31 December 2009

Just in time for the New Year...

All three colors are up on the garage! It's a milestone, and positive confirmation that we like the look. Our house will blend right into the canyon.

Now we carry on into the New Year, planning to invest our care into every inch of our dwelling.

May the coming New Year bring you joy, love and peace.

30 December 2009

House Blessing

Don't you love the idea of blessing a place? I try to hold that intention for every room I enter, and sometimes for retail stores too, if my head is in the right place. I breathe deeply and send my wish for the space and the people in it to be filled with the energy of love, lightness, and creativity.

I picked up a mosaic "house charm" at the Seattle Flower and Garden Show about 10 years ago. The artist painted and fired the tiles herself, then strategically broke them to be reset into this richly colored design. I'm moved by the power of her intention. She knew just what colors and images (lively asparagus and a beautiful tulip) would be perfect for blessing a gardener's home. The handwritten tag says: Hang in an entryway, kitchen, bathroom... anywhere you want to bless or greet.

And now the house charm is blessing this space in the blogosphere. I'm glad you dropped by. Please visit often in the coming year and I'll try to share fresh ideas every few days.

28 December 2009

Holiday Cheer

My husband whipped up the most delicious vegan eggnog for Christmas. It was roughly 2 cups coconut milk (the kind in the carton, which is lighter than canned), blended with 2/3 of a package of silken tofu, maple syrup and agave to taste, and topped with a sprinkle of nutmeg. Frothy and satisfying, and so pretty in my rose champagne/dessert glasses...a gift from my mom.

And this is the lone remaining gingerbread heart, made from a simple oil-free recipe:

Gingerbread Cookies

1/2 cup organic sugar
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
pinch sea salt
1/3 cup blackstrap molasses
1/3 cup almond milk
2 1/4 cups whole spelt flour

In large bowl, combine sugar, spices and soda. Add molasses and almond milk and mix well. Add one cup of flour and mix well, then work in the remaining flour a little at a time to make a stiff dough. Roll out dough between sheets of waxed paper, using some flour above and below because the molasses is very sticky. Cut out with cookie cutter and bake on parchment-lined cookie sheet at 275 degrees for about 20 minutes, until the edges are dry.

25 December 2009


A tiny cosmos flower opened its petals this Christmas morning, next to the brussels sprouts, spinach and emerging red kale. With it's return to the garden I feel a sense of renewal and well being. Spanish priests grew cosmos in their mission gardens in Mexico. The evenly placed petals led them to christen the flower "Cosmos" the Greek word for harmony or ordered universe.

May I be peaceful, happy and light, in body and in spirit.
May you be peaceful, happy and light, in body and in spirit.
May all beings everywhere be peaceful, happy and light, in body and in spirit.

23 December 2009

Painting Begins

On the Eve of Christmas Eve...painting begins.

20 December 2009

Bike Cargo

For those of you wondering, how does a family of two do all their grocery shopping without using a car? The answer is: a very resourceful husband! I like the way he threaded his bike lock through the TP for secure side-loading. And notice how the lock winds it's way around the blue corn chips (top bag) to protect the more delicate cargo. Not a chip was broken.

When I was in Vietnam last year, I saw impressive loads being carried by bike, like this one at the Hanoi farmer's market. The shot I missed (we were always zipping by in a cab) was the guy selling goldfish, dozens of goldfish in individual water filled plastic bags, suspended from poles on either side of his bike. Just your basic roadside retail store.

My visit to Vietnam ended in lovely and peaceful Hoi An where French influence shines through.

18 December 2009

Clear View

The bars are coming off the windows. Between those iron bars and the nearly 100-year-old screens, it's a wonder we had any view of the canyon at all! Next week we'll be power washing the front and beginning to paint...

The light is streaming in. Already, it feels positively expansive.

15 December 2009

Orange Love

The tangerines are happy in our garden this morning. We're juicing a lot of Valencia oranges too. Everything is thriving, now that the rains have moved through and the sun is back to give them life.

And the excellent little "Juic It" workhorse carries on...

When I was living in the Pacific Northwest, working full time in Telecommunications, leading sustainability discussion groups, and beginning the life of a creative freelancer... I wanted to find a business name that would fit whatever direction I might stretch into. I like to write. I enjoy working with my voice. I'm thoroughly fascinated by the art of letterpress and hand-bound books. I like to work with beads and wire. At the time, I was into arranging flowers from the garden and even did a semi-commercial Mother's Day floral operation one year.

I took my inspiration from a pottery business called Butter Bean. Something with a wonderful scent and great graphic possibilities would be a nice naming direction, I thought to myself. I considered Vanilla Bean, Pomegranate, Persimmon... all lovely and calling up rich images from the natural world. I settled on Sweet Orange Productions back in 1998, with not an orange tree in sight!

Maybe it was a premonition, maybe it was an intention forming, maybe it was California calling me home, but I could not have fully imagined that I would now be living in Southern California, blissfully married and growing citrus in my own garden at the edge of a canyon, behind our 1915 Craftsman Bungalow. Home Sweet Orange.

12 December 2009

Vegan Pantry - Spork

I subscribe to VegNews magazine and love the positive energy being generated there. Even though there are a lot of packaged products on those stylish pages, I've also found some of my new favorite recipes and always look forward to reading Dan Piraro's take on the world. This video from Spork Foods (click here) is the cutest, created by two young sisters on veganizing your kitchen pantry.

Soon, I'll have the skills to actually paste a video into this blog, but for today...a link will do!

I baked banana nut muffins and more of these delicious chocolate shortbread cookies this morning!

Enjoy the weekend!

10 December 2009

it's all art

I've been thinking lately about the importance of art and how many pathways there are for authentic personal expression.

