Thursday, November 3, 2011


I have a tendency to get so caught up in the technically perfect side of photography that I forget to create whimsy. I was taught in photography class, so long ago, that photographs should be sensual. No, not sexual. Sensual. I think too often these two words are used interchangeable but they are very different. Here is a definition.

Sensual. 1: relating to or consisting in the gratification of the senses or the indulgence of appetite.

Five sense: Hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste.

I was also taught that a photograph should tell a story. “What stories does your photo tell?”  So when I try to create a photo I ask myself, could I imagine touching the texture on that egg? Can I smell the wet grass? Does my photo tell you a story? I tend to get so caught up in creating these worlds of texture and stories that I forget the whimsy. 

I also find that sometimes when I’m trying to manage all the settings on the DSLR I forget what it’s like to just relax and let the photo happen. Toy cameras help me do that. Yes, you may have to think a tiny bit. Very small bit of  the thinking. Is it full sun or cloudy? Is my subject (focus area) close or far away? That’s it. Those two questions. No focus. No shutter speed. No f-stop. Just shoot and hope something magical happens. I do mean hope. There is also no instant gratification of a viewer screen showing you how you’ve done. You have to wait for actual film to be developed. But there are very few things we have to wait for anymore and waiting is not always a bad thing. 
So without further ado, The Girls

admittedly bad pic and bad post processing on my photo 

Hmmm…wonder what is on these rolls of film.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

make me happy

I don't sit down to write tonight with some profound insight or inspiration.  What I do have are some pics.  I'm proud of these pics for a couple reasons.  I also self-critiqued them and know what I would like to change and how to change it for the next life shots.  Life shots?  Is that what I want to call them?  You know, the shots that are not for a shoot and not for art.  Shots that chronicle your own family and family's life events.  Life shots.  I'll have to let that roll on my tongue and see if it sticks. 

Enough already.  My Boys.

My little Indiana Jones
55 mm 1/200 sec. ISO 100 f/5.6 A-priority w/Flash
Adjusted Levels in post-processing
Although I love this pic because of the subject, I'm not completely fond of the composition.  The little man moves doesn't really slow down much so next time it might be beneficial to back up or zoom out. 

I do love this pic
55 mm 1/125 sec. ISO 110 f/5.6 NoFlash
Again, only Levels adjusted 
I must say, I'm in so much love with this pic.  I don't know that I would change anything.  It is perfect in my opinion. 

This mini-maze made him so happy.
55 mm 1/125 sec. ISO 110 f/5.6 NoFlash
Obvious BW in post processing.  Also some contrast adjustment.

 I was having issues with my auto-focus.  I'm still not sure I got it corrected but I'm working on figuring it out and fixing it.  I also think I want to revisit this pic in it's BW version and highlight him in someway, maybe some vignetting. 

Overall, I'm happy.  Happy that I tried.  Happy that I played.  Happy that I succeeded with some good (at least one) shots. 


Sunday, October 16, 2011

M is for Manual

We met up with some friends of mine last night.  Couple of people who also have an interest in photography.  Along with knitting/fiber and cooking; photography is one of those artistic loves that has followed me through the years.  As we sat there chatting about photo related topics I realized I had lost something.  I had lost my ability to speak photography.  I realized that I theoretically knew what I meant but not how to form those thoughts into words to explain what I meant as it related to photography. 

Anyway, I also realized that a lot of my photos have been very, shall we say "point and shoot" esque.  Not at all what a photographer is trying to accomplish. 

Where does this leave me? I have this list of things I want to start doing when we finish moving.  Couch to 5k, plant a garden, cook "week in a day" meals, and so forth.  I'm also gonna add something else to the list but this my friends will be started ASAP.  Like today.  Get more familiar with my lovely D60 and shoot.  I made this effort in the past and previously I did learn some new things.  It appears it's time to get motivated again. 

My goal, take pics that can be posted/used/published SOOC (straight out of camera) or at least with very little post processing.  Again, I've said this all before and much of this is just a playback but with different words.  But I need to proclaim it again for myself. 

I do have a challenge.  I still have a film mindset.  It's hard for me to get past the limited frames of film.  It's hard for me to just shoot.  Am I alone in this? 

Also, although my friends did a great job tyring to persuade me, I will not be shooting in RAW.  Here is a great explanation why.  I will however take Mrs. Pioneer Woman's advice and use the RAW editor which I'm gonna get the Husby to re-install tomorrow. 

I'm also getting myself a 50mm 1.4 (maybe 1.8) lens.  They are not that expensive and my current lens will only go to 4.2.  This is not nearly as low as I like.  It just doesn't give  me the depth of field control that I need so I'll be purchasing one that does. 

