Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Artist of the Week: Reflections

This week’s artist is Nate in recognition of his achievements in the Reflections program with a bit of a shout out for Meryl’s niece Sorena.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Every year the national PTA organization, through the schools, sponsors an art competition called Reflections. A theme is announced and students can enter in any or all of five categories: dance, literature, music, photography and visual arts. The categories are further broken down into age groups: kindergarten through second grade, third through fifth, middle school and finally high school. I had been aware of the program, but none of my children had been particularly interested until this year. Nate’s piano teacher has a composition camp in the summer and she brought up this year’s theme “My Favorite Place” as a starting point for her students. Nate was inspired and composed “Laser Quest.”

When the deadline loomed for submissions in Reflections he was still game. So we made a quick and dirty recording using the cheap microphone that was included with my computer and I burned it on a CD in both wav file and as an MP3. I dropped it off at the school with a clear photocopy of the score and the filled submission form.

Much to our delight Nate was notified in December that he was the first place winner in music for his age division (K-2) at our school. His packet was then being forwarded to the county level. He was invited to attend a county reception on January 27 and a school reception in late February.

This was great news, but it initially was problematic with our travel plans for the wedding I wrote about yesterday. Originally we planned to drive up Saturday, leave the kids with the Grandparents on Sunday while Larry and I go to the wedding and then all head back down on Monday. If we were going to attend the reception, this would not work.

Larry and I mulled it over when we hit upon the idea of his mom and step dad coming down on Saturday while we flew out Sunday. We could go to the reception with the added bonus of Grandma and Grandpa coming too.

On the Tuesday last week I got a call from the county PTA rep, it turns out that Nate’s entry made the cut and was going onto the next level. Normally we would not find out until the reception, but she was having problems copying the disk and wanted to know if I had another copy. This of course was just after I had dropped off my computer for repairs. I wouldn’t be getting it back until Wednesday and the material was due Friday. After a bit of back and forth it turned out that first CD player the rep tried was too old, but that her daughters had no problems with it. I didn’t have to come up with a new copy after all. But I was now privy to some exciting information!

The reception was well run, well except for the fact that Nate spaced while waiting on stage to receive his certificate for getting first place in his school. Larry figured out what happened and was able to send Nate up to get it.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

This is Nate checking out his certificate of acheivement.

Then it was time to announce the winners on the county level. Nate indeed was the overall winner for Primary (aka K-2) Music in the county. This time Nate was more on the ball and I was able to get a picture of him receiving his certificate and ribbon.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Meryl was seated near us with Sorena and her mother and they all congratulated Mr. Nate and admired his ribbon.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Then we found out that Sorena got third in the county for Middle School Music! I was very impressed with both kids. Nate didn’t have any competition at the school level, but I’m sure Sorena did since she is in the center based gifted middle school. Then for both to place at the county level is amazing because there are 58,000 students in the county. Sorena may have only placed third, but she is young for her age group and I think the competition gets a bit stiffer in the older age groups.

So here are our two winners:

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

As Meryl observed they probably had the biggest cheering section at the ceremony, with a combined total ten people cheering each one on.

At the end they organizers requested that the county winners stay behind for a big group photo.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

The next shindig is at the end of February and we are all looking forward to see what happens.

Oh and as an interesting side note, all of the PTA officers at the school were very impressed with Nate’s submission. They really enjoyed it and according to one person I spoke with, it was remarkable because he had scored the piece. It turns out most kids don’t submit a score with their musical composition. This could bode well for Nate.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Flying On A Jet Airplane

This weekend Larry and I got away for the weekend. A very good friend of his was getting married and the wedding was in Manhattan.

The whole family was invited, but we decided that it was just going to be the two of us, alone together in the big apple. I love my children, but weddings are much more fun without them and I really didn’t want to buy six plane tickets, two was enough. Larry’s mother and step dad were kind enough to stay with the kids while we went to the wedding (they also got to go to a special reception that I’ll tell you about tomorrow).

Sunday morning we left bright and early. We had a morning flight that would get us in early enough to settle in our hotel and get ready for the 5:00 pm nuptials.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
Our hotel was quite fancy. At Larry’s suggestion we tried Hotwire and I totally scored. We ended up at the Millianium UN Plaza at half the normal rate! The room had a fabulous view of the East River, Douglas MacArthur Park, Roosevelt Island, a corner of the UN,

Trump World Tower (which dominated our view) and the Citigroup building.

The wedding was down by Union Square at the Manhattan Penthouse. It too had a glorious view of the city.

