Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Fridays with Fungi

Oh man, you guys are going to love this. Though my schedule this quarter is unbearable (it's to the point where I don't know when I'm going to sleep), my Friday afternoon class is one that I don't mind going to, not at all. That's because it is . . .

Edible Mushroom Cultivation!

No, I'm not getting credit towards my master's degree by taking this class. But it's the only one of it's kind in the whole country, so I ask you: how could I resist?

Here are our current projects:

We are using jars of sterilized barley to grow the "spawn" of Pleurotus djamor, the pink oyster mushroom. This basically means that we are allowing the fungus to colonize the grain, and this jar will be the "master jar," providing inoculum for many future bags of mushrooms. This is what the colonized grain looks like:

Pretty sweet. After the master jar is colonized, you can mix the grain in a bag with a sterilized substrate like straw or sawdust, and these bags will eventually fruit to provide you with tasty edible mushrooms.

We inoculated these bags of straw with another Pleurotus species, the yellow oyster mushroom:

Once the fungi has colonized the bag (grown throughout the straw until it is cemented together into a kind of brick), we will move it to a humid incubator, cut slits in the bag, and the mushrooms will fruit out of the slits. I'll post pictures of that when it happens.

We also inoculated bags of sawdust with Shiitake mushroom spawn:

I'll keep you posted on the process, and if anyone wants to know about it in more depth, let me know. I'm going to be trying it myself soon, to see if I can do it at home. Weeeeeeeee!

Monday, January 28, 2008


I'm taking a Plant Conservation class this quarter, and we recently went out to northern Napa county to a preserve up there that allows OHVs (off highway vehicles) and also has a shooting range.

The rain let up for the whole day, we could hardly believe it.

OHVs can cause devastating erosion in areas where their use isn't regulated. And the regulation commission for them is also kind of hard-pressed to enforce regulations due to underfunding and biased interests (a majority of the board are OHV users).

We also went out there because the site has a lot of serpentine areas; the soils are full of heavy metals because the area was formed from deep ocean rocks that are high in magnesium and low in calcium. It's a fascinating ecosystem of plants that have adapted to these strange nutrient levels.

There was also a gold mine on the site that is now closed. The pit was pretty small, considering. And my professor said that they only made a profit margin of 2% the whole time they were there. Hmmmm, good riddance.

I'm taking some other pretty cool classes this quarter, so stay tuned to learn about them soon!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

So Sur

A quick peek at my trip with Jaja to Big Sur this past MLK weekend. It was amazing. Lots of creative ideas came out of it, some of which you will probably see in the near future.

Fisherman's Wharf, Monterey CA

Sea Anemones, Monterey Bay Aquarium

Valley View trail, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

Breakfast, Albert Moleras State Park

Waterfall (flowing from the cliff straight into the ocean, on the right side of the photo) - Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Moment of Peace

Jaja and I just came back from our three-day camping trip to Big Sur. Pictures to come. The rain is relentless, as is my schedule. I have a few moments of peace in the morning and at night. Woe is me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Check Check It

I love this idea for re-using styrofoam packing peanuts from Danny Seo's blog, Daily Danny:

Bean bag chair!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Look what I made!

My friend Sarah had a Mafia party last night, and I baked a theme-appropriate cake. It was a big hit, though I did have to explain it to some people.

I also finished this little guy.

I got the pattern from an adorable little book called "Woodlands: Small toys to sew, vol. 2" by Teresa Levy. There are patterns for small squirrels, deer, acorns, trees, and mushrooms. I got it at an awesome craft fair that M and I stumbled upon in Providence.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Grey Days

Ack! The greyness of
Winter in Davis.

I grab color when I find it, and hold on tight.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Look Who's Peekin'

Some of my veggies are suffering (the pak choi has completely bolted), but there are some who have weathered the storm (the storm of my inattentiveness).

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Wind Will Blow

We just experienced the biggest storm of the year; it hit the entire state of California, from here to San Diego. 100 mile winds, and flooding rains, whew. We lost power in our house for about 24 hours, and some of Davis still has no power. We're back online now, but it was kind of fun running around with flashlights and having sleepovers to keep warm.

All around town there are trees down, mostly evergreen oak trees because their leaves are still on. Our grapefruit tree survived, but these guys didn't; I found the whole yard filled with grapefruits after the storm. Get ready, tummy.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Live Green

I finally got this clothes drying rack from IKEA. Now I can't wait for the spring and summer when I can set it outside and not in the tiny little laundry room, or worse, my room. I've learned not to dry things on it that wrinkle easily, but it works great for socks and underwear, towels, and pillow cases. It's no clothesline, but it will do for now.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy 2008!

A brand new year. I'm not one for making resolutions, but there's something about the chance at a new start that's irresistible. This morning I find myself making the typical promises; exercise more, be better at staying in touch with friends, organize certain areas of my life. Whether or not these things actually happen is besides the point, the important thing is that every year we get a chance to re-evaluate our lives and decide which parts need more work.

Tomorrow I fly back to CA to start my winter quarter. This is my last quarter of classes towards my masters degree, and it will be an intense final push. I'm in the market for a fresh start so I can tackle this and get through to the other side.

In any case, here are some highlights of my winter break on the east coast. A short look at the past, and then on to the future.

Julian's in Providence RI - M and I accidentally stumbled upon this sweet brunch/bar place

Audubon Environmental Center, Bristol RI

Cafe Zog, Wickenden Street, Providence RI - the best hot chocolate I have ever had

Benefit Street, Providence RI

Roger Williams Park Botanical Center, Providence RI

Birdy at Hawk Mountain, Kempton PA

Hawk Mountain, Kempton PA

The house of my friends Birdy and Rho, Barto PA

Oyster Bay, Rumson NJ

Zoey's house, Rumson NJ

And now, bring it on 2008!