Sunday, October 8, 2017

Cutting Down Those Bamboos


Remember the bamboos that I used to make a trellis? Some of us know that bamboos are extremely invasive and fast growers. I wonder if the people who planted them knew these facts about bamboos. They have grown into my surrounding neighbors' yards. They have grown so much that I started to see big spiders and their webs on them.  After doing some research, I believe these big spiders are Orb-weaving spiders, which are non-aggressive to humans and not toxic; however, they are big and scary and walking into their big webs would be terrifying. After doing more research on  how to get rid of them, I decided to go the natural route - cutting down and thinning out the bamboos. Once their preferred habitats are removed, they will move on.


I spent the weekend sawing off the bamboos from as close to the ground as possible. I kept some of them fence height, and also cut off some super tall ones. I will be keeping some straight thick ones for more trellis.  After hours of chopping, cutting, and trimming, I noticed some stinging and itchy sensations on my arms. I couldn't help not to scratch them.  I was wearing garden gloves but only wearing a t-shirt and overall shorts. My ankles also experience a little itchiness. After scratching my arms a few times, I noticed little red blistery bumps all over my forearms. Upon doing more research online, I found that others have experienced the same symptoms after dealing with bamboos while some people have never experienced any problem. It's believed to be some kind of allergic reaction, which I am not surprised. My skin tends to get allergic reaction from brushing against certain plants. This is another reason to get rid of these bamboos. The dogs were running around the bamboos and stepping on the leaves. I tried to shoo them away since I don't want their little paws to get some bad reactions from the bamboos, but they don't seem to be bothered at all.


Monday, October 2, 2017

Glass Beach Road Trip

Glass Beach (this side has fewer glass) 

I have wanted to visit Glass Beach in Fort Bragg for a few years now. I first saw a photo of Glass Beach on Instagram and was surprised that it's within driving distance from where we are. It's a little over 3 hours of drive from El Cerrito. This past weekend we took a drive up north to check it out. The weather has been unusually warm for this time of the year. However, it was also very windy at the beach. A lot of people were picking the shiny glass pebbles on the beach. I read that Glass Beach is gradually disappearing. Even though the law prohibits anything to be disturbed or removed from California State Parks, you can imagine people do take the pebbles as souvenirs.  The area that's closer to the water has more glass but Cracus isn't water kind of dog, so we stayed on the dryer side.


We took a walk along Ka Kahleh trail. It was beautiful and a easy walk except it was super windy to the point that your ears would hurt. We had to turn back because of the strong wind. In the afternoon, we also visited MacKerricher State Park and took a walk on the boardwalk.  It was a lot of walking for little Cracus on one day. In the evening he just rested quietly on the bed. Shortly after he started snoring. We had great time.


Friday, August 18, 2017

It's Almost Harvest Time

Japanese Cucumbers 

Back in May I planted some Japanese cucumbers, passionfruit, and Peruvian Gooseberries. They have been growing vigorously in the last 3 months. The cucumbers had a lot of flowers. I used a little brush to help with pollination between female and male flowers. Unfortunately, most of the baby cucumbers just dried up except the 2 in the photo above.  I am letting them grow a little bit before cutting them off.

I also propagated a small cutting that already rooted from our previous location in El Cerrito. In 3 months, it branched out to all directions and bloomed its first flower.  It's getting a bit late in the summer, so it might not have any fruit this year.  If the flower successfully grows into a fruit, it will not be ripe until late winter. Next year, it shall have a lot of passion fruit as the vines continue to grow through the winter.

Passion Fruit

I also propagated a bunch of Peruvian gooseberry cuttings. All of them died off except one. It went from the tiny plant to a good sized bush with a bunch of little berries hanging. The husks on a couple of the berries are starting to dry up. Soon they will be ready for picking or fall off on their own. I also found an accidental Peruvian gooseberry plant growing next to the passion fruit vine (see the photo above in red circled area).  I was worried that the Passion Fruit would takeover, but it has been growing slowly and steadily. It looks like it will continue to grow bigger. I guess there must had been a seed that got mixed in the soil when I propagated over the passion fruit vine.  I love this kind of surprise!

