Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Stranded

"How did you spend New Year's Eve?" My mum asks, her voice lacking humour.  She then sighs in exasperation. "Us? Stranded on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck."

What was supposed to be a simple one hour trip has been stretched and elongated to, as it stands now, over two hours with another hour of waiting for the tow truck and then another hour on the road after that.  Can I hear the cheers of excitement?

Woohooo....

This is not how my mum and I imagined our day to be going.  Let's not forget that it is New Year's Eve meaning that wherever we get towed to will not be open.  Lovely, eh?

So we've been sitting on the side of the road for two hours and do you want to know something? Of all the cars that have passed us in that time--and there have been many--only one paused enroute to ask us if we were okay.  Only one.  This is one way to do a behavioural experiment.  Now, I can't honestly say that if I were the one driving by I would stop.  There are other unknown factors that would all hold influence. But it does make me think.  About what I should do. About the selflessness it would take to ignore my own life and my own desires to help someone else.

Despite our current circumstances, I seek the silver lining and the life lesson I can take with me when we get on the road again.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

To Save Mr. Banks

*Warning, this post contains spoilers.  Read forward at your own risk.*

Google Image
Last night, my sisters, my dad and I went to see the movie Saving Mr. Banks.  Since reading about the movie a couple of weeks ago I have been really excited to see it.  I love Mary Poppins end was excited to learn how the movie came to be.  I cannot remember to whom I was speaking, but shortly after learning about the film I was talking with a friend about the title.  My question was this:  Why was it called Saving Mr. Banks?  Why not Saving Mary Poppins?  I mean, to my childhood recollection, the original movie is about her, right?  And how she comes to the children?  That's what the child in me remembered most strongly.  My friend replied that they thought it was because Walt Disney was trying to save Mr. Banks by bringing him to the big screen and not letting him go unknown to the younger generations that were further removed from the original novels.  At the time, that sort of made sense so I shrugged the question off.

After having watched the movie, the question returns, only now it is answered.

  1. P.L. Travers: Stop! Mary Poppins is not for sale! I won't have her turned into one of your silly cartoons.
    Walt Disney: Says the woman who sent a flying nanny with a talking umbrella to save the children?
    P.L. Travers: You think Mary has come to save the children?
    [Walt and the other filmmakers are stunned silent]
    P.L. Travers: Oh, dear!

Throughout the film, Mrs. Travers has numerous flashbacks of her childhood and namely of her father.  As the story progresses, the spectator learns that her father, though very loving, struggled with staying employed and also had an alcohol problem.  The bond between father and daughter was emotionally moving for me. Mrs. Travers was reliving her past showing how her father's circumstances went from bad to worse--how all she wanted to do was help him, save him.

And that's the clincher.

Mary Poppins didn't come to save Jane and Michael but to save Mr. Banks.  In doing so, Mary Poppins was also saving Mrs. Travers father.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

At a Loss for Words

I've survived to the end of another semester which means I only have one more semester left in my undergrad.  Despite having turned in all of my assignments and despite being done my exams, I find my turning back to one of the last assignments for my French Creative Writing class.  Over the course of the semester we worked on a variety of types of writing from editorial pieces to poems to short stories.  They were all difficult in their own way, especially for someone like myself whose second language is French, but I found the short story the hardest by far.

When I think about it in general, I don't understand how that would have caused me the most difficulty.  I've been writing fictional stories since I was in elementary school and it's one of my favourite pastimes.  Going into the story, I was confident, and yet...

I was at a loss for words.

I stared at my blank document and didn't know how to start.  I knew what I wanted to say, sure, but I couldn't think of how to say it, at least not in my second language.  The prose that seemed so easy in English was ungraspable in French.  Every other word I would be turning to the dictionary for words that I wouldn't even bat an eye at in English: sneak, duck, crouch, hoof, rough, pursue...  As the number of sentences grew, so did the list of words.  What's more, I found that some of them didn't sound like they worked in the exact same place in the sentence that I would have thought.  Talk about frustrating.

At the end, I had a story, yes, but I feel like it's only a brief shadow--a glimmer of what it could be had I written it in my dominant language.  And yet, I can't say that I'm disappointed.  Though it may not be perfect, I worked hard for the end result.  Because of that, I am content.

