Saturday, July 31, 2010

Best in Show

Meet my MIL. She is so precious to me.

She gave me the Man. And he is precious to me, too.

She is loving, kind, generous, honest, just about the best person I've ever met. I want to be just like her when I grow up.

We sat outside a few nights ago and just chattered away for a couple hours. The weather was perfect - a light, warm breeze with just a touch of cool to it, clear skies with just a few small clouds floating by, and a cup of coffee at the picnic table. We gave the birds in the yard a run for their money. I think we made more noise.

We talked about our childhoods and our memories of family and friends now gone. She told stories about Aunt Elsie and Uncle Jessie and I told stories about Aunt Mae and Aunt Bessie.

My grampa lost his mother and father when he was three. He was in an orphanage for awhile until one of his sisters was able to get him and the other little ones out. As an adult, Grampa used to visit his brothers and sisters just about daily. He had eleven of them. He didn't see all of them every day, but some of them. He was the one who kept in touch with everyone. When my sister and I came along, he would take us on his "visits" and we would get all kinds of treats - candy, sometimes money, cookies, soda, always a little something from each of them. We loved those visits with the great-aunts and great-uncles.
Me

Both of us lost our mothers fairly young in life. We were grown, but that doesn't matter. You miss your mom no matter what age you are.

But I have something she didn't have.

Her.

Mom had a brother who passed away. His wife came and lived with us for a while. Dad didn't really like Mom's brother but he did the right thing and took Lina in after she lost her husband. He knew of someone who needed a live-in housekeeper and brought Lina down there to live. After Mom passed away, Lina showed up, all dolled up with make-up on and looking to move in and marry Dad. My father was so gracious to her and said, "Lina, right now, Sis and I are doing just fine. But thanks for the offer. Oh, and you have some things that you left upstairs when you moved out. Make sure you take them with you. I want to make sure you have all your things."
Mom
Mom knows how I feel sometimes. She knows when I get sad thinking about my mom and she puts her arms around me and gently squeezes. She assures me that it's okay to still be missing my mom, even after 21 years. She still misses her mom, too, after 60 years.

She loves to talk about her mom and dad and brother. Her mom was a terrific cook, especially when it came to baking. Mom talks about all the yummy things she ate as she was growing up. She has one of her mom's recipe books and she lets me look through when I ask.

Here's a recipe from her mom:

Fluffy Mocha Frosting

1/3 cup butter
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
3 1/2 tsp cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup strong coffee
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup broken walnut meats

Sift sugar, cocoa and salt together. Melt butter and add sugar mixture gradually to butter blending after each addition. Add remaining sugar mixture alternately with coffee. Beat after each addition until smooth. Add vanilla. Sprinkle nuts on sides or top.

And another one, this one for a cold:

Dr. Durgin's

4 oz glycerine
2 oz whisky
2 tbsp lemon juice
sugar and mix

Take two teaspoons every three hours.

My Nana made something like this. She called it "the mixture".

I'm going to make these little sweets for the holidays since they sound like sugarplums. And now they're dancing across my head.

Fruit Pastilles

1 lb dates
1 lb raisins
1 cup English walnuts

Pull all through grinder twice and roll in balls. Then roll in granulated sugar, press flat and put a walnut on top. Keep well.

So that's my show and tell for the week - Mom.

She is the bestest mother-in-law ever.

I.heart.this.woman.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Scenes from an American Wedding

More wedding photos.

If you are friends with me on crackbook facebook then you've already previewed these pics. But I've had readers from Brazil, Germany, Thailand and other exotic places and they might like to see scenes from an American wedding.

Doesn't that sound like the title of a book, "Scenes from an American Wedding"? I may have to write that book.

Er, sorry, I digressed.

So for all my international visitors, here's an American bride and groom.

Black and white.

It's all about the black and white when it comes to a traditional American wedding.
Lots of cameras came out. Picture taking everywhere.

I love that. You can find the best little vignettes shooting these scenes. The vignette above is the bride and her besties.

Flatmates minus a mate now.
Here's another vignette. This family saw the perfect chance to grab a beautiful family photo. One of the boys in this family was the ring bearer.

He was not enthusiastic about walking down the aisle.

So he just about ran.

He almost beat the maid of honor down there.
The bride and her sissy performed for us. They sang the song Sisters from "White Christmas".

They used boas instead of giant fans. It was just perfect.
The dancing shoes came off and the floor started hopping. Some of my nieces and nephews are really good swing dancers.

Hmm...maybe I can get the Man to take swing dance lessons with me? Some day we'll have to dance at our children's weddings. I can't be looking like I don't know what I'm doing.
Can you see the swinging going on? The two cuties in the middle stayed on the floor until it got jam packed and there was no room for them anymore.

