Category Archives: Volunteering

Working on Piñatas: Nature’s Egg

In the summer of 2018 I’ll be teaching several adults-only workshops on making and decorating tabletop piñatas.  The first four classes are called “Monumental Piñatas” events (because they’re based on creatures and plants found in the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument), and the last two classes art called “Art/Nature Fusion” events. All of the classes are two-day workshops (on two consecutive Saturdays) during which I teach participants how to build their own piñatas “from the balloons up”, and then teach them how to decorate them. One workshop encourages participants to come with their own idea for a piñata, and the other one focuses on an “Evergreen Santa” piñata.

I’m volunteering my time for these workshops, and all of the proceeds from the ticket sales will go to support Tuleyome’s Certified California Naturalist program.

Before the classes start, however, I needed to create the sample piñatas to use for advertising purposes.  This one is the “Nature’s Egg”.

This “egg” form is covered using a variety of techniques, and displays some of my favorite plants and critters: an oak tree, California Poppies, a water feature with a rock that has a tiny Pond Turtle sitting on it, Pipevine, Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars, eggs and butterflies, wildflowers (Baby Blue Eyes, Tidy Tips, Hawksbeard, and wild onions),  some Turkey Vultures, a little bit of jelly fungus and lichen.

Like all of the piñatas I create, the Nature’s Egg doesn’t need to be smashed to get to the goodies inside of it.  Instead, a cap on the top of the piñata  can be removed to fill it up and empty it out.  The sample was finished in early October… and there’s what it looks like.

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Just about everything about the piñata is made of recyclable, biodegradable materials. The form is made of recycled newsprint paper, flour, salt and water and is built up around balloons (which are popped and properly disposed of once the form dries).  The exterior is decorated with tissue paper, light poster board, art paper, construction paper, and water-soluble glue.

If you would like me to do a workshop for your nonprofit, business or group, please contact me at thechubbywoman@gmail.com.

Working on Piñatas: Mother Earth Owl and Owlet

In the summer of 2018 I’ll be teaching several adults-only workshops on making and decorating tabletop piñatas.  The first four classes are called “Monumental Piñatas” events (because they’re based on creatures and plants found in the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument), and the last two classes art called “Art/Nature Fusion” events. All of the classes are two-day workshops (on two consecutive Saturdays) during which I teach participants how to build their own piñatas “from the balloons up”, and then teach them how to decorate them. One workshop encourages participants to come with their own idea for a piñata, and the other one focuses on an “Evergreen Santa” piñata.

I’m volunteering my time for these workshops, and all of the proceeds from the ticket sales will go to support Tuleyome’s Certified California Naturalist program.

Before the classes start, however, I needed to create the sample piñatas to use for advertising purposes.  The first one is a “Mother Earth Owl and Owlet”.

Like all of the piñatas I create (except for the owlet which is a simple single piece), the Mother Earth Owl doesn’t need to be smashed to get to the goodies in her belly.  Instead, her head can be removed to fill her up and empty her out.  The sample was finished around September 2nd… and there’s what it looks like.

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Just about everything about the piñata is made of recyclable, biodegradable materials. The form is made of recycled newsprint paper, flour, salt and water and is built up around balloons (which are popped and properly disposed of once the form dries).  The exterior is decorated with tissue paper, light poster board, art paper, construction paper, and water-soluble glue.

If you would like me to do a piñata craft event for you, contact me at thechubbywoman@gmail.com.

Stink Bug Nymphs

I attended the 4-H Sparks Fair at the University of California, Davis campus with my Tuleyome coworker Bill Grabert. Since Bill knew the campus better than I did, we went to the fair in his car.

Before heading out, we stopped by a rose bush in his front yard to check out the circles cut into the leaves by Leafcutter Bees.  As an added bonus we found some Green Stink Bugs nymphs, probably in their second or third instar, standing beside the eggs from which they’d recently hatched.

You never know what you’ll find out in nature — even in your own front yard.

Tabling at the Sacramento Zoo

It’s Day Eight of my Vacation, but I did actually worked today.  I got up about 6:30 am and then headed over to the Sacramento Zoo to table all day for Tuleyome at the zoo’s Earth Fest.  We had a great spot – right next to the tiger’s den – and the zoo personnel were fabulous.  They set up tables, chairs, and a pop-up for us so we didn’t have to lug any of that kind of stuff back and forth; they came by with bottles of cold water throughout the day to make sure we stayed hydrated; and they gave us free passes to the zoo to use in the future!  Several of their docents and volunteers also stopped by our table to hug our Big Day of Giving bears and to sign postcards of support for the Berryessa Snow Mountain national monument.  Just great people.  I really enjoyed it.  One highlight of the day was when a father came by the table with his two sons and read the postcard of support to them.  Then he asked if they would like to ask President Obama to support the project, and they said yes, so he showed them how to fill out the postcards.  It was impressive to see that kind of family “activism” right before our eyes.

