Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year Yosemite Style

DSC04134 Yosemite - Merced River and El Capitan

Yesterday my husband and I returned from our brief trip to Yosemite National Park. We felt so fortunate that a snow storm during our last night there produced a wondrous winter wonderland. This new layer of pristine snow seemed a fitting way to greet the New Year. Here’s a toast to a fresh start, a clean slate, a chance to break trail.

DSC04090 Yosemite Merced River

DSC04085 Yosemite mist

DSC03989 Yosemite Tall Trees in the Mist


DSC04068 Yosemite granite boulders in snow


DSC04034 Yosemite tree hollow

Thank you for visiting dutchbaby and for your comments, your friendship, and for publishing your blogs that nourish my soul throughout the year. I end 2009 with a beautiful Scottish rendition of Auld Lang Syne sent to me by one of my book club sisters.



Happy New Year to you all!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Macro Monday - Burl

DSC05015 burl cropped

This burl came from this tree...

DSC05013 burl

...from a slice of paradise called Yosemite National Park.

DSC04928 Yosemite Falls

My husband and I chose to go here for our honeymoon not just because it is one of our favorite places in the whole wide world, but because it is only about 150 miles from Palo Alto. We love going there to rejuvenate our spirits. We were there this spring, but now we return for a couple of days to celebrate our twentieth anniversary. I hope to bring back similar photos except with lots of snow.

Update:
Upon the advice of awarewriter, I made my first attempt at creating a black and white version of a photo:

DSC05015 burl cropped monochrome

Then I decided to give a go at tinting it:

DSC05015 burl cropped monochrome tinted

Thank you, awarewriter, for encouraging me to try something new and for your invaluable instruction!

Another Macro Monday hosted by Lisa.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Macro Monday - Winter Berries

DSC03194 winterberry detail banner

Wreath detail: Eucalyptus seeds, California bay laurel, privet, chinaberry, tallow berry, pyracantha




Happy holidays to Lisa  and all other Macro Monday participants and thank you for making another Macro Monday possible.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Homemade Peppermint Bark

DSC03543 Wrapped Peppermint Bark

My daughter has been perfecting her homemade peppermint bark recipe for the past three years and she kindly agreed to let me share it with you. These are the ingredients she used this year (I only show one bag of each chocolate but this recipe requires two of each). Most bulk chocolates work well also.

DSC03523 Peppermint Bark Ingredients

2 bags (12-oz each) of semi-sweet chocolate chips (Whole Foods 365 Organic)
2 bags (12-oz each)of white chocolate chunks (Whole Foods 365)
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
1 cup crushed candy canes (use individually-wrapped candy canes)
Spray oil (Pam)

1. Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with oil. The cookie sheet must have a lip all around.

2. Slowly melt the semi-sweet chocolate chips in a double boiler, stirring frequently. Remove from heat right before the last little bit of chocolate is melted. It will finish melting on its own, do not overcook.

DSC03524 Melting chocolate

DSC03525 Tempered Chocolate

3. Add 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract to the melted chocolate.

4. Pour the melted dark chocolate, while it is still hot, onto the prepared cookie sheet and spread evenly with a spatula.

DSC03526 Peppermint Bark base

DSC03527 Peppermint Bark Semi-sweet layer

5. Place in refrigerator until it is completely cooled, about 20 minutes.

6. Now is a good time to crush the candy canes between two sheets of wax paper.

Update: To avoid a spectacular spray of red and white, leave candy canes in their wrappers during crushing.

This is an excellent task for a teenage brother.

DSC03529 Crushing Candy Canes

It takes self-control and finesse to get just the right granularity:

DSC03531 Crushed Peppermint

7. Slowly melt the white chocolate chunks in a double boiler, stirring frequently. Remove from heat right before the last little bit of chocolate is melted.

DSC03532 Tempering White Chocolate

DSC03533 Warm Peppermint Bark

8. Add 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract to the melted chocolate.

9. Pour the melted white chocolate, while it is still hot, over the completely cooled dark chocolate and spread evenly with a spatula.

10. While the white chocolate is still soft, sprinkle the crushed peppermint on top of the white chocolate and gently push them into the chocolate.