At least, I think so.

I couldn't see them.

Maybe they were hidden among all the swinging skirts.
The family of the bride has a great tradition whenever anyone leaves, even if it's just me and my family leaving grandma's house and it's the last time we'll see them for a few months.

They run after your car, waving their arms madly and yelling "GOODBYE, GOODBYE, LOVE YOU...."

It makes you feel very loved.

I love this tradition. And I love them.

So here they are, chasing after one of their sissies, showing the world how much they love her. It made me cry.

Until a little boy behind me said, "Why are they running away?"

Then I giggled.
Back at home of the bride's parents, we relaxed and ate pizza and wings and salad and cheesecake.

Yum. My niece, J., makes a f-a-n-t-a-s-t-i-c cheesecake, er, cheesecakes. Since I ate two pieces.

But they were very small.

Key lime and chocolate chip. How could I choose? So I had a sliver of each.

Aaaaaaah. I love cheesecake.
Driving home.

*Sigh. Happy and sad.





Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wedding Weekend

Once upon a time there was a Southern boy, M., and a Northern girl, A.

He's Ole Miss. She's Penn State.

It's a match made in heaven. It's a good thing they don't play each other during football season.

I'm just sayin'.

We were away for a wedding this past weekend.

One of the Man's nieces got married to a pretty terrific young man, M. Of course, we think the world of the Man's niece A. and we were so happy to be at this wedding.
As you might remember, we missed the last family wedding because of that four letter word, s-n-o-w.

Shhhh. Don't say it out loud. Really. Stop even thinking it.
We had a bit of a rainy night for the rehearsal dinner but we were tucked into The Tavern, all warm and toasty (the air conditioning didn't quite reach our dining room), enjoying good food, good company, and great service.

The wait staff went above and beyond trying to keep our small dining room comfortable. They brought fans in, made sure we had loads of water, and kept apologizing. If you're anywhere near Penn State University, go eat at this tavern. They're fantastic.

Hands and wedding bands. Mom, grandma, and bride.

I love this picture. I love how their fingers intertwine, wrapping around each other, holding on and lifting up. There's a whole lot of love in these hands. Love for each other, love for their spouses, love for their families. Strong love. Forever love.

It makes me cry.

Where's those tissues?

*I'll post more pictures tomorrow. I'm too tired.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Cleaning and madness

Why do I wait until the day I'm having guests over to clean the house?

Why, why, why do I do that to myself and the Man?

Because he gets dragged into the madness.

Vacuuming, dusting, mopping, swiping, wiping...it's not very pretty until it's done.

And then we spend the night on the back porch, eating and talking. I think we were in the house a total of seven minutes.

That might account for the looks I get from the Man when I'm OCD'ing about cleaning.
So, anyway, we had some friends over for dinner tonight. M. and M.

I love that.

M&M. It fits them. They're very sweet, and you always feel happy after spending time with them.

M., the husband, made us laugh so hard my cheeks still hurt. He belongs on stage.

We sat outside and enjoyed the breeze most of the night. And the fan we had blowing. We drag our fans out onto the porch and it works wonders for cooling you down.

Then you can enjoy the meal.
M., the wife, made a terrific salad. I wish I had a picture of it.

She served it on a platter, with all the ingredients spiraled out from the center, kind of like a bicycle wheel.

Romaine lettuce, green and black olives, feta, tomatoes, and carrots. Yum.
This came from here. I modified it a little bit by adding the whipped cream in between the layers of pound cake.

Real whipping cream, not that fake stuff.

This picture is horrible. But the dessert is delicious.

M. told me to take the picture out on the table. I should have listened to her. I thought it would be too dark.

I forgot we have porch lights.

Homework is FUN!

I love doing homework.

My nieces and K. decided to help me. I think they had ulterior motives.

We couldn't agree on which kind of cupcake to make - chocolate or golden yellow.

We made both.
Uh-oh. Now we have to go buy more Reese's miniatures.

The things I do for photography class.
They couldn't decorate with white frosting. Not my family. Not when we make rainbow pancakes and tie-dye iced cookies.

We had to decorate with pink and purple and blue.
K. was inspecting the...

Actually, I'm not sure what she was looking at. But this was worth a pic or two.
They came out just beautiful. And tasted scrumdillyumptious.

We should know. We tested about a dozen candies and a couple cupcakes along the way.

I am NOT getting on the scale tomorrow.
I decorated the rest of the cupcakes. This was homework after all.

And it had to look just so.
I love these little frosted Reese's miniatures. They look like teeny tiny appetizers.

There.

Everything is ready to go.

So I assembled all the parts, dragged them out to the picnic table and set up my shot.

Well, I didn't really drag them. I put them on a tray and carried them out gently. In case anyone from church is reading this. Since I brought them to the potluck dinner today.

