Tuesday, June 22, 2010

This week, on days of our lives...

...I wouldn't know what happened, I don't have cable. But this week so far has been pretty interesting! I did a lot of grocery shopping/appliance buying in order to make myself eat food that is good for me! The first thing I bought is a salad spinner. It basically looks like this:

Now, I'm sure you know what a salad spinner does, but just in case you don't, it is a handy device that makes it really easy to wash and dry lettuce (and spinach, and other stuff) before you eat it. I made a salad with it tonight that looked like this!:

It was okay, it didn't have any fancy ingredients, just the lettuce, some cucumbers and the dressing. I wasn't very hungry since I had pasta again for lunch, and some of these delicious Back to Nature cookies for dessert :)

They may not be the healthiest food, but they sure are delicious! :) I bought them instead of Oreos (which, surprisingly, are vegan, but I kind of wish I had never found that out lol I need to cut down on desserts!).

I also bought a blender.

Now, the first blender I bought was a total fail, so this is blender #2 after I returned blender #1. Blender #1 honestly took ten minutes to blend (by pulsing) the very small amount of frozen fruit and juice I put into it, and even then was not all broken down! I bought the blender(s) so that I could make my own smoothies instead of going to Jamba Juice all the time.

For those unfamiliar, Jamba Juice is a national chain that has mainly smoothies but also now serves coffee and some lunch sandwich type of items. I used to only get this one chocolate smoothie from Jamba back when I didn't eat a wide variety of foods, and believe it or not this chocolate smoothie is one of the WORST drinks for you nation-wide! So I have expanded my Jamba menu and now just get the all-fruit smoothies, and am trying to make my own at home by blending frozen peaches, mangoes, and strawberries together with ice and some apple or orange juice, or maybe some vanilla soy milk.

So that's about it! I've been doing pretty well with project vegan so far, the only non-vegan items I have had are the remainder of some Dove chocolates I bought before going to the movies with a friend this past weekend! My friend Holly and I also went to the Chicago Diner this past weekend where I had some (vegan, of course) roasted garlic gnocchi in sun dried tomato pesto sauce. It was SO GOOD! We also had a slice of (vegan!) chocolate mousse cake for dessert, and it was hands down seriously one of the best chocolate cakes I have EVER had!!!!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Vegan powers---activate!!

Hello, fellow internet dwellers! Life has been rather interesting lately. I've been hopping back and forth between school and my hometown, visiting friends and also volunteering at school since I am between summer class sessions right now. I also just finished reading the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels because a) they sounded awesome and b) I wanted to read them before the movie comes out. They were hilariously awesome and I 150% recommend them!

If you are not familiar with the Scott Pilgrim story, let me give you the basics which will lead me to the main point of this blog entry. Scott Pilgrim is a 23 year old Canadian slacker dude who plays in a band and falls in love with this girl Ramona. Ramona has 7 evil exes, as in ex-boyfriends (mostly), who Scott has to fight and defeat in order to keep dating Ramona. One of the evil exes is named Todd Ingram, and his superpowers come from the fact that he is....wait for it.....a vegan!!

BAHAHAHA!!! The reason I found this so funny is because about a month ago I read this book:

It is called "The Kind Life" and was written by the actress Alicia Silverstone, notably of "Clueless" fame. Half the book consists of literature/her personal story chronicling the health benefits of becoming a vegan or even of becoming a "superhero" (that's right, get it now? lol) by following a macrobiotic diet. The other half is recipes, which are (obviously?) all vegan.

One of the reasons that I read the book is that my awesome friend Holly (find her blog at http://meatlesswithmia.blogspot.com) recommended it to me. About a year ago (can't believe it's been that long!) we made the cupcake recipe from this book and it was SO good!! Completely vegan, i.e. no animal products involved, and they were SUPER delicious!! Most of you know that I am a (mostly) vegetarian who occasionally eats a hamburger or a steak (maybe once a month at most), but you may not know that I am super seriously considering becoming vegan for the following reasons...