For those who can, below is a copy of Le Secours (The Rescue), inspired by my housemates.

Kathryn prit une bouchée de la pomme et puis cracha de côté et lança ensuite la pomme dans les bois.  "Pouah ! Trop molle !" dit-elle en s’essuyant la bouche avec sa main.  Elle se glissa vers le bord de la falaise sur les genoux et regarda par-dessus les roches.  La nuit s'écrasait sur le paysage comme un gros rideau et seulement les flammes vacillant du château tout en bas perçaient la noirceur. Le gros bâtiment lui donna la chair de poule et elle frémit.
 « Nous avons tout préparé.  Il faut agir ce soir.  Êtes-vous prêts ? » demanda Kathryn.
« Oui », dirent Rébecca et François-Daniel, ses deux amis.  Elle regarda par-dessus son épaule et hocha la tête.  Comme elle, Rébecca et François-Daniel étaient vêtus tout en noir.  Chacun avait une longue corde attachée à la hanche et des poignards cachés dans les doublures de leurs vêtements.
« Allons-y ! »
François-Daniel attacha sa corde autour d'un arbre près de la lisière et, après s’être assuré qu’elle était solide, il descendit l'escarpement.  Après quelques minutes, le fil fut brusquement secoué deux fois et Rébecca le suivit, et puis c’était le tour de Kathryn.  Ses mains serrèrent la corde de toutes leurs forces pendant qu'elle descendait.  Le son des vagues s'écrasant sur les roches de la côte lui montait aux oreilles.  En réponse, les feuilles chuchotaient les avertissements de la forêt.
Il y avait une forte pente en bas de la falaise et Kathryn serait tombée si François-Daniel ne l'avait pas attrapée.  Elle murmura un merci et puis les trois continuèrent leur chemin à travers les roches périlleuses.  Après quelques minutes, ils arrivèrent au mur en face de la mer.  Les briques grimpaient au ciel et créaient une barrière infranchissable.  Les trois amis se glissèrent près des briques pour ne pas être vus par les soldats patrouillant en haut. Les gouttelettes de condensation donnaient des baisers froids quand leurs vêtements caressaient le mur et Kathryn luttait contre les frissons.
En bas, à mi-hauteur du mur, il y avait une petite fenêtre carrée.  Les barres noires interdisaient le passage, comme une bouche fermée.  "C'est à toi, Rébecca," dit François-Daniel.  Rébecca mit des gants et puis tira un petit sac d'une de ses poches.  Avec beaucoup de soin, elle prit une pincée de poudre bleue et frotta entre ses doits.  Ensuit, elle toucha les deux côtés des barres avec la substance broyée.    Un faible sifflement vint des barres pendant que la poudre mangea le métal.  Rébecca attendit quelques minutes pour que le métal s’affaiblisse et puis elle enleva les barres avec un soupir comme si elle brisait du pain.
Sans un mot, les trois se glissèrent entre les dents brisées et entrèrent dans la noirceur profonde.  François-Daniel alluma une chandelle et ouvrit la route dans l'estomac du château.  Les murs avalaient tous les bruits et le silence pesait sur leurs épaules.  À chaque coin, le groupe devait prendre une pause pour vérifier qu'il n'y avait aucun danger.  Ils marchaient dans le labyrinthe des passages en silence quand un cri s'éleva d’un passage à gauche.  Celui-ci était plus étroit que les autres  tunnels et ils durent se courber pour y aller.  Le sol descendait en pente douce et, à chaque pas, la température devenait plus froide.  À la fin du couloir il y avait un soldat débout avant une porte fermée à clef.  Avant qu’il puisse réagir, François-Daniel courut en avance et le poussa contre la porte.  La tête du soldat frappa le bois avec un clac et il tomba par terre.  Les trois amis tirèrent le corps du seuil et s’avancèrent vers la porte.  Kathryn mit ses mains sur la surface rude et poussa mais celle-ci ne bougea pas.
« Laisse-moi, dit François-Daniel.  Il posa les mains sur la porte et  grogna sous l’effort, mais la porte refusa de s'ouvrir.
-- Essayons ensemble ? » proposa Rébecca et les deux autres hochèrent la tête.  Rébecca utilisa un peu de sa poudre sur la serrure et puis les trois poussèrent.  Le bois craquait et sortit ensuite de son cadre et tomba dans le seuil avec un bruit sourd.
Dans la petite salle, François-Daniel trouva un candélabre avec trois chandelles posé sur une table.  Il les alluma et la lumière baigna les murs d’orange pâle.  Dans la lueur, les amis virent un bol de fruits et un morceau de pain sur la table, mais leurs yeux étaient attirés par une figure accroupie dans le coin, une chaise levée dans les mains, prêts à être utilisée comme une arme chargée.   Ses vêtements étaient sales, ses cheveux étaient remplis de nœuds et elle était couverte d'une couche de poussière, mais ils l’ont reconnue.  Kathryn et Rébecca s'écrièrent et coururent vers elle.
La figure  se figea sur place et puis commença à pleurer de joie.
« Vous m'avez trouvée ! » dit-elle entre ses sanglots.
« Bien sûr, répondit Kathryn.  Tu es notre amie--tu fais partie de notre famille.  Nous t'aimons, Émilie.
-- Sans toi, la vie n'est pas aussi brillante », ajouta Rébecca.
Émilie sourit et embrassa ses amis.  « Merci.
-- C'est bien qu'on t’ait trouvée, mais il faut partir.  Je ne veux pas être ici quand les gardes arriveront.
-- François-Daniel a raison.  Rentrons ! »
Les quatre amis passèrent l’inconscient soldat et coururent  dans le labyrinthe des tunnels.  Lorsqu'ils réussirent à grimper la falaise, les premières alarmes sonnaient au château.  De leur perchoir, les camarades sourirent et s'embrassèrent encore.
« Personne ne sera jamais laissé pour compte ! »

