Monday, November 29, 2010


Kiwis can have big dreams too. A very touching little short film.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Endings

Happy Endings
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Dessert is serious business around here on Thanksgiving. We have the all but obligatory pumpkin pie (Max has been bugging me about this since Halloween), the tarte tatin ( aka the apple tarty thingy) that is much beloved by the adults, and the ever popular chocolate course courtesy of Meryl.

The chocolate course came about because Meryl wanted to bring something for Thanksgiving the first time she came over a few years ago. I had the meal well in hand and anything else other than chocolate would be akin to bringing coals to Newcastle. It was a huge hit and is now a permanent part of our Thanksgiving.

This year she went one better by bringing the centerpiece in the photo. It's a melted snowman made of fudge surrounded by a ring of maple sugar candy (melted snow) and an outer ring of chocolate sponge (mud). It's great fun and we are slowly chipping away at it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm thankful for my family and that we are all healthy and together. Oh and my dishwasher, I'm very, very thankful for my dishwasher.

Today's menu is as follows:

Stuffing with and without Sausage
Mashed Potatoes
Haricot Vert
Clover Leaf Rolls

A Chocolate Course

Pumpkin Pie
Tarte Tatin

Served with a choice of cider, soda, and Les Heretiques red table wine

I hope you all have a happy and very tasty Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Artist of the Week: Small Spaces

Nate and Pony
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's artist is Nate and today he got to ride the sweet little pony in this picture.

We have a friend with numerous horses and she's been wanting us to come out and ride for some time. Today we were finally able to coordinate schedules. Rebecca was beside herself with excitement, the boys less so (in fact Jake the whole thing a miss and stayed home). I wasn't sure at first if Nate and Max would ride, but in the end I got all three up, ride a bit on their own and even go at a trot. The pony was incredibly good natured about three kids going on and off. It wasn't until the end that she would head to the gate, indicating that she was done and wanted to go to her stall.

small spaces
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
But enough about ponies, instead let's focus on small spaces.

At some point I had given Nate a small pad of paper that was roughly 2 inches by 3 inches. I think it's original purpose was to collect friends' email addresses and phone numbers. However it he has long strayed from the pads original use. Just the other day he presented to me two slips of paper with sketches of essentially the interior of our house.

The top drawing is of our living room with dog on the far right corner of the carpet (it's a bit easier to distinguish in the original sketch). Nate intended the picture to be a some what abstract study of the room. I see the abstract elements, but it is still very clearly the living room.

The lower picture is a side view of the stairs leading up to the second floor. Again, he was going for a more abstract feel. Meanwhile I found this picture to be a dead-on representation. Nate's drawing has come a long way during the past 6 months. He took art the first quarter of the school year and it looks like he learned quite a bit.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Whew Doggie

Today was the last big day of errands before the kids are out for five days. I didn't have lunch until after I picked up Jake from school at roughly quarter to three.

Jake was shocked at how late my lunch was and asked me why.

So, I told him what I did between seeing he and his siblings off in the morning and picking him up from school.

I walked the dogs.
Goofed off on the computer for 20 minutes.
Returned some dishes to a kind neighbor.
Rescued my beloved chickadee cookie tin (sans cookies) from the high school.
Drove to Meryl's and together we ran errands (it's far more fun to do boring stuff with a friend.
The errands consisted of:

Dropping off Jake's trumpet to be repaired.
Treat shopping at the For Love of Chocolate with bonus purchase next door of a new camera bag (Dell keeps eating my camera bags).
Getting wine for Thanksgiving at the wine and cheese store J. Emerson.
More adult beverage shopping at Corks & Kegs.
Hardcore veggie shopping (Hee- or rather Haricot vert shopping).
A preemptive Costco run, I refuse to go there the Wednesday before Thanksgiving onto the Monday after. Around Thanksgiving Costco becomes an evil, evil place.
And then a quick stop at Trader Joe's.

Whew, Meryl and I packed in a whole lot of errands, but now we are done with Thanksgiving shopping and don't have to set foot in a store until next week.

After I finished reeling off all my accomplishments Jake, clearing stunned by it all, told me I deserved to goof off for far more than 20 minutes and then asked if I do that every day.

My answer was fortunately no.

Monday, November 22, 2010

ONE - Tropfest 2010 Finalist

Lovely little wordless movie featuring, of all things, dice as the main protagonists.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Today was a whirlwind of activity for us. In addition to the normal musical lessons for Nate and Max we had Rebecca's piano recital and a private showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows courtesy of Meryl.

The musicals bits all went well, except for the fact that the recital was too dang long (two hours vs the normal one hour- long story and I hope it's not repeated). Which brings us to the movie.

It was glorious.

