Friday, July 14, 2017

Photoshoot: Downtown

I went on a little day trip downtown on Saturday. The main purpose of this trip was to learn about different cultures, but I took my camera along too...just for fun. :)

The ticket counter from the old days

The sign says "Step up and give us what you've got.
All players welcome." If only I had something
A shoe shine guy!

A fun old building

This just made me laugh. I wonder if they still
make candles here?

A classic city street

Welcome to Chinatown!

We stopped by a Taoist Temple, just to see
what it was like

Inside the temple

One of many shrines
This was an interesting stop on our trip. Most of the temple was Taoist (pronounced with a D), while there was a little portion that had a couple Buddhist shrines. There was Buddhist funeral going on, as well as a festival, so we got a free meal out of our visit! We also talked to a guy who claimed to be a Christian, but he also said that Buddhism and Christianity go hand in hand...anyway, we think he was probably of the Bahai faith, which (as I understand it) teaches that Jesus has revealed himself to all people of all religions in different ways...basically, any way you try to get to heaven will work. Which, by the way, is not true. Jesus is THE ONLY WAY.

Lastly, the food we ate. :) This was noodles, veggies,
and tofu. It was actually pretty good.

And lunch part two. Chinese dumplings with pork
inside called Dim Sum.

This was an eye opening trip, as far as getting introduced to a couple different cultures and three religions. It was also a fun chance to get to try out my camera! :)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

When I Made FRESH Salsa

This is my garden.
My garden this year

As you can probably see, it is pretty much only these two tomato plants. Apparently, tomatoes thrive where I live. I got a whole bunch of tomatoes off these plants, and decided that the only logical thing to do with them was make salsa.
Besides, I've only tried canning once before, and I really wanted to do it again.
Here is a "report" on what I did.

The Recipe

I used a variation off a recipe that I got a few years ago for "Zesty Salsa." I made a much smaller amount than the original recipe, which you can find HERE. I added a couple nectarines and mangos.
I also found canning instructions online.

What I Did

I started by picking a day that we had nothing planned. Then I gathered my ingredients.

-A whole bunch of tomatoes fresh from the plant outside (mine were pretty small, and I forgot to measure the amount...oops. Before I did anything to them, they weighed about 2 pounds total)
-1 green bell pepper
-1 JalapeƱo pepper
-1 onion
-Apple cider vinegar
-Lime juice
-2 mangos
-3 nectarines
-UN-iodized salt

The first thing I did was peel and chop the tomatoes.  This is MESSY!
        Step one: Cut a slit in the skin of the tomato

        Step two: place the tomatoes in boiling water

        Step three: Pull them out when the slit begins to look like this.
At this point, the slit has widened, and may be
wrapping around the entire tomato.

        Step four: place in ice water. This cools them so you can actually touch them!

        Step five: Peel off the skin

        Step six: Chop!

Like I said, this is messy.

Now, the reason I peeled off the skin was because nobody wants chunks of tomato skin floating around in their salsa. Agreed?

Next I chopped up all the other stuff and added it to a saucepan.

It turned out to be about this much jalapeno

         ONION: I used 3/4 of an onion.
         BELL PEPPER: I used an entire green bell pepper.
         JALAPENO: I used one small jalapeno pepper. When chopping jalapeno, wear rubber gloves and don't touch your eyes!!!!!!
         APPLE CIDER VINEGAR: I used 1/2 cup.
         GARLIC: I used one clove. Now, I recently learned a neat trick for taking off the paper from    the garlic clove. Put the clove in a small Tupperware container and shake. This loosens the paper and it peels right off! Termite pointed out that instead of using a knife to mince the garlic, I could use a food chopper. Revolutionary! It's TEN TIMES FASTER!
         CILANTRO: I just chopped up a bunch and threw it in. No precise measurement here.
         UN-IODIZED SALT: Also known as "plain salt." I used 1 teaspoon.

        LIME JUICE: I used 1-1/2 Tablespoons.
         NECTARINES: I peeled and chopped three of these.
        MANGO: I peeled and chopped two.

I stirred it all together and brought it to a boil. Then I let it simmer for ten minutes.

In between all the chopping, I washed my mason jar in water as hot as I could bear, and with lots of soap. Then I rinsed it well and put it in boiling water to sanitize it and keep it hot.
Mason Jar before washing...gross!

I put the lid in a small pot and kept it just below boiling to keep
it hot

The mason jar is in that boiling water somewhere!

When the salsa was done simmering, I ladled it into the jars, leaving about 1/2 inch headspace. (HOT salsa into HOT jars) I wiped the rim off and screwed on the cap.

Then I put the jars in the big stock pot and filled it with water so that the jars were completely submerged.

