Celebrate Greek Culture this Weekend!

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Multiple generations team up to cook lamb for Lamb Pops!

My friend Scott and I dropped in on the Sacramento Greek Festival at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church on Alhambra and F Streets. With a $5 per person admission we entered a celebration of all things Greek. From fried cheese to a raffle for an original Gregory Kondos painting.

We started with appetizers including fried cheese and pita bread, spanakopita and skewered pork with yogurt sauce. Even sharing these dishes we hit “Tilt!” with yummy food. We needed to walk and digest. We discovered the gyro cafe across the plaza and a dinner buffet inside the hall.

We walked through the markets where you can buy a Greek pride t-shirt, Tupperware, jewelry or an icon. The kids zone offers an outlet for children to play. There is a full bar and a wonderfully slow coffee bar. Kathy cooked my coffee in a pan full of sand, guessing my nationality and keep us entertained until my very hot coffee was ready.

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We had bought baklava and baklava cheesecake at the desserts booth inside the hall. We scored an outside table and listened to trad Greek music by Mythos and watched dance lessons and more accomplished Greek dancers. The baklava was just the right balance of walnuts and honey and phyllo. Even with the delicious coffee we couldn’t finish the dessert, so Scott took one for the team and offered to take it home.

This is 54th festival but the first in a few years back in the courtyard of the newly expanded Greek Orthodox church. Church tours are available, check the program.

We live in Midtown so it was easy to walk to the Festival. There’s also parking at Sutter Middle School. The Festival continues through Sunday, October 8. Don’t just sit there–Go!

 

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Farm to Fork at Hook & Ladder

We took advantage of the tail end of Farm to Fork Sacramento’s restaurant week at Hook & Ladder. My friends were visiting from out of town and they are adventurous eaters. I wanted to try someplace none of us had been. The menu offered two choices of an entree, plus two choices of main, plus two choices of dessert. My friend and I made sure we tried it all–3 dishes each for $35 per person. Our other friend ordered the peach and pesto pizza.

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It started with a craftsman cocktail with a clever name. So clever the gin blotted it from memory.

We enjoyed the very competent service and ordered our drinks. I decided to splurge and try the cocktail. This is about twice what I normally drink. Actually, I rarely drink so how to measure? It was tasty and had a fun name I can’t remember. Sign of a good drink.

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Corn soup (cold)

We dug into our fun appetizers and agreed that we’d like more of both. But wait, we have entrees coming and a huge pizza for Nora.

We were comfortably digesting when our desserts arrived. Our server brought plenty of forks without asking. Yummy.

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Hook & Ladder is at S Street near 16th Street in downtown Sacramento. You can make reservations on Open Table. This is a good idea on the weekends. The atmosphere is not fussy, but not overly casual. And with cocktails $10 and over and a main in the high $20s, it is a good date spot or place to gather with well-heeled friends.

 

 

Finally Watched the Bats on Yolo Causeway

IMG_2627Most of us are afraid of bats at an almost instinctual level. Unlike snakes and spiders though, I am hardpressed to name a species of bat. The other night I learned there are more species of bat of any other type of mammal except rodents. I might have known at one time in Jr High biology that bats are mammals, but it was good to be reminded.

I wasn’t prepared for the bat expert, Corky Quirk, to have live bats on display in small plastic carriers. They were fascinating to look at up close and watch as they stretched a wing or moved about. However, I was still pretty creeped out. Corky gives a great presentation including playing a rap on echolocation. She uses a camera to give us an larger than life view of the bats eating.

After a quick last bathroom break and a chance to buy a t-shirt, we piled into the van and our cars and drove out to the public entrance to the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area and drove the loop until we needed to turn off onto some farm roads to reach where the bats live during the day. You cannot go there without the Foundation volunteers, although you can watch a smaller colony of 15,000 bats fly out from the first parking lot.

IMG_2629The best time to see them leave is about 30 minutes before sundown. The sun had already mostly gone down when the ribbon of bats started exiting from under the Yolo Causeway. It was impressive. The colony we watched fly out to eat insects all night under the Yolo County sky was a mix of mothers and adolescent pups. Bats do us a great service by eating their weight in insects every night (and twice that when moms are nursing). I was happy to learn so much about this small but mighty member of our ecosystem.

C715A256-2067-4134-87D6-DE8AA07FA297I’ve been a supporter of the Yolo Basin Foundation for 5 years and have heard various people extol the niftiness of watching the bats leave their “cave” under the Yolo Causeway. Finally I helped to organize a group of colleagues so I participate in one of the Bat Talk and Walks. You can sign up for a public Bat Talk and Walk on the Foundation’s website. Or you can contact Corky and arrange a private tour for your group, $12 per adult and a minimum $240 donation. You must have at least 12 and they can accommodate up to 60 people.

