I have a beautiful old feijoa tree in my yard, and every spring it attracts flocks of starlings that dance through its leaves. The starlings are hungry for the hundreds of candy red flowers that appear before the fruits set in late summer.
I liken these flowers to nature’s litter — swaying in the breeze, dropping from the tree, and covering the ground with soft, fragrant petals that brighten up the brown bark mulch.
The five little things that made my week…
1. Summer solstice drive along the Eastern Sierra Nevada. Despite the drought, the wildflowers were in full bloom!
I remember the first time I ever saw one of my chickens take a dust bath. I had no idea what a dust bath entailed, but there she was, sprawled on the ground, throwing her body upside-down and sideways, furiously flapping her wings and shaking up the dirt.
At first it was alarming, and I thought she’d been stung by a bee or infested with fleas. But as she settled into a cloud of dust, I realized she was happy as a clam at high tide. Or a kid in a candy store. Or… a chicken in a dust bath. (That’s got to be a saying somewhere!)
I’ve often thought green garlic was a culinary secret that only gardeners appreciated. Green garlic (also called spring garlic or baby garlic) is simply a young, immature bulb that hasn’t yet divided. It looks like an overgrown scallion or a small leek, and in fact it tastes like a cross of the two, with a heady essence of garlic. Two of my favorite things, together in one plant!
I finally broke down (or rather, my 10-year-old bender finally broke down) and bought a Ninja Ultima blender — seriously, best investment for the kitchen this summer. This thing doesn’t just blend, it pulverizes! Anything and everything I put in it!
Needless to say, I’ve been on a juice and smoothie kick the last few weeks. I’m not one of those green juice gals though. I love the fruits we’ve been picking from our garden (right now, our citrus and bananas are out of control) and the farmers’ market berries I’ve been buying every other week. I’m even making my own version of the Nutty Dang, my favorite smoothie from my favorite coffeeshop in Rincón, Puerto Rico. (In fact, that was the first drink I attempted in the Ninja… but with a heaping scoop of Greek fro-yo instead of milk.)
Most days though, I’m blending up baskets of berries to pair with the bottomless lemonade coming out of the backyard. Strawberry lemonade is my favorite, though you can also make this with blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, mulberries, or even a mix of all. It’s the kind of drink you want to sip on a hot summer day and share with friends outside.
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.
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.