The Pikurusu Cometh

I have sorely been neglecting my blog of late. I could list such excuses as moving, working, settling in to life's new routine. The main one however, is likely that in early November my hubby and I found out I'm pregnant.

It was...kind of planned. Issues with one's female type bits run in my family, and his parents didn't conceive him for months. Add in the fact that we've not always been "safe" in the bedroom and still never got pregnant and we thought it would take awhile. So we figured if we started trying now, maaaaaaybe by the time he graduated next winter we'd have a baby.

God/Life/Fate or whatever you believe controls such things, looked down at us and blew a giant ol' raspberry. Pfffffft!!!  It took all of a week. 

Needless to say I was a little in shock. The bone sapping exhaustion was my first clue. Lucky for me I've not really suffered morning sickness. Instead, forgive the tmi, but I feel like a bloody goose! Everything passes through me rather quickly. Eternally sore breasts are sure fun to deal with. And my appetite is fluctuating daily, usually in the "eyew that all sounds gross" direction.

We're fairly ecstatic though. I've been feeling ye ol' clock ticking for some years, though I've kept my longing for a child fairly to myself. My husband and I have been together for nine years so it's not like we really rushed into it either.

To say our families are exuberant would be putting it lightly. My mother in law jumped and down and squealed. Yup, squealed. And my mother cried and kept saying I was teasing her and it couldn't be true, haha! I think even my brother is excited to be an uncle. And our due date happens to be my sister-in-law's birthday. Though I hear children are seldom born on their due dates, it's still a bit neat.

I sat up one night with hubby, talking about the tradition in our family to give the baby a nickname before you know its gender. I, for example, was Tadpole to my parents. We were tired, and not agreeing on anything when we started messing around with google translate in Japanese. I typed in "pickle" and it came out pikurusu. It just sounded so cute we had to roll with it. After all it's brining up inside me!

The Pikurusu will be eleven weeks along as of tomorrow and we get our first ultrasound soon. So look forward to pictures, my chaotic rambling about doctor appointments and other such things. Toodle-pip!

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Warning: Sudden Attack of That Thing Called Life

Hello out there! I am in fact, still alive! Though at times the status of that life is questionable.

So, here's what's going on in the world of a Telly Beast...

My husband wound up getting a nice amount of call backs after he lost his job. However, none of them work with his school schedule. This is imperative as his schedule changes every semester. Furthermore, as he's an education major, this coming year he'll just have more and more teaching hours he has to do.

As all these realizations hit me, it became blatantly obvious that it would be selfish of me to demand he find a new job every six months just so we can scrape by to live where and how we are. So, we went over all the facts of our current status and made a decision. When our least ends we'll be moving in with his mother.

This is not so frightening as I'm sure some of you imagine. For one, I love my mother-in-law. She's a pretty awesome lady. Secondly, we'll have an entire floor of her house pretty much to ourselves. Living rent free means that the hubby can finish his degree without having to worry about work. And my job should be able to sustain our now muchly reduced bills.

My only concern at the moment is menu planning and working around my IC. I don't like inconveniencing others. Beings as that is the only current concern, however, I think we have it pretty easy. I know many would cringe at having to move in with their in-laws, heck even just with their parents. We are fortunate.

I do hate the moving though. E-gads, I have a lot of crap! I've been going over things. Throwing out this, donating that. Making lists of what we can sell, what we should put in a storage unit. All that comes with its own amount of stress to be sure!

Between working and gearing up for a move, life's felt pretty hectic. I have approached a few culinary endeavors, but none so successful that they deserve posting here. Candy corn and I, for example, are apparently not meant to be. Those blasted little things are the devil! My dough comes out too hard or too soft every time. Candy thermometer be damned! I'm going back to making gummies. Maybe I'll toss up a "how to" of those before long.

Me and Hubs - CHEESE

On an unrelated note, this is one of my favorite times of the year. Halloween is just as dear to my heart as Christmas. Due to the preparation for moving, however, I'm not even putting up my wee WeenTree this year. It's a small black tree, with cobwebs instead of tinsel, purple lights, and ghoulish decorations. Very awesome in my humble opinion! Anyhow, I'm also not bothering to dress up for work as grease paint plus my glasses is usually a poor idea. Forking out money for contacts just for Halloween is not an option this year. I'll settle for playing with cheesy photo effects and making the hubby look like Abe Lincoln for his student teaching. Look forward to witnessing that.

Stay classy!

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Bear Mojo

Recently my mother told me she'd been holding onto several bear claws for some while and that she wished to turn them into jewelery pieces. Of course I told her that I knew someone capable, Sheri. She did a piece for each of us.

My mother's piece is pictured above. With leather, gold, and small pieces of amber. She also had a small matching bracelet done. Please forgive the lesser quality of those pictures, as they were taken with a phone. The gold wire wrapping on the tooth itself is a tree of life!

My piece is much more traditional. Bone beading, turquoise and gunmetal fashioned into a traditional choker. I could not resist modeling it, complete with some very bare tribal markings historically typical of Chetco women (which if you've read other posts, you are aware I am).

Wearing a bear claw necklace traditionally meant protection and good health to the Indian wearing it. One can't ignore the strength and dignity that bear offers.

If you begin looking up symbolism of the bear to different native cultures you will find all manner of things, but overall a Duality. That duality makes the bear a kind of native American Yin and Yang. Which of course I find intriguing. I'm going to let another lovely lady sum it up, as I don't have a horrible lot of time on my hands and she does it so well!

The following are from Avia Venefica on her website What's Your Sign :

As a Brother -
  • Because the bear is cautious, it encourages discernment to humankind.
  • Because of a fierce spirit, the bear signals bravery to those who require it.
  • Because of its mass and physical power, the bear stands for confidence and victory.
  • Because it prefers peace and tranquility (in spite of its size), Bear calls for harmony and balance.
As a Totem -
  • Patience and Connection
    Hibernating with our ideas or projects until a better time presents itself. Further, bear will speak to you about connecting to both earth-based energy and celestial (sun/moon) forces. Tapping into the bear will also allow you to tap into the wax, wane and flow of life.
  • Confidence and Authority
    By its physical presence, the bear reminds us we can be larger than life if we raise ourselves up to our inherent status. Moreover, no one questions the bear. This kind of authoritative presence will be a lesson the bear can impart.
  • Nurturing and Protection
    We intuit these attributes by the commitment bear mothers make to their offspring. Whether your offspring is in children or ideals, the bear will lend you the determination required for rearing up strong results.

Whether one believes in these things or not, it is impossible not to feel powerful wearing something like this. Bones always have a wonderful feeling to me.

If you're interested in having a keepsake of your own made into a piece you can hold onto, please feel free to follow the link to Sheri's Deviant Art page.

Light and Life - Inspiration

Most that know me, know that there is something special about the sea to me. I grew up on the water and know that it not just awe inspiring, and beautiful, but fearsome as well. Teaming with life, and mystery. Blue and green, sea, sky and mountains, speak to me in a way that other things cannot.

On my DA account you can see this better!

This picture comes of that love, and inspiration. Perhaps in part, by being an Alaskan girl. And in some way it reminds me of an old favorite hymn that always touched me.

There are newer versions, and more uptempo versions. But  the old epic gospel always comes to mind first.

I don't talk about my religion a lot, because I believe it's something that is personal to each and every one of us. I don't believe in pushing it in anyone's face, and I certainly don't find myself perfect or terribly enlightened. However, some old things just have a beauty that I feel should be shared at times.