NYC at night
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

The guest list was small, less than a hundred, which in my opinion makes for a nicer party. We had a great time reconnecting with people we hadn’t seen in years. One of the funniest moments happened late in the night. At one point somebody noticed that snow had started to fall. Big fat flakes were eddying by the picture windows that lined the wall. A half dozen or so of the bride’s friends were from Southern California and apparently this was their first snowstorm. A gaggle of thirty year old women rushed to the windows and transformed in a shrieking mob of teen aged girls. It was very loud and downright comical.

The next morning Larry and I breakfasted at a classic New York coffee shop. We had both had big platters of scrambled eggs, sausages, home fries with a big stack of toast. In a few hours we were meeting up with the newly weds and a few others for brunch at a vegan restaurant and we needed to fortify ourselves. And all I’ll say about the vegan place was that it was exactly as I feared. I don’t like beans and every other time I’ve had a vegan meal I end up feeling even hungrier a half hour later. I can deal with lacto vegetarian food, some of it is quite good, but I don’t care for a vegan diet. I’m an omnivore and I very happy to be that way.

Then it was home again to spring the dogs and let the grandparents wing their way home.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Almond Butter Cookies

Last week I wanted to make cookies, but none of my old standbys. I wanted to try something new, so I pulled out my battered Cooky Book and started to leaf through it. Ginger Creams caught my eye followed by Chocolate Orange Puffs. I seriously considered making the puffs (a sort of chocolate cream filled puff), but in the end I decided they were too fussy for last minute baking. Then my eye wandered down the page and I noticed Almond Butter Cookies.

They are simple, I had all the ingredients and they just plain sounded good.
Almond Butter Cookies

1 cup butter
½ cup sugar
1 cup finely chopped almonds (don’t remove skins)*
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour

Heat the oven to 350 (mod.). Cream butter and sugar together. Stir in almonds and vanilla. Measure flour by dipping method or by sifting. Blend in flour with pastry blender. Form in small (scant teaspoonfuls). Place on ungreased baking sheet. Flatten with bottom of a greased glass dipped in sugar. Bake 9 to 10 min., or until slightly browned. Makes about 6 doz. Cookies.
*I use almond meal/flour, it’s always a big mess when I chop my own almonds.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Rebecca had lots of fun helping me smash the cookies flat. The cookies themselves were (they are all gone now) very tasty and reminded me of shortbread. The only problem was they didn’t taste all that almondy. Next time I’ll use 1 tsp of vanilla and ½ tsp of almond flavoring and see how they taste. Otherwise it’s a good cookie and everybody liked them.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Thursday Three: Odd Duck

It’s Thursday and this week Terry wants to know about our individual idiosyncrasies that make us all unique and oh so entertaining.
How peculiar!

After my previous inquiry regarding any readers who might have a crumbling-crackers-in-soup habit, it seemed that there was sufficient interest in other sorts of bizarre behaviors to merit their inclusion in this week’s “My, Aren’t YOU Odd!” Edition of the Axis of Weevil Thursday Three!

As always, we ask a series of three questions and expect you to answer them in as forthright and expeditious a manner as possible, although I do want to remind readers in other time zones or hemispheres that the questions do not necessarily have to be answered on Thursday. BUT, do please either leave your answers below, or a linky-link to your very own blog as you ponder the following:

1) Do you have any peculiar rules about the foods you eat? Not stuff like religious dietary restrictions, but stuff like having to have the crusts cut off your PB&J sandwiches, not having the peas touching the carrots, having to eat foods in a particular order--stuff like that.

2) What about your personal grooming? Do you have a particular way of brushing your teeth? Do you have to always put on your left sock and shoe, then the right? Tell us please!

3) Have you ever embarrassed yourself with the public display of any of your peculiar habits? Details appreciated, of course!

Now then, go off and get your lucky keyboard, turn around once, tap your head, and answer the questions and let’s see just how odd you are.

1) I don’t really have much in the way of food rules. Generally it has to look appetizing (I have a pretty broad definition for that) and smell good, though I do like kimchi and that pretty much fails on both counts. I had a co-worker whose mother had a separate fridge for kimchi so it wouldn’t stink up all the other food stuffs.

However, there are foods I won’t eat. I don’t eat cilantro, because I’m part of that small percentage of people to whom cilantro tastes soapy. I try to avoid mushrooms for textural reasons, but I will cook with them because they impart a nice flavor. I just try not to chop them too fine and I fish out the bits on my plate. I will eat them to be polite. I don’t like nuts in baked goods and chocolate, though in a good chocolate turtle, the pecan is acceptable. I used to not eat raw tomatoes, again because of the texture, but I got over it.

Coffee is where my idiosyncrasies really shine. I can’t stand the drink. Even if I drown it with milk, it still is a challenge to choke it down. But as a flavoring for ice cream, cheesecake or chocolate truffles, I say bring it on. My mother claims that my dislike of coffee means I can not be her daughter.

