01 5 / 2014

Part I:  My Dad’s Time in Vienna

When I was 3, my dad went to Vienna for five days to give two talks. When I asked him to tell me about it, he said that since he was suffering from jet lag, he was pretty much only awake during the night, so he would go out at night, rent a bicycle, and bike around Vienna all night. In Austria, bicycles are much more common, so there’s actually a separate street for bicycles, not just another lane like in the United States. I thought that this was very interesting and I wished that this could be true in the U.S.

Also, I am one eighth Austrian through my paternal grandfather’s mother, so my family has lots of connections with Austria.

Part II:  My Dad’s Great-Grandpa, Jeweler

My dad’s great-grandfather, Andor, was a jeweler. He lived in Vienna. One day, in 1911, he caught the local butcher messing around with his motorcycle. He got so angry that he shot the butcher, but not fatally. After doing so, he decided that it would probably be a good idea to flee the country, since the police were after him by then.

Andor went to Ellis Island, and was eventually able to bring his wife and children there as well. They moved to Brooklyn, and my family on my dad’s side has lived in New York ever since.

POINT OF THE STORY: I am the descendant of an Austrian immigrant. (My family definitely has a lot of connections with Austria!)

Part III:  Sacher Tortes and Hotels

There is a hotel called Hotel Sacher. It is a normal hotel, but also is a tourist attraction. This is because the bakers that worked at Hotel Sacher invented a new kind of pastry called a Sachertorte, but we’ll get back to that later.

Anyway, the hotel is still a normal hotel that functions as a hotel, but is very expensive. Nevertheless, my maternal grandparents have been there twice, each time sending a Sachertorte to her in the mail.

The Sachertorte has become a classic Austrian dessert, and Hotel Sacher has become famous. But what is a Sachertorte?

A Sachertorte is a chocolate layer cake, with apricot purée for filling, and more apricot purée on top of the cake, underneath the chocolate ganache icing.


I have Sachertorte cupcakes for everyone, including Mrs. Jones and me!

23 4 / 2014

The Director has bonded with Penelope, our stuffed platypus.  Too bad Penelope is too big to sneak into school, but the Director painted a portrait of her in art class. 

— The mom.

26 3 / 2014

Containing the Invisible Monsters

When the Director was 3, she worried vividly about the invisible monsters she imagined.  Her daddy taught her that they would not be able to come past the front door if she made bars to hold them back.

— The mom.

26 3 / 2014

When Geeklet was 7, she and her friend Peace&Pigs spent a Sunday afternoon collaborating on a joint project to build a new hospital.

— The mom.

13 3 / 2014

100th Day of School

For the 100th day of kindergarten, Lily wanted to make a fabric sculpture out of 98 squares of fabric, each different, with the 99th fabric being the background and the 100th fabric as the self-binding back.  For the backing fabric, she chose a batik depicting waterlilies and lily pads.

— The mom.

13 3 / 2014

The Evening Moon Teahouse

The girls developed a menu for high tea and kept the parents out of the Director’s room until everything was just right.  The Queen of Hearts, babysitter extraordinaire, wrote out the menu and assisted in assembling the spread.  The Director and Geeklet donned dress gloves to welcome us and serve.

January 26, 2014

— The mom.

12 3 / 2014

Philadelphia Flower Show, March 7, 2014

The Director paid rapt attention as a florist demonstrated how to make three arrangements:  all babies’ breath, a mixed bouquet in a birthday gift bag, and an arrangement on a miniature barbecue grill surrounded by flowers in empty ketchup, mustard, and relish containers.  The ketchup and relish containers were clear glass, so he tinted the water red and green with food coloring.

Then she toured other parts of the flower show, including the make-your-own stations for fascinators and terrariums.

Three days later, the Director decided she wanted to replicate the three arrangements.  She remembered every detail, including the tinted water and the streamers in the gift bag.  It was her inspiration to poke the sprigs of babies’ breath through the holes of her salt and pepper shakers.

— The mom.

05 10 / 2013

Flower Queen, a short film starring the Director as she cosplays a character from the Epic universe, where tiny beings commune with flowers and ride hummingbirds.  Filmed at Camden Children’s Garden, September 13, 2013.  Set to Danny Elfman’s score from Epic.

— The mom.

16 9 / 2013

The Director likes to style mannequins.  She also likes to get away from mommy.  I gave up trying to control her and just filmed her instead.  This was before I figured out that camera phones are better held sideways for the correct aspect ratio.

Soundtrack:  “Downtown” by Petula Clark.

— The mom.

(Source: youtube.com)

14 9 / 2013

Queen Loleae, narrated by the Director.  Filmed at the Camden Children’s Garden, one of the most charming imaginative spaces I’ve ever seen.  The Director did her own face paint and borrowed mommy’s calla lily necklace in a tribute to the film Epic.  Queen Loleae is an original character she invented for that universe, spelling and all.  The large-scale and miniature sculptures at the garden contributed to the fantasy that we live in a world of “stompers” (human-sized people) and forest dwellers small enough to ride hummingbirds.

— The mom.

(Source: youtube.com)