The Watermelon Radish

The Watermelon Radish
A Kid's Point of Food

Monday, January 27, 2014

My Summer/Winter Adventures in Australia

Happy New Year Everyone!

For the past two weeks, I was down in  beautiful Australia!  I was visiting two of my dearest friends who stayed with me last year.  My mom offered to fly with me but I just said, "Mom, I've got this."  She didn't hear from me much for two weeks. I stayed just outside of Melbourne, two hours exactly.  The Chessel's live in a small town called Undera, and the Kulatunga's in Shepparton which is only slightly bigger.  So, without further adieu, I would like to present to you some highlights from my trip Down Under...


           Being a food blogger, I felt an urge to photograph my first meal
           in the Australian hemisphere.  It was simple and consisted of a spinach and
           egg Fritata, some reasonably fresh fruit, and a few squashed Tater Tots.
           I recommend Qantas, they have good food, and their flight attendants are
           a bit sassy.

This is Diesel, the Chessels' family dog.  She's a Blue Heeler and 
extremely photogenic.  
My very first experience on a dairy farm was filled with fun,
laughter and the occasional scare gun.  A gun that kept the birds from pecking away at the hay, but it was only the noise (no bullet).  When I first heard it, my heart lurched, but after about three days I was used to it.
This is me, on my second night at the farm, holding on to the back of the Ute
 (which is like a pickup truck)
We went Kangaroo spotting, more like chasing, since we were rumbling through the bush like an angry beast.  It was a lot of fun, and I saw my first wild Kangaroo in Australia.
This is a wild Kangaroo at the Kyabram Fauna Park.  Imagine a giant zoo the size of a reserve, and then take away the bars.  The animals, or most of them, could roam free around the park.  I kept looking around for the Drop Bears, a vicious breed of Koala, that is, until they told me that there was no such thing as a Drop Bear.  The animal is a work of fiction to scare off tourists, 
and it looks like I fell for it.
This is a Tasmanian Devil at the Fauna Park.
I'll just keep emu-vin on.
Here we are on a paddle steamer on the Murray River.  This river is the second longest in Australia.  Smack in the middle of the river sits a port town called Echucha (echu-ca).  I learned a lot of historical facts on that tour.  A cool one was that when the bridge from New South Wales to Victoria was being built, six men fell in.  Five bodies were found, so one body is still in the foundation of the bridge.  We named it 'Dead Mans Bridge'.

This is quite possibly the best drink in the world.  Of course, it can only be found in Australia.  
Life just isn't fair, is it?
   Here I am on Boxing Day with the Chessels Family.  I had an amazing experience on the farm and a great time with them!  I was super sad to leave, but I was excited to go with the Kulatunga family to their house for the remainder of my trip.  Check out Diesel's hat, you have no idea how long it took to get that on her head.
 This is a beautiful sunset over the "large" ( population 7,000 ) town of Shepparton on my first night with the Kulatungas.  An awesome thing you can do at night there?  You can actually see the stars.

 On my first day with them, they took me to the Shepparton Chocolate Apple Factory.  Which is, in case you were wondering, the most adorable place in the world.  I got an apple that was covered in white chocolate and sprinkles.  Yum!

These are some plaques from a bakery in the small town of Tetura called Tetura Hot Bread.  This 
   bakery has broken some records for its award winning desserts.  
It was only natural that we stopped by...

This is a Honey Joy.  I didn't get to try it, but, my close source said that it was certainly a joyous munchie.  It is, essentially, cornflakes stuck together with honey and caramel.  
Sounds like honey heaven.

This is the Vanilla Slice, yet another Australian delicacy that the Americans don't have the guts to copy.  Shame on you because this might be the best sweet I've ever had.  The top is a layer of creamy icing, then there is a sweet and crunchy pastry, and in the center is a smooth vanilla custard. My mouth is watering.  This slice has won for the Tetura bakery four years in a row.  
Still not enough proof that this is the ultimate sweet treat?  
There were only two left out of a huge tray when we got to the bakery.

At the end of a long day, KidzTown was the perfect way to relax.  KidzTown is the largest playground I've ever seen, complete with a zip line, fifty different kinds of monkey bars, a huge slide and even a TeenTown.  We spent most of our time in Teen Town.  Above, you can see a giant swing, but some other highlights of the area were spinning cups.  
You sat in them and then they spun in circles at the strangest angles ever.  
Needless to say, I could barely walk for about five minutes afterwards.


Here we have one of my favorite dinners of the trip!  Our resident chef prepared a special Shri-Lanken curry chicken.  The chicken was amazing and came alive with spices, the fried rice was
  different from anything I'd ever had.  I loved the cultural aspect of the food and didn't hesitate to have a second helping of curry!


