Friday, May 31, 2013

I made food: black bean quesadillas

Today I indulged my craving for Mexican food once again by making black bean quesadillas with homemade pico de gallo and guacamole. I decided to try using an actual Mexican cheese rather than the Kraft "Mexican blend" stuff that comes shredded in bags. I ended up buying queso panela, which I've never had before, but the description sounded promising. It turned out to be very mild, like a salty mozzarella (very similar texture too). It didn't actually melt fully, but got very soft.

There really isn't anything better than fresh guacamole, is there? Mine just has tomato, onion, lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper. (You may notice that I didn't put any jalapenos or anything in. I'm a real wuss when it comes to spicy stuff; it's really just a painful distraction from the food to me!) Alongside my quesadillas I had a salad with oil, lime juice, pepper, and some pomegranate-flavored craisins. I just love that almost everything in my dinner was fresh and easy to make! (Yeah OK, I got the beans from a can, so sue me!)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

I made food: pease porridge

Before I made this recipe (again from A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook), I wasn't sure what pease porridge actually was, having only heard of it in the nursery rhyme. I figured it was like pea soup, which is nearly true. According to, it originated in Britain when people would make a huge batch of pea soup, let it congeal overnight, then eat it again the next day (and the next, and the next...). So pease porridge, also called pease pudding, is essentially thickened pea soup. And that's what it looks like:

(I thought it would look a little funky by itself, so I put it next to the nice piece of salmon I ate with it.)

Wikipedia says pease porridge should be "somewhat similar in texture to hummus", and I think I came close! It was really simple to make: you cook some split peas until they're soft, along with the two halves of an onion and a tied-up bundle of herbs (thyme, basil and parsley). Then you beat in an egg to thicken it up, and add salt and pepper. There are two ways to finish it: either boil it in a pudding cloth, or bake it in the oven at 350 degrees for half an hour. I chose the second way, hence the crispy bits on the edges. (Note: I removed the onion and herbs before baking, but you could also blend them along with the peas in a food processor, or chop them by hand and put them back in. I guess I'm just lazy.)

If you like pea soup (or, heck, mushy canned peas) you'll probably like this. It had a subtle flavor from the onion and herbs, but if you wanted to make it bolder you could add pretty much any seasoning you like.

And finally, here's a little linguistic tidbit for you: the word pea comes from the Latin pisum. It was originally borrowed into English as pease, hence the term "pease porridge". Eventually people thought pease must be a plural, so they created the new singular form pea. Wow!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Swatch: Orly Sparkling Garbage

The polish in this post was purchased by me. All opinions are my own.

Before we get started, I wanted to tell my loyal readers that since I'm getting married in one month from today(!!!!!), I'm going to be giving my nails a bit of a break. I'll still paint them from time to time (for the next Polish Days for example), but I'll be trying to leave them bare more often than not.

That doesn't mean I won't be posting! I'd especially love to answer some language questions from you all, so send 'em in! You should also follow me on Facebook and/or Twitter, as I post lots of things there that aren't quite blog-worthy.

Moving along! I don't know why I keep insisting on swatching holographics when I know my camera can't really handle it...but they're so pretty! Today I have Orly Sparkling Garbage from their new Mash Up collection. It's a pale teal jelly with a metric crapload of tiny holographic glitter in it. This stuff nearly seared my retinas in the sun!

First off, here's a shot in the shade, where the glitter looks silver. You can see how tightly packed it is!

Orly Sparkling Garbage. Three coats with one coat Out the Door topcoat.

And here's the obligatory out-of-focus rainbow shot. Even though this is a scattered holo, there is just so much glitter that at times it almost looks like a linear holo!

Finally, this lightbox shot shows off the color of the base a bit better.

The formula on this was very nice, better than other Orlys I've tried actually. I didn't get any bubbles or pulling. Even though Sparkling Garbage is a jelly, the glitter does a pretty good job at hiding my nail line.

I wish I could show you the full glory of this polish, but trust me, if you like holos you'll love this!

I bought Sparkling Garbage at Sally Beauty Supply ($7.19 for 18 ml, only $6.49 if you're a member of the Beauty Club). Orly polishes are 3-free.

The polish in this post was purchased by me. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I made food: Roman-style buttered carrots

This week I decided to make two vegetable dishes from A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook. I've made a couple recipes from this cookbook already and they turned out great. I like how for each dish, the authors give both a modern take and one inspired by a medieval or Roman recipe. It's interesting to see how people in the past cooked differently, especially with respect to seasoning.