Oh and I like crackers in my soup, potato chips in my sandwich and I wipe the bowl with my bread if the contents were particularly good albeit soup or pasta sauce. In Italy the last part was called “wiping the shoe.”

2) I’m not aware of any particular habits in regards to personal grooming. I like to shower everyday, but that’s because it’s my coffee and it gets me going in the morning. I have a very stripped down routine and I can shower, dress and dry my hair in well under 15 minutes. My children however... it takes them ten minutes to put on shoes and socks in the morning. Mind you the shoes are lined up and most of the time the socks are nearby. My husband didn’t believe me until he had to get them out the door one morning. Since I shower just before shoving the boys onto the bus I guess I do have the odd habit of bellowing out “Shoes and Socks!” when I get out of the shower.

3) I remember at work when I horrified a co-worker by putting potato chips in my tuna fish sandwich. I wasn’t even aware of it until she pointed it out. I didn’t really care, I just like the crunch and added flavor since my chip of choice is salt and vinegar.

Overall I really don’t think I’m that odd. I’m just a bit nutty.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Artist of the Week: Legos Times Two

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

This week’s artist is Jake. This is him from a few weeks ago when we were enjoying spring like weather.

He and his brothers are big Lego fans and are constantly making new creations. Jake takes particular care with his builds. He likes the colors to be symmetrical and for full articulation whenever possible.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
I picked out two this week because I couldn’t decide which I liked more. (If you click on the picture it leads to a small set featuring different angles of both.)The one on the left is a sort of fighter jet; on the right is a walker type vehicle from Star Wars.

I like the stubby little fighter. I know it would mortify him to hear this, but I think it’s cute. The walker is fun with its articulated arm that pulls it along. I like the details he added to the arm of the walker such as the tubing for the hydraulics.

Jake says that both are still works in progress, but I like them just the way they are now.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


John is a very busy dog, which is the norm for a smooth dachshund and even more so for his line. The kennel where we board our dogs used to refer to Crunch as the wild man. They all like Crunch, but as I like to observe he used to be a high octane dog. When Crunch turned twelve he finally slowed down to the energy level of a normal dog. So of course now we have John.

The other day I was puttering about when John started barking at the door. Something had caught his eye and wanted to go out. Right. Now. I however did not want to inflict him on the neighborhood because I knew he would be fairly vocal for a long period of time. I like his bark, it is a typically houndy bark and not at all yappy. So I decided to film him instead.

I get peeved when people call dachshunds little yip dogs. They are far from it. Admittedly the miniatures have a much higher pitched bark, but they are all hunting dogs by nature. They are used to trail wounded deer, hunt rabbit and squirrels and are a good all over vermin eradication system. Of course that means you’ll get some holes in your backyard as they try (and succeed!) to get the moles. But at the end of the day they are happy to curl up in our lap or at your feet.

Sleeping Dog
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

He is such a cute dog when he’s asleep.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Truth in Ink

Last night at dinner the subject of tattoos came up. Namely Nate announced that he was interested. I have no recollection on how the conversation ended up on the subject, but there we were.

Tattoos are not something that appeals to either my husband or me. Neither of us has been inked with the exception of a very large and lurid temporary dragon tattoo I got when I was in Wisconsin. One day a half dozen or so women in the lab I worked in decided we would all get temporary tattoos. We picked a place that was adjacent to the neighborhood bar and piled in. Except for Chen Hui and me, everybody else got rather small discrete ones. Chen Hui got a palm sized snarling black panther head on her shoulder a I got a 5 inch long coiled dragon holding a rose positioned just below the notch in my clavicle. The funny part was that the tattooist seriously asked if I was sure since it was so very large. I reminded him it was temporary and that I understood what was going on. It was fun while it lasted, but I was glad when it was gone a week later. The real thing, however, doesn’t interest me because it is permanent and I’m a wimp. And I won’t even go into the religious ramifications.

Anyway enough about me and my wild youth, lets get back to the dinner table.

After a pause to digest this thought I asked Nate if he knew what happens when you get a tattoo.

He shook his head no.

Ah-ha, I had a perfect answer to his inquiry.

I told him simply and plainly that it involved a needle being repeatedly poked into the skin. You get jabbed hundreds of times by this needle. The color was poked into the skin by the needle where it stays for the rest of your life. After the tattoo is applied the area can be bloody and sore and you have to care for it until it heals. I then mentioned it is possible to remove a tattoo, but it has to be burned off with a laser.

Nate’s eyes got big and round and the idea of a tattoo was driven clean out of his head.