Things like this hymn remind me as well, of my grandmother. And when life is rough, and the waves of adversity seem to be washing over me and pulling me's a nice reminder.

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A Nice Portion of Angst

This month summer, has been an especially emotional one. The sad thing is that for the most part there is no good reason. Just my crazy hormones and brain making life entertaining. However, the last bout of stress has a big old reason. My husband lost his job.

We found out for sure today. He was suspended Wednesday afternoon and told they'd let him know by Monday at 5pm. Of course they waited until JUST before that deadline to call. Dragging it out as long as possible in a beautiful show of douchebaggery. Which is a word, because I say so. And I shan't repent for it!

My husband has worked for the same company for the last five years. They in turn, are hired by another large corporation to provide support for said corporations product. He's done good work, but that doesn't matter. Because those hiring the company have a say, and their say is that a judgement call is a perfectly reasonable excuse to fire someone.

Let me better explain. Yes, he was suspended and then fired because of a judgement call. Not failing something. Not going against protocol. A judgement call. He had a customer seeking support that got out of line, cursed him out, screamed at him, insulted him. He warned the customer numerous times that he needed to be professional or he wouldn't be able to help him and in the end wound up hanging up on him because he couldn't get him to calm down. Again, not against any protocols. However, it was the opinion of one of these higher ups that he should and could have done more. What a jolly good reason to lose someone that has worked their arse off for you for five years.

This of course, puts us in a rough position. I work, but my income alone is not enough for us to survive on. He's put in several applications and we're crossing our fingers. But he has to find a place that will work around his college schedule. Which includes not just classes, but also student teaching and required volunteer work.

We have enough funds to get through October most likely. And on a note of rather good timing our lease is up in November. If he doesn't find work by then we do have other options. His mother has empty rooms and would help us out. She's really a good person, and I feel lucky to know that no matter what happens we won't be homeless.'s something I am fervently praying we don't have to do.

I don't want to have to depend on someone else. Above that, I don't want to have to give up my space. My freedom. I love people, but I also love being alone on my own. I love my space. My little hovel of crazy.  I hate the idea of moving out of what has become our tiny "home". Packing up our life and putting it into storage...on more than one level.

If it comes to that, however. I know I'll survive. We always do. And I am a firm believer that what is meant to be will be.

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Where Have You Been?!

It's been two or three weeks since my last update, but I promise I did not do a magical disappearing  act. My job is seasonal, and has simply started back up again. This means hooray, I am getting paid again! And boo, I have less time!

So, chances are I'll be trying to make myself update on the weekends. I won't have the time or drive to experiment as much with cooking as I have over the summer. BUT! Oooh ho ho, fear not! I have a backlog of things I have yet to post that I have created. Lucky you!

I have several other projects I'll be striving to make time for on the side. Including a web comic the lovely Sheri and I will be working on. Very excited about that. Just need to get my kiester in gear and find more time to work on the script.

I also broke down and bought Guild Wars 2 and will be devoting some weekend hours to that. Prepare yourselves for a long nerdy ramble my beauties...

My e-peen lives on! Pics 1 & 2 = my Norn elmentilist Knorr Kolgrim. Pic 3 = my Charr ranger Gunnar Soulseeker and Sheri's human necromancer Belle Fleur Morte.

I've been watching the progress of this game and how it's coming together for some time now. By the time it arrived, I was still waffling, but hearing a few customers at work talking about some of the innovations I hadn't heard of yet really sold me! I looped Sheri into playing with me because the clothing in game is gorgeous. *Evil chortle.* We've been having a blast, though it's taking some time to get used to after playing WoW for so long.

Character creation gave me a nerdgasm. Choices in body type, height, an incredible range of skin tones, racial attributes. Even a handful of options for each facial feature (mouth, eyes, nose, brow, chin). At character creation you'll also get to dye your starter armor, but fear not! Decide on a different' color scheme? All the base dyes are free and can be changed at any time in your character window.

Questing is fun. And the fact your storyline progress is dependent upon personality quirks and other choices you make at character creation and throughout the game is really awesome. Star Wars the Old Republic had something similar. But your path had two options: Light Side or Dark Side. I think Guild Wars stepped it up a notch so to say. Granted, SWTOR's storyline cut-scenes are still by far superior. And I'm not entirely astounded by the level of the voice acting in Guild Wars.

Overall, it's new, it's exciting, and monthly fee, eh! If you're an MMORPG fan, especially a fantasy fan, you should give it a spin.

After that spiel I could tell you how life's been interesting. How I've been struggling a bit trying not to let myself get bummed with my IC again. Or how things might drastically change with our housing situation at the moment. But I think I really prefer to leave it on the happy geeking out notes. Because this too shall pass, and life is good. Besides, if there are any catastrophes I'm sure I'll write about them in the near future.

Stay spunky space cadets!

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News Just In: Gaming and Being a Geek is NOT End of World After All!

Today is one of those days that frustrations just refuse to be fully pushed aside. There's a side of myself that becomes a little cynic with no hope in the majority of humanity and society at times. It's just one of those times.

Geek culture is becoming more "popular" to some level. Yet there are still so many people out there that hear me say, "Oh I play *insert game here*." And roll there eyes. Suddenly I'm a social leper? I think my boiling point hit when my mother insinuated that my brother no longer gamed with my husband because he now has a social life and other things to do.

Excuse me, but enjoying video games does not mean you have no life.

I am not an antisocial person. I am not an introvert. I'm good with people, and enjoy them when I feel like it. However, I choose not to be more social in certain circles. I choose to keep a select few good friends and family close. I choose to spend time with those I love most, and I choose to spend my time doing the things I enjoy: baking, writing, and yes gaming. I choose to do these things, instead of trying to make everyone else happy, and be something that society or culture thinks would be more suitable. If that means sometimes I act like a hermit, well there are worse things in life.

I'm sick of people hearing the word "Gamer" and only picturing the unwashed, overweight, middle aged moron living in his mother's basement. Ok, so I'm overweight, but I do know what soap is, and my mother doesn't even have a basement!

What is "normal" in our society these days anyway? For those aged roughly mid teens to thirties it seems to be partying, drinking, and if you're female the need to make yourself feel meaningful by buying everything that mass marketing tells you will make you beautiful and feel better about yourself. I'm sorry, but that's just not me.

I don't drink for a majority of reasons, namely my health and genetics giving me an addictive personality. I'd rather have a root canal than go to parties or clubs, being around that many people at one time is just awkward in my opinion. And shopping...I get most excited about if it involves a good deal and something vintage.

I'm not trying to sit on a soap box again and be judgmental. Different people, enjoy different lifestyles. I'm just sick and tired of people thinking there's something wrong with mine.

I enjoy shooting zombies with my husband. I enjoy high fantasy MMO's and role playing with my friends. And something inside me gets nostalgic, warm and fuzzy when I see a 1Up Shroom or get to be a little blue dinosaur blowing bubbles. I'm also given to making light saber noises and pretending now and then I'm a Jedi. I am not ashamed of these things!

A little random proof of my silly nerdiness: SWTOR inspired makeup.

I leave you with an angry little squirrel. That says it a lot better, though with a lot more expletives, than I can!

