Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Herobrine and the Senorita by Teckelcar
Herobrine and the Senorita, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
I hope y'all had a happy Halloween, I know we did. Earlier in the week it was a bit dicey whether or not it would happen, what with Sandy and all. But we got lucky, it was just a glancing blow so our neighborhood has power and it was a fine, if a bit chilly, night for trick or treating.

Rebecca chose an easy costume to identify, a lovely little seƱorita. It was a challenge to find her something that wasn't... trashy. I really dislike the prevalence of "ho-wear" that is currently the fashion for all girls. Since Rebecca is not into the princess scene it was hard finding something she liked. Even Rebecca was disconcerted by the outfits available.

Max's is a bit more obscure. He is the non-existent character Herobrine from Minecraft (if you want to give the links a miss- Minecraft is a computer game where you can build almost anything with blocks and Herobrine is a person). I was able to download a pdf of the box head wrap created by Thisguyisme (warning on the camera work, it is not an easy video to watch, but the pdf files are outstanding) on youtube and tweak it just a bit to fit the box we had. Herobrine is just a Steve with white eyes, so I had to strip out the blue eyes in the files, but the rest was perfect.

Nate carving by Teckelcar
Nate carving, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
As for the pumpkins this year, I only got six. I made sure to get them early so as to avoid last year's lack of pumpkin debacle. I didn't get more as Halloween approached because of that pesky Sandy. Halloween wasn't a sure thing and I didn't want to waste money on a boatload of pumpkins if it wasn't happening. Though the 2 for $5 pumpkins at Walmart on Saturday were certainly tempting.

Today was carving day and each kid got to pick out and design a pumpkin. Rebecca wanted a fiery unicorn, Jacob the Starfox logo, Max wanted a Creeper (a weird exploding creature from Minecraft), and Nate wanted to make the Aperture logo from Portal. As you can see Nate even carved his pumpkin and I must say he did a bang up job. As for the remaining two pumpkins I did a fairly traditional one and Cthulhu. All in all a rather nerdy set of pumpkins.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pup and Pumpkins

pup and pumpkins by Teckelcar
pup and pumpkins, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
We weathered Sandy just fine. Central Virginia had, at worst, a glancing blow. We had rain, rain, and yet more rain. The promised high winds never really materialized and as a result there was no massive power outages or road blockages.

John, however, did have to deal with window blockages. The final step of my hurricane preparations was to bring in the pumpkins. I didn't want them smashed before they were even carved, so in they came. I set them just inside the door, no way was I going to lug them through the house to the garage.

And thus I got this lovely shot of one of the red boys by the pumpkins.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Eleven

blown out by Teckelcar
blown out, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This weekend we were able to sneak in Max's birthday party before the bottom dropped out and everybody started panicking about Sandy.

All Max wanted was to go to Waffle House and have some friends sleepover. We keep the guest list small and Max got just what he wanted. Since Waffle House is jammed in the morning we decided to go for dinner. Larry and Jacob were unable to attend (pesky high school football game that marching band would be at) which made us a group of seven. We couldn't all fit in one booth, so Max and his three guests got a table while Nate Rebecca, and I sat at the counter nearby. The boys were very well behaved and really enjoyed being at their own table.

fire turtle by Teckelcar
fire turtle, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Then it was back to the house to have Max's standard cake, a turtle shaped battle field with a war on top. This year he wanted a tank, which is the blobby green thing with the Cheerio gun. The boys then spent the rest of the evening tearing around the house whilst shoot each other with Nerf type guns. A wonderful time was had by all, even the big guys joined in the fun for a bit.

I'm glad Sandy wasn't able to mess up Max's party.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Project MCP: Spooky

Webbed by Teckelcar
Webbed, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The final challenge for this month is "spooky," a fitting subject for the close of October.

I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to do until this morning. It was damp and misty morning with the sky  brooding grey in advance of the upcoming "frankenstorm." Hooray, moody weather was just what I needed.

On the morning dog walk I kept an eye out for spooky subject matter. About halfway along I noticed little spiderwebs in the grass. Perfect, the webs had trapped some of the mist and were clearly visible. I resolved to search my own yard once I was back home.

