The clumsy dance of the colours and patterns of life

Witness the clumsy dance of the colours and patterns of life, the sometimes-harmonic, sometimes-cacophonic combination of the silence and the noise all around, and the heroes and the helpless within.
Welcome to my little corner of The Mighty Interwebs, where it is not likely you will find anything profound (or even very interesting), but where you will find all manner of random. Life is a kaleidoscope of the weird and the wonderful, the awesome and the awful, the blessings and the bizarre, and the collision between them is what you just might stumble upon here if you stick around. Grab your favorite drink and come hang out with me if you dare.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Floating Yoda

Anyone who knows me will not be surprised to read that I'm not exactly the world's biggest Star Wars fan. I do, however, love word play, and since this is Star Wars Day I ran with the excuse for a Kahlua creation.

I saw a recipe online for a tribute drink called a Floating Yoda. It's basically a White Russian with mint chocolate chip icecream added. Of course, not being one to follow recipes as written (it's the Ukrainian in me), a couple of substitutions had to be made before we could enjoy our Floating Yodas on Star Wars Day. For example, I had used up all my vodka making limoncello, so I used said limoncello in place of plain old vodka. And I didn't have the mint chocolate chip icecream the recipe asked for, but I saw no good reason why I couldn't do this with chocolate icecream. I did. And it was good :-)

Floating Yodas. Not your average summer drink for kids!
Noting those substitutions, and keeping in mind that I don't always measure, the recipe I (loosely) followed is this one:
Make a White Russian by combining 1 oz coffee liqueur (Kahlua, or whatever other kind you have on hand), 2 oz milk, 2 oz vodka, and ice. Add a scoop of mint chocolate chip icecream.

Now, if I had used mint chocolate chip icecream, these would've turned out looking more sickly-green in colour. I suppose that's where Yoda comes in. I'm not 100% convinced that this needed the added element of mint as far as taste goes. It already had the lemon of the limoncello, the coffee of the Kahlua, and the chocolate of the icecream, and I thought this was perfect. Purists, however, might want it to look more like Yoda drowned in their glass. If this is you, more power to you! Now if you'll excuse me, May the 4th be with you! (Yes, I know, that is probably one of the worst puns ever. Don't judge me; I didn't come up with it.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

2012 Incredible Eggs Christmas Gift Exchange: Part 2

As I wrote about 2 weeks ago, I joined my first ever egg exchange this Christmas. Today, I received a truly amazing piece of art from a fellow egger, Sue Adkins. I have no idea how she does this, but check out this beautiful ornament she sent to me!

I have been staring at it for a good long time, trying to figure out how this was done. It is phenomenal, and I think I have the perfect place to hang it - in my kitchen, above my sink. I wish my photo was better, and did justice to this wonderful egg, but until I'm able to take a better one, this will have to do!

Monday, December 3, 2012

2012 Incredible Eggs Christmas Gift Exchange

I belong to a facebook group called Incredible Eggs which is dedicated to Pysanky and Batik egg art. There are so many amazing artists in this group, and it is definitely intimidating for me to share my efforts with them, but they are truly kind and generous people with oodles of great tips to share. I debated long and hard over joining the Christmas Gift-egg Exchange within the group, but finally decided to jump in and do it. The trouble with knowing or associating with really talented people is they have a way of really making me feel inferior - even though they aren't trying to do that! But an exchange like this one is a way to stretch my limits and try something new. Hopefully it is also a way for me to improve what I can do.

The "name" side of this egg
The "year" side of this egg 
The giftee assigned to me is a lady in Pennsylvania. I asked her (anonymously) what her favorite animal is. She replied to me that "fish, deer, rams I like them all, even the snakes on pysanky look good!"

I wanted to make this egg personalized for her, so after I settled on a design (deer with Christmas trees, night stars, and pine branches and holly berries), I added in her name and the year. I've written about 18 pysanky now, and consider myself very much a beginner. So writing names and drawing semi-involved designs really challenged me. But none-the-less, I did it.

The top of the egg. Since it is a Christmas exchange, I thought the Christmas star was an appropriate finisher.
My egg is going in the mail today, and hopefully it gets to her safe and sound and in just one piece! I packaged it in a well-cleaned soup can, lined with tissue, and then wrapped in bubble wrap, so I'm hopeful that even the postal grinches won't break through that.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cookie Cornets

Yields: supposed to make 16, but I can only get 14

2 egg whites (large), room temperature
6 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup butter or hard margarine, melted
1/2 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350*F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together first four ingredients until frothy. Whisk in butter. Add flour. Whisk until smooth. Drop 1 tablespoon of batter onto parchment paper, spread evenly to form 4 1/4" circle. (Don't do more than about 3 or 4 at a time - you'll need to shape them while hot or else they crumble.) Bake in 350* oven for 8 minutes until lightly browned. Working quickly, shape into a cone and let stand 2 minutes until cooled and crisp. Repeat entire process with remaining batter, for a total of 16 cones.

