the waiting game continues: sandy woke up at 10:30am, but instead of preparing for work, she brought her muffin and coffee into the living room, before bringing out her laptop as well. this will be the third day straight she has not gone to work. i don't think i've ever had a roommate who's stayed home for this long. everyday she doesn't go to work feels like a siege, and i'm counting the number of days left before she leaves for good (16 days). it's not that she doesn't have a right to stay home, but she's really milked it for all it's worth, from letting her boyfriend stay here for over a month, paying the rent a few weeks late, and cooking practically everyday. and it doesn't feel like her boyfriend has really left, because everyday they videochat for hours, and cantonese people have only one volume setting and that's loud.

my mother called me in the late morning to let me know she dropped her iphone and shattered the screen. she asked if it'd be possible to fix, if not she'd need to get a new phone, no on second thought she could still use this old one shattered screen and all. in the early afternoon i went to the cafe to take a look before ordering a new replacement screen (which really wasn't that much, around $20, and much easier to replace than a battery which i've already done before). she did show me on the web cam but from the resolution i couldn't really tell but i was hoping it wasn't as bad as she described. when i saw the phone my hopes were answered: it was simply the glass screen protector that'd shattered. after i removed the crack protector, the screen underneath was pristine. i left with a few slices of pizza my sister had left behind.

i stopped off at rite aid to pick up my prescriptions before returning home. something must've changed with my insurance because like last time i didn't have to pay anything. the first thing i did when i got back was to move to the dining table since sandy had taken over the living room. sitting on the floor, bundled up in my red fleece blanket, i don't know how she can even work. i on the other hand communicated with one potential nest installer while doing taxes for my sister's godmother with the turbotax software.

at 2:30pm sandy brought her laptop into the kitchen and had some of yesterday's leftovers for lunch (the same leftovers i thought she'd take with her to the office had she gone). afterwards she continued working from the kitchen, she from the island counter, me from the dining table, so we were face to face. maybe she didn't understand that i moved back here just to get away from her. after i finished with the taxes, i moved back into the living room.

in the late afternoon i baked some more spiced potato wedges as a snack (cut from 4 medium size spuds). they finished baking by 6pm, at which time sandy went to go make dinner and chat with kelvin, and then ate in the living room while simultaneously continuing chatting, not taking into consideration that i was watching television at the time. she didn't seem to get the hint when i pumped up the volume. i said nothing, just repeated to myself that she'll be gone in two more weeks. i nearly finished all the potato wedges, dipped in ketchup. later in the evening i reheated the pizzas for dinner.

today was a cloudy day, but we still managed to produce half of what we'd normally make, at 23.46 kWh. rainstorms are expected overnight, hopefully they'll clear up by tomorrow morning so we won't lose that much production.

sandy went to bed a bit after seth meyers came on at 12:35am, taking a quick shower before hand. the internet went down right as i was preparing for bed around 1am. ever since i switched to the asus router, i almost never get a lost signal. when i checked the closet, it was the cable modem that was blinking erratically. since comcast's tech support is offered 24/7, i called them up. they knew right away it was an outage issue, and the automated voice message wouldn't even allow me to speak with an agent. at least they were aware of the problem. i wonder if it was a scheduled maintenance and i just never got notified. the message also said it'd be fixed by 6am and that they could send me a text message once everything was up again.

my plan for the day was to bike down to the arnold arboretum1 in jamaica plain to check out the wintersweets and see if there were any other early season flowering trees like chinese plums (AKA japanese apricots).

i woke up around 9am, used the bathroom, took a shower, made some decaffeinated coffee, and heated up one of my blueberry muffins. i was researching the best bike route to get down to the arboretum. in the past i've either taken the subway, drove a car, or rode the motorcycle. i have however bicycled to the arboretum on two occasions: august 2011 when i explored the southwest bike corridor for the very first time, and then again may 2012 when i went exploring dorchester and roxbury. both times were via the southwest corridor, so that's what i was planning to do. both google maps suggested a different, more direct, route, that took me down south huntington to centre street. i modified it a bit so i would riding down the emerald necklace for much of the way once i cleared longwood. not only was it more direct, it gave me a chance to ride the emerald necklace, something i've never done before.

i left by 10:30am, google maps telling me it'd take 50 minutes to get there traveling 6.8 miles. sandy was of course nowhere to be seen, but since i was going out, i didn't really care much what she did today. i cut through harvard square (down quincy-dewolfe) to reach the charles river, where i took the memorial drive side bike path towards the direction of the BU bridge.

