Big-Brained’ Bumblebees Access Tools!
Bumblebees may have small brains, but there’s significantly more happening beneath those exoskeletons than previously thought. Over the last decade bumblebees have proven themselves to be quite remarkable little beings with complex navigational and communication skills, emotions, and even facial recognition.
Now a study at Queen Mary University of London has successfully challenged the long held notion that only ‘large-brained’ beings can maneuver with tools. Cognitive scientist Lars Chittka and his team found that bumblebees could solve tasks and use tools to gain access to nectar. But better yet, they’ve shown bumblebees can learn this task from other bees and hive mates, without ever experiencing these tasks in nature.Read More →
I Absolutely Love This Quote!
‘Unique among all creatures, only the honeybee improves the environment and preys not on any other species…’
– Royden Brown
Ten Fun Facts About Honeybees!
Honeybees, scientifically known as Apis mellifera (meaning honey-carrying bee), have been buzzing around on earth for over 30-millions of years. Humans and honeybees have had a long and loyal relationship for thousands of years. Honeybees are the only insect that create/produce food we eat. ?Read More →
Most flowering plants have their pollen readily available for any and all pollinators to gather. But some plants are a bit more selective, even somewhat stubborn about whom they will share their nutritious golden treasure.
I just learned about a pollinating technique called ‘Buzz-Pollination from a video series produced by PBS called ‘Deep Look’. Chances are good that you have personally benefited from buzz-pollination’ through enjoying tomatoes, blue berries, cranberries, peppers, eggplant and even potatoes.Read More →
San Francisco Botanical Garden ‘Flower Piano’
The San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park is in full bloom this summer with pollinators going wild! Look at this fabulous honeybee gathering pollen from a huge Matillija Poppy. Her little pollen purses are just teaming with food for her hive-mates.
We attended the annual ‘Flower Piano’ event this month. During our visit, strolling through this 55-acre San Francisco gem in Golden Gate Park, we saw over 5 different species of hummingbirds, fury bumble bees, honeybees, wild bees, along with numerous species of butterflies, not to mention a huge variety of botanical wonders from all over the world.Read More →
Ah the gentle hum of the blooming privet trees filled with happy bees! Every summer our Privet trees create a wondrous foraging ground for our local pollinators. I enjoy sitting in the garden, sipping my tea, and listening to the concert of deep buzzing produced by all the happy bees. It’s amazing to see the variety of winged beings these […]Read More →
This month the lavender, verbena, and bottle brush are sustaining our resident flutter-bye populations. Just last weekend the Rhododendrons began to bloom, which attracted an incredible, visually dynamic, early morning brunch-fest. I just smiled as I observed their pleasant hum from my big, old, teak garden chair, sipped my first hot cup-oh-joe…
What a treat…! ???Read More →
We visited the Gallery of California Natural Sciences in Oakland to see the Honeybee exhibit and learned about the 1,600 species of bees that live in California. Bees help produce our food and keep our ecosystem buzzing. There are many things we can all do to better support our local pollinators. It begins with creating a healthy and reliable food source for them, free of dangerous pesticides. Many people are unaware of the devastating effects systemic fertilizers, RoundUp, and neonicotinoids have on our wonderful pollinator communities. These chemicals contaminate the pollen and nectar bees feed upon, which in turn wipes out entire colonies.Read More →
Rainy Day Bees!
Northern California has been a very wet, soggy place this winter. However, we are loving all the rain since our region has been in a severe drought for the last 5-years. ☔️
The winter months pose a tough time for honeybees due to the impact of cold & rain on foraging and the availability of pollen. During a break from a recent rainy deluge, I came across this busy bee gathering pollen for her hive mates. Working with great vigilance, she moved from flower to flower on our Camellia bush. If you look closely, you can see the rain drops on the top of the petals… ?Read More →
? Winter Bee Food ?
Yesterday after the rain stopped, I ventured through the garden to document the blooming plants producing food for our local & migratory pollinators. I photo document this seasonal bloom-cycle twice a month throughout the year to make sure our little nectar-loving friends are always ensured a veritable smorgasbord in our garden.Read More →
The Little Bee That Saved Christmas ?