Garnish ideas:
*melt white chocolate (1 cup melting wafers) and dip 1/4" of top edge, then dip in finely chopped pistachios (about 1/2 cup), place on waxed paper to dry
*melt white chocolate and dip 1/4" of top edge, then dip in finely chopped candy cane pieces, place on waxed paper to dry
*melt milk chocolate and dip 1/4" of top edge, then dip in finely chopped hazelnuts, place on waxed paper to dry

These are lovely to serve mixed fresh fruit in. I filled my cornets with a strawberry-blueberry-blackberry-pineapple-cherry mixture. No dessert plate needed, and I put some cocktail picks next to the tray of cornets so people could neatly eat the fruit out of the cookie cup.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mellie Milk Maid

Once upon a time, there was a silly girl who thought she both wanted to live a farmer's life and was capable of living it. She had a "real job" she enjoyed well enough, an office job, working with and for some really fine people, but entertained illusions of self-sufficiency and bringing the pages of Mother Earth News to life. When these really fine people planned a two-week vacation Far Away From Home and asked her to farmsit for them, she was happy - and even excited - to agree. It would be manageable and fun! There was a cow to milk twice daily, a pen full of steers to feed, two coops of chickens to care for, and a garden to be tended, along with the various and assorted tasks that accompanied those more-major responsibilities.

The days ran together in a long series of rain and exhaustion. As the days wore on, the silly girl's enthusiasm was washed away.

The rolled oats in the feed bin ran out after three days, but the milk cow still needed to be fed grain or she would stop producing milk. The steers still needed to be fed grain so they would be fattened up nicely when slaughtering time rolled around. The silly girl's boss offered to return home early, but the silly girl asked for instruction so she could solve the problem and her boss could enjoy a much-needed vacation. Instructions were given and understood and followed, and the silly girl learned to operate a piece of farm machinery to roll oats and the feed supply for the milk cow and the steers was replenished. The silly girl was able to continue lugging many 5-gallon pails of rolled oats to the steer pen each day and to coax the milk cow to stand more-or-less still while being milked.

The rain continued to fall and the garden became a bog and the barnyard became a mire. The silly girl had prepared for her time as a farm hand by purchasing a pair of rubber boots. They were delightful, with a whimsical pattern on them. They were a far cry from the ugly orange-soled black boots of her childhood. Very sadly, the silly girl's fun new boots were more for fashion than function, and one gave up the ghost early on in the silly girl's farm adventure. The entire back of one boot split completely open when the silly girl was in the steer pen more than halfway up to her knees in cow poo. Now the silly girl had to deal with the mire inside her boots as well as outside, and she was not impressed.

The muddy mucky garden was so sloppy that the silly girl almost got stuck in it each time she tried to cut asparagus or rhubarb or pick lettuce. Somehow, she managed to collect nearly 15 pounds of rhubarb and freeze it for later use. The silly girl tried to keep up with the weeding, but luckily the near-constant rain limited the amount of sunlight and heat that reached the ground, so the weeds were not as rampant as they could have been. Some of her forays into the garden were more successful than others, and the silly girl eventually found herself laden down with several pounds of fresh asparagus and lettuce and tomatoes and beet leaves, and carefully ignored the other vegetables growing and not really in need of much care. It was enough to have to process the vegetables that the silly girl would actually eat without worrying about the ones she wouldn't even cook for someone else.

More rain fell, and the silly girl thought she was going to have to build an ark to make it through the two weeks of her adventure.

The silly girl carried buckets of slops to the 8 laying hens and collected 6 or 7 eggs from them each day. The silly girl didn't mind the laying hens so much, but then one of them chose to lay an egg almost on her foot. That bothered the silly girl; she really didn't need to see that. But in spite of that indiscretion, that coop of birds was not so bad. Crossing over to the other coop was real penance, however. There were several dozen birds nearing butcher weight, with no brain worth mentioning between all of them. The silly girl hated going into that coop. These chickens acted like they were starving, and attacked the silly girl every time she came in to feed them. There's a look that those white chickens that farmers raise for butchering get, almost a blood lust. Their beady red eyes nearly pop right out of their ugly little heads while they cock their neck at an optimal angle for aiming their beak at someone's foot. Oh, how the silly girl hate hate hated those chickens!

