Monday, August 25, 2008

Photoshop CS3

For my birthday Chris (wonderful, thoughtful Chris) and his mom (Patti, who is also very thoughtful) went in together to buy me not only photoshop lightroom, which I'd been mooning over, but a bundle that included lightroom and photoshop CS3. This is the newest version of this wonderful software, and I'm a long way from knowing how to use it. So far though, I'm thinking it's going to be fun. The first test was to see if I could create an interesting new blog header. So right up there, that's my first attempt.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Purple Tacos

Chris and I joined the CSA for next season, starting the first week of September. We were thinking about it for a long time, and finally decided it was the right thing to do. We've been listening to Barbara Kingsolver (who has long been one of my favorite authors) read her book, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" (in the form of an audio book).
The book is about her family's decision to move to Kentucky and eat locally for a year. She frames it in a way that is positive. They're doing it because it tastes good, it feels good, and its impact seems good in many different ways. I highly recommend the book for anyone who wants to be inspired to spend a little extra cash at a weekly farmer's market to support local farmers and enjoy some very tasty veggies.
Anyway, we're practicing eating more veggies, and being more creative with our meals.
Tonight we ate with our friend Louisa, and we made tacos. It wasn't intentional, but the tacos turned out to be almost entirely purple. We had blue corn taco shells, purple cabbage, and even purple tomatoes (although they look red in the photo).



Purple is my favorite color so I really liked these tacos, even more than some other kind of tacos that turned out to be an unusual color.

More babies

Here is another photo of Fran's new baby, Tristan. I love his tie dye.



Magan's daughter, who calls herself "Lala" is amazingly adorable. She looks like a little porcelain doll, speaks Spanish as well as English, and uses them both in a single sentence quite often.



As you can probably tell, she's not terribly shy and seems pretty comfortable in front of a camera.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cloud portal


Cloud portal
Originally uploaded by emery_rose
I took this photo from the car. I think it looks like a doorway or a portal into another world. There was another, smaller opening in the clouds that opened up a to the right of it a little later. One thing I've always liked about clouds is that they look so 'unrealistic.' By this I mean that no matter how perfectly realistically you were to paint clouds, they never look realistic in the painting. You look at a painting and think, "those clouds couldn't have been that orange..." I once did a painting where the sky was blue and the clouds were sort of reddish orange. Someone really said to me, "if the clouds were red, the sky wouldn't be blue." Hmm.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Yellows

We went up to Flagstaff over the weekend and saw several of our close friends. Part of the reason for going was to visit Magan, my longtime friend who now lives in Chile with her gorgeous little daughter and husband. They are visiting for a few weeks, and we love getting to see them. We were pleasantly surprised to arrive and find out that Luellen, another great friend, had changed her travel plans and flew from Ethiopia to Arizona. We had a wonderful time catching up. I'll have more photos, but here are just a couple of somewhat abstract ones that I liked. I left mostly the yellows in both images, and like the way it makes the subjects stand out.

This is Fran and her new baby. I'll have a few more of him. I like the way her neck is in focus, and the rest is a little softer.




Lu showed up after a summer in Ethiopia wearing all these pretty bracelets. These ladies have great style.



It was amazing to be with these women that I've grown up with. We all look the same every time, but now there are babies and children in the midst of everything. The changes in the little ones is the only way to tell any time has passed since we were last together, and who knows how long before they're all in Arizona again.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Happy Birthday to Amy



HAppY BirThdAY to YOu
HaPPy bIRthDay To yOU
hAPpy BirTHDaY DeAr AMY
HapPY biRThDAy To YOu

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Prickly Pear Processing

As I said in my last post, we were trying two different techniques for processing the prickly pears. Tasha told me that you have to do something with them within a couple of days or else they start to ferment. We could only fit about half of them in the freezer, so we had to do something else with the others.
Chris read that you can use a blender to process them. To me this sounded like a huge mess. The seeds would be ground into the pulp, the skin, the blender would be filled with spines, etc. etc...
I was wrong. Wrong.



Putting the prickly pears in the blender was a great idea. The seeds are so hard that they don't blend, the skin stays intact but in pieces, and the pears just sort of burst and liquify with very little effort. Once they've been blended up you have to put the pulp through a strainer. Chris used a little whisk to gently move the pulp around so the liquid could seep through.



The juice is thick, so it takes some time and effort to get through. Once you have the juice in the bowl, you probably want to put it through cheesecloth to make sure all those tiny spines are out.



The juice can go into the freezer for use in several yummy concoctions, most of which I learned about from my very creative and kitchen-savvy friend Tasha.
She makes prickly pear margaritas, puts it over ice cream, and I'm sure has several other good uses. For her wedding they even made prickly pear Horchata (a Mexican milky rice drink) that was quite a treat.
The half of the pears that we froze was place in a large pot that has a steamer at the top. We put cheesecloth under the steamer basket, and let the juice seep down as they melted.



It actually worked pretty well. I think the first method yielded the most juice, but if you're going for ease, the freezing method is a good one.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Harvesting Prickly Pear



Lately the prickly pear cacti in Tucson have been looking rather overloaded with fuscia-colored, delicious-looking fruits. These are the 'pears' that give the cactus it's name. They live up to their name, and while they might look tasty and a little fuzzy, they are quite prickly and will really get into your fingers if you're not careful.



