In town, there is a business called “Uncork and Create“. I’ll make up some of the history but mostly, it started as a place where an artist walks a group of people through doing a painting…everyone does the same painting with their own unique touches. Wine and snacks are welcome and it’s a fairly social gathering. They have since branched out from painting into all sorts of cooking/food classes.
Emily got me a gift certificate to go to one of their classes for Christmas. I am no cook, but I do like wine and sweets, so when I saw that they were offering a class on making chocolate truffles, I decided it was a perfect opportunity to give the place a try!
My class was offered on Valentine’s Day so taking it was either a really good idea or a really bad idea. I figured that if I arrived home with a pile of homemade truffles for my Valentine, I would be off the hook.
They have a local chef prepare a few easy recipes and we dug in with ingredients and kitcheny tools and stuff needed to make our recipes. The chef was a fun woman who was easy going and clearly enjoyed what she was doing. She teased and played and taught us some tricks for proper chocolate coating. There were a number of ingredients she brought so we could customize our truffles also. Several couples attended so I was at the “singles table”. We all agreed to customize our truffles with Grand Marnier orange liqueur. We tasted it and decided it wasn’t flavorful enough so we added more…and more. Well, you get the idea.
Once the truffle ganache is mixed, we had to refrigerate it so it would set up…chef came to our table after a bit and asked us how much hooch we had added to our mix…it turns out our mix was slow to set up…ooops! It wasn’t that much was it?
We finally got everything pulled together and made some really delicious truffles. I guess they aren’t as beautiful as I had hoped but for my first go at it, I was pleased. I had a lot of fun and really enjoyed my time at the event. I won’t be able to make these things too often though or I’ll either be three sheets to the wind or overweight!
We are pleased to introduce the newest driver in our house! Isaac passed his learner’s permit test yesterday. As soon as I got home from work, he bounced into the kitchen, license in hand. Of course, I knew he wanted to go drive. I suspect he had planned on my tossing him the keys and saying “let’s go.”
Although he has driven many times out at the executive deer stand, he had not driven at any real speed with opposing 2 ton hunks of rolling metal coming at him. Instead, I drove him to a nearby neighborhood with flat straight streets. He was a mix of excited and nervous…and so was I honestly.
He got into the driver’s seat and we went over the “make it go forward” checklist. Isaac tended to hug the white line as we drove house, cars, and mailboxes. Of course, he was still a little jerky with the gas pedal and the steering but he was very cautious and seemed to take it seriously enough to satisfy my nerves a little. I guess we drove for 40 minutes and had a lot of fun.
Probably my favorite part of the trip happened at the end of our drive. There is a church near our house where I asked Isaac to pull in so I could take us home. Our road is steep and windy and has a blind crest. We weren’t ready for that yet. Anyhow, we pulled into the parking lot and miscommunicated where we were going to park. Isaac got it between the parking lines so all was fine, but I suppose it looked funny to the older couple sitting in the car across the parking bumper from us. The look on their face was, at first, one of slight confusion with our antics. As soon as Isaac and I got out and switched seats, they got big goofy grins on their faces. It was obvious…we were practicing driving. In response to their big goofy grins, I grinned right back and nodded my head. I suspect they said a quick prayer for both me and them as, that night, a new driver was unleashed on the road!
It seems like we have been involved with a lot of musical stuff lately in our house. The kids have had band stuff pretty regularly since Christmas. They played holiday concerts and, this week, are trying out for “All-County” band which is a band comprised of the best players in the county as determined during a blind audition.
All of that involves a good bit of practicing pieces and trying new things. What has been especially fun is when Abigail (flute), Isaac (tenor sax) and I (clarinet) all get to playing at the same time, we can make a powerful lot of noise in the house. It might be a pleasing noise if we played the same song, or even complementary songs, but that is never the case.
Isaac is the most experienced player and has the loudest instrument, by far. He plays complex pieces and often plays them very loudly. Abigail is playing very well also and her range is fairly high pitched. Finally, on my “squeak stick”, I have a good range between high and low but I am not a great player yet. I just changed reeds so I actually squeak a lot trying to get used to the new feel. All three of us together makes for quite a…performance I am sure.
We practice every evening (or at least 5/7 days) for 30-60 minutes. During that time, Emily holes up in the bedroom where the cats take cover. They literally tremble in fear under the bed covers or wrapped up in Emily’s robe. I don’t think of myself as a particularly cruel person, but there is some sort of special pleasure in seeing the cats respond as they do. I do not know if it is the volume or the tone, or just the squeaks, but the mere sight of our instruments, especially my clarinet, sends them running for cover!
It seems like things have been pretty slow around our place lately but we remain busy with stuff…some of the stuff I can identify, while other things are less clearly identified. Anyhow, last weekend, we had the pleasure of hearing Isaac and a small group of his fellow band members play at the Solo and Ensemble ratings at WV State University.
This ratings event is not a head-to-head competition per se, but the bands compete for highest ratings. It is possible for multiple bands to have the highest ratings so no one gets trophies or certificates exactly although I suspect there is a good opportunity for bragging rights involved. Individual students can perform solos and small groups can perform as ensembles. Isaac’s school had a representation in both areas.
We took videos of the two performances in which Isaac was involved. We didn’t have an opportunity to hear other performances as a lot of people shuffle in and out, but I am so proud of these shows and am certain that there was much greatness to be heard from the other groups from our school as well as other schools in the region. I don’t know how many groups played exactly, but I would guess around 50! That’s a beautiful thing, I think, for the arts to be so well represented! Yeah band!
An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? I have literally been eating an apple a day for awhile now. I also eat a couple of other pieces of fruit every day so I am fully fruited. I typically have 2-4 pieces of fresh fruit a day and mostly I have remained healthy for months. Unfortunately, I must have been one banana short this weekend as I ended up with the flu.
I am a big baby when it comes to sore throats and fevers. So, the flu, having both components, really knocks me out. I can usually whiskey-away a sore throat but coupled with a fever, I was down and out. Probably the worst part is that I didn’t get to go to work on the most important of all holidays, Groundhog Day! My coworkers were not properly evangelized. Alas, I was stuck in bed moaning like a dying brontosaurus. Of course, Phil predicted 6 more weeks of winter. I know it’s hard for people to hear that, but Phil doesn’t just preach what people want to hear…he predicts weather accurately regardless of our wants!
Abigail had the flu a few weeks ago, and, like her, I got tamiflu early and it knocked it out pretty quickly. I drank lots of water and slept some until the tamiflu perked me up saved me from the misery. Finally, my fever broke early Monday and I am mostly back to normal now. I’ll keep on eating apples, but dear friends, it must take more than one apple a day to keep the flu away!