Then I brought it to a boil (which took FOREVER!) and let it process for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, I cleaned up and wrote a blog post. :)

Once the jars had processed for 15 minutes, I had to get them out of the boiling water without dropping them or burning myself. I used tongs and a strainer to get them out of the pot (If I'm going to do this more often, I need a set of actual canning tools!).  Then I set them on a cooling rack and waited overnight.

The next morning, I tested the seal. I had read about several different ways to check, but I ended up just pressing on the center of the lid. If it had flexed under the pressure, I would have had to reprocess it. THANKFULLY it didn't flex, so I just had to put on the label.

And, the salsa is done! :)

 What I would do Different

1-Not do it in the heat of summer! The canning process really heats up the kitchen. I would also start earlier in the day...this took literally ALL DAY. I can't imagine doing more than two jars!

2- Taste the salsa before canning it...I won't have any idea if it tastes good until we open a jar! opps!

And one more thing I'm not a huge fan of...the pile of dishes! This is just a picture of the pots and pans I used...imagine several measuring cups, many knives, a get the idea.

Monday, July 10, 2017

How I Met My Best Friend in the Whole Universe

Today, July 10, is the one-year anniversary of my baptism. I decided to share a picture and my testimony in honor of that special day.
This day is so special to me because of two reasons.
1. As you will see if you read my testimony, since I have grown up in the church, I can't point to a specific date that was when I accepted Christ. So I cling to the date of my baptism as a very important date in my spiritual life.
2. My baptism was my public confession of faith in Christ. Remembering my baptism reminds me that almost the whole church was witness to my confession (no wonder my heart was pounding in my ears!) and I can't (I won't) back down on my confession. Whenever I'm tempted to say that I'm not a Christian, I remember all those witnesses, and I won't back down.

That's me in the middle, Daddy on the left and our Pastor on the right.

Here is my testimony:

I was born and am being raised in a Christian home. From the time I was a baby, church has been a higher priority than anything else. I've gone to church every Sunday for as long as I can remember. Since 7th grade I have gone to Youth Group every Wednesday night.
I've kind of always thought of myself as a good kid. I don't remember much about my life before I became a Christian, but I can tell you that I was bossy and selfish, and reading the Bible was more of a chore that I skipped if I could.
I remember lying in bed around the age of six looking at the fire alarm. Because my thoughts tend to wander, I began to think about the house burning down, and then death, and then heaven and hell. And I knew right then and there that I did not want to go to hell. So I got out of bed and went to talk to my parents. I prayed that night, and I remember that over the next few weeks I excitedly told everyone that I was a Christian.
But a few years later, when I was about nine, I looked back over my life and felt like I didn't see any change. I began to doubt that I was really saved, so I prayed again to ask Jesus into my heart. But when I was eleven years old, I went through a similar process. I think this was when I realized that I needed to really repent of my sins and ask God to forgive me and come into my heart. But again, when I was thirteen, I struggled with doubts. This time I talked to my parents and the children's ministries director at church about my doubts. One big doubt I faced was that I felt like the sins I was struggling with were not going away, no matter how hard I tried. After praying and asking God to help me truly turn away from my sins, I decided I was really saved and it was time to get baptized. However, I was too afraid to talk in front of people, so I kept putting it off.
In March of 2016, when Termite got baptized, I was hit with another wave of doubt. I talked to many people this time and listened to a sermon about the marks of a true Christian. I examined myself against scripture and discovered that even though I am far from perfect, I believed in Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I decided that even if I was afraid, it was time to take what should have been my first step of obedience and get baptized.
So, on July 10, 2016, I got baptized. I am far from perfect. I still want to control things, I don't always trust God, I struggle with sin, and I don't always watch my tongue. On the positive side, I want to conquer sin, with God's help. When I sin, I repent of it as soon as the Holy Spirit convicts me of it. I treasure God's word and study it and memorize it. I can't say whether my prayer at age six was genuine or not, but I am sure of one thing now: I am a true follower of Christ. I believe the genuine confession of faith and repentance occurred sometime between the age of nine and eleven.
One of my favorite Bible verses is Romans 8:1 which says, "There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Emphasis added)

That is how I met my BEST FRIEND IN THE WHOLE UNIVERSE...Jesus Christ. Meeting him has changed my life forever.

Have you met Jesus? If not, the gospel of John is a good place to start. Once you meet him, you will never be the same. If you have met him, maybe you could share your testimony (or a short version) in the comments below.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

My Newest Hobby

Meet my new Canon Rebel T6!!!

Trying out the new camera

I've been interested in photography for some time, but now I FINALLY have a camera so that I can pursue it! :)

First picture taken on my Canon rebel T6

I've even tried it out at the beach and downtown.


So far, I love this camera. Expect a lot more photos to be posted on this blog! :)