Friday, December 31, 2010

Ice, Ice, Baby

The family and I visited the National Harbor today...for the first time for all of us except Eric. We attended the Gaylord Hotel's presentation of ICE! It's pretty phenomenal...a group of artisans from Siberia spend a month of 12-hour days creating ice sculptures from 2 million tons of ice. This year's theme was "How the Grinch Stole Christmas".

Everything was made from ice, and colored with food coloring. Unbelievable.

 Yes, even the letters! Not the boys, though--they're warm-blooded! The Gaylord provided the parkas for us to wear, as it was a cool 9 degrees in here. Brrr!

 You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch...

 The Whos down in Whoville are playing with their toys.

 The Grinch is making poor Max into a reindeer.

 JJ thinks he's still a little kid. This was terribly cute, but he said it was terribly uncomfortable. :)

 The Grinch is making his move.

 There were slides of ice set up for us to come down...thus the parkas. We would have gotten stuck without them. Here's JJ coming down...whee!

 I only caught Nicky's green hat on his ride.

 Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.

 The Grinch's heart grew three sizes that day!

 Everybody loves Max!

 And of course, who could forget Cindy-Lou Who, who was no more than two!

 At the end of the tour, there was a beautifully simple Nativity display, also made completely of ice. Love the angel.

 The manger scene was surrounded by the animals and Wise Men, but I loved the simple manger scene on its own.

 Merry Christmas from the Grinch and us!

 On the way out, this tree caught our's made completely from Marshmallow Peeps. Wow!

 The beautiful if slightly dirty Potomac River, with a lovely view of the Beltway and Wilson Bridge from the riverfront of the Gaylord.

The National Harbor's Christmas tree was very huge and imposing, yet beautiful.

It was a lovely way to spend New Year's Eve.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Just Another Day in the District

We headed in to the big city today...down to DC. Eric gets 4 free passes a year to the Newseum, so we took advantage and all went. Great museum...of course, it's near and dear to our hearts, bring that Eric is still in the business and I used to be.

First up, though...we parked at his work and walked to the Newseum from Union Station. What the heck is this??

 Turns out it's a Mastercard ad. Something about stepping out in style or something. Weird.

 My obligatory picture of the Nation's Capitol. This never gets old.

Now...on to the Newseum. It's a 6-story museum devoted to the news business...print, radio, television, internet...all of it. It has wonderful rotating exhibits and very important permanent ones, such as the Berlin Wall.

 These are huge 12-foot pieces of the wall saved and brought over. This side was the East German side with all the grafitti, fighting for freedom...the back side, facing West Germany, was pristine. There was a portion we could touch...not this, though.

Another permanent exhibit is 9/11. Here is a piece of one of the towers from the World Trade Center.

 The stories told, the debris found...shocking and sad.

Near the tower is a huge wall collection of the front pages of newspapers from 9/12...many from the US and all over the world.
 But this one from the San Francisco Examiner says it all.


Moving along...there was a nice collection of comics. Yes, those can be news-worthy, too! Here is one of my favorites from my childhood...

I used to buy Beetle Bailey comic books and devour them, along with The Archies, Richie Rich, Little Lulu...ah, good times.

One of the rotating exhibits was about Elvis. Lots of great music, great pictures, not-so-great pictures...;) Here is the Vegas Elvis outfit in all its sequined glory...

 We spent several hours going through all the exhibits and enjoying ourselves. After an excellent dinner at Matchbox near Chinatown:

 We popped over the National Portrait Gallery inside the Museum of American Art. There is a display of Norman Rockwell paintings there until Sunday, and I didn't want to miss it. We weren't allowed to take any pictures of the painting, but they were all great.

On our way out of the Rockwell display, we found this awesome license plate art:

 The tag messages spell out the Preamble to the Constitution. For those who don't remember it:

We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this COnstitution for the UNited States of America.

Way cool. Way cool.

No visit to the Portrait Gallery is complete without a visit to the Presidential Portraits. The White House has a number of them, including President Obama's, so some of the pictures are unofficial. Like this one of President Clinton...
 It was painted using different swirly designs coming together to form his face. Weird, but interesting.

We are pooped! But it was a good day. Great family time!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Green Cookies?

That's what I heard on Christmas Day when I finished my premier batch of Mint Chocolate Chunk Cookies.

Yep...they were green!

One of my students raved about these cookies before the break and I asked for the recipe. He actually remembered to bring it in for me, so I decided to give them a chance.

It was so easy.

 Use 1 package of Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix.

