Saturday, June 23, 2012

Slide into summer by sharing old slides

It’s time to slide. Put on a swimming suit and shoot down a Slip ‘N Slide in the backyard. Slide into home plate.  Cook some sliders on the barbecue. Glide down the slippery slide in the park.

And slide into favor with family members by sharing memories from old photographic slides gathering dust in closets.

Baby boomers HAVE slides—back in the day (1950s through 1990s) we took mountains of slides, which were cheaper to develop and of higher quality than prints. 

Did we look at them? Not at our house. Although my parents owned a sparkly–white screen and an old-fashioned slide projector, my husband and I never purchased those luxuries.  As a result, we squinted at our slides against the light only when we wanted to make a few prints.

You can’t enjoy slides unless you have a free evening, a projector to enlarge the images and a screen, or a white sheet or wall, to display the photos. Or you can make them into prints, costing around .49 each at film developing outlets.

Enter modern technology. There are several ways to digitize slides, and once it’s done, you can use the images to create slideshows on your computer, email them to others, make prints (cheaper than .49) through online services, and burn them to dvds to share.

My husband recently scanned a box of slides and burned them to dvds to share at a family reunion. It was so fun that we’ve added this service to our home business; many photo developing sites also offer this service.

So what’s the best way to digitize slides?

First, a definition: Dots per inch (dpi) is a measure of spatial printing or video dot density, and generally—not always—a higher dpi correlates with better image resolution.

Dave Dyer, an expert, compared the outcome on one slide image using seven methods: using copier attachments for flatbed scanners—1.) a cheaper model with 1200 dpi and 2.) a unit with 2000 dpi; using a digital camera to photograph slides—3.) a projector based copier with 1800 dpi, which projected the image onto a screen and 4.) a direct copy attachment that holds the slide and attaches to a digital camera,  2400 dpi;  using slide scanners built for this purpose only—5.) an older model, 2400 dpi, 6.) a modern unit, 2820 dpi and 7.) a professional scanner used by a professional, with 4000 dpi. See
All seven images were OK, but I felt that #1—with the lowest dpi, done on a flatbed scanner—was the best quality photo. Great—that’s the kind of scanner we have!

Dyer wrote, “Resolution isn't everything. Color and contrast are equally important . . .”

Cleaning dust from slides is key. Scanners with Image Correction and Enhancement (ICE) technology hide dust, but it’s good to clean slides using compressed air and an antistatic brush (photo developers do this when turning slides into prints.)

After using a flatbed scanner, you can enhance the quality of too-dark slide images if you have the right software on your computer.

Bring a smile to your loved ones this summer—slide those boxes off the shelf and share photos from 20, 30 and 40 years ago. If you don’t have the equipment to do it yourself, check into local businesses that offer this service. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Heaven: Family Reunion Cookies and Cold Drinks

Every year in June, the John Doe family held their family reunion, and Jane Doe made her wonderful chocolate chip cookies.

But this year, there would be no reunion. John was on his deathbed with only hours to live.

As he listened to the clock tick out the last moments of his life, he smelled chocolate chip cookies. His “bucket list” suddenly expanded to include tasting them one last time.  With his last ounce of strength, he pulled himself out of bed. Falteringly, he fumbled for his canes and pulled himself upright. He struggled across the floor and made his way painfully down the stairs and into the kitchen.

There was Jane, baking cookies. As he reached for one, SMACK across the back of the hand, she hit him with a wooden spoon: "Leave them alone, they’re for the funeral dinner!"

It’s the season for favorite family reunion dishes. From our Swedish grandfather, my family inherited the Midsummer tradition: a reunion for family and friends held on the Saturday closest to the summer solstice.

In Sweden, they eat the year’s first potatoes and strawberries, soused (pickled) herring, chives and sour cream. And they drink beer and snaps.

In Idaho, we eat all the wonderful potluck items that good cooks can muster: Crisp fried chicken.  Specially cured ham. Aunt Jeanne’s potato salad. Crunchy peas from Alan’s garden. Fluffy dinner rolls.  Desserts, including huckleberry-apple pie and sticky homemade cinnamon rolls. Homemade ice cream, churned with snow from a snowdrift on our grandfather’s homestead that stays frozen under straw from March ‘til June.  And of course, chocolate chip cookies!

We never drink beer and snaps—our picnics are non-alcoholic.  Here are some great beverage suggestions for family reunions (with very little high-fructose corn syrup!)

Water:  Stay hydrated!  Place a solid block of ice in a five-gallon drink cooler and fill with water.  Stays cold while family members re-fill personal water bottles all weekend.  Or, fill a cooler or clean wading pool with ice and plastic water bottles—re-cycle the empties.

Dry Ice Root Beer:  Mix outdoors or place five-gallon cooler in kitchen sink as it brews. In cooler, mix 6 cups white sugar and 3 1/3 gallons cold water ‘til sugar dissolves. Add one 2-ounce bottle root beer extract. Wearing gloves, carefully place 4 pounds of dry ice into cooler and cover loosely with lid (do not secure lid—pressure may build up.)  Brew about an hour before serving.

Sutherland Slush: A favorite at family wedding receptions. Boil for 7 minutes in large pot:  one 6 oz. box Jello (any flavor but grape) dissolved in 1 cup hot water; 6 cups sugar; 3 cups water.  Remove from heat, add one 46 oz. can pineapple juice and 9 cups water.  Over the sink, measure into 3 equal parts (about 7 cups each) in Ziploc bags.  Seal, lay bag on a flat pan and freeze.   (These make a great “blue ice” substitute in your cooler!) Thaw for two hours before serving, then mash the slush with a potato masher or hand mixer in a non-breakable bowl or pan.  Add one 2-liter bottle of lemon-lime soda to each bag of slush; 3 bottles total. For a fancy event, serve from punch bowl. Serves 50.