June 28, 2013

The Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party: Final Post

So this really is the end! I had to fight Firefox and Flickr today to get this post up. Firefox hasn't been working for the past few days. This week has been difficult for photos because there have been random storms every day this week.


This is a photo of the "super moon" that we had that I snapped quickly just to show how bright it was around midnight.


I couldn't sleep because the moonlight was shining in my window so brightly at 1 am. So I stayed up and took photos of it.


A friend and I had a little road trip down to the other end of Delaware for a Sea glass Festival. We had fun looking at all of the pretty things made out of sea glass and spent some time sitting on the pier watching the fiddle crabs.


Cooked for the summer camp kids.


Had a full house today. Some of the family had a water gun fight outside. Andy and I made a new recipe for Spanish rice that had a lot of onion, and peppers. The recipe turned out well, although it wasn't the most photogenic food.   


Huge rainstorms. Had a lazy day. went to Ikea and bought some new plates and spent the rest of the day being lazy.


Got stung by something at work. Probably a bee as it left a stinger. I don't get stung a lot but the internet says this is a normal reaction, so I hope my leg doesn't fall off or something.


How do you know when you need to dust? When the dust starts being a decoration on your furniture. I've been doing a serious cleaning lately and finally moved that stack of books on my dresser to expose a pretty dust pattern made from a lace mat.

I really would like to thank all of you that participated and kept the blogging conversation going. It was an honor to be let into the personal lives of others. Who's hosting the next party?

Please check out the *real*, awesome final posts:

Andrew from Air Nice-to-Livelands.  
Caroline from Dressed in Time.
Hana from Marmota's Dress Diaries
Jess from Musings of a Creative Writer .
Jodi from Curious Acorn.
Laurie from Teacups in the Garden and Teacups Among the Fabric.

June 21, 2013

The Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party Post #4

Yay! That was a lot harder than I thought, but it really was fun to get to see a little more about the people behind the blogs!This is the final week, thanks to those who have come this far!


Finally moved my seedlings out into the garden. This little pumpkin was from a friend's mother who said she had them taking over her backyard.


Went for a walk in the park with a friend. It was a really nice day for it.


Spent some time reading a birthday present. Not that I'm getting any ideas...


Today we had a huge thunderstorm right above us and we all had to huddle in the house at work. There was so much water we had a few flash streams created.


My dinner, a white "pita pizza," with tomatoes and spinach. Yum.



Went to dance class with a friend.


Andy really wanted to "go out on the water." So we did, it a kind of weird way.

Thanks so much to party attendees and readers. I learned a lot about some fellow bloggers and was even introduced to some new ones I would never have found on my own. :)

Please check out the awesome final posts:

Andrew from Air Nice-to-Livelands.  
Caroline from Dressed in Time.
Hana from Marmota's Dress Diaries
Jess from Musings of a Creative Writer .
Jodi from Curious Acorn.
Laurie from Teacups in the Garden and Teacups Among the Fabric.

June 17, 2013

My Murtaugh List

Today's post was inspired by my recent birthday and the show, How I Met Your Mother. In the show, Ted makes a "Murtaugh list" when he turns 30. On this list, Ted detailed what her thought people were too old for by the age of 30. He claims that the name of his list was inspired by the character, Roger Murtaugh in The Lethal Weapon movies whose catch phrase is "I'm too old for this 'stuff.'"

Some things on Ted's List:
  • Pulling an all-nighter
  • Getting an ear pierced
  • Hanging posters without frames
  • Eating an entire pizza in one sitting
  • Do laundry at mom’s house
  • Put off going to the doctor
  • Crash on a friend’s futon
  • Leaving an annoying two person message on your answering machine
  • Helping someone move out of a sixth floor walkup in exchange for pizza and beer
  • Going to a rave
In the spirit, I made a list of all of the things I feel too old to do anymore. 

