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.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cheater Chocolate Truffles

Yields: about 36 truffles

1 package oreo cookies (divided… use whole cookie including the cream center)
1 8oz. package cream cheese (softened)
white chocolate for melting
Finely crush 7 cookies in a food processor or place them in a ziploc bag and crush into a fine consistency. Reserve for later. Crush remaining cookies and stir in softened cream cheese. Use the back of a large spoon to help mash the two together. Roll the mixture into 1″ balls and place on wax paper covered cookie sheet. Melt chocolate as directed on the package and then dip balls into chocolate, tap off extra and set aside on wax paper covered cookie sheet to dry. You can sprinkle the tops with the 7 crushed cookies for decoration. (I usually eat mine before they make it to this stage.) Once dry, refrigerate and enjoy!

Notes: I used a small cookie cutter to push the mixture through for the heart shaped truffles. Also, it helps to freeze the uncoated balls for a few minutes to keep the mixture from starting to fall apart in the melted chocolate. If this becomes a problem, dip them in the chocolate, let dry and then dip again. They are also good dipped in regular milk chocolate. And for an extra twist, use mint oreos. I like them with a splash of raspberry extract mixed into the cookie and cream cheese mixture. If it tastes good with chocolate, try it in these truffles!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sparkling Cranberries

Yields: 2 cups sparkling cranberries

2 cups cranberries, picked over
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
More sugar for coating

Place the cranberries in a medium glass bowl and set aside.
Make a simple syrup by bringing the water and sugar just to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Let the syrup cool for a couple minutes and then pour it over the cranberries. If the syrup is too hot the cranberries will burst, so be careful. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, drain the cranberries and toss them with larger grained sugar until they are well coated. I only use a scoop of sugar at a time, and small batches of cranberries, so the sugar doesn't get too damp. Place the coated cranberries on a baking sheet to dry for a few hours.
Do a second toss with the regular granulated sugar, this typically takes care of any sticky spots on the cranberries. Let dry another hour.
Makes 2 cups of sparkling cranberries.
Prep time: 5 min (But plan ahead as they do need time to dry - Drying time: 3-4 hours)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Peter Panism: A Lesson Learned from my Grampa Ed

What is it that makes growing up a scary thing? Is it fear of facing the unknown? Is it the necessity of taking on responsibility and consequently giving up a care-free attitude in life? Why did Peter Pan want so desperately to avoid this thing we call "growing up"?

The third decade of my life has come to a close and become my history. I am looking to my future with eyes no longer a child's, yet there exists in me a childlike excitement that can't be quelled. I'm the first to admit that getting older is a scary thing for me. "Growing up" is an idea beyond the reaches of my imagination. It's not because I desire to shun responsibility that I don't want to grow up, but rather it is the appeal that the security of youth holds for me, where things happen the way they are supposed to.

Having goals in life is always a good thing. My personality (bordering on OCD in many ways) makes it hard for me to start working towards a goal of any sort without something to mark the beginning of that journey. Closing the chapter of my life where I can check the box for 24-29 years old on surveys means venturing into a fresh new chapter. Not with a sense of morbidity, but for the sake of having direction in my life, I took some time for myself and jotted down a "thimble list." (That's like a "bucket list," only smaller. Except it seems my thimble is an awfully large one!) Some 65 goals made my list, goals I want to accomplish - or at least attempt - between my 30th and 35th birthdays. Everyone's goals are different. My spirit doesn't crave adventure, so skydiving, space travel, or mountain climbing aren't here. Instead, my list largely stays closer to home. Home is, after all, what I crave more than anything: a place where I feel like I belong, a place I can settle and be me. It's no surprise to me that the first goal that my mind recognized is to build a house. I've been dreaming up house plans for some time, and now I've giving myself 5 years to take them from being seedling ideas to sprouted, if not fully grown, reality. Without defending them or justifying them, my list of goals for the next 1826 days follows. They are in no particular order. Big goals are mixed in with small ones. Some are quite serious, others are certainly silly. My Grampa Ed lived with the philosophy that "we have no choice about getting older, but growing up is optional." With a mix of trepidation and excitement, I am setting out on my journey of the next 5 years and the goals I hope to reach. Onward and upward!

Build a house
Design a garden
Refinish 6 wooden chairs
Sew a quilt
Make a swing
Really learn to play my accordion
Learn harmonica
Learn guitar
Learn autoharp
Join a choir
Run a 5K race
Save an emergency fund
Pay off my student loans
Take a photography class
Have laser eye surgery
Record with Oak Jam
Read John Senior's list of great books
Start a business
Run a 1/2 marathon
Make homemade yogurt
Take Ukrainian dancing
Be a waitress
Take accounting classes
Make wine
Research my family tree
Sleep under the stars
Learn basics of dance
Take fitness & nutrition classes
Learn to draw
Learn to paint
Photograph the Northern Lights
Take a First Aid course
Learn to knit
Learn to swim
Make a hammock
Photograph a beautiful rainbow
Buy a bike
Carve a pumpkin
Write a real letter regularly
Dance in the rain
Take a graphic design course
Make a piece of jewelry
Read all of A.A. Milne's books & essays
Grow an herb garden
Photograph a lightning storm
Take Ukrainian lessons
Write an icon
Walk/ski/bike to work when I can
Write an article and have it published
Donate blood
Make a calendar of my extended family's birthdays and anniversaries
Capture the beauty of an Alberta sunrise on film (well, okay, in pixels)
Grow raspberries
Host a cookie-exchange party
Make a cookbook
Prepare - and stick to - a budget
Have the confidence to wear a white two-piece bathing suit
Host a semi-formal dinner party
Grow rhubarb
Have fresh flowers in my house every month
Build a website
Make a rag rug
Perfect a bread recipe
Give of my time to help a charity each year
Build a wagon-wheel bench
Send Christmas cards
Can my own fruits and vegetables