Nothing like the truth to nip an idea in the bud.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A little Hoop Action

Last night we went to a VCU basketball game. The team is hot and the game was sold out. So we showed up very early to get parking (ideally free) and good seats (we had general admission and with six people it pays to show up early). We completely scored on both counts.

Our parking space was right out front. It was legal, free and three cars away from the entrance. As we pulled up Larry wasn’t sure if it was big enough for the van, but I assured him it was and with Larry’s superior parallel parking skills, he was able to neatly slip the van in.

Then on to the game, we breezed in and headed to our section. It wasn’t clear how far down we could go, theoretically the rows closer to the floor are for students, but we couldn’t tell where. So we decided to get the best seats we could and worry about it later. We ended up filling a whole row.

The game itself was amazing, the teams were closely matched and you really had to stay until the end to see who won.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
Nate and Jake were enthralled by the game.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
Max and Rebecca, however, were less than thrilled and wanted to leave after 15 minutes. Rebecca did like cheerleaders so she was entrained whenever they took they court. Here is a short film of the cheering squad in action.

In the end VCU beat Old Dominion. I guess we are good luck for the team; every time we go, VCU wins.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Snow Day

Of all our children, Rebecca has been the one most concerned about the dearth of winter weather. To be a bit more specific, she wants snow and she wants it now.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
We got lucky when we were up at Nana’s. During the last few days of our stay she got her wish, albeit in a rather slushy form.

Yesterday, Thursday, we got the first snow fall of the year, heck of the season.

I had noticed some fine powdery flakes on the car as I escorted Jake and Nate to the bus stop. They were excited over the news and wanted to know if we would get more. I told them that the forecast was that *if* it stays cold enough through the day we *might* get a bit of snow late afternoon. Shortly after I got the brown eyed boys onto the bus, big clumpy flakes of snow fell from the sky.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
The snow didn’t last very long. It snowed on and off all morning, turned to sleet in the afternoon and was gone by sunset, but little Miss. Rebecca was still able to leave her mark. As I was loading the dynamic duo into the van for preschool, I noticed these little handprints in the snow.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

While I was busy with Max, he can be rather balky in the morning; she had entertained herself by making prints in the snow on top of a storage chest outside. It has warmed up again, but Rebecca would like a little bit more snow.

Me too.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I’m Frightened

This is a disturbing item from my referrer logs, I am apparently number three in Google for, I kid you not “septic tank guy strip club kansas.”

I just don’t want to know.

Thursday Three: Imaginary Places and Things!

It’s now time to enter the magical and mystical realm of the Thursday Three. Papa Possum wants to know what fills your dreams.


And such things, because this week’s Axis of Weevil Thursday Three (America’s Most Popular Thing!) is all about fantasy and flights of fancy and falderal such as that! Why? I have no idea, other than the fact that I can’t remember asking questions like this before.

So then, take a moment and take leave of your senses and ponder these three questions about all sorts of made-up things!

1) Of the fictional sorts of outlandish made-up places you’ve ever seen in the movies or read about, which one would you most like to live in, and why?

2) If you were a cartoon character, which cartoon character would you most like to be married to?

3) Which would you rather have right now--flying cars, or robot servants?

There now--start dreaming and either leave your answers in the comments below or a link to that magical fantasyland blog of yours.

Hmmm, imaginary places and things, I like this topic.

1) Ha! I’ve got just the book for this week’s question. Many, many moons ago I got The Dictionary of Imaginary Places. Finally it has a use other than just sitting up in the attic.

The place I would most like to live in is a bit of a toss-up.

I like Pern, because fire lizards and dragons are cool and I would definitely be a dragonrider. Narnia (post White Witch) gets a vote because I like the talking animals. Or I could settle down in The Shire (without ringwraiths), because it seems very bucolic and I like living in the country.

Yes, I know that three places, but it is so hard to choose just one, though they all seem to fit together in that they have castles and such. I like castles.

2) If I was a cartoon character who would I be married too? That’s a hard one because most of the adult male cartoon characters are clueless. However, there is one that is both smart and available and he is Dr. Benton Quest. He is a brilliant scientist that travels around the world with really cool gadgets, solving all sorts of scientific mysteries. Race Bannon is appealing in a hunky sort of way and is good with kids, but blonds are not my thing. Mr. Incredible would be another good choice, but he would never leave Elastigirl.

3) Robot servants would win hands down. Then I would have a clean house and I wouldn’t have to actually do anything. If I was married to Dr. Quest I would get both. He would build me robots and then we would jet off in the hover car that he already owns.

