Archive for April, 2009

World War II Weekend

Last weekend was a much anticipated event — World War II Weekend. I have yet to go, but John and the boys go bananas over it. It’s hard to say what their favorite part is — is it the vehicles?

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The weapons?

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Battle reenactment?

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I know my favorite is the photos John took of their own personal reenactments. Here’s the medic helping a wounded soldier.

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I think I’ll go with them next year. While guns and war and machinery are not my thing, seeing my kids absorb history and get lit up with a desire to learn more is right up my alley. Who knows, maybe I’ll be right there, excited to climb on the tanks with them.

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Boring

This is the face of boredom.

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While waiting for his siblings’ concert to start, Oli got really bored and kind of whiney. To quiet him, John passed him my camera and gave him a quick lesson on how to work it. He amused himself by taking many photos of the seat backs in front of us (I’ll spare you those ones), extreme close-ups of his mother (I’ll spare me those), and lots and lots of self portraits. I kind of like the way some of them turned out.

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Especially because you can see the emerging freckles on his nose.

After the show, Oli was scrutinizing everyone on stage, looking carefully at their instruments. “There’s the cellos,” he said. “And I see the violins. But where’s the ravioli?” I can only imagine what he thought the violas would look like.

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Strings Finale

Last night was the district string orchestra concert. Both of my big kids were in it. Mojo had the privilege of playing with the 5th grade crew.

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They are pictured with their teacher, Mr. D. I can’t say enough good stuff about him — he made the many hours spent learning and practicing for this concert fun. On top of teaching a group of kids how to play music well together, he taught them some mean frisbee tosses. I’m hoping they all absorbed some of his amazing attitude, too.

And the best part about Mr. D.? DNA will have him again next year since he’s the sixth grade orchestra teacher. Another year to learn about the joy of music and, perhaps, to refine his frisbee skills.

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Happy Holiday?

We spotted this while driving around last week.

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Leftover from Halloween? A new take on the Easter Bunny? You decide…..

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Baking Off

Today is the last day for entries into the Pillsbury Bake Off. Here are my two entries for this year.

Mojito Minis

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And Lemon-Lavender Glazed Sugar Cookies:

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This is my first year entering the contest. Creating a new recipe was much harder than I thought — especially since I don’t normally bake with packaged products. It took a couple tries to get the cookie glaze perfect — not too flowery, not too tart but in the end it is delicious. The filling for the Mojito Minis almost didn’t happen. I originally envisioned these as a bar cookie using sweetened condensed milk like key lime pie does but they came out kind of gross and mushy. This morning, I was struck with inspiration and remade a different type of filling from scratch — a microwave lime-mint curd-type filling. It also took a couple tries to get the consistency right but, at last, perfection! One thing that struck me (after my many flops, when it finally went right) was how quickly both of these come together. The cookies could be make at the last minute and you’d never know they weren’t from a boutique bakery. Same with the Mojito Minis — the actual cooking is quick and they can be assembled right before serving. Here’s hoping someone other than me thinks these are tasty! Orlando, here I come (I hope). 🙂

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A Pirate Theme

Another pirate shirt for Oli:
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I’m on a sewing roll. I’ve even started on some Renaissance Faire garments and that is still a month away. First items to make —- white muslin pirate shirts for the four boys coming with us this year.

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Home Coffee Roasting

I love coffee. I am not a coffee snob, however, and do not like the way most chain coffee shop brew tastes. I’ve been wanting to try roasting coffee beans at home for a while to see if it would make a difference in how it tastes. Well, ok, I know it would make a difference but what I wondered was whether the flavor would be enhanced enough to make it worth the effort. And, how much effort anyways was there in roasting coffee? I found a local coffee shop that roasts their beans and bought some “green” beans from them.

I read enough about home roasting to know to do this outside. I used the burner on our outdoor grill along with a cast iron pan and a big spoon. Turn the burner on. Heat the pan and pour in the coffee. Start stirring.
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Keep stirring. It takes about 20 minutes for the coffee to reach the first “crack” stage. It starts to pop and smell burnt. You will see some chaff in the pan. Keep stirring. After a while, the beans will hit the second “crack” stage. Since I was afraid of overcooking them, I took them off the flame and poured into a colander to cool.
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It was fairly windy outside so I poured the beans back and forth and let the wind willow away more of the chaff. This also cooled the beans.

Eight ounces of green beans yielded 6.2 ounces after roasting and losing some due to being sloshed out of the pan by my over-enthusiastic stirring.
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After grinding the beans and then brewing a cup, I was ready to taste the result of my efforts.
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It was bad. Really bad. It’s hard to describe the flavor other than weird mix of oily and green. Maybe I needed to roast them longer? Maybe the cooled beans need to sit for a while before brewing? Maybe I shouldn’t have bought the cheapest beans for sale? Or maybe, just maybe, I should stick with the supermarket coffee that comes in cans.

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