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Friday, April 29, 2011

Foodie Friday - My Grandmother's Blue Books

My grandmother was a farmer’s wife who spent the first part of her marriage living with her mother-in-law, who, for all the stories that I have heard, was not a very pleasant woman.  I can only imagine her relief when my grandparents bought a farm not far from a town called Centerville.

My grandmother was patient and kind, and spoiled her two grandchildren.  One of the things that I have from her is her blue note books filled with newspaper clippings, pages from magazines, food packages, handwritten cards and any other form such as the handwritten recipe for ‘Elise Rehbein’s Buns 1959’. 

These books are a sort of time capsule, a glimpse of a time when life was simpler, when we thought nothing of eating things like Corn Flake Macaroons, Yum Yum Cookies, or Pineapple Salad with Cheese.  Where the prize was for a recipe was $5 and your full name and address were included with your recipe.  Where you wrote to someone called ‘Betty Service’ to find a recipe that you lost.

Creamy Dutch Apple Dessert
(makes 10 to 12 servings)

1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 ½  cups graham cracker crumbs
1 (14 ounce) can Eagle@ Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (NOT evaporated)
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
¼ cup Realemon@ reconstituted Lemon Juice
1 (21 ounce) can apple pie filling
¼ cup chopped walnuts
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a 1 ½ quart shallow baking dish (10x6 inch).  Melt butter in oven. Sprinkle in crumbs; stir well. Press on bottom of dish.  In medium bowl, mix together sweetened condensed milk, sour cream and Realemon; spread evenly over crumbs. Spoon pie filling evenly over creamy layer.  Bake 25 to 30 minute or until set.  Cool slightly.  In a small dish mix together nuts and cinnamon; sprinkle over pie filling.  May be served warm or cold.  Refrigerate leftovers.

Bon Appetit

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thursday In the Life

"the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."
Ayn Rand

OK, some diety has granted you your every wish and you can now do what ever you want for the rest of your life.  What would you do? If money were no object, what would you do?  Shopping? Traveling? Watch TV and lay on the couch eating Cheeto’s all day? Would that really make you happy?

I had a friend who retired.  He told me that after six months he was going crazy.  He got a job offer in another state.  He asked his wife, we’ve never lived there, do you want to try it?   Needless to say they are much happier now with their new life.

Some people know what they want, some people do what they do because that is what ‘came along’ or pays the bills.  If what you are doing every day doesn’t excite you, if you don’t wake up every morning excitied to start your day then think about what would do if you didn’t have to worry about money.  What would you do in your fantasy job?  Then think of things that you can change to get there. . .

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Words Wednesday - Window Shopping

Window shopping (to look at goods in store windows without the intent of going into the store to buy things), is an inexpensive pastime that is enjoyed by people around the globe.  So I wondered, does everyone else call it ‘window shopping’?  It’s an idiom so it should be different in other languages right? I mean idioms are supposed to be specific to culture.  Sadly it seems that everyone but the French call it window shopping.  I like the French phrase better though, they call it - lèche vitrines (licking windows.) 

Interestingly enough, or maybe strangely enough, some languages call it – window shopping. Why? Their words for window or shopping don’t sound/look anything like English!  According to Google Translate the word in Dutch for shopping is winkelen and for window it is venster.   But if you put window shopping together it translates it as not venster winkelen but  - window shopping.  In Danish it is vindue shopping. For those who are dying to know in Turkish it is - pencere alışveriş (window shopping.)  Too bad Tarkan doesn't have a song that talks about window shopping. . . I guess I will have to muddle through the pronunciation without him.

The first recorded occurrence of ‘window shopping’ was in 1922 (according to the Online Etymology Dictionary.)  Too bad it doesn’t list the origin.  It would be interesting to see if it started in one place and spread from there.  Like a World's Fair where there would be a lot of people from different countries, but there doesn’t seem to be one in 1922. There were two in 1915, one in San Francisco & another in San Diego but that seems like it would have been too big of a gap in time.

A company in Germany is trying to get us not only to window shop but  to window buy as well with their new technology that will allow you to shop without going into the store by pointing at items in the window. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Travel Tuesday - public transportation

America is a car culture and we do love our cars, once you get out of a major city center you will probably be very hard pressed to find pedestrian friendly places or even public transportation.  I live about 10 blocks from the Minneapolis city limits, according to the bus company I would have to walk over a mile to catch a bus. 

As Americans most of us don’t really think about public transportation, especially if you don’t live close to a large city. We just jump in our car and go. Until I went to college I had no idea how to go about riding the city bus, I had never been on one before.  I am not sure that my mother has ever been on a city bus.