Ah well, now I have to get back to reality which unfortunately involves a messy house and a busted garage door. Maybe Mr. Incredible would be a better choice, because then we could open the garage door.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Artist of the Week: Wooden Toys

This week’s artist is a special two for one edition featuring both Max and Rebecca.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
Last weekend Max was invited to a birthday party and Rebecca was not. At first I was a little miffed on her part and then I realized at some point they will have separate social circles and that they will not always be invited to the same parties. When I called up and accepted Max’s invite, the birthday boy’s mother told me that David (the birthday boy) wanted only boys at his party because “Girls are too loud.” (Which is a fair statement in regards to Rebecca.) Rebecca was a bit disappointed, but between an extravaganza of My Little Pony DVDs and my playing Candy Land with her she got over it very quickly. And let me state here: Candy Land is possible the world’s most boring game for an adult to play. There is no strategy, just the luck of the draw.

Anyway, all was fine until Max came home. He had received a balloon and a little kit to make a wooden biplane. She got a bit jealous and was coping until the bombshell hit.

Max told her that she had been invited and that David asked “where was Rebecca” when he first saw Max. She had a complete melt down. In the end I was able to calm her down when I pulled out an extra wooden race car from “the party box” that had been left over from an older brother’s birthday party.

Sometimes it pays to be a pack rat.

So here are the finished products:

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
I helped with the gluing and gave Max a few pointers on how to paint, but the color scheme was entirely up to Max and Rebecca. They love their new toys and are very pleased that they got to do some building and painting.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Nanny State

The Louisville mayor Jerry Abramson recently signed into effect a rather odious pet ordinance into law. The 94 page document will affect all pet owners in the Louisville metro area. The problems with it are far too numerous for me to point out here, but here are a few.

All stray dogs will be spayed/neutered, even if the dog is claimed by the owner. So if I’m at a dog show and some nut (and this does happen) lets loose my dog and animal control picks it up, my dog’s show career is over and any hope of using it in my breeding program.

If I live in the metro area, every time I travel with or board my intact dog I must notify in writing the Director of Lousiville/Jefferson County Metro Animal Services.

If I board any pet for more than three days it has to be revaccinated, even if its shots were up to date.

If it is felt that I am not capable in controlling my pet it will be impounded.

The list goes on and on.

Until this law is repealed, I am not going to Louisville with my dogs. And I think it effectively ends all dog shows and ethical dog breeding in the Louisville metro area. Ethical breeders can not function in such an environment.

Currently Virginia is in the midst of its legislative session and has its own crop of anti-pet laws. Last year a law was signed in that formed a state wide rabies vaccination database. Information about the pet, its owner and home address will be posted on this public database. The idea was to promote dog licensing. When you vaccinate your pet, the county will be notified. My guess this will cause a drop in vaccination when people realize what is going on.

My club, and others in the state, are going to be watching the bills very carefully this session and will do our best to stop them. The sad thing is if the existing laws were enforced most of the problems that the new laws “solve” wouldn’t exist.

Monday, January 15, 2007

I got two, Because I’m Special

Since all the cool kids are doing it, namely the Llamas, Jordana and Terry; I thought I would join in on the fun.

First off I went for my name:

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Her Most Serene Highness Lady Sarah G. the Sanguine of Old Yarkhillshire
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Then I went for my email handle:

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Milady the Most Honourable Teckelcar the Canine of Chortling Chesterton
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

This was the first result and I thought it was utterly amazing. You see Teckel is the alternate name for dachshund in Germany.

Unfortunately I don’t think the kids are going to go for calling me by either title. They all ready refuse to call me Madam President since my election last September.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Another Dreary Winter Weekend


We got treated to another weekend of temperatures in the low 70’s and this time the kids upped the ante. In addition to t-shirts, and for Nate and Max bare feet, they had a squirt gun battle.

I still can’t get over the idea of squirt guns in the middle of January.

Anyway, as any good mother would I shot a little film of the boys in action. As an added bonus Rebecca flies through at one point.

It is a fairly unremarkable clip, but it makes me smile every time I watch it.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Cupcake Blogging

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Aren't these cute?

I made these for Jake's class before winter break. On the last day of school before break, his class had their winter party.

Originally I wanted gumdrops for the nose, but they were impossible to find so I settled on Dots. Technically they are a type of gumdrop, but they don't have the sugar frosting. The rest of face was made with the ever popular chocolate chips. I was pretty happy with how they turned out.

Jake said they weren't as popular as the last batch of cupcakes I brought in. However they were competing against a boatload of candy for the gingerbread houses they were making.

Anyway I liked them and Rebecca wants me to make them for her class.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Thursday Three: The Bold, The New And The Edgy!

It’s time to go to Terry to find out about what’s hot at the Thursday Three!
Upon the cutting edge!

