Canteloupes and melons are a welcome surprise for those of us in the Inland Pacific Northwest Region gardens. We were able to successfully get some canteloupe to produce in the garden this year. But, with our season so short we were surprised when these guys actually grew in time to harvest. The taste is sweet and great, spoiling us for store bought melon forever. We will be starting them earlier inside before putting out to see if we can actually get them up to a larger size and ripe before things get colder.
I found this article by Susan Mulvihill, about growing them here that has a lot of helpful tips.
This tree was trimmed back drastically year before last year after damage in a wind storm and last year had no apples. Here are the first apples coming in this year, less than a dozen, but absolutely heavenly! Sometimes the wait is worth it. Can’t wait till we have a full crop next year…
I can smell the applesauce, bubbling on the stove. The cinammon throughout the house with the apple cider stirring. Oh, and don’t forget the heavenly scent of Pete’s pies… apple pie, Yummmm. Washington State has the worlds best apples! I love them.
What are Winesap Apples?
These are kind of medium sized fruit fitting in the palm of your hand. They are solid skinned with firm sweet/sour honey flavored white or slightly yellow flesh. They are red with yellow/green stripes on the outside. When you sit them on the table they don’t sit perfectly straight as they are a little unevenly grown with the stem kind of off center. They are superb apple pie fruit and tasty lunch partners anytime! If you’d like to learn more about these kinds of apples check out this Apple site.
I 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?
Hours 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With 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.
I 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.
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.
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 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.
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?
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.
Adding various sized drops of Hookers Green to keep it interesting, aiming for shadow behind the flower.
As more area is filled with the greens in the background the petals of the plumeria begin to stand out and shine.
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.
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.
Darkening places in the surroundings at the petal edges accentuate the backgrounds depth.
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!
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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“.