 

Batty for Bats on the Bypass!

The Yolo Basin Foundation released the new dates for Bat Walks and Talks on the Yolo Basin Wildlife Area. You must buy tickets in advance and the dates can fill up fast. If you want to see this fascinating phenomenon of the bats flying out from underneath the Yolo Causeway to feast on night insects, and learn how bats benefit us, then sign up now. $12 per adult

From the website: Following a 45 minute indoor presentation on bat natural history, the group will carpool out to the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area to watch the “flyout” of the largest colony of Mexican free-tailed bats in California. The bats emerge in long ribbons as they head out to hunt for insects for the night. To get to the viewing site, the group will caravan through wetlands and rice fields to an area not open to the public.

The whole experience takes about 3 hours. This is a family friendly event! There is a small amount of walking. Those in wheelchairs or unable to walk may view the bats by car. Please let us know if you have special needs.

Delta Waterways Clean Up Planned April 29

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Volunteers from 2015 having fun cleaning up Delta waterways. (Photo: Kathryn Kynett)

Be part of keeping the California Delta clean. The Delta Conservancy is organizing events on April 29 to clean up parts of the Delta waterways in coordination with Sacramento Area Creeks Council’s Creek Week.

(Photo credits: Aaron Haiman)

The cleanup events will take place from 9am to noon on the 29th of April. The Delta Conservancy will be leading three different sites including a new site in Suisun City. After the cleanup, there is a celebration at Carmichael Park from noon to 2pm.

Contact Aaron Haiman for more information: aaron.haiman@deltaconservancy.ca.gov. Ready to volunteer? Register online: http://creekweek.net/vdelta.html

 

More information about Sacramento County’s Creek Week: http://creekweek.net/

Tiny House Extravaganza!

img_0706I do not think SMUD or the other organizers of the Tiny House competition open house (Saturday, November 15, 2016 at Cosumnes River College) expected such an enthusiastic response. Even with rain threatening, the 5,000 brochures they printed up were snapped up by 11:30 a.m. When I left at 1:15 there was a steady stream of people still arriving.

There were 10 tiny houses entered by various college and universities and each of them had at least a 20 minute wait in line to see the inside. If you arrived at 9:00 a.m. when it opened you’d be challenged to see them all by 4:00 p.m. Fortunately there were food trucks and information tables to help you gather information about saving energy or water, or how to become an advocate for tiny homes.

I only had a couple of hours so I took lots of photos and waited in line to see the Laney College entry, “The Wedge” winner of the architecture award. Overhearing conversations around me, the people in line were curious to see if a tiny home will work for a mother-in-law suite, an affordable way to live off the grid in Idaho, a guest home, or a home for themselves.This home cost $55,000 to build. The college plans to sell it and then using the same program to build homes for the homeless.

The overall winner was Santa Clara University’s entry. Entries had to be moved to Cosumnes River College by Friday for judging. Homes were rated on design, energy efficiency, home utility and communications. Modeled after the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, the program asks teams to use modern building techniques and technology to maximize energy efficiency in a home not to exceed 400 square feet.

Entrants included:
1. California State University, Fresno
2. Laney College
3. College of the Sequoias
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4. University of California, Berkeley
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5. Cosumnes River College
6. Santa Clara University
7. San Jose City College
8. UC Santa Cruz and Cabrillo College
9. CSU Sacramento
10. CSU Chico
If you are a city councilmember or a County supervisor in the NorCal area, take note of the level of interest. Many localities have vague guidance about permitting or using tiny homes. Tiny homes can be mobile more like a travel trailer, but tend to be built more like a custom home than a manufactured home.  The American Tiny House Association offers sample zoning regulations.

Proclaiming Tiny Houses!

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This weekend I am going to check out the Tiny House competition sponsored by SMUD, created by students, and ready for inspection at Cosumnes River College. It will probably be raining, so I’ll dig out my warmer wardrobe and take my umbrella. I am really curious to see how small tiny is. I watch Tiny Househunters on HGTV and it is hard to imagine what it would really feel like to live in a house under 500 square feet. Checking it out and asking: could this be a solution for homeownership for single person households, a less expensive solution for ending homelessness, or just affordably add second units for short or long term rental?

proclaimersThen on Monday my all time favorite music group is performing at Harlow’s. I am going to see the Proclaimers! Since I live in the neighborhood I do not have to walk 500 miles. On Monday night I’ll be on my way to the Proclaimers.