Posted by Julie Wiens Posted on 1:27 PM | No comments

Salem - Take 2

Kyle and I went back to Salem this past weekend. We went there with the sole purpose of seeing the Peabody Essex Museum. We only spent a few hours in the museum before it closed for the day.

There were two parts of the museum that I really enjoyed and where we spent most of our time.

The first was an exhibit: Eye Spy, Playing with Perception. The exhibit used art to demonstrate perception. Sadly I only took one photo, but you can see that the large backdrop is made of thread barrels and the glass sphere rotated the image. The museum's website has more photos of the exhibit if you are interested. Click on it to see the larger image.

The other part of the museum was the Yin Yu Tang house. This house was in use in China by one family for 200 years and was brought over to the US in 1982. You can see the main courtyard of the house here or take a virtual tour here. I wasn't able to take any photos, but the house was very interesting and you can read more about it on that link.

There were two things that I really enjoyed about the house:

One was the courtyard. Th house is like a large rectangle with the center cut out. The roof opens up to this interior courtyard. You can see the roof on the website listed above. The bottom of the courtyard had two smaller pools to collect rain water and to hold fish for special events.

The second item was the Childminder. Below is a photo from Flicker by fuggles:


Apparently this was used by parents to keep their kids in one place while they worked. Perhaps the first playpen. The bottom had a place to keep warm coals or rocks so that the child would stay warm. Picture a kid standing in it with his arms sticking out over the side.

There were lots of furnished rooms that you could walk through to get a feel of the family life.

Another aspect that got our attention was the name of the house. Yin Yu Tang is the name of the house, not the owners name. Apparently it was custom to name homes. This name gives the general idea that the house will shelter generations of the family. So, what would you name your home?
Posted by Julie Wiens Posted on 12:53 PM | 1 comment

Valentine's Day

On Valentine's Day, Kyle and I don't celebrate like most people. We prefer to stay home, away from the mad rush of people at every restaurant. This year I spent the day baking.

I made love potion cookies for Kyle to take into work. Sadly, my icing was a little too runny. Therefore, the cookies are not as clean looking as I would have liked, but they sure tasted good.

For Kyle I whipped up individual banana cakes with Nutella frosting (yummy!). This was my first cake test of my new airbrush that my dad gave me for Christmas. I had done testing on paper, but not on fondant. I still have a ton to learn as you can see from the photos.

On the first cake I tried a stencil method, but the air from the brush moved my stencil so it is messy looking.
For the other cake I decided to do a more artsy look. You can see that I embraced the paint splatters. I think I had my pressure up to high, but it ended up looking neat.
I will definitely have to practice with my airbrush some more. I think my next project will be to make some gum paste flowers and paint those.

For our romantic evening we played board games. It might not sound exciting for most people, but it suits us. A new friend of mine here at the base turned us on to two new games:

Carcassonne which is a great strategy game for two people. We have yet to play with more, but you can play with up to 5 people. It is a blast. We liked it so much, we had to have our own copy.

Babel is a card/strategy playing game for two people. We only played it a few times, but we could see how it could get really interesting.

One great thing about these games is that they are both produced by the Rio Grande Games Company in Placitas. I highly recommend you check them out.

However you spent your Valentine's Day, I hope you enjoyed it.
Posted by Julie Wiens Posted on 11:54 AM | 2 comments

Samuel Adams Brewery

The weekend prior to Valentines Day we ventured into Boston to visit the Samuel Adams Brewery. To start the adventure we did what we always do when we go to Boston: we drove to the Alewife Subway Station to hop on the system. This time we were treated to an unusual site in the parking lot:

This turkey wasn't scared of us. I guess it just wanted a slightly warmer place to rest and the top of this car was the chosen spot. I don't blame him for seeking shelter. It was pretty cold outside.
When we arrived at the stop for the brewery, we found ourselves in an part of town we had yet to visit. It wasn't the nicest part of town and I was glad when we arrived at the brewery.
 The tour was nice and short. More importantly it included sampling of hops, barley and of course beer.

After our tour, we went to the Italian district in Boston to grab some pastries from Mike's Pastry shop before heading home. Kyle was very sad that Dewey wasn't with us as we saw the largest cream puff either of us had ever seen. As you can tell from the photo, the pastries were thoroughly enjoyed.
Our last bit of news for that week was that our little girl, Frik, got sick. One day she just didn't eat anything and so we found ourselves back at the vet. For those of you who don't know, Frik is our vet baby. She had eye surgery last year and is still on many meds for that. She has also had many mast cell tumors removed over the years. Needless to say, she really hates going to the vet.

We are still going back and forth to the vet trying to figure out what exactly is wrong with Frik. It is looking like she is having some issues with her 1 functioning kidney (she was born with a dead one). As part of her treatment we are trying to get her to eat more canned food, adding kidney meds as well as pepcid ac to her endless list of prescriptions, and giving her intravenous fluids at night. It sure has been a hard few weeks for her and us, but hopefully we will have some answers soon.
You should see me trying to get her to eat more canned food. She already hated the amount we used to give her for her eye medication, but now it feels like we are war with each other. I have about 5 cans open at any time. I take each one to her and see if she is interested in that one for the day. When her highness picks one to eat, I add in the medication and give it to her. She eats a little and I spend the next few hours trying to get her to eat the rest. I even end up spoon feeding her. She is like a little two year old, shaking her head away from the spoon in front of her. Eventually she caves and eats some more. We do this process about three times a day. Each day is a new eating battle, but we are making progress. At least she is eating again.

I hope all of you have happy, healthy pets. Frak is still healthy, and I am so thankful for that.


Posted by Julie Wiens Posted on 3:08 PM | No comments

It's snowing... again

As you may know, we are being hit with another storm. While it is piling up outside I thought I would post a few recent pictures.

Kyle is great out feeding the birds and squirrels. We get a lot of variation in the birds that visit.

This was a volleyball cupcake that I made for the first party we were invited to out here. The host was a guy I play volleyball with.

I posted this on facebook too, but it is worth posting twice. The pile outside our door is crazy tall. The snow along our sidewalk is above my waist.