Planting Onions That Have Sprouted

As this is my first spring in my very own house (!!!), I have decided to start a garden.  I have grown a few things in the past but it has mostly been herbs by the kitchen window or a hanging fern on the back patio.  This year I have decided to grow as much as I can on my I-just-bought-a-house budget.  My goal was to regrow vegetables from kitchen scraps as seen on this article from Buzzfeed.  The scallions and celery were the easiest thing I have ever tried to grow (it says celery is more difficult than scallions but I beg to differ.  So I moved on to onions.

My family is Lebanese so onions are the base of almost every savory thing I ate growing up.  Garlic and lemon were a close second.  So I knew that I had to try this onion replanting.  The buzzfeed article says to just cut off the root end of the onion and stick it in the ground.  I did some research and finally settled on a method by Anktangle where she waited for an onion to sprout on its own.  This is where my story comes into play.

First, I went to the grocery store and rooted around (ha!) in the organic yellow onion bin for a sprouted onion.  I found three but chose the one that had no bruises or marks.

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Then I moved on to what I believe to be the hardest part so far: peeling and cutting the onion without damaging the tender green sprouts.  I first made a few shallow cuts vertically down the onion.  Then I carefully peeled away all the layers so all that was left was a delicios container of onion peelings for dinner, and a sprout with the roots of the onion still attached to the bottom.

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Then, I planted it in about 6 inches of fertilizer and added about an inch of fertilizer to just cover up the roots of the onion.

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Now we will wait and see.  Every I have read said that the green sprouts will eventually grow flowers and that is where you can harvest seeds and plant them for next years onion.  This year will only yield green sprouts (scallions) at full term.  However, a few sites have also mentioned that if you cut off the flowers as soon as you see them, then the onion will produce a bulb since it no longer needs to flower.  I am unsure yet which I will be doing this year.  Maybe I will buy another sprouted onion and do one of both.  I will keep updating this as the week go on.

Side note:

Scallion:  Cut off all but 2 or 3 inches by the root.  Put in a glass with 1 or 2 inches of water.  Place on windowsill.  Change water every 4 days.  Rinse and repeat.  These are my scallions after 10 days in the cup.  You can also see where I originally cut the scallions because the skin looks a little darker.

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I am Lloyd Dobler

I have changed my major 5 different times.  I have attended three separate Universities.  I am 25 and I still don’t have a Bachelor’s Degree.

It hurts to grow up.

I am part of the generation that believed everything our parents told us.  “You are special.” “You can do anything your heart desires.” “Never settle for anything.” There have been hundreds of articles written about the laziness of Millennials but also the amount of creativity.  There is a SNL skit with Danial Radcliffe doing a little jig, and the one line I remember is, ““The world needs more singer-songwriters and fewer doctors and engineers!”

We are creative and inspired but restless and bored.  This is my generation.  This is me.

I am not proud of the constant restlessness I feel and it is why I am still working a minimum wage job.  In the words of Lloyd Dobler, “I am looking for a dare to be great situation.” I am waiting for the job that speaks my name softly when I walk through the front door, where I am part bad ass detective and part savior of mankind.  I want to be creative and logical, with a young crowd that works hard but also wants to grab a drink after work because we should be enjoying life!

“How many of them really know what they want, though? I mean, a lot of them think they have to know, right? But inside they don’t really know, so… I don’t know, but I know that I don’t know. “

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Wonderful Italian Phrase of the Day

Eri un bellissimo spreco di tempo.

It means, “You were a beautiful waste of time.” And it is meant in a good way.

Who was the last person you spent a beautiful day wasting away life with?

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I am going to see “The Interview” in Austin on Saturday

And I have totally mixed feelings about it.  First of all, I saw the trailer (before Sony took it down). I have read the premise and frankly, this movie looks terrible. If it is anything like James Franco’s other stoner movies (see Your Highness, actually… Don’t see it), then this movie will not be funny or even remotely entertaining.

That being said, I don’t like anyone telling me what I can or cannot do. Yes, I abide by the law and I’m a good employee, but if the law says that I have the right to own a gun or have a child or vote and say whatever I want, then by God, I will! When I was a teenager, my mom forbade me to date this boy. So I constantly snuck out to see him. It is kind of like that. I stayed with that boy for much longer than I would have because of my childish instinct to do the exact opposite of what my mother was telling me. Fast forward ten years, and here I am going to see a movie that I think looks horrible because someone told me I couldn’t. Who says you have to grow up?

