Monday, December 31, 2012

Project MCP: 13

The final challenge for project MCP was 13, "Take a photo representing the number “13″."

While going on a walk today I was pondering how to show thirteen when I got an idea, I could use shoes. With six people we have a plethora of shoes and I could easily dig up thirteen pairs. To show the new year I could have one pair be an outrageous pair of high heels surrounded by the various shoes of my family. Everybody is represented from sneakers, to cleats, and boots.

A nice way to round out the year.

Sunday, December 30, 2012


trapped by Teckelcar
trapped, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Every time I sit on the floor this is what happens, the red boys immediately pile onto my legs. And there they will stay until I shove them off. With the red boys having a combined weight of well over fifty pounds,  I don't sit on the floor very often. I am very much trapped in place. I get very sad looks whenever I attempt to reposition. It is nice to be loved, but this is a bit much.

This winter break we have been watching the extended versions of the The Lord of the Rings. Which is a whole lot of movie watching and as a result I have ended up on the floor a few times. So I think it is safe to say that the dogs have become indirectly big fans of the LOTR movies.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Waffle Crab

Crab Waffle by Teckelcar
Crab Waffle, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The waffle maker we got Max has proven to be a great success, he loves having fresh, homemade waffles (almost) anytime he wants. The rest of us have been enjoying waffles as well since since Max can only eat so much waffle at one sitting and it would be a shame to waste the batter. Nate and Rebecca have been the main beneficiaries and once in a while I get to eek out one for myself.

This rather crabby looking waffle was the result of my having just enough batter to make half a waffle. As I pulled it out of the maker I noticed that some of the excess batter had spilled onto the other half and they looked a bit like claws. A generous dollop of whip cream and two blueberries later, waffle crab was born.

I think it's the funniest thing I have ever inadvertently created and it will probably never be recreated.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Yorkshire Pudding

yorkshire pudding by Teckelcar
yorkshire pudding, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This week I made a glorious yorkie pudding. They always tasted great, but were sadly lacking in the puff factor. This time, however,  I completely nailed it. Instead of all flat and sad looking this one had all the wonderful hills and valleys of a true Yorkshire pudding.

I think I finally got it figured out between the batter, temperature, drippings (with just a bit of butter to pad it out), and rack placement. It was a delicious accompaniment to a lovely bit of beef that Meryl picked up for our midwinter feast (we have a deal that she picks out the meat and I cook it with all the trimmings).

All and all a lovely meal was had by all.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Artist of the Week: Cake Pops

Rebecca by Teckelcar
Rebecca, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This week's artist is the cutest baker ever.

One of Rebecca's presents for Hanukkah was a cake pop pan, a tiny little tray with a silicon top that snaps over the whole thing that produces golf ball sized cake balls. Very cute and not something I would want, but completely up Rebecca's alley.

She was delighted and on our first free afternoon we made a whole mess of cake balls. About half got tossed into the freezer and the rest were stuck on lollypop sticks I had leftover from an earlier rock candy making venture. For the frosting I melted some dipping chocolate (later on moving onto chocolate chips) and broke out our large selection of quints, colored sugars, jimmies (sprinkles), and nonpareils.

Rebecca had a a wonderful time helping me make the batter and decorating her creations. She was all set to do them all, but I pointed out I had only so much storage space for the finished cake pops. We could decorate more at a future date once the current ones were eaten up. The finish product was very tasty to behold and to eat. I would say it was a successful present that lets my girl do her own thing.

So guess what she'll be making in the next few days.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Drop

A merry Christmas to all my friends that celebrate. Here's a movie to put you in the right frame of mind, courtesy of Laura over at Fetch My Flying Monkeys.

Monday, December 24, 2012

"God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"

This is not your normal Christmas tune, it was arranged by Brad Gordon for a movie in 1967. Here is what he has to say about the song:

In 1967 I went to Italy to score a Christmas Western starring Lee Van Cleef. It was called "Death Rides a Sleigh". Here's what played over the main credits. The film itself has tragically been lost. The version of this music with Lee Van Cleef singing has also-- but not so tragically been lost.

I love it.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Project MCP: December Challenges

Menorah by Teckelcar
Menorah, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
I had a very hard time with most of December's Challenges, the lone exception being the fifth and final- take a photo representing the number “13″. Of course I haven't done it yet, but I feel far more optimistic about it than the other four challenges.