Now, this next part might get a little personal and health-related, so if you're not one to be into topics that might be considered "too much information" you may want to skip the next paragraph...lol

Reason 1: personal health

I have never been a huge fan of eating meat. Like I said above, I'll have a burger or even a steak every now and then, but texture in food really affects me and I very much dislike the texture of meat. Despite this I do eat lots of food made with animal products, such as cookies, bread, cakes, muffins, ice cream, and most notably, cheese, usually accompanied by macaroni (lol). Unfortunately over the past 3-4 years I have noticed that animal foods, mostly dairy, have been giving me extreme stomach cramps and unusual....bathroom events, we'll leave it at that. These cramps and other symptoms have been getting worse and worse and worse, and I have also gained some weight which is bad for my back (a whole different story, but suffice it to say I have a herniated disc and being even a little bit overweight is not good). So, as a personal experiment, I followed Alicia Silverstone's suggestions and noticed an IMMEDIATE improvement to these symptoms. Because of this, I have decided (even though it may be hard for me!) to try to go vegan!

Reason 2: animals' health

I'm not going to get all preachy, but we all know that there are some less than ideal conditions in many factory farms and it pains me to know that any animal is being mistreated. I DO NOT, repeat, DO NOT condemn anyone for eating meat, I don't necessarily even think that it's wrong, but I would be lying if I didn't acknowledge that this is another part of the reason why I have decided to give up meat and other animal foods for good.

So there you have it! I will probably blog some more about recipes I try, any health benefits I enjoy, etc. etc. I highly recommend "The Kind Life" if you want to learn more about the benefits of a vegan and/or macrobiotic diet, as Alicia Silverstone does a great job of presenting her case without seeming like one of those crazy paint-throwing PETA activists, lol. Maybe I'll even get some crazy vegan telekinetic powers, just like Todd Ingram!!! hahaha :)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Library Math

There are many ways that math shows up in the world around us. For example, take a look at this:

I know, I know. Just from that sentence and picture you're thinking to yourself "Jess? Is that you? YOU DON'T MATH! WHO HAS YOU KIDNAPPED?!?" lol. And the best part is, that isn't even the entire equation! Here's the tail end:

Now to you folks who actually know math and stuff, this probably doesn't look like much. But when one of my professors earlier this summer put this on the board during a lecture I was like "I'm done for!" Surprisingly, this formula was actually pretty easy to understand once it was explained.

These mysterious equations are what is known in the library cataloging/bibliography world as a collational formula. Perhaps you are familiar with the term "collate" or "collated" when it comes to printing? The collational formula is a set way for bibliographers or catalogers to describe a book's physical contents in terms of # of pages, # of "signatures" or groups of pages, and some other factors. Let me break it down for ya'll.

Part 1: The beginning.

The "pi" symbol is used in place of what are called "unsigned leaves." Maybe you have opened a book before and seen blank pages at the beginning? Pi and the number "attached" to it indicate the number of "unsigned" leaves (or pages) at the beginning of the book. It is important to note that there could be things written on the pages; what is meant by "unsigned" is that most old, hand printed books had letters and numbers at the bottom of the pages so that printers and bookbinders would know what order the pages went in. But, since title pages, table of contents, etc. sometimes say the number of pages or page number where something appears in the book, they had to be printed LAST not first, which is why they were unsigned. I hope that made sense. Then the small letters a-c indicates pages/signatures that have been signed with these lowercase letters; again, these pages are likely a table of contents, list of illustrations, preface, forward, author's note, etc. etc.

Part 2: The text itself!

The A-K and K-U and U-Z indicate something interesting to note about hand printed books. As I mentioned before, printers had to have a way to indicate the order in which the signatures, or tiny groups of pages, would be stacked and then sewn together by bookbinders. They used the alphabet, "numbering" the bottoms of pages beginning with the capital letter A1 (usually; every printer had their own system, though). Then you will see A2, A3, A4, etc., usually until the fold or middle of the signature. Think of a signature like this: imagine a small stack of regular old computer paper, let's say 3 pages. If you folded that small stack in half you would then be able to "number" the pages A1, A2, etc., but ONLY on the FRONT of each page. So the "cover" of your tiny pamphlet would be A1, then the next page (NOT the reverse side) is A2, etc.

Wow this is kind of confusing to type out.

But anyway, the numbers after the letters indicate how many pages are in each signature, and the letters "J" and either "U" or "V" are always skipped because those letters didn't used to exist in the old English alphabet!

