Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Frog In the Meadow

I'm gonna hit you with a little cute today. This is the song Magoo learned in his Kindergarten music class.

They lyrics are:

Frog in the meadow
Can't get him out
Take a little stick
and stir it about

I'm not sure how PETA would feel about it but I'm pretty sure it's an effective way to get the frog to move.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Weekend in the Kitchen

It as a dreary, rainy weekend - a good time to get some things done in the kitchen. For starters, my husband did a top-notch cleaning job in there. But it wasn't long before I messed it up again. We could keep a college kid employed in a part-time job just in doing dishes.

I started Saturday morning around 11:00 with the making of tomato sauce - based on the SouleMama recipe here. But here's a tip I learned about peeling tomatoes - and maybe you already know - but I had never done this before so it's new and exciting to me. If you boil some water and dip your tomato in there for 15-30 second - the skin loosens and it peels right off. So easy. The first tomato I tried to peel with a peeler - what a mess!

So I got started on the fresh sauce.

By mid-afternoon it was time to make bread. I found a recipe for bruschetta and I LOVE bruschetta - so I wanted to try that out. But I have to make a loaf of gluten-free, yeast-free bread first. So - around 3:00pm it was bread-making time.

I also had to make a sesame marinade for the chicken. I just threw this togehter with some sesame oil, olive oil, toasted sesame seeds, salt and a bit of lemon juice. I just wanted to give it some flavor and I was tired of making the other marinade that we always use. So that was done and settling.

When the bread came out I let that sit for a moment while I mixed the topping for the bruschetta.

The topping consisted of tomatoes, red onion, garlic, fresh basil, and salt heated up in the skillet (w/ olive oil) for a bit - just enough to let the flavors melt into one another. Then I removed it from the heat and tossed in about a teaspoon of lemon juice.

After slicing the bread and giving it a light toast in the oven (and a touch of a broil) I put the topping on.

It turned out good. Here's the whole meal - the sesame chicken, bruschetta and some steamed broccoli. Mmmmmm. (Magoo even ate the broccoli!)

One of the reasons I made the pasta sauce on Saturday was to use it in chili on Sunday. I did it in the slow cooker so my dinner prep was at 9am on Sunday. I browned the chicken (we don't eat a lot of beef) and plopped that into the slow cooker with 1 can of sauce, chopped onion and chopped green pepper, 3 chopped tomatoes, 1 can of kidney beans, 1 can of black beans, garlic (of course) and seasonings. That cooked about 7 hours.

I used the rest of the loaf of bread for garlic bread.

I forgot to take a picture - but Magoo ate it all down!

I also made some soynut butter cookies yesterday for the week.

Some days I just don't feel like cooking at all. Bit I think I made up for it this weekend.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Home Improvements

This is my house six years ago when we first moved in.  Just a nice, little Cape.  I think the white shutters were clean then - but about two years ago they were looking pretty dingy to me and I never thought white shutters on a pale gray house was the best look either.

So finally - after at least two years of whining and saying - I want to paint those - I painted them black.  (Michael and Magoo helped with painting the shutters, too.  I don't want to leave out the team!) I also painted the previously blue door red.  There was nothing wrong with the blue - I just thought red would look better with the black shutters.  So here's the house as of yesterday.

It's the same shot but it's much harder to see because that tree in the front yard SHOT UP!  It's a really good shade tree now.  (I used to put baby Magoo under it's small patch of shade in the summer.  Now we can fit a party of 20 under there!)

Here's a better shot of the new look.

I'm soooooo happy with it.  It's so nice to look at my home and think it looks nice as opposed to seeing all the flaws I want to fix.

Having a home means constantly working on it.  There will always be something to do, fix, update - but it feels really good when you get those things done and know you're giving some love to the best place in the world.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Smile With Your Eyes

They haven't uploaded the newest eyes pics from the Top Model site yet - so I went with one of my favorite shoots of the past. There's water. She has eyes. It's good enough.

One of my favorite aspects of this show are the creative ideas for photo shoots and I thought Nigel did a great job last night. But I'll try to take things in order so I'll get back to that.

Runway Workshop.
Um - wear can I get a pair of those bowling high heel shoes? FIERCE!
For the most part - I thought the girls had pretty solid walks. Hannah - no. She was bad. Isis - not as good as she thinks she is - but not horrible. Samantha - with work, she'll improve - but right now - bad.

