Friday, March 30, 2012

Project MCP: On the Lookout

On the Lookout by Teckelcar
On the Lookout, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
It took all month, but I finally took a picture for challenge #1. Take a picture from a high vantage point, from above your subject.

Part of me wanted to go up to Richmond and shoot a few pictures from city hall, but that would be boring. Then I thought it would be nice to find an old spiral staircase, but none that I could get to sprang to mind. So I just pushed it out of my mind until this week

Yesterday I got my inspiration watching the dogs surveying their kingdom from the deck. I could shoot a picture of them from above while they are looking at the ground while up on the deck. A picture from above of those looking from above.

The dogs were very happy to look out and I got a nice assortment of pictures. I particularly liked this one with the strong diagonals from the shadows slanting across the dogs. I think this was the hardest challenge, since I had to really think to come up with something that was uniquely mine.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


For the second week in row things will be a wee bit quiet around here this weekend.

Last weekend Jake was away Friday night through to Sunday afternoon at a show choir competition and sight seeing trip down in Williamsburg. He is in the band that accompanies both show choirs and as a rsult was invited along on the boat trip planned on Sunday. He had a great time, even with the epic thunderstorm Saturday night.

This weekend he has headed off to DC with his Robotics team. They are competing at the DC Regional FIRST Robotics Competition. A few weeks ago they came in second at the competition in Richmond hosted at VCU. The team has high hopes winning this weekend, if they do win the team qualifies for the big national competition in St Louis at the end of April.

Unfortunately we can't be here to watch the competition. Between, school, soccer, and lacrosse we can't just duck out to DC. Which is a bummer. Jake, however, is fine with that and I'm sure he's having a great time.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Artist of the Week: Ink

Max by Teckelcar
Max, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This week it's Max's turn to be Artist of the Week.

I took this picture of Max at his behest. A couple of weeks ago he was creating various structures with his favorite building material, dominoes, and wanted me to take pictures of what he had made. I'm more than happy to comply since it results in him being happy to pick up the dominoes and put them away when he is done. Also it's far less upsetting for Max when the inevitable wagging dog ambles by and knocks it all over. Seriously one of these days I should get little Godzilla costumes for the dogs and film the destruction. Add in a little bad dubbing and instant hilarity.

Any hoodle, enough about the dominoes.

Monkey by Teckelcar
Monkey, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
What I am really here for is a monkey, specifically this monkey that Max drew in Chinese class. I'm not sure about how much of the language he is learning, an hour once week is insufficient to learn any language much less Chinese, but he is learning a great deal about the culture. The monkey was the result of their learning about how to use ink.

The students had to draw various animals using black ink and brush. It is a bit like watercolor which is all about managing how wet the brush is. I like the monkey Max made, it's a cheerful little fellow like it's creator. Max was very pleased with his creation and promptly presented it to me when he got home. An improvement over the normal "Oh I forgot about it for a week in my backpack."

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Puzzler by Teckelcar
Puzzler, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Can you guess what this is?

The image came straight out of my camera. No fancy filters, strange settings, or Photoshop were used to create this picture. All it took was my noticing something interesting (at least to me) and taking a picture.

Monday, March 26, 2012

"Spring Maiden"

In honor of our more spring like weather, I offer up a clip from a 1960 (or there abouts) Russian film called "Spring Maiden." Oddly hypnotic in both music and how smoothly the women glide along.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

John Carter

Larry and I took Nate, Max, and Rebecca out to see John Carter today (Jake had a boatload of homework and had to stay home). We tried to go last weekend, but our busy schedules made it nigh impossible, particularly since we wanted to hit the bargain matinee. It was going to another no go this weekend until we decided to bag the matinee and just go already, we were afraid it would be gone before we could pull our act together. The movie has not been a big draw and with the Hunger Games on the scene, John Carter's days are numbered.

