Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wordless Wednesday



Item of the day: Cute Bunny Studs

It won't be long before these sweet studs by meltemsem are mine. I just went on a bit of an Etsy shopping spree though... so they'll have to wait until the Paypal balance reaches positive values.
These darlings also come in a stand-up version. Too cute! Do check out this shop - meltemsem has some really great riveted pieces and this lovely rose you should see!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Science Byte

As I mentioned yesterday, today is Bunny Week. So let's talk about the science behind the rabbit!

Let's start with their taxonomy classification - this can tell us a lot about a creature. To remember the order of these classifications, use the mnemonic: King Peter Came Over For Great ... um ... Science. Right, that's it.

Kingdom - Animalia - tells us it's an animal, not a plant
Phylum - Vertebrata - tells us it's a vertebrate
Class - Mammalia - a mammal
Order - Lagomorpha
Family - Leporidae
Genus
Species

Different kinds of rabbits (from the hare to the cottontail) will have their own genus & species. The domesticated rabbit is considered to be Oryctolagus cuniculus.

The order lagomorpha contains only 2 families - the leporidae (hares & rabbits) & the ochotonidae (pikas - adorable little critters). A common misconception is that a rabbit is a rodent - not true. Rodents are in the order rodentia & are therefore about as distantly related to rabbits as we are (humans being in the order primates)! Of course, the "family tree" of all species is similar to a real tree & just as complicated. Not all the branches are going to be the same length. And so, 2 orders may be slightly closer together in relation than others (which is why there are more similarities between rodents & rabbits than between rabbits & humans).

So what are the differences between a rabbit & a rodent? First off, a rabbit has 4 incisors (front teeth) instead of only two - 2 smaller incisors are placed behind the first 2. Similar to rodents though, their incisors grow throughout their lifetime - so they gnaw on things to keep them filed. Rabbits are also herbivores whereas rodents will forage for meat as well as vegetation. Lastly, there are differences in the male anatomy I won't get into.

What about the difference between a rabbit & a hare (AKA jackrabbit)? First, hares bear their young above ground instead of in burrows - so they've adapted to this more risky lifestyle. They are born precocial - with fur & open eyes, unlike rabbits. They run extremely fast & have a leaner body to go with it. Most noticeable is the longer, more prominent ears of a hare.

You can tell rabbits have evolved as prey by their body shape - large hind legs to give them a rapid burst & erratic leaps to evade predators. Large eyes on the sides of their head for a more panoramic view. The large ears are thought to be an adaptation as well, to hear better I suppose - though the ears certainly provide some means of thermoregulation as well (particularly in the desert hare, where blood can cool off in the thin, long expanse of ear). And - you may have heard this one before - rabbits will eat some of their own poop ... in order to extract as many nutrients as they can from the tough, nutrient-poor grasses they eat. Of course, this is less true for a spoiled, fattened, house bunny.

And now it's time for a Public Service Announcement. While I'm the first to rave on what a wonderful pet a rabbit makes, they are NOT an ideal Easter present for a child. Rabbits must be taken with the same seriousness as a cat or dog - they live for just as long (well over 10 years if treated properly) & require the same amount of attention & care. Many pet store varieties are small - but some are not! The cute little baby bunny you got at Easter will soon be the size of a common house cat. So beware! Do your research before getting one of these magnificent animals!

Item of the day: Pom Pom Bunny

This little darling comes sitting in her very own flower pot. You can enjoy free shipping from mykobocek right now too!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mosaic Monday

Buns, buns, buns!

And Easter treats!

Item of the day: Rabbit Food Chain

Can you believe it? Next weekend is already Easter! Where has March gone?! In celebration, this week is bunny week on Ulixis Crafts! Most of my posts will center around my favourite little critters!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Recipe: Curried Coconut Rice

Whenever I'm alone for supper, I like to cook with ingredients Pat wouldn't eat - in this case, coconut milk. Although filling enough to be a main course as I had it, it could also easily serve as a side. I used hot curry powder, but the coconut milk really cancels out the bite - I could definitely have used a lot more without overpowering the dish.

Curried Coconut Rice

Ingredients:

1 tbsp butter
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 tsp curry powder
1 cup jasmine rice
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
bay leaf
1 small can of sliced water chestnuts
1/2 cup unsalted cashews

Methods:

1. Chop the onion & garlic. Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat & throw in the veggies. Fry the onion & garlic for a few minutes, until tender.

