Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Manageable Annuals - July

Nearly three months on, my flowering annuals are (mostly) still alive. I feel like it's been this month, July, which has taught me the most so far about caring for the plants, as well as what I really want from this kind of gardening.

July 3

July started off with a bang, literally. The monsoon came in like clockwork on July 1, which is the norm here (it might not start on July 1 every year, but it does usually start up sometime in early July). With near-daily thunderstorms, I was able to skip waterings here and there. The soil was often saturated in the mornings and I didn't want to overwater.

I think the flowers were at their peak of attractiveness during this time. The lobelia was still holding its own and the verbena was just starting to trail a bit. The petunias were giving me trouble again, though. I was finding more and more caterpillars on them. I ended up buying a spray at Lowe's, Garden Safe pest repellant spray for organic gardening. I really doused the whole planter with it but the effects only lasted a couple of days. For the price of the spray, it seemed like a waste of time and money, but I continued using it a few times a week. I felt it couldn't hurt and I did eventually see a few new petunia blooms.

July 10

Lots of rain over the past two weeks. I think the plants grew a lot and it has been nice not to have to water every morning. The geraniums and verbenas continue to be the most prolific plants in the bunch and I think they're looking very lush and colorful. The lobelia is getting crowded, I think. And the petunias are doing okay, but not great. They are flowering again, albeit with smaller, crumpled-looking flowers. I'm still picking the caterpillars off when I see them, but they are slightly diminished. I've been trying to figure out what kind they are; I'm seeing lots of swallowtail butterflies in our mimosa tree and I think they might be swallowtail larvae. If so, they make a beautiful butterfly but they're a real nuisance as caterpillars. Maybe I'm seeing fewer of them as they progress through the life cycle, though, which is a good thing.

I hadn't used any Miracle Gro since the monsoon started but I gave them a dose this week. I was noticing that some of the geranium flower heads were looking sparse and spindly, and thought they could use a feeding. I was using it every two weeks but I've slowed down lately, between the rainfall and the fact that I've been putting the pest spray on lately; I don't want to overwhelm the plants with chemicals.

July 18

I lost a petunia plant altogether this week. There was one at the left-hand side of the planter as you face it. One morning I came out to find that it was brown and sickly-looking. There were a couple of caterpillars on it, but I can't say whether that was related. Those caterpillars rile me up. I'm not happy about them. Thankfully, I'm seeing fewer all the time.

The lobelia is looking really choked. I will have to see if I can find a more trailing-type of lobelia, which might be able to climb out from under the other plants more easily.

Otherwise, the verbena and geraniums continue to grow like weeds, threatening to engulf everything else. I really like the look of all the red and pink flowers together; I often peer out at the planter from the sliding door off the breakfast nook and think how happy it makes me to have colorful annuals in my own yard, finally!

July 27

Well, the lobelia is all but swallowed alive by the verbenas. It was nice knowing you and your pretty blue flowers, lobelia.

The whole planter is looking a little wild to me these days. I keep dead-heading and clipping off spent flowers as I see them, but I think maybe the planter has been getting a little too wet. Last week was dry and I ended up needing to water most mornings. But maybe the soil was still wet underneath and I just didn't realize it. Either way, the rain is back this week and I've been holding off on watering again, since a little has fallen every day and the forecast seems to be the same for the foreseeable future. I'll wait until I think they need more water.

I'm still enjoying the colors very much, even though things are looking a little scrappier now. One thing I've learned is that verbena and geraniums grow like crazy, while petunias get eaten and lobelia kind of disappears in the jungle of other plants. I think that I will avoid petunias and lobelia in this planter in the future. If this year is any indication, I should be able to cultivate quite a lush assortment of geraniums and verbenas all by themselves in the future.

For August:

The monsoon will continue, and August is technically our wettest month here, so the watering may continue to be infrequent. But I will take it day to day, of course. I will probably give another Miracle Gro feeding soon, but may hold off on the pest-repellant, since the petunias have seemed better in late July.

I will need to start thinking about what I want to do with the geraniums. I know they can be saved indoors over the winter, but I need to read about that. August will continue to be warm and summery, but by the middle of September the nights will be cool so I'll need to think ahead for that too. I'm fine with losing annuals after a growing season, in any case. I've enjoyed having these but they're cheap to replace and this was sort of experimental anyway.