This is a river in the historical park Sovereign Hill in the town of Ballarat.  The park was all about the Gold Rush in Australia.  Everyone who worked at Sovereign Hill dressed in the clothing of the era.  We went to the Hope Bakery, which specializes in amazing Australian food that you can't get in America.  I had a Sausage Roll, and yes, it is just as amazing as it sounds.  We stopped by the Confectionery where they hand make the hard candies like saltwater taffie, we created colorful candles at the candle factory, and finally we stopped by the river.  Senara and I pounced on the first gold pans we found and began to sift through the the river rocks.  In the end, I came home with a vial of seven pieces.  I think I might need a few more to buy a car though. Maybe.
Here we have a beautiful butterfly in the butterfly house at the Melbourne Zoo.  Trust me when I say, you did not want this one to land on you.  It was as big as a hummingbird.
This is the logo for the hotel that I stayed at in Melbourne.  It literally took up an entire section of the city with its three buildings.  It was beautiful.  My favorite part was an infinity pool on the top floor that gave the swimmers a lovely view of the entire city.
Goodbye Australia, I'll miss you so much!
The land, scenery and experiences were amazing and I will never forget them.  But, the people that became my families for the two weeks I spent there were the best gift I could have ever wished for.  You will never leave my heart, and I left a part of me back in Australia with all of you.
I left some on the Ute whizzing through the bush, I left some beneath the tree playing Keiffer tag, I left some in the Dairy surrounded by cows and I left some in the river to grow with the trees on the banks.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

This I believe....

This I believe....

My name is Kellen, and I am fourteen years old.  Fourteen is a simple number, and it doesn’t account for much time  on this planet.  It might not even be enough time to develop a belief about the world.  But to me it is. I believe in the power of perseverance.  I believe in commitment.  I believe in picking your passion and dedicating yourself to it.  Following through with my actions is extremely important to me, and is a valuable asset in my life. When I began training to play tennis and improve my physical capabilities, I wasn’t as strong mentally or physically as I am now.  I didn’t believe in myself, or my ability to pull my way to the top of my physical wall.  I felt lost in a sea of the remains of hopes, and I had no idea how to pull myself out.  I was drowning beneath my fears, and my subconscious mind was dwelling in a pit of self conscious denial.  And I wanted out. My trainer once told me that I could do anything if I put my mind to it.  It was a tired old cliche, and I’d heard it a thousand times before.  Hearing it from him, under the circumstances that I wanted to be the best that I could be, made me want to persevere.  Now, each time I go to training, I have a new found love for what I do.  Once I knew that I could persevere through the hard times,  nothing seemed so bad. Out on the court, just my coach and I, surrounded by trees and empty benches, was when this belief truly took shape.  I didn’t see deserted white benches, I saw a busy stadium filled with loud noises and boisterous people.  In my mind, I needed to impress them, I wanted them to look at me and remember my name.  Each time I hit the ball I looked around, searching for something, searching for approval in their eyes.  It wasn’t there.  They weren’t there.  The only way to find their cheers and see the admiration and respect in their eyes, was to go find it.  No matter how tired I might be, no matter how much my bones ached, no matter how acutely I felt the burning in my thighs, I needed to persevere to get to those people.   My perseverance allowed me to push through tough times when tutoring children younger than I, extend myself to new heights when training, and exert myself more than I thought possible in tennis.  This belief has been extremely valuable to me, and everything that I stand for. Once I realized what I needed to do, there was only a starting point, not a finish.  My perseverance is one of a kind because it never leaves me.  I have to try as hard as I can, and accomplish the goals I’ve set.  Once I gained perseverance, I started living.  Whenever someone says the word ‘perseverance’, I am brought back to a thriving gym staring into my trainer’s thoughtful eyes, and I know I can go on. 

See you soon, (or write to you soon because I can't see you, or can I?)
-The Watermelon Radish

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Trail of Tears

Hello everyone!

Right now, at school we are learning about early American history.  Andrew Jackson, supposedly the best president, supposedly the worst.  I'm going to go with worst, because a good president wouldn't make over 8,000 American Indians walk from Georgia to Oklahoma in the middle of winter.
We were assigned to write a poem about somebody on the trail, so here's mine.  I called it 'Tiny Angel' and it is about an eight year old girl named Effie Oaks who was on the trail.



Tiny Angel
Sleep now, tiny angel
in the morning you shall wake
your calloused feet are tired,
your frame will never cease to shake
Dry your eyes now, tiny angel
you’ve carried on so long
this tyrant who does plague you
will be washed away by dawn
Hush now, tiny angel
your family had to leave
but they never wanted too,
you carry your wailing brother, in hopes that he won’t leave you too
Tearful, tiny angel
the crystals gather in your eyes
diamonds cascade down your cheeks,
you used to be so shy
Remember, tiny angel
and rest your fevered head
remember 1928 when the first one was found dead
Blossom, tiny angel
and continue to bloom
your tears water the thirsty soil
and strain to grow
fight him, tiny angel
fight the one revered
he holds you back with gossamer threads to never again break free
It’s almost over, tiny angel
and when you watch the others die
do you feel emotion, or have to seen too many cry
Burning, tiny angel
this fallen snow cuts deep
the thorns of bruises open wide and leave splashes of red against the snow
Avert your eyes, tiny angel
for you do not need to see, the chief collapse of sickness
the elder slumped against the tree
Singing, tiny angel
you raise your voice in song, wail above the howling wind
been singing for so long
Don’t give up, tiny angel
you know you’ll get there soon, or will they have to dig another grave
to lay your weightless form
You couldn’t, tiny angel
you couldn’t stay alive
a porcelain beauty, as human as you
responsible for this child’s death,

