Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hiking in Corriganville

Corriganville is a former movie set from the heyday of Western films. The park is named after cowboy actor Ray "Crash" Corrigan who purchased the property in 1937. It also served as the set for filming the television show Tarzan.

Underwater shots were filmed from an enclosed room with windows under the water.

My fondest childhood memories were in the Hopetown days when Bob Hope owned the property. After Bob Hope relinquished his rights to the property, the area fell into disrepair. It now is owned by the City of Simi Valley and maintained by the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District. The good news is that the park is in better shape. The bad news is that the dry cement bed that housed Tarzan's diving pool is no longer skated with reckless abandon.

A great hike was made even better by skipping through trails with an ubercool aunt, my Hopetown Hullabaloo girl scout cohort (a festival celebrated on these same trails about three decades ago...we were Brownies, man).

And grandma's hugs.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Artichoke Update

Well, the artichokes have at least established themselves this time. We'll see if we can keep them alive through the summer but at least they are past the seedling stage.

OK, all but this one. It was plucked early on by one of the boys. Julia stuck it back in the ground but it may have been out of the dirt for too long to fully recover. It's been limping along like this for months now.

The surprising thing is that this one was thinned from the most vigorous plant and planted with no preparation other than pressing my finger into the mud as deep as it would go, trying to cram the longer-than-that tap root in there and then pressing the clay soil around it. Now it's probably the third or fourth strongest plant out of seven total. It will be interesting to see how it fares over the summer too.

Artichokes - 3rd Time's a Charm?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Weekend Update

•a hike•

•with cousins•

•a rock display•

•a birthday gift & party for a dear friend•

•a birthday gift for a one year old depicting "a firetruck" according to our resident two year old artist•

•frames treated with beeswax for a box addition to the hive•

•and a new sketch book•

Hello spring.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lamp Fix Redux

Back in January, I "fixed" our broken lamp. The switch had stopped working. With a bit of tinkering, the old switch was resurrected to last another two months. It finally bit the dust this week. I learned in January our local hardware store didn't have a replacement switch that fit.

I had better luck at a specialty lighting shop.
I think this fix will last awhile.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gluten-free Peanut Butter Cookies

I've been meaning to share this delicious and wonderfully simple recipe for a long time. But each time I make a batch, I find the cookie jar empty before I got a good picture. I'll confess, it's usually my fingers trolling the bottom of the jar, mouth stuffed when I realize I've eaten the last photo opportunity yet again.

My mother-in-law's boyfriend shared this recipe with me. The recipe calls for peanut butter and eggs. At times, I have used almond butter and flax meal in place of egg. I suspect those with nut allergies could try sunflower butter instead of a nut butter.

I hope you enjoy these as much as my family does.

Gluten-free Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg (or 1 T flax meal mixed with 3 T of water. Let sit for 2 minutes before adding to other ingredients)

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine peanut butter, sugar and egg. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Press down dough ball with fork. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until done. Place cookie sheet on a wire rack. Allow cookies to cool on sheet slightly before removing.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Story of Bottled Water

Annie Leonard just released her latest movie The Story of Bottled Water. Like her first movie The Story of Stuff, it is well worth a look.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pollen Gathering

Bees are gathering pollen this morning on our blooming Ceanothus.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tomato 101

The Camp Ramshackle galley goes through quite a bit of canned tomatoes over the winter months. One evening while Eric and I were talking about our vegetable garden and the prospects of our summer garden, we decided we would like to plant more tomatoes. We'd love to produce and can more tomatoes to suit our consumption.

Enter Homegrown LA, Marta Teegan and a weekend class on growing tomatoes. Eric watched the kids at home while I ventured out to a downtown L.A. rooftop garden to attend one of Marta's classes.

The class was fantastic. One of the tips I learned about planting tomato starts is to plant them very deep, burying the lower leaves in the soil.

Ever notice how the stem of the tomato plant is fuzzy? The fuzz are roots.

