Saturday, December 29, 2007


Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
I learned how to fire my speedlight wirelessly by using my camera's on-board flash. Now that was fun! I'm going to play with use the two flashes and the photo light, umbrella and light stand I have. FUN!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Bear's Christmas Gift

It can be difficult to tell where the gift ends and the recipient begins!

Bear's Christmas Gift
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic

Santa Sarah

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
We had a very special visitor yesterday for our Christmas Eve Jazzercise class.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

No Photo. Just Words.

Hm. I guess it has been a long time. I see I haven't written since last Saturday. I think most of it has been that I've been busy, and some of it has been that I haven't had much to say.

Mensa Boy came home from his trip to Indonesia. He had a terrible cold. This happens a lot when he travels. Especially if it's several time zones. He was in flight for 30 hours. 30 hours of breathing all that recycled air. Yuck. So he basically stayed home sick for the rest of the week. He did go to the chiropractor on Thursday and had an adjustment, which really helped his sinuses. I had him get a massage on Wednesday and he thought that helped, too. Now he's just got a lingering ear thing.

I worked fast and furious for the paper and then running around to do last minute Christmas stuff, spent almost an entire day getting a new spring for our garage door. ours sheared in two while Bob was gone. Fortunately I have a backup spouse for these emergency repairs. Buddy Rena's husband. He was able to put the new spring on. And unclogged the garbage disposal after Taylor and I tried to grind up peeling for 10 pounds of potatoes.

Taylor and I made lefse. That was a really fun project. Not nearly as spooky as I thought it would be. I've always been told that it was hard to master. We didn't have any trouble at all. Buddy Sarah's daughters helped me make the last half of the batch on Thursday. Then Sarah and I relaxed with giant salads, spicy peel & eat shrimp, and a bottle of Pozzi Scilia Bianco wine. We did that to celebrate her birthday.

Yesterday Mensa Boy and I took Bear to do his Christmas shopping. He ascribes to the theory that his gifts to people should be stuff that he would enjoy getting. He bought a new kennel cab for Nate, a biscuit pouch for me to clip to my waistband, and squeaky toy for Taylor and Mensa Boy.

So now I'm off to church and this afternoon I'll lay around a lot.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Accidental Exposure

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
Yesterday I ran like a crazy woman, from school to school, interviewing and taking photos. At one point I walked into the high school after leaving the elementary, and got a call on my cell. The editor. Asking me to go to the new middle school to shoot some teachers taking a tour. They are going to move into the building around January 15.

Fortunately, I've learned enough about my photography skills to know that I should take several shots at several different exposures when I'm shooting for pay.

This is my HUGE SHADOW on the wall behind a group shot I took at the new middle school. I corrected the angles, exposure and lighting so that I could get a good, printable photo. But I thought the shadow was cool enough that I played around with some color and texture in Photoshop and submitted it for my self-portrait for yesterday. I'm in the mid-60s now with the self-portraits. Some are well-planned, but many are quite accidental.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wrestling? What Will I Do Next?

When I started this freelance gig, I was writing food stories for our local newspaper. After a couple of weeks of writing and waiting around for the newspaper photographer to come shoot my food, I bought a little Fuji FinePix F10.

And so the photography thing began.

After a short bit, I was getting requests from the paper to "Run over there and take a photo."
Then it was "Can you write a short bit about that while you are there?"

And so I became an all-around writer/photographer. A lot of school features, then church features, some human interest stories. Then new business introductions. Then they asked me if I'd like to be the reporter/photographer for our school's Cross Country team. I've done that for 2 seasons now.

Last week my editor was telling me that the photographer is going to start taking Wednesdays off for a while. I said "Well, just let me know if I can help pick up the slack with some photography."
"Would you like to shoot the wrestling meet Tuesday night? You should be able to just get in there, take a few shots, and get out."

Sure. Why not?

I was there for almost 2 hours. It was interesting. I had no idea what most of the rules were. But I do know the coach, so he explained a couple of things to me before I started. Just to give me an idea what to look for. This is the best shot I got all night. I wish I had their entire bodies in there, but hey! I tried, right? I doubt I'll do this very much. I get only $10 per photo and they will probably only publish one shot. So $10 for almost 2 hours of my time doesn't really make a lot of sense. But I did enjoy working the camera.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas Preparations Underway

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
Well, we finally got the tree and outside lights up this weekend. It was a struggle, to be honest. Every year we all kind of galump around, wishing someone else would do it. This year I got Taylor to help me put out the outside lights by promising that whoever did that wouldn't have to be involved in taking them back down. I am short a string of clear lights, and trying to buy another at Target proved fruitless. Clear lights seem to be all the rage these days. At least in our neighborhood. I think we might be almost the only ones that have multi-colored lights outside. I want to put clear ones on the two tall bushes. I also have several strings on the pergola that stay up year round, but they have quite a few bulbs burned out and I think I'm going to just replace the strings. I've been trying to fix them and it's just very complicated.
The tree took essentially 3 days. Not that it's a particularly great tree, but we all just pretty much kept running out of steam.
So. Next is the shopping, which I imagine we'll do online. Mensa Boy's list is completely shot, leaving Nate and me nothing to get for him. This happens all the time. Nate didn't even publish a list this year.
Wow...looking back at this, it seems all pretty dismal. But actually, things are looking pretty nice around here. And restful.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Lancaster Christmas Parade

Saturday my friend Tambri had her dance school in the Lancaster Christmas Parade. We had 50 little girls, most of whom rode on a trailer we decorated with posters and Christmas lights. Although I do not have a kid in her classes, or even have girl for that matter (thank goodness!), I always help Tambri with her big productions.