A tiny angel, in the snow





See everyone next post!
-The Watermelon Radish 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Laughter

         A family home should always be pulsating with laughter, and in this respect, my family shines with diversity.  Laughter is to us humans as a mouse is to a cat.  It is a reason to live, thrive and be happy.
         The laughter that echoes in my house is unique.  My grandmothers laugh is like a polite tinkling of bells clashing together to form a beautiful melody.  Grandma's laugh is the sound of a wedding day.
         My grandfathers laugh is choppy and fluctuates in rapid patterns.  Grandpa's laugh is waves crashing to the shore.
         For almost their entire lives, my grandparents have been sharing laughter.
         My dad's bright ivory teeth smile, and his deep chuckles fill up the room.  Dad's laugh is hard work and kneading the rich soil.
         My mother's laugh is light and airy, and you can tell just by hearing it, that she is happy.  Mom's laugh is shooting for the moon and snoozing on a star.
        My family's laughs are filled with emotion and flair, but mine might be the strangest of all.
         My laugh is the single drop of water that tumbles over the waterfalls and glints in the misty rainbow.  My laugh is untamed, like the wild tiger caged in the zoo.  My laugh gets higher and lower each second.  My laugh is the moments where black ebbs your vision and insanity makes your voice quaver.  My laugh is the moments hunched on the floor, unable to breathe, a mixture of laughs and sobs tearing through you.  My laugh is me, my laugh is free, and my laugh is forever changing.



Sunday, September 8, 2013

Chasing Monkeys


Chasing Monkeys


There is nothing in the world quite like those eyes.  Eyes veiled in a thick curtain of lashes, but wide, slightly watery, filled with admiration.  Then the smile, overflowing with all the joy that their little bodies can’t hold inside. It isn’t the way they look at you; it’s why.  Maybe because you helped them pick up a toppled truck, retrieve a stolen toy, or get one more Graham Cracker from the box.  Even the smallest favor can impact their world.  
  The moment I stepped onto the playground, my feet sank deeply into the spongy astro turf. I was transported back to a world of make-believe.  No longer a student, but their counselor.  The highest honor had been bestowed upon me: caring for children. Spotting my favorite camper brought a surge of love and pride to my chest.   Dylan was swinging from the monkey bars, his cheeks puffed out with the intense concentration it took to make it to the other side.  The moment he spotted me, his fingers released their grip.  Dylan hurdled from the monkey bars and sprinted towards me.  In the past days we had developed a deep personnel connection.  We understood each other.  His tiny fingers curled into my hand and the rush of sparks in my palm sent a smile to my face.  He jumped up and down, “Kewen,”  He could never seem to get my name right, so each time it was a new nickname.  “Kewen, we ride bikes now!”  He trudged forward, forcefully dragging me to the bikes.  Immediately, I saw him hop on the smaller of the two tricycles.  
We had established the bike arrangements on the first day.  
He had insisted, “I take the big bike!”  
I pleaded, “Dylan, I’m too big to fit on the little bike.”
His feet dragged across the ground as he pouted, “I’m faster on the big bike!”  Kneeling down so we were on the same level, I put an arm on his shoulder, “Dylan, I don’t think the bike is fast.  I think that you make it fast!  You’re like a superhero!  Like Flash!”  His chocolate brown eyes lit up like a tree on Christmas as he immediately switched bikes.
Though my legs were cramped between the wheels and the handle bars, I launched onto the winding bike path.  “Watch out!”  I narrowly avoided Graham as he stormed across the bike path after a group of screaming girls.  To my left, the rest of the kids played on the playground.  Isabella led the way across the bridge with her elaborate fabric wings, “Follow me to fairy land!”  
Hannah argued, “Why don’t you follow me?”
If a two year old could pull an exasperated face, this would be it.  
Isabella drawled, “Because I’m the leader so I go first.”

