Friday, July 31, 2009

friday favorite : nappanee children's photographer

this is my pick today because:
  • it's fun & i can always use some fun
  • sometimes you just gotta contort yourself to get the shot
  • there are times you wanna blow the background & times you don't...this one seemed to be one of those times you wanna...
  • feels very..."i've just arrived from another planet" to me
  • and hasn't everyone felt like walkin around the yard with goggles & a snorkle on?☺

*this image was shot at f2.8, 1/1250, 200 iso with a 50mm 1.4 lens

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


well, if you're looking for excitement, you're not gonna find it here...

but what we do have is pickles. and cucumbers. and more cucumbers.

these buggers just spring up overnight. actually quicker than overnight. and they hide. they make you believe that you're losing it when you check the whole patch in the morning, pick everything that's ready, go back in the evening & find a monster sized cucumber. i mean, nasty big...if there is such a thing.

and they are only surpassed by their friendly neighbor the zucchini. once again, those things hide on you and before you know it, you have a monster that no one is going to use for anything except the compost pile.

but i'm getting carried away.

here are some of my pickles. bread & butter on the left, dill on the right.

bread & butter pickles

4 quarts sliced medium cucumbers
8 sliced medium white onions
1/3 c. pickling salt
3 cloves garlic, halved
5 c. sugar
3 c. cider vinegar
2 Tbs. mustard seed
1 1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 1/2 tsp. celery seed

in large bowl, combine cucumbers, onions, salt & garlic. stir in a large amount of ice. let stand 3 hours; drain well. remove garlic. in large kettle, combine sugar, vinegar, mustard seed, turmeric, and celery seed. add drained pickles & onions. bring to boiling. pack cucumber mixture & liquid into hot, sterilized pint jars, leaving a 1/2" headspace. adjust lids. process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. makes 8 pints. (80 servings)

*i follow this recipe pretty much exactly, except maybe not using as much onion. think this year i only used 5-6. kind of guage it on the size of the onions. also, i use yellow onions if i don't have white ones on hand.

dill pickles

8 lbs. 4-5" long pickling cucumbers (around 40 is enough for this recipe)
7 garlic cloves, cut in half
14 med. size heads of fresh dill
14 sprigs from fresh dill
4 c. white vinegar
12 c. water
2/3 c. pickling salt

place clean cucumbers in tub of ice water for at least 2 hrs, no more than 8 hrs. get 14 pint jars ready. combine vinegar, water & salt over med-high heat to boiling or salt is dissolved. place a half of garlic, head & sprig of dill in bottom of each jar. pack jars with cucumbers, add hot brine leaving at least 1/4" headspace. seal jars & process in boiling water bath 10 mins. store at least 8 wks before eating. should keep 2 yrs if kept cool & dry.

*i wrote this for pint jars. this would also be the correct amount for 7 quart jars. actually, the brine will make enough for a bit more, but that never works for me as my canners all hold either 7 pints or 7 quarts. the brine makes for an extra quart or 2 extra pints. quarts would process 15 mins.

now, go & pickle till your heart's content!

Monday, July 27, 2009

technological madness : computer viruses & digital photography blues

part 1 : computer viruses 101 ie: for the newbies like me

in 12 years of owning computers, we've never had any kind of computer bugs.

but yesterday my husband & i spent the better part of our day worrying & trying to fix a "virus" that my laptop had gotten saturday night after troy downloaded a document from what he thought was a perfectly safe sight.

so we talked to my nephew who seems to know a lot about these things & he advised us to use a free program off the internet. we tried, but it didn't seem to work. also, we never really checked into the security program that is already installed on my laptop, which runs everyday with no problems. troy tried a few other free programs, but they all seemed to be free only until you needed them to actually DO something for you, then they direct you to upgrade to the paid version. we opted not to go that way, but thought we'd purchase some software from the local store.

after the $40 purchase, an installation that seemed excrutiatingly long & painful, we were happy to find out that the new software said we were virus free.

huh... then why were we getting these constant pop-ups saying that we were infected with a "trojan" windows exe blah blah blah... and that infomation was being stolen from our computer & being put on the internet?

well, i'll tell you why.

because we had been hit with a "fake/rogue antivirus". ours was a well known (yeah right) virus called "Personal Antivirus". you can read all about this on AVG's support section where they fully explain this. the whole point of this application is not that it does anything harmful to your computer unless you consider constant pop-ups telling you that your computer's being damanged & that there are 127 different infected areas on your computer PLUS the added pleasure of your computer being slowed down to a near halt to be harmful.

basically, this bogus security application installs itself on your computer. you start receiving pop-ups saying that your computer's infected with a virus. this is all coming from a bogus security program that kind of looks legitimate. it even puts a shortcut icon on your desktop. if you're not paying attention & you're freaking out a little bit, you just assume that's part of the software that came with your computer. you will try to run the software, but it tells you that it's expired & you need to upgrade. this is how they try & get you to buy their security application, which isn't really a security application, and they just take your money & run.

