Will’s Birthday

Will turned four on Sunday, January 11th. My parents were here, so we were also able to wish my dad a happy birthday that same day. My dad drove all the way down here to Fayette county to have a Darth Vader cake for his birthday.

Will kept asking, 'Why is Darth Vader brown and white instead of black?'

Will had been asking for Darth Vader on a cake for quite some time. His patience was finally rewarded. Okay, just kidding – he really has no patience.

On his actual birthday, we just threw a very small party for him – immediate family only. He received a few cool gifts: two DVDs (Horton Hears a Hoo and Kung-Fu Panda) and a voice-activated R2-D2 robot:

R2 is about 18 inches tall and responds to the sound of your voice… usually. He occasionally acts up (i.e. stops working properly), but can usually brought back into shape (worst case: hard reboot is necessary). Will likes to have R2 watch him play Wii. R2 has motion detectors so he can actually follow objects with his “eye”, so it can be a little surreal to see R2 watching him and turning from the TV to Will and back as if he’s actually paying attention.

Will’s Birthday Party

The following Saturday, the 17th, we let Will have an actual party. He invited his friends from school to come out to Dixieland Fun Park:

The kids got to play for an hours in the “play maze” and then ride on a small indoor ferris wheel. After that, we were locked in a “party room” where we were forced to eat pizza.

After pizza was more Darth Vader cake. Due to a lame restriction of the venue, it could not be a homemade cake. So we brought a Publix cake that was decorated to be a Darth Vader cake:

And, of course, after cake it was time to open gifts. You can see that some of his friends were more than welcome to help open the packages:

Most of his friends (or friends’ parents at least) knew of his obsession with Star Wars, so he received several cool Star Wars-related gifts – like a sticker book and some little action figures. The coolest gift, however, was not Star Wars-related. I don’t think Will thinks it’s as cool as I do, but it is neato. It’s a magnifying digital video recorder. It magnifies up to 400x and records to a USB thumb drive. It is an inexpensive toy camera, but is still pretty cool for getting a look under the microscope so to speak – everything from denim to human skin all looks cooler blown up 400 times bigger than usual. The gift that he least understood at the time but has ultimately come to appreciate the most was a gift card for IKEA: we took him up there, and he picked out a new night light and a stuffed animal octopus that he now insists on sleeping with every night.


One of the gifts that my mom bought my wife for Christmas was a really great cookbook on making charcuterie at home. We were so giddy about it that the first thing we did after getting the book was to buy a meat grinder and a sausage stuffer. We made a country paté for New Year’s Eve dinner:

Blessed and holy pork (unless your Jewish, in which case I guess pork can be neither)

Note, the off-color of the meat is from a bunch of parsley ground into it – nothing sinister here. This recipe was basically a fancy meatloaf: plenty of pork fat, salty, serve cold. The pink ground meat in the bottom of the bowl is coarsely ground pork shoulder (aka pork butt or Boston butt). Since most of the meat was only ground coarsely, the texture of the final forcemeat is not as smooth or refined – thus it is “country” paté.

The day after Will’s birthday party we found ourselves in Decatur and found a butcher shop there that sells “pink salt” (sodium nitrite) and natural sausage casings (hog casings at least). The following Saturday, the 24th, we made knackwurst.

Here’s a pic of “water sausage” as I rinsed out the casings after soaking them for a bit in water:


And here is our wonderful finished product:

Please keep tasteless jokes to yourself. Malin's heard them all... from me :)

I'll be calling my memoirs 'The Sausage Grabber'

We’ve eaten some at various points over the past couple of weeks, most notably as hors d’œuvres on our Super Bowl evening.

Malin snapped a few shots of our mixer (aka meat grinder and sausage stuffer) afterwards. We call these Aftermath:

A bird's eye view of the 'Sausage Shoot'

Auntie K and Uncle Cass

The day after we made the sausage, my sister and brother-in-law rolled into our neck of the woods. They had been on the east coast for the prior week, visiting family and friends all over. Since we lived relatively close to the airport, we were their final destination.

Usually Will prefers to ham things up in front of the camera, like so:

But lately he has been enjoying being behind the camera, too. Observe:

Kristie, a bit surprised by the wee photographer:

Cass, perhaps more prepared for portraiture:

Among other things, we dragged K and Cass up to our most recently-discovered chow-spot: The Porter Beer Bar in Little Five Points. Good times were had by all.

Lego Army

As mentioned above, Will has been making a habit of taking pictures lately. His favorite subject, by far, is his Lego army. I mentioned in a previous post how one of Will’s favorite hobbies is to mix and match all of the Lego-men pieces (heads, helmets, upper bodies, lower bodies) to build Frankenstein figures. Well, now his second favorite hobby is to photograph the fruits of this labor:

Here is a big panoramic shot. If it looks like several pictures all stitched together – well, that’s because it is. (If you bothered to notice little details like that, you have too much time on your hands!)