Yes it's dark, but then the last book is dark. The characters stayed true to the book and only a few liberties were taken. The stopping point chosen was logical and left us pining for the second half. Mind you it's not short, clocking in at 2 1/2 hours. However the movie was well paced and edited, fully utilizing that extra half hour. You really don't mind the length of the movie. I can't wait for the second installment come this July.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Scott Pilgrim Silliness

Scott Pilgrim Avatar
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
In the not too distant past I saw Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World in our beloved second run movie palace, the Byrd Theater.

It is not great cinema, but it is a wonderful flick. It rips along with a great sense of humor and is just the right length. I don't want to say much more, because odds are I would end up spoiling it. Basically it's a boy meets girl, boy has to defeat exs of girl to win her type of movie.

I didn't write about the movie earlier because I hadn't much to say. But, since then I have started poking around on the movie's website. The site is turning out to be a glorious time suck of Avatar creation and YouTube remixes. It's a nice way to wind down the week.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fall Color

Fall Color
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Here are some of the pretty, pretty leaves out front.

The dark red is Japanese Maple and the more washed out red and orange is my waaaay past peak Burning Bush (winged euonymus). Then down below there are bright splashes of red berries amongst the green leaves of my Heavenly Bamboo.

Interestingly two of the above are considered invasive species and should have never been planted in the first place. Which is a pity with the Burning Bush. I've haven't had any problems with it and I'm fond of the bright red it produces in early fall. The Heavenly Bamboo, however, I could happily rip it all out if it weren't so well established and... well invasive.

As for the bright orange pumpkins on the steps, they should have been tossed last weekend. They make for a pretty picture, but the insides are nightmarish to say the least.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Artist of the Week: Mezuzah

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week it's Rebecca's turn to be Artist of the Week.

This picture is from a while back. She was home sick with her brother and was so cute cuddled up in bed I had to take a picture. It was just a touch of bronchitis, so apart from the cough she didn't seem at all ill, but she wasn't cleared for school. We just kept things on the quiet side and in no time at all she was back to school, both religious (aka Hebrew or Sunday school) and secular.

She has been going to Sunday school, since Kindergarten. It's the third go around (you could even say fourth as well because of the whole twin thing) for our family so we pretty much know what to expect for each grade when it's Max and Rebecca's turn. Once a year there is special event called Gesher when the parents are requested to attend to school. There is a discussion group during the first have with the Rabbi, then students and parents come together with some sort of craft. During the third grade Gesher the students got to make their own mezuzah.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This year the students got to use modeling clay with a variety of colors. Previously they have made them from small cardboard tubes or regular white clay.

Rebecca, being the girlie girl that she is, went for the pinkish white and fuchsia. She carefully molded it around a wooden cloths-peg and made the top and bottom nail holes. Once she was done constructing the holder it was taken back to the kitchen to be baked.

It turned out rather well and, miracle of miracles, survived the ride home. All that was left for us to do was insert the blessings and affix it to her doorway. She was delighted when I finally did my half of the job yesterday.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Puppy Puppy Pumpkin Eater

Pumpkin eater
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
John loves eating pumpkins. Actually both dogs do, but after I yelled at Dell for snagging a lid off of a pumpkin I had just carved he has been less interested in pumpkins. Dell will still eat them, he just waits for permission now.

Anyhoodle, John doesn't wait for permission, he just helps himself whenever the mood strikes him. At least he has only been eating one pumpkin and has left it pretty much in place. At this point, two weeks plus post carving, not much is left. It looks like a small explosion of pumpkin pulp near the bottom of the steps.

As for Dell, he now doesn't approve of John's wanton destruction of the pumpkins. After I took the picture above of John, Dell bounced down the steps and gave John the hairy eyeball and stood by the pumpkins.

Disapproving Dell
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

John's reaction was to casually stroll away, as though Dell had nothing to do with his moving off. I don't know if you can see it, but this picture captured the moment when Dell was standing in rigid disapproval next to the pumpkin. John, meanwhile, is halfway across the yard.

I found the whole thing hilarious. Dell has such a sunny, happy go lucky demeanor 99% of the time. However my chewing him out over the pumpkin lid really made an impression on our goofy boy. He has appointed himself defender of the pumpkins.

At least when I'm around. It wouldn't surprise me if he snuck in a few bites when I'm not present.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Birds on the Wires

I found this video sometime last year, loved it, bookmarked it for later, and then forgot it. While pruning out old and dead links in my bookmarks I rediscovered it. I first found it over at Laughing Squid, but the Vimeo page is far more informative.

Either way, sit back and enjoy.

Birds on the Wires from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lesson Learned This Weekend

I am not a sleepover kind of parent.

I am a parent that will cheerfully and enthusiastically cater to whatever your birthday cake desires are. If you can envision it and clearly articulate what you want, I'll give it a shot. Nate's "The Horror of Cake War" cake was deemed epic by his friends.