Franky, Rae, Becky (& Rusty), Mel (& Bootsie)



Friday, November 22, 2013

"Do not conform to the pattern of the world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2

This verse, along with the rest of Romans 12:1-18, was the memory work given to the staff of Camp Mini-Yo-We in the summer of 2008.  At one point, I did have it memorized, but with the years and the lack of practice, I don't quite remember the middle bit... and some of the end is foggy.  But this one verse has stuck with me.

Be Transformed.  Do Not Conform.  Be Transformed.

What does it mean to live for Christ?  I'm not sure I really know.  At one point, I had an idea, but lately I've been feeling all kerfuffled and conflabulated (no sense, eh?).  I feel like I don't know HOW to live for Christ and I feel like I don't know WHAT it looks like.  But I REALLY WANT to.  I want to live for Christ and I want to want to live for Christ.

For some, that might be a weird concept.  I want to explain it, and I wish I could explain it well, but I always feel like I butcher my words.  Even now I feel like my fingers are fumbling at the keys as I try to figure out how best to articulate my thoughts in coherent sentences.

...

Currently, at my youth group we're going through the I Am Second series.  If you don't know what that is, I suggest you look it up on youtube because it's a really cool series.  This past week the pastor started talking about the Ten Commandments.  He started by asking who among us had ever lied.  Every hand went up.  Who had ever coveted?  Who had ever disobeyed their parents?  Who had...  And on it went.  For every question, every hand was raised.

I don't often think about my own sin.  I know it's there like an ever looming shadow, but I try to look the other way.  As each question came, I felt myself shrink in size as the darkness seemed to grow.  I was reminded: I am a terrible person.  As much as I try to do the right things, I'm guilty of sin.  I can't live perfectly because I am human and my nature is sin.  And yet, despite my imperfection--despite my monstrous flaw, God chose to love me.  He chose to send his son to take the punishment of my inequity so that one day I can meet him Face to Face.  Talk about awe-inspiring.

For me, that is world changing.  Spin-my-world-off-it's-axis and shoot-me-to-the-moon-changing.  He made the ultimate sacrifice.  He gave his perfection, his life, for my imperfection, my death.  How can that not resonate within me?  How can I ignore that--pretend that it's nothing?

Simply, I can't.

Nor do I think I should.

I want to live my life for Christ because I love and want to love him.  He saved me.  I don't want to because I "think" it's the right thing.  I want to because I know I'm not worthy of his sacrifice, and yet he did it anyway.  I want to because I know Christ has been, is and will always be my rock.  I want to because I know that without him, I'm a pool of goo-losh.  