Weaver by Teckelcar
Weaver, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
I love the top picture, with the dark tress in the background it looks downright menacing. I had to mist the web a bit with a spray bottle to accentuate the web. It had dried out and was only faintly visible.

The bottom picture, however, is my favorite. The soccer goal netting in the background really adds to the composition. I had a hard time selecting pictures and in the end I decided both were worthy for submission.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Not Right in the Head

 It's meme time!

I decided to take a rather simplistic right brain/ left brain quiz and here is the result:

Right Brain/ Left Brain Quiz
The higher of these two numbers below indicates which side of your brain has dominance in your life. Realising your right brain/left brain tendancy will help you interact with and to understand others.
Left Brain Dominance: 11(11)
Right Brain Dominance: 7(7)
Right Brain/ Left Brain Quiz

Nothing terribly shocking here, I live on the slightly more logical side of the street. But! I am not completely there. As I said it is a simplistic test, though one question really resonated with me, the whole "If I forgot someone's name, I'd go through the alphabet until I remembered it" fits me to a tee. While the finding things was only a partial yes, I'm big on color. I can find anything (even if it is not mine and I didn't lose it) if I know what color I'm looking for.

I've shamelessly stolen the quiz from Diane.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Artist of the Week: Got Game

Nate by Teckelcar
Nate, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Nate is this week's artist because he's got game.

Nate is a natural athlete and as a result he does well in most sports. Right now he is currently involved with a travel lacrosse team. Since it is not lacrosse season the team does not have any regular games. However they do go to various tournaments in the area.

A week and a half ago there was a tourney up in Richmond. Nate's team was scheduled to play on Sunday, the idea being that it would be just a one day event for each age group. Then we got a call. It turned out the age group that Nate used to be in would not have a goalie, could Nate fill in? Their games would be Saturday, so the two teams had no scheduling conflicts. We asked Nate and he was game.

Poor guy was wiped out Saturday, he was in the whole time and played very hard. He also played well as a borrowed goalie and his team won their age group! Sunday, however, was a different story. Nate did his best, but the sheer amount of playing time from both days wore him down. Even though his team did not win their age group, he did a good job. By the time Nate got home he was utterly exhausted. It took him two days to recover. That'll be the last time he plays for two teams in one tournament.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dog Shaming

bad dogs by Teckelcar
bad dogs, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Dog Shaming is my new favorite website.

The idea is that your dog has committed some sin, you make a sign describing what happened, and take a picture of the dog with said sign. The result is quite often hilarious.

I found out about it from a dachshund owning friend. There is a rather dubious pride in the dachshund community in preponderance of dachshunds on the site, partially due to the site's owner having dachshunds. But the real reason is because dachshunds are awful dogs that get into all sorts of mischief (and yet we love them).

I whipped up this picture of the red boys and submitted it to the site. So far it hasn't appeared, but the website is transitioning to another platform and it may have gotten lost in the shuffle. I'll try again after the dust settles.

And yes, John really did eat the floor of the shed. He was trying to get to the critter underneath.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Destiny

Sometimes Destiny is not to be trifled with. A wonderfully paced short film from the Bellecour School of Art, France. Watch it all the way to the end.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Riding High

Pony girl by Teckelcar
Pony girl, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Today was a beautiful day and Rebecca and I got to enjoy it. I had a meeting with my dog club and I decided to take advantage of the fact that a friend who has horses was just 5 miles further out. Rebecca and I grabbed our riding gear and tossed it in the van before heading on out.

We were done with the meeting in short order and  were out the door for a little fun. Unfortunately our friend couldn't stay, she had plans, but we were welcome to take the pony out.

I showed Rebecca how to properly groom a horse, which seemed to take forever in her mind. However, when I pointed out the small stone in the hoof she realized I had a point. Then it was out to the ring for a bit of a ride. They pony has a very sweet temperament so Rebecca could ride bareback with just a halter. I like the idea of her starting this way so she can get a true feel for how to sit.

Rebecca was very comfortable riding at a walk and was ready for more. I led the pony into a trot and soon Rebecca was able to manage all on her own. If fact she did so well she accidentally managed to get the pony into a canter. It was a shocking development for Rebecca and she quickly slowed the pony down. I explained what happened and Rebecca regained her composure and was brave enough to canter a few more times. It was, I think, an exhilarating day for my girl.