There will be no pics with this post.  I don't like to post without a pic but in this case there is just nothing that works.  But I'll have some pics in the coming week that will hopefully tickle my inner photographers sweet spot.  although that statement read kinda dirty, it's not so get your head of the gutter. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Canvas of possible

Me at about 3:30pm everyday: "What am I gonna fix for dinner?"
My response to me: "oh cwap, I didn't take anything out of the freezer!!"
Me: "um, um, um"
My response "I really don't want to feed my family boxed food or fast food, I want them to eat something healthy"
Me: "I'm such a slacker not to get anything out of the freezer and then forget to ask the hubster to take something out this morning"

I could go on and on but really, you get the point.

Here is what I came up with and realized that it really is a blank slat to create many different (maybe even a little healthy) dishes.  This was totally inspired by an article in Parent Magazine, just so ya know. 

So here is the breakdown.  Not calling it a recipe, more of a guide. 

Broccoli.  Grocery store had broccoli on sale this week.  I picked up 2 bunches and when I got home cut the heads off the stalk and put them into a container in the fridge for ease of prep at meal time.   In this dish I just cut the heads into smaller bits. 

Chicken.  Sunday I had cooked 8 or 9 leg quarters and then once cooled, shredded the meat.  For this dish I used about a handful and then put the rest in vacuum bags, sealed and froze.

Yellow squash.  Thanks to my friend Jessica I remembered a trick to up the health value of a meal by adding shredded/grated squash and/or zucchini.  This idea was gonna work perfectly in this meal.  I used about 1/2 of the squash.

Philadelphia cooking cream.  Not too proud of this ingredient, but in a pinch it was good.  Not good for us but good tasting.  The sauce is actually where I think the most experimentation can fit.  I was telling the Hubster at dinner that I would like to try and make this more of a stir-fry dish by using some Asian type ingredients for the sauce. 

Whole grain pasta.  I will admit that this is the first time I've used whole grain pasta.  I've used the garden pasta stuff that is all different colors but no whole grain.  I felt that maybe the family would need easing into this part so I used 1/2 whole grain and 1/2 traditional pasta.  The fam didn't seem to mind the whole grain, so that will be our pasta of choice next time. 

So here is what I did, and what I will change next time.  I first boiled the pasta.  Then I blanched the broccoli.  Next time I'll do it in the reverse order so that the pasta can absorb any nutrients left behind by the broccoli.  Then in a skillet I added some butter (yes, the kind I made), I then added some garlic infused olive oil.  The butter helps to raise the smoke point of the olive oil.  I then got the skillet hot and threw the drained broccoli in the skillet.  This steamed it some more and gave it a nice garlicky kick.  I then added the squash, chicken and cooking cream.  Then, the pasta (which BTW I made way too much).  I tossed to coat everything with the sauce.  YUM!

I admit that I had to get past the "it's not dripping with sauce" thoughts in my head.  I'm not used to fixing a pasta dish that doesn't have sauce dripping off every bit. 

Now for some variations that I'm considering.  How about grilled chicken over a bed of the pasta/veg mix with an Italian vinaigrette type sauce.  Or an Asian noodle inspired dish using soy sauce and other stuff that I haven't figured out yet. 

So, yeah, this was a revelation for me in my cooking.  Revelation one: I'm so glad I had the fresh veg in the fridge to use in my meals.  Revelation two: I've acquired enough skill and confidence in the kitchen to fake it when in a crunch, which then manifested into a meal that will go into regular rotation as long as there are wonderful veggies for us to use. 


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Like Butta'

I must admit that I'm a huge "I can't believe it's not butter" fan girl.  In the last few weeks or so I've really been wishing it would go on sale so that I could stock-up on.  Well, I recently found out that margarine is one molecule away from being plastic.  Plastic people.  Can you believe it.  I was fully shocked by this news. 

In light of this disappointing information I decided to make ridding my family of margarine one of my steps towards healthy living.  No more margarine in my family.  I must admit that I'm so not happy about this.  But, there is a morsel of yumminess in this decision.  We will be using more oils and butter.  Real Butter.  Like homemade Real Butter.  Say it with me with your best Julia Child impression "mmm, buttaaa". 

Homemade Butter - YUM!

Now don't bow down to my domestic godessness, it's not nearly as hard as it might seem.  Can you pour some cream into a food processor, mixer, or blender?  I'm really quiet positive that the answer to this is going to be yes.  Then you can make butter.  I don't want to bore you with the explanation here so I'll linky link some You Tube vids for your viewing pleasure at the end of this pot. 

