Painting is just another way of keeping a diary ~Pablo Picasso

Monday, July 20, 2015

Mel's Zingy Jam (Plum Cardamom)

Companion photo to last week's still life with all the plums.  It took me a while to boil the plums down to jamminess, and I opted not to use pectin, although near the end of the process I did add some sugar in a moment of weakness.  (The jam is pretty zingy!)  I found a good homesteading website called Northwest Edible Life that had pectin-free jam-making info, and they suggested flavor zings for different fruit.  For plums, the dry zing was cardamom, which is a favorite of mine. I can get green cardamom pods at Natural Grocers, and I grind them up for super fresh cardamom!  The wet zing was port wine, which would probably be a good choice too, but I opted to leave it out.  Once I had pitted all the plums I counted the pits, and I had used 127.  It boiled down into 11 half pint jam jars worth.  Now I just need to work on my designer labels :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


The daily haul from a little plum tree whose branches hang into my backyard.  I guess it's been our California weather this year, but I don't remember this little tree producing quite so many plums last year.  The branches practically touch the ground, they are so full of fruit, and each plum so perfect and sweet!  I managed to give these plums away at an event we attended in Portland yesterday.  For today's plums I decided to explore making some sort of jam without sugar, if I can find a recipe.  If I don't pick them daily, they drop into the yard and split open. I'll have more again tomorrow, then the supply will taper off. And I almost forgot to mention, I included my tile project in the photo.  I purchased these cute handmade tiles on Etsy earlier in the summer, and fixed up my old bistro table.  Shannon Cunningham Studio is where I got them.  Very cute and festive!

Sunday, July 5, 2015


Just one example of the beautiful wildflowers blooming near Mt. Adams this summer. Before my hike at Bird Creek Meadow I had only seen the red-orange version of Indian paintbrush. Along the meadow trail both the red-orange version and this more pinkish rose-colored version are common. At first I thought this flower was not Indian paintbrush, but after exploring a little on the internet I've learned that varieties of this flower bloom in all sunset shades including purple and gold.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Gorge-ous Sunrise

After at least a dozen sunrise drives up the gorge in the past year, I was finally rewarded with a colorful sunrise! And in summer, no less! We left later than planned on Saturday so I thought I would miss the twilight and sunrise times, and I did. But maybe because of the heatwave we're going through, there was a surprising amount of haze in the air, and the sun rose weak and red, and the sky glowed a great peachy orange. A short backtracking detour to the westbound vista point near Multnomah Falls got me to the vantage point photographed here. Lucky, lucky timing!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Bird Creek Meadow

Flower Field in Litzlberg  (1905)
  Gustav Klimt
A snapshot showing the variety and abundance of wildflowers blooming last weekend along the Bird Creek Meadow Trail near Mt. Adams. Flowers, bees, and butterflies were everywhere, and although I didn't hike far enough to come upon a large meadow vista, I did want to capture all the colors.  Last week I  was thinking back to the artistic photography class I took over the winter, and how much I got out of the assignments where I had to photograph in the style of a famous artist. I figured I could continue to work on that myself, and randomly checked out a Klimt Landscapes book. Even though the lighting on the hike was a little bright for my liking, this particular photo does a passably good job of replicating Klimt's mosaic-like, detailed foliage style of painting...but not his composition, so I'm going to keep working on the photo.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

2012 Fire

Seems like lots of wild fires burning along the west coast this summer. We've got an unusually hot and dry summer this yeR in the Pacific Northwest. Driving up to Bird Creek Meadow just north of Trout Lake, Washington, you pass through remnants of a forest fire, which I believe burned during the summer of 2012.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Bird Creek

I made a little stop at these falls along my adventurous drive to Bird Creek Meadow.  A very minimal bridge crossed this creek, and just after the bridge was the first tiny turnout on my route.  It turns out that this unmarked creek was none other than Bird Creek, which maybe seems intuitive, but the number of rivers and creeks flowing from Mt. Adams is quite numerous, so I wasn't making any assumptions.  Especially since I drove maybe 3 or 4 miles past this creek to the trail head.  The area around the small falls and turnout was surprisingly inviting, given the ruggedness of the drive thus far, and it seemed to me like a marvelous spot for a picnic table.  Lots of inviting flat rocks around though, so I'm imaging this as a nice little rest stop the next time I venture up to Mt. Adams.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Mt. Adams

Well...after a pretty long break, I'm back posting, at least for a little while.  I have to say I've enjoyed the time off, and as much as I want to be out with my camera again this is a hard time of year for my photography.  The sun rises so early and sets so late, and when it's up, the light is so harsh.  But over the weekend, Bill and I got up super early to head to Mt. Adams country.  He was participating in a bike tour there, so I dropped him off and headed up to Bird Creek Meadow, which I read was a beautiful wildflower hike near Mt. Adams.  It was beautiful, but as it turns out I didn't have quite enough time for it.  I had to drive only 11 miles up a gravel then dirt road to get to the trail head, but the road was in such poor condition that it took me an hour to drive that stretch.  Then I hiked for another hour and a half, which got me to the point where I took this photo.  Lovely, lovely, overwhelming number of wildflowers the whole way, but I don't think I quite made it to the large meadow before I had to turn back.  And even though we got up at 4am for this trip, by the time I got to this almost meadow section of the hike it was 11am and way too bright for photography!  I'd like to try this hike again, but logistically I need to figure out how to make it work.  In the meantime, I've got a few more photos to share in the coming days.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Chai with Anna at North Shore Cafe