All I can say is, we seriously underestimated Lancaster. This was one cool parade. And they had the downtown well-decorated.

This is my friend Tambri, decked out in her Christmas finery, riding to the parade route. You can see me and my camera peeking over her shoulder. I really enjoy this shot.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Tyvek Notebook

Tyvek Notebook
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
When Mensa Boy goes on a trip to a particularly humid or rainy location, he likes to make himself a Tyvek Reporter's notebook. He meticulously cuts and punches holes into pieces of Tyvek and then puts them on the binder and between the covers of a regular reporter's notebook. I've always wondered why he can't just buy something like that, but he says he's tried to find them and can't. I guess one day someone did tell him they have such an animal at REI. He checked there, and they do carry notebooks like this, but they are not REPORTERS notebooks. Wrong size. Must be the RIGHT SIZE!!

Here he is demonstrating, with sound effects of course, his writing across his latest Tyvek notebook.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
I have seen this before. I have no idea why this sign is upside down, but certainly catches the eye. This is on South Boulevard between Tyvola and 485. I had lunch with a friend at Spoon's BBQ yesterday and captured this on the way home.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
A little Wednesday afternoon treat. A couple of weeks ago I picked up a bag of dried cherries. I decided to put those in this crisp instead of raisins. I made the crisp from 1 1/2 Granny Smith apples and 1 Gala apple. It's always a big hit at our house. But I just make it in an 8 x8 pan...everyone likes it fine the day it's made but then it never gets eaten after that.

Just for a minute....

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
Don't tell me you've never had a day like this. We all have.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Product Review: Kashi Granola

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
I had a pleasant surprise this morning. Breakfast in my mailbox! And it was delicious, too!

I do not normally eat cereal for breakfast, but this, as I find all Kashi products, was excellent. The right amount of crunch, the right amount of chewiness. Just a great way to start the day.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Scam Soap

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
Mensa Boy and mini-MB call foaming hand soap "Scam Soap."

MB's theory is that it is not more cost-effective than regular liquid soap. Apparently that's been part of the marketing? I can't really confirm that. I don't pay close enough attention to that kind of thing.

Anyway, at MB's work they have dispensers in the restrooms for both kinds...foaming and regular liquid soap. He says the foaming ones are always emptying faster than regular ones.

My thinking is that people might be gravitating to the foaming soap because it's lighter and rinses off faster.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

It's love...

Taylor Clementines
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
Taylor and his beloved Clementines. He asks for them every year as soon as they come out.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Apfel Strudel

Apfel Strudel
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
Does anyone wish they'd had supper at my house tonight?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Product Review: Brown Basmati Rice

Brown Basmati Rice
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
I have to admit I've had this a while. Okay...months. I did a pot of it when I bought it, stuck the bag in the cupboard and forgot about it again until last week.
My family loves Basmati rice. I buy it at Sam's Club in 25-lb bags. If I do happen to run out, Taylor will mention it. "What's this rice, Mom? It doesn't have much flavor," he'll say of regular long-grain rice.
I thought maybe I'd step up the fiber by trying this brown variety. I don't remember how much it was, but I'm quite sure it was significantly pricier than the other. I've bought Lundberg stuff before and liked it. I think I've even reviewed it, but I'm too lazy to do a [rather simple] search of the blog.
Anyway, great stuff! Takes a loooonnnnng time to cook though. Like most brown rice.

Ruining His Life-Part 2

Okay. The scene:

Bear is barking at me. Sitting by my chair, barking. This usually means he desperately needs to go OUT! But of course he’d JUST been out. Pooped. Peed. I think he mainly wants attention. The guys are home and he usually really just wants to play when they get here.

So I yell across the house: “Someone needs to take this dog out and do something with him!”



[[dead silence]]

Taylor has already run him around the block. He was the guy on poop watch when it happened too. So I yell:


Still no response.

I walk to the dining room. Both guys are hunched over books, not looking up. Pencils scritching across paper.

“Nate, take the dog out and play with him.”

[[big sigh]]

He hauls himself up from his chair. “OKAY! If you want me to forget about my future!!!”

Read Part 1 of ruining his life.

Wine Notes: Wolf Blass Shiraz 2004

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
This is my "house wine." This is the one (and the cab-shiraz blend by the same vineyard) that I have around all the time. The one that I go back to whenever I can't think of anything new to try.

I read about Wolf Blass in an article somewhere. That it's the number one selling wine in Australia. Judging by the wine selection in our grocery stores, I'd have to assume that the number one Australian wine in America is Yellowtail. I have to assume Yellowtail's success here in the U.S. is all due to marketing. It has to be some of the worst wine I've ever had. I can get a migraine from 3 sips of it...any of the grapes. Without fail, every time. Even when I don't know what wine I'm drinking!

