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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.

Categories
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:

Categories
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.

Categories
Digital Restoration & Archiving Photographs

Old Comfort Farm

The Mill at Old Comfort Farm
The Mill at Old Comfort Farm

The Mill at Old Comfort Farm digitally restored
The Mill at Old Comfort Farm digitally restored

Old Comfort Farm is situated in the beautiful Maryland farmland of northern Frederick, Maryland. Owners Bill and Bonny Sydnor brought the damaged photo, top, to be restored in time to display when their home was toured as part of the Historic House and Church Tour in Creagerstown, Maryland in September 2009, and featured in the September issue of Frederick Magazine.