I don't understand why the movie "John Carter" is not doing particularly well. It's a good movie that appealed to all of us that went. The CGI was well done without being overwrought, the action scenes made sense, and there was a good dose of humor in a well written script. I guess Disney's marketing is to blame. They don't seem to know what to do with movie geared more for adults, the PG-13 rating has thrown them for a loop. It was fine for the dynamic duo at age ten. They have grown up on Harry Potter and Star Wars and were ready for the intensity of this film. I won't, however, recommend this to our neighbor. Their eldest is in 1st grade and I can see him being very overwhelmed by this movie and his 3year old sister is a complete nonstarter.

So go see it before it is gone, but be warned it is not a Disney movie for little kids.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Project MCP: Guess What

cd by Teckelcar
cd, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Another twofer this week for Project MCP.

The challenge I worked on this week was "Guess What." The idea behind it was taking an extreme closeup, to the point of abstraction.

I have been keeping an eye out for a good subject, but not much interested me until this week. The first picture here is of a broken CD I found in a parking lot. The colors captivated me and I ended up taking the bits home and photographing them in my own drive. I am pretty pleased with how it came out, it's almost straight from the camera with just a bit of cropping.

pansy by Teckelcar
pansy, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The second picture is of a pansy from Nate's Bar Mitzvah, they had overwintered in some of my deck flower boxes. The plants have been looking a bit ragged the past month, but have sprung forth with the warm weather. This picture is truly sootc. I was able to position the camera just right to get the bright backdrop. I realize it's not terribly abstract, but it is an excellent close-up of a pansy in situ with natural light. Again I love the colors and I wanted to share the picture and the flower.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Toupee, Or Not Toupee

John by Teckelcar
John, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
That is certainly quite a question.

We did some big haircuts this past weekend and at one point I had a large pile of hair. While scooping it up I noticed it was just the right size for a dachshund hairpiece.

I tried Dell at first, but he kept rolling over for tummy rubs. So I grabbed the always patient John. He puts up with all sorts of shenanigans with a sort of resigned look. This time was no exception. He calmly sat there as I tweaked the hair and tried to get just the right angle for the picture.

I think the final result was a hoot.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Artist of the Week: Pre-Festival Concert 2012

This week's artist is Jake along with his fellow members of wing symphony. This was recorded back on March 1st. The concert was a sort of pre-assesment warm-up. The following week they performed for a panel of judges. They did a bang-up job and got top marks from the judges. However, they were not done. They not only played the three pieces here, but also did a sight reading with an unfamiliar piece. The director was given 15 minutes to organize her students, then they had to perform for the judge. Again they scored top marks. It was a proud day for all the students and their parents.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Baking With Julia- Irish Soda Bread

Irish soda bread by Teckelcar
Irish soda bread, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This week's baking challenge on Tuesday's with Dorie/ Baking with Julia was Irish soda bread.

A simple bread that is only composed of four ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk. I have never eaten it before, much less baked it, and honestly I don't think I ever would have if I wasn't doing this baking challenge. Maybe it's the raisins that most people put in, I don't like them and that probably scared me off this particular treat.

Anyhoodle here I am with my very first Irish soda bread.

It really is a snap to make, a welcome relief from the previous albeit delicious tour de force. I waited until it was time for me to pick up Jake from school. Since it's such an ephemeral bread I wanted it to be at its best when my main bread eater was home. Jake loved it and the two of us blew through half the loaf. I've kept it wrapped in a damped towel, but I can see the quality dropping off as the day progresses. I think the bread's next stop is to be sliced up and frozen. It should be a tasty treat for breakfast after it gets toasted.

For a full run down of the bread, with recipes, head on over to Chocolate Moosey and My Culinary Mission.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Schrödinger's Cat

In honor of last week's Pi day, a little fun with physics.
Turns out there is a whole host of mini physic lectures by the same person.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Project MCP: Natural Light

dandelion by Teckelcar
dandelion, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This month's second challenge is natural light and I finally got some time during my favorite daylight hours, just before sunset, to take pictures.