2. Add in the rice and curry powder.
As I mentioned above, I used hot curry powder - next time, I'll up it to 4 tsp though as I didn't find it spicy enough. Err on the side of caution though - start with 2 tsp & add more if you feel you need it.
Cook for a couple of minutes.

3. Stir in the liquids, salt & pepper & the bay leaf.
Bring to a boil.

4. Once boiling, add the water chestnuts. Reduce heat, cover & simmer until all the liquid is absorbed.

5. Meanwhile, toast the cashews lightly. To do so, simply throw them into a small frying pan over low heat, stirring occasionally. Toast them until they start to get a bit darker where they touch the pan.

6. Once the rice is done, serve topped with cashews.
Enjoy!

Item of the day: Falling Branch Leaf Bracelet

This handcrafted bracelet by AliBaliJewellery is gorgeous. Completely made of fine silver, this piece is sure to attract a lot of attention!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Five

This week flew by, even though I was all alone for most of it (and Pat still isn't back - hopefully today). Here's how I passed the time:
  1. I crafted: working on custom orders, my MSOE challenge, a necklace and some sketches/collages in my sketchbook.
  2. I bought and received (2 days later - I love living near the distributing centre for amazon.ca) 2 books on Wednesday: a Charley Harper colouring book & Humans, Nature & Birds by Wheye & Kennedy. Gorgeous books.
  3. Thursday I volunteered for Health Research Under the Microscope (4th year in a row). I had to get up super early to be there for 7:30 & help set up. I also helped with registration - a number of high schools in the surrounding area came with a select few students to learn about careers in science. I was also a mentor for the morning - I went around a few tables & talked about my "career" in science. It was a lot of fun!
  4. We had our very last class on Thursday. Now I have 2 weeks to write a 25 page essay (double-spaced & including references, so not too bad). I'm going to compare & contrast the synthetic smooth muscle cell & the myofibroblast.
  5. I fixed my lightbox & took a whole bunch of pictures of new items to list. But first I need to edit them...
I did list these tags though:

Item of the day: Bubble Lampshade

This fun lampshade by FiligreeCreations is a sure way to brighten up a room!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Inspiration: Charley Harper

Gallinule and Gator

While looking for a calendar in January, I came across one featuring the art of Charley Harper. I was immediately captivated & dropped all the other calendars I had been considering.
Red-Eyed Vireos

I love the clean, geometric designs & vibrant colours. I like the careful selection & controlled use of colour - the hard, straight lines contrasted with the softer clouds.
Western Tanager

His animals are charming (well, most of the time) - I especially love his birds.
Catnip

Many of his titles are a play on the subject - like this poor kitty losing some fur to a mischievous bird.
Shadow Dancers (Water Striders)

I find his work surprisingly realistic in its minimalistic style. The repetitive use of simple shapes is particularly pleasing.
Flamingo

Find out more about Charley Harper on his website, blog or Wikipedia. There's also an online shop here & another site to view original work. I ordered this book (An Illustrated Life) for myself (can't wait to get it) & I really want this poster...

Item of the day: Heart Creamer

This heart-shaped creamer with its matching ruffled dish by Misspottery is just too sweet!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ada Lovelace Day

Today is Ada Lovelace day!

WHO? Ada Lovelace is considered to be the world's first computer programmer - she wrote software for Charles Babbage's analytical machine, the first "computer." Unfortunately, the analytical machine was never completed, but her programs would still have worked. In fact, she was one of the first to see computers as more than just adding machines - envisioning that computers could even compose elaborate pieces of music one day.

So what? WHY does that give Ada a whole day to herself? Well... have you ever heard of Ada Lovelace? What about Henrietta Leavitt? Rosalind Franklin?

Probably not.

These women were all scientist & made major contributions to their fields (see above & below) - but did they get any recognition? Does anyone ever learn about them, except in passing reference to their male colleagues? Of course not, they were women!

So today is a day for recognizing women in science: a field where we're often ignored or unacknowledged - where a women's contribution is often attributed to her male colleagues' ideas - or a man's "interpretation" of her work is deemed most important.

We're important too, darn it!

