In the Wild With Jackie: The Painted Ladies Are Here

Editor's note: This is the first monthly column by the newest addition to our columnist lineup. Jackie Johansen's "In the Wild With Jackie" column will focus on wildlife found in the Menifee area.

By Jackie Johansen

If you have been out for a walk lately, or even had to clean your windshield, you have likely encountered lots of butterflies!

While winter didn’t really come to Menifee this year, spring is definitely here. Among the blossoms you will likely find lots of Painted Ladies, a delightful orange and black butterfly.

Painted ladies start out as an egg, usually on the underside of leaves. In their larval stage, they look like tiny ants, and eventually grow to the size of a 1 ½ inches. After four molts, and forming a chrysalis, this butterfly is ready to emerge.

But be warned: Just before hatching, the chrysalis can move wildly. This jiggling motion might make you jump, just like it is supposed to. The motion is meant to scare predators away from this otherwise tasty snack.

You are likely in for a good laugh if you watch a child try to catch one of these. The painted lady doesn’t fly very straight. In fact, their flying behavior has been described as a “cork screw.”

This beautiful butterfly is a helpful pollinator to our area, and is likely benefitting your garden, because it mostly feeds on weeds, like thistle. It also has a migration route from California to Mexico in some years.

Many scientists have hypothesized that their migration pattern is tied to El Nino weather patterns, when the deserts have more water and flowers. During this “irruptive migration,” an irregular migration that isn’t tied to any known environmental cues, this butterfly can travel up to 100 miles per day, and has been clocked at speeds of 30 miles per hour. This helps explain the windshield mess!

The painted lady is the most widely dispersed butterfly on the planet, and are most often found in Riverside County from July to October. It is a popular choice for science projects, and for home-hatching fun! Next time you see this little lady, take note. She won’t be around long!

What animals or plants have piqued your curiosity in Menifee lately?

Jackie Johansen loves everything outdoors and spending time with her husband and kids. She teaches high school biology for Julian Charter School and holds degrees in zoology, conservation biology, education, and technology. Her "In the Wild" column will appear here once a month.

Menifee Mom: It's Time to Just Get Out There and Run

By Karen Thomas

Winter is officially over (well, what was supposed to be winter, anyway!) and race season is in full swing.

I used to think that races were for runners who had a natural ability, were fast, and trained hard all the time. But I've learned that most of the participants are average people, often moms like me, who started running to get in shape.

I signed up for my first race because I had a group of friends who were going to train for it and it was the perfect opportunity to cross something off of my bucket list. At the time, my only goal was to complete the race. I never thought it would turn into a hobby. But once I got through the pain (yes, I will admit to some pain) of training and experienced the thrill of crossing the finish line, I could only think about how much I wanted to do it again!

Yes, running is a bit addicting.

It's now been almost two years since my first race. While squeezing in runs during the week and waking up early on Saturday to get a long run in before a busy day with the kids can be difficult, I continue to do it. Let me share with you why I run and why, if you have any desire to be a runner, you should give it a try.

1. It's Convenient and It's Free: Well, not completely free. You do need a decent pair of running shoes and if you sign up for races, there are entry fees. However, there is no gym membership to pay for, no driving to the gym, and no limitations as to where or when you can run. Just step out your door and get going! In just 30 minutes, you can be done with a great workout.

2. You Get Time to Yourself: I love to listen to fun music while I run, but I also will turn on podcasts that let me think or inspire me. Sometimes I just leave the headphones off and use the time to sort out my thoughts. With our busy lives, we all need some time to do just that.

3. I Have More Energy: OK, there are times I come home just dead tired. But most of the time my days are way more productive when I start with a run. It just gets me moving and often the momentum gets carried throughout the rest of the day. Plus, being in better shape gives you more energy.

4. A Sense of Achievement: I think the hardest part of being a mom is feeling like you never accomplish anything. You finish the laundry only to turn around and see the baskets filling up again. The dishes never end, there is always food to be prepared, and there are always messes to clean up. But with running I can set goals, track my progress, and when a race is over I can feel like I actually achieved something tangible. Yes, motherhood is rewarding in more ways than I can count, but sometimes a mom just needs something she can accomplish that is hers alone and completely within her control.

5. Social Time: OK, so this contradicts reason No. 2 a bit, but I also love to run with friends. Short runs are generally time for myself, but the best part of a long run is being with friends. It's great to get together with other moms and solve all of life's problems while completing a 10-mile run. I really could have used this when my kids were all little!