In the queendom of beedom, there is known to be a small bee from the genus Hylaeus sp. that has been credited with saving Christmas by researchers in New Zealand. This sweet little bee formed a much needed, yet mysterious symbiotic relationship with a very rare form of mistletoe (Peraxilla tetrapetala).
Now this is not your average, run-of-the-mill mistletoe. Rather, a single Peraxilla plant can live for more than a century, producing a cluster of spectacular crimson buds each year around the time of the Winter Solstice. ?Read More →
Nectar Sweet Victory Against Monsanto!
A district judge in the state of Yucatán, Mexico has overturned a permit that would have allowed Monsanto to commercially plant hundreds of thousands of hectares of soybeans genetically modified to resist the company’s infamous pesticide Roundup. The new ruling stated that introducing GM crops to the region would most certainly threaten the established and highly lucrative honey production.
We have an issue with a careless neighbor and her little gray dog. Every morning this woman allows her dog to take a poop on the pathway to our front door. And sure enough, every morning my kids find it on their way out the door for school and proceed to spread it all over the front pathway…
On the few occasions when I have been up early enough to catch this jerk, she just smiles and walks away, leaving a steamy pile of poop gracing our entryway. We love dogs and always pick up after our own animals. There is also a leash law in our town that this lady seems to have decided to ignore. I’m not sure where this person lives, and I don’t want to start unnecessary conflict, but I’m sick of this crap. Any advice…?
-PoopedRead More →
On her chest, her little label reads:
“Whenever things don’t go so well, and you want to hit the wall and yell, here’s a little dammit doll, that you can’t do without. Just grasp it firmly by the legs and find a place to slam it. And as you whack the stuffing out yell dammit! Dammit! Dammit!”Read More →
Every year my husband and I throw several large social events at our home. Some for simply gathering good friends, others for networking with colleagues and fostering professional relationships. Over the years, we have adjusted our guest lists and removed those that became socially challenging for us to ‘manage’ during various events (i.e. basic rudeness, over-indulgence, or any socially inappropriate, embarrassing behavior that may reflect poorly upon us.)
On several occasions, guests that were removed from our invite list called or emailed to ask why they didn’t receive an invitation, or worse, showed up uninvited with the assumption they were welcome. This has proven to create an awkward situation for us. Is it just me, or is it the height or rudeness to assume you are invited to an event, even though you didn’t receive a formal invitation? Are we duty-bound to entertain people simply because they had the privilege of attending one of our gatherings previously? Please Matilda, share with us your sage wisdom on this matter…
– Irked in ArkansasRead More →
Did I mention I love artichokes?
When most people see an artichoke for the first time, they are reminded of the giant man-eating plant ‘Audrey’ from Little Shop of Horrors. Artichokes have thorns that look like dangerous claws on the end of each fibrous leaf. Encountering them for the first time may be a little intimidating, bringing about a cautious apprehension present when attempting to break up a cat fight while naked. It is neither obvious nor intuitive how to approach eating an artichoke for the first-timer. However, if you are fortunate enough to live in an area where artichokes grow, and you are in-the-know on just how to prepare and eat them, they are truly a glorious delight.Read More →
Over the last few years, the classic deli sandwich has been through a major overhaul as we strive to create nutritious yet satisfying ways to reinvent this American staple. At the store, as I read the labels on many of these common household condiments, meats and breads, I quickly discovered a plethora of hidden sugars, salt, nitrates, antibiotics and even growth hormones. Bad, bad, 1000 times BAD!
My journey began with the basics, finding reliable sources for high quality bread, cheese and meat. Once I found a healthy source for these, I decided to explore my choices for delicious condiments and greens to create a sandwich that was truly Voovacious!Read More →
Thelma & Louise
One of my best gal pals from college lives across the country. We have remained very close over the years, talking several times a week by phone and Skype. Two months ago, we decided to plan a road trip to Colorado to visit her niece, whom I’m very close with. We’re both really excited to have a bit of quality face-to-face time together while traveling. So, we’ve been enthusiastically planning excursions and adventures into our 6-day journey, including museums, shopping, a girls spa day, hiking a few national parks, fun restaurants to visit with her niece, etc.