another fun extra is that when you figure this out & try to uninstall this bogus program from your computer, it won't let you. there are all sorts of ideas on how to do this floating around the web, but we found that doing a system restore was the best alternative for us. it worked. enuf said.

this whole thing struck us as really stupid. our general consensus was that whoever came up with this should be hunted down & shot. no questions asked.

yeah, i know that doesn't sound very nice, but seriously, we spent the better part of a beautiful sunday trying to get rid of this thing.

it was not fun. and as if there's not enough stress in life!

so the moral here or what we learned is:

  • calm down when you see a virus alert from your computer
  • make sure 1st & foremost that you know your computer - know what your security software is & that it is working & not expired!
  • run your antivirus software, if it doesn't pick up anything, maybe you don't have a real virus, could be this "rogue antivirus"
  • go on line if you can & search these things - there is all sorts of good information, lots of free applications & faq's that give you a pretty good idea about the usual suspects floating around
  • do all of the above before you make any purchases & even check out the support site of the program you do purchase, before taking it out of the package, downloading it, and finding out that you just wasted your money because you don't really have a virus & the new software isn't gonna do you a darn bit of good.
  • the end

part 2 : digital photography & why you shouldn't delete photos in camera

so you say "what's wrong with that?" & i'm just about to tell you why.

let's start out by prefacing this whole subject by 1 singularly important idea: read & know your camera manual. this is really the only way to know what to do with your camera.

unless you just LOVE to learn the hard way. then don't read anything, just push buttons randomly & see what happens...

*sorry, i'm in rare form today, or maybe i'm in normal form, probly so...

anyhoo... i believe that it's a pretty common theory that it's not a good idea to delete photos in camera for a few good reasons

  • it takes up battery life that could be better used taking pictures
  • accidents happen when you're hurriedly deleting photos, for instance to make more space, and sometimes you push the button for "yes" when you meant to say "no"
  • some menus are set up more user friendly than others & the ones that aren't make it really simple to accidentally arrow to deleting "all" rather than deleting the one specific checked photos. i don't know why they do that, they just do
  • some people have deleted all the photos from their card this way, totally by accident. ouch...

so there you have it. good reasons not to delete photos in camera.

coming up...

part 3: why you should transfer the photos from your card onto your computer or onto a disc at the very least

part 4: why you should use a card reader instead of usb cord to transfer images from your card to your computer

Friday, July 24, 2009

favorite friday image : nappanee children's photographer

this is my pick today because:
  • he's laughing & it's real & that's a good thing...
  • i love a close up. a really close up. i like to be right there in your face!
  • love that his eyelashes are the point of focus here
  • did you say freckles?
  • my baby boy...

*this image was shot @f2.8, 1/2500, iso 400 with a 50mm 1.4 lens

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

i ♥ photography week 28 : feet

this weeks contest at i heart faces is "feet week".

i had recently been looking at a series of photos i took a few years ago of the little boy. so this photo came to mind. i love kids reading & i have an unusual amount of photos of my boys reading. one day i got creative with some selective focus.

this isn't the best photo i've ever taken, but i love the whole perspective of it, not to mention that it totally captures a great memory of my son☺- that is one of the most well worn books we own!

Monday, July 20, 2009

canning & freezing in full swing

it starts with the strawberries in late may or early june. and it's so exciting to see those strawberries on the plants. it's like a wake up to summer.

i make some jam, i freeze some berries & we eat lots of strawberries & favorite strawberry dishes like shortcake & pie. we are part strawberry for the month of june!

there's a short reprieve while we enjoy some radishes, some lettuce & maybe a few onions.

then it all goes crazy. life begins to be planned around what needs to be done in the garden.

and so i have a love hate relationship with gardening & canning.

i love the we can grow our own food, harvest it & keep it for the coming year.

i hate that it takes time. precious time that i give during my summer... summer that goes by so break from being a home schooling mom. i need that break from school probably as much or more than my kids do!

gardening, canning & freezing definitely take time. i enjoy being busy, but the busier i am, the quicker the time seems to fly by.

so enough of my rant. i am thankful. and hopeful. and praying that my beans are going to do better than they seem to be doing right now. beans are important to us. we were fortunate last year to have an incredible turn out and we put up enough to eat them at least a couple times a week for an entire year.

and i am super excited to have picked & frozen 35 lbs of blueberries last week! yes, 35 lbs! this is the most i have ever put up, so i will be happy to let my boys eat blueberries without worrying about running out of them early next year!


now, this here part of the post is for my friend shannan & any of you looking into planting cucumbers for pickling.

we put up a lot of pickles.

