more to go.





4. I have spent too much time searching the web for the perfect obnoxious T-shirt for the College Geeks birthday present.

Please someone, put this on a coffee mug for me!





5. Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) This is an event for 7th and 8th grade girls to meet women with nontraditional careers (for women) and to be encouraged to stay in math and science. Every year my friends and I travel to our Alma mater and put on a workshop. Usually we bring the bridge kit and explain why engineers are the MOST important people in the world.

Unfortunately I missed it this year due to #3 reason. (sob)


6. Making Charcoal Briquettes from Peanut Shells - I am still involved with Engineers Without Borders. Several projects that we started in Haiti are ongoing.

We have successfully carbonized peanut shells. Look at that burning in the picture. We were able to FILL the chimney with shells and with one match the entire contents caught fire.

While that may not sound amazing at first, you have to know that peanut shells pack pretty densely and it is difficult to get enough air for the fire to burn without being smothered. We modified a Weber Chimney Charcoal Starter (Somebody from Weber Grill contact me, we love your design.) Next step is to build a larger model.
















7. I was so lucky to be able to fit in one more mission trip this year. Hugs to Mr. Geek who picks up the slack at the home front while I am away.

This mission trip was close to home (just one county over). The constant October rain drove us inside where we completely made over the Sanctuary of a small church. The average age of the members is over seventy and the church had not been painted since probably the 70's.

When we were done it looked like a beautiful country chapel that would be perfect for a wedding. We hope we were also able to bring some hope and joy to those worshiping there.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Our Newest Geek

A Miracle has occurred (according to the Little Geeks) and the Geek household has finally gotten a new dog. Part of the credit or blame has to go to Michelle . Go to her blog and read about Service Dogs, watch the Cowboy and Wills video , and try not to run to your local animal shelter.

I am proud to present the newest member - Lance. (No geek nickname yet, suggestions?)


He is nine months old and an Australian Cattle Dog. We adopted him from the local Humane Society so he already had a name.

The Littlest Geek loved his name because he thinks he is named after a character in Pokemon.

Mr. Geek loves his name because he thinks he is named after a different Lance.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Next Post

I am trying to reestablish my blogging habit (it is all about me not you, I am so sorry) so I searched for some ideas for Tuesday. I came across Ruby Tuesday .
The rules are simple - Post a picture with red in it.

I live in St. Louis and Red can only mean one thing this time of year----

Go Cardinals!!!


Here are some pictures of the Middle Geek at Busch Stadium with his school band playing God Bless America!!Are you having trouble finding him? Here, I will zoom in. Hint: He is the one in a red shirt.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Love and Welcome Back

My friend Elizabeth gave me an award last week. She said she hoped it would give me a swift kick in the tush and get me back online again. hehehe How did she guess that my Fall resolution (New Years resolutions are so last year) was to get back into the habit of blogging. I am going to need some help, for some reason I have become the wold's worst editor and everything I write is deemed , "Not Good Enough!" which is weird because I don't even know any editors.

Anyway I am going to stop procrastinating and attempting to craft the perfect sentence (as if) and continue on with the directions. Here are the rules:
1. Thank the person who gave this to you! (check)

2. Copy the logo and place it in your blog! (see below)

3. Link the person who nominated you! (check, woohoo this is easy)

4. Name 7 things about yourself that no one would really know. (Seriously?)

5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers. (Where are you?)

6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate. (uhhhh)

7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know you nominated them!
(Can I do this by thinking about it really intently?)






Wow, seven things. What is it with bloggin and list, three thinks I eat for breakfast, twenty five things I do after lunch.....well here are my seven things, although probably you already know them (or you didn't care to know them in the first place):

1. I used to work as a waitress at Denny's. I worked all shifts including Graveyard (11 pm - 7 am) so I can tell you with certainty that the weirdos come out between 3 am and 5 am, excessive drinking does not make you more attractive and men should not wear corsets and fish net stockings to a restaurant even if they have just left the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

2. I love jackets, they are the one article of clothing that I will splurge on. I own two jackets that were my Dad's that I still wear occasionally.