Saturday I got dinner all set up and in the oven, giving me about 20 minutes to prowl around the yard. Originally I was going to take pictures of the kids, but they were far too busy playing in the backyard. The shadows were too deep to take the kind of  pictures I wanted, I had to move to the western facing front yard.

AS  I scanned the yard from the front steps I saw a dandelion near the edge of the lawn. It was still illuminated by the sinking sun and was too good to pass up. I had to stretch out on the grass to get just the right angle. It took a few shots to get the focus just right. Feeling pretty pleased I headed back inside, pausing to take a quick picture of the Bradford pear that was in full bloom (that picture was a big meh).

flowers by Teckelcar
flowers, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
I was halfway down the driveway when I saw these bright and cheery flowers.

I have no idea what they are. They keep popping up year after year with zero help from me. The low slanting rays of light illuminated them with the warmest glow and I had to take a few pictures of them as well. 

I love both of these pictures and I'm so glad that this time around I can submit multiple images. If I had to choose I think it would be the dandelion. Maybe.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Ricotta Cake Goodness

Today was my synagogue's monthly pot luck dinner and service. Since it was the second week in a row of dairy pot lucking (for most of the year our congregation does dairy, the grand exception is the passover seder) Meryl and I opted to bring pizzas, there is only so much meatless lasagne and baked ziti I can eat. Meanwhile I needed to make a dessert.

I had a large amount of ricotta cheese leftover from the last lasagne I made, so a ricotta cake seemed to be in order. After looking through most of my cook books I had to fall back to the Google cookbook, none of my cook books had anything I wanted to try. My search criteria were ricotta cheese (and lots of it) and a minimum of oddball ingredients. The winner was from the Food network's Giada De Laurentiis' show Everyday Italian. The only things I needed to get were amaretto and more strawberries. It is called Ricotta Orange Pound Cake with Strawberries.

I decided to substitute almond extract for the amaretto and bake it in a 9 inch cake pan. Since it was a potluck, I thought it would be better to make a cake instead of a loaf. A cake I could cut into two layers and fill with the strawberries, thus guaranteeing each slice would have the strawberry goodness.

The cake was excellent. It needed to cook much longer that what was stated in the recipe, which had been noted by more than one person in he comments on the site. The strawberries worked out very well as a filling. I considered adding whipped cream, but decided against it. I thought the cake needed to be tasted before adding anything else and I'm still on the fence. I think I will not add whipped cream. The cake is not meant to be all tarted up and fancy, I like the clarity of flavors and I think whipped cream would blunt it.

The cake is definitely a keeper. I forgot to photograph it, so I'll just have to make it again.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

10 Years of IEATAPETA

I can't believe it, but it's the 10th anniversary of International Eat A Tasty Animal For PETA Day. I'm a dedicated omnivore and I happily go along with the whole idea behind IEATAPETA, Meryl has the full run down here.

We started out with sausages for breakfast plus Rebecca and I split a mom mcmuffin- fried egg, cheese, Canadian bacon, all on a toasty buttered English muffin. Lunch was leftover pumpkin pie (eggs, butter, and milk) with a tall glass of milk. I snacked on a few beef raviollis afterwards to pad it out. Dinner was grilled barbeque chicken breasts and beer (hey don't forget the poor little exploited yeast).

So yeah, I think we had it covered. Oh and peta can go stuff it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pumpkin and Chicken Pot Pi !

pumpkin and chicken pot pi by Teckelcar
pumpkin and chicken pot pi, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
In honor of Pi day we had a 2 Pi (dinne)r, chicken pot pi for the mains and pumpkin Pi for dessert. Which was a true labor of love since the temperatures are in the 80s(!) both yesterday, when I roasted the chicken, and today.

If you look closely you can see the pi symbol on each pie. The pumpkin was easy, just pinch off some pie crust and roll it into a long strand. The hardest part was floating the crust on the unbaked filling. The chicken pot pie is a bit harder to see, all I did was cut a pi shaped steam vent.