Thankfully, "political correctness" is all the rage now - and gender equality falls within those boundaries. Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean women are getting paid the same amount as a man for doing the same job ... but it's getting better. Let's continue the positive trend - spread the word! Today is Ada Lovelace day!



Rosalind Franklin: her x-ray crystallography photographs were what clued Watson & Crick in that DNA was a double-stranded helix. They probably would never have figured out DNA's structure without it.

Henrietta Swan Leavitt: her work on the relationship between periodicity and luminosity of stars forever changed our view of the universe. Her variables allowed Edwin Hubble to measure distances in the universe & discover that other galaxies existed outside of ours (the Milky Way).

All 3 of these women died of cancer (and blood-letting in at least Ada's case) before their work was recognized.

Item of the day: Goldfish Bowls

These little goldfish bowls by montezumamudd are too cute!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Off to Montréal... (updated)

No, not me. Unfortunately. But Pat is. Lucky bum (sort of - he isn't exactly going for fun).
Monday morning Pat found out that CN needed him - this is the project he finished with 2 months ago (the project was more or less finished, but still on-going for support, with a reduced staff). He was needed in Montréal. Like 2 days ago.

A little short notice if you ask me.

Apparently some issue that was previously logged is now AN ISSUE. Since Pat worked on it, he should be able to help.

Patrick Lafond AP, to the rescue!
So he booked a flight & hotel, wrapped things up with his current project, got ready, packed & was out of here by 2:30 to catch a 4:30 flight out of Toronto. His current project lead expects him back by Friday (back at home that is since the project is in France), so he booked a Thursday evening flight back.... but who knows if he'll be able to catch it. It'll depend on how quickly he can work his magic. Though his co-worker was there on the weekend, Pat said he definitely wouldn't be doing the same. So I'll see him in 4 days at the latest... Sucks, but at least I'll get lots of crafting done!
UPDATE: I heard from Pat today - he's discovered that the problem isn't theirs (in the code) but is rather the company's issue. They've had the issue since before the weekend, but it took *my* expert to figure this out. So he may be home sooner than we thought - but they'll still want him to fix it, so we'll see.

Note:
* AP = analyst programmer
* pictures taken in Montréal, summer of 2007 - the only time I've been

Item of the day: House Pendant

I love miniatures - especially houses. This necklace by elukka is adorable!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mosaic Monday

Cherry Blossoms.

Item of the day: Recipe Card Box

I have recipes printed out all over the place - loose pages, folded book corners, a messy file folder. A sweet recipe card box - custom made by GiftsAndTalents - would be the perfect solution! Ask for one to match your kitchen today!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Pecan Scones

On Friday, Tia tweeted a challenge: make some scones. Of course I did. I modified a few recipes I found according to what I had. Since I've never made scones before (and I'm not so sure I've ever even eaten any...), I decided to make 1/2 the batch plain, 1/2 chocolate chip pecan. I've adjusted this recipe to make a whole batch of chocolate chip pecan scones. These tasted a lot like tea biscuits: light yet rich, almost crunchy on the outside & soft on the inside. They'd be very easy to modify too - slightly sweet for breakfast or dessert - or savoury to accompany a meal.

Chocolate Chip Pecan Scones

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/4 each chocolate chips & chopped pecans

Methods:

1. Preheat oven to 400F.

2. Mix the dry ingredients. Cut in the butter (I used my hands) until grainy.

3. Blend in the egg, vanilla & cream. Mix well, adding in a bit more cream or flour as needed, until you get a sticky dough.

4. Lightly flour your counter. Knead the dough for 30 seconds or so.

5. Gently knead in the nuts & chocolate chips.

6. Most recipes said to roll out the dough & cut into triangles (go for it if you want!). Since I already had the dough halved, I decided to separate the dough roughly into 12 equal parts (6 plain & 6 choc/pecan for me). Then I just rolled each piece & flattened it, shaping it into a triangle - about 1/2" thick.I topped off a couple with a whole pecan.

7. Place triangles onto parchment paper-covered cookies sheets.
8. Bake for 13-15 minutes.

Enjoy!

Options: Obviously, feel free to omit the chips & nuts. Or why not try your favourite nuts, dried fruit or berries, maybe some orange/lemon zest? You could also omit the sugar for a more savoury biscuit (use less cream though). You could then spice it up with some chopped or dried herbs, cheese, ham, bacon or anything you want! Let me know your favourite combination!