  • dill
  • sweet garlic dill
  • bread & butter

i think we have discovered that we eat more of the dill than anything, so we will do more of them than we have in the past.

we plant 2 kinds of cucumbers: "sweet slice" & "national pickling"

you all know what the sweet slice look like. pretty much what you see in the store for cucumbers. they're long and green with smooth shiny skin. they turn yellow when they're too ripe. we just cut these up & eat them. by the plateful. they're yummy.

the national pickling are my favorite little pickle. we use them for pickling. there's something endearing about them, if a cucumber can possibly be endearing. i think of them when i think of a claussen pickle for some reason.

*and the way, there's an ongoing discussion at our house as to whether or not you should call them cucumbers or pickles before they have actually been "pickled". some say one, some say the other, but mostly some are just being smart alecs when they act like they don't know what we're talking about when we say "you need to go out and get some pickles from the garden..."☺

these guys are cute, they're smallish...about this long...

i try not to let them get too long because i like to cut then into spears or half by length to fit into pint jars. and you don't have to worry because if they get much longer than that, they just get fatter around and not so much longer, and they're usually over-ripe by that time. sometimes i pick them pretty small if i want to pickle them whole in quart jars.

and they look like this when you slice them across...

which i do for bread & butter pickles, or chucks of any other kind of pickle. i like how they are 3 sided, but i notice if you let them get a bit bigger, they will puff up and have 4 sides. i like to keep them right about here.

i started growing my own dill last year since it only made sense & since dill is perennial, it's an added plus. and actually if you accidentally till it up (hi honey!) it will probably come right back up...ours did anyway. it's pretty tough stuff.

so i'm off to make some dill pickles. if i find the time, i'll post some recipes with the finished product.

happy canning!

Friday, July 17, 2009

favorite friday image : nappanee teen photographer

this is my pick today because:
  • it is completely official today at 3:48 pm, i will be the mother of a teenager! HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my big boy!
  • after i took this photo, i instantly saw what a completely handsome devil he is becoming... and this worries me...☺
  • i just can't say enough about this guy...dude, you're still my sunshine & i totally love you!
  • this photo has put me on the journey to properly expose for skin tones while not blowing the white clothing. why do i think it's going to be a long journey?

*this image was shot @ f4.2, 1/160, iso 200 with a 18-135mm 3.5-5.6 lens at 32mm

Monday, July 13, 2009

oh cilantro...

maybe i seem a little repetative, but i can't think of any good reason not to eat mexican food all the time!

we finally picked some of the cilantro in our garden & put it to good use in the pico de gallo when i made these nachos.

nachos is a meal at our house!

my pico de gallo

all fresh vegetables & cilantro:

lime juice

note: this is not an exact science, so measurements are kind of/sort of:

chop up (kind of small) almost equal amounts of tomatoes & onions. (i use enough to make around a soupbowl size full container) add one jalapeno chopped up, remove the insides first, leave some seeds according to how hot you like it. a lot of seeds = very hot. no seeds = pretty much no heat. add a handful of cilantro chopped up fine, a splash of lime juice & salt to taste.

serve it fresh. enjoy it, it's an addiction!

Friday, July 10, 2009

favorite friday image : nappanee teen photographer

this is my pick today because:

  • this is my bff's daughter, the photo was taken at the lake recently while we were camping, she's sitting at the end of a pier
  • it's at the lake people, what's not good about that?☺
  • i love hair blowing in the wind, as long as it's blowing in a good way
  • i've been wanting to take her pictures for a while but her mom said she wasn't too crazy about the idea. come to find out she's just not crazy about having her pic taken with her mom! oops - we'll work on that next...
*this image was shot @ f2.8, 1/1600, iso 200 with a 50mm 1.4 lens

Thursday, July 9, 2009

can't get enought of the boys : nappanee children's photographer

just some fun shots of another one of my nephews, another "bub"...

i don't think i've posted any of this guy here yet (except for the shot of him crawling behind mom & dad on their wedding day), he's got a little brother i posted a couple of weeks ago in my friday favorite and i thought i should give him equal time!

this first one's an old one, he was just a beeb then, but i'm always going through my "extensive backlog" (ie: the thousands of photos that need to be printed someday) and i came across this one.

i like it ☺

and these are more recent, the boys came out with mom & dad to pick strawberries & spend some time on the big swingset. this guy was more interested in making sure little brother didn't get his new buzz lightyear than he was in having his picture taken ☺

Friday, July 3, 2009

favorite friday: image of the day

this is my pick today because:

  • the little boy is my most willing subject most days. this will probably end soon as his older brother is getting more difficult with each passing day!
  • i took this soon after getting my dslr, i was constantly bugging the guys to let me take their picture (pretty much the same as every day) and he was probably kind of sick of it here
  • he looks cute & sweet & i didn't even have to pose him
  • after looking at this photo, i realized that where he's standing in a hallway in the center of our house, he's getting north light on his left, south light on his right, at the same time... inside the house no less, and it kind of sets up like a natural reflector. this probably sounds like jibberish but in my photographer's mind, it seems kind of neat

*this image was shot @ f4.5, 1/30, iso 400 at 40mm with a 18-135mm lens

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