Fashion Show.
Who was that designer? I think he might rate as the #1 designer I am least likely to wear. I'm all for a dramatic runway show - but is someone seriously supposed to wear a curtain rod - ala' Carol Burnett - out to dinner? She'll knock the waiters over! McKey did work it though. Good for her. And we all saw Samantha - baby did a bad, bad thing. She "stylishly" lifted her dress and flashed the audience. In her defense - I think she she felt her thick tights were kinda like pants so it wasn't much of a show. That said - we all heard the designer SPECIFICALLY tell her NOT to do that. And then she did it! OOOOOOOOO he was mad! And Tyra gave Sammy quite the tongue lashing at panel about it too. Poor Samantha was sobbing so hard I thought she was going to melt away. That's a big confidence booster for her, huh?

But Hannah's walk was just too darn awkward to do anything about. So they "SHOOK UP" the show and gave her the boot right then and there. She had to "pick up her beans" and go. But - to me, the viewer - this didn't feel like that much of a shake up. Maybe it was in the editing but I didn't care. Lose one early - big whoop!

So I started thinking - what would be a better Top Model shake up? Bring back the ones already booted and let them toss one? Maybe. I kind of like the idea of maybe the bottom 2 or 3 girls only get 5 shots at their photo shoot - let's draw out the pain a little. Or maybe the bottom two have to have a walk-off like on Zoolander! Maybe there were just too many girls and the producers told Tyra they had to cut a week short to make room for some sports even or something. Who knows!

Photo shoot.
I loved the idea. I thought it was very moody with the fog and I love the reflections. I didn't need to see QUITE so many casual pics of Tyra on vacation though.

Yeah to Annaleigh who finally showed a little something-something and came up with a good pose. And with a hair bagel on her head too! Lauren Brie had my favorite photo with her arms up in a swanish pose. Clark's flirting got her top prize this week - but I still don't like that dark hair. Actually, most of the shots were pretty good.

Elina belly flopped big time. But she is RIPE for a break-down. I think in the next few epiosdes her world is going to crumble under the pressure and she'll either completely fade away or rise from the ashes - which Tyra would LOVE!

But it was Strike Three for Isis and penis issues. I think Paulina hit the nail on the head when she said Isis was trying so hard to fit into the world of girls that she was afraid to stand out. I mean - okay, you don't want your junk hanging out - but it was a head and arms shoot! No one was looking down there anyway!

I should have known she was a goner when the cameras caught her in the kitchen telling her friends, "I'm not going anywhere."

Sorry Isis, but, yeah ya are.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Two Bags

Cross two more things off the sewing list!  (I love this list.)  I finished the bags for Big S and Little A.  (I really hope S doesn't read this blog - I don't think she does.)

My friend, Staci, is having her second baby in December.  I wanted to make her a diaper bag alllllll summer long - but I just didn't have the time b/c it's a little bit more complicated of a bag design than a simple tote.  I put two side pockets in for drinks for both kids and pockets inside for diapers.  Anyway - I'll get into the details later.

I wanted to make a matching bag for little A.  She will be four when the new baby comes.  And I know A likes dolls, so I thought this could be her diaper bag for her dolls.

Little A likes green.  So I lined hers with green and put a pocket on front.  

This is Momma's bag.  The front flat pocket would be perfect for a changing pad and - like I said above - there are two side pockets for bottles and sippy cups.

I put in a magnetic snap and lined it with blue.  There are three pockets inside - 2 long deep ones for diapers and 1 smaller one for whatever.

All the fabric I used was from that AWESOME tag sale where I bought bolts of fabric for $5/bolt.  You'll be seeing these fabrics again and again.  But I love the blue floral and it's canvas weight - so it's perfect for bags.  I'm really pleased with how these turned out.  I hope S and A are too.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Watercolor Goldfish: A Tutorial

I thought it might be nice to take you through a step-by-step of how I paint my goldfish. I did it once with koi, but I think this one is a little more thorough.

I start with my sketch. Sorry, I know this is hard to see. But there are three fish: a main fish, slightly off center, a secondary fish to the left, and a third fish in back. I take some artists tape and cut out shapes for the eyes and put them on the paper. This does two things - it keeps the eyes clean for a different approach to painting them, and it helps me see where the fish are when I am lifting.