We had a friend from Europe visit for our wedding. One day as we were all getting in the car for the very short trip of maybe 4 blocks to the restaurant and she asked why don’t we walk?  We thought about it and realized that although the distance itself was short, there was no safe way to get there on foot!  Which really made us think about how different our cultures are.

Most European cities have very good public transportation systems.  If you are visiting a major city think about using public transportation instead of renting a car.  Plan your trip around places that you can walk to from your hotel, your trip will seem more intimate and relaxed.  I know that one of the reasons that I remember Heidelberg & Lucerne so much is because they were so pedestrian friendly and we walked places from our hotel instead of taking a tour bus (I was with a big group.)

When you are looking into hotels investigate where the closest bus or underground stops are, try to find a hotel is close to several lines.  This will give you lots of options and you will be less likely to need to transfer to get to where you want to go.  Don’t forget the public transportation is great for people watching too.

Check out the Eurostar (especially if you are traveling in the UK or France) and the other train systems.  When I was in high school and went to Europe on band tour we took trains to several places (we even took a sleeper train from Paris to Switzerland.)  We were all able to get around Germany & Austria using their train system – did I mention that I had no experience with public transport prior to this?  We spoke no language other then English (ok, one of us spoke Turkish – but really not much help there) and we still managed to get around very easily.  I can tell you that we saw some amazing scenery while riding the train from one town to another.

And don’t forget that you will be able to casually mention “oh I saw the funniest thing when I was on the Metro/Underground/subway . . . “

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thursday In the Life

My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being,
with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with
productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.

—Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

Prossessing free will we must choose our values.  We must choose to think, to act, to live or to merely exist in a semiconscious daze.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Words Wednesday - Language transfer

When you apply knowledge from your native language (L1) to a second language (L2) it is called language transfer (or linguistic interference, or crossmeaning).  Any language learned previously will influence the acquisition of a new language either positively or negatively. 

Constructive Analysis (CA), which was popular in the 50’s and 60’s, believes that the principle barrier to L2 acquisition is caused by interference of previously learned languages.  Later in the 60’s because of the Chomskyan influence L1 became viewed as a critical basis for learning the new language instead of interfering with it.

Positive transfer is when L1 knowledge is transferred to L2 and results in meanings that match what native speakers would think of  as ‘correct’. People learning similar languages experience most positive transfer then those people learning a language with a different structure then their L1 language. Positive transfer is not as noticeable as negative transfer so it is not discussed as often as negative transfer.

Negative transfer which is what happens when the structure of the two languages are not similar and the structure of the first language is applied, incorrectly, to the new language.  It is natural for people revert to familiar patterns, so when the new language has a different structure it is important to develop strategies for minimizing negative transfer to help reinforce the patterns of the new language. Knowledge of the differences of the two languages can help you predict errors so you can pay particular attention to the areas that are most often affected by negative transfer.

Different types of languages use different kinds of strategies to process and comprehend linguistic information. Three examples of how languages can be different are: word order, the use of articles (a/the) and orthographic knowledge (the knowledge of how sounds are mapped to the symbols that the language uses.)

The word order used by the largest number of distinct languages is subject-object-verb (SOV), Japanese, Korean and Turkish are examples of languages that use this word order.  English uses subject-verb-object (SVO) word order.  I book saw vs. I saw the book.

Another way that Japanese, Korean and Turkish differs from English is the use of articles (a/the).  English commonly uses articles, Japanese, Korean and Turkish do not.  Speakers of these languages need to pay greater attention to learning the use of articles.

Turkish and English are both alphabetic (each unit represents a phoneme) while Japanese is syllabic (each unit represents a syllable.)  Languages with different orthographic properties use distinct processing for word recognition so while Turkish and English speakers will use similar processing strategies which can be applied to the other language the Japanese speaker will need to learn new strategies when learning a language like English along with learning the new word order and the use of articles.

One of the strategies for avoiding negative transfer is to read extensively in the new language.  The more you read in your new language the more you will gain knowledge not only in the language but also about the culture and it’s values.  Reading will also reinforce the structure of the new language.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Travel Tuesday - Ziploc’s

Ziploc’s are great travel tools.  Not only are they good for organizing smaller items, like Q-tips and keeping items that might leak from getting all over but you can also utilize them when you go through security and to organize and keep your suitcase clean.

Do you carry a lot of small items in your pockets? Wear items with lots of metal? Keys, cell phone, jewelry, belts, money clips can all easily fit into a large Ziploc (remember to keep the cell phone away from things with magnetic strips like card keys.)  While you are standing in line take these items and put them in a large Ziploc. Then when it is time to put your items in those TSA bins it is all in a bag that you can place in the bin.  And for a bonus you won’t be wasting time scooping each item out of the bin individually on the other side while everyone is waiting behind you.

