Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lavender Living

Lavender Living
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I've been meaning to take a picture of this house for years.And not just anytime of year, oh no it had to be in springtime when the red bud trees and the weeping cherry are in bloom. And as you can see here I got my shot.

And you may ask yourself why was it necessary to take a picture now.

Well it's because this time of year you can see how weeping cherry's blossoms almost match the color of the house. You can almost see for yourself in this picture. The cherry tree is on the far, far right hand side and tucked near the red buds.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Artist of the Week: Photography

Young Larry
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week Larry gets to be artist of the week.

Yes, that's my husband from way back. Long before I ever met him. He is such a cute little boy, you can definitely see the resemblance with our children, Nate in particular. I like to think we would have been friends, we have so much in common. However, we grew up world's apart and didn't meet until college.

And we have been together ever since.

Anyhoodle, enough with the mushy stuff. I'm writing here about art and the art form in question is photography.

For the most part I'm the family photographer. I spend the most time with the kids and I like to take pictures. But once in a while Larry is able to wrest the camera from me, usually it's when we are on vacation or a family outing. And the pictures he takes are always interesting, he's no slouch with the camera.

heading to the barn
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Thus bringing us to one of my favorite pictures.

This picture was from back in Nov., 2010. Larry took it when we were visiting a friend and giving the kids a chance to ride a horse (well in actuality it was a pony, a really nice pony). Since I was the one who had he most experience with horses I was the one wrangling the kids. Mind you Larry can ride as well, but I was the one who had taken years and years of lessons.

So I was busy with the kid and pony show and Larry had the camera. He took a ton of great photos that day. Rebecca, Max and Nate (Jake was home for various reasons) were having a great time and all three got to ride by themselves all the way up to a trot. There were lots of smiling faces that day.

But this picture I think was the best. Rebecca is leading the pony to the barn with our friend. We had just fetched our steed from the pasture and were bringing her in to be groomed and tacked up. The backlighting and long shadows make a very compelling image and I love the little bit of lens flare.

I just think this is a spectacular shot.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Freestyle Experiment Speedpainting Photoshop

Just a fun movie of someone using their Bamboo tablet interface.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Springtime, Snowtime

snow roses
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This morning we awoke to snow on the deck.

It wasn't very much, a dusting really. However it was enough for the dogs to leave paw prints as they headed out to yard. The sky was gray and sleet rattled against the skylights. I wasn't too keen on taking the kids to Richmond for Hebrew school. I checked the adverse weather hotline (no new message) and watched the news to see if we had a cancellation. No such luck, but I did take comfort from the reports that the roads were not icy. The ground had warmed enough that a single nights dip into the 20s was not enough to cause problems with the wintery mix.

We loaded into the van and headed off to school.

The sleet transitioned into snow and there was less traffic than usual. As promised by the newscasters the roads were fine, just wet from all the precipitation.

spring snow in Richmond
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
After I dropped off the kids to their respective classrooms. I decided to take a little walk in the surrounding neighborhood. I love taking pictures of flowers in the snow and the next street over was in a very quaint residential area called The Fan.

The Fan did not disappoint.

I found loads of flower pots and bushes graced with snow. Again I was stuck using my cell phone's camera, but this was the type of photography I can make work with it. I spent a very happy half hour strolling along a two blog stretch snapping pictures of whatever struck my fancy.

I then headed back home for a bit. Jake's class where he is an assistant, had been canceled. He needed to go back home to work on the boatload of homework he has due in the next couple of days. Interestingly when I went back to the same street a couple of hours later all the snow was gone. I'm glad I had taken the time earlier to catch the ethereal beauty of snow in March.

Friday, March 25, 2011

MCP Project 52: From The Jewelry Box

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
For this week's theme, from the jewelry box, it was fairly easy to come up with an idea. The hard part was waiting for a none rainy day that I was available to take pictures. I was just able to eke out a few shots before dinner.

If you look in my Flickr photostream (just click on this picture) I had four different shots I was deciding amongst. In the end this one won out because I like the second earring that is at the edge of the shot and just a bit out of focus.The kids didn't care for this one, but it's my favorite. So in the end I went with the one that I found more visually interesting.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Life With a Teenager

Today I drove Jake to the train station for his big FIRST Robotics trip to DC.

He packed for his trip without and assistance from me other than supplying clean laundry. We had a very rational discussion of how much cash he should bring for meals. He asked if he should bring his laptop and I recommended no, it would be a pain to lug around and it would not be a good idea to leave it in the hotel room. Jake was a bit disappointed, but understood the reasoning (though was a bit surprised).

All in all he is becoming a very reasonable and responsible human being.

However he did end up leaving his camera in the car and I had to remind twice not to wander off from his luggage. So he's not quite there yet, but my boy is growing up.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Artist of the Week: Totally Amazing

This week's artist is really much more a hero even if a quarter of his story is true.

