Tuesday, April 30, 2013

SLO Deerweed in Full Bloom (Hiking San Luis Obispo)

Lotus scoparius
Click on the illustration above for all the glorious detail
Deerweed (Lotus scoparius) was in full bloom when we hiked Madonna Mountain, in San Luis Obispo  a few weeks back. The deerweed is only just starting to show yellow, up here about 200 miles north at Edgewood Nature Preserve in the San Francisco Bay Area.

With it's shiny bare red stalks in the winter, deerweed adds an arty element to it's surroundings. It also provides nectar for gorgeous mint-green hairstreak butterflies. So, I'm thinking about giving this native a try the next time I'm visiting SLO and swing by Las Pilitas Nursery (http://www.laspilitas.com/nature-of-california/plants/lotus-scoparius). Las Pilitas is a great native plant nursery, but they have very specific hours. I recommend you call ahead if you're going. (You can also get plants from them by mail.) And double check with them on the directions. The drive over from the freeway to the nursery is rural California at it's best as well. Keep an eye out for wild turkeys, quail and bears - not kidding. Ask about the bear that used to be somewhat of a regular at the nursery.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Southwestern Soul (Hiking San Luis Obispo)

Prickly Pear Fantasia
Click on the illustration above for an in-depth view
Up where I live, San Francisco way, we don't see much in the way of prickly pear cactus, unless it's been planted (though it will often thrive for generations once it's been introduced). When we see these needles growing on their own, we think southwest. As I said when I first wrote about this hike on my weekend trip to San Luis Obispo ( SLO Field Trip: Madonna Mountain), there's both a southern and a northern CA feel to San Luis Obispo.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Native Californian on a Field Trip (Hiking San Luis Obispo)

Hiking Madonna Mountain last weekend, I didn't actually get a chance to check out the appropriate feathers, but I would guess this gal was a red-tailed hawk, simply because we have so many of those beauties in CA. 

Whether or not that's her moniker, she knows her status. She's a real Californian, born and bred. 

No need for an audio book, cell phone, or Xbox for this native. She simply rides the thermals, and enjoys the field trip.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

SLO Field Trip: Madonna Mountain (Hiking San Luis Obispo)

Mount Madonna is part of the
Nine Sisters, A Chain of Ancient Volcanoes
Culturally, if not geographically, San Luis Obispo (known locally as SLO), seems to divide Northern from Southern California. SLO itself lies just north from the spot where the 101 freeway takes a big curve away from the coastal towns of Pismo, Avila and other beachy towns that lay north of Santa Barbara.  You'll find advertising references to this area as the Central Coast, but I've never heard regular folk use this term. Of course everybody has their own idea of where the northern region of the state starts. If you live in San Francisco, that's the southern most border of the upper part of the state. Oddly enough if you live in Monterey, that's the boundary line!

Some people seem to think the north/south division is a political thing, though SLO county isn't a hotbed of liberalism, the town of SLO is probably more blue than red. Others claim that lifestyles are different, more outdoor living in the southern zone, which is certainly the case in this hiking, biking, surfing community. It's all about feel, and I suppose it's all about where we live ourselves, and what we identify with.

All I know for sure, is that the hiking is mi-ti-fine heading up Mount Madonna.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Dogged Delight (Field Trip to Stacks for Breakfast)

This Doggie Founder Sign,
on display at the San Carlos Stacks,
gives a hint as to why this restaurant
is my kind of plac
My daughter and I are partial to the local breakfast/lunch chain Stacks. We head over there for brunch when she's home for college and reminisce over  long-ago out-to-lunch memories from her younger days. The staff never seems to mind how long we hang out in the big comfy booths. They also know how to decorate for the winter holidays.

Oh yes, their food is pretty durn good too - especially their blueberry wheat germ pancakes and the yogurt sundae (it's a regular meal not a desert).