 ☂ ☂ ☂ ☂ ☂

How are your annuals doing this month, if you plant them?

Monday, July 28, 2014

An egg-citing weekend!

Egg-citement abounded here this weekend! We have eggs!

We don't know for sure which one of our hens is laying, but we think it's Betty, the Barred Plymouth Rock. She has been getting bigger and fluffier almost by the day lately. Her comb has gotten bigger and darker red, and she was going into the coop for periods of time in late morning. On Thursday, I noticed that the straw in the nest box had been piled exactly like, well, a nest. There was a small hole right in the center and I could see that she'd been roosting there. They're almost five months old, so we knew it was possible for them to start laying soon. We all watched carefully.

On Saturday morning, I went to the grocery store alone. I bought a dozen eggs, thinking about how nice it will be not to have to buy so many eggs...eventually (I try to buy good-quality eggs, which aren't cheap). When I walked in the door at home, I was greeted by three beaming Bears, who said "We have exciting news!" They told me to go out back and look in the nest box. Inside was one small brown egg, the one in the photos here. An egg! One perfect, sweet little egg.

The LB is probably the most egg-cited (sorry). He loves the chickens and I've seen a whole new side of him since we've had them. He is a quiet kid who loves computers. He thinks a lot and concentrates hard on his tasks. He is very smart and learns quickly, but sometimes I worry that he doesn't have enough fun. The chickens have brought out a different LB. He's very interested in caring for them and has shown lots of responsibility. I like seeing him interact with animals and nurturing them. I think it has been really good for him. He was beside himself with joy over that first egg and it made me so happy! He loved being photographed with the egg too, especially after I said that I think this makes him a grandfather.

I thought for sure that it would be a long time before we saw another egg but there was another on Sunday morning and another today too. My friend Claire came for lunch today with her three girls; the older two are the same ages as my two. I had the LB take the girls out to see the chickens and told him he could open the nest box for an egg-check (I've been limiting them to just a few checks each day so as not to disturb the hens). There was an egg inside on his check! Our friends really enjoyed that. I was glad they had a chance to see it. He was so proud of himself. I think he considers himself a farmer now. I've got three small brown eggs in a plastic bowl in my fridge, fresh from the hen! Fresh eggs, right here in my own backyard! I'm feeling a little farm-ish myself.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Happies

1. I'm making remarkable progress with my flowers in the snow blanket. Those circles took me almost six months to make and now I'm more than halfway through the joining! It's going fast. I can join about three more squares in the next row before my white yarn runs out. I'm waiting for more to arrive in the mail. In the meantime, I have about 47 other projects to work on...but I can't wait to get back to my flowers!

2. We've been churning out perler bead creations. I bought a set of templates with assorted shapes on my famous trip to IKEA and they've sparked new interest in this old standby pastime. They're a great way to pass the hot afternoons.

3. Loom bands continue to entertain as well. We're all sporting multiple bracelets at any given time. Here, the GB's dolls wear bracelets made especially for them. 

4. It must be very satisfying to finish a huge jigsaw puzzle. I wouldn't know, since I do not possess the fortitude (or, frankly, the desire) to do such a thing. But my husband does, and I recently watched him place the thousandth piece of his jigsaw puzzle with great determination.

5. On a recent desperate trying afternoon, I decided to involve the children in a cooking project. In cooler weather, cookies do the trick. But it was in the upper 90's and it seemed completely nuts to turn on the oven. So we made fudge on the stovetop instead. I hadn't made fudge in years, and I'd forgotten how easy and fun it is! I used a basic recipe and the kids were able to help. It came out beautifully. Candy makes everything better.

6. My LB is such a good boy. I could raise ten kids just like him. Okay, I'm exaggerating. But he's a wonderful child. All summer, he has taken it upon himself to practice his guitar every single day. I have never had to remind him. He just really likes it. I signed him up for the next level of guitar lessons, to begin in a few weeks. He'll be going in the evening now! It's his first evening activity. He's getting big and I'm proud of him.

