Monday, October 28, 2013

Fall Nature Sightings around our Pad

The cold snowy day was thus far an aberration with sun dominating the bulk of the days here in north central Ohio.  The warmth of the sun enables many woolly bear caterpillars to cross the road in search of a proper overwintering spot, with many not quite outpacing the tire treads of a passing vehicle. A praying mantis made quick work of just such a caterpillar. This was really quite a wow moment.  The powerful legs of the mantis easily and eerily fast subdued the last bit of strength in this nutrient filled caterpillar (check out all that chlorophyll goo oozing out!).

 The goldenrod and ironweed seed heads are stunning.

A pair of eastern-tailed blues take advantage of the warmth too.

A garden argiope made a web on the south side of our mailbox.  What a beauty...and hardy too!  This spider survived our snow day.

A turbulent phosphila caterpillar crossed the path in front of us.  The image doesn't do the caterpillar justice, but we had to document its incredible coloration!  This is the second one we've found over the years.  The first we spotted at the same time of year, on the path at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

This beautiful katydid found our car antennae to be the perfect spot to rest for 24 hours.  We moved the perfect leaf mimic to a more favorable spot when the need for car utilization arose.

Upper 50s and sunshine are forecast for the next couple of days so we will take advantage and wrap up a few projects!

For those of you bird lovers, check out the latest cool sighting at Jennifer's place of work!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Firing Up Our Multi-Media Entertainment Center For the Winter Season

We had our first snow a couple of days ago and we pledged to embrace winter this year. One strategy to promote that is the annual firing-up of our multi-media entertainment center.

Tonight we did just that, much to the liking of Flora, our portly little long-haired tabby cat:

The cave-person in us says, "Fire...Good"!

Embrace the seasons!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pokeweed Berry Dyeing

Natural dyeing is fascinating to me (Jennifer) and I finally gave it a try last week.  I dyed only 2 oz of fiber, but it gave me confidence and a super increased enthusiasm for dyeing next year.  A part of the garden is so going to be used for dye plants.  Oh yes.  I used the recipe from Harvesting Color by Rebecca Burgess and found the process incredibly simple, easy and non-toxic.  Yay!

Pokeweed berries are really beautiful and the birds love them!

I collected the required amount for 2 oz of wool and heated them according to the instructions.  Look at this mash!  White vinegar is the ticket to harness the color and make it resistant to fading in the sun.

After letting the roving simmer and sit for a while I ended up with a nice rope of yarn to spin.  I colored this!  Can you see my excitement?!  Lest you think I like to just stand in the flower beds, please note I'm standing next to the pokeweed plant!  I'm thinking with such a small amount of fiber some handspun/hand-dyed bracelets with little tree cookie buttons for securing are on the agenda for the week.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Preparing for Frost

Frost is expected tonight and a freeze Tuesday night so we are preparing to protect these cold tolerant Cabbage (Coir di bue and Nero di Toscano), Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Blue Curled Scotch Kale.

Winter mesclun, spinach and cilantro are ready for protection in the coldframe.

Beets and kohlrabi are ready for cleaning. We eat the beet greens so the whole plant is a gem for us. We left some beets in the garden with a cover and harvested many of the large ones.

I (Jennifer) used fencing to create a quick make-shift cover to last until we make time to bend the metal conduit we bought to make a sturdier mini-hoop house.

This will probably be the last of the flowering nasturtiums and calendula till next year.  I harvested a fair amount of nasturtium, zinnia and marigold seeds to dry and save.  I also cut quite a few of the calendula blooms to use in our soap.

The lettuce is so beautiful and is feeding us daily.

The trees are really starting to turn in central Ohio...

and the gourds are ready for display!

We grow all this food to cook, of course.  The recent Vegetarian Times had a tasty potpie recipe we made this week.  YUM.  The perfect food for a cold, rainy day.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

There's a Reason for Every Dumpster Dive, Eventually...

We've been pulling stuff out of the trash for years now and, usually, the Obtainium generates some creativity fairly quickly. But not always. Sometime one must wait years for the right project to come along. That was the case with 8 clear glass blocks that we pulled from the trash when we lived in Sante Fe, NM. Someone had replaced their bathroom and these glass blocks must have been part of their shower. In any event, we thought they were cool and so we grabbed them and have since been transporting them around for years!

No more...we've found a use:

A couple of our basement windows had been boarded up and the outsides back-filled with soil. This we found annoying and so, at long last, we exhumed these two former openings to the sun and...

...using five dollars worth of solid concrete blocks, 4 salvaged concrete blocks, some salvaged caulk and caulk gun, 15 bucks worth of grout and the salvaged glass blocks, we:

Here is the new opening. It will be back-filled up to the glass blocks to give the proper grade away from the house for drainage and....

...we still get a good bit of light into the basement!

Short of becoming a hoarder, one should always hang onto those salvaged items as they someday, somehow, provide the nucleus of an idea, inspiration, creation or project. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fall: A Time to Savor at Knox County Parks

We are loving every moment of this beautiful season and are getting out to explore whenever we can. We visited a couple of Knox County parks last week and noted the turning of the sassafras trees at Wolf Run.  These trees are incredibly cool so naturally we want to plant some at our place!  They are hard to find in the nursery industry though, even amongst native plant growers, so we are looking to propagate some in the future.  Check out these colors!

To top off the coolness of these trees, the fruits are LOVED by birds!  We hardly ever find the trees in fruit because the tasty morsels disappear so quickly into the bellies of appreciative critters.

We also took a walk through Knox Woods State Nature Preserve and noted the largest red maple either of us have ever seen....

and the biggest eastern ratsnake!  (If you know reptiles, please let us know if we confused this snake with a black racer...we are working on improving in this area!)

What a beauty!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Homemade Veggie Burger Recipe

Sure, like most of you, we have a shelf loaded with cookbooks but, like most of you, we sometimes get home and are too tired to even think about opening a book much less reading words on a page.

So, what to do when hungry and exhausted? Throw things in a bowl and hope for the best! This is how the Potpourri Veggie Burger Recipe was born.


1 Cup mixed shredded carrots, zucchini and hot or mild peppers
1 Cup brown rice and wild rice mixed, cooked
1/2 Cup rolled oats
1/4 Cup flax meal
1/4 Cup wheat bran
1 teaspoon cumin power
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 egg

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl

Form mixture into patties and cook in a skillet with oil:

Serve on bread with feta or other cheese and condiments of your choice:


Sure, you have to read the above recipe to try these but the upside is that you don't have to do a bunch of "mix the first 4 ingredients, set aside," "mix the next 3 ingredients, refrigerate for 3.2 minutes," heat a skillet for 1.71 minutes then add 33 cc's of olive oil"......none of that stuff...

You just mix a bunch of random stuff together in a big bowl, making sure you have a good mix of dry and wet ingredients so that the mix holds together into patties and fry 'em up!

Good luck....