Monthly Archives: September 2011

The big 4-0

Today is my birthday - the big 4-0.  Amber has been incredibly nice.  She made me breakfast in bed, made dinner plans for us tonight, and has a party planned for tomorrow.

It's a little strange to be celebrating my 40th birthday, but as my dad would say, it beats the alternative.

Thanks to my sweetie for all her super efforts to make my birthday a special one.  

Blog Updates

I updated the blog this morning to use Umbraco 4.7.0.  Everything seems to be working, but if you notice any issues, please make a comment and let me know.

Thanks!

Bread making

One of the great wedding gifts from my family was a Kitchen Aid stand mixer.  (Thanks again, Dad!  Thanks again, Tracy!)  We had been hoping that it was be making all sorts of delicious baked goodies for us, but when we looked in the box, we discovered it was just sitting idle.  So we decided to try bread making using the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  Here's a video of our inaugural use of the mixer about two weeks ago.

The kitchenaid at work

We've since made two batches of the master recipe from the book, which are big enough to make about four loaves of bread depending on the type.

After the dough was done in the mixer, it went into our bucket for it's initial rise:

In the bucket

After the two-hour rise, it has approximately doubled in volume:

Rise!

The dough goes in the fridge and the next day you can start making bread (hence the five minutes a day).  Here's our first loaf resting on the peel:

On the peel

The top is now sliced and it is ready to go in the oven:

Sliced and ready to bake

Happily waiting for fresh bread…

Mmm... bread...

Here's our first loaf.  A little too brown, but still very tasty.

It worked! Perfect crumb

Our second attempt was a little more done to my liking:

Getting better all the time

Using this recipe, in the last two weeks we've also made pizza on the grill, baked a loaf of sandwich bread, made baguettes, and tonight we made pita to go with dinner.  All very tasty.  We are no longer slaves to the artisan bread industrial complex!

The wedding photo booth – part two

As promised, this is my follow-up post on our DIY wedding photo booth.  I'll probably do one more where I go into more detail about the code, but this will cover the integration of the pieces, starting with the software.

As mentioned before, I wrote a custom application to run on my netbook.  Basically, I wanted it to be very easy for everyone to use, so I basically limited the interface to "Press a key to continue" kinds of interactions.  If you watch the video, you can see a complete demo I recorded tonight.

Photo booth application demo


Of course, one of the critical components was going to be the camera.  Photo booths are not known for great photography, so we didn't need something too high-end, but we did want decent images.  Since I could use my discount at the company store, I got the MS LifeCam Cinema.  In hindsight, I should have gone with the LifeCam Studio since it can be mounted on a tripod, but the Cinema worked well enough.

I wrote the software so that it would print out the guest's photos on a 4x6 photo paper when they were done.  To do that, we needed a decent photo printer.  After a little bit of research, we settled on the Canon PIXMA MG5220.  Of course, immediately after I bought it, I started seeing them for less than I paid, but that's just life, I suppose.  In any case, we couldn't have been happier with how it worked out.  It prints great photos and it holds enough paper that it didn't have to be constantly reloaded throughout the night.

Lighting was another problem to solve.  We weren't sure what the light levels were going to be like at the hall, so we needed to find some way to ensure enough light in our booth.  It took a while, but we finally found some clip-on lights at Target that would do the job.

Lighting in the booth

They look pretty bright here, but we used low wattage bulbs so we wouldn't blind our guests as they were having their pictures taken.  As you can see, the netbook is setup on a small table in the booth.  The printer sat on a table outside the booth so a new guest could get their picture taken while the previous guest waited for their prints.

Thanks again to Amber's mom, we also covered some of the exposed PVC pipe with sleeves so they would look better in the photos.  You can see them better in this picture:

Sleeves

We didn't get a really good shot of the booth completely assembled at the wedding, but here's the best one so far:

The booth at the wedding

And of course, my favorite picture:

Amber and me post ceremony

Everything turned out really well, but of course if we had it to do again, I'd probably make some changes.  The main thing would have to be the color of the fabric.  It was just a little too dark, which made the lighting that much more difficult.

It was a fun project and everyone seemed to really enjoy it at the wedding.  There were 175 sets taken all told, including retakes.  Some of these strained the capacity of the booth, but they turned out great.

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We couldn't have done it without help from Amber's mom, Vicky, and our good friend Teri who kept an eye on the booth throughout the night to make sure it ran smoothly.  Thanks again!