Do you travel with a lot of electronics?  Computers, iPods, cameras, cell phones all seem to have different cords for various functions (though the trend these days is that more items can share cords.) You can put each cord in a small Ziploc to prevent them from getting tangled up with something else.

Panty hose are also an item that should be put in a Ziploc, to help prevent them from getting snags from zippers or other items. If you are packing shoes put them in a large Ziploc this will keep them from rubbing any dirt that maybe on them on to the inside of your suitcase.

Use a Ziploc to make a small emergency kit that you keep in your suitcase, some bandages, triple-antibiotic ointment, tweezers, alcohol, acetaminophen and/or Ibuprofen and other small items that you might find useful like moleskin and a small scissors if you are planning on doing a lot of walking on your trip.

If you don’t have anything that could be put in a Ziploc stick some empty ones in your suitcase anyway, you won’t miss the space that they take up.  They can be used for making an ice pack, or you can inflate some and use them as a substitute for bubble wrap.  You never know you could get caught in the rain and have some wet clothes to pack!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Media Monday - Atlas Shrugged

This year on tax day in the US the movie Atlas Shrugged, part one, was released. As one person commented on-line – watch the movie, read the book, trust no one. I agree, go see the movie, even if you hate it, it will make you think.  Unless of course you think that thinking is bad for you. . .

The movie is based on the first part of Ayn Rand’s longest novel (of the same name) first published in 1957.  In this book Rand explores her philosophical theme of Objectivism and its different facets - the advocacy of reason, individualism, the market economy and the failure of government coercion.  The main theme is that civilization cannot exit if men are not free to create but are instead slaves to society and government, and that extermination of the motive for profit leads to the collapse of society.  It should not be surprising that in the wake of the current recession sales of Atlas Shrugged have sharply increased.

If you haven’t heard of Ayn Rand, be warned you will either love her or you will hate her, there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground.  A Survey of Lifetime Reading Habits, conducted [fall 1991] for the Book-of-the-Month Club and the Library of Congress' Center for the Book ranks Atlas Shrugged as the second most influential after the Bible. 

I read most of her works while I was in high school, no recollection who or what led me to the first book, or which one it was.  Maybe it was her first book – We the Living, which is about living in Soviet Russia.  I can probably remember less then 10 of the titles of the books that I read in high school and 3 of them are by Ayn Rand.

I bet that the majority of the population had not heard of Atlas Shrugged or Ayn Rand before the movie came out, let alone read this 1000+ page tome.  Of course since the movie has a limited release, maybe the majority still doesn’t know about it! I know that no one that I talked to at work had heard of it, though one person remembered seeing the trailer.

It’s not a ‘flashy’ story; there are no car chases or gunfights, no mysterious dead bodies, it’s about a society that is crumbling, it’s about fundamental values of our culture.  The main protagonist is Dagny Taggart who struggles to save her family business while society collapses around her, despite her brother’s efforts, the increasing control of the government and the mysterious disappearances of society's most productive citizens, who leave behind the question – Who is John Galt?  Hank Rearden, a self-made man and inventor of ‘Rearden’ metal helps her while he fights to keep his invention from being buried or taken over by others as the government strips him of his businesses. Of course there is more – but you need to go see the movie and read the book!

Did I mention that Ayn Rand wrote strong women characters, in the 1940’s and 50’s?  Imagine watching Leave It to Beaver and finding that it is followed by Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The Saturday morning after the movie was released the book was #4 on Amazon’s best sellers rank (it was #102 before.)  That is pretty good for a book that was originally published over 50 years ago.  How many people are getting the book because they want to read it before they saw the movie, and how many are getting it because they saw the movie?

Who is John Galt?

Are we ready for this story?  Will enough people see it? Will it be a tipping point? Are we going to be willing participants in ‘shared sacrifice’?  (If you think that ‘shared sacrifice’ comes from the book or the movie you might want to Google it.)  Do we value our individual and economic liberty enough that we will wake up and fight for it? 

Who is John Galt?

I was prepared not to like the movie.  I was tired; I loved the book, though it has been, umm well let’s just say a while since I read it.  I was not bored; I was not looking around the theater to see where the exits were. I enjoyed it. I was surprised.

I admit that I was under whelmed at first by Grant Bowler as Hank Rearden but not for long, he was perfect (this was before the scenes where we see him without his shirt.)  Taylor Schilling I think was great as Dagny. (And to the critic that compared her to Barbie - don’t knock Barbie, she’s over 50 and still going strong!)  Do I care that the actors weren’t Brad Pritt or whoever?  No. Do I care about any of the other details that the critics are picking on? No.  I got my $10 of entertainment and then some. I am planning on going to see it again – just because ‘they’ all are saying bad things about it.

