Monday, July 31, 2017

What I've Been Up To (July)

It's me again.

I feel like July has been a crazy busy month, but when I look back, I realize that I'm exhausted because I've been doing the same things over and over and over.

Here is what I've been up to this month.

Working...on finishing two school subjects- Geometry and Spanish 1. take a dual-credit biology class at the Christian College in town. the gym and with Karate. I've tried swimming, the treadmill (ouch), the elliptical machine, the stair climber, and the bicycle machine.
 Studying...for my green belt test in August.
Attending... Forest Home as a CCA (child care assistant). I babysat a little boy (22 months old) named Harvey. He was adorable. During the day, I worked with the 7/8 year old day camp, attended my own camp sessions, played games with the other CCAs, and enjoyed a little bit of free time taking pictures. Then at night, I babysat Harvey so that his parents could go to their session and have some time to hang out. children's hunger fund with my youth group. We sorted through donations of cleaning supplies and hygiene items and food. It was fun to serve with other teenagers.
Visiting...downtown with a group from church. We saw a Taoist temple and learned about that religion and culture.
Contemplating...being a student leader again next year.
Thinking...about what it means to live in the world but not be of the world.
Finishing...and adorable sock monkey for a friend's new baby. room. I tried to finish a deep clean by the end of the month...but I failed. So my new goal is the end of August. :)
Practicing...piano. I'm working on memorizing a nocturne. I'm also working on a duet to be played with a friend.
Preparing...for school to start again. I'm excited and ready to go.
Making...a wish list of books to get on my kindle!
Enjoying...time with my family and friends, as well as any chance I can get to use my camera!
Wishing...I was at the beach or in Oregon with my extended family...I want to escape the heat! for our emergency kit. It was a summer project that mom assigned, and I decided to work on it the other day. I gathered a bunch of phone numbers for the contact sheet.
Spending...lots of time at the beach...and wishing I could be there more :)

I think that covers all the stuff I've been doing lately.

Now for my goals for the next month.

1. AWANA starts at our church in a couple weeks. I'm being T&T secretary again this year, and I want to get everything in place to be ready to start BEFORE it actually starts!
2. Finish Spanish 1 before school starts.
3. Memorize my Grieg nocturne.
4. Deep clean my room.
5. Make a decision about student leadership.
6. Start School! :)

Keep scrolling for pictures!

Trip downtown

Spent plenty of time at the beach this month

The creek at camp

The view on a hike at camp

With my friend at camp

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! DodgerDog 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.