Anyway, Wolf Blass. It's not acrid. It's quite smooth and fruity and just begs for a piece of dark chocolate. I like it on a cool evening after supper. And the price is right. It's always under $10. Usually around $8.99.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Wine Notes: Alice White Red Lexia 2007

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
This is not bad stuff. I had read a wine comment about Alice White Lexia. That it's sweet and pretty good for a sort of dessert wine. And that is true. Actually, I found the Lexia to be almost too sweet.
But this Red Lexia isn't quite as syrupy. Drunk cold, it's very refreshing on a warm day.

Stop Reading if I've Told You This Before

The stress from the drought is really seeping into everyone's lives around here. There are people with wells drying up now. Last night at the library board meeting one of the members said she has a couple of students whose wells have been dry for a couple of months now. Those families have no choice but to have a new well drilled or pay a tap fee to the county to be added to county water and sewer. I read in the paper yesterday that many older wells have pipes that are only 2 inches in diameter and don't go down more than 100 feet. Current wells average 200 to 300 feet and use 6-inch pipe. New wells can cost $6,000 or more to drill and tap fees to be added to city or county water can cost a couple thousand, as well.

So even the folks with wells are into the water conservation habit now. I'm glad to hear that. But concerned for them. We may face fines and even the prospect of having our water turned off if we don't comply, but at least we will probably have some water.

But it's also darkening our day-to-day thoughts at times. A friend told me the other day that when he woke up in the morning and heard the [very very light] rain falling, he caught himself saying, "God! If you're going to send us rain, at least do it right!" Or something to that effect. He felt so guilty after that.

Last night the teacher library board member also said that when her class had their prayer time yesterday, a little girl prayed "Lord. We'd really like to go out to recess today, but if you want to let it rain instead, that would be okay."

We are now 20-24 inches behind in our rainfall here.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sprouting up all over

A couple of weeks ago, Tony popped up in church with the beginnings of a beard. He does that a couple of times a year.

Then a member of the congregation, a retired gentleman named Jack, showed up with the same thing. "What's with the beard, Jack?" everyone asked.
"I'm growing it because Tony is," he said.

Yesterday I was sitting in church when I realized that Mensa Boy's face also was getting a bit hairy. He'll do that...not shave on weekends. Since it's been a long weekend of course, his face was pretty scruffy by yesterday.

"I'm going to tell people that I'm growing a beard because Jack is!" he whispered.

"I have a dear old daddy,
For whom I nightly pray,
He has a set of whiskers
That are always in the way.

Oh, they're always in the way,
The cows eat them for hay,
They hide the dirt on Daddy's shirt,
They're always in the way.

Father had a strong back,
Now it's all caved in,
He stepped upon his whiskers
And walked up to his chin.

Oh, they're always in the way,
The cows eat them for hay,
They hide the dirt on Daddy's shirt,
They're always in the way.

Father has a daughter,
Her name is Ella Mae,
She climbs up father's whiskers
And braids them all the way.

Oh, they're always in the way,
The cows eat them for hay,
They hide the dirt on Daddy's shirt,
They're always in the way.

I have a dear old mother,
She likes the whiskers, too,
She uses them for dusting
And cleaning out the flue.

Oh, they're always in the way,
The cows eat them for hay,
They hide the dirt on Daddy's shirt,
They're always in the way."

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
How do you like this? Two blog entries in less than an hour. I was sifting through my recent photos and thought I'd stick these up.
This is my friend Tambri (left), Chris and me in front of part of our meal. Peeking out behind Tambri is Chris' daughter Samantha. I have to say it was one of the best Thanksgivings we've had. Food, talking about food, preparing food, laughing, games....just a wonderful day.
Bear also had a good day, even though he didn't get a single bit of people food. The poor little guy hasn't figured out how useful chairs can be:
Bear's First Thanksgiving 11.22.07

Wine Notes: Old Fart's Wife Merlot 2004

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
Just want to take a moment to note that I'm not drinking myself into oblivion each night. I like to have a glass in the evening while I'm cooking or with my meal, and my friends also enjoy it, so we usually have a glass when we get together. That's it. The reason why there will be so many kinds mentioned all at once is because the bottles from the past month have been accumulating on my desk waiting to be cataloged and photographed.
This? Was terrible. Chris bought it because she was charmed by the name. I wouldn't have done that. I'm not charmed by the name and the wine was hideous. It has to be pretty bad for me to dump down the drain. We each drank 1/2 glass and then glug glug glug down the garbage disposal.
It's been a quiet weekend here. Last night I made the traditional post-Thanksgiving turkey gumbo. A photo and recipe are here.
I watched the movie "Fun with Dick and Jane" yesterday afternoon. It was pretty cute. And then while I made the gumbo I revisited my all-time favorite movie, "The Scarlet Pimpernel."
In the evening I did more moon shooting. It was a full moon, so I was able to capture this:

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Wine Notes: Shooting Star Zinfandel 2005

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
This was okay. But I probably won't buy it again. It was a little dry for me. I bought it because I thought I'd had it before and loved it. It turned out what I had before was the Shooting Star Riesling. That just goes to show that one grape from a vinyard can be good, and the other not so much.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
Happy Thanksgiving everyone. At least, to all the Americans that read this blog. For the rest of you, I give thanks for your friendship and interest in my blog. Every day, really, is a day of giving thanks.