When Rebecca was finished I had her ride just a bit more at a walk as a sort of "cool down." It wasn't totally necessary, but it is a good idea to instill in her now. I want her to think about the needs of her ride and not just herself. Then it was a quick rub down with a further inspection of the feet and the pony was returned to its field.

It was a wonderful way to spend part of beautiful fall afternoon.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Project MCP: Favorite Fall Activity

morning walk by Teckelcar
morning walk, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
There are lots of things I like to do in the fall, but I think my favorite is the morning dog walk. I love heading out in the brisk fall air and the walk seems to be a bit easier. The sun sits lower now and seems softer, no longer the cruel mistress of summer.

The colors are more vivid with the added bonus of little splashes of color here and there from new plantings and fall foliage. And if I'm lucky there is the smell of freshly turned earth when people have their lawns aerated. Later on I get to smell the fragrant smoke as fireplaces get pressed into service.

Everyday there is something new on the walk as we transition from one season to the next and that makes for a great walk.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Yay Slippers!

I love the weather we are having now, low seventies during the day and falling down to the mid forties at night. The brisk mornings are far more pleasurable than the swampy sauna that we greet me each morning in the summer. The best part is that I get to wear slippers again.

I had a lovely purple pair that Larry got me, oh about two years ago. Unfortunately the dogs liked them as well and ate one. I couldn't find the same pair again, but I did find an acceptable replacement at Kohl's. So now I get to curl up each morning with my feet in a cozy pair of slippers.

Hooray for fall and the attendant lower temps and hooray for slippers!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sunbow

sunbow by Teckelcar
sunbow, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Things are a little topsy-turvy this week, but I promise I'll soon be back to my regularly scheduled programing.

Anyhoodle this morning I saw the most remarkable sight, an honest to goodness sunbow. I have never seen one before, so I am very glad I looked up and noticed what was happening in the morning sky.

It formed a perfect circle around the sun with a fair amount of color. I did not have my camera with me, as I was escorting Max and Rebecca to the bus stop and from there heading out for my long walk with the dogs. I decided to chance waiting the thirty minutes and getting my camera after returning home, I could then take pictures without two dogs tugging on their leashes. The sunbow had clearly faded as he high misty cloud was burning off, but you can see a trace of it there in the picture.

This was an amazing sight and I hope to see it again.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Project MCP: Fall Leaves

nibbled by Teckelcar
nibbled, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The third Project MCP photography challenge for October was "Fall Leaves."

Now back in Vermont this would be a snap, a friend of mine from high school has been posting on Facebook wonderful shots of fall foliage. However I'm in central Virginia and I can't magically transport myself up north. I have to wait for the far more subdued palate that nature uses around here later on in the season (we are roughly three weeks behind). Add in the dreary wet weather I haven't been able to do much until now.

Autumn by Teckelcar
Autumn, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The first two pictures I took during Rebecca's soccer practice. It was late afternoon and the sun was at just the right angle to add a wonderful luminosity to the leaves. I sent Rebecca on ahead so  could slowly meander over to her practice field, taking pictures without an impatient 11 year old by my side.

Of the two I think the second one is my favorite. I like how I got the picture depth just right, the focus is just on the spray of leaves in the foreground. The other picture captured interesting details in the leaf, you can see a small area where insects have nibbled away leaving a filigree of veins.

I am so glad I remembered to grab my camera on my way out the door. The weather is perfect and I got an inkling this morning during the dog walk that I should keep my camera handy.

fallen by Teckelcar
fallen, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The final picture here is from that walk this morning. I stuffed my cell phone in my pocket just in case Nate, who was home sick, needed to know where I was. He never did call, but I did use my phone to take this picture. The contrast of the bright orange leaf on the black road really caught my eye. I also like the shadow cast by the leaf and the slight curl to the edge. The picture is far from perfect, but considering it's from my basic smart phone it is pretty darn good.

