Better Stuffed Peppers

I hate mushy vegetables.

Vegetables in general are fine, but I’m weird about texture. Mushy veggies are right up there on my “rather eat a live bee than this” list.

Mushy anything, really. I like my oatmeal undercooked and my applesauce chunky.

So when I decided to make stuffed peppers for dinner and the recipe said to boil the peppers in water for 5 minutes and then bake them for an hour, I knew I was going to have to change some things.

I ended up changing a lot of things, so I figured I should write it down for next time.

Erin’s Better Stuffed Peppers:

Ingredients:

  • 2 large green peppers
  • 1/2 lbs of ground beef
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 4 oz tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup long-grain rice, cooked
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cook the rice according to the package instructions and set aside. Cut the tops off of the bell peppers and clean out the seeds and membranes. Place the peppers in a large pot and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes* then drain and set aside.

*Next time I make this recipe I might reduce the simmering time to 3 minutes for even less mushiness.

Add the butter to a frying pan, then add the onion, celery and garlic. Saute for roughly 5 minutes, or until the veggies have softened to your liking. Pour the softened veggies into a large mixing bowl and mix with the tomato sauce, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Mix the ground beef, egg and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl and add to the frying pan. You can cook the ground beef in the same pan you previously used for the veggies (no need to dirty another one).

When the meat is completely browned, add it to the celery and onions in the mixing bowl. Dump in the cooked rice and mix everything together.

Place the boiled bell peppers in a baking dish, fill them with the meat, rice and veggie mixture and top with shredded cheddar cheese. Bake approx. 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and everything has had a chance to warm up. Serve immediately.

This recipe took about 30 minutes to make including the prep time for chopping the veggies, and the two times I had to shoo my dog out of the kitchen and yell at her to stop licking the floor. It passed the not-mushy test, and both my husband (who also hates mushy veggies) and I approve it.

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Pepper a la Erin

Discussion questions:

  1. Which is grosser, overcooked asparagus or overcooked broccoli?
  2. What’s on your “rather eat a live bee than this” list?
  3. Would you actually eat a live bee? You probably shouldn’t. Aren’t they almost endangered? Yeah, better not.

I have found Jesus and it turns out he’s a brownie

Dude.

Dude!

DUDE!

I made these cast iron pan brownies today and it’s a good thing I poured the batter into the pan and stuck in into the oven before licking the spatula because otherwise my husband would come home tonight to find me dead, having accidentally drowned myself in brownie batter from shoveling it into my gaping maw too quickly to allow myself to breathe.

It’s that good.

Also, sometimes the right song comes on your Otis Taylor Pandora station while you’re hardcore making out with a spatula and you could just swear you felt the touch of god.

I didn’t even make the peanut butter topping! I’m not sure I’m ready for it. Maybe one day.

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The cooked brownie looks identical to the way the batter was poured into the pan. I had to touch it to see if anything changed, or if I’d just waited 30 minutes to eat more raw batter. (Both good)

Crochet Eyelet Shawl in Royal Blue

#1 on my 30 Crafts Before I Turn 30 List is to crochet a lightweight eyelet shawl using royal blue yarn.

I used this pattern for Eva’s Shawl that I found on Ravelry for free, and 3 hanks of 100% wool fingering-weight yarn in Marine Heather from Knit Picks.

This was my first time using anything other than cheap worsted-weight yarn from JoAnn Fabrics or the Fabric Outlet, so it was a totally new experience. The yarn is so soft and delicate, and just really looks and feels beautiful.

It also took FOREVER compared to some of my other projects where I used giant crochet hooks and thick strands of yarn!

Currently I’m blocking the shawl so that it drapes nicely. Unfortunately I don’t have the space or the carpet to block the entire thing all at once, so I’m doing it in pieces. I’ve never done it this way and have no idea how it will turn out, but aside from pinning it to the wall and leaving a thousand little holes in our apartment when we move out, I don’t have many options.

My ironing board is the largest thing I have that I can stick pins in!

My ironing board is the largest thing I have that I can stick pins in!

 

 

Still, it turned out beautifully and I’m happy that I put in the time! I plan to wear this shawl with a little black dress so that the beautiful blue color really shines.

blue_shawl

If you want to follow my 30 Before 30 posts, I’ve added a separate category for these posts under the DIY section. Hopefully that will keep all of these posts organized, since I’m obviously not doing them in order!

Hey Erin, Whatcha Doin’?

Currently playing: TwoDots!

I finished The Room and Monument Valley and needed a new puzzle game, so I downloaded TwoDots. It’s a series of connect-the-dots puzzles with cute graphics and catchy music. It’s currently free from iTunes.


 

Currently reading:Frankenstein; Or, the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley.