So what is my issue you may ask. Well the other four are all about Christmas and I kind of chaffed at the emphasis on all things Christmas. Now I admit that we do go to my mom's at Christmas time and enjoy her tree and exchange presents, but it's her holiday, not ours. Instead of the official challenges I did my own spin on each one.

The first challenge was "Capture a photo of a favorite piece of Christmas decor." I substituted Hanukkah for Christmas and took a picture of my favorite menorah. Way back in 2006 I did a whole post on this particular menorah, go over to here to get the whole story.

latkes maker by Teckelcar
latkes maker, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The second challenge was "Christmas is full of traditions – Take a photo representing the word “tradition.”" This one is pretty much on target for the challenge. I decided to submit two pictures for this particular challenge. The first of the two is the picture of Nate I featured back on the 12th. Latkes are the traditional food during Hanukkah and we traditionally attend our synagogues Hanukkah party and pitch in the latke making. It's a fun picture of Nate in action with far less blur than normal. Nate is normally camera shy and so active that a good number of his pictures are a study in motion blur.

making houses by Teckelcar
making houses, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The second photo for challenge number two, Tradition, is of Max making his gingerbread house during the last day of school before winter break. It has been a tradition for a number of years that the fifth grade class makes gingerbread house to take back home.

The preparation for the party starts earlier in the week when the parents came to school to glue graham crackers to empty milk cartons. On the big day each child is given a foam tray with a house, an ice cream cone, and a peep snowman. Frosting and a boat load of candy is spread across the tables. The kids have  great time decorating their houses and sneaking in a few bites of candy.

Seventh Night by Teckelcar
Seventh Night, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The third challenge was "The Christmas spirit – Capture a photo of the Christmas spirit." Again it's all about Christmas. I decided to go the route of "Festival of Lights" as the stand in for the Hanukkah spirit. I love this picture I posted of one of our other menorahs on the seventh night. The tiny candles together shine brightly and, for me at least, symbolize the hope that is Hanukkah. That we will survive and at times triumph against seemingly insurmountable odds.

Keeping the faith is the true light and spirit of Hanukkah.

Which brings us to the penultimate challenge of December, Twas 2 days before Christmas, and all through the house…Snap a photo of your Christmas wish.

Lighting together by Teckelcar
Lighting together, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Well I don't have any Christmas wishes per say, so I'll just go with my wish that my children continue to love and support each other. I took this picture with my cell phone on December 14th, the penultimate day of Hanukkah (it's kind of neat the way that worked out). There was no squabbling as Nate helped Max with the menorah. The picture is horribly grainy, but the composition and lighting are wonderful.

Hopefully next year, if there is a next year for the Project MCP, will be a little less focused on Christmas. I did have fun with pictures, but I would like the challenges to a bit broader.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Boy and his Waffle Maker

A Boy and his Waffle Maker by Teckelcar
A Boy and his Waffle Maker, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This is possibly the best present ever.

On the last night of Hanukkah we gave Max his very own waffle maker. He has been wanting us to get one for years, but I just wasn't interested in getting a single use kitchen appliance. Then a few months ago a friend got her son a waffle maker for his birthday and that got me thinking.

So it was on my mind as I cruised the aisles of Kroger getting odds and ends. When I saw the waffle makers on display I realized that would be the perfect present. A little different, but it would be the right thing to get. I called Larry and he agreed, so into the cart the waffle maker went.

I admit I was feeling a little trepidation before Max unwrapped his present, but I think that smile says that we were right.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Artist of the Week: The Eighth Candle

Jacob by Teckelcar
Jacob, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This week's artist is Jacob and his high school"s band.

Last week was their winter concert and amongst the various holiday songs was "The Eighth Candle." This not the first time I have seen it in the program, but it was the first time the band was deemed to be ready to preform. I like that the director chooses a range of songs, from relatively easy to those that require the students to stretch. This  year the band was up to the task.

Clocking in at just under eight minutes, the song is a long and difficult piece. The performance wasn't perfect, but the kids did a solid job. The level of play is ever so much higher than middle school and as a result the concerts are a treat to attend.

Hopefully the video will finish being processed and y'all will be able to enjoy The Eighth Candle.

Hooray, it's ready! Enjoy. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Baking With Julia- Finnish Pulla

Finnish Pulla by Teckelcar
Finnish Pulla, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Ha! I did it! I'm back on schedule, at least for now.

This week's baked good for Baking with Julia was Finnish Pulla and the host is The Daily Morsel.