3. I love coffee and spend way too much time thinking about it. When I began to pack for Haiti, my first thought was caffeine. I packed ground coffee, instant coffee, Carnation International coffee, chocolate covered coffee beans and caffeinated Jelly Bellies. Then I was able to relax and decide what clothes to pack. (BTW they do have coffee in Haiti, good coffee, who knew?)

4. I hate to eat breakfast. I ate breakfast everyday of my life until I turned 40.
I finally decided, "I don't enjoy eating breakfast so I am NOT going to." It was very empowering. It still drives my mom crazy. I don't miss it at all.

5. I love Broadway musicals, the old and new ones. Do you want to hear the soundtrack to Oklahoma or Fiddler on the Roof, complete with all the back ground parts? Just say the word and I will be there.

6. I almost was paddled in second grade (yes they still hit kids back then) for not finishing my handwriting. My handwriting sill sucks.

7. I never actually tag people in these awards because I am afraid that they will be like, who does she think she is tagging me, she is just a little blog and I have subscribers in the triple digits, and then I flash back to junior high and ... I do not need this pressure. However I LOVE getting tagged, because it makes me feel like one of the cool kids.

There. I am going to post this quick before that editor inside of me wakes up and deletes it. (She is just now getting her second cup of coffee, shhhh)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mexico - The Trip Home

I can't believe I haven't finished blogging about this trip. I bet anymore who is still visiting here is bored stiff. Well let me wrap this up.

We spent one day just relaxing on the beach. I love the beach!! (I often state that God put me smack dab in the Midwest, because if I was too close to the beach I would just sit there all day.... staring at the waves..... listening to the surf....feeling the warm sand....well, you get the picture.)

The drive home was just as long - imagine that. Imagine our delight (okay it was my delight, but everyone was delighted that I was delighted) when one on the Rest Areas that we pulled into for lunch was named -- Safety Rest Area!!




Yes I did have to take a picture.














Spending two days in a van makes exercise sound like fun!













To sum up, I am very glad that I went on this trip. I met some very interesting people. I also was able to challenge myself physically and was proud of my ability to keep going. I cannot wait until I can get back into the field. I am already ready for another trip!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

AbFab in Mexico - The Middle

The leader for the Mexico trip for many years, Pastor Carol, had a family tragedy before we left. Her husband was admitted to the hospital with heart failure. While we were in route to Mexico, he died. It was important to Pastor Carol that we continue with the mission plans and not let the families in Mexico down. One member, who had been to Mexico last year, was tagged as leader. (And yes that was the qualifications, that and of course that he was willing to be leader.) We kept in touch with Pastor Carol throughout the week and tried our best to make her proud.




Bright and early on Monday morning - actually the sun was not yet up - we headed towards the border. Jorge met us at the border to lead us to the Clinic. The twelve of us divided into two groups to work on each house. The men were divided equally and assigned to work on their house for the entire time. The woman worked on different houses throughout the week, although I have to say that the house that I was assigned to the first day (House 1) was to me, MY house. Each house was also assigned a Maestro to make sure the building is built correctly and a translator to help, you know, translate.





The houses are built out of concrete block. When we arrived the concrete floor had been poured and the first of the corners set.








First we moved the blocks into the center of the house and mixed the mortar. I helped the maestro, Julian, mix the mortar using the small amount of Spanish that I know and gestures. A bit later the translator tells us Julian speaks English. It turns out that he has been a student at a University in Georgia for several years.
Very funny Julian! Good thing I like you.

We did have fun all week teaching Julian, American expressions and jokes. The favorite - and funniest- was the "that's what she said" jokes.

I am not sure if you know this - but concrete blocks and mortar is heavy. It really heavy. The other thing you should know about building a house with concrete block is this - Early in the morning when it is the coolest and you are your freshest, the block have to be lifted a foot or two to be placed. At the end of the day, when the temperature and increased to something approaching a warm oven, the blocks must be lifted up higher- several feet higher. Some engineer should look into this problem and figure out how to build a house from the top down.

The entire week the wind blew. It was good because it kept the heat from completely baking us. However it also blew sand and grit into my eyes. I even had on my safety glasses.