Had she actually built an ark, it is doubtful the silly girl would have loaded any pairs of chickens onto it to save them from the flood.

So much rain fell that the phone lines got water-logged. Apparently the phone lines in Alberta are set up such that they will dial 911 when they are disconnected by anything other than a designated authority. The silly girl learned about this feature when the RCMP showed up one evening. Because the silly girl was just a housesitter and farm hand, the policemen had to check the whole house to make sure there was no emergency. The silly girl was happy to let him, but then was too paranoid to sleep that night in the house. The phone line was kaput, and if an emergency were to happen, the silly girl would have no way to call for help. So the silly girl stayed awake that night listening for any suspicious sound and ready with a kitchen knife to defend the farm from bands of marauders. No marauders showed up, and the silly girl only had an exhausted self to show for her perception of bravery.

The sky continued to open and the ground was completely saturated until no more water could soak in. 

Since the silly girl couldn't spend time outside and remain dry, she spent her evenings skimming cream off some 30 gallons of milk and making butter and cheeses and yogurt, which she will need years to use up.

The silly girl only had one run-in with the police during her farm hand adventure. She was sad that they didn't return 5 days later when one of the horrid chickens had died and her method of solving the problem was to chuck it into the bush. The dog retrieved the dead chicken, played with it for a while, and then deposited it on the yard. The dead chicken stunk, and the silly girl found it gross and disgusting in every way, but she couldn't deal with it again. She would have given nearly anything to have a policeman come and take it away. Even better would have been the entire removal of the offensive chicken coop, but even the silly girl's imagination has limits.

The rain eventually stopped. The real farmers came home. The silly girl took her broken rubber boots and her cheese and her rhubarb, and left the farm. She also took with her the knowledge that she was not really cut out for all the elements of this kind of farm life, and intends to use this knowledge to live happily ever after.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sprout a couch?

I need to do this!

Before you begin, figure the dirt you need by multiplying the dimensions of the couch you plan to make (ours was 8x4x4 feet, or 128 cubic feet). Next, put on some old clothes—things are going to get messy—and locate a suitable spot. Placement is key: There’ll be no moving once you’ve begun. Clear the area of grass and weeds until you have a level swath of dirt, then use a stick to sketch the shape of the couch into the dirt with a stick.

Drive the wood stakes into the ground along the perimeter of your sofa-shaped sketch, every 18 inches or so, to a depth of about 12 inches. These will secure the form.

Attach the waferboard to the stakes to create the walls of the form. Use a handsaw to trim the waferboard to size. Drive in a nail every 4 inches along each stake to secure the boards.

Start shoveling dirt into the form. Here’s where things get messy. Once a foot of dirt is in place, water lightly and compress by stomping around on top of it.

Once the basic shape is in place and secure, carefully remove the form works.

Mold the shape to your liking. Remove any loose debris and sprinkle the sofa and other areas you’ll be sodding with a healthy layer of fertilizer and gypsite. Water lightly.

For extra support, lay strips of poultry netting over the arms and back.

Lay the sod. Press down the edges to create a smooth surface clear to the ground. Stagger the rows so the seams don’t fall in a line, and use chopsticks or planting stakes to keep them in place over the wire.

During the next few weeks, water your sofa often, soaking it thoroughly. Once the sod has taken root, remove the chopsticks or planting stakes. Trim as needed.

Monday, May 9, 2011

When she plays, Molly smiles.

I met Molly the spring before I went to college, when I was 20. She joined my family while I lived in another town, and I only saw her for a few weekends before I moved to California for school. She was a beautiful blonde, full of life and happiness, and completely devoted to the people in her life. I didn't know her well, and didn't take the time to get to know her better, but that didn't mean she wasn't happy to see me when I'd come home. Molly's needs were simple - she just wanted to love and be loved. She trusted unquestioningly and never held grudges. She always appreciated any time or attention given to her. Though maybe not the smartest, she did not have a malicious bone in her body. She was loyal, and fiercely protective of those she loved. There were certain activities she loved more than anything, and the mere mention of them would set her quivering in excitement. The last several months of her life, she was plagued with cancer. It weakened her body, but her spirit was always the same Molly we, her family, had known all her life. In spite of her cancer slowly taking away her strength, she never lost her joie de vivre. She enriched lives by being part of them, bad habits and all. By the time she was in her last days, she was so weak, so tired. I think she left us as happily as could be expected. She had lived fully, and loved completely, and knew she was loved in return. Miss Molly was a good and faithful friend, and will always be remembered as such. Run free, Molly, until we meet again!
Miss Molly (April 13, 2001 - May 9, 2011)

Molly's smiles