Samizdata - 8:50 pm on Apr 7, 2011 (gmt 0)
I have a time machine back-up of the drive-will that work?
Unfortunately the standard procedure to restore the system from Time Machine also requires the OSX install DVD (which you left in Alaska).
As you also have an another iMac, however, you should be able to clone OSX from that to the new drive (in an external case) before fitting it in the dead Mac and restoring any of your wife's photos that you managed to salvage.
CarbonCopyCloner and SuperDuper are free tools that can clone a bootable OSX drive.
Norton Ghost can be a useful tool on Windows but is unlikely to help in this case.