Smells Like Failure

I was going over my upcoming school schedules, and decided to pay the dreaded Financial Aid office a visit.  I’m registered for 2 classes this summer, and 3 for the fall, in an effort to bring my completion ratio up, like they told me to do, so I could get my Financial Aid reinstated.

As I sat with the woman, now familiar, as I’ve seen her at least four times prior, she commented that yes, my completion ratio would be high enough after the fall semester… but my Financial Aid will still be suspended.

I was so confused.  Wasn’t I doing exactly what she had told me to do last time I was there?  Find a way to pay for the classes, take them in the fall, and earn back my Grants and Loans in the spring?  She informed me that past 90 attempted credits, your financial aid is suspended.  After my fall semester, I will be at 91.

*Deep breath*

Now.  I’m disappointed and angry.  Angry that they hadn’t mentioned this before now.  Disappointed that no matter how hard I try to work to meet this goal, something ALWAYS has to jump in the way of my oncoming train to derail EVERYTHING.  Now not only do I have to find ways to pay for my fall semester (9 credits) I need to figure out how to pay for spring as well (7 credits).  I don’t understand why this has to be such a fiasco.  I’m doing everything I’m supposed to be doing – I study hard, I never miss class unless it’s absolutely necessary, I score well on my tests… School is my #1 priority.  But it seems like it’s nothing but a dream, that I should just sit down, shut up, and resign myself to being a failure.

I’ve considered maybe trying to transfer to Uni early, since that’ll reinstate my Financial Aid (the cap I believe jumps to 180cr instead of 90cr.) but I don’t know if they’ll accept me outright without the AA backing me, and with my previous history, and only a few semesters at the CC level under my belt.

I don’t handle stress well.  This is seriously not helping matters.  I don’t know what to do now.  I really don’t.

New Art Blog!

art punx logo 4

I’ve just started a new art blog, featuring my acrylic paintings.  You can find it at Art Punx!  Hope you’ll take the time to check out the artwork there.  It’s still only got a few things going for it, but once I get more canvas I’ll be adding bunches more!  In addition, I’ll be creating two entries for the upcoming Five By Five Tampa Bay show this October, where all entries must be five inches by five inches.  Sounds like fun!  I missed out last year, I didn’t have enough time to put together any artwork.  Now that I’m doing more  painting, hopefully I’ll get the sketches up and running!

Everyone have a great week!

- Zuri

Food Adventure: Chickpea Wraps!

I am so hungry.  This happens every night around 11:30pm.  I get to where I really need a snack.  Right now my budget is nil, so I’m stuck using what I have on hand.

Enter FoodPair. I’ve been a fan of this site for years.  Basically, if you go to their “Search” page, you can enter an ingredient you have on hand, a type of diet you might be following, keyword search, etc. and find just about anything.  I searched for “Chickpeas” and found a recipe for  Chickpea Sandwich Filling.

I didn’t realize you could just switch out chickpeas for tuna fish!  So tonight, I mixed up a can of chickpeas, some vegannaise, some horseradish brown mustard, some dill and chives, salt and pepper, and VIOLA!  An amazing filling for the flour tortillas we had on hand.

I think this’ll be my new favorite snack!

Emergency Room Visit. Yay.

I spent a few hours in the Emergency Room yesterday, because of some unexplained abdominal pain.  They did a CAT scan and ran a bunch of blood work, and couldn’t find a reason for my abdominal pain.  The doctor on call gave me copies of my test results, and stressed that I call my primary care physician first thing Monday morning (he stressed this).

I got home, and decided to leaf through the test results, and do some research.  There were some results on the CAT scan that have me concerned, but he never mentioned anything about them.

My white blood cell count was slightly elevated.  Lymph nodes in my abdomen are enlarged, and my spleen is also enlarged.  This could simply be another infection of some kind.  That’s my hope.  It could be something more ominous, but I’m trying not to focus on that.  I’m one of those people whose minds automatically jump to the worst possible scenario.  I worry about EVERYTHING.

So I’m trying to not fret, until I talk to the doctor tomorrow.  My biggest concern is that he’ll blow off my worries, and I really don’t want that.  I might call the nurse hotline for my insurance company to get some reassurance.

That’s it for now.  I’ll post an update after I meet with the doctor.  Wish me luck!

Food: Cooking Adventures “Curry” and “Veggie Lasagna Cups”

More cooking adventures!  Yesterday, I tried to make curry.  I chopped up a boatload of vegetables: spinach, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli (and not in the photo: onions, baby corn and pineapple)…

That’s the only picture I have, because the curry was a bit of a failure.  It was ugly to look at, the broccoli was overcooked and it tasted… odd.  I later discovered why I didn’t like the taste:  I’m accustomed to the dairy in curry being coconut milk, where the recipe I used called for plain yogurt, so it was a much more tart, much less sweet curry.  The yogurt also isn’t as creamy as the coconut milk, so it looked like it was trying to separate.  All-in-all, I’ll chalk this one up to lesson learned.  Next time, coconut milk.

Tonight’s adventure went much more succesfully!  I decided to make use of some wonton wrappers I had in the fridge, and made mini vegetable lasagnas in cupcake tins – a recipe I’d been dying to try for a while!

The first new thing I got to do was make a cheese sauce.  This particular recipe didn’t call for red sauce, of which I am thankful, because my stomach doesn’t always enjoy tomato acid.  The recipe called for Asiago, but I didn’t have any on hand (and right now I’m on a very scant budget), so I used the cheddar that I had in the fridge.  Milk, cheddar cheese, flour, and blammo!  Cheese sauce!  Score one for food adventures!

