Our Halloween Pumpkins…and what we’re doing with the seeds


J and I waited until today to carve our pumpkins.  (His has a knife in its mouth that can’t really be seen in the picture and mine has fall leaves cut-out.)  This Halloween won’t be so fun for me as I’ve just started a 20-hour midterm :(. But while I model some earth systems on Excel, I’ll also be eating candy and roasting our pumpkin seeds. Here are the two recipes I will be following:

The classic way:

– Spread out the seeds on a baking sheet

– Sprinkle them with salt

-Roast in the oven at 300 for ~45 minutes, or until crispy

The New Recipe:

– Toss the seeds (1 cup) with the following:

  • 1 T melted butter
  • 1 T sugar
  • 3/4 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • dash of salt

–  Grease a baking sheet and spread the seeds out

– Bake at 300 for ~45 minutes, stirring to prevent the seeds from sticking

(Recipe from Pinterest, along with many more!)


DIY Mounted Staghorn Fern

Today I mounted my Staghorn fern onto an old fence board I had.  These are rainforest plants so they like to grow vertically.  This makes them perfect for hanging up on your wall! IMG_1452.JPG


-Staghorn fern

-Wood plank

-Picture hanging kit

-Nails (5-10)


-Fishing line

So the first thing I will tell you is make sure that you put your picture hook on before you do anything else! It makes this project way more difficult if you forget and mount your fern before putting the hook on the back.

IMG_1300The next step is to hammer nails into the board to serve as anchors for your fern.  Measure out the size of your root ball and the positioning.  The ferns grow up and tall so I placed the root ball towards the bottom of my plank.  Hammer the nails in a circle.  If you have nails with big heads it will make your stringing process easier.IMG_1308.JPG Then take your fern and shake the loose dirt off.  Wrap the root ball in the sheet moss.  Most Staghorn ferns have a shield. This is that hard brown disc at the base of its leaves.  You will want to have that facing out from the plank and keep that uncovered by the moss because you don’t want it to rot. (My fern is too young to have a shield yet).IMG_1314.JPGThen place your mossy root ball in between your nail circle.  Take a length of fishing line and just start wrapping it over the root ball, back and forth.  Hook it around your nails and cross over the ball many times.  This might take a bit of practice but once you see how it works, its not too difficult.  I wrapped mine pretty tight.  Over time the moss will expand and cover the string so don’t worry if it shows a lot.  That also goes for covering any nails that may be showing.

And that’s it! Hang up your staghorn away from direct sunlight.  I put mine in the bathroom because it will get a lot of indirect light and it will also enjoy the humidity from our showers.  Every 7 days or so put your fern in the bath tub or sink and run water through the root ball.  Leave it there for a few hours so it can drain out (and not get your wall wet).  I mist my fern every few days as well, especially when it is hot.IMG_1443

My Garden

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetAfter moving to an apartment with no yard or patio space, I realized I needed to find an alternative place to garden.  I decided to rent a spot at St. Michael’s Church in Isla Vista.  They’ve got ten community garden boxes set up and you can rent one for $5 a month to cover the cost of water.

DAY 0: When I chose my box, there were some remnants from the previous tenant. These came out and in went some fresh cow manure to amend the soil. I turned it all over real well and then let it sit for a week.IMG_1893


This was my first trip to ACE.  You know how they say “Ace, the helpful place”?  Well that’s really true! An employee saw me looking at the vegetable section and told me exactly when the truck would be coming with fresh stock.  So two days later I showed up and got the first pick of the crop!

IMG_1963 What I chose:

-Supreme 6 Lettuce Mix


-Paris Island Cos

-Victoria Cherry Rhubarb

-Green Cabbage

-Yellow Onion


-Danvers Half Long Carrot seeds

I picked all of these varieties because of their success as a fall planting in my zone 10+. (Except the rhubarb- that may take at least a year to harvest, but I saw it at the garden center and had to buy it)


DAY 1: In the ground! It was so exciting to pick out my plants and put them in the ground.  I put the lettuces along the edge and the rhubarb in the center surrounded by the broccoli and cabbage.  The onions are planted randomly throughout and the carrot seeds are in the empty spaces in the front and back of the box.


DAY 14: (So somehow I forgot to take a picture on Day 7)

Everything is growing!  One of my lettuces mysteriously went missing after the first night.  It was completely gone down to the root ball…

DAY 21: IMG_2011

I planted some potatoes that we had in our cupboard and had sprouted eyes.  I just cut them up and let them dry before putting them in the ground under mounded up soil.

