Canning Tomatoes

Garden Canning

tomato canning fooling aroundI was fortunate to have a 12-year-old fabulous helper today named Nathanael, who is doing this canning tomatoes thing for his first time. He did not volunteer for the position, but instead was coerced into it by his Grandma. We were down in the garden today and have some tomatoes harvested. You can see some of them on the table being sorted through to find the ripe ones to put in the canning pile.

 

Wait a minute. Is that worker fooling around there instead of sorting?

variety of tomatoes on counterHours later, we are finally ready to can our tomatoes with a good selection on the counter. We had quite a wide variety this year due to many volunteers popping up all over our garden. Beef steaks, Burgundy Reds, Glaciers, Early Girls, Romas and Large Cherry tomatoes. Really, really large cherry tomatoes.

 

Complicated, canning tomatoes

Nathanael learned the whole canning process this year. How to blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 10-12 seconds and then quickly set in cold water in the sink. It is fun to see how easy it is to peel and core them this way. We work to get our jar funnel with hot lid seals and rings ready and waiting for us on the counter next to the stove.Nathanael getting jarstomato canning jar bath

After a simmer in the saucepan with us stirring constantly, we are ready for the next step. Pouring the hot tomato sauce into hot jars lined-up on the counter, cleaning the jar lids and carefully placing the seal and tightening the ring. During this simmering process for the tomatoes we are also heating up our big canning pot “water bath” so we can seal the jars in it after we put the sauce into the jars.

Putting the jars into the boiling water bath is kind of tricky. Hot and a little dangerous. Canning has one of the strangest tools ever invented. Here is Nathanael getting used to the thing-a-ma-jig plier thingy used to pick up the steaming hot jars out of the boiling water.got tomatoes canned

Every year we put a supply of products; tomato sauce, catsup and salsa in the pantry covering our needs for the next 9-12 months. We also end up giving canned foods to family and friends but only if they return the empty jars. It is kind of an unspoken rule. We enjoy eating fresher, sweeter vegetables without additives.

Yellow Rose Watercolor Steps

yellow rose 07
Doing a rose watercolor involves many steps. Most of the time I can describe my steps simply as washes-on-top-of, washes-on-top-of, washes and so forth. I tend to pile up layers and layers of wash until I like what I see.

Do you know the meaning of the yellow rose?

yellow rose watercolor 08

I began with this yellow rose layout in a sketch. I put a real light wash in the body of the flower bloom first. Being carefully light with the paint I add the long stem and it’s leaves, along with the little bud peeking out on the left side. I am encouraged.

Changed Backgrounds

Lately, I have noticed that I have a habit of painting backgrounds with tons of detail going to the very edge of the paper. To change things up, I will work on getting a dramatic background without walking in those footsteps this time. The biggest realization I have is that this is not going to be good without some serious background to help it pop out. The challenge will be to make an appropriate background that pops but doesn’t take over the main image.

Rose Watercolors

A light yellow rose watercolor can very easily fade into a white background and become a ghost. The background is my beginning to remedying that. With violet wash as a background I add a mixture of Crimson with it on wet areas to the edges of my main character. A good change, don’t you think? 

Dropping vermillion or cadmium reds into these areas give a little more zing as it bleeds into the background violet and crimson.yellow rose 09yellow rose 12

Examining the watercolor rose procedure pictures I’ve taken makes another step that I take real apparent. The picture that I took of the blossom is the reference for the rose watercolor.

Never hesitate to get your old fashioned gear out. Improve by using “photography technique” along with that “real camera” (not a smart phone). Nothing, takes the place of good reference material. If you are trying to improve and learn about where the light hits and shadows extends to, use a well lit photograph. There are millions of amateur photographers out there flooding FaceBook and the image banks with junk, but very few “real skilled photographers” capturing memorable shots with enlightened essence anymore.

