Beach Fun–First Birthday Photos

Happy 1st Birthday!

Okay seriously, I love having little girls but this kid gives me “I-want-a-baby-boy” envy!  Right?

This is my 2nd opportunity photographing him. You can see the others here.

I loved the location. So did he. He spends a lot of time here. He was so comfortable.

All he really wanted to do was make a run for it to the ocean.

I love this close-up. I couldn’t stop editing it in photoshop. So I didn’t.

Anyone have a favorite?

Happy Birthday Baby Boy!  I hope you enjoyed your day. Best wishes.

FYI– 1 to 2 y.o. is a wonderful stage!  Enjoy it.

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Tomato Canning

Summer Fest 2010

Here is my 2nd contribution to the Summer Fest via Pinch My Salt and her band of food blogging friends!

This week’s theme: Tomatoes

My contribution:  Canned Tomatoes

Let me start off by shouting with a loud–YELL—this is a LOT of work!

However, totally & utterly WORTH it.

I canned my bootie off for TWO days.

First few jars were from my own little garden stash. San Marzano Tomatoes.

2nd round:  2 BUSHELS of Roma Tomatoes picked up at Corrado’s Market.

How did I do it?

Well first of all a big thanks to honey do, my dad, and nephew for being on toddler duty.

I did it by begging my local Italian friends to tell me their homegrown secrets on how they can tomatoes. I also read and researched via the internet and this is what I came up with.  I think I pretty much winged it as I went along. But the results were pretty good.  The only way to really make it happen is to setup stations and rotate around as you go.

Multitasking helps too.  Everything revolved around the measurement of one colander and one water bath.

Here is the lowdown on how one attempts to can tomatoes alone.

For Canned Unseasoned Tomato Sauce

  • Setup water bath for processing to start boiling
  • Make sure all jars are in dishwasher cleaned, sterilized, and ready to go
  • Setup small pot of boiling water for lids
  • Setup pot for simmering tomatoes and reused for boiling down sauce
  • Setup up tomato mill/food grinder
  • Setup cutting station
  • Have Kosher Salt ready
  • Have basil washed and ready
  • Wash tomatoes in colander
  • Slice tomatoes in quarters (remove stems and put in compost bin)
  • Place slices in sauce pot and simmer tomatoes until soft
  • Remove from sauce pot and push through mill (it separates skin and seeds from tomato sauce)
  • Place sauce back in sauce pot, bring to a boil, simmer until desired thickness
  • Place basil and salt in jar
  • Ladle sauce into jar
  • Once full, push out air bubbles, clean around jar
  • Take boiled lids out of water and seal jar
  • Process in water bath (put potato in water bath, when potato is done then processing is done)
  • Remove and cool
  • Check in 24 hours for proper seal

For Canned Whole Tomatoes

  • Setup water bath for processing to start boiling
  • Make sure all jars are in dishwasher cleaned, sterilized, and ready to go
  • Setup small pot of boiling water for lids
  • Setup boiling water for blanching and cold water bath for cooling
  • Setup cutting station
  • Have Kosher Salt ready
  • Have basil washed and ready
  • Wash tomatoes in colander
  • Blanch tomatoes for about 3 minutes in boiling water
  • Transfer to cold water bath
  • Peel tomatoes (make sure not to burn yourself)
  • Slice tomatoes in quarters
  • Place a couple pinches of salt and a basil leaf in bottom of canning jar
  • Place sliced tomatoes in jar, stuff jar, pushing out some liquid as you go.
  • Once full, push out air bubbles, clean around jar
  • Take boiled lids out of water and seal jar
  • Process in water bath (put potato in water bath, when potato is done then processing is done)
  • Remove and cool
  • Check in 24 hours for proper seal

Because I had soooo many tomatoes, I basically had multiple stations going at once. Starting with a colander of tomatoes to wash and ending with the processing in the water bath. It was kind of a learn as you go thing and I went at a pace that worked for me.

When I was exhausted and couldn’t do anymore. I gave Honey-Do a sauce pot of extra tomatoes and put him to work. He made about 6 glass containers of meat sauce that we froze. BTW, his meat sauce is ridiculously good.

All in all it was worth the 43 jars of tomatoes and sauce that I made.  I think that the best way to tackle this is with group of friends and large quantities of alcohol; which of course would need to be consumed. Seriously though, I think the work output and the amount of jars that I would have been able to keep would have been double if we had teamed up.  Split up the cost, split up the work. It’s a win, win.  My friends told me that their parents did (one still does) about 20-40 bushels of tomatoes a year!

Holy tomato!

Yep, I want to do that.

My friends, you know who you are, see you next year!

Oh and can we pick the coolest day in August next year and not the hottest?  Thanks.

Thanks to LM, LR, and GM for all your advice!

ps…feel free to point out all the things I did wrong. I really don’t mind.:)

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Modern Party: Vintage Asian Theme

We are celebrating 3 birthdays this month.  My MIL, SIL, and BIL!  Happy Birthday to all of them!

Our goal was to keep it simple and order take out sushi. Okay. No problem right?

But then my FIL handed me some antique crystal sushi plates to use and that was all I needed for inspiration.

So here you go a “simple” asian theme with a vintage twist.

I picked up the idea of the centerpieces from my favorite wedding site:  Style Me Pretty.

I wanted to go really crazy with the dessert table but held back the reins. We only had 6 adults and 4 kids.

I thought it still came out really cute.

The plates, napkins, doilies were garage sale steals. The tea cans, chopsticks, tea pot, paper lanterns, and bowls were found at a local Asian market.  The paper is from my closet paper stash.  I used canning jars for our drink glasses.

Strawberry shortcake for dessert. My SIL’s favorite.

Unfortunately the weather was not in our favor that day. We had to move the whole table indoors and amongst all the chaos I failed to capture the rest of the celebration on camera!  It was a happy, chaotic, super yummy meal!

As you can see it doesn’t take much for me to get inspired?  What inspires you?

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Senior Friendship Shoot

While I was back home in California this summer, I attended my nieces’ senior graduation.  As a graduation gift to my niece I thought it would be fun to do a friendship photo shoot. And it was!  I finally finished editing the pictures! Nothing like putting things off a bit eh?  There were lots of photos to go through. And just a warning, there are a ton in this post.  I couldn’t help myself.  You all remember this picture?  Well here are some more amazing shots from that day.

My niece. She is spunky, sparky, and fiesty.  Wonder where she gets it from?

I love this kid.

Did I mention that girls this age are the best to photograph? They are naturals in front of the camera. It was not only a special thing for my niece and her friends but it was really good practice for me.  They were great to work with, so patient.

My very good friend, Michael Emo, came out to help me out on the shoot and to give me a few pointers. Michael is an aspiring actor, amazing photographer, and very talented graphic designer. I wish I had an 1/8th of his talent. He was so detailed in his lessons and advice.  I was able to test out some of his Canon equipment. I have total lens envy now. Thank you Michael!

You can check out Michael’s Blog and FB-fanpage for some more amazing photos and work.

His shots are straight-out-of-the-camera fantastic.

(photos courteous of Michael Emo)

Girls, I hope you enjoy your photos and treasure these friendships you have.

Congratulations and good luck in your next steps of life, I wish you all the very best.

“Just about a month from now I’m set adrift, with a diploma for a sail and lots of nerve for oars.”  ~Richard Halliburton

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