The bread is absolutely outstanding, it is a slightly sweet bread with a wonderfully fluffy texture. The cardamon adds a wonderful flavor to the bread and made the kitchen smell amazing while it baked. My loaf isn't as pretty as the others, I couldn't be bothered to roll out the dough to the full 36 inches. Two feet was enough for me and I ended up with a chunkier loaf.

Looks aside, Jacob and Nate loved it and I almost had to beat them off with a stick. Half of the loaf is gone and I expect the rest will disappear tomorrow. I will certainly make this bread again, the boys said they want it every week. I see it at most a monthly thing, cardamon is just too expensive to bake with on a weekly basis. Either way this recipe gets a big thumbs up from me.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Highlights from Antarctica

Just a neat video of a tourist's perspective of Antarctica. Very nicely done video of an amazing trip, one I would like to take sometime.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Eighth Night

Eighth Night by Teckelcar
Eighth Night, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The eighth and final night of Hanukkah.

You can see in the background Nate lighting the other menorah. It worked out fairly well with the two menorahs with different teams lighting each night. The only moment of strife was the night Rebecca realized since she started on the first night she wasn't going to get to light them on the eighth night. Luckily at age 11 she got over the disappointment rather quickly and it did not mar the rest of the week.

I think this has been the nicest Hanukkah we have ever had.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Seventh Night

Seventh Night by Teckelcar
Seventh Night, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Such cheerful lights on such a sad day.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sixth Night

Sixth Night by Teckelcar
Sixth Night, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Tonight Nate gets to light the menorah.

Meanwhile I'm happy to report that I starting to see the light at the end of the holiday baking marathon. I'm working on my last double batch of chocolate chip cookies. Tomorrow the kids will drop them off at their respective teachers and I will be done with the schools. Then it's just odds and ends ranging from the kennel to the recycle guys.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Artist of the Week: Latkes!

brothers by Teckelcar
brothers, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This week's artist is Nate, not the goofball behind him.

Nate has decided that he no longer wants to be photographed, he turns his head, throws his hands up, and sometimes flings himself onto the ground. It has become a sort of game between us. He'll see me with my camera in hand and instantly goes on the defensive while I try to sneak in a shot when his attention is elsewhere. The result is that I get a lot of random shots of arms and legs with an occasional gem like this with an endearingly goofy Jacob in the background.

latkes maker by Teckelcar
latkes maker, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Fortunately he is not completely impossible, if I stamp my foot Nate will allow me to take a few pictures of him. So I was able to capture him in the act of making latkes.

Our congregation had it's Hanukkah last Sunday and Nate wandered into the kitchen whilst Meryl and I were cooking up the last of the latkes. He wanted to help out so we showed him the ropes. The oven is an ancient behemoth and was a bit intimidating with the pans of sizzling oil, but he was soon pitching in and making latkes.

Freed from the stove I was able to scrub down counters and clean up the bevy of food processors that had been pressed into service. It was nice having an eager extra pair of hands.

Fifth Night

Fifth Night by Teckelcar
Fifth Night, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Now it's Rebecca's turn to light the menorah.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Baking With Julia- Gingerbread Baby Cakes

gingerbread cake by Teckelcar
gingerbread cake, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Or in my case, one week late gingerbread cake.

I have no excuses about this one, I simply spaced making it. Which is a shame, it would have been a good dessert to bring to our congregation's Chanukah party last Sunday. I did fairly well with keeping up with the deadlines until a fe months ago and then the wheels came off.

Anyhoodle, the host for Baking with Julia's Gingerbread Baby Cakes was Karen's Kitchen Stories. The recipe is a snap to make and I was very happy to see both ground black pepper and minced fresh going into the batter. The best gingerbread, at least in my opinion has a nice peppery edge. The only problem I had was a brief moment of panic when I realized how much molasses was called for. Two whole cups! Luckily my pantry is well stocked and I had another bottle stashed in the back.

As for the eating, well I will update this post in the morning. I thought this would make a good breakfast treat.

And the verdict is in, it is scrumptious. There is a great depth in flavor and the cake is very moist. Max didn't care for it, nor did Rebecca(considering she dislike gingerbread in general that was to be expected). Jacob, Larry, and I thought it was excellent and well worth repeating.

Fourth Night

Fourth Night by Teckelcar
Fourth Night, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Third Night

Third Night by Teckelcar
Third Night, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
It is Max's turn to light the menorah.