Here is the first installment of food entries for the day. These pies were made by my dear friend Chris last night here in my kitchen. She and her husband have moved to Tennessee and she came "home" for the weekend to pack up the old house and have Thanksgiving with us and our friend Tambri. We hope this will be our new annual family tradition.

I'm more excited about this Thanksgiving than any other since we moved here. I enjoy the day and all the hustle and bustle of nonstop cooking that it entails. We always have someone with us, and every year but one I have hosted. But this year my friends Tambri and Chris are coming and the three of us women will hang in the kitchen and cook together. It's at my house but all three of us are hosting. It'll feel more like a family holiday to me than any other Thanksgiving we've had here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

So. Where was I?

Have we gotten to the part in this narrative where Taylor breaks his arm? I guess that was Tuesday afternoon.

I'm not perzactly (to borrow Lis' word) sure how it all happened, but I was on the phone in the driveway with the dog on the leash (poop watch, of course). Freddy came running to tell me that Taylor was hurt. His arm was hurt. No blood. His arm was hurt and he couldn't get over a fence. Since I only outweigh Taylor by 25 pounds, I really didn't see what I could do (especially with my sprained ankle...oh, I guess I never told you that, either), I told Fred to get Nate to help him.

Pretty soon Chris rolled into the driveway and Taylor came out of the house, through the garage, holding his arm and saying he'd broken it. He wanted to go to the hospital.

I've been that route before. I wasn't going for it.

We took him in and wrapped his arm in ice, settled him on the couch, and told him to keep ice on for 20 minutes, then off for 20 minutes, and so on. Gave him Advil. The arm was perfect-looking. Some swelling but not too bad. Chris and Taylor were advocating for urgent care or hospital. I tell them we did that with Nate and all it got us was an x-ray and being sent home with an ace bandage for the night. They sent us to an orthopedist the next day. "Can't put a cast on while it's swollen anyway," they said. So I told them we'd go to the clinic in the morning. For now, chill.

Chris, Tambri and I hung out for the evening. Talking and laughing. Torturing the dog. Letting Nate entertain Chris' daughter Sammy.

So now it's Wednesday. Taylor has a fractured radius, my ankle is swollen to softball size, the car is back home after shelling out $233 for a transmission solenoid pack (whatever that is), and Chris just left after spending another evening here. This time she made homemade noodles and three pies. Tomorrow, T-day.

Here's me signing the cast:

Let me tell you about this week

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
It's been pretty much chaos around here this week. Not even controlled chaos. Just really pretty wild. And for your entertainment, here it all is. I'm not saying this by way of complaining. I just think that, when anyone hears what has transpired, they have to laugh and shake their heads. And so I'm giving you this story, so you can chuckle at our expense.
Monday-it was the great Thanksgiving photo chase. Last week my editor started making noises about wanting something for the front page of this week's paper. The disadvantage of a Wednesday paper is that the deadline is too early to get Thursday holiday activities, and then too late to be of any interest if you run it the following week. Do you follow? If not, don't worry.
Last week I got NO RESPONSES at the school to my request for photo ops for Thanksgiving. It was just too early. So I went to the school first thing Monday morning to troll the halls and harass teachers into giving me something, anything to shoot by 10 a.m. I finally found a Kindergarten teacher who stopped her lesson plan, had all her little nippers put on their Thanksgiving headgear, and pose for this photo:
It turns out that this was to be the most calm part of the day.
I started out to the farm to pick up our turkey for dinner. Got halfway there and found the road closed. No problem...just an inconvenience...there's really only one way to get to the farm, and I had to drive about 10 miles around to get back to the right road. While there I picked up some wonderful beets and carrots and collards as well. As I made my way home I thought about all the wonderful things I was going to do with my largess.
I got about 2 miles from home when the car decided it did not want to shift gears anymore. 3000 rpm...revving and revving...the transmission was being quite obstinate. So I turned around, put on my flashers, and crawled at 20 mph to my ever-faithful mechanic, Derek Patterson at J.P. Auto. I called Nate, who fortunately had just arrive home from school with all the kids, and asked him to come meet me. He was fine with that. But reality crashed down him like a ton of bricks when he asked me, "You have to leave your car here overnight?"
"Yes," I replied.
"How will you get around tomorrow then?" he inquired.
"I will drive my little red car," I said.
I so he was reminded that as a driver he is on the bottom rung of the ladder.
He accepted this reasonably well, but stewed all night about driving home from school the next day. It turns out he's been driving a GIRL home each day. There would not be room if I drove.
So. The day was getting long in the tooth and I was supposed to take supper to my friend Chris and her daughter, but I was getting tired and feeling a bit harassed, so I was going to beg off. Before I could call to do so, Chris called and asked if I still had the spare key to her house. No, I did not. Our friend Rena still had it. And I could not find her. After several phone calls, I narrowed down her whereabouts and her husband brought me the key. So with Chris and Sammy locked out of their house, I had no choice but to go there with the key. They had driven in from Nashville and were dead tired, so I hated to make her come and get it.
The evening ended well as I introduced them to tater tot hot dish, we drank half a bottle of a very good Red Lexia by Alice White, and laughed a lot.
And I'll write about Tuesday later.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Tagged by buddy and fellow blogger Jenny. She called it right: I'm grumpy about it.

