Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Last Day

The Morning World, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

Well, it seems the end of the year has crept up on us again...

I want to thank all my great blogger friends out there for stopping by regularly and checking out my blog. I really appreciate it :)

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Chihuly in the Desert

Chihuly in the Desert, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

Here's some of Chihuly's glass I wrote about earlier. He truly is a gifted artist to be able to envision these incredible pieces of art.

Monday, December 29, 2008


Lemony, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

A tagetes lemmonii flower in the Desert Botanical Garden near Phoenix, Arizona.

What a great garden : diverse, colorful, and well-designed. When I was there, they had an exhibition of the glass artwork of Dale Chihuly. If you ever have a chance to see Chihuly's amazing work, make sure you don't pass it up - it's incredible.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Desert Christmas

Macro Cacti, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

Before today, I had never gone hiking in the desert during a rainstorm.

Well, I guess there's a first time for everything.

I saw these cacti growing high on Sunrise Peak near Scottsdale, Arizona. A rainstorm had just blown through, and the setting sun was creating golden light everywhere. Directly behind me was a 180° rainbow, and considering its desert location, it was pretty spectacular.

Talk about a great Christmas.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


An almost essential part of making coq au vin is flambéing the chicken (or rooster). Here is my exciting attempt - and by exciting I mean flames that jump out of the pan about 2 feet. Anyone else have experience with flambéing?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

State of the Garden - December 9, 2008

Well, it's December and the garden is still going.

Fog comes in regularly, and the temperatures don't usually go above 60, but the basil still has a few green leaves. The bell pepper plant looks like it did in summer, and I just harvested a large crop of 'Thai Hot Dragon' chile peppers. The morning glories are putting out 1 or 2 flowers a week, a little bit of a change from the 50 or so they put out every day during the summer.

The lettuce is growing quite well, as are the cool-weather herbs like parsley and chervil.

To the other gardeners out there: how are your gardens doing? Under the snow, or still creeping along?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Coq au Vin - Finished

Coq au Vin, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

Here's the completed coq au vin, with pearl onions, mushrooms, and little pieces of bacon. The chicken became unbelievably tender, and so did the pearl onions. Coq au vin is fairly easy to make, and a great dish for a cold winter night.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Making Coq au Vin

Making Coq au Vin, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.I finally got around to making the French coq au vin. After browning the chicken in a pan and putting it in a French oven, I poured in two full bottles of Burgundy wine. I threw in a few sprigs of rosemary from the rosemary Christmas tree we just bought, as well as some fresh thyme.

The chicken will marinate in the wine overnight, and will be cooked tomorrow!

P.S. Those rosemary Christmas trees are a great deal - you can get a 2-foot tall tree for about $10 at many home improvement stores. If you go to a professional nursery and buy a similar-sized plant, it can easily cost you $25.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Foggy Night

The fog has really been settling in these past few nights.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

Thick hot chocolate I made back in January.

I am going to try this recipe again - it's essentially chocolate melted into milk. Really delicious!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

December Mesclun Harvest

The mesclun mix is growing very well despite the cold, foggy weather. Tonight, I filled a big colander with fresh lettuce, chicory, escarole, arugula, and frisée (curled endive). It's so nice to have fresh greens when the store-bought lettuces often wilt into mush, which is not exactly appetizing.

Does anyone here have experience growing lettuce and mesclun? I am having aphid problems and could use some advice.

Purisima Creek Redwoods

I hope you guys don't mind another redwood shot...

This was at Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve near Half Moon Bay, California. Just 30 minutes before taking this shot, I had been at the site of some of the largest waves in the world, the Mavericks.

A short drive up the road led to this park. I never cease to be amazed at the sheer diversity of environs in California.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Obligatory Redwood Shot!

Obligatory Redwood Shot!, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

Neck-craning opportunities abound in Redwood Regional Park!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Coquilles Saint-Jacques

Coquilles Saint-Jacques, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

My latest attempt at French cooking...