All three are straight out of the camera with the very tiny exception of the image rotation of the middle picture. No cropping, sharpening, or color correction was needed. I was able to compose my shots in the viewfinder and present them as is.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Happy Birthday Times Two

Cookies by Teckelcar
Cookies, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Today is Max and Rebecca's 11th birthday. To celebrate I baked a batch of sugar cookies for Max's class and a batch and a half of cupcakes for Rebecca's class to be eaten at lunchtime. Right now their respective classrooms are thirty plus students apiece, hence the batch and a half cupcakes. It worked out that I gave treats to at least half of the entire fifth grade today. I could have handed out even more (it was so hard passing by a few of my favorites), but I had to draw the line somewhere.

The large class sizes are, fortunately, coming to an end soon. The school was able to convince the school to allow them to hire an additional fifth grade teacher. Luckily my two don't have to move, but I wouldn't protest too much if they did. The end result will be a smaller class sizes all around.

Cupcakes by Teckelcar
Cupcakes, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
As for the treats, well there was much fist pumping when I arrived in the cafeteria  laden with all my baked goods. I gave out the cookies to Max's class first and amazingly only one got dropped. I had a several extras, four to be exact, so nobody was left out. Then it was time for the rather gooey cupcakes for Rebecca's table. One child declined, I think chocolate was not her thing, so she got a cookie instead.

The whole thing was a rousing success and I had enough cupcakes leftover to bring home for us to enjoy after dinner. The official birthday parties will be held in the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunset on a Busy Weekend

sunset by Teckelcar
sunset, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Between band, soccer, and lacrosse I logged a lot of miles this weekend.

It all started with a game Friday night. Rebecca's team was invited to be ball girls for the VCU women's match up. The girls were stationed along the edge of the field, each one in charge of a soccer ball. If a ball went out of bounds the nearest ball girl would hand her ball to the player and then chase down the errant ball. It got very cold, but the girls remained cheerful and had a grand time noshing on popcorn during halftime.

Then on Saturday it was soccer games for the dynamic duo, lacrosse tourney for Nate, and a band competition for Jacob. I did soccer duty while Larry dropped off Jacob and took Nate. It was a long day with Jacob's bus arriving an hour later than originally scheduled.

Today I was very thankful that it was not our turn for the Sunday school carpool, I happily  pushed Max and Rebecca out the  door at 8:30 and enjoyed a few hours of piece and quiet. Larry meanwhile took Nate to day two of lacrosse before heading out for a game of his own. It was up to me to collect Nate, which I did after Rebecca's rare Sunday afternoon game.

Everybody had a good time, but I think they will be glad this busy weekend is over when they head back to school.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Sideways

Beth Ahabah by Teckelcar
Beth Ahabah, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Last Sunday I was kicking around Beth Ahabah, at loose ends waiting for the bell to ring. I was waiting for Max and Rebecca to finish up their classwork at Hebrew school before whisking them off to Rebecca's soccer game.

I have passed by this view dozens of times, but never really noticed until now. It is a rather different view of the front edifice via a very oblique angle. When I truly saw the view it stopped me in my tracks. I dug out my cell phone and I think got a fairly decent shot.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Plaited

plaited by Teckelcar
plaited, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Rebecca had soccer practice today and the big question before I take her is pony tail or braid. After years of battling she has realized that long, loosely  flowing hair and soccer do not mix. So now she tolerates the brushing out and gathering up of her tresses.

Which brings us back to the question: braid or pony tail?

Today she wanted three braids in a braid or, as I called it, a mega-braid.

This was a first for her and once I started it dawned on her that this would be an even longer process than normal. She fidgeted for a bit, but soon settled as each braid was made.The end result I thought was quite pretty and I took a few pictures so she could see my handy work. I think she agrees since she didn't immediately pull it all out once we were back home.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Artist of the Week: Voice

flower child by Teckelcar
flower child, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Rebecca is this week's artist.

I took this picture of her, at her behest, waaay back in July. Max wanted pictures of him hiding in the tall grass. With his blond hair and the dried tops of the grasses, he quickly faded from view. It was a very easy assignment. Rebecca however wanted to be seen, just on her terms. Her request was a picture of her "behind a flower." So with a daisy in hand she found a spot to her liking and kneeled in the grass with her flower.

