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Monday, April 30, 2012

April Catch Up

It has been a fun month for all of us.
David's very busy with work - lots of projects going on.

Thomas is finishing up 6th grade next month.
He's got all sorts of final class trips, class projects, and events planned.
We're excited his grandmothers can come visit and attend his graduation!

Brennan has been really busy with 4th grade projects and class activities.
When not catching up on homework he is spending a lot of time riding his bike and enjoying the fresh air.  He is anxious for the weather to cooperate so we can start swimming.

David and I are getting the yard, landscaping, pool, and house ready for summer.
We've also been busy with maintenance projects like a new hot water heater, and multiple trips to the shop with our cars.  It seems like all the maintenance is due at once.
Right now we're looking at having our chimney fixed, skylights replaced because of hail damage, and our roof either replaced or repaired.

Busy time of year and I love it!

Much to our surprise we ended up on the cover our park and rec department's summer fun guide.
Every household in the county receives one of these, with the list of all the summer and fall programs.  We've received a lot of kidding and attention over this photo - we're really rocking those helmets aren't we?

The American Institute of Architects hosted a conference in our town and David and I attended one of the dinners.  It was fun to meet several architects and enjoy a fantastic dinner!

The 6th grade studies world history, and they had their annual celebration a couple of weeks ago -
a Medieval Fair.
I volunteered and was assigned to be a Jester and co-lead one of the groups.  I was absolutely exhausted at the end of the day.  But it was a lot of fun!
Coincidentally, Thomas was also a jester.  It was a full, fun day.

The boys' school has an International Fair each spring.  The boys and I volunteered to help with set up and then I got roped into asked to be the photographer.  One of my photos was in the local paper.

We had 17 cultures represented at the Fair, with lots of games, activities, educational information, treats, and prizes at each of the booths.  It was a huge success and I was so happy for my friend who chaired the Fair this year.

One of Brennan's classmates in traditional Indian attire

Two students who participated in the traditional dances that evening

The Boatwright clan clearly went as "typical Americans" in our khaki shorts, t-shirts, and Crocs, while many of the other kids were dressed in great outfits.

It's been a great month, but I am psyching myself up for an even crazier month of May.
Looking forward to some great adventures!

What I'm Reading - April 2012

Well I really fell behind in my reading in April.  The weather was too pretty I guess!
I did work on both of my Book Club April books, and I'll share those with you.
And I re-read a couple of books, but the pile next to my bed is growing, so I'd better get on it!

The Night Circus
My daytime book club "As the Page Turns" chose The Night Circus as our April read.  It is a story of a circus in the late 1800s/early 1900s that magically appears and is open only at night.  It's a story of magic but feels very real.  It's imaginative and romantic and certainly deserves a read.  While I tend to prefer more realism to magic, it was a fun read and lent itself to a great discussion.

Liked It

Stiff:  The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
I tried.  I really did.
The Litwits (my nighttime book club) read this book for our April read, but I just couldn't do it.
What saved this book for me was the humor. 
It is a rather hilarious read about what happens to the human body post-mortem.
The fact-by-fact descriptions were way too much information for me.  I stopped about 2/3 of the way in. 
Another great discussion though in our book club!
Many people have read all of Mary Roach's books, so were prepared for her style and in-depth descriptions.  I apparently was not!

Didn't Like It

And that's all I read (new) in April!
What are you reading?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Chopped - Boatwright Style

Do you watch "Chopped" on Food Network?
We watched a couple of episodes over Spring Break when we were traveling and loved it.  The boys especially.

Four professional chefs compete for $10,000 every episode.
They make an appetizer, entree, and dessert - one chef getting "chopped" after each course, to reveal the winner.

The catch is they have to use 4 ingredients in their dishes, and it's always some combo of foods that is not easy to pull together.  And at least one of the ingredients, I wouldn't eat period!

These judges are talking to the chefs about their appetizers, and will reveal who has been chopped.