Despite the true enjoyment I now find in running, the thing that really keeps me motivated are races. Once I'm signed up, my training takes on new meaning.

So find a race that interests you (a nightime glow race, a mud run, a color run, an obstacle race, or even just an ordinary 5K or half marathon; a quick Internet search will yield tons of options), con a friend into signing up with you, and get going! If you want to stay really close to home, the city of Menifee hosts a 5K and half marathon in May as well as an annual Veteran's day race.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and run!

Karen Thomas is a stay at home mom of four daughters, has been on the PTA board at her kids' school for four years, and is a volunteer at her church, in addition to her activities as a volunteer soccer referee, a piano teacher, and a runner. Her column will appear here every other week. Comments are welcome.

Menifee Foodie: Great Ideas Come From Great Food Blogs

By Malissa Meeks

We are so fortunate to live in the age of computers. There is a fountain of knowledge at your fingertips. You Tube, recipe web sites and food blogs are all so valuable in our continuing quest to be the best foodie we can be.

One of my favorites is Six Sisters. Since I have six daughters, I was of course drawn to this site. Six Sisters was created as a way for six sisters to stay in contact with each other and share ideas and recipes. These awesome ladies actually have a best selling cookbook out entitled Six Sisters. They have recipes for just about anything you are looking for.

One of the things I like about their site is the organization. They have the recipes indexed by type and this makes it so easy to find just what you are looking for. Their recipes are easy to follow and I have been very pleased with just about everything I have made from their recipe file. They can be found at

Another blog I have recently been introduced to is Fire and Spice. Sisters who just happen to be twins write this blog. They are from a very large family and are both busy moms so they keep nutrition and time saving in mind.

These sisters are very health conscious and wanted to share recipes that they have both created and tried that put a healthier meal on the table. A couple of my favorites are the Cilantro Lime Chicken Enchiladas and the Skinny Slow Cooker Taco Soup. On their blog they list some of their favorite foodie blogs, which are also a great resource. They can be located at

Once you get into the foodie blogosphere, it is almost addicting. There are so many great ideas and recipes out there and they are all at your fingertips. Mix things up. Make a new recipe every week that you have never made before. It is so much fun to get out of your rut and do something different.

If you have a favorite blog that you would like to share with our readers, leave a comment. We would love to explore your blogs.

Malissa Meeks is a mother of seven who knows her way around the kitchen. By her estimate, she has prepared more than 42,000 meals over the years. She also knows what she likes in a good restaurant. Her column appears here every other week. Leave comments here or email them to

Man About Menifee: These Boy Scouts Need Your Help

By David Baker

Frequent readers of my columns will know that I have written about a wide variety of topics, ranging from helpful how-tos to announcements of community events.

One thing that has always impressed me about the community of Menifee and the surrounding areas is the sense of fellowship and outpouring of support that tends to occur during times of hardship.

I've seen it with members of our community that have fallen ill or become injured. We all saw it in each other during the Terry Smith Jr. case. I've witnessed instances of extreme giving associated with the Menifee Christmas Dinner.

I suppose this is why news stories like this one about the theft of a scout trailer surprise me that much more:

For those who haven't heard, the Boy Scouts of Troop 332 from Wildomar showed up for their weekly Tuesday night meeting and discovered their toy hauler with all of their camping gear had been stolen.

Apparently, the trailer was parked in front of the local VFW post and the last time anybody remembered seeing it was Friday night.

When I read about this crime, I had the same reaction a lot of you probably did. That reaction was to ask myself, "How desperate does someone need to be to steal from the Boy Scouts?" I suppose the answer is in the question, because it would have to be somebody who is incredibly desperate.

However, knowing the nature of my friends and neighbors here in Menifee, I suspect that many of you will turn this negative into a positive by a show of support for these boys. Hopefully we can show them that there are good people of the world, too.

I am still trying to get contact information for the scoutmaster or committee chairperson of this Troop. If anyone has this information or if anyone knows about an organized effort to help these boys restock supplies, please post a comment below or send me an email at

I certainly intend to do everything I can to help out. And of course if you have any information that will help the police catch the criminals, or recover any of the gear, please contact Investigator Cornett at 951-245-3357, or by email at

David Baker, our Man About Menifee, writes about his adventures in and around town every other Friday in this space. You may leave comments for him here or email him at

Menifee Foodie: Breakfast House Gets High Marks

By Malissa Meeks

I don’t go out to breakfast very often, but when I do, I know where I will be headed.