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Wouldn't Call Myself a Photographer

I wouldn't go so far as to call myself a photographer. However, I've always had a natural eye. Be it in photography or other artistic mediums. I often help my muse tweak a scene, or spot something that could be "just so" when she's drawing, for example. This both drives her crazy, and makes her thankful. I'm not sure what it is, but I see the world in a way it can be captured. I see the world around us as the most beautiful artistic medium of all, and I see many things as scenes.

Perhaps one of the reasons I don't label myself "photographer" is that I've never owned a camera that was more than an everyday point and shoot. I've also never really owned photoshop. The editing I do, is with free software I've manage to learn to use in new and creative ways.I can't make an old photo look perfect, I can't restore detail to your grandfather's faded out picture of his beloved wife, or make that polaroid shot look like it was taken by a professional. However, I'm also fairly certain that art doesn't have to be perfect, or require the most expensive tools.

I'm getting better at what I manage, even if it's only as a hobby. But I'll stick to simply calling myself an artist.

Snitzel - Before and After

I've been digging through old pictures lately. Some taken as recent as last month, some go back a decade. In these old shots I'm looking for signs of that eye I have. Taking things and making them into something more.

The above picture is of one of my best friend's dogs. I chose it to work with because he's gone now, and I wanted her to have a vivid, beautiful token of him to hold onto.There is art for arts sake, and there is art with a soul hiding in it. I think mine will always gravitate toward the latter.

In the coming weeks and months I'll be putting up a lot more pictures on Deviant Art. Perhaps I'll try to post them here with information behind them as well. Until blessed!

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Steam Powered Soul

So, I'm not here to write anything deep today. Or to teach you how to make something delicious. I'm here to point any of you reading this toward an amazing group of artists: Steam Powered Giraffe.

I first heard of the group thanks to my muse, she pointed out the band of a guild mate from Warcraft (yup, I'm that kind of nerd). It was love at first listen and it's only gotten better watching them grow in talent and popularity.

Most describe them as a Steam Punk band, but I think they transcend the label and are appealing for a myriad of reasons. Primarily for me, the members of SPG are artists. They write their own music, do their own makeup, are in charge of their own recordings and performances, put out their own CD's and other merchandise. Hell, these people design the art for their CD booklets too!

They are also simply, amazing human beings. There's no other way to put it.These individuals put their whole heart and soul into what they do.

If you look behind the scenes, you'll also discover that Bunny Bennett, the actor behind Rabbit, is transgender and that the band supports love in all its beautiful forms. You can read Bunny's blog for yourself, and check out her DA! She has a style I refer to as Burton-esque in her art.

If you're in the San Diego area, you can catch them performing at the zoo for most of the summer. They're also starting to play venues, and conventions. I've never gotten to see them in person myself, but would adore too eventually. I want a hug from Michael Reed! And no, I don't say that as a crazy fangirl, but rather as someone that truly appreciates other beautiful souls in this world.

Go my minions! Go now and discover beautiful musical joy!

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Quilted Bi-Pride Cake!

I wanted to make something pretty and unique. So when I got my checkerboard pan set I started doodling out what I wanted my cake to look like per slice. I came up with this quilted pattern, using the bi-pride colors because well, even if they weren't bi-pride I still think they're lovely!

I got the checkerboard cake bug to begin with thanks to MagnanimousSquirrel over on DA, and a comment they left on my tie-dye cake.

I used the same recipe I had with both the Tie-dye and Captain America cakes. However, in my quest to be ever healthier I decided to try out a new improved type of stevia you can use in baking. Stevia with fiber. First of all, it tends to suggest a 1:1 ratio on a lot of stevia recipes. Never listen if something tells you this! Halve this stuff, or you will have something so sickeningly sweet you'll gag. Luckily I went ahead and did this as I'm used to working with things like agave or Truvia (stevia with fructose).

The first thing I'd made with the new baking blend was cookies. And they were pretty damn good. However, you can still detect a slight aftertaste of that very sweet nature. I thought it worked well enough, onward to healthy cake! was a bust. This cake was gorgeous, but the consistency was off. It tasted like uncooked cookie dough in a way, even though it was very much done. And though it was moist, it still had an odd crumbly consistency.

I gotta say I'm bummed! Because Stevia and Agave are amazing things for eating healthier and keeping the glycemic index in check. Agave works well in sauces, dressings, ice creams pies. But I just can't bake with it. And apparently I can't bake with this either. Hmm. Back to the drawing board!

At least it was purdy!

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Alright. Today I'm going to talk about something a little more personal. My health.

It never ceases to amaze me that the human body is so intricate, so astounding, that even with all the advances we have made we still don't fully understand it and at times what causes it to hurt.

I'm getting really tired of hearing about "syndromes." I mean, it can't just be me who's starting to think whenever the great "they" in medicine can't figure something out they tack the word "syndrome" on the end of it.

When I was 12 years old my body stopped accepting red meat. I was raised eating the stuff, healthy and organic varieties so hormones and additives cannot be blamed. My system just decided to say, "Sorry, not happening!" By the time I was 19 I had to stop drinking milk. A more common issue and perhaps partly due to how altered it is these days. Over the next few years the list grew though. Nothing too rich, nothing too greasy, nothing too spicy. I was told I likely had IBS, Irritable Bowl...wait for it....Syndrome. There weren't any real tests to do, or pills to make it all better. Excluding certain foods helps more than not, but sometimes it acts up for no reason. It might be stress, it might not. It might be X Y or might not.

When people ask me why I don't eat this or that, it's not something I've always willingly admitted. I mean it's not the most graceful name for a syndrome out there. "Well you bowel is...irritable." My little brother at least got a kick out of the mental image it stirred. He tells me I have grouchy bowels. That's how my family works you see....if we can mock it and make light of it, we can deal with it.

So I've dealt with having a "grouchy bowel" for quite awhile now. Apparently that wasn't enough. Over the past decade I've gotten more and more of what I thought were Bladder Infections. And (forgive me if this is TMI folks, but I did promise to be open) at times sex had grown painful for no explainable reason.

I'd go into the clinic, they'd test my urine. They'd say there was no sign of infection, give me drugs just in case anyway, and send me on my way. A few times they sent samples off to labs to be further cultured for rarer bacterias. Nothing ever showed up. I started to feel paranoid. Were my symptoms just psychosomatic? Was I making myself ill at this point? But the pain was very very real.

After seven months of being in pain off and on rather consistently, and antibiotics having no affect, I decided to go back into a clinic. The doctor there suggested something I'd never heard of before: "It sounds to me like you have all the signs of Interstitial Cystitis."  The British call it "Painful Bladder Syndrome." And low and behold, when I started looking into it more, several other women on one side of my family suffer from the same thing. Many of them had been told the same things I had "well it sounds like you have a UTI but nothing is showing up"   "oh you only pee a lot because you like water" "are you sure that's where the pain is?"

I don't know if it's rare enough that fewer have heard of it, or I just got lucky in having a female doctor that day that asked more questions and didn't assume I was either full of crap about my pain or just an idiot. I immediately started researching as much as I could and again, surprise surprise...things seemed to click into place.

I cannot be 100% positive without having more extensive tests done, but I decided to change a few things about my life and just see what happened. Namely because I don't have health insurance, and even if I get the tests there is little the medical community can do for this syndrome. The doctor I spoke with told me they still don't know all the causes, that nothing has been proven solidly with food exclusion, and that it's a lot like IBS or Fibromyalgia. "Cures" are hit and miss and only for symptoms. And the more I delved into the medications subscribed for IC the more I decided I would prefer to avoid them. The most common is related to an antidepressant and has a lot of lovely side effects including in some women, hair loss. No thank you!

