Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Near miss makes me think...

We had a bit of a catastrophe on Sunday morning. No lives were at risk. No humans or animals were hurt. But it caused me a bit of a personal crisis anyway. And I feel ....just selfish and spoiled.... for even thinking about it and dwelling on it. It's over and everything is fine now, but for a moment I was devastated. And I remind myself that things could have been much worse.

What happened? What could have caused me to be so introspective and desolée (sometimes only the French word expresses what I mean to say)? I left my camera outside Saturday afternoon. Then we went out for the evening. I was lucky in that our puppies (who eat everything) just left it lying in the grass where I'd set it to fix the kids' sprinkler. BUT...it rained Saturday night. It poured. I went outside to look at my garden Sunday morning and almost cried. Forget it. I did cry.

I opened it up and left it to dry and a few hours later, astonishingly it's fine. The lens might still be shot (but I didn't really like it anyway), but the camera with another lens works perfectly. Even if it hadn't been fine, I constantly remind myself that there are many worse things than losing a camera to one's own stupidity (isn't that the worst part though? it was my own fault)

And that brought me to some introspection. It was my husband's birthday. He wanted to go somewhere special and spend the day. I did too. Except that I wouldn't be able to take pictures. And if I couldn't take pictures, it's almost as if it didn't happen. There's no point in going and doing something special if I can't take pictures of it.

I haven't quite processed how I feel about what I was feeling in that moment. In some ways, it makes me want to just leave my camera at home. Maybe I'm so worried about taking pictures that I don't experience "the moment" the way I ought to be experiencing it. Or maybe the camera is just such a natural extension of me and the way I view the world that my identity is wrapped up in it. Wife, mother, sister, photographer.


This is the Boston Cream Pie I made for Tom's birthday. It was a pretty complicated process (since mostly I make box mix cakes as I've never found a scratch recipe that tastes quite as good - make my own frosting, but never the cake). I made the custard filling first so it had plenty of time to cool. Then I made the cakes, though they came out a little shorter than they should have. I only had 9-inch rounds, not 8-inch like the recipe needed. I let them cool along with the custard. Then about an hour later, I made the ganache and assembled the cake/pie.

We went to the Delaware State Fair (which is weird to me as a Maryland resident). I loved it - hardly any crowds. Everyone had a fabulous day, including my hubby -the birthday boy. When we got home, we dove into his cake. He LOVED it. The kids loved it. Even pickly me, I loved it.

I really enjoyed the process of making this cake, despite its lengthy and messy process. I loved creating something wonderful from such simple ingredients (all of which we had in the house - nothing expensive or useless).
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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Happy birthdays...

Tomorrow is my beloved's birthday. Mine is four days after that. We love having both our birthdays in July (so much that our wedding bands have rubies in them - our mutual birthstone). We planned to have one of our children have a July birthday (though she didn't make it to being a Leo, like hubby and I are). Her birthday was last Tuesday. This is a special week for us. We're basically in party mode from July 21st to the 30th (my birthday).

And do you know what that means? CAKE!!!!! I love cake. And I love to bake. Seems like a match made in heaven, right? Actually....secret confession time...I prefer store-bought cake - like from the bakery. Whaaaaa? I know. But it's true. I have a sweet tooth, inherited from my mother's side of the family. Those without it or with a milder version prefer that whipped frosting some bakeries use. Not me. Lay that sugary goodness on me. In fact, I asked that my own birthday cake this year (normally I prefer to bake my own) come from a bakery.

However, I'm making a scratch cake for my husbands birthday tomorrow. He asked for Boston Cream Pie or a Black Forest Cake. I get to choose which I'd prefer to bake. I think I"m going with this recipe from my favorite website to drool over: Boston Cream Pie. Seriously. I see no end of things I want to bake on that website. Must. Resist. Must not eat....um, bake every single baked yummy on there.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

pickles, anyone?

I asked my father-in-law to get me about 3 dozen cucumbers for me to make pickles. Apparently, he didn't think that was enough. He brought me at least 10 dozen, probably more. I've been making pickles (both dill and bread and butter) and pickle relish and more pickles.
I even properly canned some, instead of just refrigerator pickles (which are ridiculously easy, especially if you cheat and buy the premixed flavor package like I did).
Cucumbers, just waiting for my pickling touch.

Fortunately, I love pickles.
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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pudding Pop Success!

We used the Cool Whip variation that I saw in Kraft's magazine. We just made instant chocolate pudding (I CAN make homemade, but the skin it forms freaks me out so I won't) and added a cup of Cool Whip. Tom pronounced it "very close" to the pudding pop of our youth.
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Monday, July 13, 2009

I did it!

I grew vegetables! I picked my first three cucumbers this morning. I'm trying to come up with some method of serving them that honors their special "firstness." They'll probably rot before I figure it out. I also have tomatoes that are big and green, but should be red soon. And I have a pumpkin about the size of a child's fist. I may have planted my pumpkins too early.

