"Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will."
George Bernard Shaw

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Loneliest Whale in the World

If you know me well (or even, probably just a little bit) you probably know that I'm scared of whales. I think they are the most creepy, scary, terrifying, massively unnerving creatures. I sometimes have nightmares that I'm in a circular pool of black water and there's whales circling around me and so close to me (because of the shallow water) that they're almost, but not quite, touching me as they swim just below the surface. That terrifies me just recounting it. (The last time my imagination gave me a rope ladder type of thing that I kept trying to climb out of the pool with. But it was wet and stretching out and I couldn't climb fast enough. But I appreciated my sleeping brain's efforts to rescue me.)  

That's might as well be Jonah (minus the snorkel gear...)

I typed in "whales" in google to find you a photo of how terrifying whales are, and immediately saw the one above. I thought "Hey, that's like the whale that ate Jonah and Pinnochio!" And to prove my point, here is the blurb that came from the website where this photo was found (I think the author is a pastor of some sort which makes this all the more funny): 

Advice for Swallowees from the BBC Website
Once inside, sit tight and try not to touch anything if at all possible. Escape from the belly of a whale, aside from simple survival, may be far more difficult as the majority of whales – especially the Baleen whales that rely on sieving minuscule marine life forms for their diet – have complex digestive systems. There is also the constant intake of seawater that results from their feeding processes. Unless someone is looking for you, or you have a very large cutting implement and a strong stomach, you may have to be satisfied with simply surviving until starvation takes you or good fortune saves the day.
If all else fails you might consider using pepper or a small fire to smoke your way out.

It should be known I blame both of those stories for my fear. And all the Free Willy movies. I'm pretty sure we saw at least one of those in a theater. How is anyone NOT terrified of them after watching them on a huge screen for an hour and a half? 

Did you know Killer Whales are the only whales that eat their cousins
(a certain type of dolphin)? Evil creatures.  (via)

Anyways, you're probably wondering about the loneliest whale in the world, and why I would care since that implies I have some sort of empathy towards a mammal that causes me much grief. It turns out that I'm SO empathetic (probably to the point of a character flaw at times) that I can even feel extremely sorry for whales. Thanks to a post on Facebook, I read an article about a whale whose voice is at such a high frequency (52 Hertz to be exact, which coincidentally, those clever scientists have also named him) that it actually repels other whales. 

It's frequency is equivalent to one of the lowest notes on a tuba (which creeps me out because then I feel like we would just normally be able to hear it in the water maybe!? Without science instruments!? No thanks. Their sounds make my skin crawl). So this poor guy (of an unknown species--maybe a hybrid of two whales, or the last/first of a new species?) has been tracked since 1992 (known of since about '89) and wanders the ocean alone. To make matters worse, not only does 52 Hertz scare off all other whales by his lack of effective communication, he follows a different migration route than everyone else! This guy can't get a break! 

So it makes me feel just awful that he's been alone his entire life, and will continue to be. He just swims and drifts along, calling out constantly and never hears a reply. I'm hoping that the fact that his voice is deepening a bit as he ages is a silver lining--perhaps he'll eventually hit the 15-25 hertz range that the other whales communicate within and find some friends in his golden years. Either that or I hope he has a very active imagination. 

For some more info: go here (particularly funny) and here.

And finally, even I found this photo to be hilarious, even though the article surrounding it is not at all, and actually quite sad. (I find them terrifying, but I don't support the hunting/killing of them.) 

Come on. That's funny. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Homemade Krispy Kreme Donuts

I found a recipe for homemade donuts that were supposed to be Krispy Kreme knockoffs quite some time ago. But making and glazing donuts is a fairly time-consuming project. And takes way too much time for breakfast unless I want to get up at 5a.m. (I do not). So instead I spent my entire morning/early afternoon making donuts today. 

The second rise. Look at the cute little donut holes!
The missing piece of the puzzle to make these a reality was a donut cutter. Like a cookie cutter, but for donuts. (You could also use two different size biscuit cutters, but I don't have time for that!). My mom-in-law got me one on the same birthday shopping trip that produced the pie crust cookie cutters

See the inner circle to punch out the hole? 
These were much thicker than the other half of the dough. Popped up nicely in the oil!
I fried the donuts at about 350 degrees for MAYBE 30 seconds each, and then Brian glazed them. 

Not a healthy snack.

But oh so delicious. 
And finally the finished product!

Donut holes!

It was definitely worth the time, and I'm glad I finally just broke down and made them once, but this is an "every once in awhile" recipe. Or special occasion type of thing. :) And the taste is actually pretty darn close to the original! Less vanilla in the glaze next time, but other than that, I'm not sure I could get any closer without having their secret recipe. And considering the closest store is in Kettering, these are the only ones we'll be having any time soon. :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Heaven is for Real

Look at that little boy's face!!! I want to pinch it!