Without Christ, I am nothing.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Death and Life

Eleven years ago today my dad's mother passed away.

I think a lot of people have misconceptions about grief--especially in the western world.  This past week, we talked about death in my health psychology class and how it's sort of taboo'd in our society.  People seem almost afraid to talk about death and they don't always know how to act when someone is grieving.  Then there are the beliefs that people only need a few days to deal with the grief.  One of the points made in class was that people will get three days leave of work if it was a sibling or a friend who passed but five days if it was a significant other (or something like that).  Grief time is allotted with regard to supposed emotional closeness.

Does that seem as bizarre to you as it does to me?  Who can say how people will react to grief?  Who can say how long it will take people to "move on"?  Grief is a very personal thing and everyone progresses differently.  Just because it has been three or six months since a friend lost their sibling, parent or other associate does not mean that they are "better"--it just means that it has been three or six months.

My grandma passed away eleven years ago and there are days that I still find myself missing her like crazy and sometimes I'm close to tears.  Granted they are not many, but they are still there sometimes.  That doesn't mean I'm weak or broken.  It just means I'm human.

Five years ago today, a little boy named Ezekiel was born.  He's a crazy kid who has way too much energy (ALL the time), admires super heroes, is learning the joys of reading, and puts his heart into everything.

A death day and a birthday of two people that I have known and know, of two people that I loved and love.  I never really thought of it before, but tonight as I was biting into some cake in celebration, I couldn't help but think how cool it is that what at one point was a day of mourning and sadness can also be a day of joy and hope.
image via google

Death is a part of life and I don't think that it should be taboo'd or ignored.  I don't want to be afraid of talking about death.  And I also think that in thinking about death, life shouldn't be ignored either.  Both are companions that walk hand in hand and both are more precious because of the other.

Tomorrow, Remembrance Day, I choose to remember those that have died in sacrifice to win life and peace for us.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Tender love in Apple Sauce

Should I be writing this right now?  Probably not.  I'm in the middle of two papers that are due Monday, but today's been a slow *school* work day and I think another twenty minutes won't completely derail the bus.  Who knows, maybe inspiration will strike as I write this post...

I can't believe that October is almost over.  I look back to the start of the school year and I don't understand where all the days went.  Everything has been nonstop go.  I don't know why I thought that 4th year would be easier--well that's a lie.  I thought it'd be easier because I don't have the extra Con-Ed class and placement this year.  Even with the extra "free" 10 hours, I'm still ever on the go.  But hey, that's in part my choice.  I like to keep busy.

Speaking of busy, I had a bit of an adventure this week with my friend Sally.  You might be able to guess what it was (it's not like the clues are hiding), but I'll say it straight out anyway: we made applesauce.  And oh my purple pumpernickel pizza, is it ever good.  On Wednesday of this past week, Sally and I filled two sinks full of apples and prepared to turn them into delectable, golden brown mush.

Apple trees are in abundance near my house and Sally's parents have a couple trees on their property, too, so we didn't have to pay for them, but that also meant we had to be careful as to what might be lurking in their depths.  First step them was to wash and cut the apples up.  We cut them into 8ths and then threw the good ones into pots on the stove with a bit of water.  The kitchen began to smell like... warm apples (were you expecting me to say something else?) and steam began to rise.  We had three full pots on the stove which meant we'd be getting a lot of sauce.

I'd say the hardest part was waiting, but by the time we had done the dishes from the cutting and stuff, the apples were good to go.  We poured a pot into a bowl sitting between the two of us and then started in on the hard part: the mushing.  I shall call it the mushing because I really don't know how else to name it.  Sally had these two colander-like things with wooden peg-like things (descriptive, I know.  That's why there are pictures. hehe.).  We scooped some of the mess into each and then used the wooden dowel to squish the apple's sauce through the holes while all the seeds and skins remained in the device.  It was pretty handy but it took a while and a lot of effort.  It was worth every drop of sweat.

By the end, we had roughly 32 cups of apple sauce.


 I filled four 1L jars and we sealed them shut in Sally's canning pot.  