I will go along with an endless Nerf gun battle in the house as long as my bedroom, my husband's study and the dining room remain off limits. I can deal with the eleventy billion foam darts littered throughout the house. I will calmly walk through the fire fight and ignore the darts flying around me. To their credit not a single dart hit me.

But I can't deal with loud voices at 2:00 am, every light turned on downstairs at 3:30 am, and bizarre questions about birthday presents at 4:00. The last bit resulted in my telling Nate that in all likelihood he was never having a sleepover again.

The boys weren't particularly awful or ill-behaved (well except for the question bit at 4:00am and that was my own child), in fact the two guests are a lovely pair of polite and well mannered children. I'm just getting to old to deal with the random interruptions in my sleep and the endless noise. I treasure the peace and quiet that descends on this house every night at 10:00 pm.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Birthday Party A Day Late

Nate's 12th birthday cake
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Veteran's Day is Nate's birthday, but we didn't celebrate it until today.

As per Nate's request I made him yet another war themed birthday cake and I really outdid myself this year.

I carved out craters on the top and sides, made two tanks (one intact, the other broken and trapped in a crater, and had a rather bloody Cake Corp on top.

The cake was a huge hit at the party. It was declared epic and all the boys liked the the red sparkly gel icing I applied generously to the downed soldiers. If you click on the picture it will take you to my Flickr page and the complete photo-set.

Bloody and gruesome is what 11 to 12 year old boys loved to have on their birthday cakes.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Veteran, My Father

To all of those who have served this country, I thank you.

My father served in WWII on a mine sweeper in the Pacific. This is one of the few photographs I have of him in uniform. He is on the front stoop with his Aunt and Uncle in his Navy uniform.

He looks so young, he had just turned 26 years old if it's the later part of March. And this was years before he even met my mother.

So once again thank you for all your sacrifices in keeping this nation safe and free.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Artist of the Week: Technical

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
In a purely technical manner, this week's artist is Jake.

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, I have to employ a form of ambush photography to capture my eldest child. It's not so much camera shyness as it is my son having an uncontrollable urge to make odd faces when a camera is pointed in his direction. The four pictures before this one consisted of him hiding behind his DS whatever gobbledygook that follows, a strange twisted open mouth, a squinty eyed duck face and one blurry action shot. Then I just sat near him and waited and got this fairly decent picture of him. He's looking down which makes it seem as though his eyes are closed, but really they are open.

technical drawing
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
His drawings, on the other hand, are a whole lot easier to photograph. The only tricky part is getting the light balance right and the contrast.

The drawings in question are from Jake's technical drawing class in High School. I still can't get over the fact that I'm the mother of a high schooler. I'll always think of myself as riding heard on grade schoolers. Anyhoodle, he wanted to take Latin, but it did not fit in his schedule so he decided to take Basic Technical Drawing instead.

He has been having a great time in class. It is right up his alley, minutely examining things and getting them down just right. So far he is finding the class to be an easy A, a nice respite with an all honors course load. The whole class seems to be fairly effortless for him with the exception of one extra credit assignment, a film reel. He hasn't quite sussed out the best way to draw it. As he put it, it's all circles within circles and some oddball shapes thrown in for good measure. He'll get sooner or later, I have no doubt about that.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Am I Missing Something?

Gits Group
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I fully realize that it is the business owner's family name, but really?

Gits Group?

I have always viewed the word git to be a rather negative descriptor. The phrase "stupid git" springs to mind.

I even went so far as to look up the word. According to the dictionary a git is a worthless or foolish person, British origin.

So maybe I'm mistaken that it is part of the common lexicon. Possibly the result of watching far to much Monty Python in my formative years.

Then again Larry, who had a far less Anglophilic upbringing (My family maybe 13th generation American but we still cling to the oddest aspects of our UK heritage. Seriously, how on earth have we remained English, Scottish and Welsh? My generation is the first one to really venture out in the gene pool.), agreed it was the oddest choice in business names.

So what do y'all of you think of this?

Monday, November 08, 2010

Goodbye, Penguins by Greg Stones

A very Edward Gorey-esque treatment of a penguin count down book. I really liked it, but I decided it is not appropriate for Max, the 9 year old penguin lover of the house.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Iron Fatigue

Nate is learning to play guitar. A while back we bought him a small acoustic guitar with the idea of eventually getting him lessons. He has since outgrown it, but he is now learning how to play on his father's guitar.

He is very quick to learn and eager to play, far more so than he ever was with piano (but ah, the groundwork had been laid). If fact his teacher is greatly impressed by his progress each week.

