Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Nevada recap

Well, we didn't have internet access out in the desert (or at least, not enough for me to blog). Here's a quick photo recap of some of the plants I worked with. Many of them have started to bloom now, so things are even more beautiful out there than before. But there was a lot of work to be done, so not as many glamour photos were taken. Maybe next time.

Brave little pollinator.

Arctomecon merriamii, the "desert bearpoppy." You can see the little mesh "pollinator exclusion bags" we've put on the buds. This will help us learn whether these plants require pollinators to produce seed. Some plants can actually pollinate themselves, believe it or not. It's called "selfing."

Calochortus striatus, the "alkali mariposa lily." We misidentified this one last time, and I've changed it in the last Nevada post.

There's a weaving conference I plan on attending this weekend, so check back!

Monday, April 21, 2008

A stands for Athletics

I got to experience my 8th (count them, 8) major league baseball stadium on Friday. And I'm not even a real fan, it's ridiculous.

The McAfee Coliseum, home of the Oakland Athletics. The A's won, beating Jaja's Kansas City Royals 13-2 (oooooooooooo!). The fan turnout was pathetic, but the enthusiasm of the fans that were present was overwhelming. I would put A's fans up there with Phillies fans in the "don't mess" category.

Here's where I've been (I like lists):
  • Shea Stadium (New York Mets)
  • Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox)
  • Busch Stadium (St. Louis Cardinals)
  • Three Rivers Stadium (Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia Phillies)
  • AT&T Park (San Francisco Giants)
  • Yankee Stadium (New York Yankees)
  • McAfee Coliseum (Oakland Athletics)
I leave for Nevada tomorrow, and I will try to post, but the internet connection in the trailer can't be trusted. We'll see what happens.

Friday, April 18, 2008

CSA box - April 16

Look at that beautiful array of fresh produce! Joi choi, leeks, Tokyo turnips, asparagus, chard, and french breakfast radishes (salad mix and sage not pictured). We have been informed that this is the last week for leeks (yessssss, there's just so much you can do with leeks). One thing (among many) that I've learned through this experience is that I love turnips. Who knew?

I'm also very excited because I found a CSA program for my parents in NJ that's run through the Cook College Student Farm. This is especially awesome because Cook College is the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University, their alma mater.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Final Mushroom Update

Things got hectic towards the end of the quarter, but I just wanted to show you the last few mushrooms we harvested in my edible mushroom cultivation class.

Pleurotus djamor - The pink Oyster mushroom:

. . . in the incubator . . .

. . . ready for harvesting . . .

Lentinula edodes - Shiitake:

. . . our mushroom, "browned in the bag" . . .

. . . in the incubator . . .

. . . ready for harvest . . .

Coprinus sp. - Lion's Mane mushroom:

. . . in the incubator . . .

. . . ready for harvest . . . (so cool looking!)

. . . harvested! . . .

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Silly Old Bear

I finally finished a birthday gift for my friend R in Pennsylvania (no peeking, sir!). It's over a month late, but a lot of love and effort went into it, so hopefully that will count for something (right?). It's a stuffed bear, made out of felt, stuffing, thread, buttons, and embroidery floss.

I used a pattern from my new awesome book "Softies: Simple Instructions for 25 Plush Pals" by Therese Laskey. I used the pattern "tramp heart bear" by Lisa Martin, although I adjusted some things (mostly the color of felt, and I did almost everything by hand, saving the machine stitching for the very end).

Here he is on the table of the trailer in NV, waiting for the final embroidery, and to be stuffed and sewed together. He's holding a dried Phacelia flower from the desert.

Here are some detail photos of the embroidery I did. I've become a tad obsessed with it and just got a sweet book from the public library called "Mary Thomas's Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches."

He's got a little tattoo (can you read it?), and some scars from his mysterious previous life.

And here he is, in all of his 3D glory! I'm pretty pleased with how he turned out, and I hope he's happy in PA.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Children's Book Gallery

During a recent trip to SF, my friends and I stumbled upon the Children's Book Gallery on Geary St. It's located in a large building along with several fine art galleries, but no one in the building seemed to even know it was there (I saw its name on the directory in the lobby and had to investigate).

It was adorable, and the owner seemed happy to have people in there who appreciated it. Everything is for sale, so it's less of a gallery, and more of a very specific antique shop.

She has books from 1850 to 1950 mostly, and the design and pictures are priceless.

