Archive for July, 2011

A Very Special Thank You

I’m so excited to share with you what I’m about to post.  It’s a big first for me–my foray into filming!  We shot this little video in Pennsylvania last weekend when Tim and I visited my brother Ben and his wife, Maria. 

We would like to dedicate our movie-making venture to Uncle Gary and Aunt Cathy.  Thanks, thanks, thanks, thanks!  from your two favorite nieces and your two most tolerable nephews.  As you can see, your efforts on our behalf were much appreciated. 

A preparatory note: please adjust the volume of your computer and your media player to LOUD before playing.  The conversation is a little hard to catch in places.


p.s.: in case you missed it, that beautiful beach was courtesy of Presque Isle State Park, Erie, PA.  What a great way to beat the scorching, humid heat!

p.p.s: if you want the direct link to the video on youtube, here it is:


With Help From Dad G.

A Very Special Wedding calls for a Very Special Wedding gift, don’t you think?

Good thing we have a Dad who makes Very Special Wedding gifts possible.

After a morning of blackberry picking two Saturdays ago, we headed out to his shop.

Dad has a little of everything in his garage, but most of all, wood.

First, we designed a design (more on that later).  Then, we had to pick out a board.  Dad helped us pick this piece of scrap hard maple: unusable for breadboards because of the wormholes, but perfect for our intent and purpose.

Then it was whirlwind tour of woodshop stops: saws…


…more saws…

….more sanders…

…and even more sanders!…

…until that scrap board was perfect.

Next came a part I didn’t get pictures of: Dad’s CNC (computer-something-controlled) router attacked that board like it was chocolate.  Away it worked, a bit here, a bit there, a bit more over there–following our design that we designed in step 1.

[insert imaginary picture of router at work following our design here]


[insert picture that for some reason won’t load onto wordpress of the finished product au-natural here]

Next step: a coat of Miriwax semi-gloss polyurethane (from a spray can) here, a coat there.  Three coats and drying time later:


And there you have our Very Special Wedding Present.

Isn’t she a beauty?  Thanks, Dad G!

P.S.: a Very Special Wedding and a Very Special Wedding Present naturally need a Very Special Card, don’t you think?


Clinton and Theresa

Tim and I had the wonderful privilege of seeing two friends united in marriage this past Saturday. What a beautiful, joyous celebration it was!  We trace our relationship to Clinton and Theresa back to our college days–and hope to trace it forward for many years to come! 

Here’s the scoop on the day, courtesy of my camera:

Tim and I set out bright and early Friday morning, bound for Pennsylvania.  Some beautiful country, a few miles of road construction, and 8 hours later…we arrived at our destination.  Tim was about 20 minutes late for his groomsman rehearsal (sorry, Clinton!), but it worked out okay since we weren’t the only ones running a bit behind schedule. 

The rehearsal went off without a hitch, and soon we were on our way to the rehearsal dinner, a perfectly planned and executed affair at a local park.  A Taste of Ireland served up “pitt beef” (at the groom’s request; apparently a Maryland thing?  Whatever the origin, it was GOOD–beef barbecue roasted over a charcoal pit), and when we’d eaten until we popped, we adjourned to a sand court for a rousing game of boys vs. girls volleyball followed by a brief but instructive game of frizzball (is that as new to you as it was to me?  It involves four poles (like ski poles) set up two (spaced a frisbee width apart) on each end of the “field”.  Two man teams station themselves near their poles, and cups are placed to hang upside down on each pole.  The object of the game is to 1) throw the frisbee through the two poles without touching them (3 points) or 2) hit the pole with the frisbee and send the cup flying in a way that the opposite team can’t catch the cup (1 point).  If they do catch the cup, the opposite team gets a point.  (It’s confusing, but not as confusing as I’ve made it sound; promise).

The wedding commenced at 1:00pm on Saturday, July 16, 2011–Theresa’s parents’ 23rd (or 24th?) wedding anniversary.  Two-hundred and fifty attendees were expected, and I think almost all of them came.  Theresa and Clinton chose red as their primary wedding color, and the flowers also had blue and yellow accents.  Theresa wore her mother’s wedding dress, and she and her family made the bridesmaid dresses.

 Here is Tim with his fellow groomsmen singing “Be Thou My Vision” and trying not to faint. 

Here he is after the wedding, describing how he felt.  In the end, rather than topple head first into an unsuspecting fellow groomsmen, thus creating a domino affect, he chose to unobtrusively slip away from the wedding party for a brief interlude during the middle of the ceremony in order to find a quiet chair in back in which to sit and recover.  Too much on the feet all morning, too little food/water to carry him through. By the end of the ceremony, he was back to feeling as fine and dandy as he looked all day in that tux.  Whew.

 Here’s the happy couple lighting the unity candle.  And by happy, I do mean HAPPY.  Their smiles were radiant…all day long.  That’s one of my favorite parts about weddings–seeing dear friends as happy as they’ve ever been.

And so he kissed his bride!  Pastor Gerald Dodds officiated.  His choice of a sermon text for Clinton and Theresa was as fit a passage as I’ve ever heard preached at a wedding–the acquiring of a wife for Isaac (Genesis 24).  The passage has much to teach concerning marriage, which in itself was appropriate enough for the occasion.  But even deeper and more touching to those of us who have known Clinton for any length of time, verse 67. 