Peruvian Gooseberries

Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Sore Throat Elixir that Works!


Earlier this month I had a cold. It started with coughing and then runny nose and then a severe sore throat.  I think in the past, it normally started with a sore throat when I was catching a cold. Lately it's always been the cough first.  Very often the cough would just go away after a couple days but not this time. My voice became hoarse after I started coughing for 3 days. When the sore throat kicked in, I had to take my first sick day at my new job.  By this time, I had already squeezed 4 fresh lemons for making hot turmeric lemon tea and drank it for several days. That was one of the home remedies someone gave me. It might have kept me hydrated but certainly didn't cure the cough.  As I laid in my bed, I figured there had to be other home remedies I could try. There had to be something that would actually work.

I stumbled upon a youtube video of a woman making a raw garlic, cayenne pepper, and honey elixir to cure her sore throat. I also watched a woman who swallowed a tablespoon of pure honey, and a few other video clips which all claimed they would work. I have tried the pure honey method in the past. It didn't cure my sore throat. After watching a few more videos, I wanted to see the raw garlic video again but could not find it.  I started to Google the internet for any reference of that remedy and found an article on Dr. Christopher's Herbal Legacy. I remembered that woman in the youtube video saying that Dr. Christopher was the person who she learned the remedy from.  At this time I had taken extra strength Tylenol for several days. I also took some cough syrup.  I figured that I had nothing lose to try this safe home remedy.  I quickly walked to the grocery across the street in my pajama to get the ingredients I needed and made the elixir.  Below is the formula:

* One tablespoon of pure honey
* ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
* Four cloves of garlic pressed through a garlic press


Those are the proportions, but you’ll need more than that, so take four tablespoons of honey, one teaspoon of cayenne pepper and sixteen pressed cloves of garlic, and mix that all together.  Take ½ teaspoon to one teaspoon of the formula every 30-60 minutes.
Don’t wash it down - let the honey coat the throat.


I do not have a garlic press, so I just minced all 16 cloves of garlic with a knife. I swallowed this elixir every 30 minutes until the whole thing was gone. I felt the heat in my face and inside of my ears after swallowing the garlic and cayenne pepper; however, it was not unbearable due to the sweetness of honey.  It felt like something was actually working with the burning sensation.  Before I finished it all, my throat no longer hurt. It actually worked like a miracle just like the article says. I was very excited. Now knowing this magic potion, I shall not suffer from sore throat anymore.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Making Carnitas for the First Time


I have always loved tacos with carnitas. It's crispy, tender, flavorful and juicy all at once. I always thought about making it, but you can't just make a cup of carnitas. You are either going to make enough for 10 people or you just go buy some from a taqueria. As I started learning Spanish recently, I am more interested in Mexican and South American cuisines than ever.  When a taco potluck at work is coming up, I decided to bring some homemade carnitas. I searched the internet for a simple and delicious carnitas recipe, and this is the one I decided on.  However, I don't have a slow cooker big enough for a piece of 5 lbs of meat, so I had to cook it in the oven.  I can't even remember the last time I bought a piece of meat that big; however, I do have a roasting pan.  It baked in the oven at 325 F. for almost 3 hours.


Pulling the pork apart was the most labor intensive step of this process. Maybe I needed bigger forks. My fingers were sore when I was done. At this stage, the pork doesn't taste like the carnitas I know at all. It didn't taste or look all that good to be honest. There are a few more steps in the recipe, and these steps are "not optional" according to the poster. I was so tired by the time I was done pulling the pork apart, I put everything in the fridge and went to sleep.


When I got up this morning, I was hungry. I made some coffee and proceeded to make some carnitas for breakfast. I fried up some of the pulled pork and warmed up some tortillas. I didn't have anything else to put in the tacos, but who needed anything else when you had homemade carnitas? I ate 4 street size tacos for brunch this morning.  I better save the rest for the potluck!