Serenity Haiku

Daffodills pushing through a spring snowstorm Serenity is one of those words that mean a lot of things to a lot of different people. My definition … IN HAIKU!

Accepting the past
Improving with the present
Keeping future’s hope

Cheesy? Sure. But I’m serious. Look at the daffodils. They bloom because they’ve endured a cold winter, and while a setback like springtime snow might weigh them down slightly right now, they keep pushing through, because Spring is on its way.

Of course, you know I’m heavily influenced by the Serenity Prayer. People usually cut it short. I dare you to look up the full version. I’ve already shared it several times myself or I’d post it again now. Good stuff.

In other news: I’m back! Last week was a bit rough. We had appointments with four different doctors, coped with some real-life trolls, and suddenly lost a good friend. Plus I haven’t been well and I’ve been trying to keep up on the essentials anyway. So I’ve missed a few Blogging 101 assignments. Now I’m here to catch up. I still need to chat with my bloggy neighbors, so to those of you who are here, feel free to say hello!

Science Craft: Cell o’ Jell-O

My girl came home last night with an assignment to make some kind of model of a cell and its organelles.  And we decided to make it out of homemade Jell-o Gummies.  The results were not quite as spectacular as we’d hoped, but it’s still kind of cool, the project was LOTS of fun, and I think a few tweaks would make it awesome. My friends asked for a how-to, so here you go. Just note, this process is still under development! So I’ll post what we did, what went well, what went wrong, and what we’d do differently next time. Then if you try it, you can share your tips as well!

This is what ours looked like. Could use some improvement for sure, but we had enough fun with this we might try again soon:
jello cell and organelle

Ingredients

1 3oz package Mango Jell-O
(Next time I would go with a lighter color or just use more unflavored gelatin and a little sugar instead, as the color was darker than we’d hoped)
4 envelopes Knox Unflavored Gelatin
1/2 cup Hot Water
1/2 cup Cold Water
1 Peach-O Ring
1 Fruit-Sour (just this round candy thing we found in the bulk foods section)
7 Fruity Tootsie Roll Midgees in 4 Colors (We used 3 green, one yellow, one orange, and one pink – different colors for easier color-coding on her key / legend)
1 blue Jolly Ranger (I would probably just use another midgee color in retrospect.)
Round Sprinkles

We also used kitchen scissors, a rolling pin, spray-on oil, a sauce pan, a whisk, and a bowl to mold our cell.

Instructions

So, for the gummy solution (aka the Cytoplasm!) stir the hot water and gelatin in sauce pan. Heat it up very slowly on medium-low heat, stirring now and then, until the gelatin is fully dissolved. You don’t want a lot of bubbles, so don’t boil this a lot or anything.

Meanwhile: spray your mold with oil, or use some oil on a paper towel so your gummy won’t stick. Put your mold in the fridge so it will be nice and cold.

Put the fruit sour in the middle of the Peach-O. This is a Nucleus and Nucleoli.

Cut the yellow midgee in four pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. These are Lysosomes.

If your gelatin is ready, add the cool water and stir it in gently but thoroughly. Skim off and throw out any foam that’s formed. Add a little to the bottom of the mold, swish it around a little to get some on the sides, and put it in the freezer for a moment to thicken up. We didn’t do this, and our organelles fell right to the bottom, which was not as awesome for a gummy effect since we didn’t have a good “Cell Membrane.”

Make several cuts (not all the way through) across each of the green midgees, then cut again from the other direction. Our cuts were diagonal, but if we were to do it again, we’d make them straight. Squish each one back together again, leaving the cut lines in place. These are the Mitochondria.

Roll the pink midgee with the rolling pin. Cut it in half the long way. Stick the two ends together to make a long strip. Roll it some more, then cut it length-wise again, stinking these two longer strips together. Fold this back and forth a bit. This is the Golgi Apparatus.

Follow the same steps with the orange midgee, only fold it up an little more randomly, and you’ll need to fray up one end of it and stick it in some candy sprinkles. This is the Rough and Smooth Endoplasmic Reticulum.

Save a few more sprinkles for Ribosomes here and there.

For the Vacuoles, we broke up a piece of blue jolly ranger and baked very briefly — just long enough for it to melt into little “bubbles.” In fact, while they were still pliable but not hot to the touch, we were able to shape some to make them a little more 3D. Be careful about the littles if you do that. Then let them cool.