Anyway, my first recipe was Roman buttered carrots (from the King's Landing section, if you're interested).

For this recipe, you boil the carrots very briefly, then add raisins, honey, white wine vinegar, melted butter, cumin, and pepper. You roast them in the oven at 400 for about 20 minutes, then add a little white wine to deglaze the dish, and you're done!

You can tell by the ingredients that this dish is primarily sweet, but the cumin and pepper prevent it from being too one-note. I think I would use a bit fewer raisins next time, but other than that I liked it!

Looking at the original recipe (from the 4th century cookbook by Apicius, a big source of our knowledge of Roman cooking), it called for parsley, dried mint and lovage (a kind of herb), olive oil instead of butter (of course), and fish sauce, which the Romans put on basically everything. (You can still buy it!) As far as I can tell, it's pretty similar to Asian fish sauce, so I might try adding that next time for a more salty and savory twist on the recipe.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Ask a linguist!

Hey all! I'm adding a new feature to the blog called "Ask a Linguist"! Language is a big part of what makes us human. So, of course, people like to think and talk about talking--especially linguists! But most people haven't had the advantage of studying linguistics in school and aren't familiar with what linguists do. So I'm issuing an open invitation to anyone who is curious about language: send me your questions, thoughts and musings, and I'll do my best to respond with as little jargon as possible! If I'm not sure how to answer, I'll try to point you in the right direction. Also, if you overhear someone talking in an interesting way, or making an interesting slip of the tongue, tell me about it!

To send me a question: email me, tweet me, Facebook me, comment on a post, send me a smoke signal...whatever works! Remember, there's no such thing as a dumb question!

 (Just one note: if you have a question like "Where did this (English) word come from?", check first--you'll probably find your answer.)

 I'll be archiving all my answers and language-related posts at the page linked right under my banner, if you want to browse. My blog's motto should be "ALIQUID: Come for the nail polish, stay for the linguistics!" Doesn't exactly roll off the tongue...

Friday, May 24, 2013

Swatch: Tough as Nails Purple Twilight

The polish in this post was purchased by me. All opinions are my own.

Today I'm wearing a brand new polish from indie company Tough as Nails Lacquer (based in my home state of Michigan!). Purple Twilight is from Tough as Nails' summer collection and is described as "a purple base with loads of silver, indigo, and magenta glass flecks". When she says "loads", she means it! Check it out:

Two coats Tough as Nails Purple Twilight with one coat Out the Door topcoat

(I have no idea where that random piece of glitter on my ring finger came from. Maybe it fell in my bottle by mistake?)

I think she captured the essence of "twilight" quite beautifully, don't you? I love that the color is a bit dusty, as you would expect once the sun has gone down. The color of this polish is slightly more red-toned in real life, both in its base and due to the magenta flecks. Since my lightbox tends to dull sparkly things, I took this next picture outside the lightbox to capture some of the purple flash in Purple Twilight:

Lovely! With two coats my nail line was just barely visible, so two will be fine if you have shorter nails. The polish dries to a pretty smooth texture despite all the glass fleck.

The one downside to Purple Twilight was the formula. It was a bit gloopy and seemed to cling to the brush; I'm not sure if it was due to the polish base or the large amount of flecks. In any case I did end up with a bit of streaking that you might be able to see on my ring finger. A drop of polish thinner might help.

Despite the formula I do recommend this polish if you love purple, glass fleck finishes, or both! Purple Twilight is available at Tough as Nails' Etsy site ($9 for 15 ml or $5.75 for 7 ml). Tough as Nails lacquers are 3-free!

The polish in this post was purchased by me. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Talking about talking: regular mice

Last month I posted about the linguistic process of analogy--where speakers change one part of their language to be more like another part. In that post, I mentioned that in general, a given irregular pattern in a language will tend to become regular over time. This raises an obvious question: if speakers tend to eliminate irregularity, then why aren't all languages totally regular by now? Where do new irregular patterns come from? The answer is actually quite simple: they're accidental.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Swatch: Indigo Bananas Executive Transvestite

 The polish in this post was purchased by me. All opinions are my own.

My first ever post was a review of an Indigo Bananas polish, and now I have another! Indigo Bananas is an indie brand that first started gaining renown with an amazing collection of multichromes, and has now expanded to holographics. Her Executive Holos collection is inspired by Eddie Izzard; what I like about the collection is that each polish is not just a holo, but has something else going on too.

