Sunday, September 26, 2010

More Trash to Treasure

We've been hoping for a food serving tray for awhile now (to facilitate carrying meals for outside eating). We'd kept our eyes open at antique and thrift stores but found nothing until one recent trash pickup day in our neighborhood. In a pile of neighboring trash we spied something with potential.

With my jigsaw I cut out...

...some handles:

Then sanded those, wiped the whole thing down and...

...we had our serving tray...for free!

Friday, September 24, 2010


"What is life? It is the flash of the firefly in the night.
It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.
It is the little shadow which runs across the grass
and loses itself in the sunset."
-Crowfoot's Last Words (1890)

"The book of nature is open for all to read, yet few look into it,
fewer try to understand what is written." -Goethe

"and there is reward for life in water and field." -Paul Hogan

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."
-Annie Dillard

happy belated autumnal equinox friends...

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Hike at "The Edge": Part 1

The Nature Conservancy's Edge of Appalachia Preserve system protects over 14,000 acres of rugged southern Ohio hill country. On a recent trip we visited just a couple of noteworthy natural areas there - Lynx Prairie and Buzzardroost Rock:

Lynx prairie is a series of small and isolated prairie remnants that persist (due to site conditions that to some extent limit forest succession) amongst a region dominated by eastern hardwood forest.

From the trail guide we also learned that we might cross paths with a new-to-us milkweed: Matelea obliqua or Climbing Milkvine. We did indeed fine this great plant, with the help of another familiar friend - milkweed bugs (who were congregating on the heart-shaped leaves of the Climbing Milkvine):

The seed pods of Climbing Milkvine are distinctively quite prickly:

Jennifer enjoying the native prairie grasses:

A view of a prairie remnant amidst forest:

Nature's food packaging is impressive!

A nice assemblage of prairie grasses and forbs:

Very interesting spider trying to be inconspicuous:

A Clearwing Moth (see lower left) enjoying nectar from a Blazingstar (Liatris sp.) plant:

Another new-to-us milkweed: Asclepias verticillata or Whorled Milkweed

Buzzardroost Rock is a rocky bluff from which can be had a great view of the Brush Creek Valley

It's a pretty good hike up here but the views are well worth it:

Good thing we brought snacks with us! Jennifer eating a rare apple variety known as "Darn Near as Big As Your Head":

We took one last look at a spectacular scene and then turned to leave but our attention was capture by...

...some particularly large frass (caterpillar scat). Hmmm.....caterpillars - a good subject for: A Hike at "The Edge": Part 2...

On the Trail of "Cats" at Highbanks Metropark

On a recent hike to Highbanks Metropark we came across this little caterpillar on the trail. What to do when you see a caterpillar on the ground.....

Look up. We then knew that there was a Catalpa tree above us and that the leaves had been fed upon by something - could our caterpillar have fallen from one of those delicious leaves?

We looked around for Catalpa leaves that we could access closer to the ground and look what we found:

They turned out to be Catalpa Sphinx Caterpillars! It pays to look up, down and all around when outdoors!

U.S.A. Made Pottery at Big Lots?

But isn't that what Big Lots is all about - finding the unexpected?

Yes, we found a steal of a deal on some Henn Pottery - made in NE Ohio.

The pieces below ranged from$1.50-$3.50!

All of this for less than $40.00 total!

Bounder is indifferent about the deal we fell into but is more curious about which one is going to be the treat bowl:

The Best Veggie Pot Pie Without Even Trying

We're pretty certain that pot pies were invented to use up random ingredients and this recipe originated similarly. It was a total stab but turned out great!

Here's the recipe:

Filling: 2 cups pureed sweet dumpling (or any sweet winter squash), 1 cup cooked millet, 1 cup cooked quinoa, 1 cup pureed tomatoes, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper

Mix all the above together and pour into a pre-baked pie shell (we make our own pie crusts and pre-bake the bottom for 8-10 minutes at 450F)...

Put the pie shell top on...

Cook for 45-55 minutes or until edges of crust are brown at 350 degrees F...

Eat and enjoy!

Friday, September 3, 2010

First Signs of Fall and A Mixed Bag from Mother Nature

If not goldenrod, what is a sure sign that we are in late summer?

And then there's sumac and its beginnings of crimson splendor heralding the transition to fall..

A Gray Hairstreak butterfly on some sort of exotic lespedeza (a legume used for erosion control):

One way a caterpillar might meet his/her demise:

Chestnut Oak acorns:

Sassafras leaves:

Sassafras seeds - these are often hard to find since critters get to them early:

Maple leaf:

A number of fungi:

We came along a curious scattering of little black dots on the soil surface...

..which, upon closer inspection, is discovered to be frass (caterpillar scat)! When you are looking down and see frass - remember - look up and you may well see...

...caterpillars! These are some sort of Datana (a moth caterpillar):

We suspect this is a defensive posture: we sure didn't touch them!

Most of the ridges in this hill country were once ridgetop farms. You can tell because they are usually in an early stage of reverting to forest and...'ll run across old farm implements:

We can picture ourselves up here growing food and fiber!