missing our oregon friends

•November 20, 2010 • Leave a Comment

We are off on a new adventure now, having a fabulous time in southern California.  Although I am really enjoying the sun and warmth in the high dessert climate here, it really does make me appreciate the lush green of Oregon.  We are also very much missing our dear Oregon friends.  We had some busy last months in Oregon, cobbing away,

apparently cob doesn’t taste so good.

We got in one last trip to the river with our friends.

Oliver and I helped Thomas and Kalenna celebrate their big day by baking this cake. I was amazed that it actually turned out, couldn’t have done it without Oliver’s help.  I can’t wait to find an excuse to make another one!

And of course we squeezed in as much blueberry picking as possible, and are well stocked with canned blueberry sauce for the winter.

In the midst of all that fun I endured endless amounts of packing, thank goodness that is over. After a full month of ten to twelve hours of sleep each night I think I have finally recovered from the stress of our move.  I can’t wait to post some pictures of our temporary home in Santa Barbara County.  Hopefully I will stop falling asleep with the kids and find some time to edit my photos.


katie’s cob sauna

•August 11, 2010 • 1 Comment

I’ve been having great fun working with a couple good friends this summer to design an infrared heated cob sauna.  It is actually more than just a sauna, it will also serve as a play space, or a quiet place to sit and knit.  I’m really excited to see how it turns out, and so far it has been wonderful collaborating with other families on the project.

Here is the site where the cob sauna will sit.  We chose this site because it is close to the house, so it will be easy to bring electricity over to power the infrared lights.  It was also important to us to make the design passive solar.  We oriented the sauna to the south in a location that was free from major obstructions that might block the sun’s rays.  This way the winter sun will shine into the sauna and soak into the earthen floor and cob walls and create a cozy little hangout.

Here is our little work crew getting into the project.  I was really impressed by how interested the boys were in the process.  They wanted to understand the how’s and why’s of everything, it was great.  And they actually really did help out with the job, even if it was in small spurts.

Our trench is starting to take shape.

Esme, taking precise measurements.  She occupied herself in a washtub filled with water nearby, so she was naked most of the weekend.

Scrambling around in the trench was great fun for the boys, they were oh so dirty!

Now we have lined the trench with an old worn out tarp and filled it with gravel.  After we filled the trench and tamped it down we folded the tarp over the top.  This will hopefully filter out the soil as any rain water moves through the trench and away from the sauna.

By the end of the three day work party we had a nice start on our rock stem wall.  We will add a couple more courses of rock, continue harvesting our materials, and start cobbing at the end of August.  We are all looking forward to that part.

wedding pottery

•July 26, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The big day is almost here.  My sister gets married in Mexico in less than a week!  Since we couldn’t be there I wanted to do something special for her.  I made these little bud vases for her to use as her table decorations and for her guests to take home as favors.  Considering I haven’t made any ceramics in over five years, I would say the project was successful.  Esme “helped” me glaze them.  I had less than an hour to glaze them and then drive them back to the kiln, so no choice but to do it with her.  It was an interesting experience.  The main goal was to get them glazed and away from her as quickly as possible.  She left a few fingerprint and smudges in the pots, we will just call those memories, how sweet.

cobbing in coquille

•July 26, 2010 • Leave a Comment

After our visit in sunny California last month, we headed to The Cob Cottage Co., near the coast in Coquille, Oregon.  What a difference in climate.  It is so lush and beautiful, the land dripping with moss and ferns.  But, wow, I wish we would’ve packed our winter coats.  I often layered myself in almost every sweater I brought.  We did enjoy some warm sunny afternoons, though, especially nice for mixing up a batch of cob.

It was such a gift to be able to participate in this workshop.  Pablo, in his unending generosity, hung out with the kids while I cobbed away.  I learned so much from our very talented teachers, Max and Eva.  It was a joy to spend the week with them.  I’m discovering that, for me, one the best parts about cob is the relationships you make during cob building process.

We built arches and garden walls.