Add the mix to 1/2 cup of softened butter or margarine, 1/4 teaspoon mint extract, and 6-8 drops of green food coloring. Also add 1 large egg. Mix until a soft dough forms. I needed to mix with my hands to get it all mixed together. Then add 1 cup of creme de menthe chips and 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chunks ( I jsut used chips).

 Eric said this looked like mint-chocolate chip ice cream!

Drop 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 8-10 minutes. It actually took mine about 12 minutes.

And there they are. Yummy. And so green!

I was surprised...the kids really took to them. They told me next time to leave the green out. But I think the color adds a little something extra. A little oomph.

Here's the recipe link: Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Enjoy the green!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

And So It Begins...Again

Round 2 of the Winter 2010 Snowfest...

It's just a dusting so far, but we are expecting anywhere from 3 to 10 inches of the white stuff. Depending on who's giving the weather.

We'll see.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Here's hoping for a very Merry Christmas to all!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Another Eagle Scout for Our Troop

We attended an Eagle Scout ceremony for our latest Eagle Scout in our troop today. Bryan joined our troop in 9th grade, and managed to complete the entire program, including 21 merit badges, 6 rank advancements, and an Eagle project in 3 1/2 years. Unbelievable.

 The Flag Corps readying to present the colors.

 One boy from each rank was chosen to read Bryan's achievements. JJ got to read the Eagle one. Thank goodness he got home yesterday!

Here's the newest Eagle giving his closing remarks. This is one incredible person.

Congratulations, Bryan and family. What an achievement!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Secret Snowman Gift

I am participating in a Secret Snowman activity at school for the season. All week I've been leaving little trinkets in the mailbox of my secret snowman, and I've been receiving presents in return. We did have 2 snow days this week, though, so there will be a glut of gifts come Monday.

My person likes sewing, and blue, so I combined the 2 for the final gift; a crocheted scarf.

I crocheted this with Lion Brand yarn in Colonial. The pattern is "Wedding Favor Scarf" on Lion's website. It was really easy and crocheted using only 1 skein of yarn.

I hope she likes it. If not, I'll keep it!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cub Scouts Freezing Before a Fire...

Not the same as the old Chestnuts song!!! But true.

Tonight I visited my old Cub Scout Pack as their Unit Commissioner for their annual December Pack meeting...Christmas caroling around a bonfire. It was doubly Christmas-y because of the snow we just had.

 It was cozy, but still cold. I was asked to help the Tiger Cubs sing their song...Jolly Old St. Nicholas. We did OK, but that had better NOT end up on YouTube!

Towards the end of the caroling, we were thrown a bit by the arrival of our local volunteer fire department. We thought they had been called because of our fire.

 Turns out that Santa had heard of our bonfire and while he personally wasn't able to attend (he's a little busy this time of year, after all), he sent one of his elves in his place to pass out candy canes to all the good little boys and girls.
That was a nice touch.

It was a good meeting and a very fun evening. But wow, my toes were really red when I got home! Even with a double layer of thick socks and hiking boots.

This meeting is not to be missed, though. And I'm glad I didn't.

Ho, ho, ho!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The First Snow of the Season

And so it begins.

 It's not much...about 2 inches, maybe a little less. But enough to close school before it even started.

 A blurry nighttime shot of the Christmas lights in the yard.

 Our snowman is liking the snow! I didn't go outside to take this; I just stood on the front stoop. Too cold to actually go outside!

And of course here is my usual shot of the patio set with the snow...not too much, but we'll take it.

Man...snow days already. Who knows what kind of winter lies ahead? We may be in school until July this year.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cookies, Cookies Everywhere

I went to a cookie exchange today at my friend and neighbor Becki's house. I've always wanted to host one, but never had a clean enough house or enough time to plan one out. Maybe when I retire. :)

So I went as a guest to one. It was a lot of fun. My contribution was Chocolate-Peppermint Cookies, from a recipe from my friend Amy. Here they are:

 I was using an older model camera and couldn't remember how to turn the flash off, so some of these pictures are a little bright and shiny.

Here is the very cute container I put the cookies in--compliments of Target. I just loved this.

 Becki has such a cute display for her wine...the frozen containers were actually a part of the greenery. Very festive and it did a great job of keeping the wine chilled. Not that I tried the wine, or anything. ;)

 Here's my booty--5 dozen cookies from everyone present. Wow. That's a lot of cookies!

As part of the festivities, we had an ornament exchange. Here's what I got...such a cute reindeer. I stole it from a 5th grader. I'm not proud of that. :) But it was better than the original owner...the girl stole it from the mom of one of my students! That would have been awkward, but I would have done it anyway. That was part of the fun of the day--ornaments were flying around the room to all different people!

I really feel like the season is here. If only I were ready for it. SO much to do, so little time.