Want to use your real butter that you've made.  How about an Egg-in-a-hole breakfast?  I was watching Pioneer Woman (her blog, and her Food Network page) this morning and she made them.  They are sooo easy and very yummy.  Honestly I wasn't expecting to like them so much.  I mean, it's only butter, bread, and egg.  But yes, it was really good.

Made in my grandmother's iron skillet using homemade butter just made it just that much yummier.

So here are some linky links for ya (in addition to the ones in the post):

Foodwishes butter in a Mason Jar - I warned you that I love Chef John's food vids.  And there is a rim shot in this one, fair warning.

Making butter in a food processor

Making butter in a stand mixer - this is how I do it but without all the mess.  I use a whisk and don't turn it up nearly this high.  I may take a little bit longer but not messy at all.  I don't however, but will in the future, clean my butter this well. 


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

This is the life

I don't know how I do this to myself.  I wonder how many other people do this to themselves.  Who needs someone else putting pressure on you when you can do it to yourself to perfection.  Yep, that's right I've stressed myself out again folks over something that is completely, for lack of a better word, dumb. 

Recipes.  What recipe will I make for a healthier meal?  What recipe will I want to get the ingredients for from Whole Foods?  Or what do I want to buy from Whole Foods since I can't always go and I have a limited budget to shop with?  Or what will Paul and James both like and not make for a wasted trip and wasted money, and wasted time making a yuk recipe?  And, what kinda new health recipe can I make that will not upset James' developing belly and digestive system? 

Yep, questions that run through my head over and over and over again until I make really rash decisions that end up being wrong because I was sooo busy trying to find the perfect answer to all the above questions.  People probably wonder sometimes how I can get lost mid sentence and just stare into space only to snap out of it not knowing what I was talking about before.  It's because I sometimes put so much pressure on myself that I'm constantly thinking about all these tiny little details.  This is also why I have a real hard time going to sleep at night.  just sayin'

So, back to the question at hand.  If I had only one healthy recipe to prepare, what should that be?  Now, keep in mind that this will not be the one and only new recipe, but it's one new recipe at a time. 

p.s. if I down a bottle of water right now to up my water drinking quota for the day, is that defeating the purpose?  I am drinking water for pity sake.

p.s.s.  I forgot that I wanted to hook you up with some linky links.

Food Wishes - Chef John is awesome at breaking down recipes and has a You Tube Channel with really awesome vids.  The rim shots are high with this one.  You'll have to watch to understand. 

Aarti Party - I lurv to read her blog.  I stole the idea of the p.s. from her.  I also love her recipes, especially her Chicken Tikka Masala (the one shown in her curry vids, you have to sit through the sauce ad before getting to the actual vid).  Here is her Food Network page

And lastly allrecipes - I've found soo many great recipes on this site.  I really like that it's just a big ol' community database of recipes.  You too could add your own family fav recipes to share with the entire world.  Hmm...maybe one day I'll do that.  I must say I have a really great chili recipe. 

p.s.s.s I don't think my spell check is working or at least it's not showing misspelled words and I can't believe that I made it through an entire post with not one misspelled word.  Let's give this a try.  Bumknukle.  It's just not working.  I'm pretty sure that "bumknukle" is not a word. 


Monday, September 12, 2011

one at a time

I had a lot of time to think lately.  I mean A Lot.  I've done a bunch of laying around resting and recovering.  This time to veg has lead to time to think.  People who know me best will know that this is not always a good thing and seem to think that I think too much.  you know who you are.  Anyway, what has all this thinking lead too?  Health.  Lots of thinking about health.  The health of my body and my families bodies.  Nutritional health.  Physical health.  Going for my, I don't know, what is this my 5th surgery in a lifetime got me thinking.  Look, the others were probably just the way life goes, I don't think cholesteatomas (link has really gross image of the thing) were going to be corrected by healthy eating or more exercise.  But a torn rotator cuff might have been.  It became a much bigger deal to me to go into surgery, even one as "normal" as this one, when I thought about my little guy being left behind.  Melodramatics aside, it was scary for me. 

check out 2 of the 6 stitches above the "eye" of the peacock feather.  I think the Dr. tried to cut in between the feather lines.
So after all the thinking and pondering and sitting on my arss I came to a conclusion.  Da Da Da Da...I need to heal myself and keep the family healthy in the process.   This might prove more difficult than I'm willing to admit to myself right now but I have to make the effort to make a change. 

