Monday, September 24, 2012

More tomatoes and an easier way of preserving your bumper crop.

My tomato plants are still producing so it was bound to happen.  Given my banner year for tomatoes and my new obsession with the Ninja blender, it was only a matter of time before the two collided.  This summer I've learned how to peel, seed and freeze tomatoes.  I've made homemade marinara sauce.  Both where easy but a bit time consuming and require some planning ahead. 

The other night I was browning meat for tacos.  Sometimes I add salsa for flavor so adding tomatoes makes perfect sense.  I've tried just adding chopped tomatoes but the peel separates and won't incorporate into the meat.  My children won't eat it if they see it. 

I couldn't add my peeled an seeded tomatoes because they were frozen solid and I've also learned that the skin is very nutritious, so I popped some tomatoes in the blender peel and all, added some water and made a tomato puree. 

I added the tomato puree to the browned meat with herbs and spices and it was delicious! I made a second batch to pop in the freezer to use another night (see last picture.)

  Knowing how easy this is and that the tomato skin has so much value means that this is going to be my new method of preserving tomatoes. More nutritious, less time. It's a win/win.


I froze the puree very flat in a freezer bag, this way when it's frozen I can break off smaller pieces if I need just a bit.  No need to defrost the whole thing.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Oh Plumeria!

It might be that they are beautiful or maybe that intoxicating fragrance. 
It might be that they remind me of wonderful Hawaiian vacations. 
Whatever the reason, I love plumeria. 
I have two small potted plants on my front porch. 
This year one of them is blooming with abandon.
Seeing these flowers every day brings me such joy.

I decided to do a journal entry of Plumeria:

Later in the day I visited the nursery. 
I was looking for cool season veggies to start the transition
of my veggie beds from summer to fall and winter. 

Instead I found this:

I brought it home. 
The smell in my car on the way home was amazing.
 I wanted to paint these beautiful blooms. 
I thought painting them would be so easy...but it wasn't. 
Getting the shadows and three dimensional quality of the petals
as they spiral out from the center felt darn near impossible. 
I'm not thrilled with the results
but it is pretty cheerful looking if you don't over-analyze, isn't it?

Perhaps it looks better from farther away:
 Happy PPF and happy weekend.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bursting with Figs

This time of year is fig time.  We have a baby tree that is not yet producing well but my dear friend has a tree positively bursting with figs.  We get bags and bags of figs from her. 

These figs are so ripe they have burst.

Watercolor on paper

Figs on my art desk...working quickly before the ants figure it out.

When the figs are overripe I like to use them in smoothies, fresh or frozen.  I put them in the blender, skin and all.  They add a nice creamy texture and a subtle flavor.  They are high in calcium and other minerals, loaded with vitamins and antioxidants.  What's not to love?

Fig & Peach Green Smoothie:
1 large fig, cut up and skin on
1 medium peach, cut up and skin on
2 cups mixed baby spinach, collard greens and kale (or any green)
about 6 oz water
add crushed ice if you like your smoothies really cold as I do
when I make fig smoothies for the kids I add barely a hint of greens and much more fruit.

Another amazing way to eat figs and is our go to fig recipe every year on our annual
Girls Weekend in Palm Springs:

Slice figs in half and place face up on pretty serving tray.  Put crumbled blue cheese and roasted almonds on each fig.  Drizzle whole thing with honey.

How do you enjoy figs?  My dear friend and I would love some new ideas!


A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.
Phyllis Diller

We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.
Mother Teresa

I am so lucky to live in such a beautiful place.  Not only do I live in a gorgeous town, but I also live close to the ocean and amazing scenery is literally footsteps away.  Now truth be told, I am not a naturally cheerful person...sometimes I feel that I have to work hard at focusing on the positives and not letting the negatives get me down.   The other day I went for a walk and was feeling a bit off kilter but as I neared the beach I realized that I had just dropped my beautiful children at school, I have the cutest dog ever at the end of my leash and I am walking in paradise.  All that was missing  was a smile.  You know there are studies that say smiling will naturally put you in a better mood. 
So I tried it.  It worked! 
Watercolor in sketchbook
WIP's on my desk

When I walk Obi I am very aware of the people around us. He is attracted to everyone and is likely to strain at his leash and reach his wet nose to any passer by. I often watch people's faces to see if they are receptive to 35 pounds of wiggling puppy or not. Almost everyone is charmed by Obi and will smile at him. It's hard to be in a bad mood when everyone is smiling.

