31 July 2011

Beware SpongeBob

These are the tomatoes that made it home from the garden yesterday. Handfuls of cherry tomatoes were eaten before Doodle took this photo.

Look out! SpongeBob is eyeing the tomatoes! (awesome photo by Doodle)

There she goes

Doodle jumping off the diving board at the end of swimming lessons.

28 July 2011


It has begun. The big'uns are slowly becoming ripe. Pictured here from left to right: Hillbilly Potato Leaf, Black from Tula, and Early Annie. Not pictured: the dozen Sungold cherry tomatoes that were instantaneously devoured by Doodle and Roo, and the couple of Jaune Flammes that have been consumed before making it home as well.

The munching was, sadly, not our doing. Some critter got in the garden through the big gaping hole that's still under the darn fence (*grumble about contractors and slowness and bureaucratic crap letting the rabbits in my garden patch*). I found these partially munched but still on the vine. We brought them home, cut off the yucky parts, and ate them nonetheless. Deeee-lish.

Dang rabbit.

27 July 2011

Well, I've done it...

...I've added another bee-petter to the world. Sorry Mom. It couldn't be helped. I mean, they're just so cute and fuzzy!

Does it help if I tell you this is a male carpenter bee? He can't sting.

No, doesn't help? What if I tell you she was giggling here about his buzzing tickling her? No?

But look at his face! So cute! Totally makes me want to pick him up and snuggle him. And Doodle feels the same way.

19 July 2011


Peeking in zucchini flowers the other morning, J discovered some visitors.

Awww, bee bums.

Oh, hello there, lovelies! Sorry to disturb your breakfast. Please resume coating yourselves in pollen - the flowers do so appreciate your efforts. Carry on! I shan't bother you much longer.

We have squash bees (Peponapis sp.) visiting our potted zucchini plants here in the back yard! The larger bee in the photos is a Peponapis male, and the smaller one is a sweat bee of some sort (Halictidae, probably Lasioglossum sp.). I was very happy to see these beautiful squash-loving bees zipping into our blossoms. Now if only the zucchini plants would set some female flowers we could get some zucchini out of the deal.

17 July 2011

Macadamia Nut Pesto

MacNut Pesto. Yes, it is as good as it sounds. Here's J's recipe:

3 c. basil leaves, packed
1/2 c. spinach leaves, packed
1/4 c. parsley, packed
1 c. oil
1 tsp. salt
4 cloves garlic
1 Tbs toasted sesame seeds
1 handful raw macadamia nuts (just over 1/4c.)

Chop mac nuts in food processor. Add remaining ingredients except oil. Coarsley chop, stopping to push leaves down. Slowly add oil. Mix with pasta and devour (see above photo).

Don't let the expression fool you - Mr. Serious Face loved it. See the pesto all over his face?

16 July 2011

Papa-Doodle climbing team

We went to the New River Gorge in West Virginia for the 4th of July weekend. We went with a friend and met up with a crew of his climbing buddies down there. With a bunch of laid-back climbers we had plenty of belayers when Doodle wanted to climb with Papa alongside.

Doodle looking like a natural. Papa helping with foot placement.

Other highlights of our trip to the New include: Doodle and Roo's first ride in the back of a pickup truck (on a dirt road out to a little-known crag), driving across streams and through mud puddles (with Doodle yelling "get mud on the windows, Papa!"), hiking out in a rainstorm the last day there, cool critters found on hikes and between climbs, and relaxing time hanging out with friends. It was a good weekend.

11 July 2011

Critters of the New

We found a bunch of cool critters on our hikes to and from climbing spots at the New River Gorge over the 4th of July weekend.

Luna moth
Leaving the crag one day I spotted a newly emerged luna moth (Actias luna) hanging out on a stick. The camera was buried somewhere in the backpack, so I found this (undoubtedly much better) photo on flickr to share. This was my second ever luna moth spotted in the wild, and the first for Doodle and Roo.

We found six of these juvenile red-spotted newts (Notophthalmus viridescens, red eft form) at the base of the Honeymooner's Ladders at Endless Wall. They made themselves scarce not long after we arrived, but we felt lucky to have spotted them out and about.

The Good One
While J was retrieving the last bits of climbing gear at the end of our final day there, our friend Brenda spotted this brilliantly-colored bird hanging out in the understory - turns out it's a Scarlet Tanager! This is another flickr photo, as yet again the camera was buried.

7764 Newborn Promethea Moth, IMG_1442_1.JPG
We also found a beautiful Promethea silkmoth during our hike out in the rain. This is another photo from flickr, as we only paused briefly during the rainstorm to admire the gorgeous, large male moth obviously trying to stay dry on a tree trunk as we passed by.

10 July 2011

Only two things that money can't buy...

...and that's true love and homegrown tomatoes. (C'mon, sing along!)

06 July 2011

Berry picking

The kids and I are becoming reacquainted with the joys of berry picking. In Utah we had a raspberry patch in our backyard and, from an early age, Doodle learned to check it daily for delicious morsels. We no longer have a berry patch in our yard, but we did discover a good-sized patch of black raspberries just beyond our community garden.

Roo with the booty. Doodle showing that she's only a little messy.

We have made it out to the black raspberry patch four times so far, and will hopefully squeeze in one or two more pickings as the plants are winding down. We've made berry fruit leather, berry preserves, berry ice cream and dried berries. Tonight: more berry ice cream with yesterday's pickings.

Doodle looking for blueberries.

I'm really enjoying getting out and foraging with the kids, and they enjoy it for short bursts too (about an hour is the max). Doodle eats more than she picks and Roo only eats the berries, so I feel triumphant when I manage to pick enough to bring some home after feeding my helpers. Really, though, I'm just happy to get outside with them and they're happy to be out and eating straight from the bushes.

Doodle happy with her flower despite finding few blueberries at Bear Meadows. Roo eating two of the four ripe berries we found.

Last week we went scouting for blueberries. The short plants are just starting to ripen and the large bushes are probably another week out before we'll head back out for some picking.

What is your favorite thing to do with blueberries?

01 July 2011

Catching fireflies

Wishing you a happy and safe 4th of July weekend. We're off to the New River Gorge for some climbing, hiking, and playing in dirt. :)