Sepia Saturday 234: Reflections on Paddling in the Lake or Sea

2014.06W.39This week’s Sepia Saturday is, “Reflections on Paddling in the Lake or Sea.”  Part of me thought about using some of the houseboat and barge photos from my husband’s Dutch family, but that’s on canals and doesn’t quite fit the theme.  I suppose I can save those for another week (they’re awesome photos, and I hope rivers/canals comes up as a theme!).

The photos I’ve got this week are somewhat more recent, but came out really lovely and share a neat snippet of my great grandmother’s life that I hadn’t known about before.  She had a childhood friend, Mildred Witherow (b. 25 Dec 1906 in Pennsylvania, d. 12 Apr 1972 in Pontiac, Michigan), who moved out to Michigan from Pennsylvania at some point.  I think my parents mentioned her visiting someone in the midwest, but they didn’t know who specifically.  While scanning the trunk full of photos, I came across a set that were nicely labelled (it’s a rare thing to find a labelled photo in the trunk), with witty commentary and dates on the photos.  I think it’s really sweet they kept in touch, visited eachother, and still had silly adventures.  Mildred, affectionately called “Mid,” never married and my great grandma Olga (Powis) Kitko was married for a short while, but she spent most of her adult life as a single gal, raising her son amongst family.

"The lonely motor boat"

“The lonely motor boat”

I have absolutely no idea which lake this was, but I do know it was taken prior to September 1960 and somewhere around Pontiac, Michigan.  There are SO MANY lakes around that area, it’s impossible for me to narrow down at all.  The caption is exactly what great grandma wrote on the back of the photo in pencil (YAY PENCIL!).

"Mid & I, waiting for the driver, ha"

“Mid & I, waiting for the driver, ha”

Two lovely ladies on a pier!  I am just in love with this photo and have a funny feeling that the “driver” may have taken the photo.  But really, how great is this?  Two childhood friends, in their late 50s, early 60s, in lovely summer dresses out for a day on the lake.  The driver mentioned here is Mid’s brother, Alvin (b. 1 Jun 1914, d. 26 Mar 1989).  The vacation seems to have been for a small family gathering too – the other photos in this set show a group of people sitting around a table for dinner.

"Mid, Alvin & I on the lake"

“Mid, Alvin & I on the lake”

Hmm, for a motor boat, that sure does look like a paddle, fitting us nicely into the theme for this week’s Sepia Saturday.  Yeah, I know, he was probably using it to get into the dock safely since the water was maybe too shallow for the propeller.  These photos aren’t necessarily sepia toned or super old, but the whole point of Sepia Saturday is that there are no rules and to share photos along with the story behind them, and I’ve always had a fondness for this set of images, so there they are!

BONUS IMAGE, because while it’s not a photo, it relates to the story here a little, showing the friendship these two had over the years.  It’s a simple postcard, but these gals kept in touch for so long, and it’s so cute to see a postcard from Mid to Olga about daily life in Michigan.  Post date is 26 Apr 1947, well before the images above, but helps to establish that these two were close friends their whole lives.



Scotland 2014 – Part 1

I think this is best in three parts because the vacation was kind of huge and amazing and it will be SO hard to fit this into just one post.

TL;DR: The vacation was possibly the best we’ve ever taken.  We spent two days in Edinburgh and then hopped up to Inverness for a day.  Then it was on to a boat to cruise the Caledonian canal for a week, up to Fort William and then back to Inverness and then a final day in Edinburgh before heading home.  The pace was just right – we had time in a busy city, sightseeing, hanging in crowded pubs, but we also had relaxation time on the boat to enjoy the beautiful scenery and stop to take nice hikes.  Honestly, top 3, possible top vacation ever.

On to the detail for those of you who like to read  :)

Day 1, May 27:
We landed in Edinburgh around 10am, collected our bags and hopped a cab to our hotel (I think about £25), the Grassmarket Hotel.  Our room wasn’t ready yet, so we dropped our bags with reception and popped over to the White Hart for a pint and something to eat.  I remembered they had Haggis Nachos, so that was a necessity.  Had a few pints along with lunch and by the time we were done, it was time to grab our room.  The rooms at the hotel were small (think NYC size rooms) with very little room around the bed, but plenty of storage underneath the bed and in a small open closet space.  We set back out to walk around Edinburgh, up to the Scott Monument, Edinburgh Castle, and winding around some small streets and such.  Upon the recommendation of a friend, we went to the Edinburgh Dungeon, a totally touristy thing to do, but pretty hilarious.  If you pay attention, you get a decent overview of Edinburgh’s seedy history from Burke and Hare to the plague and hangings in Grassmarket, and if you don’t pay attention, you get a fun show and carnival ride.  Later that evening, we found some local Ingress players and went to the Cloisters bar with them for a few pints.  It really was a fun evening and we had an absolute blast meeting Scottish Ingressers, but we were completely exhausted by the time we got back to the hotel and slept VERY soundly.