I have a tendency to go against the grain in a lot of areas, why should health be any different.  See: cloth diapering and making baby food.  ahem

Here is where it gets tricky.  My main hurdles will be $$, time, and change.   As most of my friends know I'm totally into couponing and saving money at the grocery store.  As most of you may also know finding good deals on organic and healthy foods is a bit of a challenge.   Time is also to be considered.  It's called convince food for a reason.  Busy families need fast food.  By "fast" I mean quick.  And by "quick" I'm talking 30 mins at most.  That's about all the time I'm willing to spend in the kitchen.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE to cook, but I also LOVE to spend time with my family.  3rd hurdle is change.  Change is sooo hard.  Why did they have to make change so hard.  insert me whining here. 

So how have to figured I would clear these hurdles?  One at a time.  Seriously, I'm not gonna be able to change everything at once.  It's gonna have to be one at a time.  Changing one thing at a time.  For instance, adopting a new recipe.  Stocking up on organic foods when they are on sale.  Growing my own organic garden.  Learning that I don't have to change everyones' opinions about my changes.  That's a hard one. 

I love to give resources/links so here ya go.  If you're interested in some of the sites that I'm visiting lately, here they are. 

Christina Cooks - She is amazing.  Her story is amazing.  She is hardcore though so it's not for the faint of heart.  These are the recipes I hope to incorporate into my meals, One at a time.  It's gonna take some convincing to get Paul to accept eating tofu and he may never but I can certainly try making it tasty enough to assist in the convincing. 
The Krazy Coupon Lady - they list matchups for Whole Foods.  It does mean that I'll be making more trips to Tampa but that's workable.  We do have a local Chamberlin's Natural food store so I'll hopefully become more familiar with their products and be able to score some deals. 
I want to start practicing Yoga again.  I felt so good when I practiced.  So I think that Yoga Journal will be lots of help, it's like I'm newbie again.  My biggest concern now of course is not re-injuring the shoulder but helping it to heal properly. 

I think that's enough my rambling on tonight, besides I've got to choose a great tofu recipe for Paul.  ;-)


Friday, May 6, 2011

Start of Something Wonderful

I’m not sure why I think I have all the time in the world to start this but why not just add on to the already teetering pile ‘o stuff.  Family, work, hobbies, and now let’s add student.  I’m going to put in my order in for 3 extra hours in the day.  I’m also going to order a huge supply of coffee.  

When I say “student” I’m not talking about enrolling in a program or class.  I’m thinking more of a home study, self-guided type thing.  Here’s the thing…I’m going to make up my own spinning program.  Yes, I realize it will not be a real spinning master program.  But I fully intend to challenge myself with techniques and give myself writing assignments, etc.  I also plan to keep fiber samples and fiber descriptions/records in 3-ring binders much like a real master program.  
I’m tellin’ ya, I really do need those 3 extra hours in a day.  
Where to start?  There will be no orientation with this course to get me started.  No teacher to hand me a list of supplies, or a list of required reading.  Thinking back on my college years I think the first step would definitely start gathering supplies and heading to the book store.  Luckily I already have many of the needed supplies. 
Here are some supplies I think I’ll need:
Hand Cards
Fiber dye
General dyeing supplies
As many fibers as I can get my hands on
3-ring binder
Photo protector sheets
Cross Stitch floss cards
Index cards
Small plastic zip bags
Tags (metal ring and “sale”)
Self-adhesive labels

Note: I do not plan to purchase everything on this list at one time.  As assignments are realized I will purchase necessary items to complete the assignments.  

Secondly there needs to be required reading material and a first assignment.  This is where I fall flat.  If I don’t know where to start I don’t know what to assign.  I have this amazing sampling of fibers just waiting to be spun but I don’t want to dive in until I have a proper application and clearer view of a beginning and end.  I have some assignments that I know I will be preparing such as ply studies and dye (natural) studies.  But where to begin…

10 Breeds Sample

I just had a thought, the fibers I currently own have been processed into top or roving, maybe I should start with spinning and dyeing them using acid dyes.  As the course advances I’ll purchase unprocessed fleece/fiber and process it from fleece to finished yarn, including natural dyeing.  Hmmm…sounds like a plan.
If anybody would like to join in with me on my spinning journey, drop me a comment and maybe we could start a Ravelry group (I’ve even thought of a name: Spin Drills).  If not, you can check back here for updates on my progress.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Has anybody else notice a correlation between knitting and geekery, knitting and music, or knitting and food?  These three themes seem to run through so many of the knitting blogs and knitting photo sharing I follow.  For instance, I'm about to start a shawl pattern called Evenstar Shawl designed for a Lord of the Rings collection of shawls.  Maybe it’s because these are the things I’m interested in or is it bigger than that?  Just a curiosity.