I dare you to go see the movie and decide for yourself.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Foodie Friday - My Favorite Cookbook

My favorite cookbook of all time is The Gold Cookbook by Louis P DeGouy.  My current copy is the 1948 edition. 
I tried to steal my mothers copy, but she made me give it back, I think that hers was a newer printing, but still probably from the 60’s.  It is unfortunate that this wonderful book was published in the year of DeGouy’s death in 1947; otherwise I am sure that we would have enjoyed more cookbooks by him.  He did write other cookbooks though and was one of the people that started Gourmet magazine.  He was also Chef at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel for 30 years and apprenticed with Escoffier.

Here is a description that I found on it –

“It is almost axiomatic that a new cook book by Louis P. De Gouy means a new culinary classic. In this present volume, Master Chef De Gouy offers his masterpiece the long-awaited general cook book for American homes. A monumental work that has taken many years to assemble, it includes more than 2200 recipes for American and European dishes, planned to delight the palate of both the person of simple tastes and the bon vivant.
Mr. De Gouy has the gift of making cooking an adventure. Even the plainest dishes somehow become exciting; and for those of bolder spirit, there are many roads opening to new and unexpected gustatory pleasures. He writes with infectious enthusiasm for his subject, salting the book with anecdotes and amusing tales on the origin and history of various foods and dishes, with bits of philosophy and poetry about the timeless art of cooking and eating. One of the book's outstanding features is the series of Food Purchasing Charts that have long been so popular with readers of Gourmet Magazine.”

First when you open this book you must remember that in 1947 recipes where written in a different form then the one that we are most familiar with today.  And there are no glossy pictures, something that I not only expect, but pretty much demand from any new cookbook that I buy now.  So why do I L-O-V-E this cookbook? 

It could be because this was the book of my mothers that I most often turned too?  Or is it because it has a recipe for about anything and everything that you can think of?  The index alone is almost 200 pages.  It starts each chapter with a food quote and a history of the types of dishes.  There are guides on the different cuts of meat, how to buy knives almost anything that you could possibly need to know about cooking is covered.  The recipes themselves are almost encyclopedic in scope. 

For example if you are looking for a recipe for say a sauce you have almost 130 to choose from.  Do you want a sauce to go with boiled meat or fish?  How about Soubise Sauce, from the book Memories of Madame de Maintenon (the second wife of King Louis XIV of France).

I used to make Pumpkin Pie II and people always loved it and I had many requests to make it again.  I also like the recipe for Dutch Nannies (think of a popover made in a frying pan topped with bananas.)

Of course it does show it’s age in the fact that some recipes call for - dare I say -canned vegetables.  And today we would probably only use most of the recipes for special occasions since they are full of things that we know are not that good for us, like cream and butter.  But it gives the cook a very good solid foundation in the art of cooking, and is very interesting to read.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thursday In the Life

Thursday is a significant day in many religions, such as Hinduism, Judaism and Islam which all consider Thursday an auspicious day for fasting.  Thursday morning is also traditionally the day that the Torah is read in public and special penitential prayers are read. 

Early Christians were warned not to fast on Thursdays to avoid Judaizing and so for Christians the day of fasting is on Fridays.  This is not to say that Thursdays do not hold any special significance in Christianity.  The Eastern Orthodox Church dedicates Thursdays to the Apostles and Saint Nicholas, and Thursday is the day of the Last Supper.

For those of you who are Douglas Adams fans, Thursday is the day that the earth is destroyed just after Arthur Dent says "This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays". 

Traditionally Thursdays were the market day in most towns in the United Kingdom and so general elections were held on these days.  General elections have been on Thursdays since 1935, and local elections are normally held on the first Thursday in May.  Some people also say that Thursdays were chosen because it is the day furthest from Friday which makes it a day where most people were sober.

In Australia Thursday is the day for late night shopping and movie openings because Australians usually get paid on Thursdays.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Words Wednesday - Canım ciğerim or hearts vs. lungs and livers and idioms

Wikipedia says that linguistically – “idioms are usually presumed to be figures of speech contradicting the principle of compositionality; yet the matter remains debated. John Saeed defines an “idiom” as words collocated that became affixed to each other until metamorphosing into a fossilised term. This collocation — words commonly used in a group — redefines each component word in the word-group and becomes an idiomatic expression. The words develop a specialized meaning as an entity, as an idiom. Moreover, an idiom is an expression, word, or phrase whose sense means something different from what the words literally imply. When a speaker uses an idiom, the listener might mistake its actual meaning, if he or she has not heard this figure of speech before. Idioms usually do not translate well; in some cases, when an idiom is translated into another language, either its meaning is changed or it is meaningless.”