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wishing for Denver but Getting on the Road with Smokey

Today, I find myself wistfully thinking how nice it would be to have a bit of Denver in me. John Denver, that is. "All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go...." I just can't quite imagine that. I have a few more days til that has to be the case, but no matter when I get packed, fully ready is something I don't think I will be. In one sense I'm very ready to go: Eight years is a long time to be away from home, especially when your heart knows it's away from home, and misses home and the familiar on a daily basis. But in another sense, I'm not ready. I don't want to say goodbye to the dear friends I've made in those eight years. With Smokey Robinson, I find myself asking, "What's so good about goodbye?" The question is a very real one, one which I will consider as I continue to pack up my belongings in anticipation of the long journey ahead of me.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Endings ... Beginnings ... But Friends are Forever

My time in California is drawing to a close. As I look around the area I've called home for four years now, I think of the memories made, the conversations had, and the people met in that time. This is a time of endings, but also a time of new beginnings. "Beginnings are scary. Endings are usually sad. It's the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will..." I'm sad to be closing some of the chapters in my life with my move out of California, and I'm scared about the transition I'll have to make into some new chapters, but I know that the future is a bright one.
In one week, I'll be playing in my last official gig with Oak Jam, friends I would never have imagined finding, but friends I am so thankful to have. The music won't stop, however. Not only will they keep playing together (I hope!), but I would like to reunite and play with them again, sometime in the future when I'm back in California for a visit. They've taught me so much, and not just about music, but about life, and laughter, and friendship, and trust, and hope. It's been a good few years that we've been playing together, and I'm really going to miss those two evenings (or more) each week of their music and company. We've laughed together, some tears have been shed, we've had fun making music together. I really do believe that my Oak Jam family has put the "fun" in "dysfunctional"! And I know that the friendships I've formed with each member of this wonderful, eclectic group are friendships that will last forever.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

When I am an old woman...

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickles for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

~Jenny Joseph

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Garlic Soup

Cook time: 60 minutes        Yields: 3-4 servings as an appetizer, or 2 as soup-for-dinner
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
18-24 cloves of garlic, peeled (I used 2 full heads, about 20-some cloves, and the taste was mild)
4 cups chicken stock
3 egg yolks
1/2 tablespoon bacon fat
salt and pepper to taste
With the knob turned between "medium" and "low," gently heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add garlic cloves and cook until softened considerably (about 20-30 minutes). The heat should be low enough so the garlic doesn't brown, just softens. Pour in chicken stock, season with salt and pepper. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer, then heat for 15-20 minutes more. Blend soup until smooth, return to heat. In a bowl, beat the egg yolks together, add in 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon of bacon fat, whisk. Slowly beat in about 1/4 cup of heated soup mixture into eggs, whisking continuously. (Adding some of the heated broth to the eggs tempers them and raises their temperature, reducing the chance they will curdle when added to the soup.) Pour egg yolk mixture into the soup, beating continuously. In a minute or two, the soup will thicken slightly. Continue to heat at a low temperature until cooked through.

**I added homemade noodles to this soup to give it some body. There is no recipe for the noodles, but basically they were just flour, a pinch of salt, and egg, mixed up till a dough forms, then rolled up into lumpy masses (I was too lazy to roll them out nicely and make pretty noodles) and dropped to boil in the soup.

I think this soup would be a good base to which you could add chicken/turkey, and probably vegetables if you like that kind of thing. I don't generally like soup, and certainly not if it has veggies in it, so it was broth and noodles for me, but I think I will add a white meat next time I make it.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Homemade Limoncello

Time to mature: about 3 weeks        Yields: 7-9 bottles
12 lemons (thick skinned)
2-750 ml bottles 100% proof vodka, divided (the cheaper the better)
2 cups water
2 cups granulated sugar

Remove yellow part of lemon peel either with micro-plane or sharp peeler. If any pith remains on the back of a strip of peel, scrape it off. Place peels in a large jar with a screw-top lid or which can be sealed with clamps; cover with one bottle of vodka. Leave to mellow for 2 weeks in a dark place. After mixture sets, combine sugar and water in a small saucepan, bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar has dissolved. Allow syrup to cool completely to room temperature (very important! If the sugar syrup is still warm, the limoncello will be cloudy). Using a coffee filter or a fine sieve, strain the vodka from the peels and mix it with the remaining bottle of vodka and the syrup. Put liqueur in bottles, seal tightly (cork or screw-top lid), let the components marry in a dark place for at least 10 days before using. For drinking straight, store limoncello in the freezer.

Use organic fruit if possible. If you can't use organic fruit, or it's too expensive, you can prep non-organic citrus by soaking them in water for about half an hour before starting the process. Additionally, under-ripe fruit produces the highest flavour.