One recent morning I went to The Breakfast House Los Tejabanes, located at 27701 Scott Road in Menifee. Let me just say it was delightful.

We were greeted immediately upon arriving by a very friendly hostess. We were seated and our waiter came out immediately with a cinnamon coated flour tortilla as a treat to snack on while we decided what we would order.

The menu has something for everyone. The breakfast menu offered everything from steak to grits, and this Southern girl was excited to see grits on the menu.

The restaurant was very clean and welcoming. There were booths as well as tables with fresh linen on them. The music was at the right volume where it was easy to have a conversation at your table and be able to hear everyone. The kitchen is well partitioned off so you are not hearing a lot of kitchen noise. They have an area for larger groups and can accommodate between 13 and 20 in a larger group setting.

I ordered the corned beef scramble bowl. The bowl came with a choice of toast or biscuits and gravy. I, of course, chose the biscuits and gravy. The bowl contained corned beef, cubed potatoes, bell pepper, onion, cheese, and scrambled eggs and was topped with an adequate amount of cheese. It was delicious. It was almost like a homemade corned beef hash but one step better with the added ingredients.

The menu also includes lunch and dinner with a very large variety of choices. I am eager to try some of their dinner choices.

They have daily specials, which are displayed on a board when you enter the restaurant. Check out their website for their specials at Some of the specials include Taco Tuesday, which they also have on Thursday. Street Tacos are only 99 cents and Fish or Shrimp Tacos are only $1.99. Wednesday’s kids eat free with the purchase of an adult entrĂ©e. Monday through Friday they have a breakfast special from 6-8 a.m. This includes two pancakes, one egg and bacon or sausage for $2.99.

They have a children’s menu and offer a 10 percent military discount.

I highly recommend The Breakfast House Los Tejabanes. I give this restaurant five out or five spoons.

Malissa Meeks is a mother of seven who knows her way around the kitchen. By her estimate, she has prepared more than 42,000 meals over the years. She also knows what she likes in a good restaurant. Her column appears here every other week. Leave comments here or email them to

Menifee Mom: High School Years Have Finally Arrived

By Karen Thomas

Last week, my husband and I had the opportunity to take our daughter to high school orientation. It was the first time we had set foot in a high school since our own high school days. It was both nostalgic and terrifying at the same time!

When you have four daughters, you get comments all the time about how hard it is going to be when they are all teenagers. After previewing the world of high school, I've realized that those years are now upon us.

We met up with some of her friends and their parents as we arrived at the gym and took our places in the bleachers. The orientation basically consisted of performances by several of the clubs in the school. The marching band played a fight song while the cheerleaders led a cheer. We also were entertained by the color guard, a Polynesian dance club, another dance club, NJROTC, robotics club, and the drama club.

It was great to see the variety of activities and sports our kids can be involved in while navigating their way through high school. But at the same time, it was a wake-up call to the fact that these kids are growing up. In just four years, they will pretty much be adults and ready to live on their own at college.

As I watched the girls look on at the world that awaits them, I noticed that they were feeling a bit shocked and overwhelmed as well. There was definitely a different feeling being among high school students.

Seeing their apprehension brought me a bit of comfort. It was kind of like that day when you drop off your kindergartner at their first day of school. You don't want them to be clingy and cry, but at the same time it's nice when they feel a little unsure about taking that next step in life. It's nice to know that as much as she tries to convince you otherwise, your child really isn't in a hurry to grow up.

The girls were interested in many sports and activities and we enjoyed seeing them visit the different stations set up where they could sign an interest list. It was fun to see them get excited as they started shaping their high school years. I was pleased to see that they were looking at both things that would be fun and things that would lead them toward academic success.

As parents, we joked with our kids about how they should choose something like NJROTC, where they are fully clothed and get to throw guns around. (A good way to avoid sending the wrong messages to hormonal boys! Yes, I'm not ready to have a daughter in high school.)

As scary as it is, I know that high school will be a great experience for our daughter. Over these next four years, she will grow into the kind of person she'll be as an adult. So as much as I want her to stay my little girl, I know that she has to grow up. It's my job to encourage her to try new things and guide her as she navigates these new waters so that someday when she's the mom, she can look back at her own high school years with good memories and not regret.

Karen Thomas is a stay at home mom of four daughters, has been on the PTA board at her kids' school for four years, and is a volunteer at her church, in addition to her activities as a volunteer soccer referee, a piano teacher, and a runner. Her column will appear here every other Thursday. Comments are welcome.