Who’s Growing Your Food?


One of the most enjoyable things about living out in the boonies is getting to know your neighbors. Coming from a neighborhood where many of the people around us were in the technology industry, it has been amazing to get to know people who grow things for a living. Actual, real things. Honest-to-goodness food.

We were at Troutmere over Father’s Day weekend and I overheard one of the owners explaining to one of the kids that the different types of chickens lay different colored eggs. It made me think back to our former lives, living In the Big City, when we thought eggs only came in white or brown. There is something wonderful about opening up a well-circulated carton of eggs (each of those store-bought cartons gets collected and re-used numerous times) and looking at the rainbow of white, green and brown eggs in every shade.

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, lovely readers, it’s possible that some of your food begins its life out here on the San Mateo coast. And if it doesn’t, I ask you, why not? So I think this will be the first in an occasional series of posts introducing you to some of my neighbors who are growing what could be *your* food. I hope it is–I can’t imagine a more beautiful place to be an artichoke. Or a chicken.

On my latest trip to the Bookmobile with Miss Thing, I picked up a quick read called Farmer Jane: Women Changing The Way We Eat:

Nancy Vail at Pie Ranch is featured, as well as Jesse Z. Cool, the owner of Flea Street Cafe and JZ Cool Eatery in Menlo Park. The book is laid out in six chapters, with little bite-sized 3-4 page summaries of each featured person–great for those of us who get interrupted all the time. Each chapter is ends with a listing of “Recipes for Action” with bullet points for the “Eater” the “Farmer” and the “Food Business” (if you’re thinking about getting into that sort of thing.) I love bullet points. They make me feel like I can accomplish something. And if I can make a difference in my world *while eating*, it’s the best sort of multi-tasking ever. I also learned where the trendy foodie word “locavore” came from.

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Hunting for dinosaurs at Pescadero Beach!


After being cooped up in the house so much, between holiday activities and the stormy weather, we decided to take advantage of a break in the clouds to go hunting for dinosaur bones!

Pescadero beach has a couple of different parking areas; I had always used the obvious one, just across the intersection from Pescadero Creek Road. It seems like there are always school buses parked in the next lot north, though, and long trailing groups of grade schoolers trickling along the edge of the highway. This time, I wanted to find out where they were going! Punk and I decided to investigate, so we brought our magnifying bucket and binoculars.

Once we got down to the beach, we found a giant flock of seagulls playing in the water. The Pescadero marsh empties out into the ocean here. There are some interpretive signs about the fish, but we didn’t see any. We did meet some hopeful fishermen. We also found a bunch of great logs for balancing on, some interesting rocks, and several pieces of seaweed to examine in our magnifying bucket.

Finally, we found some tracks! Would we find dinosaurs, just like in Punk’s favorite books?

We passed this interesting composition, a natural formation that makes me think of the moon windows in Japanese gardens:

We turned back east, to follow the tracks under Highway 1 and explore more of the marsh side. The bridge is really high up from here, and creates an amazing sort of urban frame for such a natural scene. In fact, it looks just about as tall as a Tyrannosaurus Rex, Punk’s favorite. Would he have had to duck?

Once we examined them closely, we realized the tracks must be the pattern of the shallow tidewater receding across the sand. There were some amazing formations that looked like they might be giant dinosaur bones, but once we were close enough to climb up on them and check them out, we determined that they were probably old logs.

I just loved the color pattern on this log, I think it would make a gorgeous fabric. The wood is so weathered, it’s shiny like taffeta:

We had to make some sand angels, too. Unfortunately, we also found some trash and random junk. This old soccer ball was waiting for someone to play with it!

Are your bulbs peeking up yet?


Daffodils are one of my favorite “lazy gardener” bulbs, because you put them in once and enjoy them more every year as the patches expand. They’re even more useful in my garden because the deer won’t eat them.

This year, a neighbor gave me a large plastic grocery bag full of bulbs from his garden that were unsold after the big community Barn Sale in July. I’d put them in the garage and forgotten about them, but when I went looking for Halloween decorations in early October, I came across them again. Some of them had already started sprouting in the bag, which is partly why these are so early.

Helen and I quickly planted them in groups all around the yard, wherever I had spots that were particularly sad-looking in January and February. These little shoots are in my full shade border (which gets 1-2 hours of full morning light, with shade the rest of the day), and they’re about 4-5″ tall now. They’ll probably be ready to bloom around the first or second week of January.

Are you seeing your daffodils peek up yet?

Nuke those redwood shoots!


Too many little baby redwoods where I want my garden to be! This is a sheet mulching experiment to see if I can eliminate these baby redwood root suckers from my full-sun border. I’ve placed a large, flattened appliance box over the area. The cardboard is large enough to extend at least 12″ past the area I’m trying to address on all sides. I’ve added about 6″ of partially finished homemade redwood compost on top of the cardboard.

I’ll add more cardboard around this, overlapping sheets by at least 4-6″. We’ll check back in about 6-8 weeks to see how this is doing. This rainy weather is the perfect time to build dirt!

Preschool Thanksgiving Turkey Craft


It was my turn to host our weekly cooperative Preschool in the Woods. Arts & crafts was always my favorite part of school, so I figure no session I host will be complete without one. I found a great basic, preschooler-friendly craft for our Thanksgiving themed weekly cooperative Preschool In The Woods. The template is available here: www.first-school.ws/activities/crafts/animals/birds/turkeymaple.htm

Our meetings take place outside, unless there is substantial weather. When I host, we usually gather around our fire pit for opening circle. We began with our hello song, then read Ten Fat Turkeys, by Tony Johnston. We had to get up and do the Gobble Gobble Wibble Wobble noodle dance with each count, so this got the kids pretty fired up. Then we talked about what Thanksgiving means, and read This First Thanksgiving Day. After that, I showed the sample turkey (below) and explained that we were going to make our own turkeys. With a little bit of parent help, each of the kids got to select their leaves and their turkey pieces (we practiced counting wherever appropriate) and assemble them in their own way.

Instead of printing out the template on white paper, I printed one on scrap paper and cut the pieces using a brown paper grocery sack, a newspaper, and some leftover scrapbooking paper. Here are the circular body pieces cut using paper sack, and the acrylic paint pens used for drawing the eyes:

I pre-painted the turkey head pieces with eyes using white and black acrylic paint pens to make it a little simpler as well.  I tried to give them nervous expressions by putting the pupils a little to the left or right.

Using craft glue to attach the feet to my sample turkey (the kids got to put their pieces on whichever way they liked):

The neck/heads were cut from a piece of scrapbooking paper, and I used newspaper for the gobbles and feet. I also found a piece of gold crinkle paper for the beaks.

The kids collected leaves from the woods to complete the craft. Here’s my sample turkey, which I used to show the other parents where we were going with the craft:

No craft complete without glitter! Here the kids used glitter pens to decorate their individual turkeys. These were some of my favorites:

Welcome to my world.


Wow, right? A blog all about ME ME ME! Not really. This blog is about my neighborhood, which has been called Sweet Hollow. It’s about creating a sense of place, and being inspired by what’s around us. It’s about trying to live a little better each day, a little more in tune with our neighborhood. It’s about learning how to share our space, celebrate it, and teach our kids how to do the same.

I’d like to share the local wonders that inspire me–maybe they’ll inspire you, too.

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