June 26, 2008|Comments (none)
What is Photoshop to photography? Well, it is an invitation to the popular table. How exclusive is the Photoshop club? Let’s try anywhere from $300-$1000 just to get a seat. Many websites are dedicated to using its many features to transform pictures taken by the most untalented photographers into magazine quality work. It’s basically cosmetic surgery for two dimensional objects.
Am I knocking it? No, not really. I confess to drooling over the tutorials and imagining what I could do with some of my dud shots. The price sends me into fits of rage though. Then, I checked out the competition. **cue the opera chorus of townspeople: laaaaaaaaalaaaaaaaaa** GIMP is truly amazing. It is like having someone sew designer tags in a discount shirt. It is basically the very same product — only at a price that greatly appeals to this thrifty gal: FREE. And guess what? No child labor or animal testing involved. How about that? Affordable and guilt-free. Did I mention that it is FREE??
Within this post, you have likely noticed that a photo of a dock (taken by yours truly on vacation in Tennessee with my dear friends, Tom and Linda). The original photo wasn’t bad but I thought it might be fun to play around with it and give it some punch. I also wanted to show you some of the totally rad things that GIMP can do. Why? Because I like you.
To begin, just download GIMP and then visit their tutorials section (click here). They walk you through everything that you need to know to turn even the most boring photo into frame-worthy art. You can also remove red eye, add text, change hues, intensify colors, and other stuff.
So here’s the deal: I’m giving something away. Like a host/hostess gift for inviting our site into your office, cubicle, living room, kitchen, and/or life. Your comment is your ticket to win and the winner gets the latest issue of Cooking with Paula Deen. We’ll use the Random Number Generator to pick a winner. That’s your reward for suffering through a post that has nothing to do with farming, cooking, sewing, knitting, gardening, saving the world, or animals. We have a winner! HeatherJ (#8), send me your address and I will send you some Paula. Thank you for all who participated. We look forward to a summer full of fun gifts.
June 24, 2008|Comments (none)
My good friend, Michelle of Applie Juice (appliejuice.com), asked us (her faithful readers) to photograph and post about a hike/walk/trot/gallop that we went on. No prob. Why? Because not only are we agreeable folks but simple living means that you do a lot of walking. Here are photos from our recent trip to pick up Spanish moss for our garden. Fitness gurus may not agree, but I call it a productive walk.
Spanish moss is truly terrific stuff once it is aged. In the South, Spanish moss filled the most expensive settees and mattresses (the ones that hosted the wealthiest back ends). Spanish moss also found its way into mud clay as a binder and was used to build houses. Why? Because it lasts forever.
A legend describes how Spanish moss became so common in our region. According to the legend, an Indian brave and princess lived on the banks of the bayou. When the princess died, she was buried at the base of a live oak tree. The grieving brave hung her long black braids on the tree limb to mark her grave. With time, the braids turned gray and the wind carried the strands from tree to tree. All the trees weep to this day – all the way to the Gulf.
We use it to sweeten our compost and also in the bottom of our herb boxes. Seeing it in blackened clumps or bales (as it is sold commercially), we quickly forget its beauty, history, and grace. Perhaps that is why it is such a joy to collect — the price is right **cue the theme music** and the walk is so visually appealing. I love to see it draped in such perfect (and effortless) arcs or blowing in the warm Georgian breeze.
And my favorite legend: A Spanish soldier fell in love at first sight with an Indian chief’s favorite daughter. Though the chieftain forbade the couple to see each other, the Spaniard was too lovestruck to stop meeting the maiden in secret. The father found them out and ordered his braves to tie the Spaniard high up in the top of an ancient oak tree.
The Spaniard had only to disavow his love to be freed, but he steadfastly refused. Guards were posted to keep anyone — the chief’s daughter above all — from giving food or water to the poor Spaniard. The Spaniard grew weaker and weaker, but he still would not renounce his love for the girl. Near the end, the Chief tried to persuade him once more to stay away from his daughter. The Spaniard answered that not only would he refuse to disavow his love, but that his love would continue to grow even after death. When at last the Spaniard died, the chief kept the body tied up in the tree as a warning to any other would-be suitors.
Before long, the Indians began to notice that the Spaniard’s beard continued to grow. The Indian maiden refused ever to take a husband — unless the Spaniard’s beard died and vanished from the tree. As the years went by, the beard only grew stronger and longer, covering trees far from the Indian maiden’s village. Legend says that when the Spanish moss is gone, the Spaniard’s love will have finally died with it.
The fragrance of the moss, mingling with scent of jasmine, gardenia, magnolia, and wisteria defines the Lowcountry spring and summer. Were it not for Spanish moss, we would not have the sorrowful Southern romance that inspires writers and artists the world over. And as we walk beneath the trees to fill our buckets with the soft gray curls of moss, I like to imagine the skirts of the Southern belles sweeping along the very same path to meet with their secret loves or the scratch of the pen as Faulkner, Williams, and Mitchell wrote the words that captured the very essence of this place. The history, the romance, and the legends…
“All I can say is that there’s a sweetness here, a Southern sweetness, that makes sweet music… If I had to tell somebody who had never been to the South, who had never heard of soul music, what it was, I’d just have to tell him that it’s music from the heart, from the pulse, from the innermost feeling. That’s my soul; that’s how I sing. And that’s the South.” — Al Green
Click on any of the pictures to enlarge.
June 24, 2008|Comments (5)
If you have never tried shoepeg corn salad, then you have likely never truly explored the deep South. Gracing the table of every church potluck supper, family reunion, and holiday meal — shoepeg corn salad is as southern as cornbread dressing.
Shoepeg corn is a white sweetcorn with tight kernels that closely resemble the wooden pegs used in shoemaking (or so they thought in the 1800s). It can be grown in the garden, purchased in cans or frozen, and is ideal for southern-style salads, casseroles, and other dishes. Don’t tell my neighbors, but shoepeg corn hails from the Yankee state known as Maryland. Shhh!