Showing posts from December, 2009

Wild Foraged Foods

... Here are a sampling of the edible mushrooms that I brought back from my outing with the mushroom experts. Starting with the biggest one, and going clockwise, we've got an Amanita grisette, chanterelles, purple Laccaria amethystea-occidentalis , candy caps, and a few oyster mushrooms. The first ones we cooked up were the chaterelles. We made a delicious cheesy creamy sherry and shallots sauce. The dish was splendid, but in all honesty that sauce would have made shoe leather taste wonderful. I read that the way to prepare the chanterelles was to gently tear them apart, rather than slicing them. I'm not sure why that's preferable, but it certainly was satisfying. The next night, I cooked oyster mushrooms, some of which we grew ourselves, and some that were wild-harvested. I hadn't cooked oyster mushrooms in years, and had completely forgotten that the reason they're called oyster mushrooms, is because of their freaky seafood smell. I had a small panic attack,

Fungal Foray

... Yesterday, I went out on a hike with a group of members of the Bay Area Mycological Society . They picked a park that actually allows mushroom collecting, and -- whoo boy -- were there a lot of mushrooms to be seen! This first one is the Western Amethyst Laccaria, and it's supposed to be pretty good eating. If you click on the photograph, you'll get a larger image, and you should be able to see the little maggoty creature who's ready to start its meal. This is a Blewit, which is also apparently edible. My sister and I photographed a mushroom very much like this , last winter in France. There were loads of Amanita species to be found. This one is Amanita francheti , which has distinctive yellow coloring to its universal veil (the remnants of the sac-like "cocoon" that this particular mushroom emerges from as it grows). We saw some of these that were pure white, with just some remnants of yellow. Mushroom identification is tricky business, and it was great

Please Stop By!

... Please stop by our house on Sunday anytime between 1 and 6 pm. If you don't know our address, drop me a note, and I'll tell you. Sorry for being so coy. We're having a vexing privacy problem that I'm not interested in discussing on the blog.

Earning Trust

... I'm still working to earn the trust of our local feral kitties. Mostly, I'm just stuffing them with food, and sitting quietly nearby when they eat. A tentative sniff sets the tone for some cautious petting. And when the petting stops for a moment, Cardigan grabs my hand for more. I'm particularly delighted by our little fist bump . Overall, the cats still seem to think that Robb and I are terrifying monsters, intent on harming them. But once in a while, we get these little moments of trust, and it's really lovely.


... We hope that all our friends in the Northeast are snug and warm. I've been reading seed catalogs, and dreaming of a vegetable garden.

bûche de noël

... We are growing mushrooms! We've already harvested some insanely delicious Shitake Mushrooms, and the Oyster Mushrooms are starting to emerge. I like to think of our little mushroom farms as non-traditional Yule logs .

Why can't a painter finish painting her own house?

... I thought that painting the living room and dining room would be a super-quick job. And apparently I was entirely mistaken in this belief. First, I really screwed up my neck, while painting the living room ceiling. And when that was better, I had found myself entirely unmotivated to paint my own house. I'm not sure if this was due to the "Cobbler's Children go Barefoot" syndrome, or because it's hard to paint anything after the sun goes down. Thankfully, I rediscovered my house painting ju-ju, and am well on my way to being finished. Robb and I made a choice to try to replicate the existing colors of the walls, and we're very pleased with how this is working out. The woodwork looks really luminous, especially in the dining room. I'm not sure when the walls were painted these colors. Judging from the apparent date of the other big renovations in our little house, these colors could date from the 1950s. The last painters did a pretty sloppy job, and


... Robb has been going through a really good phase, lately. We went to the gigantic Alameda Antiques Fair last weekend, and I think he walked further than he has in years. He's been pushing up against what had previously been his limits. Things have been going well. But Thursday, he twisted around to reach something in the car and probably cracked a rib. I don't know what it is about Robb, but he breaks ribs more than anyone else I know. Sometimes this makes sense -- bike accidents, falling down the stairs -- but sometimes, it seems like his bones break far too easily. He broke a rib during a lighting hang at the Dallas Theatre Center. He was laying on the Frank Lloyd Wright designed lighting grid for hours and hours and his rib just gave way. Under the best of circumstances, cracked ribs suck. Sneezing can be agony, and laughing is no fun at all. Because of his paralysis, Robb has to "recruit" all of his working muscles, to take up the slack for the parts of

An Invitation to our Holiday Open House

... Sunday, December 27th at 1pm Drop us a note, if you need directions

The Big To-Do List

... Structural Work Work in the foundation is basically finished, but we have unresolved issues concerning the re-siding of the house. The rotting front steps were replaced. I still need to paint these. The railings on the back stairs were replaced, in order to meet code. Paint All loose paint has been scraped from the exterior and interior walls. All scraped areas were primed. Robb and I removed wallpaper from both bedrooms , and painted walls and ceilings. Living room and entry hall walls were painted. Entry ceiling was painted. Living room ceiling LIGHTLY was textured, in order to unify old, rough surface with recent repairs. The dining room is about half-way textured. I need daylight to do this job. Garage Had the falling-over garage straightened and re-roofed. On our fiasco moving day , the movers ignored the labels on our boxes, shoved half our stuff in the garage, and didn't leave us any paths with which to access our belongings. We still need to organize, insulate and