11. Place in refrigerator until it is completely cooled, about 20 minutes.

12. Break into large hunks using a butter knife.

13. Best if served cold.

DSC03542 Wrapped Peppermint Bark

Here is the text of the recipe:

Peppermint Bark

2 bags (12-oz each) of semi-sweet chocolate chips (Whole Foods 365 Organic)
2 bags (12-oz each)of white chocolate chunks (Whole Foods 365)
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
1 cup crushed candy canes (use individually-wrapped candy canes)
Spray oil (Pam)

1. Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with oil. The cookie sheet must have a lip all around.
2. Slowly melt the semi-sweet chocolate chips in a double boiler, stirring frequently. Remove from heat right before the last little bit of chocolate is melted. It will finish melting on its own, do not overcook.
3. Add 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract to the melted chocolate.
4. Pour the melted dark chocolate, while it is still hot, onto the prepared cookie sheet and spread evenly with a spatula.
5. Place in refrigerator until it is completely cooled, about 20 minutes.
6. Crush the candy canes in their individual wrappers and between two sheets of wax paper.
7. Slowly melt the white chocolate chunks in a double boiler, stirring frequently. Remove from heat right before the last little bit of chocolate is melted.
8. Add 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract to the melted chocolate.
9. Pour the melted white chocolate, while it is still hot, over the cooled dark chocolate and spread evenly with a spatula.
10. While the white chocolate is still soft, sprinkle the crushed peppermint on top of the white chocolate and gently push them into the chocolate.
11. Place in refrigerator until it is completely cooled, about 20 minutes.
12. Break into large hunks using a butter knife.
13. Best if served cold.

Bon Appetit! Smakelijk eten!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tech Awards 2009 – The Intel Environment Award Laureates

DSC03177 tech award trophy

In my November 20th post I promised I would tell you about the Tech Awards Laureates. Travel and a very bad cold that kept my head in a fog prevented me from making good on my promise until now.

The Tech Awards were granted in five categories: environment, economic development, education, equality, and health. Each of the Tech Award Laureates received a beautiful trophy: a crystal globe on a silicon ingot and one winner in each category received a $50,000 cash award from the sponsors.

Today I will tell you about the winners of the Intel Environment Award.

Cows to Kilowatts

DSC03213 Dr Joseph Adelegan - Cows to Kilowatts

The top award in this category went to Dr. Joseph Adelegan’s ingenious Cows to Kilowatts project in Nigeria. Adelegan deviced a means to transform slaughterhouse wastewater into energy ranging from electricity to cooking gas.







Not only does the project prevent air pollution and diseases borne by untreated wastewaters, the technology uses a zero-emissions method to produce organic fertilizer and clean-burning methane for low-income farmers and families.


LeafView: An Electronic Field Guide

DSC03188 Dr Sean M White - LeafView

Dr. Sean White enthusiastically demonstrated the LeafView gadget that can take a picture of any leaf and then automatically identify it by using computer vision algorithms and its extensive electronic field guide database. White developed the human-to-computer interface together with Columbia University, University of Maryland, and Smithsonian Institution.



The tool then records the leaf and its contextual data, like GPS coordinates, to the living record of the world’s plants. Botanists are in a hurry to populate this database because the world is loosing species faster than it can record them.




White hopes to recruit more volunteers so that he can complete development of the iPhone application. The ubiquitous availability of this tool can contribute to the world’s digital herbaria more accurately and exponentially faster than ever before.

GRUPEDSAC: Ecotechniques Toolkits for Self-Sufficiency

DSC03189 Lilly Wolfensberger

I had the great pleasure of meeting Lilly Wolfensberger who accepted the award for GRUPEDSAC, the organization in Mexico who dispenses eco-friendly toolkits to rural families who live below the poverty line. The toolkits include, cisterns for collecting rain water, prickly pear natural paint and waterproofing resin, a solar dehydrator, a solar water heater, a wood-saving stove, a wind/solar generator, a rope pump, an electricity-generator bicycle, and a solar oven. The recipients of these toolkits also receive training and guidance to ensure that the communities can become self-sufficient while preserving the environment.

I hope to tell you about the other laureates as soon as possible.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Home for the Holidays

DSC00131 nola streetcar 933

My daughter's on her way home from New Orleans after finishing her first semester of college. Three days ago she texted me photo of the St. Charles streetcar (I took these one when we went on a college tour together in 2007). She wrote: "They decorate the streetcars!" She also texted me that after Christmas, people in New Orleans take down their ornaments and then immediately put up Mardi Gras decorations.

DSC00125 NOLA St Charles Streetcar 915

She absorbed a great deal in the classroom but she is also learning the true meaning of Southern Hospitality. She learned the value of her extended family who has welcomed her with open arms. They have graciously hosted her for many Sunday night dinners, cookie-baking parties, family celebrations, and luncheons, and they shuttle her back and forth from the airport. How could I ever thank them enough for making her feel so loved and accepted?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

European Floral Design Class

DSC02159 Armature bouquet
Yesterday was the first day in a long time that I was feeling well enough to sit at the computer for any length of time. Thank you for your kind well wishes - they made me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside.