after crossing the bridge, i took essex-ivy-carlton, following the road until i got to longwood. i crossed the station, climbing steps with my bike to get myself onto the emerald necklace bike path. i rode south, crossing over at olmsted park to get onto the east side of the emerald necklace. i went down to jamaica pond, passed the boat house, before crossing the jamaicaway at the light to eliot street. i followed eliot down to south then onto custer right to the arboretum main entrance. i arrived by 11:15am, ahead of schedule.

most of the times i'm at the aboretum i'm only on foot; having a bike meant i could travel farther in less time, but it was also a hassle as i constantly had to keep an eye on it, or find a place to lock it up. plus biking up bussey hill was definitely more tiring than simply walking up.

1 most of my arboretum visits have been in the springtime to see the flowers: 070512 080423 080514 080521 090424 110826 120518 180530 (a rare summer visit) 070512

i woke up at 8:30am this morning to ride my bike to harvard square in the freezing cold to meet my cable modem seller. it was so cold that tears started streaming down my cheeks involuntarily, making it look like i've been crying. i was to meet my seller in front of 1 mifflin place, which used to be a penguins bookstore, but now a fedex office print shop. i felt a little awkward, didn't want anyone to think i was loitering. EJ texted me and said he was 4 minutes away, i wrote back that i was already here. a large black SUV pulled up to an empty parking spot and out came a well-dressed asian man, not chinese, rather korean. "tony?" he asked. "EJ?" i responded. he handed me the modem box, i gave him $30. he asked me to check it just to confirm everything was there. he said he bought it a year ago, but recently switched to verizon FIOS and didn't need it anymore. though he lives in medford and works in waltham, he was in cambridge for an early morning meeting. i returned home by 9:20am.

normally i make my blueberry muffins in the late morning and don't eat it until the early afternoon. since i was already up, i decided to start making the muffins now, so they'd be ready by lunchtime. around 9:45am sandy woke up. the first thing she did was to boil some water in the electric kettle. the fact that she was up i took to be a good sign, but when i cleared the countertop to make room so she could prepare her lunch, she said she didn't need it and took a mug of hot water into her bedroom. oh oh. after an hour had gone by i suspected she wasn't going to work, but i tried to be optimistic. around noontime she cooked some lunch, and when she brought her food and her laptop into the living room, i knew she'd be home the rest of the day.

so the blueberry muffins this time around i made sure i had all the right ingredients in the right portions. so that meant 4 tbsp of corn starch to 2 cups of flour. i ran out of king arthur all-purpose flour and opened up a new package of pillsbury beset all purpose flour (1-1/2 cups of king arthur, 1/2 cup of pillsbury). i didn't subtract 4 tbsp of flour and simply added the additional 4 tbsp of corn starch. the other thing that i noticed that was different was the batter seemed soupier than usual. that shouldn't be the case, since i'm adding an additional 4 tbsp of corn starch; maybe when i was measuring the flour there were air pockets and i didn't get a full cup. it didn't matter anyway once i added frozen blueberries since it quickly thickened the batter.

the muffins were done by 11am. i tried one, couldn't really say if they were better or worse compared to last time. these muffins do have a tastier crust however, not sure if it's because of the corn starch or maybe i never noticed it before. i use a mic of 1 cup regular blueberries and 1 cup wild blueberries. wild berries seem to taste better, the regular ones include some very large berries that aren't sweet at all and taste more like sour cranberries. i also don't really notice if these are fluffier, and if anything, they seem a little flatter like maybe it collapsed on itself.

for my next blueberry muffin challenge, i would like to make a dozen at a time, since it's a waste of oven space whenever i make just 6. i have two jumbo muffin tins just for this occasion.

i also have a cabbage i got on sunday, was going to turn it into sauerkraut, before i realized that the old sauerkraut i had in the fridge was still edible. true, it's been aged 2 years, and doesn't look fresh at all, but there's no mold in the jar, no funky smells, and when i tasted some, i didn't get sick afterwards. i still prefer the taste of fresh sauerkraut though, so i maybe just start a new batch as i have plenty of empty jars, no need to throw out the old sauerkraut just yet.