So on the advice of many others seeking more homeopathic relief I found some Fennel tea (bonus it's great for IBS sufferers!) and Marshmallow Root and Leaf tea. I drink them every morning. I also take Marshmallow root pills. The marshmallow root is an AMAZING plant! It's gelatinous quality helps soothe and line the bladder walls as well as other mucus membranes. However...the root will only ease pain. It cannot begin to heal damage unless you make more I did what I thought I'd never see myself doing...I've given up acidic foods.

No big deal, you say. Hah! I found an amazing and helpful guide to aid me in my process of making my bladder happier. Little did I suspect I would lose out on some of my favorite things. The most mourned? Strawberries, chocolate, tomatoes and sauerkraut. Also on the list of things to avoid are preservatives and additives. Which is why I've been working on making so much of my own homemade things. Store bought dressings, and even basics like crackers are now a minefield. The list is large and my husband often looks at me and says, "Are you sure life is still worth living?" Yes...yes it is.

Do I miss these things? Sometimes terribly. But it's just food. A crazy thing for a self proclaimed foody and lover of baking to say. But you know what? It's true. Food won't make me a better person. And once you've lived with pain, you know well that you'd do just about anything to prevent it. Drinking a cup of coffee is not worth hurting in my lady bits for a month or more, it's just not!

So I take it day by day. And you know what? I've felt better! And being forced to cut out certain things has helped with my goal to be healthier as well.

If you suffer from something that you are told there is no answer for, no cure to, and you feel like life's kicking you in the giblets, don't give up hope. If you're a fellow sufferer of IBS or IC please feel free to send me a message or leave a comment speaking about your own journey. 

Say it with me: I will be healthy, I will be happy and I will love life, syndromes be damned!

Coco-Nutty Crusted Halibut

Being an Alaskan girl, I am a fish freak. I love it and now and then I'm lucky enough to get hold of some when my parents make special shipments from back home. Lately it's been a lot of halibut so I've been trying to come up with new and creative ways to cook it.

The other evening I tried this nut and coconut crusted variety and my goodness it was wonderful! Of course...I tweaked the original, because I just can't help myself. For example, if you have macadamia nuts they would be wonderful and are what the original called for, but they're a bit pricy so I used almonds and think it's still delicious!

Pictured with my focaccia bread.

Coco-Nutty Crusted Halibut

2 1/2 lbs of Halibut (skinned, boned and what have you)
1 can Coconut Milk (full fat not Light)
1/4 cup Agave
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
3/4 cup Sliced Almonds
1/2 cup Shredded Coconut
4 Tbs honey
3 Tbs butter

Preheat your oven to 425°F.

Combine coconut milk and agave in a large bowl or baking dish, whisking well.

 Marinate halibut in the milk and agave mixture for 30 minutes or longer.

Meanwhile, pulse nuts in a food processor until they're crushed well.

Add the panko and shredded coconut and pulse a few times, so that it's well combined.

You can either put the mixture on a plate, a wide bowl, a tray, or even a baggie (ala shake and bake style). Whatever is easiest for you to coat your fish.

Once the halibut is coated set it out on a baking tray. I line mine with a silicone mat, but you could use foil as well.

Melt the butter and add the honey. Drizzle it over the halibut.

Bake for 15 minutes uncovered. I always check the largest piece to be sure it's done through. Fish will take on a more white appearance instead of being translucent.

When I made this I actually split the bread crumbs in half and made the dish over two nights as it's just feeding two. I would definitely recommend marinating it over night. It was even tastier on day two. But the quick marinade works if you're not planning too far in advance.

I believe you could also do this recipe with another mild white fish like Talapia.

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A Few Thought on Bisexuality and Labels

First it was the LGB community. Then it was the LGBT. Then the LGBTQ. I think a few more letters have been added on at times, and I've also seen variations like GBST and GBSTA. As a person with a nontraditional sexuality it's getting damned hard to keep track! How many acronyms do we need to say, "Hey, I'll help support you. Hey, I'm proud!" ?

Now, you might ask why I'm bringing this up and rambling (aside from the fact I -usually- ramble). It's come to my attention, more so in the past year, that as a species we really can't resist labels. Labels file things away nicely and neatly! Labels keep our society a neat and orderly place.

But really, at least in my humble opinion, it's getting kind of ridiculous. How many different branches and sub-branches of sexuality do we need to slap a label on to say "I'm queer"? 

Don't get me wrong, I understand that finding a definition for something you feel you are can be very important to a person. It helps you reaffirm your identity, and find others like you. But, again there just comes a point that it's getting silly to me.

For example. I was having a conversation with another artist some months back when I first heard the term "pansexual". When I asked her what she meant by it, she said, "Well I find all people attractive, I don't hold to gender binaries. It's kind of like being bisexual, but less restrictive." At this I was kind of taken aback.


This wasn't the only person I ran into that thought this either. It truly confounded me. I've never felt myself restricted in my life. Others have said, "Well being pansexual opens you up to people of other sexualities too." Quite frankly, I find men and women attractive even when they aren't in traditional roles. I don't care what they think they are or are not. If a person reaches me on a deep level, they

I'm not trying to single out the pansexual community or to belittle anyone's identity here. For me, it's just become a matter of not needing more labels to try and grasp at what each of us are. People differ and labels should be worn loosely.

For a long time, I fought with labeling myself even. I thought...surely I'm more complex than a little word? But in the end, at least in my personal journey. It was easier to just accept the label simplest for the greater populace to comprehend.

And as I've grown I've not felt limited by it. I've not felt misrepresented.

For me, being bisexual is about the complexity of my nature.The fact I am not just a simple singular creature. I'm attracted more to a personality than to an appearance, I always have been. And so I can appreciate the souls of those personalities regardless of what body they happen to be wrapped inside of.

Moving on from those thoughts...

On a whim recently, some of you know I decided to dress in drag. I don't secretly want to be a man or feel that I'm in the wrong body. I feel rather comfortable in my imperfect skin honestly, but to me it was just...interesting  Because my personality does have some masculine thoughts and traits that some women don't. I wanted to see the face of the fellow hiding in my psyche.

The effect was created through makeup. Lots of shading and shadowing with different shades of powder and foundation, an eyeliner pencil, and parting and straightening my hair to look less femme and cover my shaded cheeks a bit more to achieve a more angular look. The rest is thanks to position, lighting, and so forth. The only computer affects are some color tweaking, skin texturing, some minor thinning where I had shaded for more realism on the cheeks, and then the artistic overlays I worked to achieve. Both of these faces...are mine.

When I saw this man looking back from the mirror, I named him Jesus (pronounced: Hay-zeus). I've been told by multiple people I do in fact look like Jesus...or Silent Bob.

It was an almost surreal moment. Here I was looking at a stranger, that was part of me. My husband tells me I look better as a woman, and I can't exactly argue. But it still pleased me to meet that little corner of  my mind.

The quote I chose for this of course, being from the Beatles, as "I Am the Walrus" kept going over and over in my head.

I am he, as you are he, as you are me, and we are all together...