The portfolio for my European Floral Design class is due tomorrow. You've already seen the sushi flowers and the pumpkin arrangement, and you've seen my midterm, here's a sampling of other designs we did. The design you see above was one of my favorites. We made an armature of salt cedar branches for the base of this bouquet. Here's a closer look at the "skeleton" of this design:

DSC02161 Armature bouquet closeup

I still have the armature and I can use it over and over again.

Here is a wreath we made. It is meant to feel like a bird's nest, created with found items.

DSC02603 Euro Wreath

Here is our class listening to our instructor's critique:

DSC02874 Fan Design class

This one is mine:

DSC02877 White Fan design

This fan design is a quick and easy design that requires only a few flowers.

I would like to thank our wonderful instructor, Wendy Pine, for another great class. The College of San Mateo is suffering horrendous budget cuts and the floristry program is in grave danger of being eliminated. It would be a huge loss to the community if we lose this important program that gives students practical, professional training.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

How I Named My Blog Day




Ruth at synch-ro-nizing declared December 1st How I Named My Blog day during an insomniac night with uncharacteristic wreckless abandon. Click here to read the post where I wrote about the origin of my blog name.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving


DSC05954 Buckey at The Dish
California buckeye (Aesculus californica)
“One generation plants the trees, and another gets the shade."
-Chinese Proverb

Spending a wonderful Thanksgiving week in Houston with many branches of the family tree. Be back next week.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Macro Monday – Painted Reed Frog


DSC08889 Painted Reed Frog
Painted Reed Frog (Hyperolious marmoratus)

Not as razor sharp as I would have liked, but I'm still proud of this photo because I was bobbing around in a canoe when I shot this.

awarewriter inspired me to post the panned out version of this photo. The foreground reeds remind me of an ikebana arrangement:

DSC08887 Painted Reed Frog

Visit host Lisa at Macro Monday.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Tech Awards 2009 - Al Gore Awarded the Global Humanitarian Award


DSC03208 Al Gore - Tech Awards 2009


Like last year, my husband and I attended the Tech Awards Gala at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center last night. For the last nine years, fifteen Tech Awards Laureates were recognized for “profoundly improving the human condition through the use of technology”.

Each year I am amazed and inspired by the passion, creativity, and spirit of innovation each winner possesses. I am particularly impressed that the award criteria is based on the impact the technology has in improving the human condition rather than the technology itself. The technology does not need to be leading edge technology to have measurable benefit. Sometimes it is very simple or even ancient. I recall a retired couple from Menlo Park, CA who won The Tech Award years ago for building pulley-based bridges across rivers or ravines to give access to schools or medical facilities in rural areas of the world.

Photo: Globalgiving.com

These Nepalese school girls do not have to use a dangerous, makeshift trapeze contraption to go to school any longer. By the way, if you are looking for a terrific humanitarian gift for this coming holiday season, a mere $15 will buy a chaka (wheel) for this bridge. Requests for more bridges like these are overwhelming. Click here to donate.

DSC03201 Mike Splinter - Applied Materials

Mike Splinter, Chairman and CEO of Applied Materials, presented Former Vice President Al Gore with the James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award for his contribution in raising global awareness of climate change.

In his acceptance speech, Gore spoke of his college professor who over forty years ago foretold the imminent sequence of events that would result in the Earth’s climate change. Over the years, as he saw the professor’s predictions unfold, he was inspired him to take action from the first time he was elected to public office.

Gore told the 1,500 attendees of the plight of the people in Bangladesh who are direct victims of the rising sea level. The Bangladeshis used to have to rebuild their lives because of flooding every twenty years. Now, they have to rebuild every 3-9 years.

He acknowledged that it is difficult to relate how the rapidly melting ice and snow in the Himalayas might affect us. But when he said that the seven great rivers of Asia, like the Yangtze and the Yellow Rivers, all originate from the ice and snow of the Himalayas, it became very clear.

Australian firefighters are fighting fires that are hotter than they’ve ever experienced before. In a moment of epiphany, they realized that the best way to fight fires is to be on the forefront of affecting public policy to stop global warming.

Gore closed by saying that “we have everything we need to solve the problem with the possible exception of political will. Fortunately political will is a renewable resource.”

Next post, I will tell you about the Award Laureates.
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