i called back comcast xfinity to ask them to switch my parents' soon-to-be-installed account from my name to theirs. the woman i spoke to over the phone was kind of rude, and didn't seem like she wanted to help out. she basically told me that was impossible, and the only way was to cancel the installation and get my parents to call back themselves. i also asked if there was anything special i had to do if i had my own modem, she said no. after hanging up, i called back again, hoping to get a better agent. i was rerouted through the phone tree, put on automatic hold for several minutes, then automatically lost connection. a few seconds later i got a phone call, a different agent was calling me back. though this agent was much more polite, i could tell it was coming from a call center as the person had a thick indian accent. still, he turned out to be more helpful, and didn't immediately tell me i couldn't change the name. what i did sort of find out is even though the account is in my name, once the installation is finished and activated, i have the option of creating a new account with a new username. so i guess i'll find out for sure come friday morning.

actually when sandy is home i'm more productive. not so much updating my backlog of blog entries (her presence is still distracting), but in order to pass the time, i find other projects to work on. one of them is finally creating the google sheet formulas for the cafe expense report using data pulled from the cafe bank account. i called my father to let him know i was done and that everything should be working now.

the vivosun 10 gallon grow bags arrived today. they're a lot larger than i'd imagined, i'm glad i didn't try getting something even larger. at that size, it'd take 2 bags of garden soil to fill. i'm going to use at least one in my community garden for delicate crops, those that are most susceptible to critter damage. back in belmont i could use even more grow bags to extend the already existing raised beds.

a muffin in the late morning simply wasn't enough and i got hungry again in the afternoon. normally if i was home alone i'd be pigging out on junk food, but since sandy was around, i was on my best behavior and finished a bowl of carrots. i also drink several tall glasses of loose chinese tea. i've discovered since last night that having tea in a tall glass is better than an insulated mug because the tea cools down faster, making it more drinkable, compared to the insulated mug which stays hot for longer. i can also see the tea in the glass, which makes it easier to know how much tea i have left and whether or not i need a refill. i ended up having several long bathroom breaks because i drank so much tea. i just hope it won't keep me up at night.

i started making dinner at 6pm as i was getting hungry again. i still have leftover corned beef in the fridge, but i decided to eat the honey garlic chicken leftover from 2 weeks ago, mixed with a pot of korean install noodles. it was a weird combination, as the chicken tasted awful, but it was still food, and i didn't have to throw away any leftovers.

later in the evening i tossed out the trash. just like last week, the trash smelled awful, as sandy throws away meat byproducts directly into the trash. i've since learned to keep my "meat trash" frozen or sealed tightly in a separate bag, to be tossed out on trash night. it's not a discussion worth having since she leaves in just 18 more days.

sandy went to bed at 12:30am, taking a shower before going to sleep. who knows what she's going to be doing tomorrow. i may bike down to the arnold arboretum to check up on the wintersweet and to see any early blooming flowers.

at nights i wait for sandy to go to sleep; in the mornings i wait for her to wake up. continuing from last night's late bed time and how that means she wasn't plan on going to work the next day, this morning i'm waiting to see when she'll get up. normally it's around 10am, but any later than that means for sure she'll be working from home. another bad sign: normally she makes lunch for herself the next day but i didn't see food on the kitchen counter. what is it about mondays and skipping work? maybe that's her routine back at home, since she told me she only goes into the office a few times a week because it takes her 4 hours roundtrip just to commute from her town into london and back. the worst part is since i'm waiting for her to leave, i'm afraid to use the bathroom because i don't know when she'll wake up and need to use it.

i called the belmont highway department this morning to put in a request to have the tree warden come take a look at the maple tree outside my parents' place. the woman just took my name and address, adding that the tree warden works part time so it could take a few weeks before they get back to me. i didn't offer her any details so i decided to send the highway department an e-mail explaining the situation, that the tree had been pruned 2 years ago, but that we still feel the large overhanging branch above the driveway poses a threat.

next i called verizon to see if i could score a better deal on my parents' cable/internet service. they currently pay $125/month: $40 for 50/50 fiber optic internet, $40 for HD cable, $26 for equipment rental (each cable box is $10/each and $6 for the gateway router), and $19 in fees (MA state sales tax, PEG grant fee, regulatory recovery fee, license fee, franchise costs, regional sports network fee, broadcast fee). my father said nobody in the house really watches cable anymore, with my mother always on netflix and my father on youtube. he did ask about youtube tv last night, wonder if it'd be better to get that instead of cable for just $40/month with far less equipment rentals and fees. since we also use verizon for our phone service, it automatically redirected me to their phone division when it recognized my number. i had to navigate the phone tree before finally getting to speak to a live operator.