I am too old to:

-Eat complete garbage. I used to be fine with eating processed and frozen foods and while my body used to be able to function on negative nutrition, it's just not the case anymore.

-Not get sleep. I used to practically be an insomniac. I just don't have the time to not get sleep. I know it seems counterproductive to sleep instead of work but each hour I work after getting some sleep will be at least two times more productive.

-"Rough it" super-intense campaigner style just to prove how tough I am. I'm too old to not enjoy my weekends and too old to damage my body from sleeping next to the fire instead of under a couple of wool blankets.    

-Put things off. I used to be able to put things off and do everything last minute. Now I have to be over prepared in advance and do things right away before they snowball into giant problems. I'm still a procrastinator, but the important stuff, school, work get dealt with before they become bigger problems.

-Go to raves, clubs and a good majority of concerts. When I was in high school, I spent a lot of time at places like this. While I like a good concert as much as the next person, I'm too old to do this kind of thing every Friday night, every month or even every three months. I am also unashamed to say that I am officially old enough to admit that the music at concerts is just too loud for me now. :P  I'm so old, I actually want to be able to hear my friends talk when we go out.

-Censor the uncouth pleasures I am guilty of partaking in. That means you, Dance Moms and Taylor Swift. I just listened to "22", 6 times while writing this post.

-To do or finish everything. There are only so many hours in the day and I have already spread myself so thin that I stopped really doing or experiencing anything. I no longer have to finish every hobby project I start or finish every book I start reading. Heresy, I know. There are so many experiences out there, I now have to be choosy. At a certain point, you only have time for the most meaningful or enjoyable. We can't make it to every outing, party, concert, or activity. Sometimes it's okay to say "no."    

It's a long list, but I'm really not upset. Many things I once enjoyed or did as a teenager bring me no joy anymore. I am typically beyond happy to add something to this list because it opens up space on another list. My "Things to Do Before I Die list" has been growing.  But I'm really excited to say I have been checking off things on that list like crazy in the last year and hope to keep plowing forward.

Principles of Correct Dress, 1914
 I'd love to hear some of your Murtaugh list items! When was the last time you caught yourself thinking "I'm too old for this."  :)

June 14, 2013

The Secret Life of Bloggers Blogparty Post #3

Wow! What a week! We had frequent bad storms that kept knocking the power out. I hope everyone was safe and had fun this week.


This goes into the category of blog things that people probably don't know about me. I like to make lists and I make lists almost every day. After I am done with my school papers and research, which is typically printed out one sided due to the copy machines and printers here, I cut up the pages into 4 and clip them together with a binder clip to make little notepads. Most of my blog posts come from ideas I write  down on these list slips.


Went for a walk in the park. 


Went to the Eastern State Penitentiary today and extensively posted on that. Took some photos of mom's home cooking. Shrimp marinara.


Crazy thunderstorms left lots of flooding here.


Today was a half day at work. After those storms yesterday, the ground was squishy. I helped my friend walk some dogs and we had some long girl talk. I took a photo of my snack after work.


Still lots of puddles. Today at work, our goat ate one of our beeskeps, a whole pile of candle wicks, then came over and licked my apron. The children were amused. 


Visited my best buddy who just got a new job. He took this photo of me because apparently he thinks my no photographs of me policy doesn't apply to him anymore. It does.

Please take a look:

Andrew from Air Nice-to-Livelands.  

Caroline from Dressed in Time.

Hana from Marmota's Dress Diaries

Jess from Musings of a Creative Writer .

Jodi from Curious Acorn.

Laurie from Teacups in the Garden and Teacups Among the Fabric.

This week was by far the hardest week yet. Hopefully next week will look better in photos. Thanks to everyone who is still going strong and thanks to the newcomers this week.   

June 11, 2013

Historical Food of Eastern State Penitentiary: Warning! Photo Heavy!

This weekend, Eastern State Penitentiary hosted a historical prison food weekend. For those of you not from this area, Eastern State was established by an advocacy group, the Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons, in 1829. The design was radical for the time period. 