This is one of the best books I've ever read. Worth every penny of the $16.99. And all 5 hours it took me to read its 154 little pages. Here's the description from the book's website (where I also got the photo): 

Heaven Is for Real is the true story of the four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn't know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear.
Colton said he met his miscarried sister, whom no one had told him about, and his great grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born, then shared impossible-to-know details about each. He describes the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how "reaaally big" God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit "shoots down power" from heaven to help us.
Told by the father, but often in Colton's own words, the disarmingly simple message is heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and be ready, there is a coming last battle.
Fact about me: I believe in ghosts, spirits, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, dinosaurs--things that half the population seem to believe in, while the other half stares as us like we're crazy and tries not to make sudden movements in our presence. What fun is life if you think we've got it all figured out, and that there are no more mysteries left in the universe? I'm a very practical person, very science-minded on a lot of issues, but I just think that sometimes there are things that can't be explained by anything that we have access to or know about today. I'm totally okay with this! 

Nessie is totally out there!! (via)
And, the paragraph above is why I don't watch movies like this Paranormal Activity. Why I can't even watch previews of it. Because I truly believe that stuff can and does happen. In the spirit of full disclosure I'll let you know that I was searching google for images of Paranormal Activity THE MOVIE to insert here and ended up with such creepy photos of the movie and other things that I quickly typed "kittens" just to get the images off the screen. And may or may not now have nightmares this evening. (I have a very active imagination.)

So it should come as no surprise then that I believe in God, and that there is a heaven, and found this to be an incredible, inspiring story. I want to read more things about heaven, and more books about the research behind out of body experiences during medical procedures. (People who reviewed the book have some really wonderful books out themselves!) 

Regardless of what you believe, this is a really funny little book. Colton is now about 11, but I wish I could have met him at age 4. What a precocious, intelligent child. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dream Room

So we did major cleaning this past weekend, and as I was using approximately 25 lint roller sheets to clean cat hair off the couch (that is not a joke or exaggeration), and a million paper towels to windex the glass top end tables and coffee table (that is an exaggeration) I got to thinking about what our next living room furniture will be like. Our grown up living room furniture. 

I hope it's this room!! 
We currently have everything from IKEA. Practically our entire place is from IKEA, every room. We love that place. It's perfect for what we need right now. It's functional and cheap and holds up really well. The problem is that some of the fabrics (like all the ones we purchased) just collect cat hair like crazy (and the fabric is black--a never again for sure!!). Plus, all the tables in the living room have glass tops.  I will NEVER have glass-top tables again either. Wow are those a pain to keep up with. You see every smudge. And when the glass part is inlaid into the top and can be removed, stuff gets stuck down under the top too. 

These are all things you find out from trial and error. I'm glad we tested it all out on IKEA furniture before investing in the room above that I love from Pottery Barn. Soft, big cushions are also a must. And I would say no shelves on the coffee table because they get dusty so fast, but the one above (and below!) is beautiful. 

Perfect height! (via)
Here's a lovely alternative without a shelf. (via)
What really intrigues me about this room is the little side table. 

Holds almost everything you need! (via)
I say almost because there isn't really room for a lamp. And I think it would probably ruin the quaintness of it anyway. I'm not sure what kind of lamp you'd put with this actually. Perhaps another big arm lamp like the one on the left arm of the sofa in the first picture? 

I think couches that go all the way to the floor make rooms look a little heavier. So I liked this one below a bit better with its open legs. 

It's also think it's a bit more modern but still plenty of fluffy pillows! (via)
And there you have it--what a cozy little room! Someday. :) 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tim Flach Animal Photography

This man is amazing. You'll want to click on all of these images to make them bigger. And then put them all over your walls. 

How do you make your photos look like paintings? 

Capture pure POWER?

Make me laugh out loud?

seductive bat
Transport me to a landscape that looks like it's out of a fantasy movie? 

Visualize shots like these before they become reality? 

Make a pig seem sad? 

Capture human-like emotion in a Husky's eyes?

Thank you to 2Photo RU [NSFW], Daily Violets, and Hemmy.net for the beautiful photos. 

Here's a link to Tim's website where he has wonderful galleries to look through. And lucky for us he also has two books! Check them out here

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Homemade Waffles

My brother's girlfriend, Steph, got me a breakfast/brunch cookbook a couple years ago, and I sat down to flip through it again earlier this week. We've been making pancakes and omelettes for dinner a lot lately and I was looking for some new recipes. I have always loved waffles (and prefer them to pancakes) but I don't think I've ever made them from scratch (Bisquick does not count as homemade. So sorry.). 


