Sunday, July 30, 2006

Black Creek diary


monarch caterpillar

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

welcome to the US, Implanon...

The FDA has just approved a single-rod implantable contraceptive called Implanon. One little silicone hormone-dispensing rod is placed under the skin of the upper arm, giving you 99.9% effective contraception for 3 years (basically the only accidental pregnancies were in women who never actually had the rod implanted). Women have had access to it just about everywhere but the United States for the past few years. Here we've been more used to seeing contraceptive options go away (norplant, lunelle, even the sponge, for heaven's sake), and to tell the truth, I didn't really expect I'd be seeing any action on this one anytime soon. I'd heard that it was supposed to have been approved last year...

Granted, the fact that it's gotten FDA approval doesn't necessarily mean we'll be seeing it in our office anytime soon. Another implantable was approved in 1996 and never made it into production. I think Organon has got things under control, though, and will be able to roll it out fairly soon.

I imagine the folks that will be most likely to want to use Implanon are the ones who are using Depo Provera right now and liking it, since it's a progesterone based system rather than estrogen and progesterone combined. It's definitely not going to be for everyone -- lots of people stop Depo because of irregular bleeding or weight gain, and some people don't like that their periods might stop altogether. But for folks that like Depo -- how would you like to not have to get that shot every three months? It will be another option that's acceptable to prescribe for women over 35 who smoke, since they can't do combined estrogen and progesterone methods like the pill, patch, or ring.

There's no perfect method out there. Every method has drawbacks, but it's good to have choices. Ideally everyone would be able to find something that was acceptable to them, easy to use, and effective.

Monday, July 17, 2006


I got a new waffle maker as a birthday present! My old one got tossed maybe 2 or 3 years ago after a handle broke off. It had never really worked that well for me; it always burned the waffles, even at the lightest setting. You couldn't rely on the light, you had to stand over the thing with an eagle eye to catch the waffles at the right time. Despite all that, I used to make waffles a couple of times a week. C loved to have them for breakfast, and I had the recipe memorized. Then I got an electric skillet that let me make six pancakes at once, and it was all downhill from there for my poor old waffle maker.

This new one is a nifty Cuisinart model, and it cooks things to perfection. You can sit down with coffee and the paper and hear a slight "tick" when the light turns green, hop up and catch the waffle before it burns. C was away at a sleepover the first morning I used it, but S had about 4 waffles from its first run. C came home and shouted "am I dreaming? Is that a waffle maker?!"

The next morning, S came in our room about 6:30, and said "Hi mom. It's sunny out." (that means it's time to wake up) Then -- "wanna make some waffles?"

Until we run out of flour, milk or eggs, I think we're all set for the time being. Waffles make everyone happy.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Why Alton Brown rocks my world

Years ago during a conversation with someone who commented that she would never hang laundry on a clothesline ("that's why God invented clothes dryers," she said), I came to the realization that there are two kinds of people in the world.

Pirates and Ninjas? No. You fall into one of two categories: either lazy or cheap. I am most definitely cheap. Or frugal, thrifty, what have you. Back when I was finishing my masters degree while also working nights part time and taking care of a 5 year old and a less-than-one year old, I used to grab an occasional power bar in lieu of a meal, just because I had to eat, and they were all I had time for. But it always burned me that this little 2 by 4 inch glorified candy bar with a multivitamin cost like two bucks. I figured there had to be a way to make something similar, but I never found a recipe that looked right. Granola bars are easy enough to do at home, but they're nothing but carbs and fat -- they're a little off on the protein scale.

So a week or two ago, I came home from work and tuned in Good Eats, and caught the "power trip" episode, where Alton makes granola bars, rice crispy bars (from puffed brown rice), and protein bars! I grabbed a pen and scrap paper and frantically tried to copy the recipes down, before I came to my senses and found them on the web. So this past Wednesday, when we got three inches of rain, and I didn't feel like walking the trail at black creek in hip waders, I made a trip to the grocery store and stocked up on dried fruit, soy protein powder, flax seed oil, and other (expensive) goodies. When they tallied up the bill, J said "wouldn't it just be cheaper to buy the power bars?" Well, you know I sat down with a calculator and the store receipt to figure it out.

One of the things that always bugged me about Good Eats recipes is Alton's habit of measuring ingredients by weight rather than just giving us the measurements in cups and tablespoons. Like I'm really going to go out and buy a decent scale and weigh flour rather than just scooping it up out of the canister. But having the weight equivalents of all the ingredients sure made it easy to figure the cost of the recipe. Per serving the protein bars worked out to be fifty-seven cents. And I know I can find dried fruit for less if I shop around.

So now I have a basic power bar recipe that I can play around with and tweak to my liking. I can run the recipe through DietPower to get the nutritional breakdown per serving with whatever variation I do. And I know to the penny how much I save per bar. This makes me happy. What can I say? I'll take happiness wherever I find it.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

edible landscape

Is this why I always come back from Black Creek Park hungry?

Black Walnut

Black Raspberry


Blackberries. Tons of 'em. Just starting to blush up now. Imagine a 3 1/2 mile trail with about 20% of it lined with blackberries like this. Anyone want to get your jam orders in now?


Grapes. They're in there somewhere, it's hard to take a picture of them green.

Cherries. I can't reach them!!

Monday, July 10, 2006

time off

I'm on vacation for the next two weeks. Two weeks! Together! During summer! Yes, I'm loving my new job. This would be unthinkable if I were still in a hospital setting. It's my goal to walk a loop at Black Creek Park every day while I'm off. This morning I went, got rained on, and picked a pint of black raspberries and some sweet peas (just flowers, not veggies). I saw two deer, two rabbits, a toad, and a tiny gray tree frog. I also saw a common yellowthroat -- I've only ever seen one other in my lifetime, despite the name. An indigo bunting, too -- it perched overhead and yelled at me, and followed me for a while. Got home and turned the black raspberries into a cobbler.

The rain this morning gave way to a nice afternoon. I took C. to the craft store to get polymer clay, which was on sale for .99 a packet. Quite the deal. Went to the library after S. finished his nap, got a couple of upholstery books. I have a yard sale chair that I would really like to redo.

Worked at the CSA on Sunday -- picked swiss chard, cilantro, dill and basil, as well as some scallions. Picked all sorts of peas -- shelling peas, snap peas and snow peas. Then weeded a couple of rows of onions. I want my own garden! I don't want to hang out in someone else's garden (even if I do get to eat its produce) trying to make small talk with a bunch of co-shareholders. Fortunately, it seems they're just as happy to ignore me.