Unfortunately he only plays one recognizable tune, the classic coda from Black Sabbath's Iron Man. Which is not a bad song, but when you hear it over and over- day in and day out it gets a little tedious. I'm glad he is so enthusiastic to practice, I just wish there was a bit more variety.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Oatmeal Chocolaty Goodness

Oatmeal chocolate chip
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Earlier this week I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for a friend. He had helped me out in selecting an appropriate Apple (I'm a PC kinda a gal and I haven't a clue when it comes to Macs) computer for my mom and I wanted to thank him for all his time an effort. I asked him what kind of cookie did he want and he wrote back oatmeal with chocolate chips, no raisins.

Alright then. I've never made oatmeal cookies before, but I'm willing to give it a go. I've never been a big fan of oatmeal cookies and for that I blame the ubiquitous raisin. Since I was making them and my friend had requested no raisins I had a good feeling about the cookies.

I selected the The Best Cookie of 1900-1910 Oatmeal Drop Cookies from my Betty Crocker Cookie Book with of course various modifications by me.

1/2 cup shortening
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup molasses
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups rolled oats
1 1/4 cup chocolate chips*

(*original recipe called for 1/2 cup chopped nuts and 1 cup raisins instead of the chocolate chips. I dislike both and my friend requested oatmeal chocolate chip)

Heat oven to 400 F
Mix shortening, sugar, eggs, and molasses thoroughly. Measure flour by dipping method or by sifting. Stir dry ingredients together; blend in. Stir in oats and chocolate chips (or raisins and nuts if you go that way). Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2" apart on a lightly greased baking sheet (oops I forgot to do that and it really wasn't a problem). Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack and then enjoy!
The cookies were scrumptious. Moist and chewy with a wonderful depth of flavor from the molasses and the chocolate. They were a big hit with the family and they are almost gone. I think the only reason any are left is that I made brownies a few days earlier. Oh and all the candy from Halloween too. I will definitely be making these again.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

I Wish

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Isn't this a pretty pizza?
Doesn't it look delicious?

I thought so and took a picture of it when I made it way back in August.

This was what dinner was supposed to look like tonight. We were having make your own pizza night. However our oven had different plans.

It initially heated up to almost 450. Then, unbeknown to me, the bottom heating element gave up the ghost. I was happily watching the cheese brown unaware of the fact that the crust below really wasn't cooking. It wasn't until I started pulling pizzas from the oven that I discovered the true state of affairs.

It was then a mad scramble to figure out how to cook the pizza without a fully functional oven. In the end I decided to place the metal pans directly on the cook top and finish off the pizzas that way.

It was far from ideal, but it did work. The pizzas were a mess; cheese sliding off and a bit over done, the bottom of the crust a bit burnt in places. But, they were edible.

So it looks like I'll be buying a new heating element tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Artist of the Week: Carving

This weeks artist, or rather artists are Jake, Nate, Max and Rebecca. This year was a very significant one in our annual Halloween pumpkin carving extravaganza, all four got to design and carve at least one pumpkin by themselves.

Until now I've been leery of setting them all loose with knives. Jake has been carving a little bit for the past couple of years, Nate even less so. I had some metal cookie cutters that were designed for walloping into a pumpkin and knocking out a shape. The forms came in a variety of shapes and sizes, but were honestly a real pain to use. They would get stuck in the rind of the pumpkin and would inevitably get battered and squished. It was a good idea, but was lacking in execution ( the biggest drawback to the kit was the rubber mallet. It was easily the smelliest tool I have ever encountered).

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
So this year they got to use the knives.

Going clockwise starting from the upper left we have Rebecca's very traditional one tooth pumpkin. It's such a happy looking face. I love how the eyes are just a little bit cockeyed, it adds to the overall charm.

Next we have Max's flower, bat and moon. He always makes tiny detailed drawings and this pumpkin was no exception. He did a beautiful job drawing and craving his creation.

On the lower right is Jake's grumpy old man. Like Rebecca's it is a bit more traditional. Jake's observation about it, after he was done carving, was that the pumpkin kind of looked like an old guy that would yell out Hey kids! Get off my Lawn!" So of course this was the pumpkin we put at the end of the driveway to bring in trick or treaters.

Last up we have Nate's zombies. I apologize for the poor quality of the picture. I had a hard time setting up to take this pumpkin's picture. The carving, like Max's, is a tableau of zombies under a cresent moon and stars. He had a hard time carving the stars and ended up with a sort of triangular shape. I think he did a great job and the pumpkin looked great once it was lit up.

All four had a great time drawing their designs on the pumpkins and then cutting them out. The best part for me, however, was that nobody sliced themselves with the knives. It was a sucess and I forsee more carving in the future.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Civic Duty

civic duty
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Here is my annual, or at least as annual as the elections allow, I Voted sticker shot.

This year it's a bit washed out from the bright sunlight in my backyard. However, rain or bright sunshine I vote. It's my civic duty and I take it very seriously.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Beyond Words

An amazing short film. It's best to watch with an open mind, don't read anything about it.