Monday, October 24, 2011

Why (for a moment) I Felt Like Dean Koontz

     See, I have this thing.  
     There are some tasks where I do only what's necessary or expected, nothing fancy.  Just...enough.  I don't go for anything spectacular, jaw-dropping, or even worth a glance.  This is usually how school assignments go.  I do what the teachers want, and that's good enough for me.
     Then there's times where I go all out.  I have an inspiration, a vision, and I do what I can to make that dream a reality.  Provided it's relatively quick to do.  In this case, about four hours is quick.
     It all started in my science class, where my teacher and TA have a shared fixation on dinosaurs.  Every class has a picture of a dinosaur in it somewhere.  Every week, I learn of a new dinosaur. (And a new shark, but that's irrelevant here, even though it's cool.)  Dinosaurs dinosaurs dinosaurs.  It's awesome, but there are some unforeseen side-effects.  Especially since it's approaching that time of year when pumpkin carving is accepted as a pastime.  Yes, that's exactly where I'm going.
     Behold, the mighty T-rex!!

     And here's a candle-less shot...

     A friend of mine and I shared in the carving experience.  We picked out our pumpkins in a grocery store after a football game, arranged the New York Times on the floor of his building's lobby, and set to work at about 5:30 on Saturday.  He was done at seven.  I was done at nine.  I told him I'd take a long time.  He took the opportunity to add some extras to his already thrilling pumpkin.

     Anyway, we set them outside by moderately frequented walkways so people could see our pumpkins in all their glory.  There were questions like "What is that?  Is that a dinosaur?  How long did that take you?  (and my personal favorite:)  Are you an art major?"  We let them sit out there overnight, and, sadly, Mr. Jackson some ended up on the ground in pieces...but this is BYU, so I'm going to pretend that it just fell.  Very hard.
     Worried that Alan (it was suggested that I name it) might face a similar challenge, I moved him to the bench in front of my building.  Sunday afternoon, I was hesitant to see gourd shards littered on the sidewalk, but I had to know if Alan survived.  I was pleasantly surprised by what I found instead.
My favorite part is the end...
     My mind was boggled as well.  I moved it back to that original moderately frequented walkway spot for the day (the worst stuff always seems to happen at night, you know?).  Later, Sunday evening, as I happened to pass it on my route, I noticed someone sitting in front of it, sketching.  The conversation went something like this...

Me: "Hi..."
Him:  "Hi.  Cool pumpkin, huh?"
"Oh, uh...thank you."
" carved this?"
"...uh huh..."
-stands and offers his hand- "Wow, it's really good.  I'm [John or Jared or something]."
-hesitantly follows through with the handshake- "Um, thank you.  Are you...drawing it?"
"Yeah, yeah, I'm a graphic design major.  This is really good."
"Wow, um...thank you [again]." -starts to leave-
"Oh, what's your name?"
"I'm Zoe..."
"Right, well, have a good night!"
"Yeah, you too..." -ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh-

     It was like being a famous author or something.  Completely caught me off guard.  Luckily, it hasn't really happened since.  Alan was reported to still be alive this morning, but as of this afternoon, he's disappeared, along with the note.  There wasn't shrapnel anywhere, so I'm thinking it was just the BYU landscaping crew cleaning up, something like that.  Some have suggested that it might have been stolen.  Who's to say?  On one hand, I'm glad the "popular" days are over.  On the other, it makes me want to carve another pumpkin.  Something a little more anonymous.  Something a little  You'll see.

Stay crafty, my friends.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Tom Cruise Would Be Proud

Project: 10152011.223

Information regarding a certain project was received approximately one week prior to today.  This project was previously conceived to be impossible, and pursuit of this project was terminated before the project was to be initiated, or a request communicated, because of miscalculated inadequacy of time.  Undisclosed sources have disclosed the project's existence, causing a complete meltdown and rewiring of facility priorities.  The project was assigned code: RED.  Every effort to complete the project was enacted, with the result of project completion.

