Seems it Never Rains in Southern California

Southern California Rain by Donaville Herrick

Photo Info

Man, it really pours sometimes in Southern California. Last weekend we had our fair share of rain, hail, and wind that knocked down a few trees in my neck of the woods. I wish it rained more often, sans the hurricane-esque effects.

The photo above is one of my favorites that I shot over seven years ago. I was spending a Friday with my older sister and her family and I was waiting in the car while she picked up her kids from school. The raindrops on the windshield of the car made for an interesting photo opportunity all on their own, but when I aimed the camera at a slightly higher angle at the blue gradient (where the windshield meets the roof of the car), the result was amazing. No post-process photoshop gradient necessary!

At the time, I owned a point and shoot Sony DSC T-11, which I nicknamed Arnold because it sounded like it could be a Terminator. It was completely harmless, with the exception of its killer macro capabilities. I fell into an obsession of shooting all sorts of macro shots of everything in nature, save for earthworms, spiders, and other creepy crawlers that make my skin crawl. I still have the camera but it has been retired, not because I upgraded to a DSLR (which I did in 2007) but because it sadly and unexpectedly stopped working one day.

About Donaville Herrick

Donaville is the Founder of Dearest Nature and also Co-Founder and Creative Director of Hello Hello Hi. When visions of nature and web design aren't dancing in her head, she enjoys spending time with her three munchkins, baking cupcakes, and trying her hand at various crafts. Follow her on Twitter to stay updated with her day-to-day musings.

Britta Manger

Birdfamily by Britta Manger / Available for purchase in her Etsy shop

Artist Info

How about a little afternoon inspiration, for those of you who live on the West Coast of the US, that is. Britta Manger is an incredible artist from Berlin, Germany who sells a wide range of products ranging like wonderfully patterned origami, illustrations and collagesapparel, and more in her shop named Birdtoldme. Her shop is an absolute must-visit.

I find Britta’s illustrations and collages from her shop intriguing because all of them portray animals in a fun and unique way. A deep-sea diving bird with oil dribbling out of its beak? An cotton-bodied octopus with plants at the end of its tentacles? Those are not sights you see everyday. I hope!

illustrations and collages by Britta Manger

Each illustration makes me think of a Tim Burton production or a fairy tale gone awry. What do you think of the Britta’s illustrations?

About Donaville Herrick

Donaville is the Founder of Dearest Nature and also Co-Founder and Creative Director of Hello Hello Hi. When visions of nature and web design aren't dancing in her head, she enjoys spending time with her three munchkins, baking cupcakes, and trying her hand at various crafts. Follow her on Twitter to stay updated with her day-to-day musings.

Miniature Cabinets of Curiosities

Photo & styling by Jessica Marquez

Growing up, I collected a few things here and there; rocks, seashells, coins, troll dolls — typical things you’d expect someone to collect. I think the mention of troll dolls just caused my coolness factor to jump a notch up or drop 5 notches. What sort of things did/do you collect?

On the topic of collections, each Thursday we’ll be presenting a new set of collections of the nature variety, of course. We’re beginning this series with collections from Brooklyn, New York resident Jessica Marquez, owner of Miniature Rhino, a shop that carries vintage-inspired and handmade goods. I adore the way Jessica bottles up her collections like so:

miniature cabinets of curiosities by Jessica Marquez of Miniature Rhino

I love Jessica’s presentation of her collections, which she says are “part of a series of little collections of wondrous objects. One of my favorite things is collecting things and I love making them into these miniature curiosity cabinets.” It amazes me how much stuff can be crammed into a vial.

For more information about Jessica, check out her blog and pay her flickr photo stream a visit where you’ll find endless inspiration.

About Donaville Herrick

Donaville is the Founder of Dearest Nature and also Co-Founder and Creative Director of Hello Hello Hi. When visions of nature and web design aren't dancing in her head, she enjoys spending time with her three munchkins, baking cupcakes, and trying her hand at various crafts. Follow her on Twitter to stay updated with her day-to-day musings.