It really made you wish that you were their age again.
I snapped back to reality when Ms. Garcia called the children to the grassy area for group circle.  There was lots of pushing and shoving and deciding who was going to sit on whose lap.  All grass at our school is artificial, so it felt like stiff popsicle sticks on my legs.  “Criss cross apple sauce!”  Dylan made a bee line for me and plopped into my lap.  Though it was hard on my knee, from surgery, I could deal with it if it made him happy.
Our head coach stood in the middle of the circle, barking out explanations for the week to come. He gestured wildly with his hands, somewhat like a crazed gorilla.  Introducing the counselors and providing information about study trips was his main and only job.  Though he thought he did everything.  
The gym echoed with the sound of little feet jogging across the polished floor.  Thundering next to me like a playful puppy, was Dylan.  “I’m beating you Kewen!”  With his words I slowed my pace so that he was, in fact, beating me.  He raised his balled fists in triumph and ran to catch up with a friend.
“Kewen!”  I felt a tap on the back of my neck, and a tiny tickle of breath by my ear.  Spinning around on my scooter brought me face to face with Dylan, Jolie, Lochlann, Graham, Hannah, and Camille.  Camille jabbed a finger in my face, “Chase us.”  I tucked my legs underneath me so that I could lay across the scooter and propel myself after them.  “Alright, but I’ll give you a head start. I’m pretty fast!”  
Dylan yelled, “Not as fast as me!”
My hands paddled across the floor as I slithered after a group of screaming two year olds.  Alas, they turned at the last second and I slammed into the wall.  I was about to tag Dylan, but his smile stopped me in my tracks.  My cheek was throbbing from my collision with the wall, the muscles in my arms ached and burned, and I could feel the sweat at the nape of my neck.  Once I saw his smile, none of that mattered.  If I could keep him smiling like that forever, I would.  Soon, I was surrounded by dimples, bright teeth, flush faces, and rosy cheeks as they tackled me.  
Back on the playground, I was tired.  Hollis sprinted up to me, flanked by the rest of my campers.  She announced, “You’re the bad witch, and we are the princesses and princes.”  Before I could object, they took off.  I had already experienced their great stamina first hand, so I tried to leisurely jog after them.  I tagged bodies, fingers, legs, and heads.  It was no use, because they just kept going.  They didn’t seem to grasp the concept of freeze tag.
They were so ecstatic and their happiness seemed to be catching on.  My heart felt as though it was going to burst when the kids giggled and screamed upon seeing me.   They looked up to me, literally as well as emotionally.  It felt as though a warm honey glow was radiating from my body.  In that moment, I made a promise to myself and the kids.  I’d always be back to play with them, make them happy, and keep them smiling for as long as I could.




                                                                                                 That's Dylan 

See you soon!
The Watermelon Radish




Sunday, August 18, 2013

Easter Bunny Blues

Hey Everyone!
This is a story that I wrote for my writing class about growing up, and my teacher said that I did a great job on it.  I thought that I'd share it with you!





Easter Bunny Blues


  It dawned upon me that I was old just last spring.  Well, not really old, just old enough.  It happened on Easter Sunday.  There was always a family gathering on Easter, and as we pulled up I could see the brightly colored eggs littered across the yard.  That was the first sign.  In the past I never saw them, or at least I thought I didn’t.  Seeing the eggs concerned me, but I didn’t have much time to dwell upon it.  The younger children had begun to arrive.  They were all smiles, stuffed animals, spring colors, and Easter baskets.  I hadn’t brought mine.   
        I walked through the door,
      “Hey everyone!”   
        I was greeted with enthusiastic replies.  My little cousin Sadie who barely meets my knee announced,
“Kellen!  Look at what the Easter Bunny brought me!”   
       She was clutching a stuffed purple bunny.   
     “That’s great Sadie!” 
     “When’s the egg hunt?” She asked.  
      Smiling I said, “Looks like it’s just starting. Do you want some help?”   
     She ran out the door shouting, “Noooo!”   

    Following her outside, I stood and watched the kids flying through the yard, It was like a game of leap-frog.   Their pastel baskets were slowly filling up with every type of egg you could imagine.  Each time they emerged from the grass, they seemed to have added another egg to the pile wrapped in strands of wicker.  The sound of their giggles and cries of joy rang through my ears.   Even Striker the old black lab had a purple egg in his mouth.   I didn’t join them because I was too old to participate in their games.  I would if I could, but I couldn’t.   Maybe I was waiting for someone to hand me a basket and tell me,
“Go Kellen!  There’s still more eggs to be found!”   
     But they didn’t.

     From behind me, I heard Uncle Timo snort,  
    “Feeling a bit old there Kell?”
    My reply surprised even me, “Yeah.”  What had happened anyway?  Just two years ago I had been out there gallivanting in the spring sunshine with them.  Maybe I had broken some invisible barrier that separated me from them.  I remember thinking that I was just being paranoid, but then the adults started teasing me.  Uncle Chris pointed out,  
    “Maybe now we can start hiring you to play Santa at Christmas!”  Laughter.  
  “ Maybe you should go and hang out with Gigi in the kitchen, because you’re one of the oldies out here.”  More laughter.  
    “I’m really not that old, just too old to go collect eggs.”   
      I forced a smile.  An egg flew into my hands from an unknown source.   
     Uncle Chris smirked, “Here, take your last egg.  Treat it like an initiation into adulthood.”   
     I joked, “The moment I stepped out of the car I could see these eggs, the Easter Bunny didn’t hide them very well.”
He shrugged, “I got a late start this morning, but what’re you gonna do.”  I shuddered, he had just out and said that the Easter Bunny wasn’t real. 

    During lunch, I crept into the playroom and saw Sadie and cousin Vivian playing Barbies.  I crouched down with them,  
  “What’s going on girls?”   
   Vivian pointed at me, “Only kids are allowed in here, no adults!”   
    I sighed, “I’m a kid; I’m only 13!”   
   She shook her head, “ No old people allowed!  You probably never play with Barbies!”  
   Boy what an attitude.  I had and I loved playing with them. I still had a few boxes of them at home.  It was useless to argue; I was old in their eyes. 

   Later, at home, I was in my room.  I wasn’t that old.  I still went to birthday parties and played pretend.  I still hung out with my friends, just didn’t call it a playdate.  I still listened to music, just not princess lullabies.  I still had dreams, only mine were more about becoming a tennis star than a unicorn.  Maybe I was old.  The Easter bunny probably hated me now for not participating in his holiday,  but who was he to interfere with growing up?