Both pies were well received and very much appreciated by my very nerdy family.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spring Forth

Spring Forth by Teckelcar
Spring Forth, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
It hit 80 today and became skirt weather. Leaves are bursting out and the flowers are popping up everywhere I look. It may be a few days yet to the vernal equinox and the official start of spring, but as far as I'm concerned spring is here.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The 53rd Hour

Yet another Tropfest short. This one is the winner of the Mobile category of Tropfest Australia. A poignant film shot entirely on the director's (Jason van Genderen) iPhone. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012


It's been baking, baking, baking all this past week. Rugelach for the blog thingy I'm doing, hamantashen for Purim, two batches of chocolate chip cookies for concessions at the band festival (one for Friday and one for Saturday), and a lasagna for the Purim potluck yesterday.

I don't want to touch my oven for a week.

Mind you I enjoyed making all those things, I just wish it all hadn't been in a five day period. At least things will be back to normal for a bit. That is until the next potluck on Friday. Meryl's idea of springing for pizza is sounding better and better.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Project MCP: Transition Winter into Spring

Winter into Spring by Teckelcar
Winter into Spring, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
MCP Project 12 has been switched to Project MCP. The Project 12 version wasn't generating a whole lot of photos so it was decided by the owner to switch to four challenges a month as apposed to just one.

Which made me very happy.

The one challenge a month was very limiting and honestly boring. If I didn't like it I was stuck for the whole month. Multiple images were encouraged, but again if it wasn't your cuppa tea you not going to be very inspired. I love the four challenges a month and the flexibility of whatever order I want.

One of the four themes this month is transition. What better way to demonstrate that word than the transition of winter into spring. Our little surprise snowstorm last weekend caught my crab apple with its new little leaves and I think this picture is very apt for defining transition.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Beauty in Strange Places

Purple by Teckelcar
Purple, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Sometimes even pollution can be beautiful.

As I mentioned before, it was my turn to drive the carpool to Sunday school and I had my camera with me. However graffiti was not the only thing on my mind. I keep my eyes open when I'm up in the city because sometimes I find beauty in the oddest places. It is almost always worthwhile to have a camera on hand. Case in point was the short walk from the parking lot down the alley to Sunday school.

While tromping down the narrow cobblestone road (yes Richmond has plenty of cobblestones) I espied a flash of bright purple between the stones. It was so very striking amongst the grey rock and green moss, I just had to get my camera out. The picture really doesn't do it justice, the color was far more vivid in person. Of course the big question was why and where did it come from.

color on water by Teckelcar
color on water, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
I got my answer just a few steps later.

The purple was from what I presumed to be gasoline overlaying the puddle that was draining through the cobblestones. The gas formed a beautiful iridescent overlay on the water. The sight was mesmerizing. I know the spill wasn't doing the environment any favors, but the effect was amazing.

I do my best to be a good steward of the planet and I would never deliberately spill such a noxious item. However I do appreciate beauty in even the ugliest of things.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Artist of the Week: Hamantaschen

Rebecca by Teckelcar
Rebecca, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
In honor of Purim Rebecca is this week's artist for our hamantaschen.

There is no snow around here, but I going to pretend with this picture of Rebecca for our trip up north. It is technically still winter, dang it. Our almost non-winter did cough up two snowstorms and we did get a snow day. However spring is here with new leaves, daffodils, and forsythia in bloom.

Anyhoodle, back to Purim and the hamantaschen.
Rebecca was very keen on making the hamantaschen this year. On Monday while I was gearing up to make the rugelach, she kept asking about the hamantaschen.
Hamantaschen by Teckelcar
Hamantaschen, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.

"When will we make them, can we do it now?"

So I told her Tuesday would be the day. I would make the dough while she's at school and it would be ready to go after dinner (I wanted to make sure homework would get done beforehand).