Color Crush: Mellow Yellow

Various products by Leah Duncan

There’s not a whole lot of yellow in my life. I own one yellow article of clothing — a dress from Shabby Apple — and that’s about the only thing I can think of off the top of my head. I have nothing against yellow, but it’s always been a little too edgy and loud of a color for

me to infuse into my wardrobe or home with it. Thanks to the likes of Leah Duncan, I’ve been drawn to varied shades of muted, mellow yellows like mustard, amber, saffron, goldenrod.

work by Leah Duncan

A little bit of info about Leah
Originally based in Austin, Texas, Leah recently relocated to Brooklyn, New York is an artist, designer, and a self-taught seamstress and surface pattern designer whose artwork is characteristically unique and whimsical. Her prints are the perfect remedy to sprucing up a boring wall and her pillows are the kind that make me want to curl up on the couch reading my favorite book on a rainy day.

Be sure to visit Leah’s shop and blog and follow her on twitter.

About Donaville Herrick

Donaville is the Founder of Dearest Nature and also Co-Founder and Creative Director of Hello Hello Hi. When visions of nature and web design aren't dancing in her head, she enjoys spending time with her three munchkins, baking cupcakes, and trying her hand at various crafts. Follow her on Twitter to stay updated with her day-to-day musings.

Spring Zucchini Basil Soup

Photo by Beverly Wang

Ingredients

  • 3 medium (~300g) zucchini or your favorite type of Summer squash
  • 2 medium shallots, diced
  • 3 – 4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 C of basil leaves, very loosely packed
  • 1 Cup of chicken, vegetable broth, or water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What better way to celebrate the beginning of spring than with a bright, herbaceous soup? Spring heralds the return of a multitude of fresh vegetables that are perfect for use in all sorts of dishes. This soup is a great way to beat any chilly weather that might be lingering and won’t leave you feeling heavy.

The short list of ingredients and ease of preparation belie this soup’s deliciousness. Sauteed zucchini and fresh herbs are pureed together, creating a luscious, creamy soup without the use of heavy cream or milk. Consider this a base recipe that you can build upon or customize to your tastes. Dislike basil? Substitute with the fresh herb of your choice; add beans or cubed potatoes for a more substantial meal. Craving a little more depth of flavor? Roast the zucchini instead, and caramelize the shallots first before pureeing. Add less water, and use it as a sauce for pasta or a dip for chips. No matter how you choose to prepare this soup, you’ll have yourself a quick and delicious meal that will pair well with just about any spring meal.

Spring zucchini soup recipe by Beverly Wang


Directions:

  • 1. Wash the basil leaves and let dry. You can choose to use a salad spinner to speed up the process, but gently patting the leaves with some towels will suffice.
  • 2. Wash the zucchini and slice into 1/2″ rounds. Dice the shallots and the garlic. The beauty of this recipe is that the cuts don’t have to be completely uniform or beautiful as all the ingredients will pureed together later. Just take care to make the pieces roughly the same size to ensure even cooking.
  • 3. Heat up a saute pan over medium-high heat. When the pan has been preheated sufficiently, add a swirl of olive oil (I used around 1 Tablespoon). When the oil starts to shimmer, add the chopped shallots and garlic and stir-fry, stirring constantly so that the garlic and shallots don’t burn.
  • 4. After 1 minute, add the zucchini and a pinch of salt and toss it together with the garlic and shallots. Saute for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the pan looks a little dry, you can add a little water or chicken

  • broth, or even a splash of white wine to lubricate and deglaze the pan. This also helps to lift the browned bits of zucchini, garlic and shallots from the bottom of the pan (referred to as the “fond”), and adds to the overall yumminess of the dish.
  • 5. When the zucchini are fork-tender, remove the pan from the heat and add the contents to a blender, along with 1 C of liquid of your choice (chicken, vegetable broth or water) and the basil leaves. Take care to place the lid on the blender and hold it down with a towel when you blend unless you want zucchini soup all over your kitchen (trust me, I’ve been there). If you have an immersion blender, you can blend the contents along with the liquid and basil in your stock pot.
  • 6. When the soup is velvety smooth, transfer it to a stock pot and gently reheat it to your desired temperature. This is a good time to taste for salt; add it now if you so choose.
  • 7. Ladle into soup bowls, and finish it with a few cracks of good black pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and a few drops of lemon juice. Enjoy!

Note: This soup also tastes delicious chilled. Top with a dollop of creme fraiche or greek yogurt and I imagine it would make a lovely summer dish.

Spring zucchini soup recipe by Beverly Wang

About Beverly Wang

Beverly is a web applications developer living in lovely Southern California. When she's not writing code, you'll probably find her in the kitchen or out capturing moments of her daily life with her camera. Never content to sit still, she always finds herself trying to do ten things at once. She believes that good food, made with love and from scratch, is the panacea for all ills.