ANYWAY, when I was at a church meeting last week, the boys asked if they could do a "Chopped" dish for David.  He complied and picked 4 random ingredients and they made a dessert.  Unfortunately, Thomas was chopped.

Over the weekend, they wanted to play again, so I got to choose this time.  They made an appetizer.  I chose Daikon Radish, Grapefruit, Crackers, and Salt.  They could add any other ingredients as well.

We set the timer and they got started, assembling the ingredients:

Just like on the show, it's very fast paced, but they did great.  I was watching that no one got careless with a knife in their rush!

Brennan's dish. Very nice.
We really appreciated the presentation, and suggested a little less paprika next time. 
Otherwise, it actually tasted great.
 (Note to self - we're now out of bay leaves)

Thomas's dish.
We thought the addition of peanuts was inspired, and noted that presentation is not Thomas's forte.

One dish is covered by the bowl.
Whose is it?  Who will be Chopped?
(You can tell by their faces that this is really important to one person...)

Oh no!  Thomas was Chopped again!
Brennan is thrilled.

The winning appetizer.

Oh, and by the way - no $10,000 prize for the winner at our house :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cajun Night and Baby Shower!

Oh, Wine Club, I've missed you!

Last night John and Ginger hosted our Wine Club for a Cajun Night and it was a wonderful evening!
All of our "members" were there - such a terrific night!

We didn't sample wines, but we did enjoy delicious Hurricanes, Red Roosters, and other assorted beverages.  But the food was the star of the show - absolutely amazing food.

Here's John grilling up the oysters

Oh my they were good!

And these crab bites were decadent (as David said)

And this was only part of the food.  If someone left hungry, well - I'd be amazed.

So great to see everyone!

Robin, Lora, Jan, and Vinita

Barry and Ginger

Leigh, Rob, and Barry

Mary telling a tale to David and Jeff

Barry thanking our hosts for an absolutely wonderful evening

In addition to the Cajun theme, we also had a Baby Shower for our newest Wine Clubber - Miss Emma!

Emma was great and we all enjoyed holding her!

Leigh and Emma

Mike and Emma

Jayne, Emma, Dave, and Rosann

Roger, Ginger, Rosann, Emma, Lora, and Charlie

I think everyone enjoyed seeing all the gifts

Boudreaux's Butt Paste (made locally) - it's wonderful stuff and fit the Cajun theme!

Bad photo, but beautiful monogrammed blanket

Two terrible shots but it was so funny how the men were in the back row (peanut gallery)...

...and the ladies were up front

Very Hungry Caterpillar Cake

Happy Family!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Shoot Fly Shoot Photography 101 Class

Before we left for vacation last month, I took the online Photography 101 Class by Shoot Fly Shoot.

My March big goal for 2012 was to find a photography class that would help me learn to use my DSLR camera a little better.  I looked around for a local class, but did not find one that I thought would be a good fit.  I also looked into doing a 1 on 1 class with someone, but did not have any luck.

Then I heard about Josh and Kevin's new online class and decided to give it a try.  I'm so glad I did!

You may know Kevin from Layla & Kevin's blog The Lettered Cottage.  If not - jump over and follow them!

Josh and Kevin take most of the mystery and confusion out of shooting in Manual with a DSLR.

I had already read my owner's manual cover to cover, and had read two of Scott Kelby's great intro books.  I had also played with my camera for 2 years, improving a little here and there.

But Josh and Kevin's class really pulled all of that disjointed learning together.
It helped me simplify the set ups when we were traveling, and get better shots.

I still have a ways to go to get the best shots that don't require much editing working after the fact, but I feel much more confident setting up for a really good shot - no matter the lighting conditions.

Here are a few shots I took on our San Francisco/Yosemite/Grand Canyon/Utah trip just after going through the training, and a couple right after the trip. 

I know that these shots were better than they would have been because I followed their guidelines and saw my shots improve as I was going.

A huge thank you to Josh and Kevin!
I'll be signing up for Photography 102 as soon as it's available!