At first I though I would overcook the scallops, or add too much wine, or not reduce the wine enough.


Coquilles Saint-Jacques is a lot easier to make than it sounds - try it!

Anyone been up to French cooking lately?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

California Newt

California Newt, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

While hiking, I came across this interesting California newt, right in the middle of a relatively dry trail. The newt's eyes were surrounded by an amazing green.

The stream in the ravine 100 feet down from the trail contained many newts, as well as their young.

Anybody else seeing amphibious creatures around?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Back in Summer

Back in Summer, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

Anyone else missing summer? These morning glories are all but shriveled up now...but there are plenty of seeds for next year!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Rainy Day at Minnehaha Falls

I got this shot back in June when I was in Minnesota. This waterfall was gushing, more than I'd ever seen.

Anyone have some good waterfalls nearby?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Green Fur in Redwood Regional Park

A mossy tree along the French Trail in Redwood Regional Park. Yesterday's rainstorm brought the mosses out of dormancy. It really is incredible how the moss becomes green so quickly.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Mill Trail in Redwood Regional Park

Mill Trail, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

Here's the Mill Trail in the awe-inspiring Redwood Regional Park. Yesterday's rain cleaned all the dust off the leaves and turned the dull mosses a fluorescent green. There was even a stream flowing nearby, which had been dry a few weeks ago.

Redwood is an interesting park because its stream contains the habitat of the original rainbow trout. The rainbow trout was first identified here as a new species in 1855. The fish has since been introduced to many lakes, rivers, and streams around the world.

November is Here

November is finally upon us. This month often signifies the true transition from dry summer weather to wet winter weather in California. The transition has made itself apparent: we've had over 2 inches of rain in the past few days. Since rain saturates the colors in leaves, moss, and other materials, I went on a hike while it was raining. I got this picture of maple leaves and a rock poking above the surface in a soon-to-be-flowing streambed.

Anyone else having major weather changes?

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Rainy Day Mushroom

Rainy Mushroom, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

This mushroom popped up over night as the result of rain. It's been raining all day today, and and times quite heavily. We needed this rain so bad - many Californians are happy it's finally here!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Garden Update

Northern California is finally easing out of the warm summer weather. Rain will be falling for the next several days, but the garden continues to grow. Heck, even roses are blooming!

The sweet basil is still going strong:

Roses are going through a second bloom period.

'Paris Market Mix' mesclun from Renee's Garden. The plants are really growing quickly in their cage!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tomatoes on October 30th

Amazingly, I still have ripening tomatoes on my single plant, despite the fact that tomorrow is Halloween. Rain is coming in, and it looks like it's going to be rainy through Monday. Hopefully the tomatoes will still ripen.

Cymbidium Orchid

Cymbidium Orchid, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

I saw this cymbidium orchid at a retreat back in May. The retreat grounds were filled with all sorts of colorful flowers, especially California-native wildflowers.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Gold Lace Primrose

Gold Lace, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

Sorry for not blogging in the past week...been busy!

This is the 'Victoriana Gold Laced' primrose from Annie's Annuals. The heirloom flower is very pretty and unique.

Annie's Annuals is a wonderful nursery in Richmond, California (which is sadly a dangerous town). When you enter the nursery though, you feel safe as you gaze upon variety after variety of very rare or heirloom plant. Everything I've ever purchased at Annie's has grown extremely well. If you can't make it out to California to visit them in person, you can order online.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Mountains Loom...

The Mountains Loom..., originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

In this view, we see the incredible High Sierra jutting up from the desert. I took this photo on a drive back in July near Bishop, California.

On this particular drive, we left the hotel where it was 97 degrees. Upon reaching the trailhead at over 9000 feet, it was 70 degrees! Up at the lakes, clouds rolled in, wind blew, and we were forced to put on jackets. California is the place to be if you like climatic variation!

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Tower

The tower of morning glories in my garden, taller than anything, even the bananas. The ladder is shown for scale.

