Archive | July, 2012

Wildflowers in Malibu

29 Jul

When our daughter was very young, we would go on dog walks with her and our 3 German Shepherds in the hills of Malibu.

To encourage her to walk longer distances, we started learning the names of all the wildflowers.  At the time, her favorite colors were red and yellow. So I printed a book for her (on an old letterpress printer) of all the red and yellow flowers we saw on these daily walks. Here are some of her favorites.

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Deerweed — her very favorite flower — has spiky branches filled with tiny red and yellow flowers.

Charlotte also found the Bush Monkey Flower intriguing. If pollen is deposited inside its petals, they will close. But if fooled, its petals will open again. You can try playing this game with a pin and some patience.

Indian Paintbrush does not grow as abundantly as other flowers so it was always a thrilling surprise to find it on our walks.

Charlotte loved saying Big Gum Plant.  And she loved touching its sticky yellow flowers.

Charlotte believed that these Golden Stars were magic wands for fairies.

Red-Stem Filaree will always have a special place in our hearts.  Even before Charlotte was born, we discovered its needle-sharp corkscrew seed — one of nature’s most stunning creations.

I hope to someday print the other books I would like to do in this series — one with all the white wildflowers and one with all the purple flowers.

Biking in Italy

16 Jul

Charlotte and I just got back from a 7-day bike trip in Northern Italy! We started in the small town of Mantova, staying in a beautiful hotel, Ca delle Erbe and we ended the trip in the spectacular city of Venice!

There were 13 of us plus others from the US and Europe (Switzerland, Norway and England).  We had some ups and downs along the way (my mother liked to say Charlotte had a “crash” course in bike riding) but we had a lot of fun and laughed a lot — especially at dinner each night on the boat after riding our bikes 40-50 kilometers!

And we were definitely inspired by the good food! We all loved a mediterranean barley salad so here is my version:

Cook 1 cup of pearl barley in 3 cups of chicken broth for about 50 minutes. Toss in chopped tomatoes, persian cucumbers, garbanzo beans, feta cheese, pinenuts and olive oil.  Olives would be another good addition.  Or some basil pesto.