Her picture this week is not so much about visuals, but about voice. She had to illustrate the importance of a writer's voice.

voice by Teckelcar
voice, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
I found the illustration while sorting through her school work. Tomorrow is recycling day and I wanted to pull as much unimportant pieces of paper as possible. I love the quizzical cat in the left hand picture. The dog, on the other hand, seems to have no issue with its legless state. Both pictures are very cute and are a fun way to illustrate the importance of voice.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Boy and His Dog

Boy and his Dog by Teckelcar
Boy and his Dog, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Nate loves the dogs and is inevitably in some way with them. He'll set up a comfy spot on a chair next to him, he"ll be down on the floor rolling about, or call them up to join him when it"s bedtime.

In this picture he was beneath my chair with John. I thought they looked cute together and grabbed my camera for a couple of blind shots. I was just holding out my camera and guessing where to point the lens. Apparently I had a good idea of where they were and got this rather thoughtful moment as they gaze into each other's eyes.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Sunday, October 07, 2012

What to Do with Key Limes

key lime cheesecake by Teckelcar
key lime cheesecake, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
I've blogged about key lime cheesecake before, but dang... this one came out so pretty. I just had to share.

The cheesecake came about for two reasons, my in-laws were visiting for the weekend and I had picked up a bag of key limes. It was a toss up between cheesecake or pie and the cheesecake won out. I ended up calling Larry at work and had him pick. It was just as good as I remembered and was a huge hit with all those over the age of thirty in the house.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Project MCP: Cozy

cozy by Teckelcar
cozy, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Cozy is the second challenge for October and I think this picture fills the bill very nicely.

I wasn't quite sure how I was going to portray cozy, since the heat has come back here in Virginia. I know it's far cooler now than a month ago, but after a week or so of mid 70s, 80 plus is too hot. The one saving grace is that it cools down substantially each night, so it is a bit chill in the morning. As a result, Rebecca could be found the other morning wrapped up in a cozy blanket while not getting ready for school.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Project MCP: Shadows

Sun Dappled Dachshunds by Teckelcar
Sun Dappled Dachshunds, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The first Challenge for October was shadows which proved to be a bit tricky this week. The weather has been stuck on warm (dare I say hot), gloomy and rather damp. Which has made for foggy mornings and not a whole lot of sunshine for making shadows.

I did, however, get this picture of the red boys out in the woods. I like the play of light and dark on their bright red coats. It was just happenstance their positioning being so perfectly bracketed by the branch coming off of the log I was sitting on. It makes for an interesting composition.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Artist of the Week: Still Reading

Max and Dell by Teckelcar
Max and Dell, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
It's been about a year since I last bragged about Max's reading skills and I'm happy to report he is still going strong.

We just got his interim report card today and he has so far garnered an A in reading. Not bad for a kid in first grade who could barely read, who is now in 5th grade he is very happily reading The Hobbit.

I'm so grateful for his first grade teacher that recognized it was more of a case of boredom, nothing she could offer at his reading level interested him. She found us an excellent tutor and over the summer before 2nd grade she was able to get him moving. It was money and time well spent.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Baking With Julia- Whole Wheat Loaves

Mmmm toast by Teckelcar
Mmmm toast, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Now I was supposed to bake this last month, but it never happened. I was going to bake today's bread, Cranberry-Walnut Pumpkin loaves, however I didn't have all the ingredients and I felt too crappy to go out and buy them plus the dough needed to rest overnight. So instead of doing the whole wheat for the last week of October (the official make-up week) I swapped the two to fit my schedule.

Whew.

Not lets get down to brass tacks. Whole Wheat Loaves was scheduled for Sept.18th over at Tuesdays with Dorie or as I call it Baking with Julia, the two hosts were Veggie Nums Nums and The Family That Bakes Together. Both have full rundowns on the whole wheat loaves recipe.

I, like so many others, never did find the malt extract and used molasses in its staid. The resultant bread was still very tasty. Jake and Rebecca thought it was very good and far, far better than any store bought whole wheat. My picture doesn't do it justice, partially because it doesn't have the beautiful tall crown other bakers achieved. I was using large loaf pans the the dough got a bit lost in them. It did rise and produce a wonderfully chewy bread with a proper crust, it just should have been in a smaller pan. I think this will get me to go out and buy some proper bread pans. I will absolutely give this bread another try.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Sweater

Love the song, love the video. From the Belgian band Willow.