Eastern State Penitentiary created the Pennsylvania System of rehabilitating prisoners. At the time, many believed that solitude and reflection in ones own self were the best way to free a prisoner of a future light of crime.

In the earliest times of the prison, prisoners were kept in isolated cells attached to an individual cement exercise garden. There were no doors leading to the cells on the inside of the prison, but each cell had a feeding hole, a small cement box surrounded by a heavy door.

Prisoners were not supposed to see or hear another person until their sentence was completed. Guards and workers wore socks over their shoes so that prisoners would not hear them walking.

Upon being brought in and let out of the cells, prisoners were made to wear sacks over their heads to prevent prisoners from seeing people or their location within the prison. All of this solitude was supposed to inspire repentance. The cells were revolutionary for the time period. Each cell had running water, flush toilets and central heating. They also had a skinny, open skylight.

It was a tourist attraction, even in the 1800s. When Charles Dickens visited in he wrote:

In its intention I am well convinced that it is kind, humane, and meant for reformation; but I am persuaded that those who designed this system of Prison Discipline, and those benevolent gentleman who carry it into execution, do not know what it is that they are doing...I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body.
I had only been to the prison once before but it was at night, so I did not get to really look around. It was interesting during the day. Andy and I took an audio tour and then did a little bit of exploring on our own. They had some special booths set up where visitors could try prison food through the ages, starting with a basic cornmeal mush and ending with modern "Nutraloaf." 

P.S: Duval and Co., 1855.

The food prisoners were fed in the early years of the prison was actually considered quite good food for the location and era. They had salt beef and cornmeal mush for us to try. The next thing they served was from the 1940s; it was hamburger steak and beets. The dishes were finished up with Nutraloaf, a tasteless but nutritious, loaf of food, used in modern times as a punishment. 

Al Capone's Cell

Overall, a fun trip. Yes, we paid money to eat prison food. The people of the 1800s, would probably be speechless. :) The only other time Andy and I had visited the prison was a couple of years ago when a concert was held in 7 block 7, pictured above.

June 7, 2013

Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party Post # 2

Welcome to the second week of the blog party. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's posts! We've had a few new attendees this week, please visit their blogs from the links at the bottom of the post. This week has been so busy, I really had to force myself to take photos. I still haven't learned to always keep some sort of camera with me and was caught off guard once this week. Hope everyone else had better luck.


I wish I didn't have to post such morbid photos but today I visited my friend for the night. Last month her neighbor's house caught on fire and last week one of Andy's coworker's house caught on fire as well. Both families pretty much lost everything but were safe. With all of the stress our electronics are increasingly putting on out outdated electrical systems in our houses, fires are a huge problem. If you don't have a disaster readiness plan, now is the time to put one together with your family.       


A shot of my reading list this month. It's probably slightly ambitious and will most likely take two months. I'm a slow reader so as long as I get to at least two books a month, I am happy. 


Nice day with a tiny bit of rain. Andy and I went to a reenactment meeting with our company to work out all of the logistics for the Gettysburgs this year. I was asked to make some alterations to a pair of pants, which were promptly claimed by this adorable kitty.  


This really has been a rainy summer. Yesterday was very hot but today it's rainy again and the school has cancelled, which means I don't have to go to work and can finally get some cleaning done. I make lots of "To do" lists and wouldn't have a brain without them. 


Today was beautiful. It was warm with a nice breeze. It felt like spring. The new baby lamb was out and about prancing with it's little tail wagging behind it. I worked a little bit on the cookbook that I haven't touched in over a year due to school. I can't believe how far I was. 


It seems that this year is a good year for turtles. We found this one at work but had to find a way to remove it as it is a Snapping Turtle and we were about to have school children show up. After seeing this huge turtle, we started wondering how turtle shells grow exactly. It turns out that each shell has plates called "scutes" and as the turtle grows, each scute grows bigger.