The Maccabeats - Candlelight

A fun reworking of Mike Tompkins' a cappella version of Taio Cruz's "Dynamite" by the Maccabeats. A big hit with my crowd.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

First and Second Nights

first night by Teckelcar
first night, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
And thus marks the start of Chanukah.

Saturday was the first night and it got off to a late start. First of all we had to wait about an hour after sunset so that we would be truly done with Shabbat, then I wanted to wait until Larry was back with Max and Rebecca from their respective futsal (aka indoor soccer) games, and finally then was the whole issue of Jacob being away with band. Luckily boy was back home by 9:30 and we were able to squeeze in the candle lighting before the dynamic duo got shuffled off to bed.
Second night by Teckelcar
Second night, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Tonight, the second night of Chanukah, was a bit easier to pull off. Today we had our congregation's annual Chanukah party from about 6 to 8 pm and were able to get back home at a decent hour to light the candles. As you can see by the two pictures we are working off of two menorahs. While digging out menorahs I found two unused boxes of candles.

So yay, I don't have to find more candles. It is not always easy to find Chanukah candles in the Richmond metro area, so I tend to stock up when I find them. By having the two menorahs in action the kids will have plenty of opportunities to light the candles.

Happy Chanukah!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Birthday Week

key lime carnage by Teckelcar
key lime carnage, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
There are a whole lot of birthdays going on around here this week. Monday was Larry's and tomorrow, Friday, is mine. Add in another family member in between and you have a busy week.

The key limes I'm featuring here where used to make Larry his birthday cheesecake. He liked the key lime cheesecake a few weeks so much he requested that to be his birthday treat. Juicing the 20 odd limes was a bore, but the juicer made it go quite a bit faster. Plus the rinds look very pretty with the inner membranes having a sort of swirled effect.

I'm not sure what we will be doing for my birthday since we'll be busy carting kids around to soccer and lacrosse on the actual day. It looks like I'll be going to Five Guys with a rather smelly Nate after his lacrosse practice.

I think at some point this weekend or next Larry and I will duck out for a proper birthday dinner for the two of us.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Artist of the Week: Annual Challenge

the picture 2012 by Teckelcar
the picture 2012, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
I successfully completed my annual challenge of the holiday card photo last week. It's not an easy crowd to wrangle and this year was no exception.

Max was bound and determined to hold a dog this year and it took a fair amount of positioning to get John balanced on his lap. John and Max kept sliding off the deck box. Max refused any help from Nate, he said he could do it and by gum he did.

The rest of the crowd just wanted to get the whole thing over with as quickly as possible. As a result the shenanigans were kept to a minimum. They have finally learned that the more cooperative they are the faster the photo shoot.

I wasn't thrilled with the location, on top of one of our deck boxes, but it did work out. Jacob picked it by strolling out the door and hopping on top and pretty much saying this would be the spot. The rest of them piled on and that was it. Case closed.

Next year it'll be of my choosing.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Say What

Say what by Teckelcar
Say what, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This is one of John's classic expressions, I have never had a dog that could look so beleaguered.

He certainly has no good reason to look so put upon. Yes there is a boy flailing about on the floor behind him, but that is what passes for normal around here. I think the worst thing that has happened to John, at least in his opinion, was the time I bodily dragged him away from a dying raccoon.

Silly dog.

Monday, December 03, 2012


A variation on a damsel in distress with a bit of education thrown into the mix.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Morning Sun and Frost

sun and frost by Teckelcar
sun and frost, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
It looks like my new camera will be arriving Tuesday. In the meantime I've taken apart the old one and had no luck getting to the heart of the matter.

He's dead Jim.

At least I was able to assemble it and have it functioning at the same level, ie the LCD screen lights up and promptly announces "zoom error" and doesn't focus one whit. I did have one screw leftover, but my engineering son observed that I had improved the camera and made it more efficient since it now uses less materials. Either way I felt good about at least giving a last ditch effort before chucking the whole mess.

frosty berries by Teckelcar
frosty berries, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
On the photography front I have been learning the limitation's of my cell phone's camera. It take decent photos for what it is. The focus isn't quite up to snuff, I had to establish the minimum distance when taking this particular set of pictures. The details of the frost on the berries was very hard to capture. I had to keep pulling back to get the crystals in focus and even then it was a rather soft focus.

I like the camera feature, but I'll be much happier then my camera arrives.