Something from Buddhadharma's winter issue, attributed to Dogen and expanded through commentary, says this:

"We should reflect on our one-sided way of seeing and investigate ways of expanding our vision and experience of the world around us. [...] A good portion of Western art produced over the last thousand years is overtly religious in content. It expresses the artist's sense of the divine. It is, in fact, possible to say that all serious art is, in some sense, an attempt to articulate the ineffable. Taking this further, we can say that everything we do is part of that artistic expression. Liturgy is artistic expression. Oryoki [Japanese Zen ceremony], the formal taking of a meal, is artistic expression."

My friend Sharon often says that dancing, healing arts, and creative arts are all part of the same flow. I have to agree. When we live mindfully and with intention, everything we do can be an expression of our divine nature.

09 December 2009


Last night I went to a gathering of beautiful and well-intentioned people who get together to mingle and network to support each other in the business world. It was a sparkly holiday party at a swank private "lounge" downtown. It was challenging for me to be fully present, even though I know that as a creative freelancer, networking is very important. I have a handful of solid clients and a steady flow of work but logic tells me that I should be developing potential business more broadly.

Most of my professional connections are with fairly large companies and my recordings are one component of the more complex product they sell. Seeking more clients like these is the perfect focus for long term contract work, but why turn away from the person-to-person possibilities? I have recorded a single script, or a short list of voicemail recordings for small business in the past and enjoyed these projects very much.

I'm going to focus some of my planning energy on the single project client...how to communicate clearly all the ways a professional voice might be valuable, even when the project is a little one.

07 December 2009

Happy Birthday Raven!

We love you very much, and hope you're having a fantastic day!

northwest nostalgia

It's pouring rain in San Diego this morning. Sitting inside, decked out in layers of fleece, looking out at the gray skies, it's all very reminiscent of Portland...EXCEPT that I just checked the internet and it's 20-something-degrees up there! I had no idea! I can't even remember how I coped under those conditions.

On NPR this morning there was a nice story about a cargo bike manufacturing operation in NE Portland. The American League of Cyclists was quoted "Sometimes we take the love affair with the car, that we think we have, to a bit of an extreme. We really have a love affair with the quickest, easiest, most convenient way of getting around." Well said. We take more of a Vietnamese approach to carting around groceries and such, strapping it on and piling it high. I do love the cargo bike idea though, allowing people to safely carry their surfboards to the beach, and their children to daycare without the tow behind Burley-type trailer. I'd like being able to see my precious cargo in the front loaded position.

But I digress. There is something to be said for having winter weather that asks you to slow down, get cozy inside, and do some baking. Today I made chocolate shortbread cookies from the Innocent Primate blog. Yum.

06 December 2009

my yoga teacher is an angel

I find more and more that I meet angels on my path. Sometimes you'll just go to a yoga workshop and someone will walk through the door with a special glow...a combination of sparkle and humility...a grounded quality and a big, bright spirit. Then you'll be shopping for natural body care things at your neighborhood boutique, and there she is again...saying do you take yoga at our center? And before you know it, you have a new yoga class and a wonderful new teacher who is both young and fresh, and sharing something so much bigger...an eternal, beautiful, encouraging energy. The room is filled with Love and you know what is means to "be the change."

apple-hemp muffins

I've tried this recipe a few ways, depending on what's in stock in the kitchen. Today I used all oat bran where the original recipe called for oat flour and it may be the best yet! They have loads of fiber and protein, no dairy or eggs, and only natural sweetening. My husband is working through a cold bug today and they made him smile.

To make the applesauce, I peel, core and cube two apples and simmer them in a shallow pan with a little water until they are soft. Use a potato masher to make them into applesauce. The beauty of this method is that small chunks of apple will be here and there in the finished muffins.

To make your own plain almond milk, soak 1 cup of raw, organic almonds in water overnight. Drain, rinse and blend with 4 cups of fresh filtered water until almonds are ground fine. Strain out the almonds, using a fine mesh sieve. You can compost the spent almonds. I keep a quart of this milk going at all times, so I always have some ready for granola or chai.

Apple-Hemp Muffins...makes 12

1 1/2 cups whole spelt flour
1 cup oat bran
1/2 cup shelled hemp seeds
2 teaspoons non-aluminum baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup plain almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons almond oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with paper cupcake liners. In a large bowl, mix together flour, oat bran, hemp seeds, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom until well combined.

In another bowl, combine applesauce, maple syrup, plain almond milk, vanilla, almond oil and salt. Add dry mixture to the wet and gently mix until just combined.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

04 December 2009


What a lovely morning on the tennis court! There are days when the weather is perfect and everyone is energized and playing smart...today was one of those days. I'm so grateful to have put in years of lessons and league competition so that I always have tennis to come back to. When I moved to San Diego, I gave all my tennis clothes and my ball hopper to Goodwill. I hadn't played in years. I did keep my racquet and the bag I won in the annual tournament in Oregon City. Good thing, because I'm back on the court, playing twice a week again.

There are many blessings here in San Diego. One is being able to play outdoors virtually any day of the year. And having a community to play with is wonderful.

03 December 2009

gathering rainwater

Today there's a lot of hammering and jolting going on up on the roof. It's a necessary step to get to an excellent rainwater harvesting system. First was the termite treatment. We chose the least toxic method that would still give us pretty good longevity. I think having a wooden house in Southern California is a shaky proposition, but we love our site on the canyon, and will do what we can to preserve it and use it for highest good.

Once we get the spongy wooden parts replaced and the roofing secure, we'll install new gutters that channel water into the garden and some kind of cistern for water storage. Then the painting begins. After much deliberation, we found a color scheme we like. It's more saturated than a Palo Verde tree, but has the same range of colors. It will remind us of our Thanksgiving camping trip to Baja.

Here's the palette...