As part of Possumblog’s insistence in 2007 of being NEW and BOLD and FRESH, we’re gonna take the Axis of Weevil Thursday Three (The World’s Most Exciting New, Bold, and Fresh Online Diversion!) to some new places today!

Specifically, Las Vegas, and Detroit, and Harrisburg!

Yep, today we’re going to ask you for your thoughts on the swanky 40th Annual Consumer Electronics Show, the super-sexy 100th North American International Auto Show, and the ultra-cool 91st Annual Pennsylvania Farm Show, the largest indoor agricultural show in the entire country!

As usual, the media buzz surrounding these events is deafening, and in order to stay out there where all the hip and savvy people are, we’d like to solicit your opinions about what all you’ve heard and seen there.

SO, take a moment and tell us:

1) What do you think is the most significant product introduced at the Consumer Electronic Show?

2) What is the biggest surprise of the Detroit Auto Show?

3) What one thing are you most excited about at the Farm Show?

After you’ve all had a chance to visit all the venues, leave your comments below or a link to your blog, and let’s find out what’s HOT this year!!

Right now the only hot thing I got going is my lunch. So I guess I’ll amble over and check out all the new hotness out there.

1) Nothing really grabs me at the CES. Everybody is going on about the iphone and the new mondo 108 inch LCD TV. The item that I thought was the most interesting was this gizmo under personal electronics that got a Best Innovation award. I couldn’t figure out what it was until I clicked on the tiny image and the company’s web site. It’s a hearing aid that has been all gussied up to look cool.

2) I like cars and I do enjoy driving them, but car shows are not my thing. My only observation about this year's show is the growing trend to make cars look like transformers. If they could make a car that was enjoyable to drive and could transform into a house cleaning robot or maybe a generator, then I could get excited.

3) I love farm shows. I think the two most exciting events are the celebrity milking contest (sadly there are no results or video, yet) and the end of the day culinary student cook-off utilizing Pennsylvania products.

I guess I’m not edgy or cool.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Artist of the Week: Drawing

This week’s artist is little Miss Rebecca.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

She constantly astonishes me on how her drawing progresses. She drew this picture a few days ago.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It is of a man, Max (note the blond hair), walking his dog, Charlie, by a snowman.

Each figure is fully recognizable ad does not require explanations from the artist. Ok the dog is a bit odd, but you do have to grant her a small bit of artist freedom. She loves drawing snow man and it is evident with the attention to detail.

Rebecca’s drawings are so very different from her brothers. I don’t know if it is a girl thing or a Rebecca thing. Either way I love how her art changes and grows.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Smack Dab in the Middle

Diane has a link to a brain gender test over at her place. She came out as thinking like an average man. I know I have potential to skew results with my scientific leanings so I thought I would give it a try.

I came out smack dab in the middle. Apparently I’m in touch with both my male and female sides.

I would have loved to retake the match the angle bit with a slightly less balky mouse and I know I was hampered by my less than stellar typing for the verbal test. I think I got too hung up on spelling.

The most interesting part was when I measured my ring fingers and index fingers. On my right hand the two are the same size (66 mm), which is normal for women. On my left hand I got a bit of a surprise. I’ve never noticed this before, but my index finger (69mm) is significant longer than my ring (65 mm). Now it is blindingly obvious to me, but until tonight I had never noticed the disparity.

Oh and I totally ruled in the three-D spatial awareness. A trait I honed when I learned how to pack a Super Beetle for college. My husband has learned to absolutely trust my judgment on whether or not something will fit.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Rebecca's Wish

About 6 or so months ago Rebecca has been asking when it was going to snow. My stock response was “sometime in December.”

As December grew closer and the weather remained mild, I started to hedge my bets. I would tell her that there was a chance that it would snow in December, but the bulk of our snow occurs in January and February. Then I would remind her that we would be going to Nana’s at the end of December and there would be snow at Nana’s house.

Around mid-December I started to worry. My mother had gotten a light dusting of snow, but it was all gone the next day. There was no snow in Vermont. For our trip up north was going to be the Green Mountain State for real.

Rebecca was disappointed when we first got to my mother’s house, but she held firm in her beliefs that it would snow. Christmas came and went and there was still no snow. That night, as I tucked her into bed she stated “It’ll snow tomorrow.”

That night she got her wish. This is what greeted our eyes the next morning.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

The kids had a quick breakfast, stuffed themselves into their snow gear (that I had fortunately dragged up North) and piled outside to play, meanwhile I shoveled the drive. About halfway through the driveway Rebecca wandered over it see what I was doing and then headed inside.

