Friday, June 28, 2013

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Red Boys in Repose

Red Boys in Repose by Teckelcar
Red Boys in Repose, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The red boys certainly have the lazy days of summer down pat. We got this bed for them last year and it has proven to be a very good idea.

Years and years ago I got beds for the dogs and they were promptly ripped to shreds. I ended up getting a western style saddle pad and that lasted for many years, but it wasn't particularly comfy. This bed is far more comfortable and the red boys love it.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Artist of the Week: Battleship Box

Nate by Teckelcar
Nate, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This week's artist is Mr. Nate. This is one of those rare moments when he is in repose, the boy is the proverbial bundle of energy. If he spends too much time cooped up inside he will be fairly vibrating with energy, at that point all I can do is tell him to run laps around the house which he cheerfully does.

Silly boy.

Fortunately he is a very sweet kid and exhausting as he is, Nate is an easy person to live with. The key thing is to give him an outlet. Summer is easy since he can always bike down to the pool and burn off some energy.
Battleship Box by Teckelcar
Battleship Box, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.

Nate is also filled with a fair bit of creative energy and tries to have art as an elective whenever possible. This year he got to work in clay and brought home this battleship box. The  objective was to create a pencil box and yes, this is just able to hold a pencil.

I have the lid twisted so you can  see that it is a box. Normally the deck sits square and you wouldn't necessarily think it can be removed. I think it is very cunning creation.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Baking With Julia- Cheese and Tomato Galette

Cheese and Tomato Galette by Teckelcar
Cheese and Tomato Galette, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Last week's baking challenge for Baking with Julia was Cheese and Tomato Galette. I could have tried making it last Tuesday, but considering I came home that day after a lovely weekend away with my husband, I decided against such foolishness. It was hard enough getting back into the groove cooking dinner and such, an optional treat such as this was too much.

Which brings us to today.

The recipe called for 1/2 a batch of galette dough, conveniently I had such a thing stashed in my freezer. The dough was a leftover from the Berry Galette I made way back in August of last year.

Oh, that was quite a while ago, however the dough was fine. I really should label things better in the freezer and keep better tabs on little odds and ends like this.

Anyhoodle, as the dough defrosted I combined the cheese and basil. The recipe called for 2 oz mozzarella and 2 oz Monterey Jack.  I had the mozzarella, but not the Jack so I substituted Swiss and cheddar. As for the basil, 1/4 cup of chopped fresh basil was called for. I had only dried, my basil plant are quite big enough, though I did trim off a couple of small leaves for garnish. Once the dough was thawed I rolled it out and transferred to to my pizza pan. I tossed the cheese on top, sliced some tomato, and then layered on the slices on top of the cheese. The edges of the dough were folded up and then the whole thing was backed at 400 for about 40 minutes.

It smelt heavenly and I had a hard time waiting the proscribed 10 minutes for the galette to cool. But wait I diid and it was well worth the wait. I thought it was outstanding as did Larry.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Crabtree Falls, VA

Sixteen seconds of zen at Crabtree Falls. This is just one of five major cascades that comprise the 1,300 foot waterfall. It is the highest waterfall east of the  Mississippi.  The clip was filmed June 17, 2013.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Knackered

Blue Ridge by Teckelcar
Blue Ridge, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Today I drove to Blacksburg and back., which is no small feet considering to almost 4 hours away.

Jacob is attending a summer session at Virginia Tech. The course is an intensive week long exploration of architecture and design. He'll be there with other like minded high school students, living in a dorm and eating in a dining hall. It is a sort of mini preview of college living.

Meryl tagged along, she has never been to Virginia Tech and was curious to see what it like. I much appreciated the company for the long ride back. After Roanoke the roads are very empty. I got to see quite a bit more the Blue Ridge Mountains, but I forgot my camera so this picture from trip with Larry will have to suffice.

It wasn't a bad drive, but I'm happy to be home.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Happy Couple

Happy Couple by Teckelcar
Happy Couple, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Ah, here I am again after a lovely getaway with my husband of 21(!) years. We got back Tuesday, but I wasn't ready to get back here until today. The lone post I literally phoned in was on Sunday and it wasn't until now I saw the glaring typo, stupid tiny phone screen and clunky mobile interface.