On that fateful Friday Hideaki Akaiwa survived just fine the earthquake and subsequent tsunami, but he wasn't so sure about his wife. He was certain that she might be trapped in their home which was essentially underwater. Donning scuba gear he somehow made his way to their home the next day and swam inside to find his wife trapped inside, barely able to keep her head out of water.

Does the story end here?

Of course not!

He then went searching for his mother and a few days later, Tuesday, he found his mother and led her to safety from the still swirling waters. And the amazing thing, he still searches on for other survivors trapped amongst the wreckage of his home town.

It's stories like these I like to focus on when everything seems so bleak.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Well That's Different

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
While tooling around the Far West End of Richmond I happened upon this rather... unique vehicle. Looking like something from either Vermont (aka the land that the hippies washed up on when the 60's retreated) or the more modern counter culture scene of Burning Man, it was decidedly out of place in the land of the Volvo.

The picture really doesn't do the van justice. It's hard to see, but if you look closely you can just make out the decoration top. Some sort of assortment or bare branches and/or small bush has been affixed to the top of the van. Very tinsel garlands and ornaments decorate the naked limbs. The overall effect is quite bizarre. I will grant, however, that the quality of the paint job is rather high. Much better than some of the patchwork paint jobs I see all the time.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tonka Trucks Commercial from c.1980

Possibly the best toy commercial ever.
This is what I love about Youtube, I've been looking on and off for this particular ad and today I found it. I remember loving it when it came out and I have described the commercial to my children. Now they get to see their mother's favorite TV ad.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Super Moon Purim

full moon
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I, along with a million other people, took pictures of the so called super moon on Saturday night. Unfortunately my house is nestled in the woods and I didn't get to see the moon in all its gigantic glory, but I did get this rather interesting shot through the trees surrounding our house.

Interestingly enough a friend noticed that there is almost a six pointed star surrounding the moon. You have to look at the picture in one of the smaller sizes in order to see the effect. Which is very appropriate because this full moon heralds the start of Purim.

So Chag Purim Sameach!

Friday, March 18, 2011

MCP Project 52: Darks and Lights

shafts of light
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's theme was darks and lights, which is a fairly open topic. My initial idea was to photograph Max with one of his siblings with the focus being the differences in hair color. All I needed was a sunny day and a little bit of cooperation.

Instead I went with this picture.

Spring sports have started up and that means I spend a goodly portion of my time sitting on the sidelines during practice. On Wednesday it had been fairly cool and cloudy, not quite raining. It was overcast and the lighting was flat so I had no impetus to bring my real camera along.

I'm so glad my new cell phone can take pictures. As I sat thereI saw shafts of light slicing down from the cloud cover. It was a very dramatic sight to behold. Then it stuck me, this is an excellent representation of darks and lights. I snapped a few pictures hoping my cell phone would give me at least one non-fuzzy shot.

Happily I had a few to choose from and this was my (and Larry's) favorite shot.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Almost Got It

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
While escorting Max home from soccer practice I glanced over my shoulder and saw an absolutely fantastic shot of the setting sun. The water in the drainage ditch reflected the bright purples and reds of the setting sun with the surrounding trees defining and balancing the colors.

I tried so very hard to capture the beauty with my cell phone, but it wasn't quite up to the job. I really regretted not having my camera with me. I need to start hauling it around again. I've been very pleased and delighted with some of the images that my simple little cell has captured, but I know I could do better. At least a pale approximation is around to help me remember some of the incidental beauty that surrounds us.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Artist of the Week : Bookmark

Rebecca at 2
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's artist is my favorite little girl, Rebecca.

Obviously this picture is from a few years ago. She's about two, maybe three years old. Larry and Rebecca found it a few days ago and the two of them decided that it is a very cute picture. I have to agree with them. I think the sturdy little toddler legs are what do me in. She has such a cute little smile, but oh the toddler squishiness! I just want to scoop her up and cuddle her.

Anyhoodle, this is about what Rebecca is up to today and not yesteryear.

She is always making things from bits and pieces she finds around the house. We have an art drawer filled with markers, colored pencils, scissors, scraps of paper from earlier projects, and the odd sparkly ribbon. Oh and tape, you can't forget tape.

kite bookmark
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Rebecca put them all together and created this little kite.

To get a sense of scale the whole thing, with the ribbon stretched out, is just a few inches longer than a foot. It is a very nice size for a bookmark. I like the abstract design on the kite, it has a sort of southeast Asian feel to it. The tails she taped onto the ribbon/string are a nice touch of whimsy.

I'm rather fond of it and I'm going to try to persuade Rebecca to allow me to use it. It is a far nicer bookmark than the random sales reciepts and appointment cards I use now.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

One is the Loneliest Number

lonely hound
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
John is a very sad hound this week. Dell is off this week being a show dog and John got left behind.