On the other hand, the hackers have released a statement staying something along the lines of “Remember 9/11? That will happen again due to the greed of Sony!” Overdramatic? Sure. Terrifying? Absolutely. I feel like I am inviting danger into my life by going to see this movie. Its nothing like jumping out of a plane or fighting in a war but it still perhaps not as safe as sitting on my couch playing Dragon Age. Is this North Korea threatening our great nation yet again? Or is some nerdy IT guy sitting at his computer laughing his ass off? It has now become a moral obligation as an American to prove to other countries that we dont bow down to terrorists.

Whatever may be, this Saturday at 1:20 PM, I will be sitting at the Texas Alamo Draft house in Austin drinking what may be my last beer and praying to whatever gods may be that “The Interview” will just turn off so I can go and watch “The Imitation Game” instead.

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Sex, Murder and Soda Pop in 1885 Texas

Texas has had a long and violent past.  But perhaps none as as interesting at the year 1885.  This was the year that America’s first serial killer terrorized Austin, news articles were battling race and gender, and the oldest Soda Pop was invented in Waco, Texas.  This is a short history of a few important events in Texas during 1885.

children

 

1885 began with a murder.  On New Years Eve, 1884, a black servant girl by the name of Mollie Smith was dragged from her bed to the outhouse 50 yards away and hit in the head multiple times with an axe.  The Austin American Statesman stated that it was “”one of the most horrible murders that ever a reporter was called on to chronicle—a deed almost unparalleled in the atrocity of its execution.”  Over the course of 1885, the killed, nicknamed the “Servant Girl Annihilator” by O. Henry, went on to murder 5 African American women and 1 African American man.  His final murder was on Christmas Eve 1885, when he murdered two white women from two separate homes.  All of the woman and the single man were found outside, their heads bashed in with an axe, and many of the women were raped.

Now this is all very gruesome and disturbing to be sure, but serial killers are common in the present day.  The interesting thing about this case is that it happened 3 years before Jack the Ripper’s spree in London, the first known serial killer in the world.  Why were these murders overlooked by the entire world?  Is it because many of the  victims were African American?  Or because Austin was a small town of 20,000 inhabitants and did not warrant enough attention?  Why did the killer end his spree with killing white women who were from upper class families?  Did he move on to other parts of Texas to keep killing?  The case remains unsolved to this day and recent inquiries into the murders have produced a large amount of information as to the women killed.

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On May 3rd, 1885 a terrible tragedy occurred in Galveston, TX at the Tremont Hotel.  Four people were instantly killed and several others were injured.  Apparently, the boiler exploded so magnificently that it shot out of the brick building, went entirely through another building that housed the servants, crossed the street and, according to a telegraph to Daily Gazette Fort Wayne Indiana, “entered a one-story house of ill repute, kept by a colored woman, Julia Winters.”  When it entered this “house of ill repute” a woman name Clara Miller was killed and her “companion” Maurice Sullivan was injured.  There was not a lot of information about this tragedy but it is interesting to note that, in the news article, not all of the victims names were reported.  However, we did find out that Julia Winters was an African American woman who owned a brothel on 24th street.  Was Maurice Sullivan a citizen of the city?  Or was he a visitor of the Tremont Hotel, simply visiting Ms. Clara Miller due to the close proximity of the brothel to his hotel?  To this day, visitors report hauntings  and bizarre behavior at the Tremont.

Meanwhile, at the end of 1885, a man named Charles Alderton brought a drink to his friend’s pharmacy in Waco, Texas.  The friend was Wade Morrison, and the drink was Dr Pepper.  It was originally called the “Waco” after the city in which it was created.  But after Wade Morrison bought the rights to the famed beverage, he named it Dr. Pepper after the father of a young woman whom Charles Alderton was courting.  Was the young woman as interested in Mr. Alderton as he clearly was in her?  Was Charles trying to win over her father by naming a delicious beverage after him?  The exact reasons are unknown but the young woman who had inspired Charles Alderton lives on today in each can of Dr Pepper.

 

 

Photos are not my own and are taken from these references:

ServantGirlMurders.com

The Daily Gazette Fort Wayne Indiana 1885-05-04

drpepper.com

Many articles from the Austin Statesman

 

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Why Your Barista Might Hate You

Coffee Cup

I am currently employed at the largest coffeehouse company in the world.  Before I worked here, I was employed at two other coffee shops so I clearly love being around coffee.  The people I work with are great, I love being able to enjoy free drinks and the benefits are unheard of, especially for a part time job.  I even enjoy most of the regulars that come in for their daily cup of joe.  We all get to know each other in a relaxed and enjoyable cafe.