Anyhoodle, we ran away Sunday, leaving the older boys home to care for the dogs and the younger two with their Aunt Meryl. Max has a semi-complicated medical routine and really needs adult help, otherwise I would have left all four home to shift for themselves. Apart from a few bulletions from Meryl via Facebook and email, we didn't hear a peep from them until Tuesday, about 20 minutes from home, when Nate called to see when we would be home. Not bad for a boy renowned for this check up calls when Larry and I go out for dinner.

Crabtree Falls, mid by Teckelcar
Crabtree Falls, mid, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
As for the trip we stayed at the lovely Afton Mountain Bed and Breakfast. From there we  visited two breweries, we highly recommend The Devils Backbone, George Washington National Forest, and a quick trip to Charlottesville for dinner. We ate too much, drank too much, did some hiking, read books, and had a lovely time, just the two of us. Now on to the pictures.

We got lucky with the weather on Monday when we went hiking. Larry had done some research before hand and picked out Crabtree Falls. From what I understand it is the tallest waterfall in the US east of the Mississippi. The height of the falls is just under 1,400 feet and it is quite a trek to the top. The first picture was taken about 3/4s of thew way up by a very nice fellow hiker with her two teenage children. There are numerous viewing areas along the falls which comprise of a series of falls.

Crabtree Falls, upper by Teckelcar
Crabtree Falls, upper, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The next picture of part of the falls midway up. It is an impressive torrent washing down the mountain. Throughout the hike there are numerous small signs warning of the dangers of straying off the path and clambering on the wet rocks. The first sign bluntly states 23 people have died since the mid 80's. A believable statistic when you see the sheer drop offs and the rushing waters. In fact the 28th victim was claimed just this past April (so yeah the sign was a little out of date).

The final picture is from near the top of the waterfalls. Larry though this was the most impressive part and I have to agree. What amazes me the most is just how much water is pouring down the mountain side. We didn't get to see the headwaters of the stream, which was located farther back on the mountain's top. However it must be like a fire-hose considering sheer volume of water.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day!

Dad by Teckelcar
Dad, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
A very cool picture of my father.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Flag Day

flags by Teckelcar
flags, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
I took this picture on Monday simply because I liked the sky and how the flags were snapping in the breeze. I completely forgot about flag day and it wasn't until after dinner and I was trying to decide what to post that i remembered.

Even if it wasn't Flag Day I would still post this picture. The lighting and composition are just right. I did nothing to this picture it is straight out of my cell phone. Cell cameras have come a long way.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

End of the Rainbow

Rainbow by Teckelcar
Rainbow, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Just one more day.

One more day of getting up early to prod children out of day and bustling them out the door to meet the bus.

One more day of packing school lunches that might be eaten.

I can't wait for that day to be over.

Conversely I can't wait for the first day of school in September.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Artist of the Week: Castle

Dinosaur Max by Teckelcar
Dinosaur Max, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This week's artist is Max, pictured here during the class field trip to DC. He is posed in front of a sculpture of a triceratops skull in front of the National Museum of Natural History (very interesting story about the skull). The triceratops was at one point Max's absolute favorite dinosaur, so it struck me as the perfect backdrop. Max agreed and happily stood in front of the bronze replica.

Anyhoo, this is about the little castle Max made in art class. It just came home yesterday, but I took this picture almost two weeks ago when it was on exhibit at the main administrative building for the school district.

castle by Teckelcar
castle, a photo by Teckelcar on Fl
It was a lovely little thing, perfect with a myriad details. There is a cluster of small buildings within the castle's walls and an aqueduct  brings water to into the castle complex.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Baking With Julia- Savarin

Savarin by Teckelcar
Savarin, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Last week's challenge over at Baking with Julia was Savarin. Yes I'm a week late, but it is the end of school and things are even crazier than usual. Between potluck dinners, end of soccer season parties, and hey lets give 5th grade pizza for lunch, I've been a wee bit busy. Also in my defense I made a complete hash out of my first attempt.Fortunately all I wasted was an egg, a bit of flour, sugar, and yeast. I had enough sense to toss the flat mess and not just plow forward.