Happy early Easter eveyone!!
Watermelon Radish

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The (Eventful) First Week of Summer

For the first week of summer my parents and I traveled to Seattle, Bellingham and Vernon.  This is a writing piece about our cousins lake house in Vernon; enjoy!


The lake is roughly 99 miles long, and much like a black hole you can’t decipher the beginning or the end.  Set back into the mossy bank is a large house.  It’s fresh white exterior is accented by graceful curves of balconies where one can gaze out over the glassy turquoise water.  It is known as Lake Okenagen, in Canada.  
A smooth rainbow of pastel rocks merges with algae as water meets the choppy shoreline.  It smells crisp and fresh, the odor of water wafting across towering trees.  Throughout the area, wildlife is abundant, it is a natural habitat providing solace for animals.  A solitary beaver, coat glossy and chocolate brown, wades through the cool shallows towards his refuge from the sweltering heat.  A majestic Blue Heron perches upon a slick rock, one thoughtful eye trained upon the shore, its lengthly neck craned in sheer excellence.  
A dock juts out across the crystal clear blue and green hues of the water.  Attached are two powerful jet-ski’s, smooth wake boards, and a boat.  This boat is the focus of my independent afternoon.  Being the only one in a hulking boat built for about twelve, adds to the peaceful serenity of my emotions.  Dashing down the blurring coast, it feels as though I’m growing wings and about to fly.  I’m addicted to the salty taste of the frigid droplets spraying against my face, temporarily blinding me of my surroundings.  I find myself in the middle of the lake, nobody around, save some deer on the shore and the summer lake house in the distance.  Faint sounds of a dog barking is the only noise that reaches my ears. Terror would have gripped my heart in that moment, but it is now a fleeting thought, my mind is vacant.  I cut the engine, its terrifying rumble like a beast poised to strike.  
Frothy waves cease to exist, and the water is still, like a pool of crystal shards waiting for life.  I focus on enjoying solitude in my mind.  The clear water seems to be doing a dance, building up until it peaks beside me.  After a short time, I replace my hands on the soft leather wheel, and steer the boat back to the jetty.  
A beautiful sunset is beginning.  I watch with wide hazel eyes, sinking slowly back onto a cracked log.  Vivid orange morphs with spectacular pinks and bloody reds to form a magnificent spectacle.  Soon the call for dinner jars me from my magical trance.  Much like family, the lake is hard to part with, but sometimes it must be done.  Words seem few and far between when I try to describe the emotions I feel when gazing at the water, illuminated by the sun.  The sheer beauty of life is brought back, and faith in humanity is restored.  
Wispy green grass is spongy underneath my bare feet, and the whispers of bugs are content in the meadow.  This property is a vision of bliss.  I grasp the railing and haul my tired body up the staircase, watching the darkness slowly envelope the dock, then the shore, and finally the shadows of the house.      

For the first night in Seattle, we joined my uncle, his wife, and their graduating daughter Sienna for dinner at Canlis.  The first thing that we enjoyed were the small bites (amuse) that arrived before the appetizers.  The first on the left was a pungent mushroom tart garnished by a delicate purple petal, it was light and sweet.  Next to it was a seaweed wrap filled with salmon mousse, cream cheese, and caviar.  The salmon wasn't overwhelming, so one could still enjoy the familiar creaminess of the cream cheese.  Finally on the far right was my favorite, a fried sphere.  The outside was crunchy, but the true surprise was on the inside.  The ball was filled with a cream/egg yolk mixture that exploded in your mouth, leaving behind a warm and comforting taste.  



My appetizer was the Canlis salad which had blue cheese, vinaigrette, and bacon.  It was much like a Cobb salad, and I enjoyed it very much. 



The main course that I chose was a filet mignon.  The rare steak sat upon potatoes, carrots, and a thick squash sauce.  The steak was very rich and juicy, and it was one of the best steaks I've ever had.  
The next stop was the Dale Chihuly museum to gaze at magnificent glass edifices.  There were things like paper thin glass vases modeled after Native American blankets.  There was a giant blue "ocean" filled with little glass fish and shells.  A whole room had a ceiling which was made of thousands of glass pieces, I took a minute long video walking through there.  There was also a giant glass world, which reminded me of Wonderland.  There were rickety wooden rowboats filled to the bursting with speckled glass balls, and a giant room swathed in glass flowers.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

My first story prompt segment

Hi Followers!  I've decided to try something new, every once in awhile I'll write a short story based off of a prompt and post that.  Here's my first try, enjoy!

Prompt:   You put your house on the market and, on the first day, a extremely old woman comes knocking on your door. She’s not interested in buying your house, though. Instead she tells you that this is the house she lived in as a child. The friendly mood suddenly changes when she reveals something terrible that took place in the house years ago.  Fair warning before reading: scary story!  Read this yourself before reading to little ones!