Right now I'm on a quest for a pudding pop recipe. And it's not just frozen pudding. We tried that last year and it was not what we (the husband and I) remembered. I don't know if that classic Jell-O texture is recreatable, but I'm going to try.

I'm also thinking it's time to break out the ice cream maker. I don't know what I want to make yet, though. Just something icy and homemade. Right now I'm thinking chocolate gelato. My mom has requested peach ice cream, which I'm planning to do as soon as I get my hands on some fresh peaches.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

questions on my mind...

  • why must my almost 13 month old sleep worse than many newborns? WHY? WHY? (running on a serious lack of sleep here)
  • how might i convince my darling husband that a meal does not need to include meat to be complete? I admit that my favorite "dad's not home" dinner is a little lacking for him (just rotini noodles and tomato sauce - Hunt's, please), but I'm not asking him to dine on pasta all the time. Just once in a while.
  • when did daytime tv become obsessed with judge shows? or rather, since I know when, why hasn't that genre died yet? (My dad just had surgery and is home during the day and only allowed to watch TV, not read or computer or anything. We were comparing notes)
  • would a sinus infection make me randomly dizzy at times? guess i ought to see the doctor. bummer. Not that I dislike doctors (i'm over that after four kids), but taking the time to do it tries my patience.
  • what should I have for dinner tonight (see second question)?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Fighting the good fight...

I thought I had that damned virus/trojan whatever the hell it was under control. And then, no one in our house can access our wireless internet if the infected computer is also accessing. Probably not good. So I'm at my last resort - a repair install of Windows. Don't try to convince me to switch to Mac. I am fully capable of using a Mac, I just don't like some of the logistics of how it's set up. I can't really see me switching, considering the knowledge I've gained on working on PCs over the years.

This morning I had some of the best mojo around - creating something simple, yet impressive as a gift. Hubby wanted to give the office staff a little something, like a fruit basket. Since it's summer in a school, I didn't want anyone to have to worry about fruit going bad. I made this:

Into this (sorry this one's out of focus):
It's mainly 100 calorie packs. There's a few bottles of water and some Nutri-grain bars. I tried to get a little variety to make sure everyone had something they liked. I'm sure it cost more than it needed to, but if I'd been making more than just the one, it wouldn't have been so bad. (Note to self: Christmas gifts for teachers this year=gift baskets of food).

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth of July!

Posting this late because I started it on Saturday and then got distracted - story of my life, I swear. It's my favorite holiday, I think because it's so close to my birthday (26 days from now). I decorated our mantel for the holiday, but otherwise? It's woefully lacking. It's my next big project (photo wall was my most recent one, but it's a work in progress). I want something huge in the middle - like a vintage poster (kind of like in my kitchen in our old house, hmm...) and some smaller vintage jars and tins and stuff on the sides of it.

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Computers. Sigh...

My husband decided that his antivirus was slowing his computer down too much, so he turned it off. Yeah, you can guess where this is going. I'm hunting viruses right now. And...I'm somewhat embarassed to admit this, but it's totally fun for me. It's like a puzzle that I have to solve. Right now I'm just running the basic spyware/antivirus just to get it usable again (it's that bad - he may also have turned off the firewall).

And in other computer news, but the fun, creative kind, my cousin has asked me to pretty up his blog (not quite how he put it and pretty probably isn't appropriate for a sports blog, but that's what I'm doing). It's another fun challenge that I've already learned a lot from. I got out of serious web design when my son was born (he's EIGHT!) so I've missed a lot of developments. In some ways that's good because I don't have anything to unlearn or remember some newfangled way of doing.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Feeling stupid here...

I just discovered custom white balance on my digital camera - rediscovered, really. I have an older (I've had it for three years so in the world of digital photography, it's practically an antique) Pentax. I've been getting frustrated with it lately because my white balance just always seems to be off. I usually pick a scene based white balance (like cloudy or shady) and my pics are all yellowy. But the other night we were outside as I was trying to take my youngest's one-year-old picture (I was only two weeks late). She hates the grass, so I took a vintage tablecloth (I inherited three boxes of vintage tablecloths from hubby's great-aunt) and folded it up under her. It was pure white, so I decided - what the hell? I'll take a custom white balance off it. And my pictures are spot on for color (to my eyes at least).

So now I'm feeling dumb. All these years I've tried to do custom white balances and I think I've been doing it wrong. Although, this is recent, so maybe it's my old camera too. Our house is for sale right now and we stand to make a little bit of money off it. A portion of that money will go to the camera of my choice (eek - pressure - decision - help!) Luckily (actually unluckily) our house hasn't sold yet, so no decisions need to be made any time soon.

A picture from my shoot the other night? Sure...here ya go.