fitzgerald was my agent's name. earlier i'd written down a bunch of numbers and data on a notepad, so i was ready with whatever pitch she'd try to sell me. i knew we couldn't just simply remove the cable, since only in tandem would we get the discount; with internet alone, the 50/50 internet price would jump from $40 to $80/month. but i let fitzgerald "find" me the best bargain. she came with back this: $78/month for 100/100, which includes the gateway router rental, but doesn't include the $149 service fee for having a technician come to the house to switch the fiber optic from coaxial to ethernet. though cheaper than what my parents pay now, it wasn't bargain. especially since i already knew that verizon currently had a promotional deal of $40/month for 100/100 internet plus a $50 visa card and $99 service charge waived. the only caveat is that it's for new customers only. my agent knew about the deal, but said it didn't include the gateway router rental which is $12/month, and after fees, the real price is more like $56/month. regardless, my parents wouldn't qualify since they're not new customers. i kept pushing though, told her about the $35/month comcast xfinity deal for 60/5 internet, that i was thinking about switching to them, and whether or not verizon FIOS has any retention service for keeping old customers. she wouldn't budge, and said they don't have any retention services. that's when i basically decided we would switch to xfinity comcast, and got the details of how exactly to cancel our verizon FIOS service.

i then called comcast xfinity. i also had to dig around in their automated phone tree, as it also recognized my number and though i was calling about my own internet service. i finally got an agent, danielle. i told her i was a new customer and wanted to get just internet service. she asked about my parents' internet habits, and recommended the 100/25 for $65/month guaranteed for 1 year before increasing to $102/month with a $60 service fee for a technician to come out and inspect the cable since we haven't had comcast for over 5 years. i told her about the 60/5 internet only plan i saw online for $35/month for 1 year. she said with streaming, i might encounter issues, but i told her i had the exact same plan, and i've never explained any problems with streaming before. that seemed to quiet her up. i also asked about the service fee. at first she said there was no discount, but i told her about the $30 charge waiver, and she gave me that as well. it doesn't include the $13/month for cable modem rental, but she did ask if i had my own, and i told her i would get one this week, so i don't expect to pay for the comcast modem. she did try to sell me on the value of going with comcast equipment, with upgrades and repairs and replacements whatnot, and that their modem comes with wifi, but i told her i had my own router so i didn't need any of that.

so in the end i scheduled a friday morning installation, between 10am-12pm. they have a guarantee that if the technician is late by even just a minute, i get a $20 discount. as soon as the comcast xfinity internet goes live, i'll call up verizon fios and cancel that account immediately. they're actually pretty good about equipment returns, they'll send me a postage paid box for me to put everything in and drop it off.

sandy actually woke up when i was making those calls to the various cable/internet companies, and left around 11:30am. that came as a shock to me as i was sure she was working from home today and even turned up the heat. after she left, after i finished with the calls, i told my mother about the friday appointment, then went to go use the bathroom finally, before taking a shower. i went to star market to get some canned sauerkraut and left for belmont via bike, arriving by 1pm.

my mother made some mian-ge-da for me for lunch. while i was waiting, my father and i set up the HDTV antenna i brought over so we could see how many OTA channels we could receive. about the same number of channels at my place, though NBC 15 and WGBX 44 were both a little spotty. but the other channels came in loud and clear, and if i didn't tell you it was coming over the airwaves, you would've sworn they were cable broadcasts.

i know rabbits are still getting into the backyard and have been eating the crocuses. but how come they haven't eaten the columbines yet? that's when i learned that rabbits don't like the taste of columbines, and they learn to avoid it.

since it's comcast xfinity internet, i'll need to get a cable modem. it's been a while since i bought anything on craig's list, but it felt like riding a bike. actually i'd already did some light searching last night, and knew a seller on medford trying to get rid of a motorola surfboard SB6141 docsis 3.0 cable modem. i contacted the person who wrote me back an hour later. i said i'd be available most of the day tomorrow, but he told me he had to work. fortunately, he was heading into porter square tomorrow morning, and we could meet there to do the exchange.