Four Dishes I like to cook (and eat):

1.Bread-I really like to make bread. Mostly I do French bread, but I will veer into other things on occasion. I like to make it because it makes me a superstar in my house. Everyone raves when they see I'm making bread.

2. Fried Eggplant or Roasted Okra-I enjoy the golden brown deliciousness of well-fried eggplant. And the grill lines and smoky sweetness of okra roasted until the slimy-ness is gone. And the eating? Particularly satisfying because I'm the only one that really ADORES this food. So the others will take their required servings and I will eat all the rest. Gorging myself until I'm uncomfortably full.

3. Anything pasta-when I have time I like to putter in the kitchen making my own noodles. But even when I don't have that much time, I always make my own sauce or whatever it is I'm putting in the noodles. I never used jarred sauce unless it's in something like lasagna. Although I will admit that recently I opened 2 jars of Trader Joe's organic marinara and poured it over some pre-cooked and frozen seasoned venison I had done up a few weeks ago. It was simply delicious and a great way to end a day of hard work outside.

4. Pretty much anything I've never made before. I love finding new recipes to try and the more steps they take and the more complicated they are, the happier I am. Putting on some jazz and my apron and hopping about the kitchen setting my mis en place and then assembling in a leisurely manner is my way of busting stress and chasing away headaches.

Four Qualities I Love in People

1. Honesty
2. Integrity
3. Humor
4. Faith

Four Places I've Been

Being a military kid, I could bore you with details of all the exotic locales(ha!) I've hit in my lifetime. So I'm going to go the other way and tell you four of my favorite places to go:

1. Southeastern Minnesota
2. My friend Lis' family cabin in Wisconsin (been there once physically, but in my mind I'm there a little while each day)
3. A beach house in Cherry Grove, S.C.
4. Any friend's kitchen

Four Things in my Bedroom
My bedroom is pretty much unadorned. This will be a stretch

1. A small, wooden carving of a couple embracing. This was a gift from my brother and sister-in-law from their visit to another country (I don't remember where they went)
2. Baseball cards-safely protected in plastic boxes under my bed.
3. A rubber tube that I use for part of my yoga practice
4. My copy of "Is it Hot in Here? Or is it Just Me?"

Four Dirty Words I Like/Tend to Use
I am not proud of this. And this is a family blog. So I'll change this to four idiomatic phrases I tend to use a lot. And I credit my mom, Mary, with the fact that I am a pretty idiomatic person. She is too. I grew up with these and many other colorful phrases.

1. "From pillar to post"
2. "To hell in a handbasket" (do you capitalize 'hell?' Let's not.)
3. "Busier than a one-armed paperhanger"
4. "He/she must have been vaccinated with a phonograph needle."

Four objects I will never part with and will leave to someone to inherit when I die
To be honest with you, I'm not really that kind of person. I mean, I like my stuff, and I would miss it if it were gone, but really? I can't think of one thing. Jenny had a very touching item on her blog: a Tiffany bracelet Raymond gave to her when he proposed. Me? Nada.'s one:
1. My organs. I'm an organ donor. I don't intend to part with any (more...I've had to give up a couple so far, but they were unplanned) until I die. Then? Hollow me out and ship me off to parts unknown in myriad pieces. I don't care. Besides, Mom says all my ashes won't fit into a 28-ounce tomato can, so if I can get rid of all the organs before cremation, I figure that increases my chances.

Three more:
2. My All-Clad cookware-I'll probably leave this to Taylor. He likes cooking. And he's good at it. He can have the All-Clad utensils too. It will still all be like brand-new in 60 years anyway...I should leave him a case of Bar Keeper's Friend, too. That's the trick.

3. uh uh uh...I'm absolutely drawing a blank. Wait! I have husband actually saved these, but they have a lot of importance to me too. I have three pieces of paper in my jewelry box on my bedroom dresser (since I have no jewelry to speak of, the box is a good place to put other stuff). On those pieces of paper are the lists of names Mensa Boy and I drew up when we were trying to figure out what to name Taylor. And to further make the lists more special, in the upper right corner of one list, which is actually an index card, is the word "Chagger." That was what then-4-year-old Nate suggested. I will leave these papers to Nate and Taylor.

4. Memories. My husband's memories, actually. I have very little memory. But Mensa Boy remembers everything. In great detail. With great accuracy. I would have a rough time continuing through life without my husband's memories, which are mine too. MB and I will eventually begin a project of preserving those memories (this blog is part of my own contribution), and we will pass them to our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

I'm supposed to tag a couple of people with this. I'll tag Mary, she of Shoe-Dawg-Shoe, because this is just the sort of thing she'd enjoy doing, and Psycho Anita, who also would enjoy doing this if she had time. And Kimberlee of The Buggy Side of the Dog.