Some yarn for eye fondling.  The top two yarns are possibly going to be used in a secret project.  Femmebot BTW is my new fav colorway from BMFA.  Bottom pic are some yarns that I'm possibly going to use in designing my own shawl pattern, maybe. 

BMFA - Turquoise and Femmebot

BMFA STR in  (Left to Right) Koi Koi, Flower Power, Femmebot,
and Chapman Springs (x2)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Wish I had more to say

Sometimes I feel like I have so much going on but nothing to say about it.  Sometimes it's I've got so much going on and don't know how to put it into words.  I wonder sometime if maybe I should even have a blog.  I question why I have a blog. 

I don't have an answer. 

I have so little time anymore but yet I fell I owe people (don't know who) a post about something thought provoking, interesting, or funny.  Problem is most times I don't have anything thought provoking, interesting, or funny.  Just living a regular life with regular stories filled with regular people.

Honestly I don't think that is that bad.  I don't mind regular.  I actually like regular a lot. 


Thursday, February 24, 2011

do it

"I really need to get off my ass and put some of my knitwear designs down on paper and then put the needles to yarn and get them knit."

Note to self on February 23, 2011 lets see if it works.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What do you do?

I ripped.  I frogged.  I actually did it.  I decided that the previous weeks worth of knitting that was hugenormous; was my own fault and I needed to put my big girl pants on and frog it.  Like ripping off a Band-Aid I just had to close my eyes and pull out the needles.  At least with a Band-Aid you can soak it with alcohol and it will not sting so much when removed.  Pulling the needles out stung.  
Let’s discus the Flared v-neck cardigan.  Shall we…

When I cast on the cardi I was unconcerned if it was bigger than the store model.  Actually I was quit okay with the possibility.  Comfy sweater to curl up with, who doesn’t like that?  What I didn’t want was a huge multi-person cuddle sweater.  Saturday I compared my sweater with the store model sweater, faced with the evidence I came to my senses and realized the enormity of my knitting (litterally), I made the decision to plow through and keep on knitting.  She was already 2 inches too long.  I didn’t care, she was going to surround me in comfort and warmth (and style too).  I heard the voice telling me “it’s just not right”, “It is really long and in pieces so what’s going to happen during seeming?”  I again made the decision to squash those negative Nelly thoughts and knit on.  

Today on the other hand I guess I was thinking a little clearer, or less optimistic. While listening to a podcast, the podcaster talked about finally making the decision to frog because the arms of her sweater were going to be the wrong size.  I’ve also succumbed to my inner smarty.  Partly because it dawned on me that I’m knitting with a yarn that contains a substantial amount of cotton.  Yes there is some wool but not enough to counteract the wet cotton growth phenomenon.  It grows and grows and grows.  So, a cardi that is huge now will be hugenormous once wet and blocked.  

Here is where we find out if a lesson is truly learned.  Will I swatch or will I simply drop down a needle size and cast-on again?  

Thursday, February 17, 2011

it's back

with jazz hands.  Not really, but it did come back carrying a novelty(ish) yarn.  

For the past year I have done little to no knitting.  I know.  I know.  I used to dye yarn/fiber and knit (or spin) all the time.  Then I just stopped.  I carried some projects along, but didn’t knit.  I would meet with a few friends and carry my knitting projects with me but didn’t knit, just hung out.  I can’t specifically put my finger on it but I know it’s related to post-partum and quitting smoking.  It just didn’t work for me and I just didn’t have interest in it at all, even the spinning was put away.  I just excessively focused on Nuggy and nothing else.  

Slowly my mind has rallied and I’m feeling more and more normal.  Not the same obviously but normal again.  My friend wisely said that it just took me a while to find my new normal.  I think she is right; it took me a while to find my new normal and then learn to live with that normal.  

That same friend also has been gently poking me to come out to knit night at a LYS, Four Purls.  She would mention it or text me.  I just could never commit to it.  Then one day I felt I was ready.  Ready to go to knit night.  I packed up my
everlasting bagstopper WIP that I had started using natural colored cotton (not the noveltyish yarn; I’m getting to that) and headed off to knit night.  I walked around, fondled yarn, and oogled the wonderful selection.  I also knit of course.  And laughed to the point of tears.  I also found that to my surprise I was attracted to the bling yarns and in particular some really soft recycled sari silk yarn.  It was bright jewel tones, soft, and slightly fuzzy.  My idea of a Novelty yarn.  Probably not really novelty yarn, but it is to me.  I didn’t buy it that night but it haunted me.  2 days later I had a Doctor’s appointment a couple of blocks from Four Purls.   It just happened that this Dr. appointment took no time and I had an entire afternoon to spare.  Somehow I happened to go to the LYS and somehow I bought 2 skeins or the silky goodness.  **ahem**

A recycled silk yarn handspun from silk weaving mill waste.  I decided to do a rather thick bulky version of the Wisp.  

