Sunday, March 22, 2015

A lesson from the chickens or easy caterpillar removal

If you are squirmy about wormies, this probably isn't the blog post for you...

 I love to learn new things.   I am open to any teacher, be it 
my 5 year old granddaughter teaching me an art technique, a formal classroom learning opportunity, or
my chickens teaching me how to remove cabbage looper caterpillars from my lettuce leaves.

Last week, being so preoccupied with keeping my lettuce comfortable in the 90 degree heat we were having here in Southern California, I neglected to notice that the big, beautiful leaves of my Black seeded Simpson lettuce were looking more like doilies than vegetables.  I started looking for the culprits.  There was the frass evidence that they were eating and digesting my future salads.   And sure enough, and although their green color matched the lettuce perfectly, I spotted them.  
Cabbage loopers.  

 Being an organic gardener, I began picking the worms off the leaves.  I put them in a box to be delivered to my hens.  Some of the lettuce was so holey, I picked off an entire perforated leaf, with the caterpillars still attached, and added it to the Nellie and Amelia picnic hamper.  I picked 62 of the little gluttons off 18 plants.   (Yes, I counted the smooth, green inchworm-like caterpillars as I plucked them off.  I wanted to tell someone about how many had been on the plants and I thought an actual number made for a more realistic story. Plus worm picking can get boring, so I needed something to keep my mind involved.)  

I delivered the box lunch...
and watched as the girls enjoyed their delicacies.   I also observed that the hens would pick up a leaf and give it a shake before eating it.  The shaking caused the worms to fly off and then the hen would run to eat it before her coop-mate could get it.  This process surprised me, because when I pick cabbage caterpillars off plants they kind of grasp onto the plant and then cling to my fingers with their hairy little feet.  I didn't think a hen head-shake would dislodge them from the leaves.  And how did the hens know to do this?

I was out picking more loopers this afternoon.  I thought about the 
method the hens had shown me the day before.  I  gave the lettuce heads a  tap-tap with my hand.
 Sure enough, the gentle ruffling knocked the caterpillars off the leaves.  They fell off the plants and onto the dirt where they were both visible and easier to pick up.  Teeny-tiny caterpillars I would have never seen on the plants were easily seen on the soil.

I like the saying,

"When the student is ready, the teacher will appear."    Kalam

It is true and I hope I will always be a student open to all teachers.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

leprechauns don't like our house

posted by:  jennifer

it is the day after Saint Patrick's Day... my youngest went out into the living room first thing this morning and looked around.    (just like she had done yesterday morning, and when she came home from school yesterday)

she came to the kitchen and announced "leprechauns don't like our house."  
I didn't say a word.
then "you know why they don't like our house?   because it's not clean, and so they can't mess it up."

when did Saint Patrick's Day get so out of hand?   I have never particularly like the day.  I hated the whole "you are going to get pinched if you don't wear green shenanigans" when I was in school, and still do. But I think when I was growing up, that is about all involved in the day.
By the way, my kids asked yesterday morning if I was wearing green.  I said no.  and then I said I don't like St. Patrick's Day.... but as I thought about it throughout the day, it is more I don't celebrate it.  

these days though, the leprechauns come into the classrooms at school, and overturn trash cans, leave green footprints all over desks.
I have heard that they even go to houses, pee in the toilet (did you know they have green pee?) and forget to flush.  well, that's the word in the hallways at the elementary school.

now, in all honesty, for a couple of years, I felt the pressure.  The leprechauns did show up here a couple of times... they sprinkled some glitter and left some chocolate coins.

but I think they have got the point.  this is not a good house to hit.  
and it is okay.  Because I don't think ankle breaking size holes, that have been covered with grass, in hopes of trapping a leprechaun, that are dug in the backyard (in the pathway no less) should be encouraged.   

so, long story short, if you want to keep leprechauns away from your house, keep it messy. 
thank goodness they don't like messy houses, because all I need is another creature reeking havoc up in here.


Monday, February 23, 2015

motherhood tourettes

posted by: jennifer

it is
   a crazy morning.

breakfast for three
lunches for two

no work space on the countertop
      cat         ed
       dirty dishes.

should have
would have
   .....but Downton

   wet laundry sits in the washer.

so now,
  random thoughts bubbling to the surface
of my brain
     c att     
                er        d

i yell out 
to no one in particular
or maybe just to me?
                   LITTER BOX!
                                    P.E. CLOTHES!
                EPSOM SALTS!

it is.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Art Journal

a scattering, smidgen of, sample, snippet,,,
some pages from my journal
XO, April


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Reducing guilt and fat one apple at a time

Apples make me think of

back to school
the height of a Smurf
keeping the doctor away
Johnny Appleseed
that twinge of guilt I used to feel whenever I threw away an old apple.

