Tag Archives: Photography

Framing Photo Wall

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When we bought our house 3 years ago, we knew we wanted to turn one wall into a photo wall. We quickly decided to use our long hallway wall. And that’s the only portion of the project we’ve done quickly!

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When planning our wedding, we came across a chair decoration in a wedding DIY project from Hobby Lobby (sadly, I don’t have a link to that image). We took a 5×7 frame, a painted book page, and a couple of chair sashes to create the chair decorations. Thankfully, Candi, our wedding photographer took a photo, because I never had the opportunity.

Since we now had 120 frames that were exactly the same size, we had a start for our photo wall. Except that the frames were the wrong colour. As was the wall. I finally took time to paint our front room and hallway over spring break. My husband started painting the frames. He tried several options before settling on spray painting with an air compressor.

To make sure all of the frames would fit on the wall, my husband created a grid on the wall beginning with the nest. He also devised a contraption to make certain the hangers were placed in the exact same place on each frame.

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We have now framed and hung about half of the photos and are quite pleased with the results. For the most part, these are all photos we have taken. We will eventually have a few taken by others, but are making sure we have permission from the photographers.

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Filed under Crafting

Slow Start…

Butterfly Rainforest

It feels as if my summer is off to a slow start. Usually, I begin with a bang. Weeks before my students pack up for the last time, I have created an extensive list of projects to complete during the summer months. Then I pick a handful of quick crafts to complete during my first days of freedom. This year is different, for a handful of reasons. I still have my list. It’s a really exciting list, full of elaborate projects, simple projects, quick projects, and week-long projects. But, I can’t show those to you, yet!

Butterfly Rainforest

I really, really want too, because my wedding dress is looking amazing! I am super excited at how well it is turning out. It is near completion. I just want to put it on and show the world. For now, a select few people will get to see it. Otherwise, it will stay hidden in my sewing room along with the many other projects I will be working on this summer.

Butterfly Rainforest

This dress has been such a huge project, that I haven’t been doing many little projects as I work on it (which is what I usually do in such cases). Due to this, I don’t have filler projects to share. Today, you are getting this story with photos taken while I was on spring break in March. My fiance and I took a trip to Gainesville to visit the Butterfly Rainforest.

Butterfly Rainforest

We were told not to expect much as it was cold outside and the butterflies were only at a level 1 for movement. Let me tell you, I think a level 10 could possibly create a tornado. There were butterflies everywhere! Thanks to their lack of motivation for movement, it made taking photos rather easy and enjoyable.

I promise some exciting news will be here on Thursday!

Butterfly Rainforest

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Filed under Photography, Sewing

Just another Limmoncello

As I mentioned the other day, we were able to pick the lemons from our neighbour’s lemon tree. He no longer eats them and didn’t want them to go to waste. We gladly accepted them and picked them ourselves. This also opened a great opportunity to try out a few new recipes I’ve wanted to test.

Limoncello is the project I was the most excited to test. It is still a work in progress, but I couldn’t wait to share. Limoncello is a lemon liqueur made from the rinds of lemons, vodka, and sugar. It is fairly simple to make, though it does require days to steep.

To begin, you scrub the skin of your lemons to remove any pesticides, dirt, and any other outdoor debris. Thankfully, my neighbour doesn’t spray for bugs. Then, using a peeler or small knife, you carefully remove the peel of the lemons. You want to try to only get the yellow part and leave the white pith behind. I will need a bit of practice to perfect this skill. 

Once you have peeled about 12 lemons (I did a few more since some of the lemons had part of the skins nibbled on), you place the lemon peels in a jar large enough to hold a 750-mil bottle of vodka. Then pour the vodka over the lemon peels and seal the jar.

This jar now needs to sit in a cool dark place for anywhere from 10-30 days. Ten days appear to be the recommended shortest number of days. Though I did see a few that said 4 days. The longer you let it sit, the darker yellow your liqueur will become.

We have shaken oursa couple of times, but there also appears to be mixed suggestions on that instruction as well. Some say it isn’t necessary and others recommend it. We have been picking it up every couple of days to inspect the colour; it gets a little shake then. It appears to be doing just fine.

I plan on soaking the lemon peels for the maximum number of days. It will be a couple more weeks before we get to see the final product. I can’t wait!

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Filed under Eating, Photography

Lemony Fresh

I did something for the first time last Saturday. I picked lemons off a tree. Then I pulled most of the Spanish Moss off as well. That wasn’t so fun. I also discovered that the bay window makes an excellent light box from 8 am until 11:30 am. I think I will make some smooth white Roman blinds to replace the cheap paper ones currently there. They will provide a smoother background for photos. These are some shots with various settings trying out my new discovery.

I have many memories of apple picking as a child. First at my grandparent’s farm. They had an entire grove of trees growing out front. Then on school trips to the local orchard where you could also press the apples into just like Laura Ingalls Wilder. Or so we were told. Eventually, my parents’ trees grew large enough to give us piles and piles of apples. Even in college my friends and I would spend a Sunday afternoon at the orchard picking apples to bake into pies and make apple sauce.