From below:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

California Grape

A cluster of wild California grapes found on a vine growing in Las Trampas.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

More October Garden Update Pictures

Some more photos of the garden on this warm October day:

'Heavenly Blue' morning glories are still blooming!

The morning glory vines are over 17 feet tall, and still growing. I can't provide them with any more support because I don't have a tall enough ladder.

'Thai Hot Dragon' chile peppers. They really are fiery hot.

'Oregon Spring' tomato plant still growing and putting out tomatoes.

October Garden Update

I have not been taking many pictures of my garden lately. Here's what it's looking like right now. Most plants are doing well.

Giant lemongrass:

Rose blooming by the morning glories.

Mesclun and lettuce in a cage. The cage keeps the squirrels, raccoons, and birds out 100%, plus the snails and slugs can't find the plants because they're 3 feet off the ground. The plants are finally taking off because of the cooler temperatures, rain, and lack of animal attacks.

The Tree-Root Waterfall

The Tree-Root Cascade, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

Here's a pretty unique waterfall.

This cascade is formed by the roots of a bigleaf maple growing through the creek bed. The water flows over the roots in a curtain and plunges into a somewhat deep pool.

This waterfall, like many others in the area, only flows during the rainy season. It's completely bone dry right now.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Intense Lady Slipper

Intense Lady Slipper, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

These lady slippers are so interesting. The flowers are shaped exactly as the name would suggest. This particular flower was much richer in color than others nearby. Seen in the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

Anybody been there?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Berry Creek Falls

Berry Creek Falls, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

This is Berry Creek Falls, a 70-foot waterfall in Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The falls are surrounded by huge, majestic redwoods. An amazing place.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rose Crème Brûlée

Rose Crème Brûlée, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

After seeing a recipe for rose-flavored crème brûlée on Dessert First's blog, I decided to try the recipe with my French friend.

It ended up turning out wonderful. The vanilla cream was marked by the floral, spicy flavor of roses. Delicious.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Lemon Verbena Ice Cream

Fight the Heat..., originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

This ice cream, made with lemon verbena leaves, was delicious. I urge any and all gardeners to invest in a lemon verbena plant - it's possibly the best smelling herb I've ever encountered.

The leaves can be used in tea, jams, and many other ice cream.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Pine Canyon Poppies

Pine Canyon Poppies, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

Back in March, I found this incredible field of California poppies. The field, located in Pine Canyon in Mt. Diablo State Park, was the most abundant display of poppies I've ever seen. Mt. Diablo is known for it's great wildflower displays - this is one of them.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Black-Eyed Susan

Black-Eyed Susan, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

Minnesota has some great prairie wildflowers. This black-eyed susan was out in a field of daisies near St. Paul. Minnesota is a nice place to visit - when it's warm!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Windowsill Geraniums

Windowsill Geraniums, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

I saw so many of these while traveling, yet I hardly see any geraniums on windowsills here in America?

What gives?

They are beautiful, seem to be easy to care for, and grow well in containers...I don't understand why everybody doesn't have geraniums on the windowsill.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Chlorophyll, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

A close-up of my Abyssinian banana plant. These really are cool plants, and they grow quickly.

Anyone out there growing banana plants?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Looking Down on Rainbow Falls

A wonderful, 101-foot waterfall in Devil's Postpile National Monument. The hike was interesting and the waterfall rewarding!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Fall Blues

Fall Blues, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

Not all fall colors are orange, yellow, and red.


Saturday, October 04, 2008

Rainy Day Hike

After the rain started falling last night, I knew I would have to go hiking today if I wanted to see the moss wet and green. The rain does so much for the forest: it cleans off the plants, pats down the dust on the trail, and brings out the color in all the mosses and leaves.

This tree was covered in a particularly vibrant moss.

Autumn Morning Glory

October, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

The 'Grandpa Ott' vines are still putting out a few flowers, but I've let them go to seed, so they don't have too much time left. On the other hand, the 'Heavenly Blues' are still growing and blooming strong.