Executive Transvestite (great name!) is described as "a gold linear holo foil (metallic and holo at the same time) with a scattering of small gold flakies throughout". I tried to capture both the holo and foil aspects of the polish in my photos. The pics aren't as great as I would have liked, as my camera is apparently confused by linear holos, but I think you'll get the idea!

In the shade, Executive Transvestite fools you into thinking it's just a plain old gold foil:

Indigo Bananas Executive Transvestite, 3 coats with 1 coat Out the Door quick-dry topcoat. Shade.

But then you go into the sun and it's WHAM RAINBOWS!

Indigo Bananas Executive Transvestite, 3 coats with 1 coat Out the Door quick-dry topcoat. Direct sun.

Notice that you can still see some gold flakes in these shots too.

Indoors the holo is generally weaker, and depends on the light source. Here are a couple pics.

Indigo Bananas Executive Transvestite, 3 coats with 1 coat Out the Door quick-dry topcoat. Indoors with daylight lamp.
Indigo Bananas Executive Transvestite, 3 coats with 1 coat Out the Door quick-dry topcoat. Indoors in lightbox.

The formula on this polish was really great and easy to apply. Occasionally one of those gold flakes got stuck on my nail tip, but no biggie. The polish did take a while to dry, even with a quick-dry topcoat, probably because I needed three coats of it.

Here's one more bonus pic I snapped while lying in bed! Look at that rainbow!

Executive Transvestite is available on Indigo Bananas' Etsy page ($12 for 15 ml or $5.50 for 5 ml). She's currently transitioning to a new bottle shape, so the polish might be temporarily out of stock. Indigo Bananas is 3-free, vegan and cruelty-free!

The polish in this post was purchased by me. All opinions are my own.

Monday, May 20, 2013

I made food: curried couscous

I made another great side dish last night for my fiance! I grabbed this recipe from Ina Garten's The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. If you like curry, you will like this, and it's much easier than making an actual curry. My favorite part of this dish is the dried cranberries--they add a real pop of sweet/sour to the curry flavor.

All you need to do (other than making some couscous) is whip up a dressing of equal parts yogurt and olive oil, a little bit of white wine vinegar, some curry powder, turmeric, salt and pepper. Then add some scallions, grated carrot, parsley, and dried cranberries. The original recipe also calls for red onion and almonds, but my fiance doesn't like raw onion and I don't like nuts, so I omitted those. Ina also notes that you can use lots of other types of dried fruit, like currants or golden raisins.

You can vary the spiciness of the dish according to what blend of curry powder you use; I'm a big baby when it comes to spicy, so mine just had a little bit of heat. Another great thing about this recipe is you could replace couscous with your grain of choice. I'm a big quinoa fan, so I might try that next time!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Swatch: Zoya Tinsley

The polish in this post was purchased by me. All opinions are my own.

Hello and welcome to all my new readers! I'm glad to have you! Today I have pics of a new polish from the Zoya Irresistible summer collection. Tinsley is described as "a full-coverage, rose gold foil metallic". Zoya are really the masters of this kind of shimmery foil; like the others I have, Tinsley is a pretty complex color and can change a lot depending on the lighting.

First up I have some pictures taken in my lightbox with a daylight bulb.

Zoya Tinsley. Two coats with one coat Out the Door quick-dry topcoat.

You can see here that the base is pink, but it is absolutely packed with gold (and I think orange) flecks.

Outside in the sun the pink base pops even more, and the shimmer is blinding:

Finally, in indoor light that has a yellowish tint, Tinsley amazingly becomes really coppery. In fact, if I only saw this polish indoors I would never think to call it rose gold. This is the best my camera could do:

As for the formula, it was pretty nice, just the right consistency. I didn't get any bubbles, pulling or streaking. With two coats you can just barely see my nail line in some lights, but not enough to bother me. Zoya's foils do tend to be slow-drying, but with a quick-dry topcoat that problem went away. I anticipate a bit of trouble with removal because of all that shimmer.

I just can't stop staring at my nails right now! I want some more of these foils! The Irresistible collection is available at ($8 for 15 ml).

(Pssst...are you following my Facebook page?)

The polish in this post was purchased by me. All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I made food: crack and cheese

Heh, two days after I talked about eating healthy I'm posting this. Yesterday I made a batch of Martha Stewart's "perfect macaroni and cheese" for my department's grad student picnic. Luckily I ended up with some leftovers, because this is seriously the greatest mac and cheese ever. I've made it around ten times and it always vanishes within two days.