We are all such beautiful rainbows, composed of so many little broken shards. Sometimes I think, though it's important to know what makes It's also important to realize how much you have in common with your fellow human beings. That we all are indeed together and have far more in common emotionally than we allow ourselves to realize. If the whole world remembered it...I'm sure that hate and discrimination would be more rare.

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On Being Injun

What does it mean to be an injun in this day and age?

Yes, you read that right. I'll say right now. In my family we don't tend to call each other "Native Americans". We say Indians and injuns. I'm sorry it's not politically correct. It is what it is.

It's an inner struggle for many I know. The mix of wanting to be proud of what we are, but not wanting to carry a chip on our shoulder. Not wanting to be a stereotype. There's also this strange shame, that it seems has been passed down from generations. It tells us, don't make a fuss. You are what you are, why be loud?

Myself with my mother and her siblings. Left to right: Milo, Mum, Myself, Maggie, Mike.

What does it mean to be an injun in this day and age? 

For any of you that have seen pictures of me, you might say, "Wait? She's Native American?" I've felt at times, that I can't claim any pride, because I don't look the part. My skin isn't brown...hell, I need SPF 85. If you look at half of my family though...they are tribe. My grandmother was a half-breed. My mother looks the part. My father is German and English though, so there you have it. Daughter of Paleface.

Grandmother is the little girl front and center. She's sitting with Lucy Dick, her sister, father and grandfather.

What does it mean to be an injun in this day and age?

As I've said in other writings. My grandmother was born before being "Indian" was cool. She was spit upon. I just can't picture that, because she was a beautiful, amazing soul. But it happened. My mother said...the older grandma got, the more she felt like an Indian though. And when she died she looked as peaceful and striking as an Indian princess. Technically, she was. My fourth-great grandfather was an Indian chief. You'd think that with such a rich heritage, it'd be easy to be proud. But there's still such a deep mix of emotions. A struggle of cultural identity.

Wake Kloshe by Peggy O'Neal - The Chetco "trail of tears" as it were.

What does it mean to be an injun in this day and age?

We don't smoke peace pipes, we don't chant around fires. We never killed buffalo. Our tribe was small, on the Oregon coast. We liked fish a lot...

The reservations are fewer and further between these days. And many  natives resent them as well. It's easy for people separating themselves from the world to dwell on the past and say, "look at what the white man has done to us." But...a great many of them are at least partially white men. I think many of us fear that mentality, and it's another reason we're so wary of pride.

Grandma Oogie (Vernadell) and her Aunt Nora.

What does it mean to be an injun in this day and age?

Well you must be an alcoholic? If you're not, someone in your family has to be. It's true. There are a handful in my family. And I know I have an addictive personality, so I've never really picked up the habit myself. Who wants to be the drunk Indian?

My Great Uncle Elmer. (Not the literal last I dare say!)

What does it mean to be an injun in this day and age?

I just watched Smoke Signals for the first time,and I loved it. But I noticed, as I watched the movie, and connected with it, that my husband really didn't seem to get into it. What was really funny to me, barely got a "heh" out of him. I guess there really is an "Indian Humor".

As my family has pointed out many times, humor is a very big thing for us. I think if people who have been put down or had hardships can't laugh...well they wouldn't have survived as long as they have. If you laugh, you live.

So in the end, that question I can't stop asking myself...what does it mean to be an injun in this day and age? It means more than I have managed to sum up here. And I'm still not sure of all it entails. To me, I suppose the only true importance is that it means...something. And I'm on the path to finding pride in that part of myself.

I'd like to leave off with a poem my grandmother wrote.

A Glimpse of the Past - by Vernadell Mann

Silver pathways upon the water
As peke faced moon shines down upon the sea
'Neath the wind I sit and ponder
Eons of time turn back to me.

I see the peaceful Chetco River
on its journey to the sea
And as its mouth an Indian village
Where my people used to be.

Dusky maidens in shell trimmed dresses
Babes as brown as they could be
Dwelled upon this land God gave them
Living their lives in harmony.

Brothers of the mink and otter
Where the Chetco flowed wide and free
Only taking what they needed
Never killing needlessly.

Indian old brown and wrinkled
Taught the young the Indian ways
And in this way, down through the ages
These Indians spent their carefree days.

Lucy Dick was born in this Indian village
Played as a child, on sun warmed sand
Little knowing, unsuspecting
White men soon would take our land.

Then white men came to this peaceful valley
Their greed for land grew and grew
They took the land of these Indian people
And their lives, they wanted too.

Lucky Dick, my great grandmother
Was in one of these bands
That the soldiers drove like herds of cattle
To a far away reservation land.

Many Indians didn't make it
They lost their lives along the way
Their homes and freedom
To satisfy paleface greed that day.

Siletz is where the soldiers took them
And my people mourned to be
Back to the beautiful Chetco River
In their village by the sea.

I see the foot prints of my people
Imbedded in the sands of time
Where they live now forever
Etched upon my heart and mind.

A painting of Lucy Dick from the Chetco Memorial Project.

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Best Sandwiches Eva! (aka Focaccia Bread)

My husband and I were eating sandwiches we'd gotten at the local Co-Op, lovely artisan bread, good meat, fancy cheese, stone ground mustard and fresh veggies. It dawned on me as I was chewing my sprouts most gleefully, that I could make this myself! And it sure as heck wouldn't cost me $7 a sandwich to do it.

I started out with a wheat ciabatta I'd made before, with a recipe from one of my favorite food blogs: Budget Bites. As much as I've enjoyed it in the past, it wasn't light enough for the sandwiches. Not as "fluffy" as my husband put it. So I went back to look for something else. Focaccia jumped out at me, because I enjoy the herbs on top of it. But, looking at the recipe it looked (apart from said herbs) almost identical to the ciabatta.

Being the over zealous little baker I am, said I to myself, "I CAN make it fluffier!" While still maintaining the artisan flavor of course. And what do you know...I did.

Behold! My beauty! I actually forgot to dimple the loaf this time. I was in a hurry. But I know it will still be delicious.

What's that you say? Stop rambling and post the directions to this Godly Sandwich Bread? Ok, ok! Just put down the hose. And prepare yourself for the easiest bread you may ever make.

Before we get going I'd like to make a few quick notes about ingredients. When I make bread I now flat out refuse to use anything but SAF Yeast. It's never failed me. I keep it in the freezer since it comes in a larger package than most and it lasts me a good while. 1 Tbs equates to one packet of active dry yeast, and a package of the stuff is a full pound so it's not exactly breaking the bank to go for quality here. Not only is it all I will use, but it's all the culinary school nearby does as well. Nuff said.

I should also note, that for most things I use plain old all purpose flour. But never, NEVER bleached! I've had plenty of pie crusts fail me, and loaves of bread turn out less than fluffy, because I used to try using a cheap bleached flour. So again, just a little more for quality and you won't regret it. Gold Medal is a nice, affordable brand. Recently I've begun using their "Better for Bread" Flour as well. I must say I do like it. If you want to get really ritzy, go with King Arthur Flour. Can't go wrong there! But for me it's a bit pricier.

Also, when I can afford it I've been using coconut oil or spectrum shortening (which is 100% organic expeller pressed palm oil) in place of other oils and soy laden shortenings. Coconut oil is a fat yes, but it's a fat recognized and broken down more readily by the body. And I really do attempt to cook healthier more often then not. Whether I succeed is another matter.

Alright, onward we go!

NOTE: You need to start this bread a night before you plan to eat it!

