Welcome to Priscilla Woolworth's Blog

FLOCK at Lotusland

March 12th, 2015

Lotusland is a dreamy 37-acre estate and botanical garden created by Madame Ganna Walska near Santa Barbara, California and is open to the public.

Cactus and succulent walk

Cactus and succulent walk

Lotusland also hosts wonderful nature related exhibits. Currently on display is FLOCK: Birds on the Brink, a contemporary art exhibit by an environmental imperative –the global loss of wild bird populations and their role as indicators of the health of our planet.

Flock’s intention as well is to foster understanding of the critical impact of wild bird populations on human well-being and the conservation efforts to save birds, as we celebrate their daily presence in our gardens and communities.

 A few of the pieces featured:

Quail Eggs by Esther Traugot

Quail Eggs
by Esther Traugot

 

Close up of Quail Eggs. Coturnix egg, hand dyed crocheted thread, brass on wood.

Close up of Quail Eggs. Coturnix egg, hand dyed crocheted thread, brass on wood.

Barn Swallow Nest Photograph by Sharon Beals

Barn Swallow Nest
Photograph by Sharon Beals

Golden-Winged Warbler Nest Photograph by Sharon Beals

Golden-Winged Warbler Nest
Photograph by Sharon Beals

 

Nesting Materials General Store by Philip Koplin

Nesting Materials General Store by
Philip Koplin

 

Nesting Material General Store by Philip Koplin

Nesting Material General Store by
Philip Koplin

Nesting Material General Store by Philip Koplin

Nesting Material General Store by Philip Koplin

Nesting Material General Store by Philip Koplin

Nesting Material General Store by Philip Koplin

 

and pieces created by birds:

Hooded Oriole -nest made of woven plant fibers through palm frond-

Hooded Oriole
-nest made of woven plant fibers through palm frond-

House Finch -thin twigs, fine stems, leaves, rootlets, yarn, and feathers-

House Finch
-thin twigs, fine stems, leaves, rootlets, yarn, and feathers-

 

Pacific-Slope Flycatcher -moss, grass, rootlets, strips of bark, lichens, and leaves, lined with fine plant fibers, hair and feathers-

Pacific-Slope Flycatcher
-moss, grass, rootlets, strips of bark, lichens, and leaves, lined with fine plant fibers, hair and feathers-

 

 

California Towhee -twigs, grasses, and dried flowers, lined with strips of bark, and downy seeds-

California Towhee
-twigs, grasses, and dried flowers, lined with strips of bark, and downy seeds-

 

Barn Swallow -mud with grasses and found feathers from various species of birds

Barn Swallow
-mud with grasses and found feathers from various species of birds

 

FLOCK is on till May 23rd, 2015

For information on visiting

.lotusland.org

Vegetables Warriors

March 1st, 2015

These are the vegetable warriors in my garden. They are the ones that have survived year after year, are available most of the year, and require  very little attention except for the basics: water and sun. Some get only occasional water and others are only halfway in the sun, but once they are established, they are there for the long term.

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I pick them as often as I can and give lots away to friends

Sorrel leaves get pulsed in a mini blender with olive oil and added to  omelettes

Kale goes in green smoothies, turned into kale chips or added to sauteed vegetables or chopped in salads

Mint is picked often for delicious mint tea

Rosemary is added to cooking, or left in a bundle in the kitchen, on the dining table or in office because I love how it smells. Bundles are added to the fireplace for the wonderfully smelling fires

Oregano gets chopped and added to tomato sauces

Honorable mention: Swiss Chard is seasonal but keeps on reappearing without my help either

Which ones are the Vegetable Warriors in your garden?

I would love to know!

Orange Peels

February 28th, 2015

Always trying to reduce the amount of waste my household produces, I’ve been reusing and repurposing leftover orange peels rather than throwing them into the trash. From the trees in my garden,

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to the cutting board, and juiced,

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the discarded halves

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are dried on parchment paper in the oven (@250) for a few hours.

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The house smells amazing, while the oranges are drying.

Once they are done, I add some rosemary or lavender trimmings from the garden,

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and roll them up into small parcels using newspaper, and securing the ends with twine.

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They all end up in basket by the fireplace, and on the occasional chilly and rainy evening, I use them as a fantastic fire-starter for my fireplace. They smell so good!

fire parcel

Birdhouses in the Garden- Where Spring is in the Air

February 18th, 2015

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Nesting season has already begun for a few species and is rapidly approaching for others, so now is a good time to put out nesting boxes (bird houses) for the species that use them. Placing nesting boxes in your yard is a great way to help bird species that normally nest in old woodpecker holes or cavities. Since most cavities are excavated in dead, dying or diseased trees, there is a shortage of habitat supporting cavity nesters in urban neighborhoods. This is because, for the most part, foliage is kept well groomed and dead trees are considered unsightly or a liability, and thus removed.

Cavity nesting birds include woodpeckers, wrens, nuthatches, titmice, bluebirds, some flycatchers, swallows and owls.