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Day 2, May 28:
On the suggestion of a coworker of Doug’s, we took a short train ride to the town of Stirling to see Stirling Castle.  I can’t really say which is better – Stirling or Edinburgh Castle – because they’re SO different from eachother.  Stirling feels more like castle/residence where Edinburgh feels more castle/fortress.  Spent most of the day wandering around the castle (there’s SO much to see), Argyll’s Lodging, and the small town.  Had a late lunch, stopped in a little candy shop where we found Irn Bru rock candy.  Took the train back to Edinburgh and went to Brew Dog for a few beers.  They make some really unique brews that are hard to find in the USA so that was a real treat.  While we were sitting at the bar, we saw that they had Victory beer in bottles in the fridge!  We live really close to the Victory brewery, so it was crazy to see beer from home in a pub in Scotland.  Headed back to the Cloisters again for dinner since we didn’t have dinner there the night prior and were told it was really great.  Also, the selection of cask ales is incredible.

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Day 3, May 29:
Got up, found breakfast, and hopped the train to Inverness.  It’s about a four hour train ride, so we go into Inverness around 2pm.  The plan was to hang out around Inverness the night before picking up our boat at the marina, so we booked a room with an old favorite, the Strathness House.  The owners recognized us immediately and welcomed us back – SUCH a nice place, I can’t get over how lovely the hotel is from the staff, location, and everything about this hotel.  Walked around Inverness for a while before having a pint at Blackfriars (beer tourism is just as important as regular tourism, in case you hadn’t noticed the trend!) where we met some Inverness Ingressers briefly.  We had dinner at Hootananny, only to find that they had switched their Thai menu to a more traditional Scottish menu – no complaints from me!  The thai was good, but traditional Scottish fare is delicious.  Walked around some more, enjoying the extra daylight at that latitude – it doesn’t really get dark till after 11pm or so, and only stays dark for a few hours that time of year.  It’s probably the hardest part about travelling to Scotland in the summer since my internal clock is based on daylight – getting dark?  Must be about 8:30pm!  Nope, 11pm.  Really a mind blow.

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Thus ends part one!  It’s a little short, but I wanted to separate this part of the trip from the boat cruise which I’ll split into two parts.  Having these first few days to adjust to the time zone (and extra daylight) REALLY helped us get on schedule for the boat.  I don’t think we would have done quite as well if we had arrived and gone straight to the cruise.


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Sepia Saturday 233: Weddings

A fellow blogger contacted me about a few of the old images I’ve posted a while back.  I started following his blog and found that he was posting these Sepia Saturday posts about old photographs.  Well, I finally checked into what Sepia Saturday is, and decided to have a go at it!  I’ve got PLENTY of old family photos and it will be fun to share a few here along with their history, maybe not every week, but as often as I can.  The Sepia Saturday creator gives a few weeks out in advance, so I might actually be able to keep up.  Today’s theme is weddings.


First up is I think the oldest wedding I have a photo of, that of my great-great grandmother and great-great grandfather, Jessie Battin and Alfred Powis.  They were married 19 Feb 1891 in Clearfield, Pennsylvania, USA.  They both came to PA from England and ended up staying in the same house their married lives.  I haven’t been able to find out much about the photographer, but I was told that the skirt of her dress was green velvet which is a neat little detail and far from the traditional white wedding gown that’s typically worn today.  Other neat things to note are the hole in Alfred’s shoe and his IOOF pin on his vest as well as the fact that his pants are some sort of plaid print while his jacket is pinstriped.  That iconic mustache stayed with him his whole life and I don’t have a single photo of him with a clean shaven face.


Next up is Jessie’s sister, Mary Jane’s marriage to John Samuel Creber.  Dave Creber provided a wonderful detail of the people in the photo, so I’m going to copy that in here.  The couple eventually moved to Canada but Mary Jane kept in close contact with her sister still in England as well as the other two in Pennsylvania, USA.  Many thanks to Dave Creber for helping to fill in these precious details!

