Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Last night, after the student Halloween Dance, there was a Halloween party for faculty (and their children). Although Halloween isn't really celebrated in Bulgaria, you can see that ACS faculty have no problem getting into the holiday spirit. If the younger Bulgarian generation is looking for Halloween inspiration, they need look no further than their teachers, many of whom have whole-heartedly adopted this holiday.

Betsy and me in our last-minute costumes, courtesy of Shannon and Jeff's Halloween obsession. Seriously, how many people do you know who pack three or four costumes when they move abroad?

The witches of ACS.

Shannon's Matrix look, which seemed to take her students by surprise.

Celia and Grace, the daughters of our Head of School. Don't worry, they're drinking cider.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pumpkin Quest Part II, or...

How the pumpkin went from this (a pumpkin)

To this (a pumpkin with a hole in it)

to this (pumpkin pieces)

To this (pumpkin mashed up)

To this (pumpkin butter)

To this (pumpkin in a jar that is actually sealed!)

To this (pumpkin chocolate oatmeal cherry walnut cookie dough)

Well, let's just say when I used to use pumpkin puree in the U.S. I definitely DID NOT APPRECIATE IT ENOUGH. This Thanksgiving, as you run your can opener around the lid of your future pumpkin pie, just remember there are a few steps between the patch and the pie!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

European Panoramas

People all over the world are uploading photos stitched together to create panoramic interactive images of their favorite places. They are all on an amazing site called "360."

Here are a few from spots we've visited...

Prague City Skyline Panoramic View:

Prague Skyline from Petrin Tower - Gigapixel in Prague

Beneath the Eiffel Tower:

At the foot of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

Inside the Sagrada Familia:

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Behind the Scenes: Halloween Cupcakes

Amanda and I decorated cupcakes for the Halloween party last night - we used this lovely cupcake collage as inspiration.

A ghost gummy bear rises from its grave.

Amanda with her SUPERB witch cupcake. Can you believe it started as a get rid of frosting cupcake?

It's a black cat going as a moose for Halloween.

Trick or Cupcake

Betsy with her aproned helpers, Shannon and Amanda. The hardest part wasn't baking them, but trying not to eat them before the Halloween Party.

In Our Own Back Yard

Just another gorgeous fall day in Sofia. Betsy and I are so happy to be living on campus now, where we are greeted by this view outside our door, rather than the traffic and barking dogs of Mladost. We fell asleep last night to the falling rain, and woke up to blue skies.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Why not?

This hat was...
A) Knocked off the head of a giant clown by hurricane-force winds
B) The only evidence this fountain recently hosted the Cirque de Soleil underwater production
C) Originally conceived as a Bed and Breakfast for pigeons visiting Paris
D) Created for goldfish camouflaging bad hair days
E) Just another of those fun Paris moments when you just have to ask yourself "Why not?"

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Pumpkin Quest

So for a while I have been keeping an eye out for the usual October pumpkin stands in Sofia. But none have I seen! I'm guessing this is because I mainly walk between my house and my classroom, with occasional forays to the tennis courts, the yoga studio, and the Balkan dance room. Ah well, so I'm not Miss Sofia Exploration 2009...

But today, I knew it was time. Late October, cloudy, Halloween pressing ever nearer. Even our neighbor cat, Gringo, seemed to sense that something was in the air.

Walking out from school I see towering apartments in both directions - looking left

- and looking right.

These blue tailed birds hopped in front of me throughout my trip, showing off their shiny backs.

This was my first hope for a pumpkin - the stand near the park where I used to go running. Though they were pumpkinless, I did appreciate the squash hanging in the shade umbrella...

The leaves sported a nice fall fringe as I walked on toward my next hope - the old fall produce tent on the corner across from the miniature missile and tank in the corner of the park.

I kind of miss running by these.
Almost there now, will there be pumpkins?

Ooooh! Check out that orange glow in the center!

Success! That's my pumpkin on the scale in the bottom right corner. Now it's in the oven, waiting to be turned into pumpkin butter, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, and pumpkin biscotti.

A Colorful Layout

Last week I asked my blogging elective students to notice the graphic design on the various websites they were looking at.

"What's graphic design?" they asked.

"The layout. The colors and sizes and shapes. The way things look next to one another." I replied.

Turns out this attention to design is something shared between the worlds of web design and dessert - maybe that's why both appeal to me so much. In Paris, I was once again amazed by the sheer array of color, texture, and shape in the window and showcase displays. Most of the time I wasn't even hungry as I wandered slowly alongside glass cases stocked in stripes of desserts. It was the beauty, as much as the taste, that drew me.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fall Training

Softball has come to ACS! Betsy and I are coaching 8th grade softball this year, mostly because it's just so much fun. Though the 8th graders don't always know the rules, and we have about twelve people in the outfield at once, it doesn't seem to matter. Every Thursday afternoon, a flock of students comes out to play a game they hardly understand (seriously, you try explaining what "force out" or "tag up" means to someone who can hardly sort out balls and strikes -- this game is way more complicated than I thought) just to have fun and hang out after school. Below, you can see them warming up with grounders (not always easy on the bumpy, patchy field) and then playing a few innings. It's definitely one of the highlights of our week.