Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
This week's theme is Crunch Time.
In view of our recent blizzard, I went a slightly different direction.
Icy crust on snow
Birds frantically seek suet
Squirrels venture out
and my other one:
Little baby boy
Slips between the folds of time
Hope and salvation
Finally, got the REAL chocolate truffles done! This photo isn't the best, but the truffles are!
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
The gift Dumbledore had for Voldemort would not be anything the evil one could understand. For Christmas meant love, which conquers all.
1 3 oz package cream cheese, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. vanilla Oven: 375°
In a mixing bowl beat margarine and cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add about half of the flour, the sugar, egg, baking powder, and vanilla. Beat till thoroughly combined. Beat in remaining flour. Cover: Chill 1 hour or till easy to handle.
Divide the chilled dough in half. On a lightly floured surface roll half of the dough at a time ⅛ inch thick. Cut into desired shapes with a 2½ inch cookie cutter. Place 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Baked in a 375° oven about 8 minutes or till edges are lightly browned. Cool cookies on a wire rack. Makes about 60.
POWDERED SUGAR ICING
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
¼ tsp. vanilla
Mix powdered sugar, vanilla, and 1 Tbsp. milk. Stir in milk 1 tsp. at a time, till of spreading consistency. Divide into bowls, add color.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
I understand that the big snowstorm was horribly inconvenient yesterday for many people. Some were stranded traveling. Even the President had to hurry to get home from Copenhagen before it hit (imagine that -- if a US President had been unable to return to the Capital safely because of the weather. Just goes to show us that leader of the Free World isn't jack compared to Creator of the whole World!). And yes, we have another 12+ inches to shovel in our driveway today. That's in addition to the 12+ we shoveled yesterday.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Saturday: Snow. The snow could be heavy at times. High near 30. North wind between 16 and 18 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 8 to 12 inches possible.
Saturday Night: Snow, mainly before 4am. Low around 27. North wind between 14 and 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible.
Sunday: A chance of snow, mainly before 10am. Cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly sunny, with a high near 33. Northwest wind around 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Quilly hosts this great meme. The idea is to resurrect old words into interesting (we hope) stories. It seems that taking the week off was exactly what I needed. The conclusion to my story dropped into place. So, with apologies to the dragons because it's a little bit long, here is the end. And Thom, I guess you'll just have to imagine the rest of the romance!
Alice pulled the car into the parking lot in front of a gray industrial building. “Um, Alice?” Luke began cautiously. “The sign says we need a parking pass.” She flashed him a grin. “Well, that’s why you’re deaf and have two enormous dogs with you.” As Luke counted to 100 inside his mind, Alice got out of the car and headed into the building.
Inside, the building no longer looked industrial. The corridors were softly lighted, and on the walls were displays of interesting projects in science. Alice paused at one, examining what was labeled as a water piddler. She pushed a button to activate a strobe light, watching how the water moved as it adimpleated the bucket. By turning the knob she made the droplets freeze in mid-air. It was all an optical illusion but she was fascinated by the science behind the project.
“Enjoying our display?” asked a familiar voice. Alice turned to see Adam’s father, Trent Tradoch, smiling behind her. It was a weird smile and he had a strange gleam in his eyes. “Actually, yes,” answered Alice. “I’m pamphagous – I receive great lubency from the law, but I’m fascinated by science as well,” she continued.
Tradoch didn’t engage. “What are you doing here? Why are you interfering in something that doesn’t concern you? I could have you arrested for just being in this building without permission.”
Alice took a deep breath. “Look, I know that Adam has disappeared after exhibiting some pretty hostile behavior. I also know that you have been working on microchips for humans for almost your entire career. And while this great institution helps fund you, they’ve repeatedly refused you permission to try your experiments on human subjects. My guess is that you decided you could use your son for that.”
Tradoch’s face became enraged as he hissed, “even here, at Rensselaer, where the most brilliant minds in the country gather, they don’t understand that the next step MUST be implanting these chips into biological subjects! We’ll never know how well they work if we don’t start somewhere.”