A whole new meaning to the phrase "Online Shopping"

... First of all, I want to thank everyone who offered advice on procuring wooden utility poles, and rusty corrugated metal. I've learned a lot about both in the past week. Did you know that in California, all wooden utility poles are required to be chemically treated, to resist the effects of weather. The problem is that the chemicals that were used for years are now understood to be hazardous to human health, and must be disposed of as toxic waste. After a series of long and educational telephone conversations with people in the timber industry, we were directed to a source of untreated, aged pine telephone poles. The pole we bought was relatively inexpensive, and will be delivered to our shop in a day or two. Awesome. Maybe I'll write about our Adventures in Scrap Metal another time. That's quite a story, too. So, what does Lisa want this time? Today, we're looking for freaky Granny-ish linoleum or vinyl tile, the uglier the better. Is anyone renovating their kitchen

baby, it's cold outside

... Our part of California doesn't really get that cold, but yesterday it snowed at what's called the "lower elevations." The Bay Area had snow at 1,000 feet above sea level. Our little house is probably about forty feet above sea level, so we saw no snow. Most blog readers will laugh that I'm even mentioning this tiny dusting of snow, but around here, that's a once-ever-five-years event. Over the course of the afternoon, the cloud cover lifted, which meant that it was going to be a cold night. I brought all of my outdoor plants into our (unheated, but protected) laundry room. Robb hung a 100 watt lightbulb in our citrus tree, which was supposed to generate enough heat to keep the tree from freezing. We worried about the outdoor kitties. I told Robb that I felt more like a new parent, than a new home owner. I knew that I was being a being a big worrier and taking what were probably unnecessary precautions, but I also didn't care. I didn't want anythin

Come On Baby, Light My Fire...

... Our house has a beautiful fireplace, which I don't think I have a photo of. This is yet another part of the house that has both benefited and suffered from the benign neglect of the former owners. Nobody ever did much work on this house, which means that nobody did idiotic ill-advised renovations. (This isn't our living room, but it might as well be. Just switch green to brown, and make the proportions a bit wider.) The Good Part Unlike so many of the houses of this era that we saw while house-hunting, our house's fireplace has never been painted over. It has rustic brown bricks, the world's tiniest hearth, and it is surrounded by unpainted gum-wood cabinets. (You should have seen some of the crimes against architecture that we saw. I think my "favorite" was the Art and Crafts fireplace with the dimensional, pictoral tiles -- they formed a landscape -- that someone had sloppily, maybe even drunkenly, painted with pink and purple sparkle paint. It was

I need to buy a telephone pole

... I've noticed that the local parks use telephone poles as dividers in their parking lots. But where do those come from? Can anyone help me find the person who can sell me a telephone pole? I need this in the next few weeks.

... and speaking of "hot."

... It has been quite chilly lately, by Oakland standards. Our old house is, not surprisingly, rather drafty. Our historic heating system works quite well, given its age. Which is to say that we have heat in the living room, and a couple of space heaters in the bedroom. Heating systems that involve duct-work came into being after our house was built, and none of the previous owners ever upgraded. We have a single heating register in the living room, that sits on top of our furnace. When Robb was ripping out the dirty shag carpet in the hallway that runs outside the bedrooms and bathroom, he discovered a heating register grate that had been covered over for who-knows-how-many-years. He subsequently crawled under our house, and discovered that the furnace that would had heated that part of the house had been totally disabled. The gas line that once ran to the furnace has been removed. Robb says that there's an eighty-five year old sticker on that furnace, from the company that d


... Lately, Robb and I have been giggling over the search phrases that have brought people to our blog. Here, in no particular order, are a few of our favorites: brace for pigeon toed pit bull mustache not growing gently wrapped bird picture "why" "superstitions" holding breath cemetery transporting shroom spores airport can a bird die of fright brain scan with spider web And then there are the searches that fall into a one particular category. I don't know why, but the thought of someone typing these phrases into a search query makes me laugh. hot naked ladies hot 1930s ladies hot ladies gardening hot naked ladies pictures (and our favorite) old hot ladies naked We imagine that the people looking for all these hot ladies must be terribly disappointed when they cross the threshold of our blog.

looking for a source of corrugated metal in the SF bay area

corrugated rust Originally uploaded by Jai-to-Z Hey blog readers -- can you help me out? I'm looking for a source of sad, rusty corrugated metal. Ideally, I need about 240 square feet of this stuff. I need this for a project at work. We've been calling local scrap yards, but aren't having a whole lot of luck. Do any of you have a falling down barn with corrugated siding that you might want to sell us? Or do you have some of this, rotting out in your back yard? We'll pay, or swap good metal for bad. We can come pick this up, if it's within reasonable driving distance.