An idiom is a group of words that lose their meaning if you look at the words individually or outside of its culture.  They are part of culture and not language since it is the culture that defines them and not the language.  An example would be American vs. English idioms or older idioms which are no longer commonly used.  I came across an unfamiliar idiom in some Georgette Heyer books– to stick your spoon in the wall - this idiom apparently means to die.  I was able to figure this out because of the context that this idiom was used in, and I confirmed it with my mother-in-law.  People used to ‘stick their spoon’ in the wall when they were done using them.

My first Turkish idiom came up in Tarkan’s song Öp - can ciğer kuzu sarması.  Taken word for word this would be something like soul stuffed lamb liver. Or as Google translate said - lamb liver stuffed life.  What?

Obviously something is going on here right?  I either have a copy of the original lyrics where something is spelled wrong, I am misunderstanding some combination of stem & suffix or it’s an idiom.  What is a totally clueless person who is trying to teach themselves Turkish to do?   Beat your head against the wall, double check spelling, look at different possibilities for stems and then Google the whole phrase of course!  Yes, I could have Googled the whole phrase first, but this is supposed to be a learning experience. . .

Can ciğer kuzu sarması is an idiom!  According to several sites ‘can ciğer’ means - intimate friend, very dear, nearest and dearest.  And ‘can ciğer kuzu sarması’ means as one website noted – intimate enough to share a toothpick.   I did some more research and found that some belly dance sites noted that when dancing and the music is talking about love many times the hand and arm movements are from the liver and not from the heart as they would be for an English speaker. 

Learning a new language makes you look at the world in a different way.  You have to think about how different cultures view different things, many things are not universal, common words do not necessarily translate the same into another language.   Do you turn on the light or open it?  Or in this case when you love someone does it come from the heart or somewhere else?

Take an English word, look it up in whatever language you want to learn, take the first couple of words and then look up the English meanings for those words, odds are you will find a good many words that you would not associate with your original word.  Maybe it is because you have limited your definition of the word, or the other language thinks differently, sees the world differently, or you are just not very familiar with the word.

Here is an example, using the English word – open and 3 Turkish words-

Open - Affording unobstructed entrance and exit; not shut or closed; having no protecting or concealing cover; completely obvious; blatant; carried on in full view; not sealed or tied; spread out; unfolded; free from limitations, boundaries, or restrictions

Açık – open, unobstructed, free, uncovered; naked, bare, exposed, empty, clear, unoccupied, spaced far apart, separated, light (shade of color), clear, easy to understand; not in cipher, cloudless, deficit, shortage

Serbest - free, unrestricted, open, unobstructed, unconstrained, at ease, freely, without hindrance

aşikar - manifest, evident, clear, open

Many times when we learn new languages we learn to associate words in a one to one relationship, open vs. açık, when we should be learning instead the idea, and concepts behind each word.   Words have many shades of meaning

How does this help with idioms?  By learning to look at things differently, by learning to expect concepts different from your native language you will be more open to seeing an idiom for that it is.  In learning words more thoroughly you learn not only the language but some of the culture that goes with the language and that is what idioms are all about.  Maybe you will also see and recognize sticking your spoon in the wall for what it is, and whether your love comes from your heart, liver or belly.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Travel Tuesday - How to Do Paris (or any city) in a Short Visit

See Paris not just its sites.

There is no way that you can see all of Paris or any city in one trip, let alone a short one.  But if you follow the below you will have a relaxing trip with lots of memories of Paris and not just the sites of Paris.

Pick a neighborhood.
Do some research and pick a neighborhood that fits you.  If you pick a neighborhood to spend most of your time in you will get a real feel for a part of Paris and won’t spend most of your time trying to get from one place to another.

Pick a neighborhood like St. Germain de Pres, Ile Saint Louis, Le Marais or perhaps one of the lesser known ones like Canal Saint-Martin or Butte aux Cailles.

Match the neighborhood to the attractions you want to see most.
You don’t want to spend all of your time trying to get to the places that you want to see, but then again you don’t want to spend your time in a neighborhood that holds no attraction for you.  The neighborhood where the Eiffel Tower is isn’t the most interesting of neighborhoods but Montparnasse is close to many places to see.  If you've already visited Paris, choose a neighborhood you've never seen or rarely visited.

Get an overview on your first day.
Try a bus or boat tour.   A boat or bus tour is a great way to get an overview of the city and maybe see things that you wouldn’t normally see.