We went out this evening, just before sunset, buckets in hand to get our hands (actually, our tongs) on some of these lovely fruits. Chris did the majority of the picking, and I did the documenting you see here.



We filled two small buckets, and could have done more if we'd had more buckets, or any idea what to do with such a large number of prickly pears.



While others may have more refined harvesting methods, ours is pretty low-tech. We just head out from the road into a patch of prickly pear. Watch out for snakes and jumping cholla, of course. Use kitchen tongs, and pluck the darkest purple pears off. The ripe ones almost fall off when you touch them.
It's important you dress to blend in with the prickly pears.




Chris read an article that said you should take the high ones from the middle of the plant, leaving the ones on the edges for desert foragers like coyotes and javelina. We did.
The sunset was incredible.






When we got home we used a strainer and sprayed the pears down with a hose to rinse the dirt and spider webs off. We were told that if you freeze them, the cells burst and you can strain them and the juice comes right out. We're trying this technique with half of them.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

End of Summer

For those of you who live in Tucson (and those who know Tucson), you know this is not the end of summer. At least not in terms of the end of 100 degree days, or any kind of pretty orange leaves and cool breezes. We can't expect that for a few more months.
It is the end of summer though, in terms of the good old 'summer vacation.' Chris is back at work. This means, fewer fun vacations, more time around the house. Instead of planning for vacations, now we're planning what to eat for the week, and how to do it without going out for too many meals.
The other evening I walked into the kitchen, and saw our little carton of tomatoes sitting in the dish drainer.



I would not have put the tomatoes there. I probably would have put them on a paper towel or something after I washed them. Chris washed them, and put them in the dish drainer. I love this about Chris, it just makes so much sense. Instead of doing things the 'proper' way, he does things that make sense.
Having a lot of time at home on weekends gives us some much needed time to just piddle around the house (piddle, I think that's my mom's word). Chris' idea of relaxing is doing something like working on bikes. He loves bikes, and anything even remotely related to them. I can hear him in the backyard grinding away on his latest project. I can't put a picture of the project, because it's supposed to be kind of a secret (it's not a helmet that looks like his hair).



I just wanted to write about Chris because I like him. I love him, of course. But I also like him. I like that he likes to do projects like this, and the way that he sits on his feet like a kid. I know that most of you who know Chris would agree that it's pretty hard not to like him.



I noticed a bee in our flowers today. It was exciting because of the news about bees disappearing. I hope to see a lot more bees on these flowers as it cools off and the monsoons encourage the growth of these flowers.
I'm also still learning to use lightroom, and had some fun experimenting with these.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Monsoonscapes

I'm still catching up on sharing some of the photos from trips this summer. I know I like to put a few too many photos sometimes, but really, I'm trying to restrain myself...
These are a few more from the trip to Amarillo. The monsoon storms had left these huge, mirror-like pools in the low parts all along the road. This drive is usually brown and dry. It was fun to see the desert with so much water.



We usually don't stop as often as we should on road trips. There's so much pressure to estimate what time you'll arrive. The estimate is always short, so you end up pushing to get wherever you're going faster than is actually possible.



On this road trip we actually took our time. We left a day early, and we stopped every time we saw something that would be a pretty photo. We took backroads to get home, which I will make an effort to do much more often, especially because I was inspired by (and I know it's a little silly) the movie 'Cars'. I loved this movie because of the Northern Arizona, Route 66 scenery that made me miss going on more camping trips in that area. Althought it is a silly cartoon, I recommend the movie for anyone who has any closeness with Utah and Arizona, route 66, or maybe needs to take the interstate a little less often.



These photos were on the little highway that connects Hatch, New Mexico, with Deming, New Mexico. You just can't stop like this on the freeway.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Showered with friends

I couldn't ask for better friends. This photo was taking at my wedding shower. There are a few dear friends who were missing at this moment, and they were missed, but what a feeling to have all these people are for love and support.

Everything about the shower was amazing. I love cheese. Really. And they thought to have a "cheese-tasting"theme. Mmm. There was dress-up, a few games. A really great detail, my friend Magan who lives in Patagonia, Chile (i.e. the other side of the world) surprised us by walking in the door saying, "did anyone order some cheese from South America?" It was great to have her there.



After the shower, we went up on the peaks. It was so beautiful with all the aspen trees and wildflowers. I wish I could do it every weekend.



We walked up the hill from our campsite to see the incredible view, all the way to the Grand Canyon. There was a swing waiting for us, hanging from high up in an aspen tree. It felt like swinging out toward the canyon, and was also a great photo opportunity.














Our campsite was breathtaking. The food, prepared by Juliana, was incredible, and everything else was just, words can't do it justice.




I loved this photo of Gina. She also had her camera out and was taking a million photos, and was doing a great job posing for me.



Thank you so much to everyone who made it, and to everyone who couldn't be there, you were there in spirit!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tiny version of Fran

Over the weekend we went to Flagstaff for my wedding shower party. I will post some lovely photos from that, but first, here are some photos of my friend Fran's beautiful new baby, Tristan. I wish I could see them a lot more often.