Look at how beautiful they are, all full and sealed:


 I honestly don't know how long they'll last me.  I like to ration things, but I also know that I don't necessarily need to ration them.  I opened my first one today and though I didn't eat it warm, it's still just as good with just the right amount of tang--so much better than any store bought applesauce and I can honestly say it's just apples.  Well, before we canned mine shut, we added some lemon juice.  Don't want anything going bad, you know. (I know the look you're probably giving me, Melanie).  The juice is undetectable, or at least I think it is.  I like sour things so maybe I just can't tell.  Either way, it's delicious.

Actually, I think I'll go get some to eat right now.

Until next time,
Rae

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Book that is a Name

At last I can say that I've read Klee Wyck, by Emily Carr.  It only took me five years to pick up the book after receiving my camp name, but I can now say that I have read it.

http://www.amazon.ca/Klee-Wyck-Emily-Carr/dp/1553650255
Image of book cover from Amazon.
Straight up, I'll say it wasn't what I expected.  I received the book from one of my good friends a few years ago.  She knew that my camp name is KleeWyck and when she saw the book in the store, she told me she thought of me and had to get it.  Though I was and am still very grateful of the gift, I approached the book with tentative steps.  I admit I was making generalizations at the start and I wasn't sure I wanted to read a book from the early-mid 1900s.  My past experiences with such literature has not always led me to hold high esteem for the authors of the period.  Of their day, I understand that they were often great, but writing styles have changed with the times and I'm not as engaged as I am with other more current works.  It's a sad truth, but true nonetheless.

My initial (mis)perception of Klee Wyck those few years ago was that it was one story.  I remember flipping through the pages a few weeks after receiving the gift and seeing the random spurts of dialogue and thinking, What if I don't like it?  I know I'm entitled to my opinion and if I don't like it, then I don't like it, but as my camp name is KleeWyck, I felt the need to like my name sake.  Maybe somewhat silly, but I was in part scared to open the pages and find that to be the case.

Carr's book is a series of short stories--well, not event stories really.  They are snapshots of events that occurred in Carr's life.  This was a pleasant surprise as it meant I was free to come and go whenever I so chose.  I could read one from the back then one from the front.  I could also read one now and then pick it up again in a month or two.  The freedom to come and go, especially as school was starting up again, was nice.

As I read through the many stories, I was struck by Carr's honesty.  She didn't sugar coat what people said--especially what the white missionaries said about the Indians.  She wrote with a pure innocence and I really enjoyed her use of descriptive language.  In the forward, Kathryn Bridge said that Carr would use her brief sketches to help with her paintings and I could tell.  Some of the images were vivid with comparisons I wouldn't have thought of and I'm really glad I read the book.  If you have the chance, I recommend reading this book.  It gives a refreshing image of how the white-native relations were at the start of the 20th century and though simply written, is a powerful work.

In other, unrelated book news, for those wondering my friend found my bus pass and returned it to me a couple weeks ago.  I'm still not entirely sure how I lost it in the first place, but it is found and that's all that matters.

Until the next time,
Rae


Sunday, September 08, 2013

a Bump in the road

Sometimes things don't go the way we want them, eh?  Sometimes there are bumps along the way and we bumble along, trying to maintain our footing as we patter across the rough roads.  As much as these bumps suck and create difficulties, I'm trying to see my own bumps as learning experiences.  I'm trying to find the positive so that I can move forward and learn.

This past week for me had some bumps.  It wasn't a bad week, really, but there were a few moments and events that make me want to slam my face into a brick, tear my hair out in frustration or simply cry in a corner.  Not extreme banging, tearing or crying, but enough.  The first was a BBQ that I planned for this past Wednesday.  This year, I have the pleasure of being the president of a club on campus and I decided that to get people to come out and learn about us, I would throw a BBQ during Introductory Seminar Week (ISW).  As far as planning went, most went off without a hitch.  I found cheap catering, got volunteers and volunteer barbecues, found tables, borrowed coolers... Things were looking good.

So what was the problem?  ISW is mainly first years and on Wednesday, classes hadn't started yet meaning that there were fewer students on campus.  This meant that we didn't get much traffic flow.  Bottom line, I ordered too much food.  Roughly two times as much as I needed, when the calculations came in, I think.  We were just shy of breaking even, and only thanks to generous donations by some of the professors.