I clicked the final button, my house was officially on the market.  I felt as though the entire world sighed in relief.  I had put thousands into this one piece of property, quenching the peculiar smell wafting up from the basement, fixed the broken floorboards, and removed the strange stains from the plaster walls.  I  admit, I would miss the sagging turrets, oak doors, stained glass windows, and adorably cozy rooms.  Now, all I had to do was wait for somebody to take interest in this old Victorian manor.  I didn't have to wait long because only minutes after putting my house on the market I heard a knock on my front door.  I smiled, smoothing my short pink summer dress and hurrying to the door.  "Just a minute!"  I turned the knob and welcomed a tiny old woman into the foyer.  She had crystal clear blue eyes that were magnified by giant tortoise shell glasses.  Her nose was reminiscent of an upturned button.  Her thin lips were twisted into an awkward smile, and her arthritis ridden hands were curled around a knobby cane.  I showed her the velvet couch and she patted it like an old friend before sitting down.  I sat opposite her, "Hello, I'm Rachel Johnson!"  She shook my hand slowly before answering in a raspy voice, "My name is Ruth Alderly, pleased to finally meet you Rachel."  I knit my eyebrows together, she had waited to finally meet me?  She stared at the walls, "It hasn't changed a bit.  Not a speck of dust out of place."  I stared at her, "Excuse me for being so forward but, how do you know all this about my house?"  She shook her head and said, "The transaction was done through a lawyer, but do you remember when you bought this house?"  She must have seen the flash of recognition in my eyes because she muttered, "I couldn't stand to live here anymore.  I could hear the souls through the floor, they were calling me.  I couldn't stand it."  I stared at her, she expected me to understand what she had just said?  I stammered, "What souls?"  She took a wheezy breath, "You can't sell this house, another family shouldn't have to deal with it.  This house needs to be destroyed, the entire lot should be leveled. Please, you have to listen to me!"  Her eyes were wild, her hands worked into a frenzy while she was talking.  Whatever this old woman was trying to tell me, I wasn't getting it.  I laughed nervously, "Look, Ruth, I have no idea what's going on here. I 'm just trying to sell this house."  She spoke slowly, as though she was explaining something to a child.  

"I used to live in this house with my family growing up.  It was a seemingly perfect house for a working mother and father, and their twin children.  I had a twin sister named Rosaline.  We were fraternal twins.  I had the long bouncy blond curls, wide blue eyes, and obsession with flowers and dolls.  Rosaline was always gloomy with dark brown hair that fell down her back, always glaring, obsessed with books and blood. 







 Our parents were always working, but on the rare occasions that they were home, it was obvious that I was the favorite child.  Rosaline began collecting cheerful birds, mice, squirrels and sometimes stray dogs or cats.  After many days of keeping them in her room for company, she would suddenly turn on them.  I would hear the yelling fits from my room across the hall, she would be screaming at them and then their whimpering would end.  I would always see her stalking out of her room, leaving behind a large knife, and taking their carcasses to the basement.  Rosaline was still the best sister to me, I reasoned that every child needed a hobby.  She threatened terrible things if I told mother and father, so I kept it a secret.  The smell in the basement got worse.  I think it was the one year anniversary of the day we moved into the house that father went down to the basement and discovered the dead animals.  He was furious, and scared.  Scared of the creature that his beautiful daughter had turned out to be.  It wasn't long before he took out the dusty old phone book and looked up a number on the very last page.  I remember the day they came to take her to the asylum, she was sitting in her turret room, staring out the window into the sunny sky, shaking.  I sat down with her, putting an arm on her shoulder.  She stared into my eyes, "Please don't let them take me Ruth, don't let them hurt me Ruth.  Please.  It isn't my fault Ruth.  Please don't let them take me."  I hugged her to me, mindlessly promising, "I won't, I swear Rose."  Obviously, I couldn't keep that promise.  Minutes later, they came into her room, their false smiles still haunt me today.  They told Rosaline that they had a sweater for her to wear instead of her threadbare dress, and she put it on.  I'll never forget her cries as she realized that she was in a straight jacket.  I struggled, held by my parents, while they loaded her into the white van marked with the red asylum symbol.  She glared at me then, "Ruth you promised.  I'm not crazy!  I'll make you pay Ruth, I'll make you all pay."  Then they shut her into the back, and I could only watch as they drove down the lane. Her face was twisted in agony as she cried out for her parents to save her.  At night I would lay awake, staring out the hallway into her empty room.  I  thought over all of the terrible things I could envision them doing to her.  I could see her tiny body convulsing under the pressure of electro shock therapy.  Her hands restrained so that she couldn't kill herself.  
By then, we had bought a television for the family room.  One night, about two months after committing her to the mental facility, we were all piled on the couch.  A fire was going in the hearth, and I was cuddled up to my mother.  My father flipped the channel and we stared in shock as the news channel showed us a shot of the mental hospital.  The caption below read, 'Rosaline Alderly escaped from Asylum just minutes ago'.  We stared at the camera shots of her empty room and the broken window.  Suddenly, we heard the front door creak open.  Father jumped up, clutching the remote.  A figure came into view.  Rosaline was a forgotten husk of the person she used to be, her brown hair was scraggly, her head was tilted to the side, her dark eyes were crazed, and her hospital gown hung in tatters around her thin frame.  A long, sharp butchers knife was clutched in her pale hand.  Mother screamed loudly, and I shrunk back against the far wall.  Father held out his hands, "Rose!  You're back!  We missed you so much!"  She smiled wickedly, "Did you father?  Did you really?  That isn't what they told me at the asylum.  They said that you were better off without me.  I know that you hate me, that you sent me away because you liked her better.  But that ends now."  She pointed an accusing finger at me, "You promised, and you let them take me.  You stole mother and father from me.  And now I'm back.  How do you feel about that oh great and privileged Ruth?"  I began to cry, not knowing what to say.  Mother was crying as well murmuring, "All we ever did was try and love you."  Rosaline shook her head, "You didn't do a very good job with that, did you?"  Mother put an arm around me.  Rosaline stalked towards father, cleaver in hand.  He flung the remote at her, stepping back against the wall.  Mother scolded, "Harold!  Don't hurt her!"  Rosaline moved closer and swung her blade.  It sliced his neck and deep red blood splattered against the wall.  That's where those stains came from.  He wasn't quite dead yet, so she used the knife to carve a chunk out of his chest.  More blood spilled out, along with some of his entrails.  She picked up his heart, "Now I finally get to hold fathers heart!  Now do you love me father?  Answer me!"  He was dead, mother and I knew that, but my sister didn't seem to.  She began to wildly chop at his body until you couldn't recognize any part of it.  My mother turned to me, "Run Ruth!"  I did.  I ran up the staircase, waiting at the top so that I could observe the gruesome scene in the living room.  Mother pleaded, "Why Rosy? We love you!  Don't kill me too!  It wasn't my decision!"  Rosaline shook her head and looked down, "You're right mother."  Mother moved to hug my sister and I screamed, "No!  Mom!"  It was too late.  I saw their bodies meet in a hug, and then the knife impale my mothers body.  Blood soaked her dress, and she slumped against my twin.  Rosaline turned to me, "And now for you.  You promised.  You stole my dream, you blinded me with candy and treats when all I really wanted was to be loved. By you."  I began to cry, both my parents were dead.  She began walking up the stairs towards me.  I saw the sinister glint in her eyes, and the glint of the knife in her hands.  I screamed, "Rosaline no!"  She came closer, giving me a tortured smile.  When she was close enough, I pushed at her blindly.  I felt the sharp pain of a deep cut to my forearm, but heard her cry out as she crashed backwards down the stairs through the floor and down into the depths of the basement.  I forgot momentarily about my arm and sprinted to the basement door to push it closed.  I saw her pale hand curled around the door frame, trying to keep it open.  I could hear her voice, "Ruth, let me out!  Let me out!"  I yelled back, "No!  You'll tear me apart!"  I slammed the door shut and locked it, haphazardly running from the house."