Dryly Enlightening

At this point we are looking at the dry version of this watercolor painting. Take note of the differences between the last two images and you will see a noticeable amount of fading occurs as the paints dry. While looking at a wet painting, there are many times that I am tempted to dab a bit of the pigment out of it because it seems so very bright when wet. If I can resist that urge, I am usually a lot happier with the result because the paints do fade so very much by the time they are dry.

yellow rose watercolor 13

Sketch a Rose

sketch yellow rose

Sketching First

The sketch is the first step in any painting project for me. My photograph is cropped in real close to show only the petals on the yellow rose of friendship bloom. The way the light changes the yellow into gold is magnetic. However, it really doesn’t speak to me so I end up adding a long stem and another bud on the left to give your eyes a place to journey. I’m beginning to see some action in the layout with the addition of the foliage and bud, and am ready to proceed now.

 

Yellow Rose 2With this beautiful yellow rose sketch I carefully recreated the petals from the photograph, and then lay it out on the table right next to where I begin to paint. I also have the actual flower in front of me as I begin to paint so I can get the colors right but the first part is usually dark areas taken from the dark values in the B&W print. My goal is to get the soft light to yellow fading (wet on wet) on each petal surface first and then add in shadow.

Reference Setup

 

Yellow Rose 1I am not going to use resist or mastic to reserve the whites, and instead be careful to reserve these light areas of paper. These first three images show the desk setup with the reference materials, paint pallet with brushes. Working on the first three petals establishes which colors seem to work best. After wetting the petal area, I fill my brush with Aureolin Yellow and drag along the darker edge to the center leaving a puddle of color at the center, this one lets other colors wash over it. Using a darker orange yellow named, New Gamboge, to drop in color where more brilliance in the yellow is desired.Yellow Rose 3

Yellow Rose Blooms

Treasured Fragrance

Yellow Rose Blossom
Blossom Yellow Rose

A golden hybrid tea rose that we planted as a bare root one year ago, offered its first yellow rose blossom today and it is a true beauty. There is a slight fragrance from it’s petals and it is opening in a most graceful form. Though these floral beauties have an abundance of thorns, they are still a favored flowers for many gardeners. There is just an overpowering attraction to the fragrance that they fill the air with along with their soft fluffy petals.

My husband and I both love roses and gardening. The first date we had, I saw his rose garden. His green thumb showed beautifully with a dark red rose bush covering the whole corner of his garden right at the sidewalk that you walked into his house. This rose looked so happy and full of fragrant blossoms I immediately knew he was a man to take a really close look at, a keeper.

Ongoing Growth

Many years have passed since we first met, and we have both built a large garden now in the wilderness of Elk WA, a beautiful mountainous area in the rural areas of northern Spokane. We do not have an unlimited budget so the planting of beautiful flowers has taken longer than the staples like vegetables, berries, fruit, and spices, one thing at a time.

I will have to render this beauty in the studio.

 

Thrift Store Score

pot on the shelf with price tag
innocuous pot on shelf

It Pays to Keep Your Eyes Open

I was on the lookout for a thrift store score  while shopping at Value Village in downtown Spokane. I was casually walking through the kitchen utensils, pots and pans even though I had no need for more stuff like that. Suddenly, I noticed this item on the top shelf, I could see what looked like a large aluminum canning boiler for $14.99. Hmmmm, why would the price for this aluminum pot be $14.99 when the one next to it was an enamel coated canner at $8.99? Strange.

Curiosity getting the best of me, I turned the pot a little and caught site of the tube that was hiding on the back side. Oh My Gosh!

You’d have to know me better to understand why I grabbed this as fast as I could. After placing it in my cart I was doing a little jig and dancing down the isle. GIG! People started making large arcs around me in their travel patterns like there was really something wrong with me.

A Note of Explanation

This is a great canning tool I have been wanting for a long time. I’ve been saving change in the little coffee can to purchase us one.  Even though I always kept an eye out for one, I had not been successful in finding a thrift store score, or even any at garage sales for at least two canning seasons. I was no where near saving enough to buy a new one yet, even the $80 one was way out of sight for us. Here are some Google’d available purchase options from the internet to show you about these steamer juicers.