It was my first time doing an event like this, but I felt like such a fool.  There I was, trying to make some money for future club activities and thus start the year off good, and yet I actually lost money.  Talk about banging your head against the wall.  I keep wishing I could go back in time and change my order.  But I can't and I need to look at this as a growing experience.  It's over and I'm not completely ruined.  I learned and will not make the mistake again.  Almost better to under order to ensure we sell out in the future.

The other bump from my week occurred Friday and comes in the appearance of a disappearance.  My new bus pass has gone AWOL.  Valid for the next twelve months, this bus pass is fairly expensive to replace and so I really hope and pray that it turns up.  I'm not entirely sure where I lost it.  I had it Friday morning when I went and came from class, then I decided to bike to my afternoon seminar and when I got home and was preparing to go out, I don't know what happened.  It's just not anywhere that I've looked.  I can still use last year's pass for another two weeks and so I pray that it turns up in that time.  Until then, I'll just have to live with this slight blip in the path.

And, well, thems the brakes.  Live and learn, eh?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Visiting the Superior Lake

How was Lake Superior, you ask?  Well, do these answer your question?






Beautiful, am I right?  Beautiful, yet powerful and dangerous.  This great lake is so big that it creates it's own weather and is so deep that its waters alone could fill the other four great lakes.  Doesn't that seem kind of crazy?  It's the deepest (and thus the coldest) of the great lakes as well as the cleanest.  Lake Superior is simply breath taking.

Our trip only lasted 5 days, one of which wasn't even at Superior, and yet it was jammed packed with business and excitement.  We went swimming, went on a couple of hikes, drove up to Wawa to see the goose, impersonated a moose and had a couple of relaxing campfires and sunset watching.  We were almost always on the go, which was fun, but also tiring.  Upon returning to civilization, I felt I could sleep for a week.  Sadly, with work the next morning, that was not an option (though I did accidentally sleep in and was five minutes late).

Watch for the Moose Crossings!
One downside to our trip was the weather. We had a couple of nice sunsets Saturday and Sunday evening, but it stormed Saturday night meaning that everything was wet, and then it was really muggy and rained some more on Sunday and was pure fog all of Monday.  Sunday we went for a 10k hike up into the hills.  It was warm going and the humidity was bad, but because of the clouds it wasn't too bad.  And then, two hours in, it started to rain.  Thunder rumbled over head as the clouds heaved a sigh of relief and emptied their stomachs upon the forest.  We still had an hour to go and so onward we went.

Everything that we had with us was wet.  Existing in a constant wetness is not fun.  Our towels had been left out overnight on the Saturday because we had gone swimming before bed, and that meant they were out in the storm.  Then, with the constant mist and rain, they could never dry.  Monday night, you could see the water in the air when you turned on the flashlights.  And yet despite that, we had a grand old time.  I would do it again in a heartbeat.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Two More Sleeps

Well, I'm finally taking a vacation.  I say finally because I had a summer course from May through to the beginning of August and I've been working almost full time on top of that, trying to get as many hours as I can before school starts again.  But, vacations are necessarily and all work and no play and yaddy-yadda-ya.  You know?

So, vacation here I come.  On Friday my housemate, Melanie, and our friend Kyla are packing up the car and heading up to Lake Superior Provincial Park.  I haven't been camping-camping in a couple years and I can't wait.  When we booked our site a couple weeks ago, we were nearly bouncing off the walls in happiness.  Suffice it to say, there's been a few sleepless nights due to excitement and a lot of hurt cheeks from smiling.  But at last, the time is upon us and we shall soon make our depart.

Until then, though, there is a lot to do.  Melanie's made lists upon lists for gear, food and personal items.  Currently, she's sitting beside me, trying to book a last minute site for the Friday night seeing as we won't arrive at LS until sometime on Saturday.  The funny thing is, on Friday, we'll probably be rolling in between 9-10 o'clock at night meaning it'll be dark and we won't really be able to see anything.  The next day, we'll be packing up and heading out early.  With that in mind, we literally just need a place to crash and yet Melanie is determined to find the perfect site.  It's rather amusing.  She keeps asking me, "What about #___?" and then shows me a picture to which I say, "Looks good.  Go for it." But then she looks at another and another.