I couldn’t help but think of Young Frankenstein whilst reading this :)


 

Currently making:

My blue eyelet shawl is 2/3 finished! It’s taken a long time, and I still have a ways to go, but it’s totally worth it.

blue eyelet shawl

The eyelet shawl is long enough to cover the tops of my arms!


Currently baking:

Chocolate chip banana bread using my mother’s recipe and adding half a bag of semi-sweet chips.

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I should have taken the picture before we went to the picnic, because this is all that’s left!


Currently working:

on the Arduino kit that Kevin & I bought last year. Right now I’m just practicing with LEDs, a bit of code and a small motor, but I intend to build something cool soon!


 

Currently studying:

The Data Scientist’s Toolbox through Coursera with the help of a weekly meetup courtesy of Women Who Code SF.


 

Currently feeling:

sick with a head cold that became a mild flu, but I think it’s started to go down now.


 

Current indulgences:

Trader Joe’s dark chocolate covered marshmallows, Coffee Bar‘s Bolivia blend and Hangar 24′s chocolate porter.

tjschocolatemarshmallows


 

Current goals:

Recover from this flu, return to exercising at the Chinatown YMCA 3-4 times a week, complete all current projects and continue to build apps and/or robots while searching for a job!

Returning to Normalcy

My life post-DBC has been packed with portfolios and resumes, catching up with friends and putting myself back together.

It’s called Dev Bootcamp for a reason. It’s hard work and long hours. Anything in your life that isn’t code gets temporarily abandoned.

In the 2 weeks since I graduated, I’ve been visiting as many of my friends as possible, joining as many study groups and pair-ups as possible, and stressing myself out over the number of books I’ve been meaning to read, movies I’ve been meaning to watch, craft projects I’ve left gathering dust and charming little coffee shops in my new neighborhood of which I’ve only seen the outside.

In short, I’m desperately trying to pick up my life where I left it.

I’ve missed so much, but I have wonderful friends who understand why I haven’t been around, and have supported me right from the beginning.

It was worth putting my life on hold to learn these awesome new skills, and I don’t regret any part of it, it’s just that I feel a little bit like a human time-capsule. My friends reference current events, funny videos and tv shows and I’m staring at them blankly like Capt. America.

I know things will go back to normal soon. I need to approach my stack of books and long-lost Netflix queue the same way I’d approach a new algorithm. I also really need to stop saying nerdy things like that in my everyday conversation, because no one has a clue what I’m talking about and I’m going to alienate people!

So please bear with me, gentle readers, as i try to find a balance between coder and crafter, worker and friend.

Studio Apartment Living

Finding an apartment in San Francisco is hard.

Finding an apartment that allows dogs and costs less than $2K a month is next to impossible. I’m still not sure what deal we must have made with the devil in order to find our current place.

Kevin, Pepper and I are currently squished into a 400-and-something sq. ft. studio apartment, but we’ve managed to make it feel cozy instead of cramped.

Our first challenge was figuring out where to put the bikes. Kevin found a gravity rack on Amazon and we dedicated an entire wall of our apartment to bike storage.

Every time we take one of the bikes down, it's like a game of will-the-whole-thing-collapse-and-kill-us-all?

Every time we take one of the bikes down, it’s like a fun game of will-the-whole-thing-tip-over-and-kill-us-all?

The next challenge was figuring out where to put everything else.

Even after we paired down our possessions to move across the country, we still managed to have too much crap (doesn’t everyone?). We held a garage sale at House Scrimshaw and donated a lot of stuff to Community Thrift. Everything else got shoved into our one and only closet.

Yarn, bike helmets, laundry detergent, power tools. Yep, that seems about right.

Yarn, bike helmets, laundry detergent, power tools. Yep, that seems about right.

Noir looks fetching in one of my scarves

Noir looks fetching in one of my scarves

Our gorgeous teal bookshelf doubles as a router stand

Our gorgeous teal bookshelf doubles as a router stand

It’s not so bad. The closet is completely packed, but organized.

Our bathroom is tiny, but with a few shelves we managed to make it look nice.

Note the collection of Paintbox Soapworks scrubs and streusels :)

Note the collection of Paintbox Soapworks scrubs and bath streusels :)

And our kitchen is really just a hallway, but I added some color and a few plants to make it my happy place!

I'm a big fan of granny smith apples :)

I’m a big fan of Green Apple :)

My succulents outgrew their teacups so I repotted them in eco-friendly pots

My succulents outgrew their teacups so I repotted them in eco-friendly pots

Coffee, banana bread and wine. Just the bare necessities :)

Coffee, banana bread and wine. Just the bare necessities!

My favorite Xmas present from Kevin's parents! They're little salt and pepper shakers with S and P etched on their dog tags!