Next came the veg.  In a skillet I put a little oil, and some diced up orange bell pepper, mushrooms and spinach.  I considered broccoli, but maybe next time, I didn’t think I would have room.  In hindsight, I should have chopped up more vegetables, because towards the end I ran out. Bummer.

I combined pesto and ricotta to make the filling, and then alternated a wonton wrapper, ricotta mix, cheese sauce, and veggies in a greased cupcake tin.  Repeat.  Pop in a 375F oven for 19 minutes, til the tips of the wonton wrappers brown.  Viola!

Plus: They were very cheesy, and I love cheese!  I didn’t realize how much I had missed ricotta until I tasted it.  The veggies didn’t get overly soft, which is good.  I like a bit of “tooth” in my veg.  It was super easy to put together and quick to cook.  They popped out of the greased cupcake tin with zero effort.  There’s a lot of creativity that can be taken with the recipe, changing cheeses and veggies to your heart’s content!

Downside:  Really needed more veggies, I totally didn’t chop up enough.  I might go lighter on the cheese sauce too.  I also forgot salt and pepper – d’oh!  I have such a hard time remembering salt and pepper.

I think next time I try this, I’ll try a different cheese, add in the broccoli, and try to overstuff them a little bit.  I’d also like to get the extra large size cupcake tins and make bigger ones, I think they’ll be more appropriate for dinner.  The tiny ones just feel like snacking.  But, oh, what a terrific snack!

THE ORIGINAL RECIPE I USED CAN BE FOUND HERE.

I’ll be doing another food adventure later tonight, though I don’t think I’ll be doing a blog post on it because of it’s simplicity.  I picked up a package of flour tortillas and I’ll be making them into chips.  I’m thinking of maybe doing a sweet and a savory flavored variety – salt and lime for one, maybe honey or agave for the other?  I’ll figure it out later.  Also this weekend I’ll be making a second attempt at making crunchy chickpeas.  My last attempt produced chewy, not crunchy, chickpeas, though the flavor (agave, soy, salt) was actually really good.

Thanks for enduring my adventures in newbie cooking!

Food: “Hot Pockets” Cooking Adventure

I love Hot Pockets, but I don’t eat them, because they are horrible for you.  Processed foods, tons of sodium, it’s just terrible for my health.  I miss them.

Poking around the Pillsbury recipe site, I got a bunch of ideas, and decided to make my own.

First experiment was cheese and fresh broccoli inside crescent rolls.  Instead of dividing the crescent rolls into triangles, I kind of mooshed together two triangles to make a rectangle, and folded them over with the filling inside.  Baked them at 350F for 22 minutes.  Plus side – they were nice and cheesy, the way I like, and the broccoli cooked perfectly.  Downside – they puffed up a bit so biting into them was an exercise in not getting burned by the steam, and I cooked them a little too long, the bottoms were very dark brown.  All in all, I considered it a success, as they all got eaten.  Each container of crescent rolls made 4 pockets.

Experiment number two – crescent rolls with diced granny smith apples and cheddar cheese.  I seasoned the apples with allspice, nutmeg and a touch of ginger (I don’t keep cinnamon in the house), honey and a little sugar.  350F again, but for only 20 minutes this time, and they came out perfect.  Great combination of sweet and salty.

I’m not good at the whole “cooking” thing, I’m just learning right now, so I’m trying to keep things simple.  For example, last night I cooked tofu, green beans and (boxed) mashed sweet potatoes.  I started the sides too soon, the tofu took an hour to cook, so the sides were cold by the time it was done.  I’m not good at timing things.  Also, the tofu should have marinated longer, and perhaps been browned before putting it in the oven, to give it more texture.  We’ll see what happens next time I experiment.

I’ve been enjoying all the vegetarian cuisine, and still collecting lots of recipe ideas on Pinterest.  Hopefully I’ll learn to enjoy cooking.

That’s it for now, everyone have a good one!

Donations, Illness, Test scores

If you’re still interested in helping out with my fall semester, check out the sidebar to the right for more information ——–>>>

So far we’ve raised almost $300 between GoFundMe and DeviantArt points.  That’s nearly enough for one class.  Thank you so much for your donations!

I’m finally over being sick – first the throat infection, then the sinus infection – but I’m still feeling less than stellar.  After talking with my doctor and a few friends, there’s a few things I’m researching to help bolster my immune system.  The nurse at my doctor’s office suggested I increase my Vitamin C and Zinc, with supplements.  My pharmacist recommended Probiotics, so I’m looking into that as well.  Lastly, a friend brought up Echinacea, which is a good low-cost herbal supplement used to pump up your immune response.  I’ll check what’s affordable next payday.  I really need something to make me feel better, I can’t go through life with this pervasive feeling of illness.

I had my second test in my Astronomy class – I got a 47 out of a 48 question test.  The professor stated that anything higher than a 36 counted as 100%, and the rest of the points would be put on subsequent tests as extra credit.  So I’m doing surprisingly well in the class, I didn’t expect it.  I’m still nervous about what’s to come – waiting for the other shoe to drop so to speak.

I have a short paper to put together on Exoplanets for the class, due on the 7th.  That’s the same day my second summer class starts – the interdisciplinary class “Body Art as Communication”, lead by one of the Anthropology professors.  Seriously looking forward to that class.

That’s about it for updates.  Everyone have a great week!