Ingredients for Bread:
4 cups of  all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
1-2 tsp honey
2 - 2 3/4 cups water

Needed Later:
2 Tbs-ish Corn Meal (I love Bob's Red Mill! Nice and coarse)
1 Tbs-ish of Coconut Oil (other oils will work, I just prefer coconut as mentioned)
1 Tbs-ish Seasoning Blend (I prefer greek, you could also use Italian or your own blend of spices. I also tend to do a sprinkle of Lawry's Season Salt and dried Parsley for color. My bread is vain.)

I usually start this bread around 8-9pm, so I can make it and have it done around lunch time the next day.

So, the first night you'll mix your dry ingredients in a large bowl. Blend them well.

Once your dry ingredients are combined add your water and honey. (If you can't have sugar and aren't worried about it getting quite as fluffy you can leave out the honey for health reasons.) Start with two cups of water and just add a little at a time if your dough isn't holding together. The key is to get just enough water in for the dough to be tacky and your flour to fully blend. You don't want so much water that it's a goopy dough. If you live in a drier climate, like myself you'll use more than others.

Once your dough is well blended into its sticky mass, cover the top loosely with a dish towel or saran wrap (with breathing room) and pop it into a warm place. I tend to put it in the oven where it's not affected by my AC. Sometimes with a bowl of water from the teakettle for a little extra warmth.

Now the best part. Forget about it! That little dough darling gets to rise for fourteen hours or so. If you go a few extra don't panic.

The next day, your little ball of dough should have matured into a bubbly wet looking mass as it's had a glorious night of fermentation. With a spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl and turn the mass over a few times, loosely making it into a ball.

Foil and grease a baking sheet very well (again I grease my faithful silicone mat!) and sprinkle with your cornmeal generously.

Dump your dough out onto the prepared baking sheet.

Using the oil, cover your hands (as the dough is sticky) and loosely press it into a mostly rectangular shape. Perfection is not important here.

Sprinkle that puppy with your herbs and spices!

Once it's shaped, set your oven to preheat at 425°F. Set the bread atop the stove so the heat helps with the rising. Let it rise for an hour. Sometimes I leave it for an hour and a half.

After rising, you can dimple the top of the bread if you want it to look like a proper Focaccia. Just press your fingers in lines covering it.

Bake 20-25 minutes. Just until golden brown. Then let cool fully. If you have a wire rack you can move it, but mine's never been hurt by staying on its pan to cool.

Seriously. Amazing sandwiches to be had here. One loaf for us makes 6-8 sandwiches depending. My favorite is with Havarti Cheese, Soy-Free Vegenaise, Stone Ground Mustard for Hubby, Peppered Turkey Breast, Alfalfa Sprouts, and Leaf Lettuce. Pure heaven!

Edit Update: I've amended the recipe to call for honey instead of sugar. It works better! Hooray for a pro-tip I found digging around online that yeast feeds off of honey better! 

Further Edit: I've replaced the honey with agave, it works just as well and those watching glycemic index don't have to worry at all! I also tried using potato water and it turned out fluffier than it ever has before! To make potato water just peel, cube and boil one small potato in two cups of water. Mash potato in with water after it boils. You can add a little plain water as needed if you need more water. 

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Why Does the Tree Reach to the Sky?

When I first saw this picture, I was inspired by an incredible sense of longing. And I wrote this little snippet for Red: "And she reached and she reached....but no matter her struggle weathered, withered, fingers could not touch the heavens....only grasp at the one set so high above her." Needless to say I wasn't content to leave it at that. It's crossed my mind a few times in this last week and finally I settled on the following. The title is because as I wrote, I imagined a mother sitting with her child and answering him. Telling him the sad sweet story.

Original image by RedSuzanne of DA (minor editing by myself)

Why Does the Tree Reach to the Sky?

“Why are you alone?”
Asked the owl winging by.
“Because...” Said the tree.
“Between my love and I is placed the entire sky.”

“Can't you reach further?”
He said, as alighted he on weathered limb.
She shook what bare leaves were left clinging.
Then she explained to him.

“That's my love there.”
Twisted bare branches stretched overhead.
“Do you see her, shining.”
The tree wistfully said.

“You mean the moon?”
Queried the owl full curious now.
“Yes, that is she.”
Said he, “But how?”

For this the tree had no answer.
Excepting that, “love is love.”
And she knew where her own heart lay.
With that soft glowing goddess above.

“How long have you grown here?”
She replied, “I only know centuries pass...”
“Yet despite how I've tried and tried,
My love lies beyond my grasp.”

The owl now heavy of heart,
Sat quite in thought.
Pondering that age old mystery of love.
Both the joys and sorrows it's wrought.

“Maybe, another century.”
He offered, “Maybe you'll reach then.”
“Maybe...” Echoed the tree.
Barely hearing her friend.

With a mournful call,
Winged he off out of sight.
And there was left the tree.
Once more alone in the night.

“Someday.” She whispered softly.
Then she sang sweet and low.
And she reached and she reached.
And she dreamed she would grow.

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Memories in Ink

This post was meant to be about my recent acquisition of body art. But to get into that, you have to get into the reason behind it. And it's all about a woman who is far more interesting than a bit of ink...

My grandmother was born in 1934, before it was "cool" to be Native American. She was a half-breed. She was spit upon. The youngest of ten, by the time she joined the family her mother had run out of names so an elder sister named her. Vernadell, no middle name to claim. She lost her father when a toddler, and her mother before she was out of her teen years. She was married at the age of sixteen and had her first son while her husband was fighting in Korea. 

You get this bit of history, because I like to remember. Who she was, apart from what I knew. A strong woman, with plenty of odds to overcome. A real woman.

Fast forward a number of years and my mother wound up relocating to Alaska once she was married, near her sister. It wasn't long after that my Grandmother and Grandfather followed. I was blessed to have them as nearly neighbors until I was six years old. After that we visited often in my mother's home town. In the same house they'd lived in since she was a child. Run down, roses overtaking the outside of it, critters the inside. My grandmother wasn't overly proud. But in that house you never wanted for anything real.

By the time I knew my grandmother... she was simply, Oogie. And  the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, is to try to find enough words...right tell anyone of her. They always fall short, no matter how hard I try. To say she was the most beautiful person I ever knew, does not begin to cover.

Oogie was the epitome of a good soul. She was a Christian...the sort that taught me what a real Christian should be like. She never judged, or lectured, or pushed her beliefs in anyone's face. She lived her faith. She lived love. She radiated it. No matter who you were. She looked at my father once, a 6'2" two hundred and some pound man, and told him he looked like he could use a hug and asked him to sit on her lap. If you were in need...she would give you the literal shirt off her back or last dollar in her pocket. I don't think she knew how to be selfish. Because of her, those in my family know true love. The sort of family bond that transcends petty disagreements, and differences of opinion. The kind that bears all and believes all...and will never turn its back on you.

Her gentle heart didn't extend only to people either. She adored animals and not just the domestic sort. Growing up I recall her rescuing and rehabilitating a crow, a golden eye duck, various mice, a mountain quail, and several baby racoons. My mother tells stories of a pet squirrel, chickens, a houseful of dogs, and so many guinea pigs they formed their own "pack" under the house. She couldn't stand to harm anything, live trapping even the rats that would get into the attic. Her favorites were mice and ladybugs though...they made her smile. I got her a small ladybug pin when I was younger. She wore it pinned in her coat for years.