Really, I took very good care of them.




All that work for this series of photos.

See how the depth of field changes as you scroll down the pics?
And at the end of the day, we were rewarded with a gorgeous rainbow.

Thanks, God. A perfect ending to a fun filled day.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cupcake Party, er Homework

(photo from http://confessionsofacookbookqueen.blogspot.com)
Remember I was talking about making cupcakes yesterday?

How do you like these little beauties?
(photo from http://confessionsofacookbookqueen.blogspot.com)
I found them here.

These cupcakes make me smile. They have party written all over them.

Of course, I have to make them since I need something to photograph for my homework.

Teacher said so.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Photography Class #2

Photography class #2 tonight.

It was all about aperture.

Changing the aperture changes your depth of field. For all you non-photography people, depth of field is what makes your subject either stand out in sharp focus against a blurry background (using lower numbers for the aperture setting, in beginner's language) or keeping everything in sharp focus with little to no blurring (using higher numbers for the aperture setting.)

In the photo above, there is a some blurring of the posts that are further away, closer to the beach, but they are still pretty recognizable.
In the photo above, the posts closest to the beach are pretty blurry and you can't really make out what that last one is. The aperture was set to a lower number for this photo.

I couldn't wait to get home and practice.

Unfortunately, my victims subjects were being u-n-c-o-o-p-e-r-a-t-i-v-e. Two of them rolled their eyes at me. You know who you are, K. and P.

I'll just have to practice this weekend when my nieces come over. Except they've learned how to roll their eyes too, just like their big cousins.

Drat.

I might have to resort to using cupcakes.

The things I do for art.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How to hold a camera or, the tale of a disgruntled photographer

This is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Actually, it's not completely wrong since I have my thumb kind of supporting the bottom of the camera.

But it still allows for camera shake.
This is how you should hold your camera.

This feels wrong, wrong, wrong.

But it looks much cooler than the top pic. And I'm getting used to it.

Teacher was right. Shoot enough pictures and it will start to feel natural.

Much less camera shake.

Humph.

P.S. Don't look at my chlorine soaked just-came-out-of-the-pool-hair. There was a LOT of splashing in the pool today and I got drenched. Boys. Humph.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Beach Fun, Really

Ahhhhhhh. It was an absolutely glorious weekend at the beach.

Beautiful blue sunny skies, white puffy clouds, lots of sunshine and...
...snacks!

We are a snack loving family. And we don't discriminate. Salty and sweet, we buy them all. It's especially bad when Sissy and I go food shopping with no breakfast in our tummies.

Uh-oh.

Methinks that's a dangerous thing to do.

Yup, it was.

We came home with Pringles, Chips Ahoy regular and Chips Ahoy with Reese's chunks, pretzels, cheese, dip, crackers, Cheetos and lots of ice cream.

Holy jumping snacks, Batman! How did all those things get in our cart?And if that wasn't bad enough, we headed to the local clam shack, Arnold's, for the best onion rings in the world.

And the fried clams.

And fried lobster.

And fried oysters.

Maybe some fish and chips.

A bowl or two of clam chowder.

And chicken strips for the non-seafood eating contingent.
And before anyone jumps on me, I did not eat all that by myself. That was what the whole group ordered, for Pete's sake! But we all share and test and taste and try things out before we settle down with our own meals.

We worked off all that food by digging waterways in the sand, building sand castles and skim boarding.

I didn't skim board.

I have a strong sense of self-preservation.
We went over to the way cold ocean side and played chase the waves. The Man and I started playing that with J. and K. when they were small and now we go over with our nieces and Sissy and P, her hubby. Only the kids and I actually play.

It involves getting up as close as you can to the water and when the wave comes crashing in, you run like the dickens away from it and try not to get wet.
This works most of the time. But every now and then disaster strikes and someone goes down. And gets wet.

Really wet.

Like we-can't-go-to-Ben-and-Jerry's-'cause-we're-too-wet wet.

That's why I play. I try to keep everyone up on their feet and dry, dry, dry.

I don't want to miss Ben and Jerry's because some small squirt tripped over their own two feet.

And I am NOT mentioning any names, D.

We took walks on the beach and looked for fish and shells, rocks and sea glass.

We found shrimp and put them in the pail.

Until we discovered we were starting to cook them under the hot sun. Then we released them to be free again. And go find their shrimp mommies who were probably looking for them.
The Man was not being anti-social. Really.

He was trying to cool off and headed out to a sand bar to get closer to the water.

But it looks likes he's anti-social. I tease him about that. But he thinks it's a compliment.

I heart the beach. And my family. The only thing missing was other Sissy. They couldn't be with us.

We'll see them next time. Right, other Sissy?