I put the first wash of background color on - right over the fish. I used Cerelean Blue, Prussian Blue and Sap Green. I have already started to lift out the first fish with a damp squirrel hair brush. This is done while the paint is still wet. See the eyes on the other fish?

Now I lift out the other two fish - leaving some blue on the bodies for shading.

Now that I can see the fish clearly and the back wash has settled, I do another wash below the fish - pumping up the Prussian Blue where I want a stronger contrast.

I do the same thing on the top part. (I also sprinkle some drops of water to give the illusion of air bubbles.)

I underpaint the fish with a combination of blues, grays and Burnt Sienna. One of the reasons I am using Burnt Sienna is because the frame this will go in is that color - so it will look like it fits. I mainly paint on the bottom, where the natural shadows would be.

After the underpainting is completely dry - I can lay the yellows, oranges and reds in on the top fish. Before I paint, though, I do a loose water pattern on the fish (NOT a full wash). Then when I put the color on - some will bleed and some will lay flat giving me wet and dry areas of paint which make it more interesting and true to life.

Now that I have stronger colors on the front fish, I can see the background fish is looking pretty pale. I have to intensify those shadows.

That's better.

Now I can put the colors down on this one too. I went for a fully colored fish, just to be different. If they are all the same - it can be a little boring.

Now comes the time for finishing up. I rework anything I think needs to be darker and show more contrast. I lift some scale highlights out toward the top and add some darker scales in toward the bottom. I also remove the tape covering the eyes and paint those in using light blue, yellow ochre and black for the pupils.

When I finally think it looks good - that nothing I can add will make it better - I put my seal in the bottom corner and sign it.

Three Villages Bike Race

Saturday - my husband, Michael, rode in the Three Villages Bike Race in Baltic, CT.  It was a pretty nice day for a bike race.  Dry, sunny, cool.  I'd say the only thing about this race and I didn't like was that it wasn't a closed course.  These guys had to race alongside traffic!  While Magoo and I were driving in we saw one ambulance on the road with a cyclist and another at the start/finish point - and this last dude clearly ate some pavement.  Yeesh!

Up top you have the entire group racing in category 5.  Within Cat. 5 there are three subgroups that leave at different times, five minutes apart.

Here's my hubby's group leaving.  He's wearing the yellow and green jersey with the X on the sleeve and back. #67.

Just as Michael is about to take off, Magoo starts crying.  At first I couldn't figure out what was wrong because - as I'm sure you know - they don't enunciate well through sobs.  But finally I caught it.  "I want Daddy to win," he said.  The poor boy was so emotional for his father.  I told him "Daddy isn't really racing to win.  he's racing to have fun."  I don't know if he bought it.

The race was two 10-mile loops.  In other words - there was a ten mile loop that they went around twice.  Because there were so many groups, there was no way for me to really know when Michael would be coming around again.  I snapped this pic just because I wanted to get some racing shots and lucky for me - Michael was in it.  Can you find him?

Between each loop was about a 25 minute wait for Magoo and me.  We had a picnic and I brought some toys and we did well enough with it.

As soon as racers started coming around for the finish, I was on my feet to catch Michael.  Sure enough, he came around the corner.  (He's second in the shot.)

I tried to get a shot of him right at the finish line but my camera is not the greatest and it couldn't focus fast enough.

Magoo and I were very proud of Michael.  I think he did a great job!  He certainly was tired at the end of it but I think he had a pretty good time.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Vertical Koi #2

Wednesday I finished this painting. It certainly took me long enough. i think I started it in July. But August was a was with our Ohio/Michigan trip and then having Magoo home from school for 2 weeks. There was just no way I was going to be able to get into it when he's around, mainly because it's too big. I have to lay this big board out in the middle of my floor along side my palette and a big jar of water. If that's not inviting a 5 year old to spill water all over your painting, I don't know what is!

But sometimes it's good to let things sit. Then you can finish them up with a fresh perspective of what's working and what isn't.

Here it is, framed.

I like these huge, whoppin' frames I got on sale for Jerry's Artarama. Just simple, nice wood.

And this one's now at the gallery in town. There's a big art event going on in West Hartford Center for the next couple weeks, ArtWalk. I wanted to have it in the gallery by then b/c if art buyers come, I want one of my paintings to at least be on the menu. We'll see.

