Saturday, June 28, 2008

Fun with scanners

For the last few weeks I've been working on a little project for my parents' 60th wedding anniversary. I sneaked into their house while they were at the gym (which makes me look great - the nearly-80-year-olds are working out and I'm doing a B&E) and "borrowed" their boxes of old family photographs to scan for use in a digital picture frame. Compared to the amount of pictures I take, my parents were hardly photo-prolific, but over 60 years the quantity begins to add up. I used only a small fraction of what I found, but I still ended up scanning about 500 pictures.

If you've done a little mental math, you'll realize that I was a later in life surprise baby. (Take note, boys and girls, that pill is only 97% effective!) Because they were both in their early 40s when I was born and because of the tunnel vision of youth, they always seemed "old" to me, so it's been a lot of fun seeing them as kids. I know that generation - children during the depression, teens during WWII - matured earlier than kids now, but they were still only 19 when they wed. So young! And yet, at 19 my dad had already served 2 years in the Marines. I couldn't even decide on a hairstyle at 19.

All in all, it was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. I've gotten a lot better at touching up photos using GIMP and I found some really great treasures to add to my own photo gallery. I also found some absolutely hilarious pictures (*cough* my siblings' hip 1970s garb *cough*) as well as a few that need explanation, such as my mom at a party with a lampshade on her head. I don't believe she's ever mentioned that party...

Here are a few examples of my findings:

Young Mom and Dad, while they were dating. Aren't they cute?

Teenage Dad being a goof. I also found out that my grandparents sent this out as a Christmas card that year. That explains a few things about our family's sense of humor!

Auntie Jean and Uncle Carl, Christmas, circa 1966. Don't they look like they're having a blast?

I have to find out the story behind this picture!

And finally, a few examples of how I got the nickname Ellie May...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Blackberry cobbler epiphany

My brain finally kicked into gear last Thursday and I remembered which cobbler Spork liked so much last summer. He threw me when he said it was shortbread-y. It was actually a cobbler topped with a shortcake, from my old 1948 Betty Crocker cookbook (have I ever mentioned my cookbook collection? ). Spork's mom has that cookbook and I was trying to help him recapture his youth by making her cobbler recipe. Unfortunately, that wasn't the recipe she used, but it turns out that Spork really liked the shortcake. Personally, I still really dig the crisp, but I also loves me some shortcake, so this is one we can agree on.

Again, for your salivating pleasure, I provide photographic evidence:

Results: For this recipe, you cook the blackberries, sugar and cornstarch in a small amount of water before baking. This results in a thicker syrup, which I like a lot better than the watery texture of some of the other recipes. I think a little orange or lemon zest would have been a good addition and I almost used orange juice instead of water, but I was trying to follow the recipe (for a change). This one was really nice - let's hope I can remember it next summer.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Days of Our Blackberries

Seriously, if berry season doesn't end soon, I'm going to look like this cat from lolcats:


Despite my fear of weight gain, once again we tried another cobbler recipe over the weekend, Pioneer Woman's blackberry cobbler #2. It's all in the name of science, of course, but I didn't realize science was so calorie-laden. Or does science make it calorie-free? Ah, if only...

That's homemade buttermilk ice cream, too

Results: This one uses lemon juice and lemon zest in the berries, which was a nice touch. Since our berries have been on the tart side (it's a trade-off between letting the berries fully ripen and getting to them before the birds snag 'em), I added extra sugar to the berries. The biscuity topping is not very sweet, but you do sprinkle the top liberally with sugar before baking. Over all, I still think I like the crisp best, but Spork is still longing for "the cobbler you made last year, the short-bready one". Unfortunately, I don't remember which recipe I used, so the search continues.

For some different berry news, I picked my first yellow tomato Saturday. I had to beat a wasp off of it with a stick to get it, so I'm pretty proud. I did scream like a little girl when the wasp held onto the stick and started crawling towards me, but I feel like I have permission to scream at that point.

And if that's not enough berry excitement, Spork and I headed to the farmers' market Saturday and picked up a flat of blueberries. Doesn't this just scream 'pie'?

Friday, June 13, 2008

This spud's no dud. It's the Sultan of Starch, the Uber tuber!

Spork went out and dug about half the potatoes the other day and at the time he raved about The One Gigantic Potato. He raves (and rants) a lot and I did see some good sized potatoes on top of the pile, so I just said something like, "Mmmm, really? The world's biggest red potato? How nice." And then I left the taters in the oven to dry the skins out a little bit.

Today I finally remembered to put the potatoes up and lo and behold I found the behemoth of Spork's latest rave.

Here it is next to a tennis ball:

And next to a regular potato:

Oh wait, maybe that's not a regular sized potato:

Okay fine, for truth-in-advertising purposes, the tennis ball is really one of Daisy's little baby tennis balls. And as an aside, isn'tDaisyjustthecutestthingever??? (you have to read that in a gushy mental voice)

But still, it's a big honkin' potato. I'd say it weighs at least a pound and I'm not sure, but I think I heard a faint growl when I put it in the fridge...

Monday, June 9, 2008

One day, two graduation ceremonies, 100 miles apart

Being the awesome uncle and aunt that we are, Spork and I attended two marathon graduations on Saturday, one for Kait (local) and one for Risa (road trip). We actually got invited to go party after the second one, but we're old and it was night-night time.

Kait and Becky


Sunday, June 8, 2008

The blackberry chronicles, part 3

For a change of pace, I decided to try making a blackberry crisp using a recipe I found for apple crisp. I liked this one a lot. There is more fruit and less juice, though Spork thought it could use a higher crisp-to-fruit ratio. I have to admit, the crisp part is a bit addictive.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Oooh, pretty!

Believe it or not, earlier this spring I found a rose that I just had to have. The two humongous blooms on it, which lured me in like a siren's call, were promptly knocked off in a thunderstorm later that afternoon and nary an orange petal has been seen since.

Yesterday, however, Tropicana finally showed Spork why she came home with me.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Mother Nature strikes again

Our resident red fox paid us a visit today. I happened to be looking out the window as he came trotting by. He stopped just long enough to eat a strawberry, then moved ahead with whatever mission he was on. I was able to get a few snapshots of him this time.

He needs some theme music to go with his jaunty walk. Da da da dee dee da da da dum!

Num num num - strawberries is good

On the road again. Da da da dee dee da da da dum!

And for the record, despite what Spork says, I did not bean Foxy Loxy in the head with a rock. I hit him in the leg when the rock I threw took a bad bounce. If I had wanted to bean him in the head, I would have beaned him in the head. Ellie May has very good aim.

A fox visit wasn't enough nature for one day, however. As I was admiring the fox pictures on the camera screen, I saw a wren right outside the window staring intently at something on the ground. It was another snake, coiling up in the chain link fence. What is up with all the snakes this year?? I tried to get a picture of him, too, but he took off as soon as he saw me. Spork says this may be the same snake he saw once before (Snake #2 on the list).

In food news, we tried a new blackberry cobbler recipe over the weekend. This one was more of a traditional cobbler, made with pie crusts and lots of sugar and butter. Mmmmm, butter... I liked it better than the first cobbler (sorry, PWC!) and would probably just stick with this one in the future, but according to Spork we are obligated to try all the cobbler recipes we find. In the name of science.