John has to defend our home from the evil squirrel menace without his buddy Dell. It's up to him to police the floors for any wayward crumbs, which I might state he is far less diligent than Dell. No wrestling at my feet and no more dog pile on the dog couch.

However he does get to do fun things like go to soccer practice. I won't take the two dogs, it's just far too much bother. But one dog, that's doable.

We'll get Dell back next week, so John's suffering will not be eternal. Though with those sad, sad hound eyes he'll tell you otherwise.

Monday, March 14, 2011

In Honor of Pi Day

Parkour and Pi come together in this short film.
I didn't run around throwing pis left and right, but I did get to enjoy some tasty pizza pie and beef pot pie today.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Jake and Rebecca

Jake and Rebecca
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
The kids are really enjoying the Roku, Rebecca in particular. She has found a cartoon, Redwall, that is new to her and is working her way through all the episodes.

While Rebecca and I were watching Nate announced that his Latin teacher had declared the show as terrible and as a result he wasn't going to watch. Jake as opposed to Nate, was willing to give it a try and was charmed by the series. The two of them, oldest and youngest, started watching them together this weekend.

I caught the two of them curled up side by side on the couch sharing a blanket while watching the show. It was just too cute and I had to take a picture. The first shot was just plain awful, but the second one is a real keeper.

It's wonderful to see my children to be so happy together. For the most part they all do get along, but I feel like the day is filled with endless bickering. Moments like this tell me that deep down they do love each other.

Friday, March 11, 2011

MCP Project 52: Chidhood Toys

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Doggy, my very first toy, was my subject this week.

The poor thing is 45 years old and is clearly showing his age. Most of the fur has been loved off and he has a decided list. My mother patched him up with and Ace bandage at least 30 years ago. He has a music box, but the key and spring broke off a long, long time ago. When it did work he would play "Frère Jacques" and his head would move to the music.

I dragged him to college where he sat on a window sill. During my junior semester abroad he even went to England with me. The craziest thing I did was take him to Europe during intersession.

For the most part I hadn't been to bothered by customs, except for when I went into Holland. I was randomly selected to have my luggage search and I willingly complied. I wasn't too concerned until the agent picked up Doggy and gave him a very meaningful look. With a horrified gasp I cried out "Not Doggy!" The agent saw I was emotionally distraught and put the the ragged stuffed dog back down into my luggage and waved me on. I think we realized that his hands would be full if he did anything to my toy.

Nowadays Doggy sits on my bureau, safe from customs agents and always in my heart.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Roku, Best Gadget Yet

I've become irked with our cable company. Well, in reality I've always been a bit irked, just now I have a specific complaint. Namely, it's The Box. The stupid cable box that we must have to get the channels we want. And it's not just The Box, oh no there is yet another remote and an odious monthly rental fee per unit.

I remember when way back (20 years ago?) we used to have a box and then the cable companies phased them out. Now the stupid things are back. I wish I could just buy it outright and not have the obnoxious rental fee appended to my cable bill. We have two tvs and only one of them has The Box. On the other, smaller, set we have watched the available non-scrambled stations be whittled down to just a mere handful. On principle I refuse to get a second box, but it was getting to be a tough stand.

Then lo, Amazon announced that a selection of it's instant downloads would be FREE to Amazon Prime customers.

We have a Prime account- Woo Hoo!

I picked up a mid-level Roku box and set it up on the smaller tv. It works beautifully. We've been watching endless Top Gear for the past couple of days and a few kid shows. Larry and I checked out the selection of free movies available and we saw plenty to tempt us. From old favorites to more recent selections that we missed. No longer are there any more complaints about the lack of stations from the kids. Instead they are trying to figure out what to watch next.

The Roku was definitely one of my better purchases.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Artist of the Week - Kinetic Wave Sculptures

This week's artist is Reuben Margolin. He makes absolutely incredible kinetic wave sculptures. The clip below is from Make: television and not only features the art, but has the artist describe the whole process in creating his sculptures.

If I had the money and the space I would love to have one of his pieces. I find them in a soothing way almost hypnotic. More of Mr. Margolin's work can be found on his site (with videos!).

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Rainy Day Smile

Rainy day smile
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Sunday was a sort of dreary wet day. Just the sort of weather my kids like to be out and about. Then again extreme heat, thunderstorms, and blizzards are pretty much the only times they won't go outside and that's pretty understandable.

Anyhoodle Jake decided to go out and collect the paper languishing by the end of our drive. Rebecca joined him and I got the cutest smile out of her when they came back. She really loves doing things with her big brother.

Tomorrow and Thursday looked to be rainy days as well and I hope to have that smile around again to brighten up the gray.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Why Did I Wait?