This is an activity that I have been missing. This Saturday let me create a new memory about fruit picking. One of our new neighbours has a lemon tree in his front yard. He no longer uses all of them, so he offered them to us. We took advantage of that offer and nearly cleared the tree! In return, we pulled most of the Spanish Moss off the tree. (This will be a wonderful punishment chore for my children some day!)

I have never had lemons so fresh and juicy. One small lemon easily squeezed out a quarter cup of juice! I didn’t even use a juicer, just my hands. I’ve never gotten such good results from grocery store lemons. I can’t wait to share all the yummy goodies I created with a small portion of the juice I harvested.

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Filed under Adventures!, Photography

Ruminations on Resolutions

In 2013, I didn’t make resolutions. Instead, I made goals. I’m sure you are thinking what is the difference. That really depends on your perspective. In my mind, resolutions are things you would like to do sometime this year. A goal is a set plan with a final outcome. I created a list of goals with defined parameters so I would know that I accomplished them.

I know I didn’t accomplish them. In fact, I believe I only fully accomplished one goal. I made it really close to completing all but one. I even managed to keep a fairly good running tally of what I did to accomplish the goals for much of the year (ok, until April!). Let’s review the goals.

1. Use an entire box of baking soda and can of baking powder.

I came fairly close to meeting this goal. Both containers are about half empty. Had I bought smaller containers, they would have been empty. I have learned loads about making baked goods this year. If anyone wants to provide support, I will gladly open a bakery and spend every day baking my little heart out!

2. Use an entire jar of yeast.

I didn’t spend nearly enough time practicing bread baking this year. First off, it wasn’t nearly as popular to take to the office as cupcakes and cookies. Second, I slowly cut out carbs as the year progressed. Bread was one of the first to go since we rarely ate it anyway. I fully plan on making and selling bread in the bakery someone is going to support for me to open!

 

 

 

3. I want to try a new recipe every week.

We tried loads of new recipes this year. As we do every year. I don’t know that we tried at least one every week. Some weeks we would test out 3-4 and others we ate take-out all week. This is something we will continue throughout the coming years since we both enjoy cooking and testing out new foods.

4. Complete one project a month during the school year. And one a week during the summer months.

I admit to being liberal in my definition of projects. I often included projects I did for my classroom as long as it included glue or scissors. Once summer hit though, I was doing a project or two a day. The house looked as if a craft store exploded inside! I think the only way for me to have completed more projects would to have not blogged about any of them. I still have many backlogged to write about.

5. Dragging my boyfriend to various tourist destinations around central Florida.

This is the one goal I know that failed miserably. I’m not saying we didn’t do anything all year. We just didn’t do specifically touristy things. We found ourselves at craft shows, BBQ cook-offs, pancake breakfasts, and many other activities that residents would do rather than tourists.

I fear I’ve bored you with enough ruminations about my goals for 2013. We had a marvelous year. I’m sharing highlights next. We are both very excited to see what 2014 has in store for us. I’ll also be sharing my goal for the year.

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Filed under Adventures!

Anna, Damn Her!

So legend (or folklore) has it, my latest attempt at yeast bread making came from a namesake of mine. As the story goes, a Gloucester fisherman/farmer/hunter/woodsman (I’ll stick with fisherman), had a wife who was a terrible cook. Everyday, he came home to cornmeal mush and molasses. Upon returning home one evening to yet another meal of cornmeal, he took matters into his own hands and mixed in some flour and yeast to make bread. The entire time muttering “Anna, Damn her!” Thankfully, despite having the same name, I am fully capable of making many delicious meals. Though I do often leave the cooking to my boyfriend!

I started my bread making with this particular loaf for a few reasons. First, it has a story and it involves a person I share a name with. I don’t know about you, but I always feel drawn to something that shares my name. Second, it was close to the front of my new bread book. I have had this particular book on my wishlist for over a year. I finally received it for Christmas. There are a multitude of bread baking books out there. To the point where you can choose a book on a specific type of bread. When I was researching the best bread book for me, I settled on The Bread Baker’s Apprentice  for its detailed instructions in the recipes and the massive introduction to bread baking at the beginning.

The author, Peter Reinhart,  is passionate about baking bread and it shows in his writing. This book wasn’t just a way for him to share a few recipes (nearly 100), he wanted the readers to learn how to make good bread. Through his writing you can see that he isn’t just a baker, he is also a teacher. If you want to learn how to make good yeast bread, I recommend this book. My only complaint about the book is that the recipes are in alphabetical order rather than by bread type. Though, I have a feeling as I grow more familiar with the book, this will stop bothering me.

Back to the recipe and the third reason I tried this bread first. It has molasses in it. We rather enjoy the flavor of molasses, yet we only use it around Christmas. I feel this needs to change. The recipe also uses corn meal, which I found very intriguing. Really, this was a recipe that demanded to be baked.