Here are two of my favorites:

I got the impression that she did most of her business online, but it's sweet that she has set up this little gallery space to display the books. They are beautiful and fragile and deserve respect, so it's nice to see them in a space where they get that.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Thursday, April 10, 2008

CSA pictures return!

My schedule finally allows me the sufficient time and daylight to take photos of my CSA box before it is consumed by the household. This week's box: Asparagus, carrots, green onion, radishes, chard, fresh dill, and lettuce and spinach (not pictured). I have plans for an asparagus couscous and some carrot cake. I'm also going to use the carrot tops to try my hand at that natural egg dying again.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Still Life in Rose

These days it seems that life = wine country. When it doesn't = research, that is. I'm not complaining.

(Photo by Jaja)

I had another wonderful time in Napa Valley this weekend, this time with Jaja and Scotty. My housemate Jaja's boyfriend Scotty runs his family vineyard in St. Helena, and my whole household (except Sammy) spent a long weekend there, indulging (perhaps a bit too much at times) in the wonderful commerce of the area. The rose in the first photo is handmade by Scotty, and the grapevine now resides in our front garden.

We started our Saturday here; Frog's Leap Winery. A free tasting (by appointment) and access to their beautiful porch, rocking chairs, organic gardens, and orchard.

Great little tasting room; Elizabeth Spencer in Rutherford. I love the design of this label; you can't see it very well, but the crossed swords are accompanied by two little red hearts.

A fun stop-off when you've gotten a bit tipsy at Elizabeth Spencer; St. Helena Olive Oil Company. A few doors down, and free tastings of everything from olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, BBQ sauce, you name it. (Photo by Jaja).

Late lunch at V. Sattui in St. Helena. (Photos by Crystal)

We had a full Saturday, and sobered up just in time to go watch Kansas beat UNC at a local brewery. Jaja (our resident Kansan) says, "Go Jayhawks!"

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Days of Wine and Elk

My wonderful friend Kristin came to visit from Minnesota in early March and we did Napa. We tried to find a bunch of cool, smaller wineries, but the GPS was so confused and kept misdirecting us. Each new gadget makes me more and more lazy, and usually wastes more time than it saves. End of rant. So we ended up going to two larger wineries, Mumm and Beringer, but we had a great time, lots of giggling.

Sparkling wine tasting at Mumm Napa

We also went to the Tule Elk Preserve at Point Reyes National Seashore. It's at the far tip of the seashore and the drive was beautiful and long. There are a few working cattle ranches on the preserve and some abandoned buildings left at the trail head at the elk preserve. They are beautiful and white washed and moss covered.

Old barn from an abandoned cattle facility on Point Reyes

Tule elk, hanging out right alongside the trail. Last time I was at the elk preserve, we needed binoculars to see them.

Kehoe beach, Kristin's first Pacific Ocean toe dipping!

I've amassed so many friends all across the country, and it's powerful when I get to see one of them again and it feels like no time has passed. I haven't seen Kristin since summer 05 when I visited her in Minnesota, but we were able to pick right up in our friendship. It's amazing how some friendships can span location, and work anywhere. I met Kristin in Hawai'i, then saw her almost two years later in MN, and then three and a half years later in CA. The time and location meant nothing, it's incredible.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Which came first?

The Saturday before Easter I had a bunch of friends over to dye eggs. Much fun was had by all, and we ended up dying 6.5 dozen eggs! Amazing. It made me miss my sister and my friend Amanda from home, whom I've always dyed eggs with in the past.

We used synthetic dye that my mom mailed me from NJ (she knows me so well). But we also tried some natural dyes. They failed pretty much completely, but I think I know what I did wrong. Here's what they looked like this time around:

Top left: carrot tops, top center: onion skins, top right: beets, bottom left: red cabbage. (Some of the eggs started off brown anyway, so don't be impressed).

I'm going to try again, and then I'll write a tutorial.

Which came first?

It's that time, and everyone and their mother has chicks in their living room. Wait, maybe that's just here in Davis.

Regardless, I'm surrounded by people with chickens and I WANT SOME. But that's not in the cards right now, so I have to live vicariously through others and their stability which allows them to have a chicken coop in their backyard.

In college, my friend Emilie and I actually did have chickens. It was hilarious and amazing, and we had to give them to my aunt when they got too big. She has a farm in PA, so they were able to roam free, and annoy the crap out of her duck. We didn't quite know what we were doing, so we bought meat chickens, which was a mistake. They are huge.

This is Speedboat. Or is it Willis?