Rebecca has become quite an assistant in the kitchen. As I rolled and cut the dough, she filled the circles with the chocolate filling she helped to prepare.We both folded up the cookies and I can honestly state that for the first time I can't tell which are her cookies. My little girl is becoming quite the cook.

Happy Purim!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Baking With Julia- Rugelach

ready to roll by Teckelcar
ready to roll, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
It's Tuesday and that means I'm probably "Baking with Julia."

The first recipe this month is a doozy of a cookie, in fact I never even considered it as a cookie. I just thought of it as a rather messy and very tasty pastry. Either way it is called rugelach and I like it.

I was a bit dismayed at first when I saw I had to chill the dough twice and the high prune content. I couldn't do anything about the chilling, but I did do something about the prunes. The recipe calls for either prune or apricot lekvar, both of which are a sort of prune/apricot butter. Well, why not substitute apple butter for the lekvar? The apple butter would certainly work with all the cinnamon and nuts.  So that is exactly what I smeared on the dough before sprinkling on the dried fruits and nuts. For the fruit I opted for a mixture of dried apples and cranberries with walnuts rounding it all out.Then the whole mess got rolled up, chilled, sliced and baked.

rugelach by Teckelcar
rugelach, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Baking turned out to be a bit of a challenge. Or rather the post baking cool down. I waited a smidge too long and had a devil of a time getting it all off the paper I lined the cookie sheet. I had to bust out my silpat baking mat for the later batches. The rugelach is very tasty and the dough has a wonderful flavor that nicely counters the dried fruit and nuts.

I'm not sure if I'll do this again, but it is very good. I need to see what the rest of the family thinks of it. Jake thought it was very good, we'll see about the rest tomorrow.

Monday, March 05, 2012

L'Odyssée de Cartier

Yes it's an ad for Cartier, but it is a beautiful short. Even my thirteen year old thought it was pretty good.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Super Mouse Revisted

Super Mouse Revisted by Teckelcar
Super Mouse Revisted, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
With our Sunday school carpool  I haven't been up to Richmond very often, but I was happy to see this weekend what was happening with my favorite piece of Richmond graffiti. Last month I noticed a new addition, blue cat. It is a rather faintly spray-painted cat that almost seems to be the reason for super mouse's heroic leap.

I love it.

It is a very crudely done sketch and it makes me smile when I see it.  I made an effort to bring my camera along this weekend so I could catch the cat before it was gone. It is already paler and more indistinct from the last time I saw it three weeks ago. I think time and weather will slowly erode it from the bricks and that's fine by me, I got a my picture.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Silly Girl

Silly Girl by Teckelcar
Silly Girl, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The dogs' crates are located under a table right next to my computer. It's a good spot for the dogs, out of the way yet close to the action.

For whatever reason, on Monday Max and Rebecca viewed the crates as their playground. In the course of an hour we determined that one 10 year old and one standard sized dachshund can both fit inside a medium sized crate. Two 10 year olds can also fit together inside a crate, but with far less room to spare than the dog plus human combination. As an added bonus a 10 year old can also fit on top of the said crates.

John found all of this vaguely distressing. He was fine sharing a crate, heaven knows he's always piling in with Dell, but he decided it was best to sit in his own crate and keep an eye on things. Dell meanwhile thought it was fun, all that was needed was more treats.

Thursday, March 01, 2012


squirrel by Teckelcar
squirrel, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This little bugger of late has been the bane of our dogs' existence. It has been clambering around my beloved crab apple tree that is framed by the window near the kitchen table. It leaps from limb to limb, pausing to eat the dried crab apples from last year.

When the dogs first saw it they stampeded to the window and peered out the window while barking madly. I would open the door and the red dogs would thunder out and careen off the deck, still barking. Of course the squirrel would be long gone, usually up on the roof.

Now the boys stretch out on the staircase with their heads pointed towards the window. They are about a third of the way up the steps and now have an excellent view of the wee beastie. They still bark, but it's not as frantic as before. When I open the door to let them out they look at me as if to say "No thanks, we can see just fine from here."