Wander aimlessly!
Get a map and wander.  Paris is quite flat and very walkable unlike a lot of places in the US. After you see something on your list try walking to your next destination or hotel and see what you find. If you get tired you can always jump on the Metro, a bus or grab a taxi.  

You might want to double check with someone at the hotel to see what areas you should avoid so you don’t inadvertently end up an a not so safe neighborhood.

Limit your plans.
If you want to experience the city and not just check off the famous sites that you have seen then limit your plans to two items a day.  This way you can relax and experience your trip instead of hurrying to the next attraction.  Remember no matter how fast you go, or how many things you see there will always be things that you missed.

Visit the less-popular attractions.
The Louvre is popular and very big.  If you really want to see the Louvre go on a slower weekday and arrive early and plan to spend the time with a lot of other tourists.  To have a slower paced trip check out some of the less popular or well-known attractions. 

You will always leave a city having missed something, no one can see everything.  But you will have a sense of really experiencing the city and tasting a bit of everyday life, perhaps even have some unforgettable meals in places that are never mentioned by the guidebooks.

Media Monday - Tarkan's new video - Kayıp

Check out the official video for Kayıp (Lost) at Tarkan's website –

A very beautiful and powerful song about a relationship that has ended. The video matches the song in that it is simple and beautiful, mostly in sepia tones, shadowy and blurred in some places, clearer in others. Like in life & our memories where the bad parts are blurred and become hazy and the better times become sharper.  Tarkan wanders around an apartment, ‘lost’ and alone and we get glimpses, memories, of the one that he has lost.

(Some of the lyrics roughly translated below)

Kayıp (Lost)

The clouds are painted in sad black
The falling rain is weeping for us
My hope is diminished
Time goes
Separation is master
And we are its servants

Your hands are fading in mine
It was an afraid and wounded bird
Flew fluttering from a love that was over

I wish I could say, may God speed you
But my throat is tight, I lost my words
I will never love anyone else again
Because my heart is lost in this body. . .

Who looks at a bathroom and says lets shoot a video here?  Or maybe is was lets shoot most of this video in a bathroom? Of course most videos are very strange to begin with; I guess you need to find ways to make them interesting. Not all of the video takes place in the bathroom, but a good majority of it does.  An interesting item of note is a turn table.  How long will it be before most of the population has only seen them in photos?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ham stock

I like ham.  I know that there are bad things about pork in general and ham in particular and I know that a lot of people say that you shouldn’t eat it for a variety of reasons.  But I like it.  Not as much as I like bacon mind you, but I still like it.

It is a quick food to grab in the morning for breakfast or a snack.  We buy it cooked and spiral cut.  I like to take it out of the package when I get home and take the bone, extra fat and odd bits off and make a ham stock with it or wrap them up and freeze them so I can make stock later. 

I put all the parts that I have cut off in a pot, stick in some onions and cover everything with water, put the cover on and then simmer on the stove.    After it has cooked for a awhile I taste it and see how salty it is.  If it doesn’t have much flavor I will take off the cover and simmer on the lowest setting to reduce it down and I will check it every once in a while to see if it has reached the point that I like the flavor.  The last steps are to strain and then put it in the fridge so the fat hardens on the top and can be easily taken off.

Today, I also got some baby boy choy and wanted a snack, so I cut up some bok choy and ham, put it in a bowl and poured some of my almost finished stock over it – instant soup! 

I topped it off with a bit of freshly cracked pepper and dried onions and it was wonderful.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Travel Tuesday - Hope Town photographs

We took lots of pictures on our recent trip to Hope Town on Elbow Cay in the Bahamas.  We were planning on actually sight seeing this trip, but instead fate made it a very low key vacation and the furthest we got from the house was Mr. Vernon's Grocery. Of course the question then comes up – how many times can you take a picture of the same palm tree, the same view?  Quite a few actually!

The view is spectacular, and it is hard to decide whether we should tell everyone how wonderful a place it is, or keep our mouths shut and keep it ‘our secret’.

The trip has inspired me to order some photography books and to start learning how to use the camera instead of just randomly taking pictures and hoping for the best.  I now have an EOS SLR I should learn how to use it!  

I have also been playing with Photoshop.  Mainly because when I take pictures with the SLR they all seem to be at an angle!  I have to fix that at least.  I also converted some to black and white.  Below is one of the pictures that I took in the early morning one day converted to black and white.

I need to take more pictures, review them to see what I like about them, what I don't like and practice, practice, pratice!  
Don't hate me because my mother-in-law has this view. . . .