Here are some folks using earth plaster to put the finishing touches on the fireplace.

I was inspired by the talent in the group.  Here is some of the art that graced the garden wall.

But I think the most inspirational part of the week was the children’s fort that the young adults, teens, and children, built together.  Wow, what a special get away!  I love the fern roof.

Some of the youngest members of the building crew.

And I can’t forget to mention that Oliver lost his first tooth!

visiting ananda

•June 19, 2010 • Leave a Comment

We were recently blessed with the amazing opportunity to visit the Ananda Village, just outside of Nevada City, California.  This gorgeous 900 acre community is nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada’s.  Pablo has been working there for the past few weeks, helping our new friends Lalaan and Timothy renovate their home.  I took the train down with the kids to meet him this past week, and we spent a magical time together enjoying the warm sun and making many wonderful new friends.  The community is dedicated to a life devoted to Kriya yoga and meditation.  It was such a rejuvenating experience to be able to join in on the daily energizing exercises, yoga postures, and group meditations.  These pictures can not really express the true beauty of the community.

Downtown Ananda, our main hangout spot for the week.  There was a cute little market and a great park that the kids really enjoyed.

The Hansa temple, where community members mediate and practice Kriya yoga together.

Jenny the donkey, she keeps the goats and chickens safe from the mountain lions.  Spending time with the goats was so much fun.

The people were so warm and welcoming, the children were thriving, and the food was delicious.  It was quite a heart opening experience to see what community life might be like when people are devoted to focusing their efforts on their inner spiritual growth, living in cooperation with each other, and bringing these practices into everyday life with children to raise, households to run, and jobs to do.  We have been wanting to visit this community for some time now.  We can’t wait to go back.  Without a doubt it is everything we have been searching for.  A place to raise our family and create a life of balance that nurtures our mental, emotional, and spiritual growth.  It also leaves me feeling inspired to use my talents to serve in the community, perhaps finding a small way to contribute to their beautiful way of life.

esme turns two

•June 16, 2010 • Leave a Comment

We had lovely little party for Esme’s 2nd birthday last month.  She adores her new baby doll, and very much enjoyed her first cupcake, although I don’t think she made it past the icing.

This one isn’t one of Oliver’s favorites, but I couldn’t resist!

Oliver loves playing basketball these days, check out his moves.

As you can see, we are all really enjoying the summer.  Can’t believe how fast time seems to fly once the weather gets nice and sunny.

building a tiny house

•May 12, 2010 • 1 Comment

Right now we are stuck in a life that demands more than we have to give and requires us to spend lots of time away from each other.  As I have mentioned before, we are searching for ways to bring more balance to our lives.  We wish to change the way we live, so that we can spend more time together, be it working or playing, and to find a livelihood that we love, not one that we must recover from in our spare time.  Making the transition is proving to be quite a challenge.  But one solution that we have come up with to ease the burden, a little, is to build a tiny house.  Luckily there are already plenty of people paving the way and lots of resources for simple living. A couple of our favorites in the tiny house movement are Tiny Texas Houses and Tumbleweed Tiny Houses. Check out their work:

They are so cute.  They remind me of The Berenstain Bears vacation home in The Bears’ Vacation, such a funny book.  I can honestly say I am looking forward to living in a smaller home. Having lived in both big and small houses, I prefer small. They are way easier to keep tidy, you can’t accumulate as much stuff, and our kids play much more independently. I guess it’s because they know you can’t ever be too far away. Somethings that I don’t plan on sacrificing are good design and craftsmanship. It just feels good to live in a beautiful space.

We have been having lots of fun designing our tiny house.  The not so fun part is figuring out what to do with all the stuff we have accumulated in our lives.  So this is our summer project.  Our goal is to try and use as much salvaged and recycled materials as possible, and see how little we might be able to spend on such a project.  Naturally, we will build as green as possible and will do our best to avoid toxic, off-gassing substances. Of course this will not be a permanent living situation, only one that will give us the time and freedom to decide how and where we might create the beautiful green life we are seeking.