Digital Restoration & Archiving Family history Family stories Recipes

What’s in that box of family photos and papers?

You won’t know if you don’t look!

You don’t know what is in that box of old letters and photos…until you look.
Contact me if you have a restoration or archiving project.

One of the services I offer through Chandler Designs is archiving family collections of photos and documents. Digital versions of your heirlooms and written materials such as letters, are easy to share. The more people that can read the letters left by a parent or great aunt the better your chances of finding pearls of wisdom about daily life that led to your family traditions and who you are now.

Digging into family history reveals the gift of insight

Our family culture developed, on its own and/or along with our greater society’s evolution. We leave clues of how it happened behind us in the form of diaries, letters, photos, newspaper clippings. Our parents and grand parents left plenty of these things too. We live in the age of electronic archives and instant photography. Technology is fabulous, but it does not take the investment of attention that our ancestors had to employ to record points in time of collective human experience.

If they saved it it mattered.

And everything that matters is fueled by food.

If you are blessed with a family cookbook that has handwritten recipes added in the margins you get a sense of how your family came together over homemade meals. The talented cooks in any home can make a point of writing the family secrets, even if in their own coded notes. Some of our deepest memories are built around daily life events. With food it is as much about how we prepare and share food as it is about familiar recipes.

In the piles of boxes I have from both of my parents’ families there is a gift of literally reams of writing by my maternal grandmother, Eva. Diaries, chatty letters and original artwork. From childhood Eva wrote about any and all things that mattered to her. The topics were family, faith, art, and social issues; in no particular order, as they all seemed to be of equal importance. That was one of her most important lessons. Everything that life has to offer is important.

Eva went to a boarding school and while there in 1905-1907 she wrote long letters home to her family, detailing life, her hopes for her future, and her impressions of people. As was customary, prior to our current age of “buy everything at the store”, she learned how to do everything needed for a good life, including cooking from scratch. In the margin of one letter she added her own recipe for a spice cake. It seems she had some time, and ingredients and access to the kitchen so she made good use of them all.

I have replicated her recipe, slightly adapting the ingredients as she left out the sugar and salt amounts. This was written in the age when cooks knew how to cook and recipes were often a cook’s unique version of standard methods and amounts. Did Eva leave out a couple of ingredients because everyone knows how much sugar and salt is needed in a cake, or was she in a hurry to finish the already 12 page letter?

My version of Eva’s Spice Cake:

  • almost 2cups of egg – about 9 large eggs
  • 6 cups flour
  • 2 cups butter
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 6 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • about 3/4 tsp salt

Wisk together dry ingredients. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Add dry mix alternately with milk.

I fit batter into one 13″ x 19″ sheet pan and one 8″ x 8″ pan. Be creative, it’s a lot of batter! And as Eva wrote…it is good!

Bake 50 – 60 min at 350°.

When I grew up most people, ok, women in particular, and the smartest men, learned to cook. There were and are social and cultural conventions which dictate roles in life and how we break bread is central to all of them. Convenience food allows cooks to get out of the kitchen an do work that is their choice. That never really replaces the experience of friends and family breaking bread with a homemade meal; making memories to be rediscovered in a box of family treasures.

Crafts and Textiles Stitching Projects

Crewel Stitching Project – Part 3 Finishing the project as a pillow

It’s  done. Daisy and the Chipmunk – a fun Jacobean style story pillow of Daisy chasing a chipmunk around a blueberry bush.

Daisy and the Chipmunk
Daisy and the Chipmunk, crewel pillow in the Jacobean style


Crewel Stitching Project – Part 2 Choosing colors and stitches

Continuing from Part 1:

In the last week I have drawn the design onto linen,

chosen several colors and stitches and started the stitching.

This past week was Thanksgiving and with the time spent visiting there was a lot of opportunity to chat and stitch.