You know, the very ones that kept being passed by.  Who's going to choose the soft, mealy, bruised fruit when sitting right next to it is a crisp, juicy, and firm beauty?  Not me.  (Oh dear, I suddenly see an analogy here between youth and old age!)

So those less than desirable apples in my larder used to roll around in the bin until they were so wrinkly, I could finally send them to the mulch pile.  I looked the other way when I tossed them to minimize the remorse.  Food waste denial.

I have a dear friend who told me years ago that she made applesauce from her "old" apples.  This sounded both very frugal and a lot of work.  Despite her insistence that "it is so easy",  I continued tossing apples and buying jarred applesauce.  I double-downed on my regret whenever I threw out leftover applesauce gone fuzzy.

A few years ago for some unknown reason (too much time on my hands?),  I decided to make applesauce from some poor old apples.   It WAS easy and I continue to do it. 

 I have an apple peeler/corer, which makes a snap out of the prep work. 

The peeled and cored apple slices go into a pot all by themselves. No water, sugar, or seasonings. 

I turn low heat under the pot and the apples cook while I do something else.
I stir the pot occasionally and smash the softening apple pieces with my wooden stirring spoon to create a puree.  The puree is sometimes chunky and sometimes pulverized, depending on my mood.
When all the apples are soft and mashed, I turn off the heat and let the sauce cool.

Then I measure the sauce into 1 cup packages and put them into the freezer.

6 apples made 1 1/4 cup applesauce.

The frozen applesauce thaws quickly.

That's the reducing guilt part of the story.  Now here's the reducing fat part, which further reduces guilt.  Really this is a win-win effort.

You can reduce the amount of fat in baked goodies by substituting applesauce for some of the fat.  
My favorite recipe for doing this is for Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins.

Here's the recipe:
1/2 cup butter is what is called for, but I only use 1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 egg
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tea. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup applesauce is what is called for, but I increase it to 1 cup applesauce
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup oatmeal (not instant)
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Cream butter, gradually add brown sugar and cream until light and fluffy.  Add egg and beat well.  Mix well next 5 ingredients and add alternately with applesauce to creamed mixture, stirring well.  Add next 3 ingredients and mix well.  Spoon into 12 baking cups which are lining muffin tin cups.  Bake in preheated 350○ oven for 25-30 minutes.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

This works deliciously. I have used this method successfully for Gingerbread, 

Zucchini Bread, Pumpkin Bars, Chocolate Cake, well, you get the idea.

I guess this is proof that I am getting saucier as I get older.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Sunday, January 25, 2015

a haiku for january

posted by jennifer

                                                               Ocean in the sky
                                                                    Churning swirling
                                                                    Clouds above...
                                                               Horizon lines blur

coming home from the river
near boulevard, ca




Tuesday, December 30, 2014

on dodging dingle berries

posted by:  jennifer

so it always good to find the positive in a negative situation right?  and let's face it, life has a good way of throwing shit  your way every now and then.  usually,  they are little dingle berries of shit... like fortunately in my case.  but i do think that if you have practice not letting those little dingle berries stick when they come flying your way, you might have a leg up when and if a dump truck full of shit lets it load out on top of you.  wow, mrs. daly would 
love that run on sentence.  

here are a couple of my negatives that i feel i am navigating in a positive way.

first, i mentioned recently about going bald.  so i have found out more about it.  alopecia areata is its name, reeking havoc is its game.  no really.  what i have learned about this condition is as follows:
   -it is an auto immune disease (white blood cells attacking hair follicles)
   -it does not make you physically sick.  just fucks with your head.  ( ha!  i didn't even mean 
     for that to be a pun)
   -it is unpredictable.  you could have a quarter size bald spot or two where the hair grows 
     back and then you never experience hair loss again.  or it could grow back only to fall out
     again in a year.  or 5 years.  or whenever.  you could have a massive bald patch (me raising
     my hand)  and then a quarter size bald spot on the opposite side of your head (me raising
     my hand).  the point is, this is one fickle disease.  you just never know.

what i do know is that i love to wear scarves.  i have worn them for years.  and if i have to start wearing them daily, or to wear larger ones to cover more or all of my head i will.  yes, i am going to keep taking my evening primrose oil, and eating more essential fatty acid rich foods.... but i am determined not to let this get me down.  and if i can face the day with a smile after my 12 year old tells me upon waking that my bald spot is "really showing this morning" i am doing okay.

secondly, our sweet cat blue was hit by a car last week.  such a sad discovery... and we all lamented that he didn't ever have his first christmas.  so sad.  we all cried, and still look for him sleeping on one of our beds, or on the deck waiting to be let in the house.  

but, we also know that when we head to the san diego humane society today, we will likely return home with another sweet ball of fur that will brighten up our days.

here's to looking for the bright spots.