Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It's not easy being green...

At least not in a research lab!

I was at work today (a lab at the hospital) doing a DNA extraction when i started to think about all of the waste i was making... all for tiny bits of DNA!

Throughout the 3 hour period i was there starting the extraction for 29 samples, i created the following waste:
  • 120+ disposable bulb pipettes
  • 12+ plastic bags (that the pipettes came in, 10 per bag)
  • 120+ ml of chemical waste (Ethanol and CitriSolve)
  • 30 + pipette tips
  • 3 pairs of nitrile gloves
and that was only the first day of the extraction! Tomorrow will involve many more pipette tips, chemical solutions, tubes, capillaries, etc...
(btw, i didn't count, i just know using basic math and knowledge of the procedure, haha)

But what can you do? It all has to be sterilized and you don't want to cross contaminate your samples.  

Let's just hope the DNA is being used for something good that will out weigh all the biohazard material it's leaving behind.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sock Kittens

Over winter break, my mom had the plan to make sock monkey type animals.  We got the idea when we went to an arts and craft fair (Art Vs. Craft) - someone there had these awesome sock creatures.  If i remember right, they were beaded and embroidered really neat, some of them might have been painted too.  I REALLY wish i had written the artists name down!  If you have a chance to go to Art Vs. Craft - do it! It was really fun.

Anyways - on to my own creations.  I first made this guy - my little brother named him Einstein because he thought he looked like a mad scientist:
After making the first one, my mom and i had the idea of trying to make them out of baby socks, to have cute little ones!  So i did that too - this picture is before i had time to finish them - and i just had to wear my cat hat for the picture (obviously):
I also made one, which i gave to my niece.  She named him Pashmina.  Here is the whole family of sock cats i made (Pashmina is the big pink one, he's kinda lumpy - oops).  I also made tutus for two of them:

They are really easy to make too - just look for sock monkey instructions, change the ears, and sew on some whiskers! 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Harry Potter Shoes

So, if you know me, you know i'm crazy about Harry Potter.  All kinds of crazy.  Wanting to squeal whenever i hear/think about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter that's going to open in Orlando, FL crazy.  Drawing Harry Potter characters all the time crazy.  Rerererererererererererere(etc..)reading the series crazy.

Last weekend i made the coolest things ever.
What might you ask?  Well hopefully you've at least guessed it had to do with Harry Potter...

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow Shoes!!!

I am so unbelievably proud of myself and excited about these shoes.  I may be a little biased, but i think they are the coolest shoes in existence.  I am too scared to wear them now though, cause in Wisconsin, of course there's lots of snow in February! I don't want to ruin them - cause that'd make me cry, even though they should be water resistant.

If you're curious - i painted them with acrylic (+ fabric medium) on canvas vans (they were actually orange checkered shoes to begin with!)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Vegan Truffles

It's almost Valentine's Day!  I don't have my own Valentine this year, but it's not stopping me from giving and loving others!  I love making cards and giving little gifts.

Here is an example of the valentine’s day cards i make:

From Left to Right: Severus Snape (from Harry Potter), Lyra (my new niece! only a week old now!), Voldemort (from Harry Potter)

Poor Lyra, she shouldn't be between two evil dudes! At least they seem to have changed their ways and started to love things.  If you haven't notice yet, i'm a huge Harry Potter freak... and I mean HUGE.


On to the chocolate!

So I wasn't exactly measuring things out exactly when making these - so the recipe is a rough estimate.  A lot of it is just until it "looks right".  But here we go!

Vegan Truffles - x 4! 

Left to right, Back: mint, coconut.  Front: chocolate, peanut butter

Chocolate Filling:
-1 cup melted chocolate
-2-3 tbsp coconut milk
-2 tbsp vegan margarine (melted)
-Brandy (or other liquor) to taste

Mint Filling:
-1 cup melted chocolate
-2-3 tbsp coconut milk
-2 tbsp vegan margarine (melted)
-Mint extract to taste

Peanut Butter Filling:
-3/4 cup peanut butter
-1/3 cup powdered sugar
-1/8 tsp salt

Coconut Filling:
-1/2 cup powdered sugar
-1/2 cup shredded coconut
-2 tbsp vegan margarine (melted)
-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-1/2 tsp coconut extract
1 tbsp coconut milk

Dipping Chocolate:
-About 1 lb chocolate
-2 tbsp vegan margarine

So you first want to get the fillings all ready!  I did the peanut butter and coconut ones first, since they didn't require any melted chocolate.  Just mix all the ingredients together and then stick those bowls in the fridge to cool - we'll get back to them later!
Next - the chocolate fillings!  I melted chocolate for both, just in the microwave, though you can also do it on the stove (you will need to for dipping eventually).  One thing i learned is to mix the other ingredients into the chocolate as soon as you can, don't get distracted by the Olympics like i did and let it start to get a little hard again, haha.  If you are as absent minded and that happens - just microwave it a little.  Anywho - once your chocolate is melted, mix in the other ingredients and stick it in the fridge.

Now this is the hard part... ready? Sit there and wait.  The coconut filling will be ready first - once it firms up enough, take the bowl out of the fridge and roll little pieces into balls and place them on waxed paper or tin foil, and then stick them back in the fridge until they are ready to dip.  Do the same with the other fillings as well - the peanut butter ones are a little hard because they get soft really easily, so i put them in the freezer when they are done so it's actually possible to dip them!  You have to wait until the chocolate fillings have firmed up quite a bit - i then used a cookie scooper to scoop (more like scrape!) the chocolate and then rolled them with my hands - once again placing them on tin foil or waxed paper, and return to the fridge.  Beware - you get really chocolatey hands!  

Also make sure you keep your fillings sorted out so you know which one's which.  I just drew little dividing lines with sharpie on the tin foil, writing down the name of each section.

Now to dipping.  So there is this whole deal about tempering chocolate so it doesn't try with speckles or grey marks on them.  I had never done this before, so I read about it online - as you can see by my picture, mine turned out pretty well - except my mint ones.  They did get some discoloring (but they still taste good).  All I did was melt about 1 lb of chocolate with 2 tbsp of margarine on the stove in my oh so fancy double boiler way (aka one big pot and one little pot) over low heat.  

Once the chocolate was melted, i just placed my small pot of chocolate on a towel, took one of my fillings out and dipped them.  I used chopsticks to dips them - make sure to try to gently "shake" off the excess chocolate.  After each filling, i had to reheat the dipping chocolate a little just to keep it nice and melted.  I didn't really have any problems until i got to the peanut butter ones.  I strongly recommend only taking ~3 of the fillings out of the freezer to dip at one time, since they are so soft.  I also started using tooth picks to dip them - just stabbing the bottom and sliding if off when i was done since my chop sticks were squishing them too much.

Another note:  if you are going to decorate the tops of them, like sprinkling coconut - do this RIGHT after dipping so it sticks! They dry pretty quickly, so make sure to do it right after you dip each one.

Once again, all my measurements above are rough estimates - don't be afraid to add things until it just "seems right"!