Sunset hike to use my new camera

Last night I thought the sunset might shape up to be something spectacular, so I grabbed my camera, tripod, and MaeBelle and we took a quick jaunt up the trail just above our house to watch the sun set over Helena.  I love that we live so close to the trails.  This particular trail is just a block and a half from our house.  It took us about 15 minutes to get to our spot to set up the camera and wait for the sun to set over Mount Helena.  MaeBelle was happy to be out hiking.

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Although I haven’t taken much time to mess around with the manual settings on my camera (I just need to find some time to read the manual), I did play around with some of the scene settings like sunset, close up flower shots, and the like. I know I’ll get a lot more out of my camera when I can find the time to experiment manually with the camera.

I love the view of Helena from this little point–you can see the cathedral and the Sleeping Giant in the background watching over Helena.

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Although the sunset colors weren’t as spectacular as I’d hoped, there were some nice cloud formations over the Scratchgravel Hills.

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One feature I was anxious to try on my new Nikon D5600 is the time-lapse movie feature.  This is one setting I did read about in the manual, about 20 minutes before I left for our hike.  It’s a cool setting!  The camera takes a series of photos every few seconds and it stitches them together into a movie, so I don’t have to do the work on my computer.  This is a new feature to the Nikon D5000 series, and I like it.  Check out my 10 minute time lapse (condensed to 4 seconds) taking a photo every 5 seconds.  You can see a jet contrail that looks an awful lot like a shooting star, and halfway through there is a train headlight that appears near the middle of the shot.  Nifty!  This feature will get lots of use by me.

First Cooking Video! How to make Asian coleslaw

Ok, so it wasn’t the hazelnut carrot cake, but this was a good first video.  It’s not polished, but it’s something to work from.  I’ll decide what I like, what I don’t like–and hopefully I’ll get some feedback on what viewers like and don’t like–and I’ll begin to refine my presentation over the next few weeks.  There’s a reason I did this first one well in advance of the first week of the CSA!

If you don’t have access to Osaka sauce, you can use another Asian marinade sauce as a substitute.  Or, you can purchase the Osaka Sauce directly from Mustard Seed, along with several other sauces (and I highly recommend the Asian Oil & Vinegar and the Teriyaki Sauces–both are delish!).  I also noticed they have two new sauces–we will definitely be trying those out with the CSA shares this year!

It’s shaping up to be a beautiful evening after the rain we got today, big fluffy clouds in the sky–I’m going to grab my camera, hit the trails, and see if I can capture a beautiful sunset!

Thanks for reading and watching!

~Sara

Earth Day Fun Day

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Happy Earth Day, everyone!  I hope you all did something fun on this Saturday, and something that was mindful of treading lightly on this beautiful blue globe on which we all live.  We had a most excellent day today and now I am tired, but in the best way.

It was a beautiful day in Helena today!  This morning the Hubs and I took our dog, MaeBelle, over to the Scratchgravel Hills, just northwest of town, for a little bike ride.  What better way to celebrate Earth Day that with a mountain bike ride?  I’m a beginning mountain biker, and this trail system is perfect for me: it has mostly old 2-track roads that aren’t too rocky and some single track to give me little challenges to practice my technique.  Right off the bat we take a little single track side trail that has a pretty steep component to it.  A couple of weeks ago I cleaned the section, even though I hadn’t been riding my bike much.  This week I’ve been riding my bike a lot to the gym and to work and to run errands–my legs felt strong and I felt good.  My fitness level is at a good place.  I was confident….but.  That’s right, that dreaded word: but.  Near the middle of the section I somehow lost my balance and slipped off my bike.  I think I hit a rock funny or something, I’m not exactly sure.  What I do know for sure is that I have yet to master is hopping back on my bike while on a steep uphill climb.  I tried, and tried, and tried some more but eventually I had to push my bike all the way to the top.  I took so long that Hubs and MaeBelle came back to look for me.  At one point my chain fell of the chain wheel so I had to fix that, too.  I was pissed at myself for not cleaning that section.  Dang it, I just did it a couple of weeks ago!!  I always get upset with myself if I don’t perform well, and today was no exception.  Hubs got on me for being so hard on myself (the irony) but he gets it–he’s just as hard on himself when something trips him up, too.

Despite my rocky start, we had a lovely ride, complete with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and early spring wildflowers in abundance.  The ground was splattered with hues of white and lavender (Phlox hoodii), and fuchsia (Douglasia montana).

At the end of our ride I told Hubs I was going to ride the first section again–and clean it this time.  My legs were a little tired, but I was determined to get up that hill!  And true to my word, I made it to the top in a clean ride.  MaeBelle was at first a little confused.  I could just see the wheels turning in her little head, “Wait. What are we doing? Why aren’t we going to the truck?”  But she was a trooper and followed me dutifully up the trail.  Hubs couldn’t let me ride it again by myself–he’s not competitive or anything… but he rides a single-speed bicycle, and therefore does not have any gears to shift while riding.  Riding those steeper sections are a lot harder for him than they are for me–but he cleaned his the second time as well.  He’s a monster on a mountain bike: strong legs and a stubborn determination.  Plus he’s been riding for almost 3 decades.