Once I was done with my self appointed task I moved to the backyard to take pictures of the kids. The boys were having a great time making miniature snowmen and knocking them over with snowballs. The snow was very wet and was perfect for packing into snowballs.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

This is what the yard looked like after a few hours with my kids.
When I was satisfied with my pictures I headed inside.

When Rebecca saw me prying off my boots she burst into tears. After a few minutes of very distressed crying I found out she wanted me to take pictures of her in the snow.

Well that’s an easy fix.

We both bundled up and went back outside.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

If you click on the above picture you get a whole series of pictures of the kids playing in the snow. And as an extra special treat I even shot a short movie of their snowball fight.

I like their version of a snowball fight. There are a whole lot less tears involved than in the traditional version. Jake and Nate, with a little help from Max and Rebecca, made a series of small snowmen. The objective is knock over the other team’s snowmen.

They all had a great time and their snow pants and jackets were soaked by the end. We wisely held off on sledding until the next day. Larry and I figured that the hill would be a big sloppy mess, but with a good over night freeze it would be perfect sledding conditions the next day.

And boy were we right. At least this year we didn’t bust any sleds.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Global Warming

I don’t know if there is any truth to this whole “Global Warming “ thing, the planet has had its warming and cooling cycles before, but it has been much warmer than usual this winter.

This weekend it hit 70, yes 70 in central Virginia. So Larry and the brown eyed boys piled outside to play a little football (Max said it was too hot out and declined to play).

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Yes, Nate is barefoot and both boys are in shorts.

Rebecca and I stuck to capris and I found the yard to be a bit wet and squishy, but it was fun to be outside barefoot in early January. I also like the effect on my heating bill, but I do miss winter.

I’m just a little old northern girl at heart.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Sugar Cookies

In honor of “Cultures Around the World” I baked sugar cookies for Nate’s class. Since his teacher had chosen Israel, I used my “Hebrew Alphabet” cookie cutters. I bought them a long time ago, but I had never used them. Finally I had gotten the incentive I needed to break them out.

Usually I just make chocolate chip cookies, they are easy to make. The dough doesn’t need to chill, I do not have to roll out the dough and cookie cutters are not used. The chocolate chip cookie is all about immediate gratification. Sugar cookies require advance planning and preparation. As a result, they are rarely made.

The recipe I use is from my beloved 1975 edition of “Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book”. I was all set to make “Mary’s Sugar Cookies” when I encountered a problem, a big problem. I was completely out of powdered sugar. So I decided to go with the neighboring recipe, “Ethel’s Sugar Cookies”. Ethel’s uses regular old granulated sugar and was probably a better choice since I could use vanilla and avoid the almond flavoring in Mary’s and the possibility for nut allergies in the class (I was told there aren’t any, but I like to err on the side of caution). It was a first for me to make this variation, but I have found this book to be very relable and the recipes have all turned out tasty.

Ethel’s Sugar Cookies

¾ cup shorting (part butter or margarine)*
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
½ tsp lemon flavoring or 1 tsp vanilla**
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Mix shortening, sugar, eggs, and flavoring thoroughly. Measure flour by dipping method (p. 5) or by sifting. Stir flour, baking powder, and salt together: blend in. Chill at least 1 hour.

Heat oven to 400 (mod. hot). Roll dough 1/8” thick on a lightly floured board. Cut with 3” cooky cutter. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 6 to 8 minutes, or until the cookies are a delicate golden color. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

*All butter of course
**I used vanilla, but next time maybe lemon

I chilled the dough overnight. In fact I made 1 ½ batches and baked cookies over a three day period. It was nice being able to pull out the dough and bake small batches at a time. Another good trick is to place a sheet of waxed paper or plastic wrap on top of the dough as you roll it out. It creates a smoother top cookie.

And here is a picture of some of the finished product:

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I sprinkled a little blue sugar on them before they went in the oven. I think the effect was quite nice and the cookies were delicious. I baked a small batch for Meryl using my Star of David cutters and she agreed. In fact she wants to borrow my alef-bet cutters in the future.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Thursday Three: Shiny!

To kick off the new year Terry presents us with an all new and possibly shiny Thursday Three.

So Fresh, So NEW!

So VERY 2007ish!

Of what do we speak? Why the All New, Super Terrific, Two Thousand Seven, Axis of Weevil Thursday Three!

What with a brand new year ahead of us, why don’t we find some bright shiny new questions and see what people have to say!

::looking around for shiny things::



Okay, so these are going to be pretty much like any of the other set of three questions we’ve ever asked. Just play along and act like they’re fresh and exciting.

1) What new thing would you like to attempt in the New Year?

2) What one new thing do you really, REALLY need (not want, but truly need) to have?