You begin by soaking the corn meal in water overnight. This is to soften the meal and help release its flavours. While I was researching the background story, I also discovered that some people bake the cornmeal, some boil it, and other just pour boiling water over it and soak until it reaches room temperature. Though I’m sure any method will work, I like the archaic feel of soaking something overnight in preparation of baking bread. I’m sure there is some sort of epiphany in there somewhere, but I’m sticking with it just feels right!

Also thanks to my research, I may have discovered why I think my loaves ended up being short instead of fluffy. According to Spoonful, using All-Purpose flour rather than bread flour will result in a denser bread due to the difference in gluten. I think I will pick up a bag of bread flour before my next bread baking adventure. I may have also rushed the last rise a little in my excitement that my bread was beginning to look like bread.

I’m sure I’ll have many more bread making adventures and helpful suggestions as the year progresses. Once again, I won’t be typing in the recipe for copyright reasons, but you can visit this link that share the same recipe I just made (hers looks better than mine!)

Anadama Story Resources:

Spoonful

A Taste of History

The Sour Dough

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Filed under Eating

Merry Christmas!

I hope this post finds you all with full bellies and contented grins thanks to a wonderful Christmas celebration with your family and friends. My boyfriend and I had a delightful few days of celebrations with family.

Now I hope to spend the next few days relaxing and testing out my Christmas gifts. Not to mention digging my craft room out of its cluttered state. If I’m brave, I’ll post before and after photos.

Merry Christmas!

photo taken by MiCTLaN

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Filed under Adventures!, Photography

Shooter Sandwich

Several times over the past couple of months we’ve heard about “the best sandwich in the world”, also known as a Shooter Sandwich. Today we decided to sit down and try one for ourselves.

Ingredients:

  • A crusty round loaf (in this case, Mountain Bread from Publix)
  • 2 steaks (we used New York Strip)
  • 8oz white mushrooms, diced
  • three onions, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 bucket of rocks from the garden
  • dijon mustard
  • salt, pepper to taste

First, we seasoned the steaks with some salt & pepper and set them aside while preparing everything else.

 

We had just made BLTs for lunch, so I used some of the leftover bacon fat to saute the diced onion, mushroom, bell pepper, and garlic, seasoned with a little salt. The vegetables are cooked for a while with the lid on to sweat them, then Worcestershire is added and the lid removed so that the sauce could thicken up. Anna doesn’t care for mushrooms, but generally doesn’t mind them as long as there are not large chunks. She says it’s a texture thing, not a flavor thing. So, I attacked the cooked vegetables with a potato masher to create a nice thick mush.

raw veggiescooked veggies

sweating veggies

After the vegetables were done I pan-seared the steaks and finished them up with a short trip through the oven.

seared steaks

While the steaks were in the oven, I cut the top off of a loaf of Mountain bread, and scooped out the inside of the bread to make a big bread bowl.

mountain bread

After the steaks were ready, into the bread they went…

steaks in bread

…followed by a healthy scoop of the vegetables

veggies in bread

…some swiss cheese

swiss cheese

…a little dijon

dijon

…and then the remaining vegetables are stuffed into the bread.

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Then the top went back on the bread, it was wrapped in wax paper and foil, and then the fun part…

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SMOOSH!

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The sandwich has to stay like this for hours. In this case we let it sit for about five hours before digging in.

shooter sandwich

It didn’t turn out too bad, we’re probably going to try it again, perhaps with a better cut of steak next time.

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Filed under Eating, Photography

Fresh From our Garden

This week has not been cooperating with me. My routine has been all messed up. My Monday behaved like Thursday. Wednesday tiptoed around being Tuesday. Tuesday really wanted to be Thursday. I think Thursday wanted to be Friday. So I’ve decided that Friday is going to be my Wednesday. This means I am heading to the beach. Unless it rains, again.

To add to the confused week, instead of sharing a sewing project (I’ve many to show you, I just haven’t edited photos and typed up stories. I’m blaming the jumbled week.), I have photos of our home-grown produce.

My boyfriend, has been very diligent about watering the garden every morning. I think because of this, he’s also been very good about taking photos of each of our mini harvests. Really, I think he’s got a bit of a competition going with an internet friend that keeps the photos coming.

My point? Oh, yes. These lovely photos of all these delicious looking vegetables were taken by my boyfriend. He’s very good at taking photos. I don’t know that I’ve told you all very much about my wonderful boyfriend. Here is a little introduction. His internet name is MiCTLaN (sometimes with a 74 tacked on the end). He likes to take photos as a hobby.

That is a very tiny (think pinkie nail sized) frog on a large quarter. If you want to check out more of my boyfriend’s photos, you can check them out here.  There are a few that may not be appropriate for children.

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Filed under Adventures!, Eating

Mini Key Lime Pies

Rather than abandon my blog completely while I sort out my new schedule, I am going to tease you with photos of the projects I manage to squeeze into my limited free time.  I promise to share further details later.

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Filed under Eating, Photography