She finished telling the story and I was curled against the arm of my chair.  It all made sense now.  The nasty smell in the basement was from the dead animals, dead bodies of Ruth and Rosaline's parents, and Rosaline herself.  The stains on the wall were blood from the horrific murders committed in this very room.  The broken floor boards had been from Rosaline's doomed fall to the basement.  I nodded slowly and helped Ruth get up.  She opened the door and I followed her out.  She began to walk down the drive, taking the For Sale sign with her as she went.   

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Cupcake Wars; Shakespeare Style

Greetings friends and followers!  I bring news of  the Shakespearean cupcake wars, where each young soul is assigned a category from The Tempest.  They are then given the challenge to create a  handsome cupcake deserving a reward!  Your very own Watermelon Radish partook in this affair, and was assigned the topic of Ferdinand.  Shall we see how she represents the handsome hero of our own bards famous play?

I was given the topic of Ferdinand the prince, the daring new love of Miranda.  "'tis fair morning when you are by at night,"  These soft spoken words of Ferdinand convey his love for Miranda.  The moment he happened upon her nestled deeply into the island, he knew he had found an angel.  To represent the deep new love of Ferdinand and Miranda, the cake is sweet red velvet.  Since Ferdinand is a prince, rich chocolate frosting coats the top of the cake to symbolize his monetary wealth.  The silver wrapper represents the many tears he cried for the loss of his father in the storm and inevitable shipwreck.  The delicate white chocolate flowers on top illustrate his growing love for the exotic island.

It all began with a box of red velvet cupcake mix, because that seemed the best to me.  I had the help of my grandparents caregiver, and my friend, Brianna.  She bakes a lot, and gave me some helpful tips.  Instead of oil, we used butter to make the cake moist.  When I opened the box, the mix was brown.  I was, naturally, very confused.  Red Velvet cake should be true to its name, and be red right?  Brianna assured me that when we began to mix the cake, it would turn red.  That was a relief, I really hate chocolate cake!


  

I definitely made sure that the batter tasted just fine before we baked the cakes in the oven, and I might have tried the frosting (just to be sure that it was good!).  Next up where the "delicate white chocolate flowers" that I spoke about in my speech.  It definitely wasn't delicate trying to make them.  My mom had been experimenting Friday night when I wasn't home, and I'm positive that I wouldn't have been able to make them if she didn't.  I had done some research in a cooking book (given to me by my friend Maya) and decided that using Wilton's melting chocolate would be the best.  The best way to do this, was by using a lot of plastic spoons.  When I got home on Saturday, we immediately got to work with the white chocolate.  After dipping each spoon in the newly melted chocolate, we stuck them in the fridge and waited for the chocolate to harden.  After they did, we took them out and began attempting to peel the petals off of the spoons.  My mom explained to me that you had to bend the plastic so that the chocolate started to peel off, but not to break the spoon.  This sounded easy at first, but not as easy when shards of plastic were flying around the room at alarming rates.  You have never felt frustration, until you have tried this.  Some spoons worked perfectly well, and led me to believe that the next spoon wouldn't give me any trouble.  So I proceeded to break the spoon.  After many trials, complete flowers were finished.



