This is the story of our adventures -- every day and extraordinary; our dreams -- tiny and grand; our gardens -- ornamental and sustaining; this is the story of our journey.  We are a family of four living a mindful, simple life here in Los Angeles County.  We are green, conscious, and forward thinking.  We keep an eye on the past because some of the best things have already been done and bear repeating.  Walk and talk with us, have a glass of wine, taste a peach or a tomato, blow some bubbles and watch them drift up over the canyon ridge.  Enjoy!

Friday, November 21, 2008

TVG -- Home Photo Challenge -- Nov 21

Tonight, I am doing an ad!

iRobot, maker of the world acclaimed Scooba robot mopper, is pleased to announce the arrival of its latest model, the CINDERELLA!

Cinderella offers you identical results to those achieved with back breaking traditional mopping, but with the hands free convenience of all the Scooba and other iRobot products! Plus, Cinderella comes in a classic design that is sure to create a great impression if a neighbor stops by while "you" are cleaning your floors!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

TVG -- Home Photo Challenge -- Nov 20

One of our on-going home improvement projects involves landscaping our 1/3 acre, extremely steep and shady lot. We want to integrate it with our home and patios and decks, yet leave it integrated with the surroundings. While we aspire to leave it as a natural and open space, we also endeavor to make it a usable space, to be enjoyed by the whole family. I often say that we are trying to "tame" it, but only in the way one tames a cat -- you can get him to eat from a bowl and poop in a box and even curl up on a bed and sleep with you, but deep in his soul, he is still wild. That is what we want for our "gardens". Our foci have been three-fold: clear the dead, the fire hazards, the ugly (ivy); make paths and walls and terraces; and plant native plants that once established, will not require irrigation. Here you can see a variety of areas, some still under "construction", others near completion. All the beds are on drip irrigation that will be set on timers for minimal water use. I don't know the names of all the plants but I know there are manzanitas, coffee berries, red buds, live oaks, redwoods (all three kinds -- Dawn - which are decidious!, Sequoia, Coastal). Gregg has a Rhododendron glen with a water feature planned for the lowest area. I would also like to build a deck there, with a yurt to be used as guest quarters -- I'm thinking of an incinerating toilet and a hose for a shower/sink. I'd love to put in a treadmill pool but that's another post...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

TVG -- Home Photo Challenge -- Nov 19

The theme of this photo challenge is to take pictures in and around our home as if they were part of a magazine article -- decorating, DIY, cooking, family life, raising children...

Jenni's post for today was an awesome "how to" guide for organizing a medicine cabinet for the start of cold and flu season. I read her ideas on throwing out the old stuff, organizing things by ailment, seeing if you needed anything new... and thought, hmm, we don't have ANY of that stuff! Truth is, we almost never take OTC medicine. Or prescription medicine either, for that matter! The only things I like to have on hand are teething tablets and Hyland's cold remedy (which I think I left up at the cabin, so it needs to be replaced), sour cherries, aspirin, and Umcka cold remedy (which also needs to be replaced -- I took the last chewable today because I felt something coming on this morning), plus EO's of course.

So, inspired by Jenni here are pics of my medicine cabinets. I think they would go with an article on keeping your family healthy and clean with all, or mostly, natural products! Maybe later tonight I'll write the article -- complete with tips on using EO's! Maybe.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A different kind of CIO

Those of you who know my parenting philosophies know that we do not practice CIO (cry it out). I believe that babies cry because they NEED something and that a parent's role is to respond to that need. Now, that does not mean that when an almost 4-year old whines, "Just/one/more/Scooby/Doo!!!!" she is supposed to get it! She of course gets told, "We agreed on one." But true, genuine crying, in infants in particular, warrants attention.

That said, I do also believe that crying is sometimes a tool humans have to cope with the stresses and strains of life, a tool that should not be stifled. I try to never tell my children, "Don't cry!" That is different from my patented, "Hush down!" when they are screaming for more milk when I'm on the phone with the kitchen contractor. Anyway, back to my point about "Don't cry..." I want them to be able to experience their emotions as they happen, to let the feeling wash over them, to take over them. And I want them to be able to cry to let go. What adult has never buried her face in a pillow and just wailed, let it all out? Yet, when small children cry so often we comfort them, rocking them, saying, "Don't cry..."