The second day we began working with wood. While the rafters were going up, I was put on paint duty. Compared to concrete block, give me a paint brush any day. We set up workstations and began to get a rhythm in which we TURNED OUT some painted wood. The quality of the wood used for the houses was variable and we tried to pick out the best pieces for the doors. The rest of the wood we tried to cover up with as paint as well as possible.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

AbFab in Mexico - The beginning

Did you guess?

We left at 2:00 in two vans with a trailer full of house and school supplies. Although this mission trip was with my church, I only knew two of the twelve people on the trip. Luckily at two in the morning, that didn't even make me blink.


We stopped the first night in Waco in a, let's call it charming, Motel 6. We ate a great dinner at Rosa's Tortilla Factory and crashed for the night because the next day we were back on the road by 6:30. By about 3:00 that next afternoon (and yes days and nights were beginning to blend) we made it to Mercedes Texas and to our new home for six days.






The Methodist Church in Mercedes is part church and part dorm for Mission Workers in Mexico. The boys got a room, the girls got a room (we took the one with showers - Don't judge)




After we unloaded, the next step was to stock up on the needed food and supplies. The twenty plus hours in the van had given us time to finalize the menu and make the associated grocery list. The list was divided into five parts and we each went into the store to quickly gather our supplies. It was like a great big scavenger hunt. (By the way I may not have won on time, but I did get two carts full.)

I found out that if you are buying seven carts of groceries at one time, Walmart will open a lane just for you. (You can learn so MUCH on a mission trip.)


The team that was not shopping, began sorting all of our stuff into VBS stuff and new house stuff. That is what I officially called all the wonderful things that were graciously donated -- Thanks to all.


The next day began our adventure in Mexico.



Saturday, August 8, 2009

Where was AbFab Geek?

First for some clues---




We left in the middle of the night.





This was my view for over twenty hours.






We worked hard.

And built two house for two families.
















As an added bonus, (be still my engineering heart) we watched while a crew put in a new sewer line, complete with a brick manhole.






Friday, July 24, 2009

For Fans of the Middle Geek

Remember - You knew him when...

In this video you can actually see him.

video

In these videos, the sound is lots better, but the drummer is mostly hidden.







Thursday, July 23, 2009

Where is AbFab going now?

AbFab is off on another adventure leaving Friday night/ Saturday morning. (depending on your opinion of 1:00 am)

Can you guess where she is going?

Some hints:

It will take us two days by van.

The humidity and heat are even worse than St. Louis in July (so I have been told.)

I hope to see a beach at least once.

More hints later.....

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What a Great Entrance!

Hi Aunt Sally-

I think this would be a great addition for Rob and Erica's wedding. Don't you think?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Gooey Butter Cookies

Gooey Butter Cake is a St. Louis tradition. The story behind this cake is that a baker was trying to make a cake and mixed up the proportions of sugar and flour. The resulting mistake was so good that people asked for it. Recently Paula Deen has published a recipe causing people not from St. Louis to give her credit for the cake. Now I love Paula Deen, both of her boys and everything she deep fries or butters, BUT she did not invent Gooey Butter Cake.


St. Louis bakers are not content with just making the cake and now make Gooey Butter Cookies. I love these cookies and try hard not to buy them because I will eat them until they are gone. Please understand how honored you all should be are for me to attempt making what, if it is successful, a borderline addictive substance

All of the recipes that I found online started with a cake mix. Seriously that is really cheating. So I found a recipe that claims to be the original St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake recipe and I will attempt to make cookies out of it. (Also I hope to make the cookies Gluten Free, Dairy and Egg Free --- wish me luck!)

This is the recipe I started with....
St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake
1 c all-purpose flour
3 tbs sugar
1/3 c butter or margarine
1 1/4 c sugar
3/4 c butter or margarine
1/4 c light corn syrup
1 egg1 c all-purpose flour
2/3 c evaporated milk
powdered sugar; optional

This is the recipe I used (invented/ made up)
Allergen - Free Gooey Butter Cookies
that are just plain delicious
1 1/3 cup rice flour + up to 1/4 cup more
2/3 cup corn starch
1 1/4 cup + 3 T sugar (I was going from the recipe above so it was a weird amount)
1 t. Baking Powder
1 t. salt
1 T. Egg Replacer (I use EnerG brand)

Combine all dry ingredients. (I put mine in a bag so I could make the cookies more quickly later that day.)