Alice started backing up and spoke softly, “Dr. Tradoch, it is apparent from being around Adam that the chips aren’t working perfectly. You need to free him from this and let him be a little boy.”
The scientist snarled, “he is MY son and I can choose what will happen to him! The problems with his chip are due to his age. If we implant them into young adult males we can control entire armies! Now turn around and walk down this hallway before I hurt you.” Alice saw that he had a taser in his hand. Because of where they were, she wasn’t sure whether it was just an ordinary taser or something that might hurt her much worse.
She moved slowly, trying to think. All of a sudden she heard an explosion of shouts.
“Get them out of here!”
“No dogs allowed in a lab area!”
“What are those, ponies?”
She turned to see two giant wolfhounds bounding down the corridor towards her. Before he could even react, Cicero had Tradoch pinned to the floor. He extended his giant body across the man, carefully putting one paw across each bicep. Cassius very delicately mouthed the device out of Tradoch’s hand and brought it over to drop it at Alice’s feet. As she sank to the floor in relief, she buried her head and arms in Cassius’ fur.
Luke came running up with several irate scientists trailing him. Alice handed him her iTouch. “Touch the microphone button. I got it all. You can take it to the authorities. I think it will give them what they need to build a case with international implications.”
She looked at the most unassuming of the scientists. “Are you Dr. Soza?” He assented. “In Dr. Tradoch’s lab you’ll find a small boy. He’s very frightened. Please take Cassius with you. The boy’s name is Adam.”
“It is highly irregular to take a dog into a lab…” he began. Seeing the look on Alice’s face – or maybe it was the look on the dog’s face, the scientist continued, “…but perhaps we can make an exception.”
It was a long ride back to the farm, and a little cramped with the two dogs, Adam, Luke and Alice, but it was a very comfortable silence. While Luke drove, Alice searched for the right words for Adam. Finally she gave up and just looked back at him in the rear seat. He was totally engulfed by wolfhounds and was sound asleep. Alice smiled.
Luke cleared his throat, "Alice, what were all those things you gathered up? And what was in the rainstick?" Her smile became a grin. "The things were to distract whoever tried to follow me, like the sheriff. Inside the rainstick I had stuck a copy of the code." She yawned.
"Code? What code?" he asked.
But Alice was asleep.
That’s all folks! The astute among you will realize that the Corridor Lab is at MIT, but the setting is Rensselaer. I wanted to highlight the MIT projects, but Trent Tradoch is an AI/computer guy. So I transplanted the lab. Sorry if it bothers the purists. This Corridor Lab project really does exist at MIT – it is a display area where they use science as artwork. Or maybe it’s the other way around. You can see this one here.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
The good news is that 16 oz was exactly enough chocolate to make these things awesome! Wow. Just finished them tonight.
Chocolate Mint Brownies
1 cup sugar
½ cup butter
1 cup flour
½ tsp salt
16 oz. chocolate syrup
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 cup room temperature butter
4 Tbsp Crème de menthe (can substitute peppermint flavoring instead)
3 drops green food coloring
6 oz chocolate chips
6 Tbsp butter
Cream room temperature butter with sugar. Add other ingredients and mix in an electric mixer. Spread into a large cookie sheet with sides (a jelly roll pan works best). Bake at 350⁰ F for 18-24 minutes. Brownies should start to pull away from the sides of the pan and toothpick should come out clean. Cool completely.
Cream ingredients together in electric mixer. Spread over cooled layer. Chill
Melt ingredients together in a double boiler, stirring often. Pour on top of other 2 layers. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Cut into VERY SMALL brownies because these things are VERY RICH!
2. Is it important to you to always stay (live) close to family? As a military family that was a luxury we never had. Now that we're no longer moving, um... let's just say the reality doesn't live up to the fantasy.
3. Which holiday pretend character do you wish really existed? The Bumble (Abominable Snowman)
4. Which holiday movie best represents how you feel about Christmas or life? It's a Wonderful Life
5. Is there a particular Christmas song that you're enjoying now? Any that you're tired of? I love the Messiah -- and lately "A Trumpet Shall Sound" has been my favorite part. I just love the high brass in this. Tired of? "I'll be home for Christmas". They use it as a promo for messages from servicemen overseas and while I appreciate the messages and the thought (especially having spent MANY Christmases away from loved ones), I'm very tired of hearing just that snippet.