Tonight Alex fell asleep just after dinner. And then Gregg went to bed an hour or so later. Greggie was WOUND UP! She was running and jumping and babbling and dancing and singing. I thought, you know what? She is TIRED! That is why she is acting so WILD! So I carried her in and turned the lights off. She laid in my arms on the bed and SCREAMED. I mean HOWLED. No words. Just primal expressions of... of... of what??? She was still as could be and just bellowing and sobbing. I just laid by her and let her let go. Let go of the frustrations of the day (of which I'm sure there are many -- the scratch on her neck because "Poodle pinched me" being just one), let go of the stresses of a 2-year old life. Within 5 minutes she was silent, sleeping. Calmly breathing, as peaceful as Walden Pond. That's a CIO I can get behind.

TVG -- Home Photo Challenge -- Nov 18

When we got back from the cruise and got the living room put back together (the new floor was installed while we were away), I packed up the Halloween decorations and put out the Thanksgiving stuff -- not much, a little simpler.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Baby Hands

This morning I lied in bed and held Gregorie's hand. Yes, still wonderfully plump and super soft. A baby hand. I don't know why this surprised me.

I remember, very clearly, one night when I lied down with them and held one hand in each of mine. And Greggie's was of course a baby hand. And Alex's just wasn't. The palm was leathered. The back was soft, but not baby soft. The whole thing just wasn't fleshy. I remember so distinctly lying there, thinking, "Oh, my gosh, when did she GROW UP???? When did she stop being my baby????" So, this morning, when I held Greggie's hand and it was still a baby hand, I was so relieved! I know that when I felt Alex's grown up hand she had to be older than Greggie is now. But still, I'll rue the day when that soft fleshy paw is mine no more.

Why does the passing time hurt so much some times??????

Thursday, November 13, 2008

If you build it they will come

On the ship we made friends with a great family. Alex fell in love with the older daughter, Jess. She is convinced that Jess is coming to visit. Last night, while I worked on my novel and Gregg and Gregorie slept, Alex cleaned up the office and made a bed, for Jess.

And Greggie talks all the time about Johanne, the younger daughter, and how she is coming to play! Those girls made an impression!

Today at the playground

The girls made friends with a couple sisters -- Brennan and Lilly!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Maybe Sheryl Crow can do it but I can't!

Yesterday I went to the bathroom in our powder room, off the kitchen. I started to pee when I realized there was no TP. Greggie was standing there watching me. I said, "Greggie, can you go in Mama's bathroom and get me some toilet paper?"

G: Okay Mama. No, I can't. It's dark in there!
M: Okay, go down the hall to other bathroom and get some.
G: I can't. It's dark down there too.
M: Greggie, PLEASE just go in Mama's bathroom. It's not THAT dark.
G: Okay, Mama. I can do it!

She comes back and hands me one single square of single ply Scott tissue. Thanks.

M: Greggie, can you PLEASE get Mama some more.
G: Okay, Mama. I can.

Ah, she then brought me 5 squares.

Thank you sweetie.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008



what's going on with us in words, not pictures...

i have a new niece, charlotte, born oct 29 (i think).

i miss my mommy and daddy terribly.

alex says, "poppy is feeling better. his boo boos are all gone now."

i hope she's right.

i think we have heat and hot water, finally. long story.

i love my new floors.

we MAY get new kitchen cabinets. finally. really long story. most of you know.

we're still picking lots of tomatoes and a few peppers. the onion starts got too much water and rotted. we'll start them again. i think the green beans are finally done.

it rained while we were away. a lot. that should handle the fire danger.

we have two raccoons living somewhere on our property. they eat the pet food we have to leave outside because of the ants inside. the cat had a bad battle. they were on the roof this morning - I thought it was raining until i heard them jump down, by the pet food. stella charged out...

the raccoons are silver and GORGEOUS.

greggie fell asleep at the dinner table tonight. silly girl.

Today's Play Date