Back to Basics Aluminum Steam Juicer – A12 (Discontinued by Manufacturer) selling for $182

or this one

Victorio Steam Juicer with Glass Lid (Aluminum) selling for $80

steam juicer aluminum
aluminun steam juicer & canner

Borrowing

I have a sister-in-law whom I borrowed this exact same unit from, on a regular basis to make juices, jams, syrups etc etc etc. I honestly believe that Dan and Ann got so tired of Pete and I using her juicer every canning season, that they simply decided to move away. Not just a little move either, it was far enough away so I could not drive over and borrow the steamer again. It was all the way to Alabama from Washington state… is that far enough? Actually, I think they would have to start doing the South America thing if they wanted to get any further away. It really had nothing to do with their grandkids living there, I’m sure. LOL!

Ann! look at what I found :)! Could you send up some peaches and pears so we can make some juices? LOL!

I get a real kick out of going to garage sales, thrift stores and online at Craigslist or other places. Sometimes, people make fun of me because of the scores I find, and how I absolutely jump up and down in joy when I get a find like this.  I feel safer hoping and finding in estate sales, garage sales and thrift stores because I won’t be spending our hard earned cash on overpriced items? I don’t know. It is truly fun for me to find useful things out of someone else’s throw aways. I may be just fulfilling a deep desire or fixation to shop combined with fears of bankruptcy. This cheaper avenue to shop is probably so I don’t bankrupt our budget? What do you think?

Plumerias

Plumerias come to life

After getting the plumerias color and shapes defined it becomes obvious that the white background is not going to work. The flowers are fading off into their background. I don’t want a completely solid background to the edges so I experiment as I go, applying very light washes of Sap Green first then Veridian or Thalo Green in spots.

plumeriaJH01
plumeria blossoms 01

Adding various sized drops of Hookers Green to keep it interesting, aiming for shadow behind the flower.

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plumeria blossoms 02

As more area is filled with the greens in the background the petals of the plumeria begin to stand out and shine.

plumeriaJH05
plumeria blossoms 05

Now I begin adding some Royal Blue shadows along with Ultramarine Blue, and purples. Some depth is showing where one blossom overlaps another. These transparent washes really bring out real looking shadows.

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plumeria blossoms 06

Note the difference when a shadow is added, where the red blossom overlaps the pink/orange blossom behind and where the white petal overlaps also.

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plumeria blossoms 06

Darkening places in the surroundings at the petal edges accentuate the backgrounds depth.

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plumeria blossoms 08

Done, it is confusing which way it should be hung, so I am happy that I don’t have to decide. Flattening the paper out overnight by wetting on the back side and laying face down with a heavy board overnight and allowing it to dry. Then packing to send off in the mail. Hoping that it arrives on time for Jeanie Hollands Birthday! Love You Jeannie!

plumeriaJH09
plumeria blossoms 09

More posts like this are under the “Watercolor” category.

Plumeria Watercolor in Process

Plumeria White Ylw 02
Plumeria White & Yellow 02

This watercolor in process recreates how the flowers look when they are rinsed and spread across a kitchen table, while stringing leis.

Notice the yellow centered white plumerias have a brilliant center fading out to white edges and tip. To accomplish this I wet the entire petal area so I can do a wet-on-wet process with the paint. Fill a brush with Aurolean yellow. Begin applying by pulling from the tip on the outside edge of the petal to the interior in the center and lifting the brush. This leaves a wonderful puddle of light yellow bleeding out evenly and gradually to the outer edges of the petal. Do the other side of the petal.

The next shade is New Gambouge, which is a kind of orangish yellow. Same brush loaded with color, then pulling from about 3/4 or 1/2 of the petal length to the inside and lifting again at the center to produce that darker orange tint in the center. Do both sides of petal. In the image below, you can see how the New Gambouge further defines the radiance of that center area and push it into the distance.

Darkening the Center

Plumeria White Yellow 03

Apply using light touch with a smaller brush of Daniel Smith Quinacridone Gold or an orange brown to your liking, to emphasize edges and the center even more. I notice a darker shadow right under the edges of where the petal folds up on the sides remaining white. This underneath surface of the petal is where I apply the darker color sparingly.