Photo is wedding of John Samuel Creber and Mary Jane Battin (14 June 1898, St. Michael’s, Lawhitton, Cornwall, England). Others in the photo are (l to r): Kate Battin, Laura Rallison (Emma Emily Battin’s daughter), George Battin, John Samuel Creber, Mary Jane Battin, Bess Battin and Emily Creber (sister of John Samuel). Man sitting on the ground is Theophilus George Creber, brother of John Samuel Creber.



Here we have Bessie Melita Creber’s marriage to Alfred Norman Harris on 18 June 1927 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  Bessie is a child of John Samuel Creber and Mary Jane Battin.  In the photo, Bessie is standing between her father and her new husband with her brother Alfred on the far right, and her sister Mary Victoria third from the left.  I’m not sure who the other two men are on the left nor do I know who the child is in the center.  Interesting to see such a short dress, but elaborate bouquet and veil.


My final wedding photo is of Alfred George Battin Creber’s wedding to Ruby Winnifred Esther Watson on 27 Dec 1930 also in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The date explains the indoor photo, I guess.  Alfred, as mentioned above, is Bessie Melita’s brother (both are my great grandmother’s cousins), and is in the back on the left.  Ruby is front and center, but I don’t know who the other two ladies or the man on the right are.  The indoor photo explains the slower shutter speed and motion blur, but you still get a pretty good idea about the flowers, dresses, and veils and hats.  Those hats really are something spectacular.

I’m keeping my first Sepia Saturday short and sweet, since I really just wanted to share these neat photos and how they relate to one another.  I just have SO many photos, and it’s almost a shame to keep these really incredible family photos all to myself.  I’m hoping to continue posting with the weekly theme, and hey, maybe it will help me connect to living descendants of the people in these old photos.


One Local Summer 2014 – Meal 1

Like I mentioned in my last post, we just haven’t had the time to dedicate to a full One Local Summer this year.  Recapping, the One Local Summer challenge was started by the Farm to Philly blog years ago.  Ever since that first year in 2009 when I joined the challenge with Farm to Philly, we spent every summer making one meal a week using only local ingredients (spices and oil being acceptable exceptions).  This is now our 6th year of doing local meals, and while we won’t rack up 20+ weeks like we have in prior years, I’ve found that we’re doing local meals almost by default because it’s easier to make one trip to the farmer’s market and get delicious, fresh produce at its peak freshness rather than get questionable produce that may have been on a truck for days.  It’s just easier, and the local farmer’s market happens to be closer than any grocery store.  Plus, the point is to save “food miles” by buying from local farms instead of getting food that’s been trucked in from across the country, and support local businesses and farms at the same time.  I’m aiming for at least 14 meals this summer, and I’m counting meals this time around instead of weeks because we have a really crazy schedule this summer and it’s not likely we can fit in a local meal every week on schedule.  Anyway, without further babble, here’s meal number one!


The ever classic vegetables in a foil pouch!  Here we have sugar snap peas, red onions, and fennel, covered in olive oil, salt and pepper.  I also did another foil pouch with mushrooms (UNNGGHH MUSHROOMS *drool*) and onions.  Surprisingly, the fennel worked well with the peas and onions and blended together nicely without overpowering the peas.  Its worth noting that we happen to live near the Mushroom Capital of the World, and we get the absolute best mushrooms ever at our farmer’s market.  The ones I had were the Crimini variety and have so much flavor, it puts store-bought mushrooms to shame.


Here, I’ve got some pork loin tips pounded out thin with a dollop of locally produced cream cheese (honey and sea salt flavored) with some thinly sliced onions on top.  Pork loin tips, you ask?  It sounded like these might have been mis-cuts at the butcher, but they were plenty big enough to stuff and roll up.  The cream cheese is SO neat, and I’m glad our resident cheese lady makes this.  There was apparently quite a history of farmers making cream cheese (or farmer’s cheese), and its great to see our local farmer keeping up the tradition.



Here are the pork loins all rolled up and wrapped with slices of bison bacon.  Yeah, pork loin with bison bacon instead of bison filets with pork bacon.  Sometimes you have to mix it up.  The ties are these neat silicone ties made by Mastrad that I picked up somewhere online.  So much better than toothpicks (if you ever ‘lost’ a toothpick while cooking, and later found it with your mouth, you know what I mean), and easy enough to throw in the dishwasher and use over and over again.  Popped these on the grill until the internal temp hit 160F along with my foil pouches of vegetables and fungus.

DSC_9556The final plate!  I added some salad (so fresh and crispy omnomnom) with some non-local dressing, then there’s the onions/fennel/peas, onions/mushrooms, and the meat in the back.  Pork can be so tricky to grill and can dry out, but the bison bacon and cheese inside kept it SO nice and tender.  I’m so glad I have leftovers of this one because it was really incredible.

