Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Thomas and I are party poopers. We haven't dressed up for Halloween in a long, long time. However we love watching the kids dress up and get into the holiday.

This is my neighbor Maeli and she is a firefighter for Halloween.

May I not forget to mention she is a fashionable firefighter. She wore her glossy red boots on the night we saw her.

What are you dressing up as?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Harvesting in our backyard and in our community

October is almost over and I am still harvesting from my garden. We harvested eggplants, tomatoes, and peppers.

Thomas and I are are very resourceful in finding free food and we often turn to our community to get what we cannot or don't grow ourselves. People also know I am happy taking free food and will can or preserve what I cannot eat right away. As a result we often get free food from friends and neighbors.

Our neighbors Ron & Lucy cleaned out two of their five raised beds this weekend and shared their harvest. We got yummy bok choy, two butternut squash, zucchini and some tomatoes.

In July and August I harvested lavender from the corner shopping center behind our house. I called the owner and asked permission and he was more than happy to share his lavender with me. The shopping center parking lot has over 20 plants. He loves the lavender and I could help myself as long as I took a little from each plant and left some behind. I hope to make lavender stuffed hearts for the mom's and babies at Sutter Hospital.

These delicious golden delicious apples came from a nurse friend from Memorial Hospital. She has 8 trees--maybe more. We took three 5 gallon buckets full and we are welcomed back anytime. These mild apples will make delicious apple juice--which we will freeze for later and dried apple snacks.

These are pineapple guavas. There is a row of about 7 trees in the back parking lot at Coddingtown. The fruit just falls to the ground and rots. It is a shame! We found the trees and picked to our delight. We did take turns looking out for the security guards from the mall. I am sure it would have been alright, but we did hop on the fence to get to the top of the trees. I hope to make some jam following this recipe.

The figs were from a tree near an industrial park in Santa Rosa. This tree is huge and no one picks the fruit. Sadly we got to it towards the end of its season. The ground was full of dried figs just lost to neglect. Next year I'll hit it earlier in the season. We might eat all of the figs we harvested if not, I'll make jam.

The walnuts came from the neighborhood behind RR Square. There are a number of English walnuts in this area and most of the fruit is left for the birds and squirrels. Thomas did some tree shaking while I picked the fruit off the ground. We dried these in the oven and they are supper tasty. I am sure to be cruising the area every other day since the season for walnuts has just begun.

We attended the last Occidental farmers' market of the year on Friday night. A kind and tall farmer gave us this beautiful pumpkin for free. He had grown so many pumpkins he didn't want to load them all back in the truck, so he was giving some away. I am telling you at times I do feel like a free food magnet.

Last week our friend Michael dropped off a huge bag of hot peppers from his garden. What do you do with too many peppers? You preserved them for a later day. I pickled these following this recipe. It was easy to think about what to do because I followed Tigress in a Pickle while she hosted tigress' can jam. She started a canvolution and I am a devoted follower!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Week #4: Halloween

It was a happy day on Saturday when I checked the winners of Photoberfest. There were so many great 'action' entries and I was delighted to learn I got 'honorable mention' for my sunflowers/bee photograph. YEAH!

It is Week #4 and I am sad Photoberfest is almost over : (
Thank you Katie for a spectacular month of photos, creativity and inspiration. I am already a better photographer for it.
My entries for this week are...

These our our friend Russ' huge pumpkins. This year he reached a personal record at 1700+ pounds. Go Russ!

Entry #1

As the days get shorter and colder this broken leaf is a reminder that October is here and the winter months are coming.

Entry #2

This is a beautiful picture of an ugly bird. As October winds down turkey day is coming.