Part 3: the additional signatures

You may be thinking to yourself, "but what about long books with more than 24 signatures? how did they get to the end of the alphabet then keep going?" Additional signatures and their pages were noted by Aa, or AA, or aa, or whatever new combo the printer came up with (again, each one was different).

Part 4: The final notes!!

These notes tell us a little more about the book. For example, the (*4) indicates that there are 4 "signed" leaves in each signature. So, if we were looking at the book, in the first signature (again, a group of pages) we would see A1, then A2, then A3, then A4, and then nothing on the next few pages until we got to B1. The plus/minus "C" part indicates a cancel. A cancel is when somebody messed up while printing, or there was offensive material, or some unforseen problem with the text, so they would have to go through each and every page with the "cancellandum" or "error" and take it out, and replace it with a "cancellans" or "correction." It could be a letter, a paragraph, or even an entire page. The letter "C" indicates that the cancellans in this book was on the 6th leaf of the "C" signature.

So that is it!! Library math! It's not EXACTLY math, but to me it seems like math, so that's what I'm going to call it. Thanks for bearing with me if you've read this far......I think it's really interesting but I'm sure I'm the only one, lol! Bibliographers and catalogers use this formula to keep careful records of the structure of their books, especially if someone has to take them apart for repairs, digital scanning, etc. It makes it much easier when you're putting it back together to have a thorough formula to work from!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My car and more!

So my big news is...I got a car!! Long story short I got more money for the summer than I thought I was going to, so I used the extra that was outside my budget to buy a car. It was a little more expensive than I was planning on since the one I wanted to buy had already been bought, but I am happy with the outcome and hope it continues to run well for me! It is a 1997 Ford Crown Victoria, and it is blue and has wood on the inside! I am going to call her Agnes, because she reminds me a little bit of Gretchen, my first car, that was also a "grandma car" lol. Pics below!

I am also just sharing these for fun, I don't know if they will end up letting me do them or even like the ones I have made but I am making sample invitations for my brother's wedding. Below are pictures of some possible ideas....let me know your thoughts! Keep in mind that I am definitely not a professional paper-crafter/invitation maker, these are just my half-finished DIY ideas! I am really enjoying doing them, crafts are fun! lol :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Etsy/Target Finds!

Among my close friends it is no secret that I'm sort of a peer-pressure-er when it comes to shopping! Seriously, I could probably talk you into buying just about anything. I've been trying to be good about keeping my spending under control, but I will admit that lately I have purchased a few items that fall more under the "want" than "need" category! Yesterday I bought 2 new pairs of shoes and 1 pair of pajamas at Target. Now, I know what you're thinking: did you really NEED two pairs of shoes, Jessica? Well, no, but my two pairs of brown flats had just about worn out. The insoles were coming up/had been chewed out of both pairs, and both of the soles ("out" soles?) were also coming away from the main part of the shoe. They also kind of smelled......gross. lol so I got one pair of "walking" flats and one pair of nicer brown flats for, obviously, nicer events. Though Target is mass-produced and might not exactly be the most ethical company ever, I am happy to report that both pairs of shoes are technically vegan, that is made without any parts from animals (like leather).

The pajamas were also a borderline want/need purchase, they are super cute! They are the Liberty of London for Target brand. I don't know if you have seen this around Target but basically most of their items are covered in adorable floral prints. I'd been eyeing this set of PJ's for a few months now, and they just went on sale so I bought them! It is really hot in my apartment and I mostly had sweatpants/long pants for pajamas so a pair of hot weather friendly PJ's was not entirely without purpose. Here is a link because I couldn't find a pic to post:


This next buy was totally a "want" purchase, though! Although I have never bought any really expensive jewelry before (and not that these are that expensive, just more than the $5 Claire's crap I would buy in like middle school!). I found both of these through an Etsy shop called "That Winsome Girl." Here is a link:


Her jewelry is just so adorable!! A couple of days ago she posted that the peacock earrings (that are now mine) were going to all be gone soon. Well. Even though I don't have my ears pierced I really wanted a pair!! I e-mailed asking if there is a way she could convert them to clip-ons, and she said she could. Huzzah!!! I also ordered this super cute "Oui" necklace :) I highly recommend buying from That Winsome Girl's shop, as her items are adorable, affordable, and totally awesome!!! :) See pics below for images of the earrings and necklace.