Lot of folks came by to hug our Big Day of Giving spokebears, Berry and Essa, and several people asked if the bears were for sale or part of a giveaway… and a couple tried to abscond with them!  Hah!  The little bear, Essa, also got to meet an oral hygiene dinosaur and “Barkley”, the spokestree for the Sacramento Tree Foundation.  So that was fun, too.  I took mini breaks throughout the day to snap a few photos of the animals nearest to our display table, and to get my face painted.  (I am SUCH a kid at heart.)

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The weather cooperated all day, too: it was about 47° when we got to the zoo in the early morning, and then didn’t get over 71° by the late afternoon.  I left about 4:00 pm and was home around 4:30.  Just a lovely way to spend a mid-vacation work day…

@SacramentoZoo @SacTree  #BIGDoG2015

Acorn Harvesting Class with the Sacramento Tree Foundation

I could have slept in, but Sergeant Margie needed to go potty around 6:30 am so I got up to let him out and then just stayed up.  Marty was already gone for the day!  He was going to a car club thing at Ironstone, and they had to go in early to set up the cars before the guests arrived.

Around 8 o’clock I headed out to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve in Carmichael (about a half an hour from the house).  I’d never been there before and always wanted to check it out.  I had an extra incentive today because they were hosting an Acorn Gathering course by the Sacramento Tree Foundation.  The nature preserve was a little difficult to find because it’s off a road that isn’t really clearly marked; and inside the complex you have to be careful not to go down the wrong one-way roads or you end up facing all their tire-shredding road spikes.  But now that I know where it is, I should be able to find it again easily.  I got to the preserve around 8:30 and the class didn’t start until 10 o’clock , so I took some time to walk around a little bit.  They have a nice set of offices and a nature center there with a small amphitheater in the back of it, and a museum and shop inside.  They also have some raptors they’re rehabilitating including an owl and a Red-Shouldered Hawk.  Outside the center was a garden with lots of Showy Milkweed in it.  The plants all had large seed pods on them, but I didn’t see any Monarch Butterfly caterpillars on it.

I’d only walked out a short way from the nature center building when I came across a Mule Deer doe lying down in the grass… and nearby were her two sons, a yearling (with his first set of antlers) and a fawn (who was still too young to have gotten his first set yet).  I also saw several Turkey Vultures, Acorn Woodpeckers, Scrub Jays, several samples of sulfur shelf fungus, and all sorts of different galls including: Red Cone galls, Popcorn galls, Spangle Galls, Wooly Leaf Gall, etc.  All before the class started!  Wow!

The class was really neat.  It was held outside — the weather was lovely, in the high 60’s and a little breezy — and the presentation was by Zarah Wyly of the tree foundation.  She told us about the general morphology of oak trees (there are 20 different kinds in California, not counting the hybrids), and then narrowed that down to about 6 trees we’re supposed to look for.   We have to be careful what kind of acorns we gather and where we get them, because not all of them are “native” and the tree foundation doesn’t want to replant non-native acorns or the weird hybrid ones.  Apparently, oak trees don’t care who they have sex with, and if you gather acorns from a Live Oak tree and there’s a non-native Burr Oak tree within 1000 feet of it, the two can cross pollinate and create unwanted hybrid acorns that give you who-knows-what kind of oak tree.  Some of the who-knows-what acorns have too much tannin in them and can poison wildlife.  I had no idea…  I thought an acorn was an acorn.

We were given kits with the capacity to collect 200 acorns within the next month and a half.  The acorns have a short period during which they ripen and fall.  We only collected the fallen ones; not the ones on the tree.  And we don’t collect fallen ones that are mis-colored, have lumps or holes in them, that are “squishy” to the touch, or that won’t let go of their caps… because those are rotten or infested with something.  One of the acorns Zarah picked up when she took us out onto the preserve had a hole in the side of it that she said was indicative of weevil infestation.  While she was talking, this fat, pale weevil larva wriggled out of it onto her hand… right on cue.  Eeeew!   Hah!  When we collect the acorns we’re supposed to get about 40 from the same area, bag them, ID them by date, place and time (and take a photo of the leaves and bark if we can to help to positively identify the type of tree we’re collecting from).  Then we’re supposed to put the bags in the fridge (not the freezer, and no anywhere where the acorns will get too hot — no leaving them in the trunk of your car — and then notify the foundation that we have bags for pick up.  Their people will then meet with you to collect the bags.  We were given totes that proclaim that we’re authorized acorn interns, and blank releases in case we need to get a land-owner’s permission to collect on their property.    It was a 2-hour class, jammed with information… and very interesting.  I was so glad I went there!