You can find the recipe at this New York Times blog post. You'll notice first of all that this recipe contains over a pound and a half of cheese and a whole stick of butter, but who's counting? But this stuff is not just a cheese bomb: it also has nutmeg and cayenne pepper, which give it a bit of a bite and a more complex flavor. Not to mention that crunchy top of homemade bread crumbs!

It's pretty easy to make, just time consuming. To make the cheese sauce, you first have to make a white sauce by whisking butter, flour and milk for what seems like a million years. Not to mention shredding all that cheese (because you wouldn't buy pre-shredded cheese for this masterpiece, would you??).

I'm lucky my fiance is coming to visit so he can finish the rest of this stuff, otherwise I might overdo it!

Monday, May 13, 2013

I made food: ratatouille

Hey folks! Before I get to the food, you may have noticed that my blog looks a little different! I wrestled with Blogger for a few hours today and ended up with a new banner and buttons. I made those images with PicMonkey. I also got some new social media buttons--this site has a bunch of sets to choose from. Finally, I set up a Facebook page to complement the blog. Give me a like if you want!

OK, on to the good stuff. I have to get back on the wagon after last week, food-wise (mostly thanks to a lot of leftover bridal shower cake!). In my opinion, the easiest way to eat healthy is to cook up a bunch of vegetables with good, hearty flavors--it's more enjoyable than a piece of steamed broccoli, and it can really make you feel satisfied.

So I whipped up a Dutch oven full of ratatouille! I basically followed this recipe, except I omitted the mushrooms (yes, I'm a cretin), used canned tomatoes instead of fresh, added some white wine, and threw some mozzarella on top.

Ohhh yeah. The veggies are nice and soft, and the mozzarella and Parmesan give them just a bit of savoriness. I made some quinoa to add some protein and soak up the juice.

This is a very simple recipe, and you could spice it up any way you like--by adding different herbs, for example, or maybe some lemon juice.

I've got a month and a half before my wedding, so let's hope I can keep eating healthy!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Today's mani: interlocking dots

I have some super fun nails right now! In my ongoing effort to perfect my dotting technique, I followed this tutorial and really love the result!

I started with two coats of Revlon Sunshine Sparkle, and then added two coats of Essie Lapiz of Luxury on half the nail. (If you try this mani, don't worry about getting that diagonal line perfectly straight, as it will be covered by dots.) I used a large dotting tool to add the dots. Both polishes were a little more watery than I would have liked, especially the Revlon, which led to some fuzzy dots, but on the whole I really like how this turned out!

I sealed this mani with Out the Door quick-dry topcoat. I've used quick-dry topcoat in the past (specifically Seche Vite), but it made my polish peel off in sheets after a day or two. I'm hoping Out the Door doesn't have the same effect!

By the way, my camera once again got confused about colors--the Essie is a blue-leaning purple to my eye.

What's your favorite kind of dotticure?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Swatch: L.A. Girl Teal Dimension

The polish in this post was purchased by me. All opinions are my own.

I stumbled across this polish in Rite Aid while on my quest for the L'Oreal jellies. Teal Dimension is from the L.A. Girl 3D Effects collection. It's my first L.A. Girl polish and now I want more!

L.A. Girl Teal Dimension, two coats. No top coat.

This polish has a blackened teal jelly base with lots of holographic shards of glitter. The holographic effect isn't as intense as with a linear holo, but it's still pretty loud! In direct sunlight my nails looked freaking amazing, but it's all cloudy and rainy today, so I can't get a pic.

Despite being a jelly, it's dark enough that two coats were plenty. The formula is nice, no complaints. I was afraid that cleanup would be hard because a) it's a blue polish and b) it's full of glitter, but it was actually pleasantly easy.

Since my camera wouldn't pick up the holo effect unless it was an inch away from my nails, here's a blurry closeup:

Edit: Here's a slightly less blurry picture I took while lying in bed and then forgot to post:

So pretty! I'm in love with holo polishes,  and I'm really tempted to grab some more of this collection! It's only $5 for 14 ml on L.A. Girl's website, and you can also find it in stores like Rite Aid.

The polish in this post was purchased by me. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

I made food: Mexican melange

I LOVE Mexican food. I could probably eat it every day. My favorite is anything covered in cheese. Unfortunately for me, if I ate cheesy Mexican food every day, I'd weigh...a lot more than I do now. So this week I decided to make a somewhat healthier dish that still satisfies my craving for Mexican. This was vaguely inspired by the adobo chicken bowl I had at Cosi last weekend.