3) What grungy old ramshackle thing do you have that you should replace with something shiny and new but just can’t bring yourself to make the switch?

SO, there you go--all of you rush out and purchase some nice new thinking caps and either answer in the comments below or leave a link to your blog and we’ll come over and oooh and ahhhh over it! Remember, anyone can play along, even if you’re a raging kainophobe!

Oooo! So Shiny! And New!

Erm, sorta, well not really unless you squint and tilt your head, but that's never stopped me.

1) I can't think of any new things I'd like to attempt this year. I think I would like to rejoin the paid workforce this fall when Max and Rebecca start kindergarten, but that is not really something new.

2) I really need to get the light in the brown-eyed boys' room replaced. It shorted out a long time ago and I tried to get an electrician to come and then I forgot about it. It really needs to be done. I would also like to replace my wall oven that is coupled with an obsolete microwave with a double oven, but that is more of a want than a need.

3) I don't know if this qualifies, but I do have an armchair that desperately needs to be recovered. It is quite grungy and old. But do to budgetary restraints and the fact that I'm loath to get nice furniture before certain members of the family stop jumping on the furniture I'm not going to make the switch. I just keep reminding myself that it's an antique.

That's it for me, I'm not that exciting this week. I guess I'm not one of those shiny and new types.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Artist of the Week: Gingerbread House

This week's artist is Jake.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

This is an out take from our yearly holiday card photo session (to see the winning entries click here and here). I think he looks so handsome here and even Crunch looks good.

Now onto the gingerbread house.

It was a class project on the last day of school before winter break. I was amazed that it made it home in one piece.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

If you click on the picture it will lead you to a whole series of photos from different angles.

Anyway, I think it is very cute and I love how you can see the milk carton in the rear view. He did a nice job decorating it and dearly wanted me to preserve it in pictures. I never made these growing up and a small part of my Yankee soul views them as a big waste of candy and gingerbread, but I do like looking at them.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

An Evening with the Governor

As I mentioned last year, my husband and I got to attend a party at the Governor's mansion.

It was the first night of Chanukah and Meryl was just able to get the candles lit before Sabbath. It was a close call, I was out picking up dinner while she watched the kids and got things going.

Anyway, for once I was ready and left the house on time. Life is so much easier when I don't have to marshal the troops. The plan was that I would meet Larry in Richmond and we would enter the Governor's mansion together, enjoy the party and then we would go out for dinner at a nearby sushi place.

The mansion was quite pretty and nicely lit on the outside. I took a picture, but since I didn't have a tripod handy the picture really doesn't do it justice.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Larry got a much better shot of me at the front door just before we went in.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It actually took him a couple attempts to took this picture. The first time he was just about to take it when the doorman whipped the door open. He quickly understood what we were doing and closed the door and waited for us to be ready.

When we entered the mansion the first person we noticed was the Governor. He is a very approachable person, he welcomed us to his home and then we chatted a bit with him when my cell phone rang. Figuring it was Meryl, since the only other person who ever calls me on my cell was next to me, I excused myself and retreated to an empty room to take the call. It was indeed Meryl and she was wanted to know if the dogs had been fed. The kids did not know and the dogs, being hounds, looked hungry. I told that the dogs had indeed been fed and then said "guess who I was just talking to? It was the Governor!" Once I was done with the phone I wandered back into the hall to find my husband.

We mingled for a bit with some of his coworkers and then we joined the line for a photo with the Governor. When it was our turn I was very impressed that he remembered us from earlier, namely he asked me who called. I cheerfully told him it was the babysitter and she wanted to know if the dogs had been fed.

I know it is a minor detail, but a telling one. Tim Kaine is a pretty sharp guy. I don't think Warner would have noticed and certainly not Gilmore.

The party itself was quite good. There was an open bar stocked with top shelf drinks and an outrageously tasty buffet. I could have easily grazed there all evening and would have gotten a nice meal out of it. Instead we ate heartily, but not fully since we were planning to go out for sushi afterwards. It worked out well. I like sushi, but I don't find it particularly filling. This way I could savor our dinner without filling starved afterwards.

As for pictures of the party I limited myself to just one.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I couldn't resist photographing a gingerbread house made by the Governor's family. If you click to enlarge the picture you can just read the card next to it. I thought it was a charming little thing nestled amongst all the antique finery of the mansion.

Normally I hate cocktail parties, but this one was fun. I know some of Larry's coworkers and I had a good time talking with them. Of course the two gin tonics didn't hurt either. I was in a very happy place. It was a fun date night for me and my husband. Thank you Meryl for a such a lovely birthday present.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

I wish you all a healthy and happy New Year.

We are home again and I must say it is nice to be back.