Now. This is where we went wrong. Our gelatin was not quite set enough when we started adding organelles. It was too wet, and our organelles kind of bled into it a bit. Plus, like I said earlier, they kind of floated to the bottom, so our gummy has parts that would fall out. Not as neat. We’d redo if it weren’t a busy night tonight.

So add a little more gelatin to your bowl and let it set briefly (maybe 2 minutes in the freezer) before placing the organelles. Maybe refrigerating the organelles would help too? Or add your gel in layers so it doesn’t all sink to the bottom of the bowl. Honestly, let me know what worked for you. And don’t forget to add more sprinkled-in ribosomes!

Then finish setting it in the fridge.

When it’s all set up (and that happens fairly quickly because this a very thick gummy recipe) you should be able to handle the cell with clean hands. We decided to leave ours in the bowl because our “cell membrane” (or that first layer of Jell-o) wasn’t thick enough to protect our organelles.

So — there you go! We might try it again with our modifications and update this post. Or we might try totally different candy and use two or three smaller molds.

If you try it, let me know how it goes! And in the meantime, enjoy this rap:

Catching up with my Dream Readers

This assignment is easy peasy, since I’m lucky enough to already have my two favorite dream readers right here with me. My kids have read and re-read my blogs more faithfully than anyone I know, and in fact they’re part of the reason I’m finally taking this course!

During our weekly family night, the three of us sit down and write in a shared journal. That funny old book holds years worth of memories, random insights, and all sorts of hilariously done drawings. A few weeks ago, my girl piped up: “Not to be morbid, but when you’re old or gone, which one of us gets to keep the family journal?”

And for a few seconds we were all crickets and raised eyebrows. It’s not something we’d thought about.

So she added, “At least we can all keep the blogs.”

I’ve been blogging off and on (mostly off) for a while now. I’m hoping to fix that, dearest readers of mine. Even if it’s just for you. :)

Love these two people :) (now go to bed! ;) )

A photo posted by Velda Christensen (@supernovia) on

(Almost forgot the new-to-me embed!)

Following Five and Five

Tonight’s Blogging 101 work is to start to engage in our communities. I’m to pick five reader topics to follow, as well as five blogs. Here’s what caught my eye tonight:

Astronomy

Now this is some star gossip I can get behind. I use this account for testing stuff at work, and it seems at some point I managed to accidentally unfollow Supernova Condensate. Fixed!

Meetups

For a shy person, I sure do manage to get myself into some crazy predicaments. Like having to figure out how to lead a meetup, for example. Maybe these posts can help me get some ideas. Looks like WordPress Budapest is a new-ish users group, so I’ll follow them and see what they’re up to.

Running

I’ve never been able to run, but boy am I trying! In fact the other day I made it through a 5K jog without stopping or walking, for the first time in all of my six years of trying. Looks like this guy at A Quest for the Athlete In Me has the same kinds of goals and is writing about them, so I’ll follow him for inspiration.

My faith

Faith and religion are pretty big topics in the reader, so I’ve gone a little more specific and followed posts tagged LDS. This post made me smile, so I’ll follow her blog.

Blogging 101

Last but not least, I figured I’d follow the tag that started this post in the first place! And since a simple post from c’est la vie captured why I love getting out for a walk (or a hike) now and then, I’ll see what else he has to say.

That Warrior Princess Thing

Today we’re supposed to update our title and tagline. I like mine just the way it is, but I’d be happy to tell you why!

Velda was my grandma’s nickname. Her actual name was a mouthful – a combination of names her parents made up. It was supposed to mean “Valley of Green.” So imagine my surprise when, as a kid loitering at the neighborhood store, I found my own name alongside hers in a baby name book. It offered several definitions: “Inspired Intelligence” didn’t sit well with me since this was well before my nerdiness was socially accepted. Neither did “Powerful Ruler” because I’m not into that. But the other meaning was “Spirited Warrior.” I can dig that.

Later, when the internet was a little more populated, I used baby name sites to break down the individual parts of her name. Her name meant “Warrior of Truth!” How cool is that? And I immediately thought of Xena, Zelda, Éowyn, and other ladies who would fight for a cause. I’d like to be like that. So maybe that Warrior Princess thing is and always will be a bit aspirational, but it’s worth a shot. And as for Mom and Geek? Well, I’ve definitely got that part down. ;)