She wrote too...poetry. Most of my creative side is attributed to my father's side of the family. But I like to think some of that came from her. She was always encouraging me to keep writing...that someday I'd be somebody.

The spring of 2006 my mother went down to Oregon to help care for my Grandfather, who had emphysema. Oogie had been complaining of back pain. Shortly after she was diagnosed with bone cancer. We lost her October of that same year, grandfather shortly before her. I never got to see her before she died. A selfish part of me is glad. That I never had to see her so much in pain. That I don't have to remember her lying in a hospital bed. But that's just a manner of coping. Because I'll always regret that I didn't get to say goodbye.

It's been six years, and I still think of her all the time. I write something and wish I could share it with her. I hear her favorite song...Morning Has Broken, and can see her listening with closed eyes. I see a thing of beauty...a flower, an animal...and see her smile along with it. More than anything, though, I long for her hugs...the sort that made every trouble and ache in the world melt away.

So here, we finally get back to the Ink part of this article. I've always wanted something on my body. Something permanent for her. I'd been trying to think of a design involving one of the things she (and every other grandmother out there I think) loved to say, "This Too Shall Pass." But nothing ever seemed right...

My mother said something, and it hit me. A ladybug. She loved them her older age we often teased that she looked like one as well. She never stood over 5'1".

So I begged Sheri to draw for me. Something whimsical, but slightly elegant. I gave her all of twelve hours notice. Bless her heart, she came through, and soon as she was done I took the design into Black Cat Tattoo.

This is the portion of the article where I inform you everyone who tells you tattoos don't hurt, is a filthy...dirty liar and should be flogged with limp noodles. Feels more like "scratching" my left arse cheek! Granted, I've been told I have very sensitive skin, I'm scared to death of needles, and I got it pretty much on my boob. I didn't cry, but I clutched the arms of the chair for dear life and was more than pleased when it was over.

(Find more of Sheri's work on her DA account )

When all is said and done I'm thrilled with my Oogie Bug, close to my heart. It's taken almost a full month to heal (again with the sensitive skin) and is still peeling slightly, but was good enough for pictures. I got a Tattoo Goo kit for the healing process and can't recommend them enough! You have salve for the beginning, a wash for keeping it clean through the whole process, lotion for the itchy as hell stage, and a color guard stick for after. The lotion and salve are also known to boost color in old tattoos! Seriously, not being paid to say this, I'm just in love with it!

Thank you for bearing with me through something I really felt needed shared. I'm a weepy fool sometimes and I leave you dears with this:


There are not enough words
To capture what you were,
and express what you have been.
The more I try to set them in place,
the more I find lacking.
None do you justice.

Though if I must,
I would choose,
Compassion, acceptance, trust, devotion, faith
and Love...
Lessons you instilled within us,
As you held us together
with your soft, weathered, clorox scented hands.

These will remain,
for you wove them well.

Found My Soap Box Again!

I talk a lot about hate. How I dislike the word. How I feel it's too strong. Some get tired of hearing me, I'm sure. But I'm afraid it's a soap box I just can't step down from.

Secret Six by TeamSeaSlug13 on DA

This is Kathryn...and she is beautiful. I see kids like her, far too often...hurting and feeling lost. And it baffles me, how someone can hate them without even knowing them. Hate them for something they don't approve of, or understand.

I understand that there are differences in opinions and belief systems. Everyone is entitled to believe what they want to, that is the beauty of freedom. But why must difference in opinion lead so often to hate? Hate is too strong, and too damaging. To those it's directed toward and those harboring it. 

Look at this girl. How has she wronged someone so terribly? To be told she doesn't even deserve to live! Look at her face, the tears in her eyes. How can anyone out there, have lost so much compassion that they can deny she is just as much a person as they. 

She is a living, loving human being and she deserves better. 

Some teenagers aren't as strong as Kathryn. They don't speak up. They listen to those spreading hate, and they take their own lives. Too many of our youth feel like there's no other choice. That life doesn't get better. That there's no hope for change. It breaks my heart how much potential has been lost along with them.

We have to stop it. It doesn't matter your race, religion, or sexuality. People are people. And people deserve to live, to be happy, to have rights. 

Dan Pearce said it better than I ever can in his now iconic blog: I'm Christian Unless You're Gay

I urge everyone out there to read this, regardless of what your personal beliefs are. Your own beliefs aren't compromised because you let someone feel like a human being.  

Please stop the hate.

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Captain America Cake!

I wanted to make something special this 4th of July for the get-together my in-laws were having. Which really isn't shocking. I seem to thrive on making people smile with my creative baked goods. I just can't help it!

So I'd seen these cakes all over the interwebs for the past several years with interiors that looked like flags. I saved a few pictures and thought, "oh well it's far beyond me, I'll just ooggle them!" Well little did I know it's really not as hard as it looks!

In my pursuit to be epic this year I found a few tutorials that really helped and have decided to put one of my own together for you beauties!

I started with a cake recipe that I quickly adapted. The same I had used for the tie-dyed cake I made a bit ago.

Three Layer Coconut Cake!
5 ½ cups cake flour
2 Tbs + 2 tsps baking powder
1 ½ tsp salt
8 egg whites
3 cups white sugar
1 ½ cups butter
2 cups coconut milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp coconut extract

  1. Measure sifted flour, baking powder, and salt, blend well. If you have a sifter use it several times.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add 1 cup sugar gradually, and continue beating only until meringue will hold up in soft peaks.
  3. Cream butter or margarine. Gradually add remaining 2 cups sugar, and cream together until light and fluffy. Add sifted ingredients alternately with milk a small amount at a time, beating after each addition until smooth. Mix in flavorings. Add meringue, and beat thoroughly into batter.
  4. Split batter 3 ways. Leave one plain, add red to one batch, blue to the last. Fill 3 round cake pans.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes. My electric oven is lame so it actually took me about 45 minutes. But you want to check after 30 and then add time 5-10 minutes at a time. Cool cake thoroughly before handling.

Once the cakes were done and completely cooled I turned them out onto the table and set to what for me was the hard part. I was horrified that  in trying to cut them they'd fall apart on me. It was pretty sturdy stuff though. So here's how it works! 

As it says in the recipe you will be working with three cake layers: one red, one white, one blue.

First things first. Using a sharp serrated knife (I use my bread knife) level the tops of the cakes carefully so they are all flat. If you have a silicone pastry brush they work wonders to sweep away excess crumbs.

Now you need to slice the red and white layers in half. If you have a cake leveler they work great. If you're like me, and a beginner you can actually cheat and use dental floss. I started the cut with the knife just to break in slightly then lined up the floss and pulled it through. In my humble opinion this makes less crumbs then using a knife, and is gentler.

Now with your sliced layers you are going to make two new "cakes". Each will be red layer on top of a white layer. Ice between them to hold them better together. I used a basic cream cheese frosting with coconut milk and extract in it instead of the usual vanilla. 

Set one of these white/red layers onto the plate you'll be serving your cake from and top it with your frosting.

Now for the "magic"! Oooooh! Aaaaah!

I used a basic bowl, but you could use anything round and of average size. Take your bowl and place it in the center of your blue cake. If your bowl has nice edges press down through the cake. If you're worried it won't cut clean, use your knife and trace around the bowl.

Do the same thing to your second white/red layer.