i am very familiar with the SB6141. in fact, i've purchased 3 in the past, replacing the aging cable modem at my sister's place ($50 used), the cafe ($40 used), and my own place ($23 factory refurbished). this will be my fourth SB6141. i had an option to purchase a brand new netgear DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem for $45, but i've found these motorola surfboards to be very dependable, so i decided to stick with what i know.

by the end of daylight hours something remarkable happened: we broke another production record for the year (42.12 kWh), even though there were some dips in the graphic line in the late morning due to clouds. had it been a crystal clear sky, we should've been able to make 44.69 kWh, which was what we made exactly a year ago on this date.

my parents decided to finish the last of the corned beef for dinner, making 4 reuben sandwiches. my father had cut the brisket into thick slices to be gently reheated on the stove with some brine liquids. since there was only enough slices for 3 sandwiches, we decided to break apart the corned beef so it'd be easier to distribute to the 4 sandwiches. while my father grilled the rye bread slices in a buttered pan, i was in charge with assembling the sandwiches: a layer of swiss cheese, a slather of russian dressing, a layer of shredded corned beef, a thick layer of sauerkraut, then sliced everything in half.

i left early, a bit after 6:30pm, partly because i forgot to recharge my front bike light and i wanted to get home while there was still daylight, but also i wanted to get back before sandy did so she wouldn't know i left the house today. unfortunately i wasn't quick enough, and i saw the light in the bathroom and i knew she was taking a shower. i got back inside right when she finished, before she went into the kitchen to make dinner and chat with kelvin. she continued chatting after 8pm, when she was already done with dinner, retreating back into her room. i didn't see her the rest of the night. she came out around 12am to use the bathroom before going to bed for good.

it was already 10pm and my cable modem seller never got back in touch with me so i e-mailed him. he texted me, said i was at dinner, and asked if i wouldn't mind meeting him tomorrow morning at harvard square instead. though a bit farther than porter square, it was still a lot closer than medford. we ironed out the details. i wasn't surprised to discover that the seller is actually chinese. for some reason, about half the time i buy anything off of craig's list, it's been a chinese seller. maybe chinese people are just better at making a profit off of their junk instead of simply throwing it out onto the curb like the rest of us.

i arrived in belmont sometime after 11am with all the ingredients necessary to make some reuben sandwiches, minus the corned beef that'd been cooking in my parents' slow cooker from yesterday. the brisket was still in the crock pot, with a layer of fat floating on the surface even after my father already scooped off the fat earlier. after removing this new fat layer, we took the corned beef out of the slow cooker. my father split it in half, then cut one half into slices for the sandwiches. i found out from my own experience that a reuben sandwich is best with warm corned beef, so i heated up the brisket in a small pot with some brining liquids while toasting the rye bread in a pan with butter. my father helped me toast the bread while i assembled the sandwiches.

the reuben sandwiches turned out pretty good, each one with a thick layer of warm corned beef. eating a single sandwich was like eating a large hamburger with the amount of beef used.

i always know when sandy isn't planning on going to work tomorrow, when she stays up late. such was the case tonight. she usually prepares for bed before midnight, but heading into the after hours she was still punching away on her keyboard. i even took my nightly pills, which she recognizes as my signal that i'm about to go to sleep. finally, thankfully, she turned off her macbook, folded up the fleece blanket, and went to bed. still, her normal routine is to skip work on mondays. the only monday i can remember that she didn't skip work was actually the one day that she should've, our last big snowstorm. i'm not sweating over it too much. she only has 20 more days left in cambridge, with just 3 more mondays left to skip.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Sed et aliquam ipsum. Aenean hendrerit faucibus feugiat. Cras ac purus facilisis, mollis turpis sed, congue ipsum. Fusce eleifend arcu lorem. Morbi lacinia aliquet sapien, a tempus felis porttitor quis. Phasellus non neque facilisis, venenatis neque vehicula, blandit nibh. Suspendisse eu malesuada mauris, nec ullamcorper magna. Fusce a auctor lectus. Vivamus accumsan est nec nunc interdum tincidunt. Nulla pellentesque massa ex, nec faucibus nibh ornare eget. Sed sit amet quam eu odio tempor consectetur id a justo. Vivamus vel tellus ut erat varius venenatis. Curabitur arcu lectus, maximus vitae odio ut, vehicula fermentum arcu. Morbi eget metus sollicitudin, tincidunt magna ut, finibus libero.

