Under my desk…

Navi & Barclay are snuggled up together, keeping my feet warm.

Last week we sent Jack off to his new/old home. I contacted his previous owners, the ones who’d given him to us two years ago. They had said they wanted to know if we ever needed to rehome him, so I dug around and found their email and contacted them. They were delighted, because they had just moved into a home with a fenced backyard, and their daughter had been wanting a dog, and missing Jack ever since they gave him away! So I was happy to hand him back over to them. They seem like super nice people, and Jack was in their family first to begin with. That seems like a happy ending. Life is much more peaceful around here with only two dogs to care for, and I can give these two more attention. I think everyone is happy.

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Following directions – green tomato salsa

Last year my favorite thing of all the food I canned was the green tomato salsa. It was seriously YUM – and I just finished my last jar of it, so it was the perfect time to make more. There’s no shortage of green tomatoes right now either.

Lots of green tomatoes! Don’t worry, there’s still plenty left to ripen (if they ever do).

I spent a couple hours chopping all the onion, peppers, garlic, and tomatoes, in fact I spread the job over two days! Finally, I had it all in the pan, with the liquid – a mix of lemon and lime juice, and spices.

I boiled it, meanwhile I boiled the jars, and soon it was all ready to put together. I was following a canning recipe exactly. I had a little assembly line set up. I thought I had it all but I forgot one really important step! After you fill the jars you’re supposed to use something to gently get rid of the bubbles down inside the jar before processing. I realized just as I put the last filled jar into the water bath that I hadn’t done this! I pulled the jar back out and looked at it, and sure enough there were big air bubbles throughout the jar. I was really disappointed in myself – I’m supposed to be a master food preserver, and getting out the bubbles is basic stuff! I went ahead and processed them.

The trick is that if you realize you screwed up within 24 hours, you can reprocess the food safely. I had Dave pick up some more jar lids, and once it was cool enough to handle, I opened all the jars. I noticed the salsa was pretty chunky, and I remembered my teacher saying it should be kind of thin, so I dumped the jars, two at a time, into the blender and gave them a quick spin before dumping them into a pot.

While that heated to a simmer I washed the jars and got them heated up in the water bath again. Then I refilled them with the blended salsa. This time the salsa was so thin there weren’t any air bubbles to worry about. I lidded them up and processed them like before.

There are very few small bubbles visible in the jars after processing, but that’s ok. It was worth the time to reprocess these. All I lost was a few lids, and that’s better than having to throw out spoiled salsa a few months from now. I think I will be enjoying these until it’s time to make more next year!

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Eskimo Games

We have houseguests staying with us for the next week…
 Navi, Sitka, Barclay, Sake & Jack (love that look on Jack)
I love having these guys over, even if it is a little extra work. They all have so much fun together!
Sake & Barclay
Navi & Jack
Jack about to bite Barclay (I think) in the pantaloons!
Sake, Barclay and Navi – I think!
Navi & Barclay
Sake & Sitka watch while Barclay holds Navi down!
They’re so much fun to take pictures of!
And they’re so graceful looking with their fluff blowing as they run…
 Navi
 Barclay
Sake
Glad we got all this out of the way early, it’s going to be hot today! I think they’ll be inside with the AC on until this afternoon when it cools off again.
Barclay stays cool in the shade…
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First canning session of the year

I pulled out the turkey fryer (electric water-bath canner) and got ready for a marathon canning session today. I found a bucket of pickles out in the garden!

Some were really big, and some were just in the 3-4 inch size. I decided to slice up the little ones into spears for dills, and slice up the big ones into chips for sweet pickles.

8 pints of quick pack kosher dills…

And 8 pints of sweet pickle chips – yum! I was down to just one jar left from last year, so the timing was perfect!

Then we went to visit a friend who has a blueberry farm! We all chatted and picked a bush clean, and came back with a bucket-full of delicious blueberries. 12 quarts! I cleaned some and put them in the freezer, and more went in the fridge, and then I mashed some up for jam.

This may have been the most work I did all day!

 Ah, the fruits of my labor – filling the pantry until next season!

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Portrait Studio – blue backdrop

Today I sewed together my blue backdrop and tried it out. I think I like it even better than the neutral/grey one.

(And Yes, Barclay is just as huggable as he looks!)

Only problem today was getting them up on the stand one at a time, because they were all clued into the fact that whoever is up there gets the most cookies!

So the other two got to practice down-stays while I worked with them one at a time. I need a wider bench for them to sit on, and try to get all three up there at once for a group photo!

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Portrait Studio

A friend who is involved with a local pit bull rescue, Diamond Cut Loyalty, invited me to come to a fundraiser they are having next weekend and take pictures for donations. So of course I said yes, because it’s a good cause and they are good people, and I LOVE to take pictures. However, I don’t have any proper portrait studio equipment, so I had to get something set up.

So I went to the fabric store and bought some neutral looking material. When I got it home I cut it and sewed it into one big piece. While measuring and cutting I had some ‘help’…

Thanks, guys!
I also went by Home Depot and got a couple clamp lights and some fluorescent ‘daylight’ bulbs. I wanted light I could leave on, but that wouldn’t get too hot.

This one is a single bulb for lighting up the backdrop.

This one has a splitter so there are two bulbs in it, for lighting up the subject.

And all together it looks like this:

And with the lights on and a willing participant (with the help of cookies), it looks like this:

And the first test shots look like this:

Couldn’t get Barclay to hold still!

I’m happy with the results so far, I just need to experiment more with positioning the light to see what works best, and I think moving the stool out farther from the backdrop so it will be a bit more out of focus. But a good start.

Update: A few more shots

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Puppy-sitting!

We have company!
Yup, Sake and Sitka are back, so we now have FOUR ESKIMOS for a couple days – poor Jack is SO outnumbered!
Well, we know he really loves it!
Time for a water break!
Oh, Barclay’s got his eye on the next target!
Run, Navi! Barclay is going to get you!
She can protect herself!
 Sake gets into it by grabbing his brother by the tail!

I love this shot of Barclay.

And this one of Sake!

Sitka couldn’t hold still for pictures, he was too busy!
And off they go again!!
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