Then, about three weeks ago, I was contacted by another friend from college whom I have consciously maintained little interaction with over the years. She informed me that she’d heard about our road trip and invited herself to join us.Read More →
This is one of my favorite go-to recipes. I marinate the fish and make the edamame/wasabi spread a day in advance to let the flavors mingle and get friendly with each other. This wonderfully fresh appetizer can be served over sesame crackers, fried wontons, cucumber slices or tucked into endive leaves. You can also make a perfect meal by serving the marinated sashimi over a bed of mâche (lamb’s lettuce) leaves and frisée lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces, accompanied by a few slices of avocado.Read More →
Any idea how to clear a clogged drain without using harsh chemicals? I’m in a real pickle right now.
I appreciate your desire to find a solution that isn’t going to harm the environment or corrode your household plumbing. So, let’s approach this as women in my Grandmother’s era managed their own ‘lady plumbing’, with a wee bit of vinegar…Read More →
We recently installed an 8ft. deer fence around our back yard with the hopes of growing a beautiful picking garden that would not become a gourmet salad bar for our lovely local deer population. Unfortunately, the gate was left open, and now I have two female deer that refuse to leave my gated yard.
I don’t want to hurt them, I just want them gone, immediately if not sooner. Any advice…?
Oh My Deer,
My very first thought was a cross bow, though you kindly stated your lack of interest in venison sausages. (Rats!) So, I’ll share with you a little trick I learned on the family dairy farm when the cows would raid Mum’s garden.Read More →
I am a 14-year old girl with terrible acne. I’ve tried all the products at the store and nothing works. My face has red, puffy volcanoes all over it! Is there anything you know of that can help me? Please!!!!
– Zitted-out & feeling awful
Dear Beautiful Girl,
Thank you for writing to me with your facial issues. Puberty can feel like such a betrayal of the body, yes? Hormones are awakening within the body and mind, and it’s truly quite overwhelming at times. I recall my face looking like a constellation in the northern sky when I was about your age. My dear Mum had a few farmhouse remedies from the old country I’d be happy to share with you. We’ll have you radiant and clear-faced in no time my dear, no worries.Read More →
My generous in-laws invite us to use their luxurious cabin in the mountains, rent-free, a few times throughout the year. We usually invite another family to enjoy a holiday with us, and divvy up the meals and other costs accordingly. Most, if not all of our guests go out of their way to pay for restaurants, etc. as a token of their appreciation for the invitation to join us at the cabin. This is certainly not expected, but always appreciated given the rental rates for cabins in the area are seriously off-the-charts $$$!
Recently, I invited a friend & her family (2-adults, 2-kids) to join us for our upcoming holiday at the cabin. We agreed on the dates and began planning our adventures. A few days later, while attending a charity luncheon, my friend invited another woman and her family, whom I am not acquainted with, to join us at the cabin for our upcoming holiday. I was without words and unable to respond before she audaciously stated she was sure it wouldn’t be a issue because there was enough room for their family of four (bed-wise) to stay with us at the cabin….Read More →
We are blessed to have not one, but two Meyer lemon trees in our yard. As the days grow shorter in late autumn, the yellow orbs begin to deepen in color and look like bright seasonal ornaments stealthfully hiding among the deep green foliage. With the passing of each winter day, the lemons grow sweeter, and knowing this makes me feel warm right down to my toes.Read More →
My Grandmother was always in the kitchen cooking up something wonderful. As I recall, even the couch in her house smelled like a perfectly pleasant blend of fresh-baked cookies and thick-cut bacon. (I know that sounds weird, but it was absolutely the bees-knees as a kid!)Read More →
Several decades ago I began exploring the art of infusing various fruit and herbal mixtures with spirits. It started innocently enough with a simple curiosity to find a way to blend the medicinal anti-inflammatory qualities of the ginger root with the anti-oxidants in wild berries. Wah-lah, the Raspberry Ginger Snap was born!Read More →
Meyer Lemon Picatta is exquisitely divine and easy to prepare. The light, rich sweetness of the lemon sauce in juxtaposition to the salty capers and deep tones of white sage, make this a Splendiferous ‘comfort meal’ to be shared with friends and family. Serve it with fresh pasta, herb-roasted potatoes or lemon-rice pilaf, accompanied by steamed asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts or try our Rainbow Carrots, Haricot Verts & Caramelized Shallots.Read More →
