Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A catch up post

painting spiders
For the last few weeks, I've been subbing at the local elementary school almost every day of the week.  I'm mostly in the preschool helping with art projects and reading lots of stories.  I must confess that working in the preschool has been a lot of fun since I get to play.  One day, I got to wear my armadillo costume to help introduce the week's desert theme, and last Friday was bring your stuffed pet to school to wrap-up the week's pet theme.  While I am having fun, working in the preschool is also pretty energy zapping and my blog posts have been less frequent than usual.  So, here are a few random bits from the last few weeks.

skunk cabbage coming up through snow

I believe spring is finally here although we did get a dusting of unexpected snow yesterday.  Out in the woods, Skunk Cabbage is blooming.  Skunk Cabbage is a weird plant that grows in swampy soggy soil.  It's bloom produces heat, melting through the ice and snow making its flower one of the first to appear in the spring. The flower isn't one you would pick and bring into the house because it is a carrion flower making a stink to attract flies for pollination.  On Sunday, Jacob and I saw pussy willow catkins starting to bloom.  Pussy willow is another sign of spring and first sighting for me!

I've discovered a whole row of bulb plants coming up on the east side of our house!  A friend from the preschool said to look for bulbs because everybody plants them in Connecticut. I'm so excited to see what kinds of flowers they will make, daffodils, tulips, or some other flower.  All the other places that I have lived have been too arid for spring bulbs to do well.  Plus, I get to enjoy flowers that I didn't plant.

Indoors, I've started a few herbs and greens in egg cartons with several lights.  The seedling are doing well and will need bigger pots soon since it is still a little cold at night to put them outside.  My bonsai trees are all looking nice with fresh leaves.  I'm so happy they all survived the move to Connecticut and a long winter in the basement.  The elm bonsai is especially pretty with lots of fresh green leaves.  In Austin TX, it hardly dropped its leaves in the winter so I wondered how it would do in the basement for several months.  Soon, the bonsai and several other house plants will get to move to their summer homes on the porch with bright sunshine!
indoor set-up 

Elm- beautiful new foliage

Ginko biloba

chestnut oak seedling

Japanese maple,
TX red oaks with chestnut oak in between

Bread adventures
Sourdough starter

I started some sourdough starter with bread yeast, flour, milk, and sugar just over a month ago.  The yeast eats the sugar and starch producing alcohol and an acid that keeps 'bad' bacteria out.  Every time you bake some bread you use about half the starter for the recipe, and then replenish with more flour and milk.  After getting the new ingredients, the mixture bubbles a lot for a few days during which time you have to stir it several times per day.  The bread I've made with the starter has been good.  It is usually a pretty dense loaf with a strong flavor.  Our house is on the cool side and this produces a stronger sour sourdough flavor.  I am enjoying keeping the yeast alive and imagining that it is my blob pet!

This is not a sourdough loaf, but a cheesy bread that I made.
I don't have any pictures of the sourdough bread.