The above picture is at low tide around the full moon.  Elbow Cay is in the Sea of Abaco so it is pretty shallow, only 8 to 10 feet deep from what I understand. (Sorry maybe once I figure out this blogging thing I can post better pics)

the tttgoddess

Monday, April 4, 2011

Media Monday - A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena de Blasi

Format: paperback
Subject: unexpected romance/ memoir
Setting: mostly Venice
Characters: Marlena and Fernando ‘the stranger’
Genre: memoir
Source: Amazon

“My father’s wish was that I be quickly sistemato, situated, find a job, find a safe path, and stay dutifully on it.  Early on I learned to want what he wanted.  And with time I accumulated layers and layers of barely transparent bandaging over my eyes, over my dreams.’

“Wait’” I plead, flipping pages, trying to find cerotti, bandages. “What happened to your eyes?  Why were there bandages?’” I want to know.

“Non letteralmente.  Not literally,” he roars.  He is impatient.  I am a dolt who, living 12 hours with an Italian, cannot yet follow the drift of his galloping imagery.

Newly arrived in Venice on a trip with friends Marlena receives a phone call while they sit sipping wine.  Who could it be?  No one knows that they have arrived yet or where they are.  On the other end is the beautiful voice of an Italian man that she has never met asking her to meet him the next day.  Less then a month later he arrives to visit her in America and ask her to marry him, and soon she is selling her house, quitting her job and moving to Venice where she makes a new life with this stranger that she loves.

She is a writer and a chef that has lived most of her dreams, he is a banker who forgot his. He saw her and fell in love and the world changed.  It was as if he had been sleeping his whole like and woke up.  No sparks, no fireworks just a connection, a feeling of always being married but not being able to find each other. 

While she learns to live in Venice, and make his bachelor abode into a home he is also going through a transformation, now as he says “no more waiting”, no more going through life asleep. It is time to be awake and live. 

I am sure that many people will cringe at the thought of packing up and leaving everything behind to go to a foreign country to live with and eventually marry a person that you have known for only a very short amount of time.  I don’t want to give too much of the tale away, but this is a beautiful love story about two very different people that has been very well written and I can’t wait to read her next 3 books.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Besides volunteering for CONvergence and GPS (Geek Partnership Society) I am also a member of the MN Literacy Council and am working on being an ESL tutor with the intention of going back to school and getting a degree (and hopefull eventually going to graduate school.)

I am thinking that I want to go to other countries and teach English. You know learn about another cultures and learn another language.  Of course this field is getting pretty competative now I see, so I really need to have a post graduate degree and experience to really have a pick of the jobs.  So the plan is to work on getting experience and schooling.

The tttgoddess

Sewing and costuming

I sew, I like costumes and of course volunteering for CONvergence allows me to indulge and wear them.  I would like to get more involved in the local costuming scene so we will see. Last year I managed to get to CostumeCon and had a great time, met some great people.

Library Thing

According to Wikipeadia LT “is a social cataloging web application for storing and sharing book catalogs and various types of book metadata. It is used by individuals, authors, libraries and publishers.”

It feeds my Amazon addiction, makes me think about what I have read. I belong to two current groups – the 11 in 11 Category Challenge and 75 books challenge for 2011.  You join the group and have a ‘thread’ where you post about what you have read, and other thoughts that you may have. 

We currently have almost 3,000 books listed in our library, and there are quite a few that I haven’t been able to add yet.  If you read I highly recommend LT.  We are also members of their Early Reviewers and have gotten about 9 books this way.


Yeah, we have too much STUFF!

I am intrigued by the book – The 100 Thing Challenge: How I got Rid of Almost Everything, Remade My Life and Regained My Soul.

Obviously with about 3,000 books we won’t get to the 100 thing point any time soon, nor do I believe that we will want to.  But I think that it is time too look at our stuff and decide if it lends itself to the lifestyle that we would like to have. 


The tttgoddess


If you like good music you must check out Tarkan.  I am a total iPod addict.  I decided to find some Turkish music to listen to, to put me in the mood. 

I discovered Tarkan. 

Obviously I don’t understand the lyrics at this point without a dictionary (or some memorization) but the lyrics are amazing.  The songs are certainly good to dance to, fabulous to do housework to and for burning extra calories.  In fact I can hardly not dance when listening to most of his songs!

Tarkan's latest album - Adımı Kalbine Yaz – is by far my favorite album, though Adele's new album comes close (well closer then any other). 

I told my husband that Tarkan’s voice is like chocolate, a really good dark, smooth, rich chocolate with all the different subtle layers of flavor.  I can’t decide which song that I like the most but Öp (Kiss), Adımı Kalbine Yaz (Write My Name on Your Heart) and Usta-Çırak (Master-Apprentice) are I think my top 3 (of course then I look at the rest and think but I really like that one too!) Acımayacak has a Steam Punk inspired video. 