You really have the ability to broaden bird diversity in your yards and neighborhoods by offering these cavity nesters an appropriate shelter.

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It is very important that these size of the nesting box and its entrance hole conform to species-specific dimensions and that the birdhouses are properly mounted at appropriate heights in suitable habitats.

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Offer soft nesting materials

Many species of birds will utilize soft nesting material in their nest designs. Goldfinches, bushtits, hummingbirds and orioles are a few of those species, but it is the hummingbirds that are making use of it now. Watch where they go with it! After a few trips, you should have an idea where the nest is. If you are lucky enough to find one,

do give mom her space-this way she never feels her nest is threatened.

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If you want to put your own material out for them, never use dryer lint, because lint fibers are very short and will not structurally hold up in some situations.

In case you are looking for  birdhouses, they are available here: http://www.priscillawoolworth.com/store/garden

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Source of the bird information, is a most wonderful resource: wildwingsla.com

A Visit to DOSA

January 18th, 2015

Portrait of an incredible eye

I just had the most wonderful visit to DOSA’s studios. DOSA is a clothing, housewares and accessories line designed by Christina Kim.

Nature is featured as a constant source of inspiration.

At the entrance to the warehouse

At the entrance to the warehouse

At the studio, chamomile in small vases

At the studio, chamomile (or tiny chrysanthemums)  in small vases

Pile of necklaces brought back from Christina Kim's  travels

Pile of necklaces brought back from Christina Kim’s travels

 

Collection of natural treasures

Collection of natural treasures

 

Natural treasures

Natural treasures

 

Tumbleweed lampshade

Tumbleweed lampshade

 

Tumbleweeds and friends

Tumbleweeds and friends

Spotted! I used to carry this same lovely polar bear eraser in my store.

I used to carry this same lovely polar bear eraser in my store.

Spotted: The same kettle I used to carry in my store as well.

I love seeing the same kettle I used to carry in my store!

Blue Alphabet

Blue Alphabet

 

Blue indigo

Blue indigo

Stunning sprouting potato

Stunning sprouting potato

Collection on display

Collection on display

Sample fabric designed using a feather and cassava

Sample fabric designed using a feather and cassava

 

Found golf balls

Found golf balls

It was such a privilege to spend time in Christina Kim’s work and living space.

Priscilla Woolworth Blog Update 2015

January 17th, 2015

Thank you for following my blog whether you are a new subscriber and especially if you have been loyally following me for the past 5 years.

This is my story, in addition to the monthly almanac newsletter I’ve been writing for the past 5 1/2  years. This blog is still about all the ways I’m learning to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

I have lots more to share with you! I’m going to start featuring the work of artists and designers. Also, look out for features about feathers, orange peels, DOSA, art projects using recycled paper, leaves, glass jars, and all sorts of things I love to photograph. There will be as little text as possible and be all about the images.

 

I don’t have a set schedule for when my blog goes out.

 

I’ll strive to keep you interested.

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Peace Love Happiness

Priscilla

Composting

January 9th, 2015

I only started composting my plant based kitchen scraps 7 years ago. It’s become second nature for me to save all the organic & pesticide-free scraps from banana skins, old lettuce leaves, coffee grinds, egg shells, spoiled vegetables and fruit, chop them all up and add them to the compost pail I keep by my kitchen sink.

On my way to empty the compost pail into Valentina, my outdoor wooden composter.

On my way to empty the compost pail into Valentina, my outdoor wooden composter.

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Stencil I made for the inside  lid of the Valentina Composter, listing all the ingredients you can compost.

This is a stencil I made for the inside lid of the Valentina Composter, listing all the ingredients you can compost.

 

Here I am, emptying my compost pail into Valentina. It takes 8-10 months for all the material to fully break down. When it's hot outside, it goes faster.

Emptying my compost pail into Valentina.
It takes 8-10 months for all the material to fully break down. When it’s hot outside, it goes faster.

 

Here is Valentina Composter, with a bucket full of fresh composted material on top, ready to be added to the vegetable garden beds.

Valentina Composter, with a bucket full of fresh composted material on top, ready to be added to the vegetable garden beds.

Composted material is nutrient rich. Most gardens, especially vegetable gardens are depleted of nutrients and adding organic compost to the beds helps the garden to thrive.

Composted material is nutrient rich. Most gardens, especially vegetable gardens are depleted of nutrients and adding organic compost to the beds helps the garden to thrive.

When Valentina is all filled up and needs to be left alone while the material decomposes, I made another composter just recently. I placed in my vegetable garden, so the worms can reach it and speed up the composting process.

When Valentina is all filled up and needs to be left alone while the material decomposes, I made another composter just recently. I placed in my vegetable garden, so the worms can reach it and speed up the composting process.

This is another larger outdoor wooden compost bin I made from recycled wooden pallets I found on the street. Because it's open, with no cover, I only put leaves and all sorts of unappealing vegetable plant remains, so I don't attract the dreaded rodents.