Then there is the drive though window.  The drive through window is about speed and consistency which is great for the early morning business people who order the same drink every day and zoom through onto their next task of the day.  However, there are some people who have no idea what they want and they know exactly what they want and it is so complicated and there is too much cream and MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN COFFEE AT HOME!

So, these are the 5 things you can do that might send your Barista over the edge of sanity.  Results would be disastrous.

1.  “How many calories are in a cup of coffee?  How about a latte?  Or one pump of vanilla syrup?”

Look, you are counting calories and that is great that you care about your health or something.  But even if I knew the calorie count for every single food item on the menu, I still wouldn’t have time to tell you. 

2.  “What are your gluten free options?  Coffee is gluten free right?”

The gluten free craze is very popular in Austin right now.  If you are truly gluten free, you should probably not be getting ANYTHING at Starbucks.  If you are gluten free to lose weight or because its supposed to be good for you, then EVERYTHING is gluten free.

3.  “Can I have half of a Splenda in my coffee?  A whole Splenda is just too sweet.”

What if one half of the Splenda packet has too much Splenda or too little Splenda?  Then the exact ratio of Splenda to coffee will be compromised and everyone will be unhappy. (Extreme sarcasm)  Just ask for a Splenda on the side and do it yourself and save us the frustration.

4.  “I would like a small coffee.  Black but with nonfat milk.”

You would be shocked at how often this happens.  Maybe people think that black coffee has no half-and-half in it but black coffee has NOTHING in it.  Not even nonfat milk. 

5.  Talking on the phone

This last one really irks me because at least with the other issues in the drive though line, I can talk to the customer and find out exactly what they want.  If someone is on their phone, a couple different scenarios can happen.  Customer takes drink and forgets to pay.  Customer pays and forgets to take drink. Customer forgets to order drink/food and orders it at the window leaving us to scramble.  But mostly, talking on the phone is rude is most social situations.  And say what you will, a drive through line is a social situation. 

In conclusion, be kind to your Barista.  Don’t be high maintenance and remember that we know where the decaf button is located.

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Review of “Stiff” by Mary Roach

Stiff-cover

 

I know, I know…. this book came out in 2003 and I am a little behind the times.  In my defense, there are so many books to read and I have a list that that grows faster than I can read.

This is a hard life I lead.

“Stiff” follows the history of human cadavers for the past 2,000 years.  After the death of her mother, Mary Roach became very interested in death and especially what happens after death.  Cadavers are sliced and diced, hung and strung, and frozen and burned, sometimes for posterity sake and other times for scientific advancement.

Ms. Roach traveled across the country and around the world to research the history of the dead and their contributions after life.  From the body farm at the University of Tennessee (represent!) to a crematorium in Japan who supposedly cut off bits of cadavers to sell to local food establishment, the endless facts of life after death keep on coming.

The approach of this book is one of a journalist with a sense of humor.  She takes everything with a grain of salt and asks the “experts” goofy questions that an average person might be interested in such as, “Why does a man’s penis get larger after he dies?” (Spoiler: The answer has to do with bugs and gas.)

Many of us think about what happens to our soul when we die, but how many of us think about what happens to our body?  Your body can be used for scientific advancement, it can be compressed and a tree can grow from your ashes, or you can go traditional and decompose in the ground.  Regardless, I came out on the other side of “Stiff” with a new plan for my body after death and a plethora or interesting information that I have been uncomfortably been sharing with family and friends at inconvenient time.  It has been great.

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Review of “Bellman & Black” by Diane Setterfield

Bellman and Black

From the author of The Thirteenth Tale comes a new novel about the choices we make as children and the past that haunts us as adults. As a child, William Bell made an impulse decision to fire a slingshot at a rook. Miraculously, he shot rings true and his decision haunts him for years. As he grows into adulthood, Bell grows his successful business and starts a family, the envy of the town. But when disease rips through town, killing his wife and all but one of his children, Bell makes a deal with a man in Black and starts on a dark and desperate course.