7. Sometimes he can be a real comedian. He likes to give the chickens "a better view" by putting them on top of the swing set frame. Here we have Betty and her giant fluffy butt. The chickens don't seem to mind being up there; they parade back and forth, clucking at all of us below. It's their shot at a bird's-eye view, I guess. And it's a handy way to get them out of the grass when they're free and someone's using the reel mower.

8. I've been putting fresh-cut lavender near my bed again, as I do every summer. Late July is when it really seems to be at its most fragrant; I guess it's had enough sun by now, and a little more water too. I just snip a few stalks from the plants in our front yard and put them in a jar on my nightstand. Lavender is one of my favorite scents. I find it really does relax me. These busy summer days call for a relaxing wind-down in the evenings.

Thanks for the lovely comments lately, and welcome to new readers and followers! You make me happy too. It's been a good week around here. I had a clean bill of health at the dentist - always a relief. I'm reading The Fault in Our Stars because I'd heard so much about it, and because as a former high-school English teacher, I am genuinely curious about what kids are reading. I like it; the characters are believable but I must be getting old because the banter seems weird. I bought a cheap paperback copy and I'll probably pass it on to some younger person - unless they've all read it by now.

Summer break is really winding down now; less than three weeks to go! The small Bears are ready, especially since they'll be going to school together for the first time. They won't have much contact during the day, but I think they like the idea. And I'm sure they'll have their moments when they don't like it too. We're starting to get ready now, with new shoes and school supplies. I'm excited. I don't have any big plans for myself; I'm perfectly happy to keep doing what I do, and besides, our school only entails half a day in the classroom, with the rest taught at home. But it will be nice to have a little more time for myself, to get things done, to exercise and have some time to think. I come and go; some days I feel emotional, other days I can't flipping wait! But the time has come and I know it will be okay.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Color Collaborative: July: Sail

All day long, we strolled along the famed Fisherman's Wharf. We stopped to look at almost everything. It was breezy but warm, the sun shining brightly in a clear blue sky. Sea birds flew overhead and roosted on railings and fence posts. Some scrabbled for food scraps on the piers. All were bold, unperturbed by the tourists, joggers and cyclists crowding the piers and walking paths. We headed north along the Wharf, the San Francisco Bay to the right of us, busy city streets to the left. As the day wore on, and the breezes picked up, the bay teemed with boats of every kind: sailboats, speedboats, passenger boats for tourists and far off in the distance, container ships arriving from far-flung places. 

Every few piers, there was another mooring for sailboats and I stopped to view them with interest. Sailing must be a big deal here; San Francisco hosted the America's Cup competition in 2013. It must be said that I am not a sailor. I grew up within a mile or two of the mighty Hudson River, but we were not a boating sort of family. I did have a ride on the sloop Clearwater when I was in elementary school; this is a sort of research vessel which travels on the river, offering marine education and raising environmental awareness. I remember very fondly the day my class spent on the Clearwater, which was manned by hippie college students and a few older professorial types: scruffy beards, tie-dye, bandanas. I enjoyed seeing the below-deck spaces, especially; the idea of sleeping in a boat was exciting to me. The views from the upper deck were spectacular; it was thrilling to watch the familiar landscape slide past as we moved down the river. Twenty-five years on, I remember oatmeal-raisin granola bars, "orange drink," springtime foliage, brownish water, bright-blue sky, white sails with a yellow and orange sunshine-like emblem.

On the Wharf, the boats just kept coming. By afternoon, they were out in force. The sky was not as clear in the afternoon, and a haze was developing far out on the bay. But boats were everywhere, close to shore and farther out, all the way out to the place where water blended with hills and sky in blurred layers of grayish-blue. People were enjoying their beautiful bay. We stopped in a park at the northern tip of the Wharf, exhausted from walking all day in the sun and the stiff, salty breeze. I had a light sunburn on my face. My legs and feet hurt. We lay in cool, green grass and listened to conversations in several different languages. We watched couples of all ages lounging and laughing in the sun. We watched sailboats move toward the vast orange expanse of the Golden Gate Bridge.

