New “School” Year Resolutions

Most people make New Year’s Resolutions as we shift from calendar year to the next on January 1st. For me, the beginning of the school year always dangles the hope of a fresh slate and new beginning.  This is even more true since I moved to academia.  Today is our first day of classes today and I’ve drafted a motto or series of resolutions for the new year. It is going to be a good one. 2015-08-24 12.27.15

This year I resolve to be present in my school and life

To enjoy the pleasure of time with friends and family

To reflect on the beauty of the Midwest with its rust/gold falls and chartreuse/jade springs

To do my best and delight in finished tasks

To allow distractions and worries flow over me like rain off a duck’s ass


Breathe deep

Live my life


Move on


Banana Cream Pi 

Okay, sit down. I’m serious, sit down, I have a confession. 

I’ve never participated in Pi day before. 

*hangs head*

I’ve seen it wizz by online as people gleefully post pic of their best pies and Pi’s, but if I posted a pic in the past it wasn’t a pie I’d made for the occasion, but something I had on the camera roll. I don’t make pies much. They’re good, but I’m a cake gal. And crusts can be tricky. I feel for the people who ate my early hard as rock pie crusts and biscuits. Sorry ’bout that. 

Part of working on my PhD and trying to crack into academia is it is the world’s biggest time suck. There are a lot of things that pass me by or I have to opt out of because I’m working on something, or catching up on work I out off working on something else.  In other words, endless fun and glamour. 

But that’s the gig and it’s not forever, so ok. This year I happened to have some ripe bananas and even though I’m on a terrible time crunch with my dissertation proposal, I thought I’d try and fit it in. So on breaks from revising and over two days I made this…

I started with an interesting crust recipe. Kenji over at Serious Eats had a new way of making a crust that rejected the old method of leaving large chunks of fat and keeping the dough really dry. You make a paste with the butter and flour and then add a bit more flour. Crazy, but he claims his crust was almost no fail and easy to roll. 

Well he was right! It came together so easy I thought it was wrong (it was wrong the first time I tried it and realized I had almost twice the flour, ugh). 

And this is how it baked up

Ain’t she pretty? This is hands down the easiest pie crust I’ve ever made. And it tastes delicious. The only adjustment I made was to replace 6T of the butter with shortening. He says it makes it more tender,  but I also don’t love an all butter crust. A little butter a little shortening that’s the best of both worlds. 

And this is how it baked up (some of my snack scraps). Look at how flakey it is. Yummy stuff. Blind bake the crust to golden brown. Let it cool. 

I’m not going to include the filling I used because I’m not in love with it. I managed to get workable, but I prefer the old timey Better Homes and Gardens cream pie filling. If you can find that, use it and add bananas, if not just whip up some vanilla pudding and you’re set. Let the pudding cool at room temp covered with some cling film to avoid the yucky skin from forming. 

Once the crust and the filling have cooled their jets you can assemble. You can either start with a little filling or a layer of bananas. I put a bit of filling and then half the bananas. Eyeball about half the rest of the filling and cover the banana layer. Add another layer of bananas and top with the rest of the filling. Make sure you leave enough filling to cover all the naners or they’ll get brown and gross. 

After its assembled give it a rest in the fridge so it gets nice and cold.  Top with whipped cream and I threw on some toasted almond slices. 

A thing of beauty. Happy Pi day! 

I dub thee Proposal Cake

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I don’t have much time, but I’m dropping in for a second just to take a break from writing. I’m working on submitting my proposal for a defense date of April 7th.  It seems like it’s way off, but there is spring break and my adviser’s trip to factor in, so it feels tight.

I’m working away, but I need to take small breaks and over the course of a few small breaks yesterday I made this wee cake.  It’s just a 8×8 fun cake I made from a Smitten Kitchen recipe you can find here.  It is wicked easy and holy crap, it’s so good.  I’m eating little bits to keep me going.  You know just to keep my energy up, yah, that’s it.  So I’ve named it proposal cake and by the time I’m done with it, I’ll have my first draft off to my adviser.

Still wish me luck, proposal cake’s magical powers only work so hard.

Once More into the Fray

pansiesIt’s spring, the time of rebirth and renewal, and for me a time to reboot and get back to business.  Not that I haven’t been about business in the past couple of years, but I haven’t lived here very much and folks that’s about to change.

I know you’ve heard it all before, “I’ll post more often”, “I swear I’ll change”, or “this time it’s different”, but it really is (hopefully). I was stuck in a research position for the past two years that took a lot of my time and a tiny bit of my soul. Not that what we were doing wasn’t good work, it was, it is. Heck, we’re helping young adults deal with their substance abuse issues, God’s work…but I need to get back to my own research and focus on me, so just like T.I., or Eminem, or the Ghosts from Poltergeist said “I’m Back”.

I now also have Photoshop for my Mac which will make it a lot more fun for me to play with the pictures I take and post here.  Look forward to the posts you’ve enjoyed in the past about food, but I also want to post about wine, and life.  I also might blog a bit about tv. Those posts might end up elsewhere eventually, but for now I want to share my thoughts about the shows I like and why I like ’em. Yes, there will be bitching about academia too so you’ll just have to deal. Oh and Top 10 lists, oh yah there will be Top 10 lists. I hope to get back to bringing you my own unique set of insights and info from right on the edge of the prairie.

Mobile Bloggin’

So I discovered the mobile app for this and my brand-spanking new tumblr (you can see the link below). Now I can blog from anywhere I get a signal.

Is convenience a compromise to quality or will it remove the excuses and get me here more often? We shall see…



sunset, originally uploaded by lclea.

So what’s up? I’m hanging tough as one of those boy bands would say. I really like everything I’m doing for my PhD, it’s interesting and challenging and I feel like I’ve engaged my mind again like I haven’t in years. I had my first hick up, probably not the last. Statistics and I are let’s say, not good friends. But I will persevere, I will overcome. Road block just show us how much we want something, and I want this.

What’s interesting is I’m learning all the insecure feelings you get when you start, most students have those too. Now that I’m in a little bit, I think this is something I can do. My doggie is off this week having a fun filled play date with his grandparents. I miss him, he’s a sweet little companion and it’s a little lonely down here without him.

This picture is out my back door and slightly west (of course). When I lived in Colorado we had great sunsets. I didn’t take nearly enough pictures of them, but this one was pretty sweet for a flatlander sunset. I’ve decided not to promise about posting, I’ll post when I can. Until then, peace.

I bought a house!

Copy of IMG_1881, originally uploaded by lclea.

After 7 trips down to my new school, I finally pulled the trigger and bought a new house. It’s little, but then again it’s just me and the little dog, so it works. It’s also new, so since I’m a new home owner it’s a bit safer. We are loading me up, lock stock and barrel tomorrow and heading down. It’s going to be a whole new world for me.