Still a bit afraid of the water

Obi is smiling

Beautiful morning



Monday, September 17, 2012

One Lovely Blog Award

Last week I was browsing my favorite blogs and imagine my surprise to find that Claire Wildish gave me my first blog award!  Claire is a clever artist and mom living in the wilds of Australia.  I love her blog and her fun art.  It's still amazing to me that you can feel connections to people you "meet" through blogging.  Thanks Claire!

As a recipient of this award I am supposed to share 7 little known facts about myself and pass this award on to 7 of my favorite bloggers. 

Since I share a fair amount about myself on this blog I had to dig deep for some of these:

1. I spoke better Hungarian than English until I went to school.  I got confused between words like "needle" and "pin" in English for a long time.

2. I attended 2nd grade at a school in London and in the summers before and after the school year my family traveled around Europe in a green Westfalia VW van with a pop-up top.  By the end of the second summer I had been to 17 countries. 

3. My dad was a linguist who spoke 7 languages and I wish he had taught them all to me. 

4. Because both my parents are only children I have no aunts, uncles or cousins.

5. I don't like eggplant or calamari.

6. I once lived on a bull farm in Bulls, New Zealand.

7. I'm going to try to give up red wine for the rest of the month. I try not place unreasonable expectations on myself.

And here are 7 lovely blogs that I follow and to whom I am passing on the One Lovely Blog Award, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

1. Jenny Frith at Jenny's Sketchbook.  I love Jenny's art and sketchbooks.  She is always an inspiration and motivates me with every one of her posts.

2. Christie at Describe Happy.  Besides having excellent taste in dogs, Christie is an artist who creates whimsical and cheerful art whether it be on paper or fabric. 

3. Tracy Fletcher King.  Anyone who paints a watercolor of Juicy Fruit gum is OK in my book.  I am constantly in awe of her gorgeous watercolors of offbeat subjects

4.  Erica at Aquarella  I love sketchbook art and Erica's is fabulous!

5. Maggie at A Slice of Wife.  Maggie is a real live friend of mine.  She is one of my fitness inspirations.  She introduced me to Bikram Yoga and was largely responsible for my starting to run.  She recently moved to another state.  I miss seeing her on my Saturday runs!

6. The Dharma Diva.  I don't even know her name but the Diva is sensitive and thoughtful writer.  I can almost always relate to her beautifully written posts.
7. The Frugal Foodie in WV.  Amazing recipes tested and shared with clever commentary.  Yum.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Fog Lifts

Living near the ocean you get used to the fog.  All of us lucky enough to live in coastal neighborhoods will tell you we don't mind the fog but the truth is, we are all just waiting for the fog to lift!  Here is a view of the Santa Cruz Island as the fog lifts. 

Happy PPF and happy birthday to me.  Yes, it's a shameless plug for birthday wishes.  :)

Finally, I have had a very challenging time photographing my art lately.  I have a great digital camera, a tri-pod and still not happy with the results.  For instance, the dark corner on the bottom right of the top photo and the way the white edges look pink.  Also, there are lots of brush stroke details lost in the photo.  Any suggestions and tips would be most welcome!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Girls Weekend in Palm Springs in Pictures

Just back from our annual girls weekend in Palm Spings.  Every September three girlfriends and I try to pack light, fit into a Prius and make our way to the desert. 
After three years of trial and error we finally rented the house we love enough to go back to and we finally found the right combination of relaxing and still doing fun stuff. 
We did a lot of eating, lounging, shopping, walking, reading, drinking, laughing and movie watching.  Perfect.
I packed art supplies but they never made it out of my bag so I'm sharing some of our iPhone pics.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Jewelry Love

I love jewelry.  Not in the Elizabeth Taylor kind of tastes run more to sterling silver and beads.  At any given time I am wearing a necklace, at least 4 rings, 3 or more bracelets, 3 pairs of earrings and a toe ring.  I learned my love of jewelry from my mother who makes me look truly unadorned.  She is always dripping in a variety of sterling silver so it's not strange that for over 20 years she has been making and selling jewelry.  Back in the old days I was her assistant, beading in front of the TV and traveling in a mini van to craft shows and art festivals.  These days I leave the jewelry making to my mom.  When I go to her house the first thing I do is look on the table for her new stuff.  Last week I saw these amazing freshwater pearl rings and I "stole" this one for myself - it's a wonder, really, that she is left anything to sell with me around!  I love this square shaped pearl and have been wearing it non-stop.

Find my mom's jewelry on eBay:

Quicksilver Gems (one word on ebay - quicksilvergems)