It was late enough in the afternoon that we were beginning to think about dinner. We walked back down the Wharf, in search of New England-style clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls. You can get them almost anywhere on the Wharf but we wanted to eat at Alioto's, where we'd eaten almost ten years before, on our first trip to San Francisco together. We ate in a big, sunny window, overlooking sailboat docks. The boats rocked gently in gray water as the sun began to sink in the sky. The boats here were older; some seemed disused, I thought. They had names like Thor and Lucy. Some had fake-grass carpeting on their decks, worn and tattered. There was rust. It was not the pretty view of boats on other parts of the Wharf. It was interesting dinner viewing all the same. I don't usually get to eat a few feet from sailboats.

After dinner, we boarded a passenger boat to Alcatraz Island, to tour the old prison there (now a National Park and historic site). The sun was setting. The wind was calmer, the bay stiller than it had been in the afternoon. Water and sky were more defined now, the sky fading in progressive shades of blue, lavender and pink, the water deepening to turquoise and cobalt. I think a sunset sail must be wonderful. It was chilly on our passenger boat, though.  We sat on the open deck so we could see the bay. I was shivering in my sweatshirt. The passengers on our boat were mostly couples. There was lots of hand-holding and hugging to keep warm. We eventually did some of that too, once we both put our cameras down. I think this might be the most romantic city I've ever visited. In fact, my husband might not be here if it weren't for San Francisco. His parents, graduate students across the bay at the time, had their first date here close to fifty years ago, in a fancy seafood restaurant on the Wharf.

Our romance has connections here too. The last time we visited was a year to the day before I found myself seriously ill, struggling to survive the birth of our son. That's me above, in 2004, watching the boats and the hordes of seals basking on a pier in waning September sunshine. That first visit was short - a stopover, really - and I had always wanted to go back. I'm so glad we did. I watched the seals again, the few that were present in June, the many kinds of boats and the subtle, smeary demarcations between sky and land and water. I felt stronger and wiser this time, thankful for my happy marriage, my delightful children and my health, and the chance to see the bay again.

As the evening wore on, the sailboats dwindled in number but there were still a few out there, white sails billowing gently, right up until it got dark. The setting sun danced on the water and the sky faded gray to black, stars appearing through the haze. Our Alcatraz tour was fascinating, but I looked forward to the return trip, when I would see the bay at night. We collapsed into our seats on the boat, tired but satisfied, full with the experiences of the day. Night fell and lights sparkled all along the bay. Bridges, twinkling as if strung with fairy lights, stretched as far as I could see. We walked a long way again, this time back to our rented car. We held hands and laughed, giddy with the thrill of a rare nighttime outing, just the two of us, chilled and windblown and tired to the bone.


 Don't forget to visit the other Color Collaborative blogs for more of this month's posts. Just click on the links below: 

Annie at Annie Cholewa 
Sandra at Cherry Heart 

And July's guest poster, Leanne at Today's Stuff
What is The Color Collaborative?
All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a color related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about color in new ways.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monsoon view

Hello and happy Monday to you! I'm just back from the feed store; it's time to switch Penny and Betty to layer mash, or chicken food for grown-up chickens. The feed store is about fifteen minutes away, in a more rural area. The small Bears were with me. They love to ride in the car. Do your kids like car trips? Mine always did, even as little babies. Now, they entertain each other in the backseat and sing along with the radio. I mostly listen to "mix" and classic rock in the car. They know a lot of songs! We're home now, hanging out in the family room, and I'm watching roofers work on a house across the arroyo. My garden wall obscures the house they're working on and it looks like they're walking in mid-air with the mountain behind them. It's freaky. The garden is looking fantastic now that we're in the monsoon season; all the later-summer flowers are coming on like gangbusters, especially the hibiscuses and roses of Sharon. The coreopsis, one of my favorites, is blooming now too and the apple tree is practically keeling over with the weight of this year's crop. I can't wait until they're ripe. Just a few more weeks...and I might have fresh eggs by then too!

