Monthly Archives: September 2010

The Cutting Garden

I planted a cutting garden for the  first time last year, growing a variety of annual flowers from seeds.  I enjoyed the convenience of having a supply of flowers to cut for bouquets without having to worry about how they looked overall in the garden.  Once the seeds germinated, it required some attention to keep the weeds at bay.  As the annual flowers grew, however, they took over and significantly reduced the chore of weeding.

Because I enjoyed it so much last year, I decided to plant another one this year.  I planted cosmos, bachelor buttons, larkspur and a variety of zinnias.  One mistake was planting the cosmos near the front of the cutting garden in one section because they grew so tall that they blocked out nearly everything behind them.  Otherwise, the seedlings took off and started to flower.

The cosmos are still blooming.

Although the tall plants have collapsed due to the wind and heavy rains we have received.

I know.  It kind of ruins the lovely images of the cutting garden that you might have had, but it is the grim reality at this point in the summer.

The zinnias are blooming in all shapes and sizes.   Before last year, I refused to even consider growing these flowers because I had always stereotyped them as ugly “old-lady” flowers.  You know, in the same group as marigolds.  After browsing through the seed packets at the local nursery, I decided to give these old standbys a chance.   I am so glad that I came to my senses because these flowers are the stars of the cutting garden with their variety of shapes, sizes, colors and textures.

I battled the new crop of mosquitos today after work and went out and picked a bouquet to brighten up the indoors.  The flowers are getting a little tattered from all the weather, but I still managed to find enough to put something together.  Having flowers from my garden in the house makes me smile and always cheers me up.

It seems as though I typically only go out to pick a bouquet of flowers if we are expecting visitors.  This is unfortunate because bringing the garden indoors is a great way to admire the fruits of your labor.

I plan to have a cutting garden again next year and hopefully I will remind myself to take the time to treat myself to a bouquet of flowers inside more often.  After all, that is the point of having a cutting garden!

In these last few weeks before our first frost, my goal is to continuously have a bouquet on display in the house…just for me.




Filed under Flower, Gardens

More Sunflower Fun

I posted this picture a few weeks back of my Skyscraper Sunflowers.  I wanted to get a picture of them before a storm rolled through.  They were enormous this year.

They weathered the storm but are starting to fall over as the heads ripens and get heavier.  We decided to cut one down to see just how big the seed heads have actually grown.

They are definitely bigger than a teenager’s head!  This is one of the larger seed heads and it is about 16 inches in diameter.  The birds have already started to harvest seeds.

I have a feeling we will be seeing a lot of birds in the garden this fall snacking on these gigantic sunflower heads.  Feeding the birds is one of the side benefits of growing these fun flowers.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

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Filed under Flower, Gardens, Kids

A New Picture Project: Scanning Negatives

I purchased my first digital camera in 2001.  It was a very basic digital camera and I felt like it took decent pictures.  I was still too nervous about the technology though to completely abandon my 35mm camera.  What if I hit the wrong button on the camera and accidentally deleted all of my images?  Or my computer crashed and I lost all the images?  Besides, I had invested money in some nice lenses for my 35mm and it took much nicer pictures.

Over the years, however, my comfort level with digital photos and technology in general increased and eventually I came around and went completely digital.  Since my complete conversion to digital photography in 2007, I have taken thousands and thousands of digital photos. I have developed a system of organizing and editing them.  I have even abandoned the scrap-booking thing (gasp!) and have started to create our family albums on-line and order them all printed up in a nice hard-cover album.

The problem is that I have so many pictures from the precious years of my children’s young lives that are not in a digital format.  I have scanned some of them along the way for various occasions, but I recently decided that what I really wanted was to convert all those photos to digital for preservation.

Although I had copies of some of the pictures, many of the best ones were in my photo albums.  To create a digital copy, I would need to take the negatives into a photo lab and either pay them to convert it to digital from the negative or have a copy made from the negative and then scan it.  I quickly realized that these were not very economical options.  You see, my obsession with photos is not new. I have taken a LOT of pictures through the years. Consequently, I have a LOT of negatives.

After doing some research, I decided that a better option was to buy a film scanner and scan the negatives myself.  Based on my needs, I decided that this Canon 8800F film scanner was a practical choice.

Inside the scanner is a frame, that holds up to 12 of the 35mm negatives for scanning.  I started with my negatives from 1992, the year my oldest was born, and began the daunting project of scanning all my negatives.

Overall, I am very pleased with the image quality from the scanned negative.  Here are just a few of my favorites that I have come across so far:

Summer of ’93 – our oldest at around 6 months.

’94 – Discovering his shadow.  How precious is this?

Summer ’93 – Playing with Dad in the back yard.

Scanning negatives is a very tedious project, as each set of 12 can take as long as 10-15 minutes.  I have managed to get through an entire box of negatives already by just setting it up nearby the kitchen where I can get it started and work on something else.  Seems as though I’m always in the kitchen anyhow!  I have made it all the way through the year 1995!

The other issue I run into is that the negatives are often dirty and the dust shows up in the scanned photo.  For example, the shadow picture above looked like this when I first scanned it:

Notice the white specs of dust on the scanned image.  This is not a big deal, as it can easily be edited out in Photoshop.  Nonetheless, it does add to the time that I am investing in this project.  So far, I only touch up the really special photos that I come across.  I have also read that this problem can be reduced by spraying bursts of air on the negative from those cans of air you can buy at office supply stores to clean keyboards.

The biggest problem with this new picture project of mine…

Is that every once in a while

I come across a picture….

That stops me dead in my tracks…

That takes my breath away…

And makes me feel like someone is squeezing my heart…

’95 – Our oldest holding his newborn sister.

And as I take a deep breath…

And wipe away the tears…

I feel grateful that I have taken so many pictures…

Because in the process, I have captured precious snapshots of  our blessed lives.

So, I will press on with this new picture project in an attempt to preserve all of my images.  Only 3 more boxes and 12 more years worth of negatives to go!

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