So as you can see by the picture here I was very successful in the end.

As I mentioned before in my first attempt, the bread base was a flat and miserable failure. The second time around I halved the rising times and doubled the dough. Combine that with  going  all out on greasing the ring mold, I had a far more successful go of it. It still slumped a bit, but once you start soaking the bread with simple syrup, splashing a bit of pear flavored vodka (the recipe called for pear eau-de-vie and that's the closest I was going to get without shopping, hurrah for freebie sample bottles come with the regular stuff), filling the hole with whipped cream and ladeling warm berry sauce on top, who cares.

I admit I was a bit dubious of the whole thing, I nibbled on the flop and found it wanting in flavor. However, the full on savarin was fantastic. I don't know if I'll make it again, it was easy but certainly required a huge amount of tarting up.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Bootsy Collins- Stretchin Out Live

Because we can all use a little more funk on a rainy Monday.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Land Shark

land shark by Teckelcar
land shark, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
A few weeks ago I was in the woods, camera in hand, when I stumbled onto this fallen tree. Now I know it doesn't look like an actual shark, but the worn protrusions that flare out from the base of the tree look an awful like a dorsal fin of some sort of sea going creature.

Anyhoodle, I liked the tree and took a picture.

So what do you think it looks like?

Friday, June 07, 2013

Scary Cupcake

scary cupcake by Teckelcar
scary cupcake, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
At the band potluck we attended Tuesday Rebecca snagged this mini-cupcake. As she was unwrapping it she decided to make is scary. A slight tear to the cake, two dots of frosting for the eyes, and voilĂ  one frightening (or frightened) cupcake.

I'm posting this picture because this is how I feel about this week's Baking with Julia challenge. It's savarin and the first one I made was a complete and utter disaster. It completely collapsed on itself and refused to unmold. I think I sussed out went wrong, I over raised the dough and did an inadequate job greasing the mold.

I'm giving it another crack and this time I'll closely watch the dough and not let it rise out of control. I will also double the dough since I don't have a small ring mold and the dough looked a bit lost when I plopped it in.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Ants on a Picnic

Ants on a Picnic by Teckelcar
Ants on a Picnic, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Or random kid art.

A few weeks ago Max brought home a notice that a piece of his art was on display in the school district's main administration building. It was to remain on display until June 4th. After visiting the wrong building I finally got my act together and found the right place last Friday. I had Jacob along so he got to see the exhibit as well.

Right off the bat Jacob noticed something by Rebecca. Not the child I was expecting, but yay for the girl. As I meandered through the exhibit I found the area I thought I would find Max's piece. I was pretty sure it was a small sculpture and there it was, front and center with one of his best friend's work beside it.

Jacob trailed after me and as I was taking pictures he espied the picture I have included. We don't know the kid, but we agreed it was a great picture. It is very well done, great colors and a wonderful composition. I had to take a picture and share it with the internets. Good job M. I hope you keep on making such fun art.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Artist of the Week: Baking with Jacob

Jacob by Teckelcar
Jacob, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Jacob is this week's artist for his little foray in baking.

I can't believe my boy is finishing up his junior year of high school. He is looking at various colleges and universities with an eye towards architecture. He has grown a lot this year, but he is still the same goofy boy. He is starting to take more of an interest in how food appears on the table, but he is still a ways off in regards to cooking for the family. He'll get there, apart from cookies and cakes, I really didn't start cooking until junior year in college.

Anyhoodle, as I said the school year is winding down and as a result the assignments are getting rather... unique.
mock apple pie by Teckelcar
mock apple pie, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Monday he had an extra credit project for chemistry, to bake a "chemical apple pie." He started to tell me how there are no apples when I blurted out"Oh it's a mock apple pie and you use crackers."

Bingo.