MaeBelle was happy to hop in the truck and drink a lot of water.  She’s going to be 12 years old in a few weeks, but she’s still going strong!  What a happy gal she was at the end of our ride:

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By the we got home it was lunch time.  I made egg salad sandwiches (including from the garden: green onions & chives & spinach!) and they tasted SO. GOOD.  Then I was craving something a little sweet.  For a few days I’ve had this idea rolling around in the back of my head–a way to use up some frozen blackberries and one of the limes that I grew over the winter (That’s right, I grow citrus.  In Montana.).  And so mini lime-blackberry cheesecakes were born.  Since today is Earth Day, and the sun was shining brightly, I decided to use my solar oven to bake my little cheesecakes. I love my solar oven and use it every chance I get.  During the week I will throw together a rice pilaf or something, put it in the solar oven, then go to work.  When I get home the dish is cooked to perfection.  Gotta love that!  All part of my sustainable, low impact living initiative, not to mention a way to be an absent cook and not burn down the house.

Oh, and those cheesecakes?  They are SO. GOOD.  Hubs and I had to pry ourselves away from them tonight.  It was hard not to eat them all.  I will have to post a recipe and a video showing how to make them, but not tonight.

While the cheesecakes baked, I worked in the garden.  MaeBelle loves it when I work outside.  She lazes around in the yard eating compost (and I yell at her to get out of the compost) and chewing on sticks or just watching people walk by.  I weeded and got rid of a bunch of last year’s dead flower stalks in my boulevard jungle of yarrow, blue flax, sunflowers, sagebrush, and rabbit brush.  A woman jogged by and said, “You have a beautiful garden!”  Ah, it nearly made me blush even though I hear that a lot from passersby.  It makes me happy that they take joy in my front yard garden.

Later this afternoon I noticed a woman dumping some food scraps over our fence into the orchard where the chickens were.  She had a toddler with her and they sat on the grass and watched the chickens for a few minutes.  She lives on the next block and though she’d asked Hubs last year if they could feed the chickens some of their kitchen scraps and watch the chickens, I’d never met her or talked to her.  I packaged a dozen eggs of varying colors: green, white, and several shades of brown, and walked outside to offer her some eggs in exchange for feeding our chickens some goodies.  She and her daughter were delighted to receive the eggs.  I was delighted to see this little girl take such pleasure in watching my Girls gobble up the strawberry hulls and apple peels, clucking and squeaking with happiness.  It gives me hope that maybe someday, when she grows up and has a house of her own, this little girl will want her own small flock of backyard chickens.

For dinner, I made a quasi quiche–meaning it was sort of like a quiche souffle or… something totally made up.  I tossed in bunch of veggies like mushrooms, onions, more green onions & spinach from the garden, along with some smoked cheese.  I separated some of the eggs and beat the egg whites to stiff peaks.  There were way more veggies than eggs, so there was spinach poking up out of the eggs.  I used some leftover rice pilaf as crust to hold the egg mixture and it turned out really tasty!  Hubs and I both had seconds.  It was a good food sort of day!  I haven’t cooked like that in a looooong time, and it felt good to be back in the kitchen.  Unfortunately, by dinner time the sun was too low in the sky and clouds were beginning to gather, so I had to use my indoor oven to bake the quiche-thing.  Oh well.  There will be more sunny days and plenty of recipes to try in the Solavore oven this spring and summer.

Have a happy, healthy week!

 

Exciting things in Urban Farmgal’s future!

I’m getting a new camera!

Why is this news, you might wonder?  Well, I’m getting a digital SLR camera so I can get my photography on–in the garden, in the kitchen, and in the great outdoors.  And…more importantly, I’m gearing up to make some cooking videos this summer using my weekly CSA shares.  All too often our members ask questions like “What is this vegetable?  How do you use it/cook with it/ eat it?”

URBAN FARMGAL TO THE RESCUE!! (That is meant to be a little cheeky.)

And a video blog will soon be born.  It’s like I’m pregnant with this idea and will be giving birth to the real deal later this spring–and I’m soooooo excited!  I’ve been wanting to do this for some time now, but I’ve been putting off purchasing a camera as long as I possibly could.  I just couldn’t justify the expense and the indulgence of a brand new fancy-schmancy camera until now.  Now I have an outlet for some creative endeavors (i.e., cooking vids) that will result from this new purchase.  The time seemed right and I’ve been researching the ever living crap out of digital SLR cameras.  The technology is mind-boggling to a gal who last used a camera with interchangeable lenses in the 1990s. (Does that make me sound old? *Sigh*   So be it.)

So be on the lookout for my little videos later this spring.  I’ll probably try out a few before the CSA begins so I can get a little practice under my belt and tidy up some of the little details that I probably won’t consider until in front of the camera.  One of those practice videos just might be this carrot cake I made for my stepdaughter’s birthday this week:

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In case you are wondering, those are hazelnuts topping the cream cheese frosting.  I didn’t have any pecans or walnuts, which is what I normally use in carrot cake.  So I made the substitution and had this revelation: this might be the best carrot cake I’ve ever eaten in my life.  And I’ve eaten a lot of carrot cake.

Also, earlier this week I sold my first knitted bag!  I’m so excited.  This is the first bag I knit specifically to sell through Urban Farmgal and I sold it to someone at the gym.  She had commented on it while I was knitting it, and every time I saw her she mentioned the bag.  This week we finally made the sale!  I am currently in process of knitting a hat for another gym member.   Usually this time of year I begin to slow down in the knitting department because I’m spending more time in the garden–I’m not sure that’s going to happen this year.  I might even end up teaching some knitting classes this summer.

For now, the focus is the garden and securing a camera and lavalier mic for making food videos!  And making another carrot cake this weekend.  That tops my to-do list.