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.