The main  link (http://www.stacksrestaurant.com )  doesn't currently show the Stacks in San Carlos and Redwood City.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Fantastical Miner's Lettuce

When I Dream of Miner's Lettuce
Miner's Lettuce, Claytonia perfoliata, is a common San Francisco plant that thrives and blooms in the open space areas where I hike as well as the shade of my own backyard.  It is munch'able, but I often wonder if the California gold miners of '49 were really into salad...

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Plain Sewing for Disneyland

(co-published with MeEncantaCoser/EnchantedBySewing.blogspot.com)

Me in my my Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Shirt)
on a quick spring break at Disneyland

As regular followers of my Me Encanta Coser Enchanted By Sewing blog and podcast may have noticed, I spent a lot of time focusing on improving my sewing techniques over the last couple of months. The green and golden jungle print shirt (previously blogged about as my Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Shirt) in this photo, was the product of that work. 

After so much effort when it came to crisp edges, pattern fitting and alteration I had fun making a couple of simple tank tops with no pattern at all and the simple joy of scissoring wherever I wanted. The results were perfect as layers under a travel wardrobe for a recent quick-hop Disneyland trip with my grownup daughter. With my new green shirt as a top layer, I managed to pack light - using just a very small rolling suitcase for the trip. My simple shirt and tees wardrobe,  made a second floor motel room and return-by-Amtrak trip really easy - no problem hefting that bag up steps, onto the top shelf of the luggage area, or pulling it up the gap between train and track.

I loved this opportunity to use machine embroidery
I almost forget to use a top layer of stabalizer between
the needle and knit fabric! You know what happens if you
forget, right? The fabric is sucked down and gummed up
 under the throat plate and it's awful.
I enjoyed using machine embroidery to create this lovely zebra, the only motif on the green shirt for which I had a match on my (now) old-fashioned embroidery machine, which uses cards instead of the more modern downloadable designs. I also made use of an inexpensive white tee - which I totally cutup and simply used as fabric. The binding (and headband - which you see simply tossed over the hanger here) was the remains of a tee that didn't work out. I loved the 100% cotton knit fabric when I found it - at Stone Mountain and Daughter in Berkley-, but it had an awful lot more stretch than I realized and the long sleeved tee I made  out of it is too broad and too short. It just didn't work out. But the remnants make great trim for this zebra shirt. Now that I've experimented with this tee, and another, I'm hoping to make a similar one out of better quality white cotton knit. I think I've still got enough of the black and white remainder for binding and enough black thread for another zebra too!

If you have machine embroidery capabilities and haven't done so on knits, make sure you use a top layer of stabalizer as well as a bottom layer. I use the kind that looks like saran wrap. You tear it away and any remainder washes away.
This is my kind of uniform
Something I can put on every day
and pretty too
As I've said before, I like making pretty clothes that I'll get a lot of wear from. Whether I'm in the land of Princesses and castles or back home on my bike, I'll get a lot of use out of this zebra tee. And I'll always enjoy pulling it out of my drawer.

Machine embroidered tees like this, keep me enchanted by sewing.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

California on a Plate (What's for Supper?)

We're California Dreaming
When it Comes to Supper
Our favorite no-decision supper is salad with everything handy. Tonight that included typical local produce....
* Strawberries from Hollister
* Lettuce also likely from Gilroy/Hollister
* Avocados - Some of them show up in our local farmer's market, but I'd guess this Hass was from farther away Southern California
*Walnuts grown and harvested, within a hundred miles of here
* Turkey, which thrives in Petaluma as well as our Central Valley. According to California Fast Facts and Trivia, "More turkeys are produced in California than in any of the other states in the U.S."
*Even the Ak-Mak crackers I crumbled on my salad just after I snapped this photo with my cell phone, have been produced in California for four generations

There were a few exotics...It's a bit early for tomatoes around here, and I'm pretty sure that the dried cranberries don't grow in any of our bogs.

Stop by, and bring your fork.