Now, pull the center out of the blue layer and set it aside. Carefully pull the center layers from your white/red layer and place them into the now blue ring. If your cake isn't too crumbly you can ice around the hole in the blue ring before putting your white/red layer inside of it.

Place your now complete second layer atop the first. Ice around edges and over the top carefully to avoid excess crumbing (totally a word, because I say so!).

It's really that simple!

If you want to do a buttercream transfer for the top of your cake you'll want to get it going before you start your full icing. I waited and it didn't quite settle in on the top as well as it could have.

To do a transfer you'll need cardboard, waxed paper, a print out of your design (in my case the Captain America shield), a pastry bag and a basic buttercream icing.

I was going to write out the directions, but I think this Tutorial words it great and I might be feeling a touch lazy. 

My cake decorating set malfunctioned some while ago so I actually made mine using gallon sized Ziploc bags with tiny snips out of one corner. I can honestly say I wish I'd had the bags for a cleaner effect. I'd also recommend going with the buttercream recipe linked in the tutorial. I tried an old one of my own and it wasn't as nice!

This cake went over great, by the way! It's fun because people don't really suspect the interior. If you want to give it a go, have fun and don't be afraid! Worst case scenario you have a messy experiment to eat up.

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Behold! Mustaches! Glorious bastions of lip hair! These lovely and obliging folks were from my husband's work place, give them a round of applause for being great models!

If you want to make some of these cookies yourself you need the basic sugar cookie recipe I wrote out in the Star Wars Cookie article with just a tweak on the flavoring. Oh heck! I'll be nice and repost it just for you. (The chocolate sugar cookie recipe would also be great with these!)

You'll need these Cookie Cutters. I really love the Fred brand, so much win!

You will need:

2 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
12 Tbs (1 1/2 sticks) Butter
1 cup Sugar
1 Egg
1 1/2 tsp Coconut Extract
McCormick's Black Food Coloring (enough until color is as desired)

Make sure your butter is at room temperature for smooth mixing.

Mix your flour and salt together well and set it aside.

Beat your butter in a medium sized bowl until it's fluffy and creamy. Slowly add the sugar and beat until it's incorporated and light and fluffy. Add the egg, coloring and extract and beat until they're well mixed in. Again...FLUFFY is the key. Don't forget to scrape the sides of your bowl frequently with a spatula.

Add the flour mixture in two or three portions, beating and incorporating it between additions so it's thoroughly blended. When your dough is well mixed and the flour has absorbed the moisture well your dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl a bit.

Turn the dough out onto your table, or what have you, and divide it into two portions. I find that if I'm using a stand mixer it's a more cohesive lump. If I use a hand mixer it's more crumbly and needs pressed together before divided.  Wrap each of your dough balls in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 2 hours (as long as 2 days).

When you're ready to make your cookies, pull out just one chunk of a dough at a time to work with. I let mine sit for a few minutes so it's a little more malleable. Roll it out fairly thin. Go to work with your cutters while your oven is preheating to 350°F!

Alright so here is where a few little tips I've come upon help me. First, no matter how well I grease my cookie sheets they hate me and love to stick so, these silicon baking mats have saved my cookie's lives! You could invest in parchment paper, but around here a roll costs at least $7 and when you can get something reusable for just a bit more? Well, that's a win for me.

The second tip, is before baking, and if filling more than one cookie sheet, put the waiting cookies in the fridge for 10 minutes. This helps them hold their shapes more. Something I never thought of!

When they're ready for baking pop them in for 10-15 minutes per batch.  I tend to go with the shorter baking time. Even if they're a bit soft you can let them cool until they're set enough to remove from the sheet and then they have a nice soft consistency that will last.


If you make these I'd love to see your results interweb peeples!

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You're Kind of Crazy Aren't You?

Recently I read an article, amazingly enough written by a man, that talked about how men need to stop using "crazy" as a blanket term to describe women just because they don't understand them or their potential for a higher level of emotions. I feel, rather strongly about that.  I cannot count the number of times that due to a lack of understanding or an inability to know how to deal with something emotional I'm going through, my husband has looked at me and said either, "You're crazy" or inferred something about a mental breakdown.

That being said. I know I'm not in the 100% sane bracket. Is it offensive to have one's emotions misunderstood and told that because of them you're nuts? Well, yes. But if I'm going to expect others to understand me, being in denial isn't going to help myself or others.

I firmly believe that there isn't an artist out there that isn't, at the least, a little "kooky". We're an odd bunch. It takes a certain kind of mind to see the world through creative eyes. A mind that isn't "normal" by the standards of society. Why does that have to be a negative thing?

So, here I am saying that I know I'm a little bit crazy. Hell, at times more than a little. I'm just finally getting to the point that I can accept it and analyze it more as an adult. I know that there will be times my emotions are so raw and overpowering that I will lose myself and my logic completely. It's terrifying...Yet, I wouldn't trade it for anything, because those emotions are pure...and they are mine.

My unique brain has lead me to some wonderful things in life and it makes me who I am, even when it's not what I might wish it to be. A poet, an author...a whimsical dreamer...a morbid semi-goth at times. But by embracing it, and understanding myself, I can start to dispel this idea that being a touch "crazy" is wrong.

I understand that there are conditions involving the human mind that need medical attention. Please don't get me wrong. Sometimes it's the better option for personal and collective well being. And there is nothing wrong with that. But, not everyone needs to be put on a pill just because their mind works differently.

Not every person who happens to be a bit morbid, is depressed enough to be medicated. Not every active child needs to be put on medication to sedate them because their parents don't know how to control them. Not every woman who thinks she needs to drop a few pounds, should invest in miracle diet pill "solutions". We live in a day and age where people want a quick fix, an easy answer. Pop a pill and society will accept you!

Accept yourself first. Know yourself. And know that being different is alright. 

Time for another flash of bare honesty. Last night I was distraught to the point my emotions were getting the better of me. I won't lie...since I was a teen sometimes I get so emotional that even suicide plays across my mind. Would I do it? No I would not. I think it's selfish and besides, I'm a wimp. shake myself out of it I look up the many ways possible that people have offed themselves and read how painful each of them are and how long it takes to die with each method. This reminds me that there is NO easy out.

When I shared this little method of reality check with my husband, he was down right frightened. Told me I showed signs of being emotionally disturbed. Not to mention just how morbid, eerie and very much not normal it was.  All I can do is shrug and reassure him again that it isn't something I would do. I've known people that killed themselves....I realize the level of despair they must have been at. But I still believe it's harder on those left behind. It's painful and selfish, and I know I'm stronger than that. Sometimes I just need a reminder.

We all have our peculiarities and our inner demons. But I'm reminded of a darling picture I saw recently...

 Learn to live with yourself too, without shame. I imagine my fears, my "crazy" and my abnormalities really aren't that terrible of room mates up in my brain box. They just like to disagree on the interior design, and occasionally get in shouting matches over who they've invited over and how loud the music is. But by the end of the day, they're up there finger-painting and sharing cookies.

Again: this blog is in no way written to infer that no one out there needs medical help or does not have more severe problems that could be aided.

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Welcome to my little corner of the crazy. I can't promise I will always have something intelligent to say. Or that my wit will always leave you laughing. But I can say this much...what you see is what you get. I am me...and I'm going to endeavor to share that uncensored. So, pull up a seat. Enjoy yourself and if I perhaps entertain you feel free to...

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