The Birds. They Did Not Fall Down

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
I stopped to shoot the moon yesterday afternoon and decided to try my hand at a sunset as well. I showed my photos to Chris and said, "I can take the power lines out with Photoshop."

"But then the birds will fall down," she said.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Shoot the Moon

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
I think I'll be doing a lot more of this in the future.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Unsuspecting Puppy Parent

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
Really? One must be on guard at all times.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Poop Watch

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
Our evenings have turned more chaotic now that super-puppy has turned into a canine juvenile delinquent. What used to be the arsenic hours of 4-6 p.m. has now morphed into a (sometimes) 4 hour "Poop Watch."

Dogs are pretty regular in their toileting habits. Bear certainly is. I can count on a deposit being made first thing in the morning, again around noon, and then another at suppertime. He eats at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., and never in-between, which helps with the regularity.

The morning deposit is pretty easy. Outside, go, walk, inside to eat. But it gets trickier as the sun comes up and the birds and squirrels warm up and start moving around. Neighbor Mary starts stirring around in her garden, her cats are out milling around. And those distractions are just a bit much sometimes. He forgets what he's out there for. And so sometimes at lunch I find myself wandering circles in the yard for 20-40 minutes watching his hind end for any sign of the tell-tale arching. Sometimes I just gut it out, stalking around on the end of the leash, thinking about lunch. Other times I bring him in and put him in his kennel for a while as I go about my own stuff. The other day I did this for something like 4 cycles. In the kennel, do something, out of the kennel for a "try," back in the kennel. Over and over.

But the evenings? The entire family is on high alert watching Bear's every move. Announcements of "I'm going upstairs, you're it!" or "Hey! He's at the door! Somebody!" Each time he goes out and comes back in, the poop watcher is asked by the other 3 family members "How did it go? Anything?" Because then we can all breathe a sigh of relief that, once he makes that evening drop, we will have several hours of relative safety.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Colors of Fall

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
Today Tony asked me to come shoot photos of his tree. It's beautiful...this photo really doesn't do it justice, but I like the depth of field I managed to get with this little camera.

I went over to the site for our new library today and walked it with our library director. We've scheduled our groundbreaking for Dec. 2. It's going to be an exciting day for our community.

And now? Supper must be prepared.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I'm a Hopeless Case...

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
when it comes to shoes. Or dressing up. Sarah and I took a couple of her daughters and a friend to see "The Sound of Music" at Fort Mill High School on Monday night. I did warn her that I was not dressing up. But she didn't warn me that she was! I probably would have at least put something other than jeans.
Anyway, here are her [whatever the designer's name is] red shoes. She gets comments when she wears them. They are pretty, that's for sure. Not great for wandering around in the dark off sidewalks looking for the car, but great for everything else!
The production was pretty good, I think. I wasn't crazy about the girl that played Maria. The Reverend Mother and Liesl pretty much stole the show, vocally.
The production began with 20 minutes by Danny Truhitte, who is a native of Concord, NC. He played Rolfe in the 1965 movie. He sang a series of songs, some from the play, but about half about Carolina. It was a bit uncomfortable. Sort of like a bad lounge act with terrible canned music. But he's obviously a wonderful man. You just kept having this thought going through your head: "It's time to just let it go and retire."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Wine Notes: Relax Riesling 2006

Relax Riesling 2006
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
Mom and I have been talking wine lately. I thought maybe I'd start putting some of my finds on the blog.

From my favorite region of Germany, the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, This wine is imported by Schmitt Sohne. Just the right amount of sweetness, which I expect in wine from this region. That's why I always have a bottle from this area on hand.
This was my first attempt at adjusting color in Elements, too. I need to do this again with a photo that does not have so many blown-out areas.

Oil Painting Effect

34of365 oilpainting
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
I'm trying to learn a bit about Photoshop Elements each day if I can. Yesterday I learned how to make a photo look like an oil painting. I'm not so sure this one does, though. It seems like there ought to be more texture. I'm sure it's a matter of adjustments sliders, but now I'm ready to move to something else. Anyway, these two roses, the dry one and the fresh petals, both came from Soya's rose garden. I've been enjoying cutting a couple every few days and having them on my desk.

It's gotten cloudy and dark here at 4 in the afternoon. I wish that meant rain, but it probably doesn't. By mid-December, if we don't get any substantial rain, we will probably have to go to stage 4 water restrictions. I'm not sure how they would pull that off, but it would require households to reduce their water consumption by 30%. We don't waste much, so I have no idea what we'd do. Until then I'm doing my best to keep the new garden moist. Hopefully the temps will be cool enough in December that we won't need water out there anymore.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

DeadEye Food Fanatic

DeadEye Food Fanatic
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
Oh man this was fun!

...of course, I haven't written my food story, but THIS WAS FUN!!!

Last Night's Supper

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic

At Peace with this Camera

I've had several successful shots with this Canon PowerShot in the past week, and I think I'm starting to see how it will be a nice complement to my photography kit. There are some things that it does that the D40 does not:

You can shoot through the viewfinder and the LCD. The D40 LCD is strictly for viewing photos and working through menus. I use the LCD a lot with the PowerShot, and that's all fine but really it doesn't matter when I'm shooting other things so much. It's when I'm shooting myself that I find the PowerShot's LCD so swivels around and can be facing the front of the camera. So when I'm doing self-portraits, like the one yesterday, I can swivel it around to face the front and compose the shot that way.