The final image has been simplified to emphasize the rich colors and textures of the wool. A double branch of a blueberry bush with a bit if the “lake” showing in the distance behind the “trunk”. Under the bush are Daisy and a chipmunk, very faintly drawn in permanent ink (I used a Faber-Castell super fine sepia pen). It is really difficult to see in this image but in Part 3 next week the color should be stitched in.

The stitches are all traditional crewel stitches, again keeping the choices simple — long and short, satin, chain, coral, stem/rope, and maybe brick by the time it is complete.
I am keeping detailed notes for those interested in a stitch guide for this design.


Restoring historical documents – 1840 Land Grant signed by President Martin Van Buren

Why do we humans love story so much? Reaching into our past for a story is part of all our lives. The collective story of a country or culture gives insight on current events and helps us navigate our own times. Your family history—oral or documented—adds dimension to cultural traditions which otherwise might languish as dull repetitive motions.

land-grantDocuments which place our ancestors firmly at a point in time create an almost impossible sense of being in the story. Documents such as United States Land Grants from the 19th century are a treasure trove of information on what your ancestors might have experienced in their daily life.

Mat Design

Archival Matting of Works on Paper

Mats on paper art are a relatively new innovation in the care and display of art. Paintings and tapestries predate paper for wall display by centuries. 14th century broadsides are some of the earliest European examples of art for the pleasure of a wide audience via the use of wood blocks to make multiple and inexpensive copies of an image.

By the 1600s the use of copper engraving was employed to illustrate books, particularly for renderings of scientific aspects of plants – formally known as botanicals.


Frederick County Beekeeping Association Logo

I have just completed the new logo for the Frederick County Beekeeping Association, of Maryland. It has been approved by the FCBA members. This diligent group shares a passion for beekeeping, which is not only a rewarding hobby for some and business for others, it’s benefits effect the well being of each of us.

You have probably heard about honeybee colony collapse syndrome. This condition of bees mysteriously disappearing is a topic of concern for farmers and home gardeners alike. While the definite cause has not been determined it is certain that all beekeepers and their hives are part of the solution. The honeybees which provide pollination here in North America are originally from Europe. There were even hives on the Mayflower.


Hand Bound Album for a family keepsake

Albert Menzo Dunlap and Eva Wyman Dunlap leaving for China in 1912
Albert Menzo Dunlap and Eva Wyman Dunlap leaving for China in 1912

In 1912 Dr. and Mrs. Albert M. Dunlap set sail for China. Albert to begin his medical practice as an otolaryngologist and Eva to begin the next phase of her painting life. They built a life together and raised six children. This article though features the five panel image Eva created on their voyage forty plus years later when they returned permanently to the United States.

Family keepsake album with digitally reproduced watercolor of Hong Kong Harbor 1953. Original water color by Eva Wyman Dunlap.
Family keepsake album with digitally reproduced watercolor of Hong Kong Harbor 1953. Original water color by Eva Wyman Dunlap.

Frame design Frames and Mats Uncategorized

Fun Frame Job – Jigsaw Puzzle

Souvenir Jigsaw Puzzle from Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire.

Just how many ways can you spell Winnipesaukee? Apparently a few hundred.

Digital Restoration & Archiving Documents Photographs

Family Bibles

Bible Cover

For the centuries families who were able kept a family bible not only to read daily but to record marriages, births, deaths and the many details which tell a family’s history, genealogy and perhaps their place in society. Over the years these tomes have ample opportunity to fall into disrepair:

Documents Frames and Mats Mat Design Photographs

Fun Frame Job – Chinese Zodiac

Close up of Dragon symbol
Close up of Dragon symbol

Several years ago, in the 90’s, I had a client who had brought in a group of Chinese zodiac symbols painted on and cut out of tissue paper.

These had been acquired on a trip to Asia and while not expensive souvenirs they held a great deal of meaning for my client.

Together we opted to showcase the range of the 60 year Chinese zodiac cycle: 5 elements each represented by one set of a twelve year cycle, each year represented by one of 12 animals.