Who doesn’t love a mimosa to go with a fabulous Sunday brunch?!! And while regular orange juice is lovely, why not add some unique bling and glam-it-up a bit with fresh squeezed blood orange juice? The deep rose-red color makes a regular champagne glass look like an Oscar-worthy celebration…Read More →
This brunch is our daughter’s very favorite lazy-weekend breakfast. We buy fresh bagels the afternoon prior so we can wake up in the morning ready for a truly pleasurable, relaxed meal. I usually get the variety bagels that have a bit of everything on top, rather than a specific topping like plain or sesame seed. It’s important to locate a good source for Wild-Caught Smoked Salmon (NOT Farmed Salmon) to ensure high quality lox, without the unnatural addition of toxins, anti-biotics, dyes, or growth hormones present. I usually add fresh chopped dill, a bit of cracked black pepper, and freshly squeezed lemon juice to the top of the lox for an extra bit of flavor. The bagels are accompanied by a platter of freshly sliced organic English cucumber, ripe avocado, thinly sliced red onions, lemons, and cilantro with a small bowl of capers.Read More →
Rainbow carrots bring a marvelous splash of deep, bright color to any meal. The hues of purple, red, deep orange and yellow are complimented perfectly with the bright green verts (French green beans). This colorful, crunchy medley paired with the deep tones of the caramelized shallots and browned butter make for a lovely sidecar to any meal!Read More →
One of my very favorite morning meals is the Nut-Butter Berry Banana Smoothie. (Oh behave yourselves naughty monkeys…!) I refer to this smoothie as ‘B3Z’ (pronounced bee-3-zeeeeh!) since this name includes the word ‘Bee’, and I just love, love, love bees!!! So, I prefer to call it B3Z!Read More →
For those of you unfamiliar with the fabulously juicy, seedless Cara Cara navel orange, it is the physical embodiment of Le Voov!. Both it’s deep-reddish-pink flesh and the sweet, succulent citrus flavor will make you a believer in heavenly delights. Containing only half the acidity of a traditional navel orange, Cara Cara’s are the perfect cocktail mixer. As one sips the juice of this deep-hued citrus, subtle hints of cherry and blackberry tones can be noted lingering on the back of the palate. The dynamic, complex flavor makes this fruit a perfectly adventurous choice for dipping in chocolate fondue! (We’ll talk about that later….)Read More →
This little handy device makes for perfectly cooked eggs. I just place the Eggsact Egg Timer in the pot with the eggs and wait for it to change color from red to purple-black. The color changes slowly from the outer rim towards the center as the eggs cook, indicating soft, medium or hard-boiled for perfectly cooked eggs every time!Read More →
Living in California our family enjoys fresh fruit juice all year around. This compact, powerful juicer by Cuisinart can handle everything from lemons to limes, oranges to tangelos, and even large grapefruit with great efficiency. The auto-reverse reamer extracts every last drop of juice from the fruit in a snap and the brushed stainless steel exterior and dishwasher-safe, BPA-free parts make cleanup effortless and easy.Read More →
We have two Brita water filters in our home, one lives in the kitchen, the other stays in our Camping supplies/Emergency Disaster Kit in the basement. Each individual filter provides us with 40-gallons of clean, fresh tasting water, without the smell or taste of chlorine or bitter minerals. We access our Brita when making tea or coffee, as well as filling our pets’ water bowls. All pitchers and filters are BPA-free and 100% recyclable.Read More →
I purchased this 20-piece Pyrex food storage set years ago when setting up my first real epicurean kitchen. What makes these containers so Splendiferous is that they stack beautifully in the refrigerator/freezer, yet nest together to store in an easy, compact manner. They are made in the USA and the plastic lids are both dishwasher safe and BPA-free for convenient, safe food storage.Read More →
We stumbled across this tapas restaurant in the Mission District of San Francisco. We weren’t even thinking about lunch, but the rich, earthy aroma coming from the kitchen lured us in like moths to the flame. The colorful, art-filled walls and the bustling atmosphere contributed greatly to the lively tenor. Our waiter Jose gave us a few thoughtful suggestions.Read More →
Recently, I found myself in a rather ‘delicate’ state, desperately craving salt, fat, protein, juicy tomato & the peppery flavor of arugula. So I decided to make myself a bacon lettuce & tomato sandwich (B.L.T.) With my trusted sous-chef Otter-Pop the dog by my side, we took to the task of creating the perfect ‘hangover helper…!’Read More →