The other thing I really like is the self-timer functions. There is a custom self-timer part where you can tell it the amount of delay you want before it starts shooting and you can even have it do multiple shots. So for instance, when I did the shot yesterday with Mensa Boy, I set it to delay 10 seconds and then shoot of 3 photos. I'm glad I did because the one I ultimately settled on was the middle shot.

I also like the fact that you can have it display the histogram all the time in the viewfinder of LCD. So instead of shooting a photo and then seeing the resulting histogram, I can watch the histogram as I adjust aperture and shutter to see how the photo is going to turn out BEFORE I push the button. That's kind of cool.

I am finding that I use the Manual setting almost exclusively, unless I am shooting action shots. Then I use the "action shot" scene mode. For some reason I am not able to (so far) to duplicate the setting the camera uses in "action" mode when I using it in Manual.

So I think I'd recommend this camera to just anyone, as long as they download a noise reduction software when they buy it. The camera produces noisy, grainy photos in just about any situation that is not outside in broad daylight. If it weren't for Imagenomic Noiseware, I'd probably still be buying and returning cameras, trying to find one that worked.


Here's a photo I took in Jazzercise yesterday morning. I had to use the sports mode to get her in focus. Instructor Kelly is performing a short cheer she made up to promote our holiday attendance game.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Double Yoga

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
I can't get Mensa Boy to do yoga, but I can get him to interfere with mine. I wasn't actually doing my routine this time. I was playing with the camera to get my 365 shot for today when he snuck up behind me. Cute, isn't he?

It was a pleasant Saturday all around. Jazzercise, a little light landscaping work (for me, anyway. MB caught the brunt of it...moving the old, used pine needles around the house to the trees for the winter), a nice nap while listening to "The Sound of Music." Tonight I think I'll watch the movie "Stripes." It's been a while, and buddy Sarah keeps saying "lighten up Frances" to me.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Adding a Garden, Reducing a Little Noise

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
Befuddling title, isn't it?

Yesterday I planted the garden. The entire thing. If the soil (pronounced "soul" here in the south) hadn't been so well-prepared and easy to work, it would have taken me 4 weeks instead of 4 hours. I'm not kidding. Each and every hole would have taken at least an hour to dig before. With all the red clay, fill dirt, rocks and roots, it usually takes quite a long time to gouge out a hole. And then the plants and bushes just couldn't seem to gain purchase.

But even though it was easy, I do still feel a bit like I was hit by a truck.

I shot several photos of the work yesterday, but not really any keepers...just a few. Here is one I took for my daily self-portrait. The original had a lot of digital noise, and I posted it that way. Noise, for those of you non-photogs, is what makes the photos look grainy and old newsprint. I've struggled with the grainy shots this camera seems to produce all the time. I haven't stressed about it too much for the newspaper shots because, after all, they are going to be printed on newsprint, but it's still worrisome and reduces my enjoyment of photography as a hobby.

A couple of online buddies have mentioned noise reduction software and so finally I took a few minutes to look into that further. On a user group for Canon PowerShot users I found reference to a free noise reduction software from a place called Imagenomic. It has done WONDERS for the photos I've tried. Here is the original photo:
Cool, huh?

And so now I go to the school to shoot an interactive play, armed with the hope that I might have enough photoshop skills and noise reduction techniques to produce useable stuff.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Work for the Freeze is Coming!

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
Can you guess which foot is mine? heh heh

What a day yesterday! I hit several grocery stores looking for items for my food story and then came home to start strategizing for the photos. Neighbor Mary laid out my garden for me, using the print-outs from the plant suppliers (there are photos on them), to get a feel for where everything should go. Today I will stick everything into the ground. I'm looking forward to that. I'm anxious to get them in there and rooting so that the cold weather won't bother them so much. It got to 31 last night and will again tonight.

One of my tiny little points of satisfaction is the fact that Mary said several times that my garden plot is excellent. Steve did a wonderful job preparing the spot, working in soil conditioner and sculpting the hillside down. He also raised up two sprinkler heads a little. She says my garden could end up being better than hers! I doubt that very much, but it did make me feel like spending the money to have Steve do all this will be very much worth it.

Last night I went to the school to do a quick photo shoot and my camera wouldn't turn on! I nearly had a meltdown on that one. Fortunately the teacher had a Kodak EasyShare in her desk, so I put my memory card in there, shot my photos, took the card back and was done for the night. This photo took place when we were fiddling with the controls.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tearing things up

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
This isn't much of a photo, but it was the only one I managed to shoot yesterday, what with the whole car episode. Friend Steve is plowing up the hillside for the new garden. Today he will work in soil conditioning mulch. Then we will decide if he should go ahead and bring the top mulch or wait until we get the little plants in. Tonight we are expecting a freeze, so I imagine we'll go ahead and put on the top mulch, just to help insulate. After tonight's freeze it's supposed to be a little balmier for a few days. So I think I'll bring the plants back inside the house for the night and maybe we'll plant them tomorrow. I'm anxious to get them into the ground and learn what I need to do to try to keep them alive over the winter.
Here is the list of plants I have:

Transplanting what I already have:

Rosemary-it's been living in my herb pot

Hibiscus-my brother & sister gave us this for our anniversary last May

Three Azaleas

Butterfly Bush

Three Rose bushes

New stuff:

Penstemon Red
Mini Hollyhock
Geraniums-this is what some of my friends from church are saying will not survive the winter. Apparently these are "hardy perennials."
Asclepias Gay Butterfly Mix
Giant Chinese Lantern

Now, a lot of these names are pretty meaningless. When I have a little time, I'll link the names to the photos on the gardening sites where I ordered them.

