Nothing like a sequoia to make you feel young

Every year, I like to get out of town for my birthday. Last year, the hubs and I headed down to our surf shack in Baja. The year before that, we hiked and hot tubbed in the wilderness around Florence Lake. And the year before that, we trekked through the snow in the Mammoth Basin.

This year? After an exhausting five months of cooking, shooting, and writing, I didn’t even want to think about organizing an outing. I was very much content with bumming on the beach with a beer in hand, and had planned to do so up until two days before we decided to drive up to Sequoia National Forest.

As a California resident for the last 12-plus years, I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t made it to the sequoia groves yet. I’d driven through the park many times on my way up to Kings Canyon or down to Kern River, and had heard of giant trees you could drive through and bears that freely roamed the roadside, but since it was right in my backyard, so to speak, I always set aside the trip for “one day.” It’ll still be there, I’d say.

And of course, a grove of 2,000- to 3,000-year-old trees isn’t going anywhere. But “one day” is a silly rationale when I could be doing it today — and that today happened to be on my birthday last weekend. (High-five to all the other Flag Day babies out there!)

I turned 34. But compared to a sequoia, I haven’t even outgrown the baby stage yet! Ah, nothing like a giant sequoia to make you feel young.

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June 19 2014      18 comments     Linda Ly
Aventuras

Topo Designs Klettersack

I’m very particular when it comes to luggage. And that probably explains why I have a whole closet full of luggage in all shapes and sizes, from compact carry-ons to roller bags to snowboard carriers.

Though every bag has a purpose, I usually find myself gravitating to the ones that can multitask on my travels. They’re the ones I keep at eye level, within easy reach, and usually have a pocket pre-filled with first aid, business cards, Garden Betty stickers, and other things I always like to have on hand. And one of those bags has so far been getting the most mileage this year: the Klettersack by Topo Designs.

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June 16 2014      174 comments     Linda Ly
Diversión   Viajes

How to break a broody hen

A few weeks ago, the hubs told me that he thought he’d seen a rotten egg in the chicken run, but didn’t know how long it had been there. It was black, and big, but looked like one of the chickens had broken it a while ago. When I went outside to inspect and clean it up with the kitty litter scoop, I discovered that it was, in fact, a giant black poop. Smelly. Hard. And looking like our chicken had been constipated for days.

Then I opened the coop to see if I could find any more poop bombs in there (because as a chicken-keeper, inspecting poop happens to be part of the job — lucky us!), and sitting inside her egg box was Iman, our Golden-Laced Cochin. Her body was sprawled across the entire nest, nearly flattened, and she looked at me with defiance. It had been a few hours since the hubs had gone down there and reported her sitting in the nest. She hadn’t laid an egg all week, which led me to believe that our little girl had just turned broody for the first time.

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June 12 2014      44 comments     Linda Ly
Gallinas

The making of a cookbook: writing the manuscript

Nearly six months after I announced my first book deal, the manuscript’s been turned in, the interior pages have been mocked up, and the cover’s thisclose to being finalized. (We’re hoping to wrap it up this month!)

It has been a crazy, crazy ride this year, and it’s not over yet. I kept thinking that once May passed, I’d be able to breathe a little easier with the bulk of the book behind me; but in fact, I’m much more anxious because it’s starting to come together and feel really real.

How real? Well, after a few weeks in my editor’s hands, who made sure I was staying on topic and within the page count, the manuscript is now on its way to the project manager and copyeditor, who will work through the files with a fine-tooth grammatical comb. From there, the files go to the designer, who will then lay them out into book format with the images that we’ve submitted. (“We” being Will, my ever-talented photographer, taste tester, and husband, who has devoted countless hours to the project, shooting what I’m sure has been hundreds of pounds of food!)

By fall, I could be looking at actual finished pages from my book, shortly before it goes to print overseas. (!!!)

But let’s rewind a little to January, when I was deep in the daily routine of writing, cooking, eating, going to bed while mulling over recipes in my head, and waking up instantly thinking of the food I was going to make that day.

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June 10 2014      20 comments     Linda Ly
En La Cocina   Libros   Trabajo

Volunteer carrot seedlings

Once in a while I’ll find volunteer carrots in the garden — tiny fern-like sprouts poking up from in between the mulch, or growing happily next to the numerous volunteer squash that seem to pop up all over the place after a new layer of compost has been laid.

These volunteer carrots come from seeds that have flown from nearby beds of flowering carrots. I usually have a few plants flowering at the end of the season, and not because they’ve been in the ground for two years.

While carrots are technically biennials, they often behave like annuals in warm climates. A seed sown in our mild winters, while temperatures are fluctuating between warm and cool, will be tricked into thinking it’s already gone through a winter at the end of its first year.

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June 6 2014      19 comments     Linda Ly
Jardín   Verduras

Planting a Three Sisters garden

In hindsight, I should’ve taken a picture of my Three Sisters garden when it was just getting started; I simply hadn’t considered how fast it would grow! This shot is only a week old, yet the squash vines have grown several more feet and the corn stalks now have silks and tassels. In just another couple of weeks, I’ll be harvesting from this once-neglected 4×6 bed that was revived over winter through the no-dig method. (Proof that you don’t need to buy bags of expensive soil to start planting; you can make your own!)

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. If you’ve never heard of a Three Sisters garden, you might be wondering what this huge cluster of plantings is all about, and why it’s called the Three Sisters.

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June 4 2014      37 comments     Linda Ly
Jardín   Verduras

Buff Orpington wandering around at Moss Mountain Farm

A couple of weeks ago, I was part of a group of garden bloggers invited to Little Rock, Arkansas, for P. Allen Smith’s fourth annual Garden2Blog event, an all-expenses-paid meetup to learn about new trends in the industry. (Check out the highlights from this event — all in the form of a music video!)

Do you know P. Allen Smith? I actually learned of him a year ago when I started writing for KCET’s Living blog.

Allen and me

Allen (just Allen, ’cause we’re friends now) is a celebrated garden designer, bestselling author, and TV and radio personality. His show, P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home, is syndicated on KCET, our Southern California PBS affiliate. Every week he talks gardens, home designs, and how-to projects, and offers glimpses into the expansive estate he owns on the south bank of the Arkansas River — an estate that is basically his testing ground for those very gardens, home designs, and how-to projects on his show.

The estate is called Moss Mountain Farm and encompasses the P. Allen Smith Garden Home, terrace gardens, rose garden, apple orchard, stone fruit orchard, a one-acre vegetable plot, a field full of hundreds of daffodils, and the aptly named Poultryville, where Allen works to conserve heritage breeds.

I knew all this heading into Garden2Blog because of his show, but to see this place in all its glory is something else.

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June 3 2014      24 comments     Linda Ly
Jardín   Viajes