His English album, Come Closer (not available on iTunes – but that’s ok I also have a terrible Amazon addiction) is more like milk chocolate – not so rich, with lots of sugar added but still very good. If You Only Knew is my favorite.  Metamorfoz is also a very good album.

Check his website out - - to listen to his music and watch the videos.  Once you enter the website you have the option of viewing it in English just look in the bottom left corner.


Yes, Spanish probably would have been a better language to pick up given the vast amount of native speakers available, but I was reading all these linguistics books and they were all saying how the distinctive characteristics of Turkish are vowel harmony and extensive agglutination. And if you are like me, you read that and said - What?  Which meant that I had to check it out!

Basically vowel harmony means that certain vowels cannot be found near each other so you change the vowel (oh and Turkish has more vowels then English.)

Agglutination means that words are created by adding suffixes to a stem or base.  English does it with words like antidisestablishmentarianism, or very simply when we add an ‘s’ to make a word plural, or an ‘ed’ to change the tense of a verb.  In Turkish one word can carry enough morphemes (parts) so one word conveyes what would take a very complex sentence in other languages. I was intrigued.  I was totally hooked.  I decided that I had to explore this more!

I actually knew some Turkish since I went to high school with some very nice Turkish boys (one certainly did give me a nice education . . .) and I could still remember about 20 words, and the alphabet!  Admittedly the alphabet isn’t that different from English, and each letter has only ONE sound.  What a concept! 

Also according to the United States Department of State, Turkish is one of 13 languages that they feel that there is a critical need to expand dramatically the number of Americans studying and mastering.

And of course Turkey, Istanbul, a land of mystery, and lot of really old stuff!
So my goal is to read at least one book in Turkish this year.  I have decided that this book is - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

The tttgoddess


We love to cook, we read & collect cookbooks, we like to try new things.  I have also inherited from my Grandmother Alice 3 blue binders filled with recipes and household hints.  They are filled with everything from handwritten, very vague recipes to newspaper & magazine clippings, to food packages. I would like to organize and share these in someway, so I plan on trying out these and preserving them via this blog.  

Did I mention that we have a lot of cookbooks?  We currently have 312 food and drink books listed on Library Thing and I still have more to add.  So I am also going to try to test some recipes and review the cookbooks. I have to admit that we do read cookbooks like any other type of book when we buy them, but it is time that we need to get them off the shelves and utilize them too!

We also have some food magazines, with recipes to try out.  My favorite is Saveur which is a very beautiful and interesting food magazine, if I could only have one food magazine this would be the one.  Check out their website at

The tttgoddess

The Paleo Diet

The Paleo Diet is a diet based on the idea that humans really haven’t evolved enough to be able to process foods like grains, legumes and similar foods and that these foods by their nature have elements that are bad for humans. If we eat them they don’t reproduce and that is bad for them so they evolved ways to stop us from eating them. 

Now I must say that we have a niece who is a very healthy and energetic vegetarian so I am guessing that like all diets or lifestyles the Paleo lifestyle isn’t for everyone.  But for my hubby and me I think that it is the right choice. 

After switching to the Paleo lifestyle in January my husband is at his lowest weight in over 10 years.  Although the weight of 330 is still pretty heavy even for someone at 6 foot 5 or so.  And he is doing it without feeling hungry or deprived.   I know that I feel a lot more healthy when I stick to the diet, more mentally alert, and less bloated, more flexible, more energetic -  I am not sure how to describe it, except I feel better and I didn't know that I didn't feel good before.  Also I do have food intolerances so when I eat things like starches or dairy my nose runs, I cough, my eyes get gummy and if I really over do it my joints hurt.  But that said my absolute favorite food is the potato, and I work at a potato plant and I get to eat potatoes on Fridays – so obviously I ‘jump off the wagon’ at least once a week. 

If you have any health or weight issues I highly recommend trying the Paleo diet for 30 days and see how you feel.

The tttgoddess

Hello and Welcome!

Hello and welcome to the first post on Truffles, Trifles and Tribbles which will be about Chocolate (Truffles), food and other life related items (Trifles) and science fiction (Tribbles), more specifically my participation and planning of our annual party CONvergence an annual convention for fans of Science Fiction and Fantasy in all media, held each July in Bloomington MN.

Current hot topics in our household are – the Paleo diet and cooking in general, learning Turkish, Tarkan (this goes with learning Turkish), simplifying, Library Thing, sewing, costuming and volunteering.