Today, though, it's all Christmas. I need to get some shopping done for my Christmas gift story.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Me in the Patrolman's Eyes

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
I know this rookie thought he'd really stumbled on to a nut job this morning when I asked if I could shoot my reflection in his sunglasses. He was pretty good-natured. In fact, considering how menopausal I am, I thought I was pretty good-natured about the fact that my neighbor backed into my beloved Dodge Caravan this morning, completely crunching the driver's side sliding door.
I was minding my own business, talking to the contractor that is doing some work in my back garden, when suddenly he exclaimed, "Oh. She just hit your car."
I looked up to see my poor neighbor pulling back into her driveway. We NEVER park our cars on the street, but I had made room for the contractor to pull his truck and trailer in.
So. She had gotten into her car with her three little boys and backed out without looking.
When this nice highway patrolman came, his patent leather shoes caught my eye. Trying not to stare down at them so as to appear like I had a shoe fetish, I glanced a few times, hesitated, and then said, "I'd really like to take a photo of my reflection in your shoes."
Taken aback but ever-friendly, he said. "Uh. Okay. But I doubt it would turn out very well. They are pretty dusty."
I explained the 365 project to him and while I was doing that I noticed how clean and unscratched his glasses were. Perfect reflections. So I asked if I could shoot that instead. After he agreed, I went into the house to get the camera.
The S3 really did not want to focus on the reflection. It really wanted to capture the lenses. I shot off about 6 in manual, program, and finally auto mode. Still felt sure I wouldn't get one.
But as we were saying goodbye, I quick whipped my camera up and just clicked the shutter. He chuckled and left.
I loaded the shots into Elements, lightened the shadows, and THERE WE WERE!
And that's all she wrote. Except that I am lamenting the fact that I could have really gotten a good one if I'd had the ability to focus manually. There is manual focus on the camera, but it's clunky and limited. I'm going to try to stop throwing off on this camera though. I need to just move on.

The new garden

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
My neighbor Mary, to the south of me, is helping me with my backyard garden. She's out of town now, but is scheduled to arrive home tomorrow sometime. In the meantime, the plants we ordered online have arrived and I have begun preparing the bed.

She has been nagging me for years to "curve out" the straight lines I have. So I've laid out the edging bricks with a couple of gentle, long curves. Mensa Boy grubbed out some azaleas, roses, and a butterfly bush I wanted to keep. I raked all the pine needles out and piled them up on the edge of the woods. Then I bought eight 50-foot soaker hoses and laid them out. I left them on from 2 p.m. yesterday until this morning in an attempt to soften the ground for tilling.

This morning my friend Steve is bringing his garden tractor and he'll try to gouge everything up and work it all loose. I think we're going to rake the needles back and work those in again. Then we'll add garden soil/mulch and work that in.

I'm just hoping the little plants all survive. It's been in the high 30's overnight. I've been bringing them in each night and putting them out in the morning. They weren't supposed to arrive until now, but I've had some for more than 10 days. We delayed ordering them as long as we dared, hoping for rain. At any rate, I have about $200 worth of plants to put in this week and they are so small and tender that I know I'm going to worry about them. I'll cover them at night as much as I can, for as long as I can. It will be good practice for teaching myself to think about the garden. Then next year, I'm hoping I'll be thinking about it enough to be mindful enough to keep it watered, fed, and cleaned out.

Here's a funny photo I took with my "human remote," Nate:

Friday, November 02, 2007

Don't want to Jinx It

But it looks like the bulk of my computer problems may be resolved this morning. $80 poorer, but many, many gigabytes richer (120GB, to be exact), the system seems to running much better. I was not out of storage space. I still had 10 gig or so left on the other disk, but the operating system had become so corrupted (most likely due to a particularly nasty Windows update a few weeks back), that I was faced with the prospect of reformatting my hard drive.

Now, I do keep pretty comprehensive back-ups. I have an 80 GB hard drive on the guy's computer that I like to put copies of stuff on. But still and all, one worries and worries that something will have been missed and never be recovered after a reformat. So I opted instead to buy a new drive, put that one in, slave the old one on to it, and now I have every single thing still available to me. And it never hurts to have more storage.

Here is a photo of Bear sucking up to my buddy Don, he of the computer geek part of the human species:


And so, with new point & shoot camera in hand, a computer that appears to be pretty stable, I go into the wild world of Indian Land this weekend prepared to shoot many, many photos of events...barbecues, fall festivals, brunswick stews and attic sales. And after all that is said and done, I need to get going on my food story...Christmas gifts from and for the kitchen!