It's been way too long since I've been out with my camera and away from the blog, but I have  been practicing with another hobby I picked up this year. Over the winter I checked out and worked my way through Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards.  So a variation for the blog today...a sketch of Anna from our trip to North Shore Cafe for some chai. She did her writing thing, and I did my sketching thing. I was out in the Hood River area working with my printer on the various proofs for the 2016 calendar, and I'm so happy to say that I approved the proof yesterday, so the calendar has gone to print...and I am moving on to 2017! Also I'm working on a few weekend day trips to both beach and mountains, so hopefully I will be more of a regular on the blog soon...

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Canola, or Maybe Mustard

I have to admit, I can't really identify any of the plants that grow in the Palouse.  It's not like the Midwest where I grew up, corn and soybeans are pretty easy to tell apart.  I don't know wheat from lentils.  I initially assumed that this yellow flowering crop was canola, but I read online that canola and mustard are hard to tell apart to the untrained eye.  I also read that if you plant one of these crops in a field than you can never plant the other, because they cross to form a plant known as rapeseed, which is evidently a very unwelcome crop.  When I was in the Palouse last week I wandered through the Moscow Farmer's Market, and there was a vendor selling something I believe he called Canolina Oil, which was made from a mustard seed, but not the same as the mustard oil you would find at an ethnic grocery.  I tried some and thought it tasted delicious!  He had a lot of statistics and data worked up by the WSU campus to show all the health benefits, but I was a little skeptical on how well it would store given that he compared it against flax oil which oxidizes so quickly.  Anyway, that's my wishy-washy experience with this yellow flowering crop, whatever it is.  Not exactly my most definitive post!  :)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Isolated Thunderstorm

I often hear the weather forecast mention isolated thunderstorms, but don't see them that much. Especially not in such a dramatic setting as the descent to the Snake River separating Lewiston, Idaho and Clarkston, Washington. The river is also considered the southern border for the Palouse grain-growing region. Bright blue skies and puffy white cumulus clouds in every direction but the Snake River canyon.
Linking to Skywatch Friday

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Palouse Study #3

Continuing my Palouse series with a cheery crayola scene... Visiting the Palouse, I got a sense of the region right away, but conveying that sense in a photograph has been tricky for me. I think it helps to have a subject in the frame; it still shows the vastness of the terrain, and in fact maybe even more than with just open field and sky. And as for subject, I always love a red barn!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Palouse Study #2

I visited the Palouse last spring during a college-shopping trip; that was my first chance to photograph this grain and lentil-growing region.  Then I tended to photograph in a more abstract way, which I have a habit of doing.  This year I decided to try to get a better landscape view and in fact I never changed my 17-55mm lens the entire time I was there, which is really rare for me because I love my zoom lens.  I struggled with the larger view though.  Over the course of the day I decided that a higher vantage point looking down was better, but I don't entirely object to a flatter view like the one photographed here.  There was certainly no shortage of rolling hills, shades of green, and puffy clouds for me to practice on!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Palouse Study #1

I've just returned from a beautiful weekend in the Palouse, and I have a series of photos to share from this grain-growing region in Eastern Washington and Western Idaho.  Saturday was warm and sunny, and puffy white clouds increased throughout the day, culminating in a dramatic isolated thunderstorm over the Snake River.  I decided to show my favorites in order, so the clouds will grow with each photo.  I stayed in Moscow, Idaho, home of the University of Idaho and in my opinion the cultural mecca of the Palouse, so my sightseeing starts in Idaho on a sunny morning under minimal cloud cover.  And in spite of the low cloud cover, the morning weather included a lot of moving cloud shadows, which show in this photo: a dark shadow in the background and growing shadow in the foreground, with the cute little tree in the bright sun.  Be prepared for a sunny, cheery week of photos!

Friday, May 29, 2015


At the far end of Lake Chelan is the town of Stehekin, and there are only three ways to get there. Boat, seaplane, or hike through the North Cascades.  Part of the charm is the remoteness. The first time we visited here in 2006 there was no outside contact except satellite phone.  When we were here over Memorial Day weekend there was some very limited wifi at the shop by the marina.  Until a tree knocked out power and the backup generator kicked in. No TV, no internet, no cell phones. Such a peaceful, idyllic spot to get away from it all!
*Background info update:* Lake Chelan is the largest natural lake in Washington. It's a narrow 50 mile lake bordered by the Cascade and Chelan Mountains, and it fills a deep underwater gorge, 1486 ft. at the deepest point. Stehekin is at the far northeastern point of the lake. At the other end of the lake sits the town of Chelan where you can park in the overnight lot and take one of several ferries uplake. This is the most common method of getting to Stehekin. On our uplake journey we took the Lady of the Lake II, a 4 1/2 hour trip which included multiple stops along the way to drop off hikers , including 70 Boy Scouts.  On the return trip we took the Lady Express and got back down to Chelan in 2 1/2 hours.