Thank you so much for the wonderful comments on my flowery circles and the start of my flowers in the snow blanket. I'm really enjoying the work, especially now in the joining phase. By the end of the weekend, I had four rows joined. That's one-fourth of the blanket! It's easy to pick it up and join a few squares here and there. The blanket is growing fast. The joining felt a little fiddly at first, as I got used to holding the work and crocheting around each circle, but I feel pretty confident with it now. Gosh, I love to crochet. When it's going right, it feels so good. My next big crochet project is already in the pipeline - a big, mindless-crochet afghan for the family room. I've been collecting the yarn, a few skeins at a time, all summer. I have some smaller pieces planned too; I want to make myself a cowl or two for the winter and maybe try a little sweater for the GB too. Maggie Rabbit is on the back burner for now; I may give her to the GB for Christmas instead of her birthday in September. It won't hurt to have a few more months of maturity before I give her such a special lovey, and besides, I really like working on this blanket. I'd like to crochet something else for my LB soon too, but boys' patterns are a little harder to find. He would probably wear a crocheted hat, but I know he won't bother with a scarf; too many important things to do! Boy-crochet suggestions are welcome.

I want to share something really cool today. The Bear has been making time-lapse videos of our view of the mountain this monsoon season. He does this with his Raspberry Pi computer, which is fitted with a camera called a Pi Cam. The Bear and the LB love to work on these devices together and they built the computer (which we call "the bot") over the past few months. The Bear put it in the window of our family room, facing east toward the mountain, and had the camera take a photo every six seconds from 10:30 AM until dark. Then he compressed all the photos into a time-lapse video. On it, you can watch the clouds change throughout the day, and you can see storms roll through during the afternoon and evening hours. He made several of these videos, each depicting a different day. He put them on YouTube but I'm sharing just one here - we think this is the best one. It was taken a week ago, on July 14. We had a lot of fun with it. And you can see what we see on a typical day in glorious monsoon season.

Friday, July 18, 2014

One ninety-two

I started working on my flowery circles almost six months ago and finished them this week. There are 192 in total, too many to photograph without help from the Bear and his monopod. I'll have him help me take some good overhead shots of the finished blanket. For now, I think these photos give a good idea of the color palette and the general tone.

I'm using Solstrikke's Flowers in the Snow pattern for both the circles themselves and her joining method, which creates a really beautiful, lacy effect between the circles. Solveig's tutorial is really good and I'm impressed that she provides an English version in addition to the original Norwegian one. I recommend her pattern highly. I had my eye on this blanket for a couple of years before I started making my own. I had seen it on Ravelry and fell in love with it. It seemed much too complicated for me and I held off trying it out until this winter, when I finally felt like I could tackle it. I'd made flowery circles before, when I made my cushion cover last spring, and I'd enjoyed working on them. I was a little wary about all the weaving-in I'd have to do for a blanket made from them, though. This blanket is for my GB. I'd never crocheted a blanket expressly for her before. But I wanted it to be special when I did, and I think this one should fill that bill nicely. It's a grown-up blanket, fancy and intricate. Every circle is different.

I stored my circles in these two shoeboxes as I finished them. I had mentioned this in a previous post about this blanket; I really liked having them in the shoeboxes because it made it easy to see the colors of the outer rounds as I worked. Then I could make more with a given color if needed. Plus it kept them all contained; I had previously stored granny squares in shopping bags on the floor around my desk. This was messy and disorganized, and people were kicking my bags and stepping all over the squares. Not so this time; I kept the boxes on the top shelf of the bookcase next to my desk and they were safe and tidy up there. I have limited space for crafting but I'm getting the hang of keeping my supplies organized and accessible.

The circles will be randomly placed in the blanket, for the most part, but I did try to keep the colors spread out a bit. I didn't want too much of one color to sort of pool in a small area of the blanket. I laid them all out on the floor and moved them around accordingly. The blanket is made up of 192 squares, arranged 12 by 16. To keep them in order the way I wanted them, I picked up each row of 12 and threaded a piece of yarn through the centers of the circles, tying it in a bow. Then I put a numbered Post-It note on each bundle, folding the note to make a tag. I put all the bundles back into the shoeboxes in numerical order. This might seem obsessive, but it helps me keep some order. Hey, I gotta be me.