Ah, there we go.  Site booked.  Now all that's left is the packing really.  And grocery shopping.  And then packing groceries.  Okay, so maybe there's a bit more to be done than I first thought, but still, it's almost here. Only two more sleeps to go.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Muffin Love

Muffins have magical powers.

Magical powers to brighten your day, that is.  I honestly love muffins.  I'd take a muffin over a cupcake any day, hands down.  They are second only to pie in my opinion.

This week has been a huge muffin week.  On Saturday, I went blueberry picking (and picked a ton! let me tell you).  So, I made some blueberry muffins and brought them into work on Monday.  I'm not a huge fan of blueberry muffins as I've found that they can greatly vary in goodness, but these ones were not that bad.  I followed a recipe I found on Pinterest, making it vegan so I could give one to my housemate, and it worked. The muffins only went up from there.

On the course where I work, we have a lot of apple trees.  Need a number?  probably close to 50 if not more.  There are a lot.  But I've never counted them so I don't know.  Many are clumped together because then the bees don't have to fly long distances to pollinate.  On Monday, one of my coworkers managed to get a number of good apples down from one such tree and I took some home.  Tuesday, I made Apple Cinnamon muffins.
Don't they look good?  These ones were fairly healthy with no oil or butter included.  The next day, I brought these lovelies to work.  Wednesday was a cold morning.  Normally, I go out with my green's mower and after 10, maybe 15, minutes I'm working up quite a sweat and by the end of my route (roughly two hours, give or take) I'm panting hard and soaked (sometimes also by sprinklers).  This Wednesday, even though I knew I must have sweat, I felt dry.  The wind licked the sweat right off in a dry kiss.  As I neared the end of my mow (only 1 1/2 greens left to go), one of my coworkers came driving by on our Tee Triplex with muffins in hand.  Apparently, the club house had given us a bunch as well.  He paused and handed me one then continued on his way.

Muffins = bliss.  I was content to pause for the moment to enjoy the muffin-y goodness (and it was scrumptious!).  Muffins can seriously brighten your day.

My all time favourite muffin of the summer was from last week, though.  A Banana-Zucchini-Choco-Walnut.  Can I hear a YUM! ?
 I know I can't wait to make these delicious morsels again!  Maybe you should go make some, too. ;)

Friday, August 09, 2013

To Make a Cake

I wouldn't call myself a chef or a baker or a great cook, really, but I like to try new things.  So far, this summer I've been able to try a number of new recipes, many of which have become favourites and will definitely visit my kitchen again.  Some of you know, but many of you do not know, that I live with a vegan.  She's newly vegan (as of May) and as a supportive friend, I try to vegan-ify recipes if I can.  This past week was her birthday, and so, in special honour, I made a special "cake" (if you will) as well as pumpkin pie (click for recipe).

A few months ago, I learned that Melanie loves watermelon.
Around that same time I saw this post on pinterest for a no-bake watermelon cake.  Naturally, I decided that I had to make this for her.  I'm not a huge watermelon fan myself, but I do like this refreshing fruit.  On Tuesday of this past week, I set out to the store and went through the process of selecting a melon.  I don't know if there's some technique to selecting the right one, but I just picked one that looked really green and was a good shape.  Next, I had to cut it into cake-like shapes.
  I'd never cut watermelon before and I had a bit of difficulty with getting flat surfaces for it to stand on, but I managed.  When it came time to make the icing though... that's where I ran into difficulties.  You see, I was making coconut cream (due to the whipped cream being dairy and thus not vegan) and so that the fat and liquid separate, you need to leave the can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight.  I had left a can in the fridge, but it wasn't there when I went to make the cake.  I was on a bit of a time crunch, but luckily one of my friends was able to drive me to the store for a can, which I then had to leave in the fridge overnight.  Again, I was really lucky that the party was Wednesday.

Unfortunately, Lady Luck did not come with Wednesday.  I didn't manage to drain enough liquid from my milk meaning the icing was more like a syrup then a stiff whipped cream.  The icing oozed off the top and down the sides creating a white lake beneath my two pink islands.
It tasted scrumptious, yes, but just not... like it was supposed to.
 Melanie loved it though, which is all that matters.  Maybe I'll attempt the coconut cream again in the future, and maybe then it will work out well.  All in all, the party was a success and Melanie was really surprised.
Happy 21st to a Wonderful Friend!