A reception immediately followed the wedding ceremony at the church, so we all convened in the fellowship hall for hoursdevoures and dinner.  Tim and I used this time to catch up with fellow guests we hadn’t seen in awhile, including the Beattys.

While other guests took some lessons from Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins on ballroom dancing, a few ornery souls were out in the parking lot, decorating the getaway car, discombobulating the engine, laying out an elaborate system of send-off fireworks, and other general mischief courtesy of Lloyd, brother of the groom. 

As the party wound to a close, the bridesmaids passed out birdseed while the groomsmen distributed fire crackers…

Here comes the couple!

They were still beaming.  It was beautiful.

Lloyd was looking pretty happy, too, when Clinton realized his car wouldn’t start.

Lloyd, being the auto whiz he is, had somehow pulled the fuel pump connection and wrapped it in a little box.  He gave it to Clinton and Theresa–a wedding gift they had to open BEFORE heading off on their honeymoon (the gift wrap was Clinton’s dad’s idea).

So Clinton had to open the package and re-connect the fuel line before he could ride off into the sunset with his lovely bride.

Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Clinton Scarborough!


Picking Blackberries

I have a lot of catching up to do, blog-wise.  I debated going back to where I left off and working forward (which would include posts on a trip to Iowa, a new job, and an overgrown garden jungle), but instead I’m going to take you through time backwards–starting with the most recent weekend: blackberry picking.

My parents pretty much own the market on wild blackberry picking: last year, they harvested something like 60 gallons (I may have been known to exaggerate, and I may be doing so now, but if I am I’m sure I will be corrected in the comments).  As a direct result of all that gallonage, they vowed a vow not to pick any more blackberries at all this summer.  None.  Zero.  Zilch. 

After all, their freezer still runneth over.

But still their mountains produced bounteous goodness–blackberries galore.  To let them all go to waste?  Oh, the agony.  Here’s where Tim and I came in.

Our freezer, after all, did not runneth over.

Thankfully our one free weekend all summer coincided with the peak of Kentucky’s blackberry season.  So we loaded up and buzzed on down after Tim got off work last Friday (the formerly 7-hour-trip has been reduced to 6 hours due to an increased speed limit on VA interstates, but it unfortunately took us 8 hours due to rain and traffic and roadwork…).  Bright and early (for us) Saturday morning, we were up and raring to go.

Tim, in fact, was so raring to go that he ran circles around the truck for half an hour before we left.

Not really.  He was just running from the camera.  But he sure looks raring to go, wouldn’t you say?

We picked morning and evening, with the noontide being set aside for de-tickifying, eating lunch, taking naps, and working on a special wedding present I’ll post about in a few days.  All told, we harvested 3 gallons of berries, not counting what went into our stomachs.

For any berry picker wannabes out there, here’s the system that works best for my parents: cut the top off a plastic milk jug, just above the handle.  Loop a belt through the handle and fasten the belt around your waist.  As you pick, drop the berries in the milk jug.  It’s cheap (as in, free), easy, and disposable.  What’s not to like (aside from the slightly ludicrous appearance)?!

Once we had the jugs filled, we loaded them into a cooler I’d brought, and Tim and I carted them home on ice and stuck them straight into the refrigerator.

To wash the berries, I submerged them in my dish pan (per mom’s instructions) so that all the leaves, bugs, and whatever else could come floating to the top.  After rifling through them a few times with my fingers, I divided them into four parts.  The first quarter got mashed and frozen to make jam.  The second quarter got flash frozen to make smoothies, pancakes, and pies (I spread the berries out on a cookie sheet and froze them for 3 hours, then bagged them in ziploc bags and stuck them back in the freezer).  The third quarter got juiced to make…juice.  The last quarter got re-refrigerated and turned into a blackberry roll, blackberry-banana muffins, blackberry sauce, and three or four fruit salads.

Yum. (Don’t worry, Gretchen A., a whole post’s worth of blackberry recipes is coming right up).  I think this just might have to become a yearly tradition.

P.S.: while we were on our way back to my parents house from the blackberry patch, we had fun playing with a very nice, very tiny, very long antennaed locust.  Whenever any of us moved, one antennae would zero in on us.  It was hilarious.  You can kind of see some antennae action here if you look close:

Isn’t he cute?


Whole Wheat Banana Muffins

Tim and I just returned from a nice weekend in Kentucky with my parents in which we picked 3 gallons of blackberries and in which my mother offered a gentle reproof in regards to my woeful lack of blogging consistency. 

(She also requested my banana muffin recipe.)

This post is for you, mom.

Whole Wheat Banana Muffins

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 ripe bananas
2 eggs
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup hot water
1/2 cup walnuts (optional)
Melt peanut butter in mixing bowl in microwave for 30 seconds.  Add bananas, mash.  Add eggs, sugar; mix.  Ad flour, salt, baking soda; mix.  Add hot water, mix.  Spoon into greased muffin tins.  Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees F.  Makes 12 large muffins.

I’ve made these muffins multiple times, and we always love them.  Sometimes I add other fruit, too–this time I threw in two handfuls of fresh blackberries, which is why they look extra dark.  Also, sometimes I throw in a little wheat germ if I’m making a whole breakfast out of them (wheat germ adds protein). 

I usually have bananas on hand, but I also keep a supply of whole, peeled bananas in a gallon bag in the freezer for emergencies (I use bananas in all kinds of baking, including muffins, waffles, and pancakes).  They work just as well!


Swiss Army for the Modern Man