Here's the sad part of this story: I think I may have reached my butter limit. I know, I just let you know how it's my favorite thing, and put an ungodly amount of it in the butter cookies I made last week. But tonight was a little extreme. And in my defense, I think it's partly the cookbook's fault. It practically MADE me use all that butter. Here is what the beginning of the recipe said: 

"We give you three choices to prepare this recipe: 
4 tablespoons butter for a reduced-fat waffle; 
8 tablespoons for a classic light and fluffy waffle; 
or 16 tablespoons for the crunchiest, most delicious
waffle imaginable." 

Are you kidding me? Of course I wanted to eat the crunchiest, most delicious waffle imaginable. So I put 16 tablespoons, which translates into TWO WHOLE STICKS, into the batter. And there was so much butter it was MELTING OUT OF THE BATTER once it hit the waffle iron, if that's even possible. So for 20 minutes while I cooked these things, I watched butter crackle and pop and seep out the sides of the waffle iron. No actual BATTER ran out--just pure BUTTER. I've never seen anything like it. And, of course I put more butter on top of my heavenly waffles to eat them. And after enjoying two, and looking at all the coagulating butter on the stove and seepage through paper towels I hurried to lay down after I realized what was happening...it was a unanimous decision at the Fischer Coalition HQ that from now on we'll go for a "classic light and fluffy waffle" instead. Or maybe something in between, like 10 TBS.

Waffles apparently freeze well, so I wrapped them up and put them in the freezer like the recipe suggested. This morning, we put them in the toaster oven for a few minutes, and they were quite possibly even more delicious than the first time around!! Brian is calling them Meggos. :)  

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

We don't do much for Valentine's Day (or birthdays, anniversaries, etc these days really...would rather work on throwing all our money at student loans). So no exciting plans to share or mushy stories. :) But here are two more lovey dovey spreads from the album I'm working on for us. The first one is one of my favorites. Just a nice little quiet moment in the middle of our ceremony for just the two of us after pouring the sand. And the song by Eric Whitacre that Mary read is just beautiful. (I highly recommend you listen to the choral version of it.)

The second spread really means a lot to me as well. And even more so as I look over the past year at how much our church and small group have helped us grow as people and Christians. It's pretty exciting and it makes me even more excited to see what awesome things God has in store for our life together. There's three colors of sand: purple first and last, representing God as the foundation of our marriage; blue for me and green for Brian, alternating layers as equals in our marriage. (This vase currently sits high on top of our bookshelf, WAY out of reach of the curious kittens.)

Click to make the spreads bigger!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Gretchen and Russell

Not too long ago I shared with you the passing of both of my dad's cats, Tabby and Chuck, within about a month of each other right before the holidays. It was incredibly difficult for all of us, but obviously especially for my dad. We were hoping that he would get two new kittens right away, and last week he finally picked some out! Allow me to introduce Russell: 

"What is this thing??"
And Gretchen!

Exotic looking little thing. 
Both are about 6 months old--but believe me, still kittens! They're tiny little things. It's hard to tell in the picture of Gretchen above, but she has the strangest little face. Exotic is the nice way of putting it. "Alien-like" is the realistic way. Her eyes are so wide set!

And she has a bald spot. 
I'm sure she just has to grow into her head/ears. But I can't help but laugh when she looks at me head-on. It was also incredibly hard to get a picture of her. She is one crazy ball of energy. I couldn't believe it when dad said he got a tortoiseshell. That's three for this family so far! And coincidentally, she finally came out of her shell this week and has started running around like a maniac. I asked dad if he had ignored all my stories about this very independent breed over the past year and a half! He's in for quite a treat! :) 

Watching the birds outside
Russell is a sweetheart. He is also a big boy! He is about twice the size of Gretchen (though the tortoiseshell breed does seem to run small) but they're the same age. He's very mellow and just kind of purrs and relaxes a lot. After they ran around and played for about an hour they had to take a quick nap. But it was so cute because kitten naps are so hardcore when they're that young. And it's funny because mostly Russ looks like a grey striped tabby cat. You can really see the stripes below. But he has a brown/tan undercoat to him that makes him look a lot like Gretchen in low light. Dad said at night he can't tell them apart! 



She loves her brother! :)
All is right with the world again. :) 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Designing my Wedding Album

So some time ago (at the end of May according to the time tags on my documents) I decided I was going to start playing with our wedding photos in InDesign and see what happened. I wanted to make an album--specifically a Leather Craftsmen flush mount album. I was so excited, and almost a year after our wedding it was wonderful to look through all the photos again and from the point of view of a designer, and not just the bride. Before I knew it I had about 10 pages (20 sides) finished. I know some very talented designers (Exhibit A) but ultimately realized that when I saw my finished album and knew that I had created this for us, it would be a wonderful feeling. Which led to me bumbling through InDesign, having no idea if my files are set up correctly or if I'm doing the right things so that they're ready to print (I still have no idea), etc.