That yarn and that scarf could be considered my gateway drug.  I have since bought the yarn for a sweater and 2 hats.  It’s only been 7 days since the first purchase.  7 Days.  I should probably be a little ashamed, but I’m kinda not.  I’ve got 3 more projects that I badly want to knit.  Yep, the knitting mojo is back.  Seriously, I’ve had to place a self-imposed limit on myself.  1 project for the car (traffic lights and trains = many stitches knit), 1 sock to go anywhere, 1 large project, and 1 just for fun.  

Here’s the breakdown: 1 project for the car = the bagstopper.  Its big needles and mindless pattern make for great red light knitting.  1 sock to go anywhere = I’ve been knitting on one pair of socks for over a year.  Shameful.  First sock is done, I’ll be finishing the second soon.  1 large project = Sweater (see below).  1 just for fun = um, I had to fit in the wisp somewhere since I had already started it with the silk wonderfulness.  4 projects at one time.  I can’t cast-on until I finish something.  Of course as most of you know I have several projects that have been chillin’ on the needles among all my WIPs for a long time.  One of which is the Noro blanket.  I’m not taking off the needles, but I’m just counting it either.  I’ll get to it, but cut me some slack; it’s a blanket after all.  

Oh, the sweater.  It’s the Flared Bottom V-neck Cardigan from Cascade Yarns.  The original version was knit using Cascade Venezia which is a great wool/silk blend yarn.  I used it to make a sweater that I will not discuss at this time.  All I’m saying is “felted”.  You can probably guess the rest.  Anyway, I decided to knit this sweater using Cascade Sierra a cotton/wool blend.  Not as much sheen as the Venezia, but soft and will have great drape.  Within 4 days I had 5”, not much as compared to what I used to knit but pretty good considering I can only really knit once Nuggy has gone to sleep.  

To wrap up this post…The knitting/spinning Mojo is back.  Oh, I didn’t even talk about the spinning…next time.  


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The State of the Grape

Do you ever notice how one idea will lead to another?  This one is comes from the previous post.  “The State of the Grape” will be a monthly post with an update on the family muscadine grape vine.  Maybe boring, but fun for me and since I might be the only one reading this…it’s all about what I want to write/read.

yes there is a vine in there
Well as you can tell from this picture there seems to be 2 stray trees trying to grow up through the middle of the vine.  Paul is going to be taking care of that in the next week or so.  I love trees but these have to go. 

As far as the vine is concerned, it looks to be doing very well.  It's running all down the fence up all over the structure that the neighbors put up for it. 

I guess all I can say about it now is that it is dormant for winter and will be coming back to life in the spring.

If I had only shown this image, you might never have known the true state of the vine but then I would be acting like a politician.  I felt that the whole truth was best. 

Hopefully next month the trees will be gone and we can see the entire vine.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

ideas and innovations

It’s all about ideas and innovations.  But without time and money it seems that these two things are a bit harder to achieve.  Maybe not the ideas.  Those are the free part.  The hard part is the innovation which takes experimentation which is where the funds are needed.  Time is another challenge.  With a full time job to support the funds needed for the experimentation/innovations time for the experimentation/innovations is limited.  Thus I wait.  I do the small things that build up to the big things.  I outline.  I keep notes.  I plan (in my head, thus the need for the note taking.)  I research.  I wait.  
Speaking of waiting, I can’t wait for my parent’s muscadine grape vine to produce grapes this year.  I used to eat the grapes from this vine as a kid.  It is over 30 years old.  It wasn’t tended to properly as a grape vine, just allowed to do it’s natural meandering up and down a chain link fence.  I never really thought much about the vine as a kid, it was just always there.  I never even conceived of making wine from it.  It wasn’t until around 2000 when I took a trip to the Lakeridge Winery did I even think about this grape as anything other than just a vine in my backyard that I ate grapes from.  So now that I’m making mead, I’m excited to pair the grapes with the mead in what is called pyment.  Here’s my dilemma.  I tend to fuss with things and I’m having a really hard time not fussing with the vine.  I know nothing about viniculture.  If I start messing with it I’m afraid I’ll kill it or ruin it.  I keep telling myself to just leave it alone.  It has been there for over 30 years without my intervention, it doesn’t need me now.  Let me tell you, I’m so very excited.  Can’t ya tell?  I feel like I found a hidden treasure in an attic only this one is in a backyard.  Back to the ideas.  One idea (depending on the yield) is to do two versions of muscadine pyment.  1 using some grapes at the peak of ripeness (not a proper phrase I’m sure), and 1 using grapes that are a little past peak.  I’m wondering if like some dessert wine which use grapes that are overripe because of the concentration of sugars, I wonder if using these in mead will have the same effect.  With ideas come concerns.  I’m debating with myself over the juicing options.  Three options that I can think of.  Two of which are very similar.  First, putting the grapes threw the juicer.  Second, mashing up the grapes.  Third, mashing the grapes and then boiling.  I’m a little concerned with the boiling thing, I don’t boil anything in my mead so I just don’t want to go that route.  Idea juice or Idea mash?  Keeping in mind that I will have limited supply of grapes so I have to decide one way or the other.  
I could go on and on but I'm tired and will not bore you any longer.