Entry #3

Monday, October 24, 2011

My wish list got a check mark today

For the last three years I have wanted to capture a hummingbird in action but just couldn't. Believe me I have tried but my efforts yielded nothing but disappointment. Today, I got my wish. Over the weekend I noticed a pair of hummingbirds visiting our purple salvia bush in the front yard. My Aunt Lilly was able to get a great picture of one of them. Her success fueled my desire to get my turn. So, when I got home from school, I grabbed my camera and patiently waited by the garage door. The beautiful hummingbird appeared, she flew around the bush taking nectar for about 3 minutes before she took off. It was just perfect. Check-mark: picture of a hummingbird. Done! What do you think?

Of course there were some bad shots or misses.

The hummingbird changed colors depending on what angle you captured. Pretty cool. Next time I'll try to get closer.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Week #3: Action

The party is still happening over at Photoberfest.

These are my entries for Week #3.

This picture was taken a few summers ago. This butterfly just wouldn't hold still but I managed to click just at the right time.
Entry #1

Thomas and I keep bees. We have four hives in our back yard. We love watching them and it has been a personal challenge to snap a good flying shot.
Entry #2

Go Thomas Go!
Running the Healdsburg Half Marathon.
Entry 3#

Thanks Katie for the guest post. Action pictures are fun, fun, fun, fun. Now I'll have more courage to click, click away.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Photoberfest Week 2: Kids

Happy dance, happy dance!
I won "honorable mention" (scroll down to October 8th entry) for our purple potato photo over at Photoberfest. The consideration is a true honor for this hobby photographer. The picture got me a free copy of Katie Evan's e-book The Key To Taking Pictures Like A Photographer. Wow, how serendipitous, I was just rambling about my photography.

This week I am submitting three photos of... KIDS!

This little guy was attending last years Vineman Triathlon event here in Northern CA with his father. I was standing at the corner waiting for some of the pro's to get out of the swim-bike transition area. Of course I look down to see him walking around at his dad's feet and then he bent down to pick something up and well I had to take a picture of him. Sorry little man but you are too cute.

This is Miss Fifi and she is adorable. We were out on a cool morning playing in the park. She is all smiles.

We were up early watching my husband Thomas and my brother-in-law run a marathon in Healdsburg. Maya was up early with us. While we waited we thought it would be a good idea to stop and get some coffee and muffins. Between the counter and the table Maya cried because she wanted her muffin now. I caught her with mouth full of crumbs and tears in her eyes but happy. PHOTO #3

You can see why she really wanted that muffin, can't blame a girl for knowing what she wants.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Random moments on my journey to better photography

These days my camera stays at home and is often not in use because I am feeling stuck with my photography. Is it time for a class? A new challenge? An equipment upgrade?

I am at times really surprise when I capture a moment in time that tells a good story or turns out better than what I set out to do. I love how the color pops Oscars' eye and I feel like I have his point of view.

Capturing deep colors like reds and blues is still hard for me. With this picture I wanted to get a close-up of the color and detail but every time I tried (6 times with different settings and times of day) all I got was a blurry mess of red. This was the best pic. Not bad but not what I wanted. Frustration!

I have been able to play around with the focus subject of the picture to capture a different perspective. It works.

Almost every time but I desire to get even closer. I wanted that lady bug to be 2x or 3x bigger. So it is time for a new lens.

I still stink at taking good indoor pics. This is as good as it gets at times. Lots of shades, a tinge of yellow halo on everything and if I change a thing it becomes overexposed. So, yeah I do need some more instruction.
Thomas is harvesting honey from our hives. It was a deliciously delicate honey this year.

This year I have been working on letting other people take the picture, that way I am included in the action. I like asking others, most people are very happy to oblige.
This was a swarm catch and I stopped a few strangers that were more than happy to chronicle the entire catch. They were visiting from Oregon and asked me to email them the pics.
Now that I have mastered asking others to take the picture I want the courage to take pictures of strangers. I love taking photos of people but don't dare. Oh, I think that is my new challenge! D go out into the world and take photos of strangers at least one a week for 52 weeks.

