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Museum Day in the Garden

Posted by on Oct 2, 2017 in Travel | 1 comment

Last Saturday was Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day. The weather was too good to be inside, but they count the Desert Botanical Garden (DBG) as a museum, so we took advantage of the free admission and spent the afternoon walking garden paths.

I guess a botanical garden is kind of like an outdoor museum with living plants and animals.

We saw a hummingbird and bees buzzing around the Garden’s flowers and a big lizard was just hanging out on a rock next to the bench where I was sitting.

Since the DBG no longer allows picnicking, we ate our lunch at a nearby picnic area in Papago Park and were entertained by ground squirrels scurrying around and birds attempting to carry off pieces of a pizza someone had left behind.

Maybe they’re the reason DBG banned picnicking. You really don’t want grackles flying through your museum and dropping half-eaten pizza slices.




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Spotted at the Arboretum

Posted by on Jul 24, 2017 in Travel | 8 comments

image

Boyce thompson arboretum
Boyce thompson arboretum - cardinal

Today at the Arboretum we saw

4 cardinals

1 woodpecker

a couple hummingbirds

several nests

a really neat feather

a possible owl pellet that Phillip poked at with a stick

some beautiful black butterflies

2 very determined ants and 1 that could care less

2 trees full of bees

a handful of squirrels

a turtle

a snake

and 75 lizards (before we stopped counting).

Boyce thompson arboretum - Snake

I also spotted a fuzzy tail of an animal going into a thicket. I jumped out of the car while it was still running to see what it was. All I found was a fat, lumbering squirrel.

Boyce thompson arboretum

Also, if you go on a hot, humid Tuesday, you’ll practically have the place to yourself. With the exception of those mentioned above, of course.

Boyce thompson arboretum




 
P.S. For those of you interested in chronology, by “today,” I mean last Tuesday, when I wrote down what we’d seen earlier that day.
 

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June 2017 Photo: Reading Room Light

Posted by on Jul 17, 2017 in Travel | 6 comments

I didn’t post a lot of photos in June, but I did post one from the summer solstice celebration at Burton Barr Library (the same day as my solar cookie baking experiment).

The reading room is designed with columns under sky lights. Once a year, at solar noon on the summer solstice, the reading room sky lights line up perfectly to illuminate the columns below them.

Sostice at the library

Unfortunately, this past weekend a monsoon storm caused a fire sprinkler to burst, flooding all five floors of this beautiful library. Most of its collections remain intact and clean-up crews sprang into action right away. The City of Phoenix is hoping it will be able to start reopening parts of the library soon.




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Solstice Cookies and Solar Cooking

Posted by on Jun 27, 2017 in Craft | 2 comments

Solstice cookies

The forecast high in Phoenix for the longest day of the year was 120F (49C).

So it seemed like a great day to try baking outside.

Burton Barr Library

On the way home from the summer solstice celebration at Burton Barr Library last Tuesday, we picked up chocolate chip cookie dough. I chose that for my solar cooking experiment, because there’s no raw egg in it, and if it doesn’t cook all the way, you end up with doughy cookies – not a bad thing, in my opinion!

I scooped spoonfuls of cookie dough into a reflective aluminum roasting pan, covered the top with plastic wrap, sealed the sides with packing tape to trap the heat, and added a meat thermometer, so I could see how hot it actually got next to the cookies.

Solar baked cookies

I had intended to get an earlier start, but at 3:45pm, it was still 120 degrees out. So I decided to give it a go and set the pan in direct sun on our concrete patio.

The temperature inside the pan got as high as 160. The cookies began to look like they were melting, with the oil separating from the dough.

Baking cookies outside

Four hours later, the sun was low enough in the sky that the whole patio was in the shade. The dough had flattened out into cookie shapes that were somewhat solid but still pretty soft.

Solar baking

So we scooped vanilla frozen yogurt on top (à la pizookie), and it was delicious!

Apparently, a proper solar oven will bake faster, even if it’s not as hot out. But I would try my improvised “oven” again on a day when I could get an earlier start and give it a little more time in the sun.

Phoenix

– More info –

  • The package actually said not to eat the cookie dough raw. That didn’t stop me. But I thought you should know.
  • Many of the solar ovens I saw online have glass on top. If you decide to use plastic wrap like I did (because I didn’t have any glass panes just sitting around), try to get good cling wrap. I used the Target brand, and it was really annoying trying to get it tight across the top. (In the end, it was a wrinkly mess.)

Articles to check out…

Cookie dough

 




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