Bellman is a likable character, charming the reader as he woos his family and friends, while still running his business with integrity. We can forgive a child for a cruel act but what can we do when that child cannot forgive himself. As Bell grows into old man, he turns into a regular Scrooge, neglecting even himself for the new business that he has built up. He is a harsh reminder of the dangers of thinking only of business and losing yourself in the past.

Setterfield’s new novel has a similar feel to the gothic and enchanting story she wove in The Thirteenth Tale. With a flair for storytelling and a heart wrenching character development, Setterfield again brings up into her macabre world of human conflict with a touch of the supernatural.

 

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Living the Tiny House Lifestyle

The Tiny House Movement is a huge deal right now.  People are trying to simplify their lives by selling all of their unnecessary items and moving into a place that is 200 sq feet or less.  It is a major lifestyle change and perfect for some people.  But what about the rest of us?  Personally, I cannot afford to buy land in the Austin area or take time off of work to build a tiny house.  Not at this point in my life anyway.  But, there is a lifestyle attached to the tiny house movement and THAT is something I can strive towards.

With all the technology, distractions, and stress that accompany every day life, its hard to stop and look around.  The American Dream is to work hard to buy more stuff.  I know enough people who are unhappy with their day jobs but will not make a change.  They feel like their money is their way to happiness.

Each generation know a little bit less than their predecessors.  Our lifestyles are ever faster and more stressful so we don’t take time to learn little things.  Even human interaction has become more stunted.  My middle school aged brothers cannot talk to adults without texting or playing on their iPods.

I believe that a simple lifestyle works best for me.  When we moved to Austin, we downsized to a one bedroom apartment.  We donated boxes of books and clothes, and pieces of unnecessary furniture and technology.  We now have one T.V. and our new dining room has been converted to an office.  But it works for us because we spend so much time outside of the apartment.

When I am in the apartment, I enjoy a glass of wine on the balcony.  A good book by the pool.  Long walks with my dog.  Reading the free Austin Chronicle.  Going to Farmer’s Markets.  Browsing the library.  Listening to music.  I have recently learned how to make my own bread.  I want to plant a garden and learn how to make homemade cheese!

I think I would like to live in a small house one day.  Not tiny, but definitely smaller.  It’s never really been about the tiny house, though.  It’s about the lifestyle you lead while you are living in the tiny house.  And anyone can adopt the lifestyle.  De-clutter.  Find out what is important.  Enjoy the simple pleasures.  Unplug.  I have changed my lifestyle here in Austin and I am a much happier person for it.

“It is desirable that a man live in all respects so simply and preparedly that if an enemy take the town… he can walk out the gate empty-handed and without anxiety.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden

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Austinites Distrust Newbies

Citizens who are born and raised in Austin are fiercely loyal of their city. They believe that Austin has the most delicious tacos, the coolest music festivals and the prettiest parks and lakes.  They also do not appreciate the huge influx of newbies.  According to the Austin Business Journal in February 2014, there are 110 moving to Austin each day.  Housing is inflated and traffic is terrible which only further infuriates the native Austinites.

My husband and I moved here four months ago due to his job transfer.  Austin has become a hub for new technology and small businesses are growing at exponential rates.  With his career in Web Development, it was easy to find a job and make the move from Ohio.  I quickly found a job working as a Barista at Starbucks and we, along with our dog, have started to carve ourselves a place in this city.

Working at Starbucks, I interact with a large number of people on a daily basis; some are native to Austin but many are not.  If I mention a chain restaurant or store to an Austinite, their reaction is outraged and slightly snobby.  A typical conversation would go like this:

Me: “Pretty skirt.  Where did you get it from?”

Austinite:  “Buffalo Exchange.  It was only $5.”

Me:  “Nice.  I get most of my skirts from Goodwill.”

Austinite:  “Ugh!  Don’t go there.  Buffalo Exchange has WAY better clothing.”

For those of you not native to the area, Buffalo Exchange is a local, used clothing store similar to Goodwill. But its not a chain store.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have been to Buffalo Exchange and its a cool place for the young and young at heart to find new and gently used clothes at a good price.  But I also like to thrift shop at Goodwill or any other chain store that offers cute, cheap clothes.

I love Austin.  I love almost everyone that I have met here in Austin.  But Austin is a different kind of city.  It is a liberal city filled with Republicans, and they are fiercely proud of their growing city.  So begins my journey of living a simpler life in a complicated city.

“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.” – Charles Dickens, David Copperfield (1850)

Picture by  Ed Schipul

Picture by Ed Schipul

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