Weather was warm but slightly chilly. Some people from work went rafting today down a nearby river. On the trip we saw a baby snapping turtle, doggie paddling around in the water. I also saw a snail on a tree. I don't think I've ever seen a snail in the wild before. I've seen plenty of slugs but never a snail with a shell and of course, I had no camera with me to take a photo of it. :) The photo is from my cookbook research which has been going on and off for the last few years. I have a lot more to add to it now.

Check out this weeks participants:
Andy from Crotchety Drones. 

Andrew from Air Nice-to-Livelands.  

Caroline from Dressed in Time.

Hana from Marmota's Dress Diaries

Jess from Musings of a Creative Writer .

Laurie from Teacups in the Garden and Teacups Among the Fabric.

June 4, 2013

10 Tips to Take Better Food Photos with the Camera You Have

It's no secret that I like to take photos of food. I think part of having an interest about how other people live also have an interest in how other people eat. There is a whole art to food styling and propping, which I won't get into as I am really writing this for people who just want to take better photos of what they cook. I am actually against too much food styling as many techniques you see in magazines and on TV actually make the food inedible.  

I made sure to not use my good camera because I wanted to give tips on how to get the most out of the camera you have. Some of these photos were shot with my phone and some were shot with my micro 4/3 camera. 

1. Start with good looking food. This sounds easy enough but take an extra minute to make sure you use the best looking parts of your meal to photograph.  Some foods get squishy looking or discolored through cooking so look around for the most appetizing pieces. Some people plan ahead and under-cook things that wilt like veggies so that they keep their fresh appearance.

2. Stage your set. If you have a couple seconds free during cooking, plan your shot. Will your food look better on a particular color plate? Do you want to use some props such as forks, drinks, napkins or placemats? Don't overdo it on the props, usually simpler is better. Make sure all of this is set out and placed how you want it before the food is done cooking. It's easier to use a smaller plate with smaller portions than you normally would.

3. Shoot right away. Most food will look less appetizing as each minute passes so try to take your shot as quickly as possible.  

4. Use low angles. Food typically looks best when shot at lower camera angles. This isn't always the case, as some food looks good shot from straight above, but most food looks best using a 3/4 angle or lower to the plate.

3/4 view
Full on can still be appetizing, but is generally not as inviting.

5. Use natural light. The light in our houses tend to give a cast to food that can make it look unappetizing. Try to photograph food using natural light from a window. Place the light source behind the food or to the side.

6. Use reflectors to bounce light back on the food. You can use something as simple as folded sheets of paper or some crumbled up aluminum foil. Place them around the food to brighten up shadows that the food casts on the plate and other parts of the food. Just make sure you don't get them in your photos, unless they don't distract from the food. 

7. Use macro. If your camera has a food setting, use the food setting, but if it doesn't, use the macro setting. The macro setting is typically denoted with a little flower. These settings will show more detail than the regular settings.

8. Shoot close. Some foods don't look look good, no matter what. In these cases shoot in very close. It doesn't solve the problem but it will make your food look better. 

Not even my good camera could make this look appetizing from far away.
9. Take multiple shots. Sometimes we think something looks good on one side, until we move the camera and find out that it really looked better from a different angle. Make it a habit to take a couple of shorts from different angles. You might like them better when you see them on a full screen. 

10. Edit. There are plenty of free editing programs out there, like Pixlr, that can help make your food look its best. I only did editing on the Masala shot, but editing can make a big difference. A lot of time photos just need a little bump in contrast.

So there's 10 tips. Most consumer cameras take photos with good contrast and a good amount of saturation so that food generally looks good, right when you take the shot.  

The quality of the photos taken with my phone are obviously not the best, but a reasonably good photo can still be had with the worst of cameras. I assume most people have even a slightly better camera than the one that comes with your phone. Sometimes the phone is all you have, so remember to make the most of it.

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