i went to a harvard lunch lecture titled, "animal transition and subsistence strategy on an ancient chinese island: a zooarchaeological study of the xiaozhushan site." even though i got there 15 minutes before the lecture started, i was still the very first person to arrive. the woman who gave the talk about chinese dialects last week was there, we nodded to each other politely. the chinese speaker had a thick accent that was hard to understand at times, but his slides were good enough to follow. interestingly, he was using a pointer technology i've under seen before, where the screen goes dim except for a circular highlight.

he discussed the archaeological excavation on guanglu island off the eastern coast of dalian, liaoning province. the island was apparently a stone age camp, where ancient people hunted several species of deers as well as subsisting on area seafood (as evidenced by the large midden site excavation). the dig comprised of several phases, each representing a specific time period. what's interesting is as the wildlife game decreased due to human pressure, domesticated animals started to be introduced, primarily pigs, followed by dogs and cows. isotope and mitochondrial DNA analysis as well as migration maps of domesticated animals showed that pigs came from the south across the water while the cattle arrived over land from the north.

afterwards the audience asked some interesting questions, especially those from the supervising chair, but the speaker had a hard time understanding english and many inquiries were left unanswered. i sat next to an annoying young man who arrived late armed with a paper plate of sandwiches. during the Q&A, he kept waving his arm truculently to ask a question while the chair was talking. i almost whispered to him to ask the question afterwards instead of causing a scene. some people who saw him were giggling, chances are he's probably on the autistic spectrum.

i went to market basket to pick up another corned beef for this weekend. i bought the largest point cut i could find, at nearly 5 lbs., since the brisket will shrink after cooking. i came back and parked the bike in the basement (raining tomorrow), also discovering that steve had left one of the lights on overnight.

i answered an e-mail from victory installers regarding the nest thermostat, apparently they never got my replies, so i sent them again using my gmail account (sometimes my personal e-mail gets filtered as spam). i ended up contacting two more installers for quotes, homewiz and saper systems, both ironically enough based in belmont (homewiz has an office next to the very first belmont apartment we lived in when we first came to the US).

i did a load of laundry and returned to my overdue project of updating the cafe website to a wordpress page. i uninstalled the existing site based on the delizus theme and went with a fresh install. i went back to the sevill theme primarily because it had a menu system that allowed me to customize the price data for different items. a lot of the other cafe themes had menu designed for online ordering, so the price always had to be just a single number, and can't account for different size portions. i did want to try a theme that used something other than bakery page builder, but i'll play with a different builder in the future for another site.

my replacement pair of neewer 35W 5500K tri-phosphor CFL photo studio lights arrived yesterday but i was only now checking them out. it took a minute before i realized one of the bulbs seemed to be defective, dimmer than the other. i ended up taking out all my photo bulbs and sure enough, one of the new ones seemed broken. after a while though, it seemed to get brighter, so maybe it just needs some time to warm enough. having made the switch to LED bulbs, i'd forgotten that CFL can get pretty warm, though not as hot as incandescent bulbs. i've still yet to take a single photo using these photo bulbs. maybe i'll put them to use for some food photos. i need a way to mount these lights and some diffusers as well.

the day was overcast but bright, leaving us with 21.93 kWh of electricity. it didn't turn dark until well after 7pm, around the time sandy came home. i had a repeat of last night's dinner: first a large bowl of salad + sweet pepper rings + thousand island dressing, followed by a corned beef sandwich. i tried to recreate a reuben tonight, toasting the rye bread in butter first before adding a slice of swiss cheese, some thousand island dressing (i finished the bottle), and some canned sauerkraut. the corned beef was cold so no matter what it wasn't as delicious as a warm sandwich. maybe tomorrow i'll boiled the beef before adding it to the sandwich, and maybe leave it covered in the pan to warm everything back up after assembly.

sandy was already in the bathroom when i woke up this morning at 9:30am. i fed my fish and waited in the living room for her to finish. after she left for work i took care of the leftover corned beef water. it'd congealed overnight and i skimmed off the thick layer of fat floating on the surface. the remaining liquids i poured back onto the corned beef, removing a section to give to my parents to sample. i put the container of fat in the fridge, to be tossed out with the trash next week.

at 11am i began making a new batch of blueberry muffins. i was still going with homemade cake flour but this time i wouldn't forget about the baking powder. i would also add the frozen blueberries directly into the batter without leaving them out to accidentally defrost and leak their staining juices.