Looks good, no? Here's what I did:

First, I left some chicken breast to marinate in grapeseed oil, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Meanwhile, I cooked some Spanish rice (I confess, it was a boxed mix!) and made some fresh pico de gallo (tomato, onion, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper).

Then I cooked the chicken in a pan with some oil. When it was almost done, I added a can of black beans to get them heated up. I threw a bit of everything on a plate, added some avocado chunks and sprinkled some lime juice, and voila!

Super tasty and pretty good for you! Next time I think I'll add some corn too!

Are you a cilantro lover or hater?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Today's mani: bright brushstrokes

The weather's been pretty summery lately here in upstate NY. I thought I would encourage it with this mani!

I love the brushstroke method because it's foolproof, even for the artistically impaired such as myself. (Here's a tutorial.) I didn't bother to do a base color for this; I just used 8 colors, cycling through them twice, and was able to get enough coverage.

Here are the colors I used (in order, red to blue):
  • Essie Come Here!
  • L'Oreal Orange You Jealous?
  • Julep Parker
  • Julep Abbie
  • L'Oreal New Money
  • Color Club Twiggie
  • Color Club Age of Aquarius
  • Zoya Robyn
Have you ever tried a brushstroke mani? What color scheme did you use?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Polish Days: The number 5

I'm excited--this is my first time participating in the Polish Days blogger event! The theme for this month is "the number 5". This is a pretty broad prompt, so I thought for a while about what I should do. Then it hit me: the five wizards!

If you're at all familiar with The Lord of the Rings, you know about the wizards Gandalf and Saruman. But did you know there were actually five wizards? They were angelic beings incarnated in mortal bodies, sent to help the people of Middle-Earth fight Sauron.

Gandalf the Grey/White gets place of honor on my thumb. (Did you know his real name is Olorin?) The base is Maybelline Porcelain Party, and I painted his G rune in acrylic paint. (I love acrylic! So great for nail art!)

Saruman is on my index finger. I used Revlon Carbonite as the base because it reminds me of the war machines he built at Isengard. Then I painted the White Hand (the symbol his orc soldiers wear) with acrylic paint.

On my middle finger is Radagast the Brown. He's mentioned a few times in Lord of the Rings. He was the one who sent the Eagle to rescue Gandalf from the top of Orthanc (no magic moths in the book!). He was mostly interested in animals and plants, and didn't do much to help fight Sauron. Radagast's real name is Aiwendil, 'bird-friend', so I gave him a blackbird.  The base color is Sephora by OPI Leotard Optional, and the bird is done in acrylic (I think it turned out really well!).

Finally, we don't know much about the last two wizards, except that they were friends and wore blue. They traveled far to the east, off the known maps of Middle-Earth, to fight Sauron's influence there, and were never heard from again. Their names were Alatar and Pallando, or Morinehtar and Romestamo ('darkness-slayer' and 'East-helper').

Since we don't really know about their personalities, I chose to give them a kind of wizardly-looking sweep of dots. :-D The base color is China Glaze Hanging in the Balance, and the dots are Julep Millie, Orly Royal Navy, Wet 'n' Wild I Need a Refresh-Mint, and Wet 'n' Wild Shameless. I'm a little mad that I blurred the dots on my ring finger, even though I waited an hour before putting on topcoat!

Well, am I a geek or what? How did I do? I had fun doing this mani, and I'm hoping to participate in future Polish Days!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Today's mani: bridal shower chevrons

What's up all? This weekend my lovely future mother- and sister-in-law are throwing me a bridal shower, which means one thing: NAIL TIME! I wanted a mani to match the dress I'm wearing, which is here. I decided to do a chevron pattern using some of the colors in the dress:

This is the usual tape mani. I started yesterday by painting my nails in Maybelline Porcelain Party (the white) and letting it dry overnight. Today I stuck on pieces of tape to get the outline of the chevrons and painted my tips (Sephora by OPI Thyme for a Mani and Zoya Ziv).

Then the black stripes...I originally intended to use a Sally Hansen nail art pen to do the stripes, but it ended up bleeding a lot and making blotches everywhere. :-/ Kinda disappointed about that purchase. So I resorted to using acrylic paint and a striper brush. The lines came out a little wiggly but they look good from a distance anyway!

I also painted my toes to match the dress, using L'Oreal Orange You Jealous? Now I'm all set for the weekend!

What's your weekend mani going to be ?