My favorite Xmas present from Kevin’s parents! They’re little salt and pepper shakers with S and P etched on their dog tags!

 

Pepper loves the new place, especially our proximity to multiple parks and all the other dogs who live in our building.

She is perfectly capable of getting on the bed, but prefers to walk up her stairs or whine until one of us picks her up. Such a spoiled diva

She is perfectly capable of getting on the bed, but prefers to walk up her stairs or whine until one of us picks her up. Such a spoiled diva

 

And although I miss my craft room, I do have a corner of the table where I can eat dinner/work on the computer/set up my sewing machine. It works for me!

I know every crafter has one of those Ikea Raskog carts, but it's because they're just so perfect for keeping all of your stuff closeby!

I know every crafter has one of those Ikea Raskog carts, but it’s because they’re so damn perfect for holding all of your stuff. Also, please ignore my husband’s enormous monitor. I seriously think he needs to get his eyes checked.

 

So that’s the grand tour.

I basically stood on my bed in the center of the room and took photos of each wall.

The small space took some getting use to, but now I’m really happy with our little home.

It’s easy to keep clean, and so far Kevin and I haven’t been stepping on each other’s toes.

If that does happen, there are plenty of coffee shops and other little nearby places where I can hide out with my ear buds and a book. And of course I can always visit Dev Bootcamp, my home away from home.

 

 

Discussion prompts:

  • Do you live in a studio apartment?
  • How have you styled the place to fit your needs?
  • What kind of crazy person moves into a room with only one closet?
  • Isn’t Green Apple the best color for a kitchen?
  • Do you put chocolate chips in your banana bread or walnuts?

Graduation Day

It’s official, I’m a Web Developer!

dogtags

I spent my first week out of DBC catching up with friends, getting more sleep, updating my resume and creating a new portfolio website.

I can’t express how grateful I am to have had this experience. The past few months has completely changed the way I learn, the way I think about things like math and algorithms, and the way I think about myself. It turns out I’m capable of so much more than I ever gave myself credit!

And it doesn’t end here. I’m only just getting started! There’s still a ton of stuff that I don’t know, but at least now I know how to approach and breakdown new things so that I can understand them. I’m taking this week to recuperate and form my next plan of attack.

For now, I really want to get more practice with JavaScript so I joined a weekly study group for women at Hack Reactor. I still want to continue working with ruby and I’m looking into study groups, meetups and TA opportunities at Railsbridge events. Then there’s the PyLadies meetups, Girl Develop It events, opportunities to help out around DBC and other groups I want to get involved with. I’ll probably be just as busy going forward as I was during school… and that’s not counting job hunting!

I have a lot going on, but fortunately I’m really lucky to have wonderful teachers and friends who keep me going and help me out. I love you all :)

I’m a Maker

I make things.

Sometimes those things are blankets made out of yarn and a lot of time.

Sometimes those things are clones of existing websites.

Sometimes those things are delicious cookies.

Sometimes those things are my own invention.

If you want a sweater, you learn to knit (or crochet). If you want a web app, you learn to code. Simple as that.

That’s why this blog is Coding in the Craft Room. That’s why I believe there’s no difference between writing a story and writing a program. It’s silly to think that a STEM degree and a Fine Art degree are total opposites. You’re a maker. You make things. Those things are made out of different elements and require learning the tools of the trade, but they’re still little creative pieces of your imagination that you brought to life.

maker

My mother was a maker. She made stained-glass windows, quilts, clothes and all kinds of things.
My father is a maker. He has made things out of wood, metal and machines.
My brother is a maker. He makes music and makes people smile.
My sister is a maker. She makes building designs and wooden sculptures, among other things.

And I’m a maker. I make things with code and with words.

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Here are a few of the things I have made:

  • Kit.ly – A cute version of the link shortener website bit.ly
  • Kitter – It’s Twitter for cats!
  • Selfie-City – A look at people looking at themselves
  • Nacho Problem – Not sure what to make for dinner? Don’t worry, it’s nacho problem!
  • Poller Bears – A survey app based on SurveyMonkey

Git Workflow for a Group Project

It took me a while, but I’m really happy that I took the time to learn how git works. Ever since I started Dev Bootcamp that’s the number one thing that my fellow boots have asked me about (the number two thing is Heroku, which I still don’t understand and believe to be magic). I’ve white-boarded this 3 different times now, so here’s a slightly more permanent version of my Git Workflow lightning talk:

 

Don't be that guy. Seriously, it's not that hard.

Don’t be that guy. Seriously, it’s not that hard!

In this example, my group is making a version of Twitter only for cats, called Kitter.