cake flour
blueberry muffins
(6 servings)

1 stick salted butter
3/4 cups sugar

2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 cups flour*
4 2 tbsp corn starch
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 cup half and half
2 cups frozen blueberries
cooking spray

* cake flour: subtract equal tbsp amount of corn starch from flour. ‡ should be 4 tbsp of corn starch; cake flour is 2 tbsp of corn starch for every 1 cup of regular flour. cream butter & sugar; add eggs, vanilla, juice; mix dry ingredients into batter 1/3 at a time, adding some half and half in between. bake at 425°F 10 min. 375°F 30 mins. + additional 10 minutes

i used a 1 quart plastic yogurt container to mix the dry ingredients. i ended up switching to a bigger container because i wasn't sure if everything was getting properly mixed, as there wasn't very much space left after i filled it with everything. i creamed the sugar and butter by hand with a spoon again. i still wouldn't call it a cream but at least i managed to mix the two ingredients together so i ended up with a soft lump of sugared butter.

by adding frozen blueberries directly into the batter, i still couldn't stop the blueberry juice from staining everything, but it wasn't as bad as last time when i set the blueberries out first while i worked, resulting in them defrosting a bit and leaking even more juices into the batter, turning it almost completely purple. after the 10 minute mark i checked on their baking progress: i don't know if there was any good rise, but at least the batter had settled and everything looked normal. i'm still using an old can of baking powder; i'm curious to know if i'll get a better rise once i start using my new can. i'm also still using old flour but that wouldn't have any effect on the muffin size.

in the end i still made a mistake: instead of 4 tbsp of corn starch (cake flour = 1 cup flour: 2 tbsp of corn starch), i added just 2 tbsp. the muffins came out okay, better than last time because i added the baking powder into the dry ingredients, but maybe it would be even fluffier had i had 2 tbsp more of corn starch. also next time i'm not going to subtract equal amounts of flour, i'm just going to simply add the corn starch in addition to everything else. 4 tbsp of extra flour ingredient isn't going to make much of a difference, and the extra volume might even make for taller muffins.

the muffins turned out okay. contrary to what i saw when i opened the oven, they had a good rise with decent muffin tops. at the time i didn't know i'd accidentally skimped on the corn starch; if i didn't find out, i would've thought these were the best muffins i've made yet.

the muffin i tried was moist and fluffy, with a flavorful crust. despite blueberry juice stains mixing in the batter, the interior remained pale for the most part. some of the larger blueberries melted and tasted more like bitter cranberries. i made some aeropress decaffeinated french vanilla coffee to go along with my muffin lunch.

i ordered the snow joe 18-inch snow broom sunday night during an amazon lightning deal sale for $9.99 (it typically sells for $12.49) and it finally arrived today. from the description it looked awfully similar to the snow pro roof rake we use to clean our solar panels (inaugural solar panel snowing cleaning). the snow pro cost us at least $25 (plus an additional $6.50 for shipping) and after two winters, it's starting to look a little battered so it was time to look for a replacement, or at least a backup. the snow joe snow broom is designed for removing snow from cars. it took features a foam brush head so as not to scratch delicate car paint. i was afraid it might be made from a hard foam but i was happy to discover the foam was quite soft, similar to the snow pro. the thing that i like is the snow broom can be screwed on to any standard handle, so it's completely compatible with our long extensible roof rake handles. the snow broom comes with it's own extending handle but we don't have any use for it since it's far too short. i also like that the snow broom is much larger than the snow pro, better at removing more snow. too bad i personally believe the snow season is over, we'll just have to wait until next winter to use the snow broom.

i went to the cafe after i finished baking the muffins to deliver some for my parents. it also gave me a chance to bring some corned beef for them to try. my mother was just about to leave for ac moore with my sister's godmother. my 2nd aunt had also dropped by, hoping to get some more knitting help from my mother. as the corned beef was cold, it was easier to slice compared to last night. cutting across the grain, i got a chance to see the nice marbling on the inside. everyone tried a piece of beef, although i think it'd taste better if heated slightly. biking home, i saw a turkey at the intersection of huron avenue, first time in many months. if the turkeys are back, spring must not be far behind.

* lecture at the harvard art museum: jenny so – rare and beautiful objects, new and unexpected findings: revisiting harvard’s early chinese jades