It was time to start researching Leather Craftsmen! And once I did, all my hopes and dreams just flew out the window. Because only professional designers are allowed to use them. FAIL. So I was really annoyed and just completely stopped working on any more pages. But 4 months later, Imagination for Sale was born! And Leather Craftsmen actually let me on their site to view pricing. That was quite an exciting day. I thought for sure they would reject me.

But the funny thing is, I was so busy making cards that I didn't have a spare second to even think about making an album. So I completely forgot about the project again until this morning, when I decided to take a look at some of the spreads I'd designed. Man was I surprised. It had been so long that it was literally like looking at it all for the first time again. (And this is super conceited, but I was kind of impressed with myself.) So now, it's back on! Full steam ahead! 

I don't know if I could ever do this on the side for other people. I have no idea if I would have the time/talent/know-how, etc. Or any clients interested in using my services! But for now, I'm just so happy to be able to play with our wedding photos and hopefully turn it into a book we'll cherish forever. 

Here's some spreads I've created thus far. Click on them to make them bigger. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I Hate Winter

It's depressing. It makes my brain produce too much melatonin, causing me to wonder if it's time for bed at 7pm. You're always achingly cold or being precipitated on by achingly cold snow, sleet and freezing rain. My heart palpitates when I have to drive on the ice (Legitimately. I've ended up sideways on the highway two years in a row now...). There never seem to be enough hours in the day. And certainly not enough daylight hours. And what's even more torturous is the fact that I have seen that my mornings are brighter, earlier (very slightly)...but when can I get more daylight in the evening? In a show of solidarity for the warmer months and a hope for some springtime in the near future, here are some photos of TULIPS from our wedding. My most favorite flower, and the epitome of spring. 

All photos by the amazingly talented Steph Carson
My beautiful bouquet Mom made. 
Pretty drooping tulips over the tables--exactly how I'd pictured it.

I still haven't found the cake topper I bought! Tulips were the perfect backup. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Butter Cookies

I love butter so much it should probably just become a label tag to use on my blog entries. These cookies use FIVE sticks of butter. What a dream come true. 
The awesomeness of this photos speaks for itself.

I started out creaming FIVE sticks of butter and one cup of sugar. 

I ate at least a spoonful of this and I'm not too proud to admit it. 

Then add a teaspoon of almond extract, then three cups of flour, then one egg, then two cups of flour, then one egg, then one cup of flour (that's a total of 6 cups of flour and 2 eggs). Make sure you mix after each addition of ingredients. (Isn't this the crappiest format for a recipe you've ever seen? I didn't intend to write it out like a normal recipe, a la Katie's blog, but if you need it written out that way I'll modify the post. :-P)

The resulting cookie dough looks like play dough. But is much more delicious.

This is my new favorite toy, a cookie press so nicely borrowed from Nicki for this project. Don't worry, I'll be getting my own soon. It seems kind of ludicrous that I haven't owned one or ever successfully operated one till now!

I never have any idea what the shape of the cookie will be based on the little disk. Thank goodness for online photo guides!! This one is what was used when I first tasted them, but I think this recipe will end up being used for many more cookie press projects in the future. :) 

My first sheet! I got the hang of it by the end of the tray. But once I started making strips of dough that went all the way across I realized I'd just be breaking them apart to get on a cooking rack and eat anyways! 

Then you add the finishing touches before baking: sprinkles and decorator sugar! 

These sprinkles make every cookie the best I've ever tasted. 

Next time I'll probably sprinkle a little white sugar (just a hint!) over top of the sprinkles before baking to sweeten it up and give the top a little extra crunch after coming out of the oven. 

Now the cookies are ready to pop in the oven at 375 for 9-11 minutes. I did more on the 9-10 minute side. I like softer cookies. Though honestly, if you're watching them carefully, you could go a full ten and they'd be a little crunchier (not a bad thing with these cookies! Especially if you want them for a morning treat with your coffee or in the evening with hot chocolate). We definitely liked these better the next day after they had a night to cool and firm up. So next time, I'm going for the 10-11 minute range.


One very important note: You really need to use a KitchenAid mixer for this recipe. I know! I'm sorry! But the dough is so thick it could legitimately break your hand mixer. So you can try your hand mixer, but you're probably going to need to mix in the last couple of cups of flour by hand. This recipe is definitely a winner and is going to be my go-to for holidays, special occasions, etc from now on. Enjoy! 

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