The rooftop garden was beautiful. Marta Teegan said she had an appointment with Backwards Beekeeper guru Kirkobeeo...and look, now the garden has bees. The nasturtium never had it so good.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Homegrown Shitake Mushroom

Our friend Phoenix gifted us with a shitake mushroom growing kit that he picked up at the Los Angeles Mycological's Mushroom Fair. I have never eaten a mushroom so fresh. Supremely delicious. I have pictures of the growing process I hope to share soon.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

LACMA Visit, Hockney Viewing

My oldest son is an avid drawer. He is incredible moved by colors and will quickly answer the what's-your-favorite-color question with "magenta". His artwork at home is quite prolific and well-loved by our family. I've been amazed on this journey of parenthood watching his artistic expression grow. Although his content and draftsmanship has evolved, his color palette has remained fairly steady. He is moved by bright vibrant colors...oranges, bright pinks, yellows with saturated purples and bright blues.

We have been to LACMA many times with our NexGen memberships, but this was the first time we ventured to the third floor in the Ahmanson building to view Mulholland Drive by David Hockney. I have been sharing the idea of David Hockney's Mulholland Drive with my son for a long time. To watch him see this picture for the first time was awesome. His eyes widened, his mouth opened, he gasped.

We spent at least twenty minutes exploring the painting. That's a lot for anyone especially a two and five year old.

Our adventure began with a wonderful picnic and errant soccer ball on the grounds between the Page Museum and LACMA.

After meeting Mulholland Drive, my oldest son decided to listen to the lecture on Paul Cadmus' Coney Island. My two year old lasted through the introduction but lost interest when the historian delved into Cadmus' education. He curled onto my lap and announced, "Mommy, I'm done."

A great day was had by all.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Hummingbird Garden Visitor

While working in the garden at my sons' preschool, my youngest and I had a welcome visitor.

My son got so close. The hummingbird was interested in us and flew away only after my son got about three feet away.

It was exhilarating. We've had the luck to experience some intimate encounters with birds: an accidental aviary, baby birds in the tent, two years in a row.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Homemade Hook Hung

Eric made a series of these beautiful wooden hooks from our olive trees. I love them. He mounted one hook in our bedroom behind the door.

The robes are convenient to use but hidden from view when you open the door.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Catches in the Yard

Black-bellied slender salamander.

Fence post lizard. Caught by Eric, release by our oldest son.

The downtown skyline. Photo captured by our oldest son.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Annals of Small Improvements: Hook Relocation

After my son wrestled with his jacket early morning, letting out the plaintive cry, "I can't get it off" I realized today was the day to rectify the injustice of tall jacket storage for the small.

Much, much, much better.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Patching Pants

Eric is really good at repairing his jeans. I remember a trip to Joshua Tree when our oldest son was barely two. In the quiet of the desert, Eric started repairing a pair of his jeans by hand stitching homemade denim patches over the holes. Those patches are still going strong and many more have been added.

I decided to take a lesson by repairing a pair of my oldest son's pants. We cut denim from a recycled pair of jeans and pinned the patches to cover the holes.

Eric usually uses the sewing machine these days instead of hand stitching. He added another patch to some of his jeans.

Interior of Eric's pant leg with the tear sewn down.

Then he turned them inside out and ran a stitch around the tear. The sewn down material is less likely to be caught when you push your feet through the pant legs.

Interior of my son's pant leg with the tear removed.

I sewed the patch on my son's jeans with a tight zigzag stitch. I turned them inside out. Instead of sewing down the material surrounding the tear, I cut out all the material inside the border of the patch. I figured a tear would grow bigger by curious toes, best to remove it altogether.

Ready to wear.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

El Rio Charter School Public Meeting Today

Meeting: Sat. March 6, 2010 at Debs Park from 2:30 to 3:30

Hope to see you today at the Audubon Center at Debs Park.

Friday, March 5, 2010


About three weeks ago, the insulation truck rolled up to our house, unwound a hose and blew TAP insulation into our drafty attic. Living in a farmhouse construction house brings you much closer to the elements, even in southern California. The insulation was a much needed improvement at Camp Ramshackle.

TAP is 85% recycled post-consumer newsprint. Eric did the bulk of the research about our options. While searching online, he found a post on about recycled newsprint insulation.

The insulation comes in block form which was opened and put into a shedder/blower machine.

Because the insulation is blown in, the job took only a few hours. The change was drastic. Even with our farmhouse construction (which means that our interior wall is also our exterior wall), the heat is more consistent.

With winter waning, I'm looking forward to seeing how the insulation works with the summer heat.