Now I think I'll paint some smaller goldfish for my November 8 & 9 show at Artspace in Hartford. That's more of a craft show so smaller, less expensive things sell better there.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tyra's Community Players Present ...

Snow White, THEN, The Wizard of Oz!!!

Does anyone else wonder what goes on in those production meetings?  

Producer: Okay everyone.  It's make-over week.  What can we do to make this one a little different?

Tyra : I know!  I can be Snow White and Miss Jay can be the hag/witch and give me an apple and I'll eat it and then Mr. Jay can come out as Prince Couturier and kiss me and whisk me away.  Then, later, I'll be Glenda the Good Witch and tell the audience about the girls' make-overs!  It'll be fierce.

Producer: Uh, well - that seems a little campy and besides, Glenda is in the Wizard of Oz not ---

Tyra:  I said, IT WILL BE FIERCE!

Makes you wonder why Ms. Banks doesn't get more acting roles, doesn't it?

Anyway - as always some of the make-overs were great.  I loved the red curls on Elina - even if she didn't.  She won second prize in the cry awards!!  First prize went to Samantha who I didn't even know existed until she got that extreme cut and now stands out.  So well done there too.

I hated Clarke's dark 'do.  I don't think that works for her at all.  But I don't like her anyway. And Hannah got the white girl Tootie.  Jeepers to those bangs.  But I have to give her credit for doing a pretty cute and lucid job on the quickie Cover Girl ad.  (BTW - I just jumped over to both the Cover Girl site and Walmart and I couldn't find Hannah anywhere so Great Prize ANTM!)

There were a lot of make-overs that i thought didn't make much of a difference: Lauren is still very blonde.  Annaleigh still has long, brown wavy locks.  I guess if it ain't broke, right?

How many of you called either Brittany or Annaleigh for getting the boot when you saw how many interviews that were doing with them this episode?  It's always one of the interview girls.

Now let's just take a minute to talk about Elina - who seems VERY interesting if not wholly in a mentally healthy way.  I liked her right away.  She seemed calm and confident.  Turns out - the confidence - not so much.  But what's with all the mother hating?  It's one thing if you hate your mother, but you do know you're on TV saying you hate your mother, right?  And I sort of give her some props for trying to open up - but on the other hand - I'm not sure what kind of response she was expecting to get.  Tyra would love this kind of juicy insight into Elina - she would love to analyze her and bring her to tears over the true issue.  But I'm pretty sure the good folks at Cover Girl are thinking - Uh, Cover Girls don't hate their Momma!  

But she rocked the photo shoot so we'll get to see a few layers of the Elina onion peeled away next week.

Most of the photos were good.  Some unremarkable.  I don't like Paulina's bangs.  And did you see how they cut to Nigel's horn-dog face when Tyra was talking about Lauren's booty.  I love the editors! 


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Check 1 Item Off The List

Ha-ha!  I have completed one item on my sewing list: Magoo's scarf!  

Yesterday was a broken up day.  Take Magoo to school, take Mom to airport, about 90 minutes of free time, babysit for a friend for 2 hours, about 60 minutes of free time, pick up Magoo, etc.

Somewhere in the 90 minute chunk I had a lightbulb moment - I can get started on the scarf!

This isn't a difficult project in the least.  I folded over the three fabrics so I had a double layer of 5 1/4" tall (with a fold on one side.)  Then I marked 5", 5", 5" across the length and cut.  Then I just sewed the blocks together, ironed the seams and sewed it lengthwise and turned it out.

Easy - it took both chunks of time though.

This was the starter fabric.  I picked this out first.

I tried to find another pattern to go with it but they all just seemed too busy and I was crammed for time at the fabric store - so I settled on solids.

As I was making it - I thought, What's he going to wear this with?  He has no jacket that this would work with.  He wears hoodie sweat shirts and athletic things like that.

So I added 3 more panels and made it long enough for me!

So we can share it now.

End note - sometimes my own vanity makes me laugh.  I had to go and put on lipstick so I could take this picture otherwise my lips don't really show up.  I once went out to get a passport photo taken but I didn't like it so I went to another place and got a better one taken.  Pathetic!

(I'm so vain, I probably think this post is about me.  :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Crackin' Good Crackers

Inspired by this post at Angry Chicken, I decided to give gluten-free crackers a go.