Project Name: Candy_Corn_Baby_Hat  [10152011.223]
Date of Assignment: None
Project Response: Challenge_Accepted
Project Status: Mission_Accomplished

_Contact information available for future missions.
_Do not underestimate the facility.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Frankly, my dear...

I've learned a few things since moving from California to Utah.  Most of these things have to do with altitude, and the weird stuff that comes from it.  The other bit seems to be cultural, but may just be college.  Here's a nifty list:

20 Things I've Learned Since Joining the Bubble

1.  You get dehydrated faster than the locals.
2.  So you have to drink more water.
3.  Therefore, if bathrooms were airplanes, I'd be a frequent flier.
4.  Your hair dries faster.  Sooner than you'd anticipate.
5.  Tissues are good to keep on hand in case of sudden nosebleeds.  Like on Sunday mornings.
6.  A flight of stairs at home is a lot easier than a flight of stairs here.
7.  You can buy individual eggs.
8.  You have to bring something to carry them in if you do.
9.  Cookies are flat.  There doesn't seem to be any way around this.
10.  If you have a muffin pan, loaf pans are a joke.  So are cake pans.
11.  Chocolate milk is of the gods.
12.  Western Family makes EVERYTHING.
13.  Shoes wear out reeeeal fast.
14.  You can't dress according to the weather.  You're just going to have to suck it up and get used to it.
15.  Anything you need should be within a fifteen minute walk.  If it's farther than that, it's not that important.
16.  Jaywalking is like breathing.  Everybody does it.
17.  When people ask you where you're from, you have to name the closest major city to your actual hometown.
18.  It's important to go to football games with people who know practically everything about football.  This makes for a much more enjoyable (and knowledgeable) experience.
19.  Vending machines are a wonderful thing.
20.  And lastly, naps are like chocolate milk and jaywalking.  Of the gods, and everybody does it.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Why I Am Satan's Spawn

     The eye doctor (may he be chopped into pieces and thrown into a fire fueled by his own blood) cancelled my appointment today, delaying the possible prescription of nerd glasses, so I figured I'd take this extra time to share some of my recent activities.
     There are times in life where you try something and you fail at it.  Miserably.  I am no exception to this pattern.  One such occurrence occurred in the form of fudge.  I was home for a short time, an hour or two, and with the mother unit out of the house I was free to be as evil as I wished.  And I wished to make fudge.
     But the fudge didn't wish to be made.  Things went wrong from the beginning.  I needed evaporated milk, and couldn't find any, but after an extensive googling period I found that heavy whipping cream could (probably) be substituted for it.  With nothing to lose, I went ahead and added it...through a strainer.  It wasn't supposed to go bad yet, but there was a thick layer of yucky milky muck lining the inside of the carton.  I took my chances (and didn't tell anyone about it).  Hey, I strained it!  Following the cream problems, it turned out that the pot I was using, a 3 1/2 quart pot, half a quart larger than the recipe suggested, was far too small for the bubbling brew that threatened menacingly to spew forth from its cauldron.  I was forced to turn down the flame, as no amount of stirring could keep the monster back, thus preventing it from completely reaching the desired 236 degree temperature.  I went ahead and added the remaining ingredients regardless, because that mercury wasn't going any higher.  After pouring it in the pan, I licked the spoon, and although I burned my tongue, it tasted alright, so I burned my tongue a few more times.  
     And that was it.  It tasted alright.  It didn't look alright.  After hours sitting on a cooling rack, the fudge had the consistency of pudding.  I started trying to remove perfectly square pieces with a small cookie spatula and ended up spooning lumpy dollops onto a plate.  Not what I was going for.  A night in the refrigerator hardened everything up, but I still felt like the fudge was a failure.  I had to try again, had to get it right.  I had to get it perfect.