Choc truffle cake
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Rebecca and Meryl requested I make some sort of chocolate treat. Rebecca was thinking along the lines of a cake, while Meryl was more in a mousse frame of mind. After a bit of digging in my files I pulled out a recipe I had printed from an email I received waaaay back in 2005 for chocolate truffle cake with raspberry sauce.

I don't know why I never made it, but it was absolutely unbelievable.

Everybody liked it.

Admittedly some passed on the sauce, but that's their loss. The raspberry is a lovely counterpoint to the rich chocolate of the cake. I served the sauce on the side, however if I ever bring this somewhere I'm going to flood the top with the sauce. It would be visually stunning and a delight to eat.

Some with out further ado here's the link to the chocolate truffle cake with raspberry sauce.

Of course I had to modify the recipe a little bit.
  • I used a nine inch spring form pan lined with wax paper (the loaf just didn't cut it in my eyes).
  • I used 12 oz of raspberries instead of 10oz (because that was how much was in the bag and I couldn't be bothered).
  • However with the increased number of raspberries I did not change the amount of Karo. I wanted the sauce to be on the tart side.

The whole thing was dead easy and was a huge hit. I'm glad I had held onto the recipe so long, but I wished I had tried it out sooner.

Friday, March 04, 2011

MCP Project 52: Express Yourself

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
The theme this week was express yourself and I though what better way to show this than Nate doing just that.

Nate took years and years of piano and as a result became quite proficient and at times had a bit for fum. But the piano was never really THE instrument for Nate. What he really wanted (and begged for) was a guitar.

We started him off with a little acoustic guitar that he quickly outgrew. By the time we finely rounded up a teacher Nate had graduated to Larry's full sized guitar. It was a bit big, but that didn't slow down Nate in the least. Soon he was asking for an electric guitar which we got him with the understanding that he would learn to play both acoustic and electric.

And play he does. Nate has found his instrument and a way to express himself musically.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Good Grief

Good Grief
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This is my absolute favorite car and I don't even own it.

I've always had a soft spot for VW Bug's. I prefer the original (since that was what I once owned), but new one has a little corner of my heart as well.

I was out and about doing errands when I laid eyes on this little gem. The paint job was what first grabbed my attention, bright yellow with a jagged stripe. Coupled with the distinctive domed shape of a Volksie, the first thing that sprang to mind was Charlie Brown.

When I stepped out of my car to snap a few pictures I took a gander at the plate. I nearly fell down laughing, it very cleverly spelled out GOOD GRF. The little capper being the Scenic Autumn plate.

I have found Charlie Brown's car and it's sweet ride.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Artist of the Week: Snail Party

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
A rather cold looking Max is this week's artist.

Lately the temperatures around here have been all over the map. It'll be 80s one day and then a few days later the high will barely crawl up into the upper 40s. Which I find to be cruel and very brutal. I'll get used to milder weather and then boom! I have to bundle all up.

Tomorrow morning is going to be one of the cruel days. We had upper 60s today, short sleeve weather and some running around barefoot. Then the bottom will drop out tonight and in the morning the bus stop will be just about freezing with the high in the aforementioned upper 40s.


Snail Party
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Luckily I have Max and his happy pictures to pull me through.

Like this one of a snail party. The helicopter trailing a large "Happy Birthday" banner tells you what kind of party is going on down below. I love how the birthday snail has on a little party hat and confetti is showering down.

Max's snail are such simply drawn little creatures, but they have character.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Savory Treats

Sunday I went to my very first Oscar party.

Normally I camp out on the sofa and flip back and forth between the broadcast and whatever else is on, calling up Meryl when something particularly noteworthy occurs. Snacks are culled from the fridge on an ad hoc basis. I won't be wearing sweats, but at some point the contacts come out and the glasses go on along with some comfy pjs.

This year, however, I got all dolled up and made some fancy pants hors d'oeurves.

The pillowy ones on the left are garlic puffs courtesy of The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins and The dark squiggly bits are Caramelized Onion Tart from Annie's Eats. Both are ridiculously easy, they just take a fair amount of time to prepare. Since I'm able to link up to the respective recipes, I'll just share my modifications.

  • For both I used store bought puff pastry. It's supposedly not very hard to make your own, but since these were new and untried recipes I decided to stick with what I knew would work. The package came with two sheets, perfect for the two recipes.
  • When I made the garlic pesto I only made a third of a batch. I didn't need nor want to make a full batch. 15 heads of garlic is a boatload of peeling.
  • For the onion tart I trebled the onions (they smelled heavenly while I caramelized them) and doubled the ricotta and Parmesan cheese. It all looked too skimpy on the dough after I unfolded the pastry sheet and placed the dough on a baking sheet.
Both appetizers came out delicious, the onion tart was particularly scrumptious. They were a big hit at the party.