Welcome

My first name is Erika. Not Erica. Not Ericka. My last name is Hammerschmidt, which has thirteen letters, including five consonants in a row. People still find it easier to spell than my first name.

In college I majored in German and Spanish. I also accidentally minored in art, just by taking so many art classes for the fun of it. I grow my own vegetables. I cut my own hair, but even when a professional barber cuts it, it still sticks out on one side and in on the other. I’m an author, artist and speaker living in Minnesota. I work at Target as well as giving speeches on autism and writing books. I am married to a space alien named John Ricker, who, like me, is on the autism spectrum.

Below you will find my latest news. Add me to your bookmarks! I’m always up to something.

Also, check our calendar for upcoming events!

Candy Sushi!

Another snack at my birthday party! Candy sushi, made from a Rice Krispie bar mixture, wrapped around Twizzlers and Swedish Fish, and covered in Fruit Roll-Ups.

 

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Crystal Cake!

I made myself this cake for my birthday. It has four layers, poured one on top of the next and baked together: white, yellow, light chocolate and dark chocolate. (Since it’s rock-themed, I wanted it to look a bit like geological strata.)

After baking the cakes themselves, I coated the tops with melted chocolate chips, and set the crystals!

They are sugar crystals, created by dissolving tons of sugar in a bit of water on the stove

, adding food coloring, and letting it sit in bowls for a few days, until a crust of rock candy had formed over the surfaces of the bowls. (I had been hoping to make geodes, and I’d lined the bowls with lightly greased aluminum foil, but unfortunately nothing crystallized on the insides of them.)

Candle pics by Trini Tran, who attended my birthday party on the 6th. (I use votives and base 10 math for my birthday candles. 3 candles on one cake + 4 candles on the other cake = I am 34 years old.)

 

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Optical Illusion Rays

Here are some rays in the Wild Reef exhibit at the Shedd Aquarium.

Fun fact about me: I had been to the Shedd Aquarium once before, as a small child. I have only the vaguest memories of it. But to this day,  I still have lots of weird surreal dreams, which often come with a sense of being somehow connected to the Shedd Aquarium.

One recurring dream is about going around in some kind of museum with lots of exhibits behind glass, each with something strange and otherworldly in it. Visiting the Shedd Aquarium last week definitely brought back that feeling.

Another dream I often have involves fish inexplicably swimming around in the air.

It can’t have been caused by this exhibit, which was installed pretty recently. But this is a freaky optical illusion.

The rays are swimming in a shallow pool in the center of a darkened room. The pool is lit from within. So there is virtually no reflection on the surface of the water, which makes the water effectively invisible.  It looks as if the rays are swimming around in the air, an inch above dry sand.

It took me a while to figure out what was going on. If you look at the right angle, you can faintly see some reflections that tell you the water is there.

But there is no plaque or anything to explain the illusion. So, I’m pretty sure some people go to the Shedd Aquarium and come home thinking it has LEVITATING LAND RAYS.

 

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More Shedd Aquarium

A few more weird water critters. Moray eels seen from the front look WEEEEIRD.

 

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Shedd Aquarium

Some bizarre fish. I especially like the guy that swims around with his giant mouth open under his paddle-shaped nose.

 

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University of Chicago church windows

 

Every little stained glass window was different. This place is insane.

 

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Church at University of Chicago

 

 

The university chapel, which looks more like cathedrals in Europe.

 

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Chicago Uni

 

University of Chicago, which John is seriously considering for grad school.

Fascinating mixture of extravagant antique and bizarre modern architecture.

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Baha’i House of Worship, on outskirts of Chicago.

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Back from Chicago!

John took me to Chicago for the week of my birthday! It was really cool. I will be posting lots of pictures.

Here are a few from the time we spent walking around in parks and stuff. There is really weird cool outdoor art there!

 

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