Shadows

Finally, with same small brush I drop a little pool drop of Dioxazine Purple right in the middle where you would insert your needle to string a lei. Purples are a perfect “shadow maker” for yellows. The wet surface lets the purple bleed naturally out into the petal making an incredibly believable shadow and depth.  I also use this same purple in very light washes to create drop shadows where the flowers overlap each other, edge outlines and stems peek out from behind.

Reds and Pinks

PlumeriaRedPink
Plumeria red & pink

The same steps are taken with the red plumeria sing the wet-on-wet process. Using a light wash of Alizarin Crimson, adding Purple Lake, touching with Vermillion then more Alizarin Crimson in the middle. Last is that drop of Dioxazine Purple in the center. For the pink the same steps but what I noticed is that there is almost a stripe effect with the different colors on each petal. I start with an Alizarin Chrimson, adding Vermillion, adding Pyrrol Orange, then Cadmium Yellow Pale in stripes that I let bleed into each other. Again, the last is that drop of Dioxazine Purple in the center.

More posts like these are under the category of “Watercolor”

PLUMERIA memories

Painting PLUMERIA memories can be accomplished if you have enough memories stored away to work from in your mind. Lately, I’ve been doing watercolor paintings of flowers that I used to make lei’s of where I grew up in Kaneohe (Kahalu’u), Hawaii. It is funny cause I start from looking at various photographs from the client and before I know it, I am just painting the colors and textures that I remember. I can almost see and smell a flower in my hands and these memories seem to guide my brush.

plumeriaWhiteYlw
plumeria white and yellow

Right after I finished my client’s piece, I started on my own plumeria memories for a favorite family member’s birthday coming up. She and I made many lei’s together. Starting with multiple sketches of flowers until I arrive at an arrangement that suits me.

plumeria sketch JH
plumeria sketch
plumeriaWhiteYlw
pink plumeria blossoms

The plumeria tree has big pointed dark green leaves, and produces a thick stem that branches out to multiple pods, creating a bunch of blossoms. The plumeria is a 5 petal flower with pointed ends spreading out in an equal circular fashion. It has a sturdy tube constructed from it’s petals-creating an easy to string tube stem that begins as a cone shape coming down from the blossom consolidating into a smaller diameter to where it anchors onto the tree. While picking, you have to take care to keep the milky sap off of yourself. It really is poisonous but honestly, I have never known anyone stupid (lo lo) enough to eat that yucky tasting stuff. I remember doing the “wash your hands” thing right after picking or lei making cause it was so sticky and tasted quite vile (pilau) if you ate something and licked your fingers.

Youth FULL OF Lei Making

In elementary school the designs were fun and simple, but in high school serious designs were done to enter the May Day Lei Making contest at the state capitol. Lei making is truly an art and many Hawaiians excell at creating gorgeous and fragrant creations that are a joy to see and wear. My favorite lei is still the puakinikini for it’s wonderful sweet fragrance, it is almost a magical entrancing aroma.

Back Home

We had large plumeria trees lining the dirt road in the front of our house and people used to come and knock on our door to ask permission to pick. Those trees provided the whole neighborhood with an abundance of blooming treasures to create with and me with a lifetime of painting plumerias from memory.

There was a great big one that had thick white petals with bright yellow centers and a truly heavenly perfume and the thick petals allowed it to last the longest in a lei. Right next to it was a established old tree with blossoms that had a more slender and thinner type of petal with brilliant pinks and the yellow center, it had not so sweet or heavy of a fragrance and didn’t last quite as long.

The only color missing was the dark red, at our house so I got a branch from a friend to plant in the back yard. With careful planting, watering and care, it took off and grew into a beautiful tree right in the guava orchard in the back yard. It took a couple of years before it was big enough to supply “a grocery sack-full” of flowers to work with, but even with little amounts of the dark reds some really interesting patterns and designs in our lei making came from them.

More posts like this are under the category of “Watercolors“.