I have never had nor baked one, but I have always been intrigued by the whole idea of a mock apple pie. This assignment should be very interesting. Pies, apart from the crust, are pretty easy to make and make for a good first time baking project. Jacob was to make the whole thing, all I could do was provide the materials and maybe coach a bit from the sidelines.

sliced mock apple pie by Teckelcar
sliced mock apple pie, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Here is the recipe he brought home from school:

"Chemical Apple Pie"
Materials needed:
1.5 quart saucepan
3 cups water
1.5 cups sugar
1.5 tsp cream of tartar
25 Ritz crackers
pastry for two pie crust (store bought is fine)
cinnamon
butter
pie plare

Procedure:
1.) Bring the 3 cups of water to a boil in the sauce pan.
2.) Mix the sugar with the cream of tartar and add this to the boiling water.
3.) Add 25 whole Ritz crackers, one at a ti8me, to the water.
 Do Not Stir
4.) Boil for 3 minutes but do nor stir.
5.) Pour this mixture into a pastry lined pie pan.
6.) Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and dot lightly with butter.
7.) Cover with the pastry top and pierce several times to allow steam to escape.
8.) Bake at 450 F for 30 minutes or until done.
9.) Allow to cool and taste for quality.

Pretty easy and not an apple in sight. I taught Jacob how to make pie crust, the main points being cold butter and handle it as little as possible. He did a great job rolling out the dough and assembling the pie. The only deviation was a dash of ground ginger to liven things up.

As for the pie itself, it actually worked. It's not the best pie in the world, but it looks and smells like a proper apple pie.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

My Kitties

Meeshu by Teckelcar
Meeshu, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
At this point in my life I'm a dog owner, but I still love the kitty cats. Between allergies and having dogs that would eat cats, it's just not a good idea to bring a cat into our household.

However, a long time ago I did have some cats. Way back in the 70's we acquired my first cat. Since we are all allergic she was a barn cat. I remember going to pick her out and bringing her home. I named her Meeshu (ME-shoe), I have no idea where that name came from, and loved her dearly.

We lived on a dirt road and had a huge old barn. She ranged about, but was always happy to go on walks with me in the fields around our house. She was an excellent mouser, and had one odd trait. She loved to be stroked, but on her terms. When she had enough she would turn her head and ever so gentle grab your hand with her mouth. I wouldn't call it a bite, since she never ever broke the skin.

Tasha b&W by Teckelcar
Tasha B &W, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
A few years and an interstate move later we acquired another cat, actually a whole family. Mica, a solid grey, has dumped at our house. She kicked Meeshu out of the cellar (we had a catdoor in one of the windows). At first we thought she was pregnant, but not long after we saw her nursing her kittens in the dog yard. It was a fascinating litter, one Siamese, two calicoes, and two black and whites with tuxedo markings.

Obviously Mica got around.

We figured out two of the fathers, the black and whites looked like the stray hanging around out barn. We called him Boris and he was like a shadow, never letting us near. The calicoes were most likely the result of a rendezvous with one of the many orange and white cats about two miles away. The orange cat house was legendary with my fellow school bus riders. Every day we would count all the visible cats, I think the highest total was 20 and each and every one of them was orange and white. As for the Siamese, that was a complete mystery.

Sadly the Siamese got nailed by one of the dogs. One black and white, Tippy, was given to our neighbor. The second was humanely put down as it was completely feral and vicious. It bit me while it was scruffed by twisting around in its skin. When we took it to the vet it climbed halfway up the bare wall and spat at us. The vet, who was not really on board with the whole putting it down, agreed that it was dangerous and it would be inhumane to release it in the wilds of VT. Once the kittens were weaned we had Mica spayed and found her a good home. She did not get along with Meeshu and very clearly wanted to be an indoor cat.

Thus leaving the two calicoes, Pablo and Tasha. We planned on keeping just Pablo, but when my mom picked Tasha up to take her to the shelter she said "If you purr you can stay. " And right on cue Tasha started purring. So for the summer we had three cats. Unfortunately Pablo got hit by a car that fall. Then we moved and Meeshu disappeared the day the moving trucks came. It was a local move and we kept returning to look for her, but she never did turn up. Tasha, however stayed on and lived to become the oldest cat in town. Seriously the vet called us when she was going through her records and realized exactly how old Tasha was at the time. I think she was at least 23 before she faded away. Not bad for an outdoor cat.

Monday, June 03, 2013

The Maker

A lovely and odd little film, I can't say any more without spoiling it. Brought to you by the director Christopher Kezelos

Just a baby polar bear being tickled

This is too cute not to share.