I've only just started joining them. I really like Solveig's join-as-you-go method. I had very little prior experience with JAYG, but I like it a lot. I have had some trouble with joining squares before; the crochet- and sew-together methods I've tried left the finished pieces rather lumpy and stiff. I like this joining method because it looks light and open, and the joins are lying nice and flat. I actually did some frogging when I first began the joining process. The yarn I had initially opted to use, Lion Brand Baby Soft in White, didn't work well. It was too thin, light and fluffy. It was looking sort of raggedy to me. The circles are made mostly from Stylecraft Special DK, which is quite a bit stiffer and sturdier than this other yarn. I decided not to use it. I frogged the few joins I'd done and started over with Stylecraft in White. I had three balls, which is about half the total I'll need. I ordered some more from Wool Warehouse and it should be here soon. (I'm still wishing we could buy this yarn more easily in the US. It makes a wonderful blanket).

I'm really enjoying this blanket. I did the bulk of the work over the past couple of months, making more than half the circles in that time. But I've got nearly six months' work into it all together now and it has been a pleasure to make. I look forward to giving it to my little girl. I've even been thinking that I might gift it to her sooner than I'd planned; the joining is going so quickly now that I may give it to her for her birthday in early fall instead of Christmas, as I'd been thinking before. Then she can use it sooner too, as the weather begins to cool down. I plan to keep it on her bed, folded at the foot and pulled up at night as necessary. I'm in no hurry, though; I like seeing this blanket come together. I've learned to savor my projects more lately. The really fiddly part of this project - the tri-colored circles - is past now. The joining is rhythmic and rather soothing, I think. I have loved working on it when my GB is around because she watches carefully and makes lots of observations. She has always made me want to heap pretty things on her. It's one of my favorite things about my daughter; she's like a muse to me. She motivates me to learn and create.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


I'm feeling a lot better these past few days. I was in a funk for a little while, feeling bored, anxious, restless, kind of weepy. Then I spent time with some new babies and that really put me over the edge. My life actually depends on never doing that again, but my heart doesn't care. I felt weird physically too; I had the most aggravated, itchy kind of feeling, like my skin was too tight. Nothing was going particularly well. Even blogging felt wrong. Blogging is strange when I don't feel like myself; I like to be authentic, but not a downer. I'm sorry if I was. Thanks for bearing with me.

The stars aligned and life perked up. I spent time with a friend. I painted my nails. I heard news of a remarkable second-chance romantic relationship. I spent a restorative Sunday afternoon puttering alone in the kitchen, roasting a chicken and winging a peach cobbler. It worked. I wrote it down to try again another time. I'm feeling better about summer vacation. Kids get bored too. They don't mean to distract me, they just love my undivided attention. I'm lucky to be able to give it to them freely. I have been crocheting every day, while we listen to our audiobooks, and guess what! My flowery circles are done. Yep, I've made all 192 of them. I finished them yesterday. In early June, once I'd made half the circles, I decided to make four of them each day. That made it all seem very manageable...and now for the joining.

I've also been enjoying evenings in the backyard with the Bear after the children have gone to bed. We do it often, weather-permitting. The sun is setting, there is often a nice breeze and it's not too hot. We sit on the patio and talk, usually letting the hens free-range around the yard. We pick them up for a cuddle, but mostly they just waddle around, eating apples and leaves, chatting and squawking. I think they get a little overwhelmed by the small Bears when we let them out during the day, so it's nice to see them exploring in a more relaxed way in the evenings. It cracks me up to see them standing on the lowered end of the see-saw, or standing atop a riding toy. I also like to do a little pruning and plant-inspection in the evenings; it's cooler and I can concentrate on the task a little better.

The Bear made me a little shepherd's crook for the back planter bed. I had a garden decoration with copper bells and glass beads that I wanted to display but couldn't find the right kind of stake to put in the ground. We were at Lowe's recently and he suggested buying a thin metal rod that he could bend for me. He painted it with black spray paint left over from the gate we painted this spring. It cost about $2 to make and it's exactly what I wanted. I'm so proud of him. He can do basically anything. I admire my new crook ten times a day. I often discuss my own crafting and how it makes our house a home, but he makes things too, and his making is just as important to our home life as mine is.

Now, about that peach cobbler, which made me quite happy this week...

Peach Cobbler, my way

3 large very ripe peaches, sliced thinly
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Place peach slices in greased 8-inch baking dish. In a bowl, combine remaining ingredients to make a thick batter. Pour or spoon over peach slices, spread with a spoon or offset spatula to cover fruit. Sprinkle batter with about two tablespoons sugar. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 40 minutes until topping is brown. Serve warm.
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