     About a week later, I was going to see a friend of mine after a long-time-no-see, and we agreed to exchange goodies.  I thought it'd be a good opportunity to try the fudge again.  Her allergy to nuts made it even more appealing to go for it.  (I'm not much of a nut fan.)
     This time I was going to do it right.  A visit to the grocery store got me the holy evaporated milk, and I switched to a larger, wider pot, with a roomy 5 1/2 quart bowl.  I was going to beat this fudge.  Pun intended.
     Everything seemed to look better, even smell better.  I turned the burner about as high as I could stand to get the temperature high enough, fearing a possible overflow, but the bubbling stayed where it was supposed to.  Pouring it into the pan to harden, it tasted pretty much the same as before, but I definitely burned my tongue more.  Then the moment of truth came.  Still slightly warm on the bottom, but it had definitely solidified into a glorious, swirly slab of irresistible chocolate fudge.  Here, take a look.


     I couldn't get it out by inverting the pan as would have been simply marvelous, but cutting pieces out worked just fine.  I cut them into little cubes that would fit into mini-muffin papers and fit 24 of them into a re-used tissue-lined box from a certain confection shop in Pennsylvania.  Check it out.

Cute, no?  I could do this for a living.

Here you can see the (Valentine's Day themed) paper cradle.   It matched the box.

     I really hope I don't get any flack about showing the box, but I won't know if I did something wrong unless someone complains, right?  And yes, that's my name on the box.  The same name as the (Greek) company.  Thought it might add a little charm.
     So, I've conquered Wonka's nightmare, at least the beginning of it.  The boss level comes when you start gettin' fancy with the flavors and colors.  And I don't think grit alone will be enough for that challenge.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Granger Danger

Now that school's out and I can't stand to wake up any later than eight, I have no excuse not to blog. So, for the next few months, I can put all those English classes to use and share with everyone how I fill my surplus of time. And by Georgie, it had better be entertaining.

I'll begin with my latest creation: a hat. But not just any hat. Hermione's hat, from the sixth movie. It all started with that two-week trip to the east coast, during a certain visit in the Amish country. We'd stopped in Intercourse (tee hee) and were browsing the little knick-knack shops for purchasable goods when my parents notified me about a yarn store in the area. The Lancaster Yarn Shop. Just what I'd been hoping for. A quick pace brought me up a small flight of stairs into a cozy little store full of woolen skeins and hand-dyed hanks in just about every color nature has to offer. After an agonizing sight of the price of truly local hand-spun Amish yarns, I settled on a Brown Sheep Co. mohair/wool hank of about 4 oz. It was a splendid green, one I'd describe as a hilly pasture after a summer rain, complete with a rainbow and highland cows lazily grazing. As it seemed to me to be somewhat thinner than my usual yarns, it had to be made into something delicate and beautiful. I decided to make a hat out of it, a knit one, and as soon as I was home from the trip I set out to find such a pattern.
Google is a wonderful thing. A few keywords, and like man's best friend the search engine brought back what I was looking for.

Delicate, no? It was the perfect hat for this yarn, I reckoned. There was just one thing, one tiny thing....cables. I'd never done cables. I've knitted plenty of hats, (baby hats, panda hats), but they were all just that. Knit. Nothing spectacular, just knit, knit, knit. This involved cabling, or knitting stitches out of order. Needless, to say, it was intimidating...but I like a good challenge. I knitted half of the brim and was overwhelmed by other things demanding my attention, (school, dance practices, graduation), so I put off finishing it for a long time, but just a few days ago I picked it up again and finished it! Cabling wasn't as tough of an ordeal as I thought it would be, but it made knitting tighter, and therefore more difficult. Regardless of the obstacles, it turned out to be a pretty cute hat, and I even took a picture of it...

And you can find the pattern at this blog. I only made a few small changes: a K2, P2 brim instead of the K1, P1, (which is not like Hermione's hat, I know, but I like a stronger looking brim) and in her 4.5 errata round, instead of K6, K2tog, I wanted to finish the purling sections with K6, P2tog.
So, there you have it! A blog post from me with a cute hat pattern to boot. I should get out of school more often...