In a stand up mixer.

1 cup Dairy Free Margarine
Cream until soft then add
1/4 cup white Corn syrup

Sift in dry ingredients. (I like to sift any flour but I find rice flour has a much better texture when sifted.)
Add 1/4 cup Coconut milk (I used the top part of the can which is mostly cream.)



I tested a couple cookies at 350 for 8-10 minutes. They spread out just a bit too much so I added the 1/4 cup of rice flour and I chilled the batter in the fridge in between batches.


Results:
Was the recipe easy to follow?

It was as easy as any cookie recipe. Making the dry ingredients ahead of time made the mixing quicker.
Did the dish taste good?

It was so VERY VERY good. Oh my!
Would you make it again?
Definitely we will make this again. I think next time I might try a bit less sugar and then roll the cookies in powdered sugar.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Whip it Up 2009 - Chocolate Pudding



What do you do when you are hungry for chocolate pudding and there are no mixes in the house? You turn to Google of course! We scanned through a few recipes and found this one .

It was a recipe for a crowd though and although the Geek household feels more crowded with everyone home on summer vacation, I did not think we needed that much. I cut the recipe down by a third and only tweaked it a little.

Chocolate Pudding for a Geek

1/4 c. cocoa powder

1/2 c. sugar

pinch salt (at least 1/4 teaspoon)

1/6 c. cornstarch (we used the 1/3 cup, guesstimated about half full and then threw in a pinch more.)

2 c. rice milk (we used Trader Joe's brand)

1 tsp vanilla extract (I never measure this I just throw it in.)

a small chunk of Giardhellis unsweetened chocolate (maybe 1/4 ounce)

Combine all ingredients except vanilla in a large pot, until blended thoroughly. Heat over medium-high heat until it comes to the boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, stir in chocolate chunk and vanilla. Pour into serving bowls and refrigerate. Makes six small servings.
Results:
Was the recipe easy to follow?
Very easy, the Middle Geek measured most of it.
Did the dish taste good?
Thumbs up for a creamy rich pudding.
Would you make it again?
We may never go back to box mixes again!!


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Whip it Up 2009 - Holiday Favorite

This summer I am shopping in a new and different way. I am supporting local harvest by purchasing a share of a farmer's crop.

I have also discovered Angel Food Ministries . This is an awesome way to make your food budget go further. I love their Allergen Free Box. For the first time in a long time, I can go to my freezer for an easy meal of Chicken Nuggets for the little geeks. They are very happy too.

They have several choices of food to purchase and the last few months I have bought the "Latin Flavors" produce. It contains a little different variety each month and has key limes, jalapenos, pineapples, mangos and lots of other stuff.

This month it contained Yucca Root. I have seen these in the grocery store but I had no clue how are what you could use it. So I went (of course) to google.

I found a great possibility at this blog


Cassava Heavy Cake



First I peeled the Yucca root (also know as Cassava and Manioc and probably other names). I was afraid that was going to be difficult but I used a vegetable peeler and it was easy.
Unfortunately the second root was rotten on the inside, so I had to adjust ingredients on the fly (and cross my fingers).




I used my food processor to shred the yucca root. I looks like it made about 1 cup shredded.

1 can coconut milk
1 Tablespoon Vanilla (I LIKE vanilla)
1 Dash cinnamon (I like cinnamon only a little)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix two heaping Tablespoons of Cornstarch with just enough cool water to make a mixture and add to above.
Melt 3 Tablespoons of Margarine (to stay dairy free) in the pan -using the microwave.
Pour batter into the melted margarine.
Bake at 350 for 1 and 1/2 hours.
The result

This cake/ pie was delicious. It has a texture like Pecan Pie or Chess Pie, very smooth and slightly gooey. Fabulous!!



This is also my first entry for Whip It Up 2009