Friday, January 14, 2011

My Perfection

9 months ago yesterday I give birth to the most amazing little gift.  A gift weighing 6 lbs 10 oz.  A gift with no hair and a small birth mark on his right hip.  A gift with navy blue eyes (yes, they are now brown).  A gift that has given me and my husband the craziest, funniest, lovingest, most tiredest nine months of our entire life.  

My son James David has been the single most important thing I have ever done.  He is my perfection.  I tell him every night that he is my perfection.  The most perfect thing that I ever created.  You know that I’m a creative person and I can find fault in anything that I make, but not this creation.  Maybe because it a creation made between two people who love each other very much that manifest itself with perfection.  

Enough sappy, here’s an update.  Here is what he is doing at 9 months.

He can tell a story from the heart.  His stories of adventure are complete with sound effects and water works.  

He sleeps hard and parties harder.  Much like his mom he does not want his days of fun to end and squeezes every minute out the day before drifting off to sleep.  

He has the best smile and uses it to hook the ladies.  Enough said, you know the one.

He loves to be around lots of people.  Much like his daddy he is a social butterfly and enjoys chatting it up with all his friends.  

He keeps us on our toes.  He is a crawling, scooting, and rolling master.  Nothing it out of bounds now, well except the stuff that is higher than 3 feet. 

He eats.  And eats.  And eats.  And eats.  He enjoys his food, all of it.  

He is so silly.  Just watch him with a blanket.  He puts it over his head and flails his arms and legs.  When you peek under the blanket he gives you a huge smile and pulls the blanket back over his head.  Just silliness.  

He has the best laugh I have ever heard.  The big belly laugh that gets me and everyone around him laughing.  

He can give the best morning smile.  Never mind that the morning smile is at 5:45am, it is still perfect and lights up my day.  

I could go on and on about my Nugget, but I won’t.  Just know that he is my perfect 9 month old and I’ve love every minute of the past 9 months.  The good and the bad.  


Sunday, January 9, 2011

image is sweeter than me

I've been trying to write this post for 2 days now.  I don't know why it is so hard for me to write.  I'm almost considering just not posting but I think that I really need to tackle this challenge.  I'm trying to address the misconceptions about mead.  I want to address the renaissance fair, hippy, sweet wine image of mead. 
Here's the thing.  Contrary to what most wine and beer lovers would like to believe most evidence shows that mead was the first fermented beverage.  Sorry, but it's true. 

And another thing, mead does not have to be sweet.  Just like wine it can be syrupy sweet or dirt dry.  Did ya know that?

Also, it's not just for ren fairs and hippys.  Although fun to have at ren fairs, it can be just as sophisticated and refined as wine.

So, here's is the thing.  Because as I've said before I have a tendency to have these grand ideas.  You know the one where I own a meadery and make award winning meads.  You know that one. **ahem**   Well, I've been thinking that to get to that point I'm going to need to change opinions and misconceptions about mead.  Not only make a tasty product and a variety of products but change the preconceived ideas about mead.  Would I be up to this challenge?  I think so.  I like to educate people.  Of course this means I need to make sure to thoroughly educate myself.   Speaking of, here is an interesting little article Mead, drink of vikings, comes out of dark ages just written in December. 

Let's see, where to go from here.  Yes, I will be trying to educate myself and others about mead, but also I would like to change up some standard mead techniques.  There are several things that are done as a standard way of brewing, but I would like to switch it up.  I've got ideas.  I've got no one to tell me "no" so we will see what happens. 

I can only find one thing wrong with everything takes at least 9 months for mead to be ready to drink.  Even then, waiting a year would be even better.  Geesssh, I hate to wait. 