This is another larger outdoor wooden compost bin I made from recycled wooden pallets I found on the street. Because it’s open, with no cover, I only put leaves, woody clippings and prunings and all sorts of unappealing vegetable plant remains, so I don’t attract the dreaded rodents.

The benefits of composting are:

-Reduces the amount of waste that goes out to our overfilled landfills

-Recycling that waste

-Turning that waste into free nutrient rich material

-Your garden will thrive with all the compost added to it and attract beneficial insects as well.

-Composting is rewarding!

-Makes a great hostess gift! I’ve not only given a bucket of compost to a garden loving friend but also a jar of precious worm juice.

 

Issues that may occur when composting:

-The composter smells: add leaves, shredded newspaper or a bucket of potting soil.

-If the compost attracts flies, add shredded newspaper or cover the material with potting soil. If you don’t mind the flies, they will probably lays eggs, and larva will soon appear. They can be quite helpful at speeding the decomposing process up.

-If the material looks too wet, add shredded newspaper and mix it up.

-If the material looks too dry, add a little water and mix it in.

-If the material is not breaking down as fast as you feel it should be, add red wriggler worms, as they do help at speeding up the decomposing process. Worms also create a fantastic liquid referred to as “worm juice.” If you are able to collect it, add a pan underneath the composter to capture this natural fertilizer. Worm juice is very concentrated so when using in the garden, add a 1/4 cup to each large watering can and water the soil around the plant, rather than right on the plant, as worm juice can sometimes be too intense for some sensitive plants.

-Rodents love composting materials, so make sure that your composter has a lid and strong one.

 

What not to compost: Meat, fish, chicken, bones, cheese, milk, butter, salad dressing, cooked food, weed seeds, diseased plant material, disposable diapers, dog or cat feces, glossy newsprint, and coal ash.

 

Most tools I use for composting are available here (except the Valentina Composter which is temporarily sold out): http://www.priscillawoolworth.com/store/garden

Monarch Butterflies

January 8th, 2015

For scientist Tierra Curry, the monarch butterfly is part of the American experience.

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Native to North America, once present in every U.S. state except for Alaska, the insect with the distinctive and colorful wings is known for its spectacular migration each year from Mexico to Canada and back.

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But scientists like Curry have seen the monarch’s numbers plummet. The population has dropped by 90% in the last two decades alone.

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Now Curry, sees some hope.

On Monday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it would conduct a one-year status review of the butterfly species to determine whether it warranted Endangered Species Act protection.

“The Endangered Species Act is the most powerful tool available to save monarchs, so I’m really happy these amazing butterflies are a step closer to the protection they so desperately need,” Curry said.

Hundreds of Monarch's in clusters, dripping down from the eucalyptus trees, in Goleta, California

Hundreds of Monarch’s in clusters, dripping down from the eucalyptus trees, in Goleta, California

To read more: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-monarch-butterflies-20141229-story.html

 

Walnut Milk

January 7th, 2015

Silky nut milks are a great alternative to dairy milks and are surprisingly easy to to make. Nut milks are increasingly popular due to their nutritional benefits and refreshing flavor. Try them in cereal, in tea or coffee, or a smoothie.

You’ll need:

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1 cup Walnut Halves, rinsed

 

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1 Tbsp. Honey

 

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1 tsp.Vanilla extract

 

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pinch of Salt

Place walnuts in a medium bowl or jar, and fill with enough water to cover by 1 inch. Cover and set aside. Soak at room temperature at least 1 hour or up to 12 hours for easy blending.

Drain walnuts; rinse thoroughly. In a blender, combine walnuts, 3 cups of water, honey, vanilla and salt; blend on low until very smooth, at least 2 minutes.

For a smoother milk, strain through a cheesecloth-

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Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Walnut Date Smoothie: In a blender, combine 1 cup of walnut milk + 1 cup of plain yogurt + 1 cup of pitted medjool dates + a splash of vanilla extract + a pinch of cinnamon and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup of ice and blend until ice is crushed. Serves 1.

Source: Martha Stewart Living

Oak Gall

January 6th, 2015

My daughters gave me this small glass dome for Christmas. Perfect for an oak gall.
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California oak gall

Wasps in the family Cynipidae are gall inducers on plants, or inquilines of gall inducers (living inside the galls made by other cynipids). The majority of species occur on oak trees (Quercus sp.). Galls range in size from 1 mm to 6 cm or more and come in many shapes and colors, as depicted on this page. Different cynipid species occur on specific oak species, and the galls themselves occur on specific locations on the trees (leaves, stems, buds, roots, etc.) depending on the species and which generation it is. Some species have two generations per year, a sexual and an asexual (female only) generation, each producing completely different types of galls on different parts of the host. The adult wasps are generally around 1-4mm in size. The wasps support a community of other insects that feed on them, their parasites, and their galls.

Source: http://joycegross.com/galls_ca_oak.php