DAY 28:

IMG_1016.JPGOn this day I added 3 ornamental cabbages to the box and some Indian Summer Rudbeckia seeds.  The cabbage is for a fall decoration I want to make later and the seeds will grow into a sunflower variety.



Day 35: IMG_2154

J and I visited the garden to collect our first harvest.  We picked some lettuces and plan to eat them as a salad for dinner tonight!

LEED: Week 2

This past week we’ve been learning the basics of LEED certification.  Our building, the Student Resources Building, is participating in Version 4 of Operations and Management: Existing Buildings.  We started by familiarizing ourselves with the LEED credits.  These credits are the criteria by which a building earns points for certification.  Credits fall into the following categories:

  • Location and Transportation
  • Sustainable Sites
  • Water Efficiency
  • Energy and Atmosphere
  • Materials and Resources
  • Indoor Air Quality
  • Innovation
  • Regional Priority

The majority of the points possible go towards the Energy and Atmosphere credit category (38 out of 110). But it’s also interesting to note that LEED gives points for geographically specific credits.  The Regional Priority category is made up of four credits specific to the zip-code the building is located in.  Here in the 93101 zip-code, these credits are:

  • Optimize Energy Efficiency Performance
  • On-Site and Off-Site Renewable Energy
  • Daylight and Views
  • Solid Waste Management- Ongoing Consumables
  • Alternative Commuting Transportation
  • Additional Indoor Plumbing Fixtures and Fitting Efficiency

We can choose to achieve up to four of these credits.

Next week we are meeting with the building’s stakeholders to learn more about their specific goals and ways we can work together to achieve LEED Gold for the SRB.

For more information about LEED and the certification process head to USGBC.org

A Visit to the Pumpkin Patch


On Sunday J and I headed out to the Santa Ynez Valley for some pumpkin picking! We weren’t really sure where we were headed so we just drove through the winding hills.  Eventually we spotted Summerset Farms.  We lucked out because they had a ton of pumpkins to choose from and some other surprises, too!


They had a field of berries you could pick yourself.  We got to search for raspberries and blackberries among their prickly vines and pulled a few apples off the tree.  And the strawberries were so good!  We may or may not have sampled a few fruits while we were picking- there really is no comparison to a strawberry straight off the bush.



This little apple tree was struggling to stay upright so the farmer had used an old table to support it.

IMG_2047This was another surprise- a honeybee hive.  You could watch the bees funnel in from outside and head to this box where the honeycomb was kept.  It was interesting to get an inside look at how the bees worked.


There was no shortage of giant pumpkins here!


And more fields of pumpkins waiting to be chosen.


But choosing the right one for carving took some time.  We had to consider things like shape and stem.


I think it was obvious we didn’t want this one.  Poor guy.


This was my pick! For some reason, unknown even to me, it has become a Kaitlin tradition to choose the “Pickle Pumpkin”.  I don’t carve it, and I don’t know what kind it is, but I get it every year!


And on the way home we stopped by a house that had miniature donkeys in the front yard- they liked their ears scratched- just like a dog!


Here’s the pumpkins in our house! I made a bit of a fall corner on our bookshelf.  By adding pumpkins, cotton stems, an industrial-style chair and an old green farm box I was able to make this beachy area of our home more fit for the season.  We can’t wait for Halloween to carve our pumpkins!

LEED Class- Day 1

Part of the purpose of this blog is to document my life as a graduate student at UCSB.  One course that I will be taking this year is a LEED lab.  Over the next 10 months, I will be learning all about the LEED certification process and be participating in the certification of our Student Resources Building (SRB) on campus.

So what is LEED? LEED stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design.  It’s a certification process conducted by the U.S. Green Building Council.  Basically, its a certificate and plan for your building that says you are energy efficient and environmentally aware.  Its completely optional and it has different levels of participation.  Certain aspects of your building are worth a specific amount of points.  These points add up to form your score, which determines your certification level.  The levels are “Certified”, “Silver”, “Gold”, and “Platinum”.

So in this class, I will learn about the certification process; enough so that at the end of the year I will be prepared to take the Green Building Council’s exam and become a LEED Green Associate.  The other goal for this year concerns the SRB.  It will be the model for all of our learning.  Our goal is to take it from a “Silver” level building to “Gold” in June.

I am very excited for this class!  I think it will be a great opportunity to learn about green building and get some hands-on experience.