    • Have each person from your group clone the repo onto their local machines.

git clone – https://github.com/fiery-skippers-2014/Kitter

    • Now each person has a local version of the master branch on their local machines. Each group creates a new branch, because we all know that we do NOT work on or push to master ever, ever, ever for any reason.

git checkout -b erins_feature_branch

    • Then we do our work. Work, work, work, work, work. Committing often with really well-written commits.
    • Awesome! We’re at a good place to stop and push up to Github!
    • BUT WAIT!!!!!!!!!!
    • Other team members have been working on their own features as well, and since we’re following an Agile Workflow and each took a vertical slice, some of us have been altering the very same files, like routes.rb if you’re working in Rails or the index controller if you’re working in Sinatra, for example. What do we do? If we all push up to Github and try to issue pull requests to merge our work into master, we’ll have merge conflicts like crazy!
    • UNLESS….
    • We all have a copy of the master branch on our local machines, remember?. It’s outdated, but it still exists. We can switch between branches using git checkout so let’s switch to master and update it!

git checkout master
git pull origin master

    • The keywork origin is referring to Github. The command git pull is combining the fetch and merge methods, and bringing the updated version of master (the one currently on GitHub) down to our local machine.
    • So now we have an updated our local version of master. Now what? Now we switch back to our own branch and merge our local master into our local branch.

git checkout erins_feature_branch
git merge master

    • Do we have any merge conflicts? If so, the terminal will tell us exactly which files they are in. Then, when we open those files the conflicts will be highlighted really obviously, like this:
<<<<<<< HEAD
=======
>>>>>>> iss53
    • Now that might look weird and intimidating, but we literally just finished writing our code. We know exactly what’s in there! We know what’s new and what’s old, and if we’re not sure if something is important we can ask the team member who wrote it. In the above example, we need to decide if we want to keep the footer wording as “contact : email.support@github.com” or if we want to change it to “please contact us at support@github.com”. The latter is most likely the code that we just wrote, so let’s keep that and delete the old code and all the weird lines and things. Now it looks like this:
    • Awesome, we can do that for every merge conflict! No problem, that’s easy! But wait, why does the terminal still say (*+|MERGING) all scary-like?
    • That star just means you need to do a git add. You remember those, we’ve been doing them all along!

git add -p

    • The plus sign means you need to commit. Easy-peazy!

git commit -m “Fixed merge conflict”.

  • Now that scary stuff is gone and your branch has been updated! Time to push.
  • git push origin erins_feature_branch
  • Once my super awesome branch is pushed to GitHub and ready to be merged into master, I’ll issue a pull request.
  • Now my pull request has been created, and my co-workers can see my list of commits and all of my code. Someone like a Project Manager will review my code and decide to either merge it into master or close the pull request and tell me that I did something wrong. Maybe one of my tests didn’t pass. (Don’t even think about issuing a pull request for untested code! If you do, spiders will lay eggs in your ears and everyone on your team will get very angry when your code breaks everything.)
  • Once the pull request is merged into master, everyone else on the team needs to pull down origin master to update their local versions of master. They’ll merge their local masters into their local branches and then fix any conflicts that arise. If they’re ready to push, they’ll be able to do so without creating merge conflicts on Github.
  • Basically, the golden rule of working in a group is to always pull before you push. Keep updating your local version of master and keep merging it into your feature branch so that you know what’s changed.

Hopefully this helps a lot of people in Phase 2 who are all altering the exact same document in their group repo. I remember week 1 of Phase 2 and there were piles of merge conflicts. Just piles of them! Good luck, boots!

Wants vs Needs

Today is Sunday April 13, 2014.

Tomorrow begins my 12th week at Dev Bootcamp.

I have 1 more week of Phase 2, 3 more weeks of Phase 3, and then I will need to start looking for a job.

Currently, I need to:

  • Finish my part of a group project for Dev Bootcamp.
  • Continue working on portfolio challenges, with a focus on client-side JavaScript, jQuery and AJAX to make sure I really understand them.

Currently, I want to:

  • Sleep 12 more hours.
  • Pick up my bicycle from House Scrimshaw and ride it to our new apartment (Kevin and I moved to a cozy little studio downtown! I’ve been too busy to write about it, but I will soon!)
  • Purchase all the spices I regularly use for cooking so that I have them on hand no matter what I’m making for dinner (it’s very frustrating when you want to make something and you have all the ingredients except the spices!)
  • Stretch. Do some yoga. Try to focus on my neck and shoulders which are a wreck from stress and working at a computer with bad posture.
  • Go outside for a while. Take Pepper for a long walk exploring the city instead of just a quick jog to the park over my lunch break.
  • Work on a craft project. Any craft project. I have plenty of them in various stages of progress.
  • Study node.js and learn more about server-side JavaScript (this will probably be added to my To-Do-After-DBC list
Me right now

Me right now