Pork Loin Tips – Countrytime Farm
Bison Bacon – Backyard Bison
Fennel – Charlestown Farm
Salad – Charlestown Farm
Snap Peas – Jack’s Farm
Onions – Jack’s Farm
Mushrooms – Oley Valley Mushrooms
Cream Cheese – Birchrun Hills
Non Local – Olive oil, salt, pepper, salad dressing


GoodeBox June 2014

Another month, another box.  This one is significantly better than the last box – no silly foil packets, and six products to try!  Here’s the lineup.  I think this is the first box with the new, updated preferences in effect, and they did a decent job with selection though I would’ve preferred one of the bee venom products instead of the deoderant.  Altogether, it’s a really great box this month and I’m psyched to try everything.

  • blum naturals Daily Cleansing & Makeup Remover Towelettes – 30 ct/$7.49 – Sample size contains ten towelettes which isn’t a bad deal.  My box is for combination and oily skin and contains tea tree oil which I LOVE for zapping pimples.  The individual packets mean they’re great for travel too.
  • Beauty Without Cruelty Sweet Lavender Hand & Body Lotion – 16oz/$12.95 – This is a brand I already love, and the scent of the lotion is amazing.  I’m a huge fan of lavender scented anything, so this is a BIG win in my book.  Sample size is 2 oz and I have no doubt this will go quickly, stashed in my knitting bag.  First impression on trying it just now is that it sinks into my skin pretty quickly, isn’t greasy, nor is the scent overpowering.  I really like the result so far.  The product card also includes a 20% off discount on any BWC product.
  • Goddess Garden Organics Natural Sunscreen SPF 30 – 6oz/$19.99 – Pricey for a sunscreen, but it will be fun to try.  It relies on the physical barrier method versus the chemical barrier, using Titanium and Zinc Oxide.  A quick test on my arm shows that it’s a really watery liquid (not a cream), but does turn sheer and matte after a quick rub.  Might even be great for using on my face while outside gardening.  There’s also a 20% off coupon for all Goddess Garden products.
  • Neuth Organic Creme pour Visage – 100ml/$75 – Basically a really incredibly overpriced make-up remover/moisturizer/face wash, I think?  It smells nice, and the sample size is generous enough, but, I’m really not exactly sure how to use it and the ingredients aren’t listed on the package or in the GoodeBox Product Card.  There’s just not enough information on the card/product to let me know what the heck it is or what it’s comparable to.  Still, going to try it, but I really doubt I’d ever purchase this.  Included is a 20% off coupon for all Neuth products, but even 20% off $75 is too much for what’s basically a fancy face wash.
  • Primal Pit Paste Natural Deoderant – 2oz/$8.95 – Here’s where I turn in my organic/natural fanclub card.  I hate natural deoderants.  LOATHE them.  They never work, are annoying to apply (cream deoderant in a pot, REALLY?!), and for pete’s sake, my pits don’t need to be moisturized, they just need to not stink.  This is the only product in the box that I’m  disappointed with, but I’ll try it anyway to give it a fair shake.  There’s a 20% off coupon for all products from the company.
  • Waxelene Petroleum Jelly Alternative – 2oz/$8.99 – I have never owned a single tub of petroleum jelly before, so I really don’t know what to do with this.  The product card mentions using it for anti-chafing (hello thigh rub in skirts), and for cracked heels, post-shave legs, split ends, etc.  There are only four ingredients and I can pronounce them all, so that makes me feel good about the product.  It goes on smooth, smells like beeswax (love that scent), and ends up feeling kind of matte and not greasy.  If I do end up liking it, the price is pretty reasonable, and there’s a 15% off coupon!

In other news, the blog silence over the last month was the result of a whole ton of busy.  I had a big photography job and we went on a fantastic 10 day vacation that I’ll get around to posting about sooner or later.  I may stretch it out over several blog posts since we did SO much over the course of the trip.  I think One Local Summer has kind of fallen by the wayside this year since we’ve been away and busy, and have missed the farmer’s market every weekend since the beginning of May.  I’ll try to get a few posted this year, but it won’t be exactly every week like it has been in prior years.  It’s funny too, we have so much local stuff stashed away in the freezer that we end up doing One Local Summer meals by accident most of the time.  Even our local big-chain grocery stores are carrying local produce, naming the farms, etc, so it’s sort of happening naturally.  It’s amazing how a little challenge can end up changing your whole routine!