Once we had set our our many tools of the trade, we decided that it was time to prepare the actual cupcakes.


The rich chocolate frosting was lovingly spread across the top of the cupcake, and my fingers (yummy). I had to be very gentle, or else the cake would lift up and leave gaping holes of red.  After the chocolate was spread as thick as we dared, the flowers were attached to the cupcake.  We attached the flowers by spreading a thin coat of chocolate on the bottom.  Then we squirted a perfectly textured dab of pink in the center of the Lilly, and then added yellow sprinkles.  The cupcake was complete!




Everyone in my family enjoyed them, including my grandparents.  I felt very touched by these comments because my grandpa doesn't ever eat cake.  My mom and dad shared one, and I had the last. It tasted perfect!  I loved the moist cake, and the chocolaty frosting!


I guess that all of that hard work payed off, because yesterday at school we heard the winners of the cupcake wars!  I was one of the winners in my class!  The other winner was my friend Maya.  I had so much fun, even though all the cupcakes were good!








Sunday, April 21, 2013

Duffs Cake Mix and Sushi

All of my friends have been talking about Duffs, and posting endless streams of photos.  On more than one occasion, it had peaked my curiosity.  I did not expect, after getting in the car with my friend
Eliza and her mother Ellie, to be told that we were going to decorate our own cake.  
The bakery smelled like icing, sugar and candy.  We were handed a clipboard filled with options for the genetic makeup of our cake.  We had originally thought that we were going to make an Avengers themed cake, because that is our favorite movie.  After seeing what they had to offer, we realized that a cake with such a complicated theme would be extra hard to create.  So we were left to think about what we wanted.  Many ideas were thrown around, but none made us overly exited.  At that moment 
I was reminded of something that my godmother Lynn made, a giant piece of sushi with real fish.  She had referred to it as a sushi cake.  So, why couldn't we do that, but without the fish?
Eliza and Ellie loved my idea and we began plans for our cake.  It would be made up of vanilla cake, and the frosting would also be vanilla.  The outside would be built of white fondant.  Fondant is thick creamy sugar paste.  You may be thinking, sushi isn't white.  Ah, but the rice is!  Our amazing helper, who was extremely nice to us (let's call him Alex), cut large slices of black fondant and wrapped them around the sides so it began to resemble a sushi roll.
We were really getting into it, snatching pieces of fondant and sugar, then moving our newly clothed cake to our table.  We were each given another large piece of white fondant by Alex and we proceeded to learn how to stick fondant to fondant.  Fondant is an extremely sticky material to work with, especially when your hands are wet.  Soon, there was a circle of water on our cake, leaving a lopsided circle in the middle for fish.  After about a half hour the entire wet area was covered with over sized "rice" grains.  The fondant "rice" began to harden and we began working on the next area of the sushi.  The avocado and the salmon, only the most important parts!
I cut cubes out of my fondant and set them down on the table, wondering how I was going to get them orange.  Eliza had the same problem after cutting triangular slices of "avocado" out of her fondant.  Alex pointed us to the dye rack, the only part he forgot to point out were the gloves.  Only a minor detail right?  No.  I still look like Snooki gave my hands a terrible spray tan, and Eliza's hands have green spots.  But, back to the story!





 I grabbed the dye bottle labeled orange while Eliza picked up yellow and green.  I tried squeezing the orange, expecting it to come out like liquid, but it was actually colorful paste.  I did the only thing I could think of, smashing the fondant cubes between my hands until they turned as Orange as the bottle.  I also helped Eliza with mixing green and yellow, then molding them together.  I stuck the orange cubes to the clear circle with water and then went around each one with orange butter cream frosting.  To top off the salmon look, I sprinkled sparkly orange sugar on the icing to give them impression of salmon roe.  I know what you're thinking, I'm so full of good ideas, right?  Eliza did the same with the avocado, using green frosting.  
The cake looked heavenly, I didn't know whether to continue working on it or take a giant bite out of the side.  I obviously didn't do the latter.  Then we sprinkled the sides with brown granules of sugar that looked like sesame seeds.  Finally, we added some green grass peeking out from underneath as a garnish.  It turned out amazing, better than we ever could have hoped.  It was our baby!




I tried the cake with Eliza that night, it was so good!  I love how the vanilla cake compliments the sweetness of the butter cream and the fondant.  It might be the best cake I've ever had!  If you'd like to check out our cake on instagram go to @DuffsCakeMix and click on the picture of the sushi cake!  It has over 850 likes, last time I checked and over 33 comments!  I feel so accomplished.  Please go there, it is so fun!



Bye, 
See you soon,
The Watermelon Radish