Flowers Blooming Everywhere

They’re everywhere

The garden has flowers blooming everywhere and it has become quite an inspiration to my artistic soul. I can’t seem to quit painting the bright petals waving in the wind. Walking down with the intention of weeding, harvesting and checking everything, and the next thing I know, I am photographing the beautiful explosions of color everywhere. I can’t help myself, there really are flowers blooming where ever I look.

garden flowers
garden flowers and house

Progressive accumulation of beauty

We have spent years building the fences and slowly planting the whole garden as economically as we can. Flowers were not as high on the list as vegetables and fruit bushes and trees. But now, I have saved seeds for most all the established crops that we plant every year, so now I can buy a couple nice flower seeds or starts each year. We want plenty of flowers blooming that attract the bees and butterflies so pollination happens, and the marigolds are being planted as a deterrent to the buggy pests that don’t like their smell. We are using old fashioned methods that don’t have chemicals to worry about in our food.

First Impression Entering Garden

In this picture you can see the view from standing right when you enter the main garden gate and turn right to look back up the hill.

This thick patch of flowers up close were actually accidental. I had been spreading marigold and dahlia seeds along our driveway and couldn’t figure out why they were not sprouting up. I thought that I must have not dried them correctly and I had screwed them up. When I walked in the garden, I gave up and just scattered half a coffee can full of flower seed on the ground. Marigolds, dahlias, marigolds, dahlias.

Walked away thinking some should sprout.

A couple of weeks later, there were more marigolds and dahlias sprouting up than I have ever seen. I started transplanting the marigolds in a row along the fenceline and have done just over 3/4 of the whole garden. Our garden is big, and it is true that marigolds help keep away pests. I read it in a real book and also on the internet here.

I tried transplanting more blossoms outside of the garden and found out that Bambi absolutely loves to eat marigolds. Now I know, why none of my seeds came up along the driveway at the beginning of the season, they were hors d’ouvres for the deer population.

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Pickin’ Choke Cherry Berries

Choke Cherry’s

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Choke cherry picking is one of the funnest kinds of berry picking! They fall off in clumps into your bucket when you pick like you are milking a cow. Near my friends house in northern Spokane, Washington my friend noticed some loaded ripe chokecherry bushes during a walk through the trees with her little dog, Skippy. She gave me a call and we met the next afternoon to get some. Choke cherry jam is super “ono” luscious!

Berry Pickin’ Friends

choke cherry picking
Linda P. choke cherry pickin

I am so happy to have a berry pickin’ friend, Linda, sorry about the branch in front of her face. My friend is very special to me because she is a true berry picking cohort. Who can you call and say, Hey, the berries are on over here do you want to go pick? I know her response will be, Sure!, if it is at all possible. Then we either meet at the trail head or drive together to the location and pick to our hearts content.

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There is no babysitting required between the two of us. We both love the outdoors, and peace & quiet of harvesting these delicious little fruits, even though there is rarely much peace and quiet as we cruise together and talk about all kinds of stuff.  A good friend that loves gardening, cooking, flowers and berry picking is really a treasure to any pirate soul like me.

Want to Get to Know Someone?

Go pick some berries with ’em. I remember the first time Linda and I went up in the mountains to pick huckleberries together. Not knowing her very well,  I assumed that she may not know what is needed, and boy was I wrong! Bringing an extra bucket with the basics that most people forget about, lunch for two, water, bug spray, TP, sunblock I found that was not even necessary. She surprised me at how prepared she was showing up with jeans, comfy shoes, and long sleeve light shirt with lunch, water, TP, small bucket (with bungie cord belt to hold it close at the waist), along with a hat and jacket. I have learned so very much about picking berries from this expert already.

Larry and Pete in garden
Larry and Pete in garden

Here are our better halves discussing important world events in our the garden. Linda and I are so lucky to have found the best husbands who also enjoy each others company.

I count my blessings every time Linda and I go for berries together. We get to see some of the best views in the mountains as we walk and talk, and when we get home we can exchange recipes for the best jellies, jams, and syrups that ever existed on the planet. We get together to do dinner and play cards together as often as possible. Thank God for the gift of wonderful friends to share our lives with.