Eager to catch a good pic I forget about shadows. The good thing is that I review my pics on the camera screen and for the most part am able to catch the mistake and re-take the shot. Got to love DIGITAL!

We are still doing a bit of 'long arm photography'. For some time I was trying to change my ways but we kind of like these awkward photo moments. So now we take them on purpose. We also take foot shots when we go hiking and shadow shots when the sun is setting. The collection of these moments is growing and I see an art project in my near future.

I do hang on to a lot of pictures that don't really need. When I captured this moment I took 13 other pictures of the same thing as I was trying to get it just right. Well I still haven't deleted the 12 that didn't really work. So my computer is loaded with pictures that are meant for the trash. This task will be added to my next to do list. "Delete obsolete photos STAT"

A knitting connection and hope for good things

Many of you know that one of my passions is knitting.
There are a number of reasons I like to knit. It is a pleasurable way to spend my time, it helps me wind down, I learn new techniques, I am mentally stimulated, and I get to produce beautiful things. But I also knit for the good company.

About a month and a half ago I was faced with a sad situation. I have been knitting a shawl and ran out of yarn so I couldn't finish the project. I agonized for a few days about what to do. A few friends suggested I turn to Ravelry, the online kntting community, to look for a match. I was not quick to jump on the suggestion. Instead I went back to my yarn shop, looked through the shelves and sulked. There was no more yarn and a new order wasn't going to be placed for some time. I was also worried about finding a good color match so hunting down the corresponding dye lot felt like a daunting task. Again, my knitting friends gently encouraged me with more specific ways in which I could get help from the Ravelry community. So I took their suggestions.

Since I already belong to Ravelry, I started with a yarn search. Then sent a short but cute email to 5 members who had the Corte D'Azul Malabrigo yarn that I was looking to match. Jean from MN was on of the first to reply but sadly the yarn dye lots didn't match. Again I got discouraged. So I went back to my knitting group with my head full of rational excuses why I should just RIP back all the knitting I had done and frog the project all together. I even remember telling my friend Diane that I couldn't see myself wearing the shawl because of it's round shape. Crazy! Yet again my knitting friends kept encouraging me to try again, to not give up. So when I went home. I had a thought. What if I send Jean from MN a little clipping of my yarn and if she determined there is a match then I could go ahead and buy the hank of yarn from her. If there was no match with Jean then I could try with the other knitters from that original search.
So I ran to my computer, sent her an email and she was quick to reply with an enthusiastic "Yes, let's try." The next day I mailed a 4-inch piece of yarn to MN. A few days later Jean emailed me back ataching six pictures of her hank of yarn next to my swatch of yarn and a cheerful message of hope. It was a match! Jean was also kind enough to send me a darling stitch marker with the yarn.

This week I got the yarn in the mail and it is perfect.
Thank you my lovely knitting friends, thank you Jean from MN, and thank you Ravelry!

I am joining the party!

Katie Evans Photography is hosting and I am joining the fun.

Week 1: Food Photography Contest

Purple potatoes harvested from my garden.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A special place and a bit of history

Thomas and I took a quick overnight trip soak in the Point Arena Hot Springs.

It was a 6 - 6.5 mile hike in.

We interrupted someones dinner.

Fall is here and it shows.

I was so happy just being out in nature. It was nice to get a study/school break.

I couldn't say it any better...
"The Point Arena Hot Springs were a resort in the early 1900s, accessible only by horse carriage. With the advent of the car, they weren't accessed as much. They have mostly disintegrated, although volunteers occasionally rebuild the pools. The main pool (the hottest) is in a tall, narrow cement tank, big enough for one person to stand in. There are four pools total, all with earth bottoms/leaves etc.
The property is owned by a now-defunct logging company, and the parking area is public access.
The hike in is tough, but worth it. Be prepared to camp there." Remarks by Kim Sturmer found on

It rained but we didn't mind.

We soaked and relaxed.

... and relax we did.

The earthen bottom of the hot spring.