Oh, I think what I'm going to try to do this week is draw and color my own label.  We'll see what happens with that.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

vino wino

FYI - This is not a resolution.  Just so we are clear.  However this post is a declaration of a goal. 

It is my goal to visit 5 wineries in the coming year.  That is my goal, but I don't know how practical that will but so fine print reads: "or at lease purchase and taste wine from 5 wineries that I would have liked to visit in the SE region of the United States but due to financial restrictions could only afford to buy a couple bottles of wine."
It is also my goal to attend 3 wine tastings, not counting the tastings at the wineries. 

I've picked out the wineries I'm interesting in visiting.  3 in Florida and 2 in Georgia (we plan on vacationing in Georgia in April).  The wineries are:

I've listed these in likely hood of visitation.  Let's just say that I will most probably be ordering wine from the last two. 

As far as tastings are concerned, these will be done locally and maybe with groups of friends.  Hopefully with groups of friends, I think that would be really fun.  Ooh, I would also like to throw a couple of wine tasting parties. 

So yes, the vino is a new obsession, and not for intoxication purposes.  For instance, I just tried a wine that had the obvious "hey I contain alcohol" and I'm about to pour it down the drain.  I've even allowed it to breath and open up.  Still not good.  This is a good place for a wine review using my very unorthodox terms and young palette. 

First wine review by Julie exciting (for me and nobody else I'm sure).

Brand: the Little Penguin - Shiraz
Price: $5 (2 for $10)
Year: 2009
I know, I'm such a sucker for a cute label and name and I'm such a nubie that I'll buy a $5 wine and then expect good things.  First impression: burn.  I felt like I was sniffing everclear liquor.  The taste was not bad, there was a fruitiness that wasn't bad, but then the alcohol burn on the back end.  This is what I mean by the "i contain alcohol" statement.  This just hit me with alcohol burn.  I opened and let it breath for over an hour.  Still burn, a little less and I tasted other nice fruit flavors.  But then burn.  Maybe this wine just needs some time on the shelf to mellow out, maybe in another year I'll try the 2009 again.  I still have another bottle of a white (can't remember which).  Here's hopping it doesn't scream alcohol too. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Welcome to 2011

Sitting here and thinking about what to write about for my first post in 2011.  Do I reflect on 2010?  Do I write about my wishes for 2011?  Do I list out a bunch of resolutions for 2011?  So much pressure to write a thought provoking insightful post on the first day of the year.  This might be more pressure than I can handle as I've only had 4 hours of sleep.  

So I'm going to share what I've been thinking about all day.  The future.  My plans and hopes for the future. 

I'll start with family and friends.  I think my biggest hope for the coming year is to make more time for family and friends.  Although it's hard when I think of how busy we are with Nugget.  But, with every challenge there is a solution.  I also hope to work on myself as it relates to family and friends.  Try not to be as quick to judge and put up shields.  I had a reason and I had circumstances that brought me to this point.  Mainly it was a form of preventing hurt and protecting myself.  This has resulted in people not know who I am.  They know who I want them to know.  The parts of me I want to people to know.  It's not about lying, it's about keeping my shields up.  Aside from that I hope to be able to build loving, supportive, and compassionate relationships that I've avoided up to now. 

I've also thought a lot today about things I like to do.  Photography.  Mead making.  Cooking.  Reading.  Knitting.  How do I work these things into my life while not taking away from anything else.  For instance, how do I make it out to the Photography club meeting without taking about from Nugget's bedtime (which I've missed twice since he has been born).  This is when I have to ask myself, "is it really going to hurt Nuggy to miss 1, 2, even 3 bedtimes in a month"?  Really?  As much as it pains me to's not going to hurt him.  It may hurt me, but not him.  And to knit, brew up some mead or cook doesn't take time away from Nuggy especially when he is playing within eyesight.  Now that he plays a lot more one his own.

I've also been thinking a lot about money today.  Who wants to think about these things on the first day of the year?  Nobody, but I did.  Without going too much into is personal subject, my hope is to have a sizable savings by this time next year.  

Okay enough with this retrospective introspective gobblely gook and on to the fun of 2010.  Making plans for 2 vacations this year.  1 for sure, 2nd is a possibility.  Really looking forward to these.  Also looking forward to finishing my family cookbook.  Also excited about Nuggy's first birthday and all that this year has to bring as it relates to him.   

And one final note.  I look forward to sharing the year to come here.  I hope we can start conversations.  I hope we can get to know each other through this meeting place. 

my future's so bright...

Happy 2011