In this pic they look kinda like my graham crackers - but these are much smaller, thinner and more orange.  I would say they turned out pretty well - as crackers go.  They have more of an herby taste, as opposed to a butter cracker.  And they are crispiest cooled out of the oven.  Over time they take back in a wee bit of moisture and lose a little crackle.  But I'm going to try to roll the next batch crazy thin and see that happens.

Gluten-Free Sesame Crackers 

-1/4 c. chickpea flour
-1/4 cup gluten-free baking flour mix (I use Bob's Red Mill brand)
-1/4 tsp. salt
-1/4 tsp. baking powder
-1/8 tsp turmeric
-1 Tbsp flax seed
-1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds, lightly ground
-1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
1/4 tsp sesame oil
2-4 Tbsp water

-Preheat oven to 350.  Place all sesame seeds on parchment paper lined baking sheet.  It took about 2 minutes to toast them.  Keep an eye on them.  You don't want burnt seeds!

-Take a Tbsp of the toasted seeds and grind those puppies up.  I used a mortar and pestle (which I just bought at Marshall's - SCORE!) but you could use a small food processor.

- Mix dry ingredients. - Stir in sesame oil and begin stirring water in one tablespoon at a time.  When the dough can be formed into a ball, you're good.

-Knead the dough a little to distribute the ingredients.  Wrap it in plastic wrap and give it 10-15 minutes to chill/relax/form - whatever.  

-I took my parchment paper from before and laid it out.  Sprinkle with GF flour and rub some on your rolling pin too.  Now roll the dough.  Roll it thin.  Since it's already on the parchment paper, you don't have to worry about moving the dough separately so go ahead and get it really thin.

Have I mentioned you want it thin?

- When it's rolled out - move it, paper and all, to the baking sheet.  Cut 1"x1" squares and poke with holes to release extra air.

-Bake 15-20 minutes.

Oops - I should have worked this in above, but I forgot.  See my lovely new mortar and pestle.  I was looking for one of these things all over the place.  The pharmacy didn't even know what it was!

Magoo liked them!  And we even put some soynut butter on them.  Mmmmm.  Good snack!

I will say this though - you may want to double the recipe.  This doesn't make a whole ton of crackers and then you won't want to share any.  :)

Monday, September 15, 2008

May the Force Be With Us

Saturday afternoon, in a galaxy far, far away, every single boy in the neighborhood had a light saber and they all went at it.

Here, Magoo is giving tips to Grammy on how to kill his buddy D.  Well, maybe just maim.

Magoo took a break from fighting to snap his own photographs.  Here are some of my favorites.

Dad's Mighty Arm:

Zero Gravity Fighting.
Here's a group shot - I think one boy is missing.  I love that, in this game, a three year old feels confident enough to take on a ten year old.

It was a fun afternoon.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hill-Stead Museum and Grounds

My mom is visiting from Ohio so yesterday we went to the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington to look around.

I was here for the first time during the summer to hear poetry by Billy Collins and we couldn't really roam around then, but I was impressed by the beautiful grounds so I wanted to come back.

Above is the entrance into the garden.  Below is the front of the house.

Since most of my photography was based on things I might want to paint, I didn't take a whole lot of pics of the house.  I don't like to paint this level of architecture - it's a little tight for a watercolor.  But we took a whole tour of the inside and there's quite a lot of great art in there: Degas, Whistler, Monet, Manet, and Cassatt.  Mr. Pope certainly had good taste in art.

I was more interested in the grounds though.  So lovely.  Here are a couple shots.

It was a lovely day for a walk and despite there being a path into the woods - we decided it was a little too muddy and mosquito infested to go down it.  We stuck to the open air.

That might have been the best day of the few Mom's staying though.  Rain & clouds seem to be in the forcast - an intro to tropical storm Ike, which is on the way.  I hope there are some good movies playing.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The List and TV Talk

There are a few sewing projects I want to get done, but I just haven't gotten around to it.  So I thought I'd make a list.  And I thought posting that list on my blog might motivate me to get a move on.

My Sewing To-Do List:

2 big pillowcases for the bedroom
oven mits
bag for S.
bag for A.
scarf for Magoo
tote for me

And of course, more totes to sell - but that's always on my list.

So here it is.  Now I'm motivated.  Look at me go!