6. What is your favorite way to remember those less fortunate at Christmastime? Donating to Angel Tree.
7. Does it upset you to see "Xmas" instead of Christmas? How about "Happy Holidays" etc., instead of "Merry Christmas?" Xmas only bothers me when people I know who are anti-Christianity use it (and I know they do it for that very reason). Happy Holidays bothers me because it's so politically correct. I just answer "Merry Christmas".
8. How many Christmas programs are you attending this month? Two, both are already finished. Yay! Unless you count Christmas Eve candlelight service. Then it's three.
9. Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? Any chance of that dream becoming a reality? Yes and yes.
10. Tell me about a Christmas present you received as a child. Pics are always nice. One year I received a microscope. Man, I loved that thing. To me it meant my parents were taking me seriously. I can't find the photo right now. Rats. I know it is here somewhere.
11. How many Christmas parties are you attending this month? My husband's office party is on a Monday night...so none.
12. How do you keep yourself centered on the significance of Christmas? See this.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
This is what happens when you ask the 13 year old male to set up the Playmobil nativity. He recruits pieces from other Playmobil sets and pretty soon, the stable has a beer garden out back, and the wise men are toasting the event with a tankard of ale. Yes, those are soldiers. No, they're not Romans.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
On Friday evening we held our Womens Ministry Christmas Event at our church, Reston Presbyterian. The night was traditionally a night of baking cookies together, but this year we decided (for a lot of reasons including Fire Marshal rules) to go a different direction.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
3. Do you speak any foreign languages? Are there any you'd like to learn? A smattering of Spanish and German, but only in the present tense. Yes, I'd like to be more proficient in both.
4. Who is your personal hero? I don't really have personal heroes. If I had to choose one, it might be the great airman, Billy Mitchell. Look him up Or maybe the British Flying Officer Douglas Bader. The Germans had to threaten to take away his artificial legs to stop him from escaping from the POW camps. No, really! See it here. I just admire people who persevere doing the right thing, sometimes at great personal cost.
5. What is one holiday food that you find extremely difficult to resist over-indulging in? Cookies. Especially with icing on them. I just tried a new recipe of Cardamom cookies. Yum! Let me know in the comments if you want the recipe!
6. Tell me about a Christmas decoration that has special meaning or sentimental value. In first grade, my son made a creche with little clothespin people, fancy beads for the gifts, and baby Jesus was a little peg doll wrapped in a cloth and lying in a manger made from a cardboard jewelry box. I get a lumpy throat each year when I take it out. Can you see the shepherds with their pipe cleaner hooks? There's an angel on top who was made with doily wings. The whole thing is just adorable. He's in 7th grade now so we've gotten a lot of mileage out of this thing!
7. How do you feel about snow? Love it if we don't have to go anywhere!
8. On average, how many hours of sleep do you get each night? Not that I'm jealous of any number over three or anything. Seven. I can't function otherwise.
9. Tell me about your first crush. I was very aware very early that boys were to be sighed over, so I think the year I was the kindergarten princess, I probably had a crush on the prince...whoever he was. The first I can remember is a boy named Nestor. He was in my class in 3rd or 4th grade. He was from Brazil and was so very cool.
10. You're stuck in a room for 2 hours with only a chalkboard and chalk. What will you write/draw? I think I'd fill the chalkboard with a mass of stick figures playing on a playground. I used to do that in the margins of my schoolwork.
11. Do you dress for the current temp or for the day's forecast? I wear what's clean and goes together and I'm often surprised by the weather!
12. Favorite Christmas movie is? Claymation Christmas. It's not really a movie, but it's great anyway. Who can resist the camels wearing tennis shoes and singing We Three Kings?
Monday, December 7, 2009
Even in the 21st century, Alice was certain that every hole contained a white rabbit. This time she’d be very clean, and not late at all.