 Actually - I won't be able to do any of these things until next week.  My mother is coming in for a few days for a visit so that will keep me off the sewing machine.  But not off the blog.

Happy Thursday!

PS - Does anyone out there watch America's Next Top Model?  I do.  And I know a few friends do - so maybe on Thursdays I'll post my brief opinions.  Here goes:

I'm liking Elina - the bi-sexual who lip-smacked with Clark.  She seems very easy going, sure of herself, and MAN can she pose!  Lauren (no eyebrows) pulled off a fantastic photo - but we haven't seen too much of her, so I have little opinion of her personally.  Marjorie also takes fantastic photos, but she's so darn awkward and nervous in person - it's very off-putting.  

Hannah - poor Alaskan Hannah.  The girl says she'd rather not talk about people behind their backs because it doesn't give the other person a chance to explain themselves.  Then when the girls call her in to ask her - to her face - if she's prejudice - she totally freaks out.  Sure, she's young and really not with it - but come on - they weren't even being mean.  They were just asking her.

Isis had a rough week.  Bad poses.  Bad face.  Bad photo.

And yippee - skippee blabber-mouth Nikekysha is gone.  But you have to love the editors and their humor, having her ramble on over the credits and even after the screen went black.  That was funny.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Good News and the Bad News

The Good News:  I finished another collage yesterday.  This one is called Yellow Rabbit.  A couple days ago I realized that I tend to think more of boys things - fish, aliens, robots, dinosaurs.  It's what surrounds me here.  So I wanted to do something a little more girl-friendly.

The Bad News:  While looking for something yesterday - I knocked the glass for this piece and a slight wedge came off the side.  BAH!  So I can't use the glass.

The Good News:  When I bought the frame for this piece (and I pre-buy the frames and then make the piece to fit the sizes) I bought two.  So I have another piece of glass to use.

The Bad News:  But that means that another frame and mat will be wasted b/c I still only have one piece of glass.

The Good News:  I didn't really have an idea for a companion piece to this anyway.

So there you go.  Not a big loss, but a bummer none the less.  It's my own fault.  I put the glass on something unstable.  I just don't have a place to put glass right now!  I need a bigger studio.  Or - rather - I need to reorganize the one I have.

But for now this bunny will run solo.  We'll see if it sells.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Mary's Birthday Bag

It was my mother-in-law, Mary's (a.k.a. Big Fat Liar) birthday a couple weeks ago and I made her this bag.  
It's just a simple tote - nothing fancy on the inside.  But I love a simple tote.  It's good for all sorts of things and I haven't been so bold as to try an inside zipper pocket yet.  Soon.

Earlier in the summer, I had been to Ikea and bought some of their canvas-like material.  I was showing Mary what I bought and she really liked this one.

Note to self - make a birthday bag. 

I got the basic pattern and directions from Purl Bee.  (This is a great site if you sew, knit or crochet.)  And I got the handles from JoAnn Fabrics.

I lined it with a plum fabric I got from that amazing tag sale I was at.

I think it came out really well and I plan to make a couple more to put up for sale.  And Mary liked it too.  Well, that's what she said anyway.  She is a big, fat liar!  :)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Block Party

Yesterday was our neighborhood block party.  We've had a block party every year since we moved here - which means this was our sixth.  The first year I was pregnant and just meeting all the new neighbors.  It turned out to be pretty fun, so we've kept it going.

Last year we did a road race which was a big success.  This year we broke it up into 3 categories: little kids, big kids, adults.  I'm happy to say that Magoo won the Little kids division.  (I'm sad to say that I was MC-ing at the mic and I forgot to take a pic.)

But here he is with his trophy, slightly less thrilled b/c this is the third pic attempt.  "Oh, honey - the trophy was covering your smile.  Let me take another one."

He probably wanted to get back to riding his bike on the street.  For the kids, being able to play on the street is a very big thrill.

After an obstacle course and pizza, it was time for the Fifth Annual Talent Show!  Here's the audience.

And here's me belly dancing.

Will I regret posting a pic of me belly dancing on the internet?  Probably.  But then again, maybe I'll grow fat and stumpy and look back on this pic and think, "Oh yeah."

We had a water balloon toss.

Which quickly became a water balloon fight.  

And then some closing ceremony fireworks, before we all packed it in for the night.

Big fun.  I really love our neighborhood.