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Bradbury and Bradbury Ceiling Paper

“Family love is messy, clinging, and of an annoying and repetitive pattern, like bad wallpaper.”  P. J. O’Rourke.

The other day, my daughter and I had a wonderful day together. She’s a senior in high school. It was a special day at school when the parents go to Liturgy, then the seniors are dismissed to spend the rest of the day with their parents. My husband couldn’t attend, since we are harvesting our grapes. She and I went to Barnes and Nobel, we are avid readers, and then went to eat. When we were eating she asked me “Do you miss our house in Oakland?” I answered…I miss the memories that we created. She told me that she missed the way the sun came into the front room, and the time we would spend in that room just reading together. We then remembered the Bradbury and Bradbury ceiling paper story that always makes us laugh. I believe it would make anyone laugh.

It took us years to get our house to be the gem that it was before we sold it. We had reconstruction done to our house, and that was so labor intensive for all of us. Then after the contractors went away, it was time for us to do all the finish work, and one of those projects was the ceiling paper for our living room. This would be the room where the family would gather for conversations and reading.

We ordered our Bradbury and Bradbury paper, and it doesn’t come precut, or at least at the time, it didn’t. You have to do all the trimming for the paper yourself or hire a professional. It is also paper that is hung using a clay. The paper sat in the large tubes until it was time for Roberto to take his winter vacation. The anticipation of the paper going on the ceiling was intense.

Roberto broke out several saw horses, and made himself a cutting space. After all that was done, he was ready for me to help him. He had two ladders, one for me at the back of the room, and his ladder was near the clay. The paper was folded according style as we gently put up section by section. I was in charge of holding it while he made sure all the bubbles were out of the paper. Success! We had the first section up, only 12 more to go. The first section took so long, and the kids were young, so they had questions to ask…which made the whole process seem longer.

We were on section 2, and I was holding the accordion piece with one hand and holding the paper with the other. Sabrina came into the living room, and told me something that was funny, but Roberto told me “Stop moving, you’re going to rip the expensive paper.” I told Sabrina, I would be in the family room once we finished this section. My arms were shaking from keeping them up in the air for so long. All the sudden, almost the whole part that we just put up on the ceiling peeled away, and drooped to the floor. Roberto was pissed. He walked over to the five gallon buck and picked it up, then slammed in on the floor in frustration. At the same time his glasses slipped off his face, and fell into the bucket of mud. I just busted out laughing so hard. I couldn’t stop laughing. He grabbed his glasses and took off to the kitchen where I could hear him laughing too. Then the kids came into the kitchen saw his glasses and laughter filled the house.

I got down from the ladder, and he told me; “We need to figure out a better way of getting the paper on the ceiling.” We all took a break together, and then he told me to stay out of the living room. He had an idea…I was replaced by a ladder and a cardboard box! LOL!!

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Harvest Season

“In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.” William Blake

There’s something magical about harvest season when you live in wine country. It’s a current of electricity that runs through the everyone and everything. I always think of Dr. Seuss. Ya know those giant machines that come in to clean up after “It 1 and 2 and the kids? Well, there are grape. Picking machines driving on the roads at this time, and Dr Seuss is at the forefront of my thoughts…I kind of giggle like a child when they get in front of me. I can take it for a mile or so, but then I have to pass them, but not without waving like a deranged lunatic. It is just exciting!!

We don’t use machines to harvest our grapes, we have to hire people. My husband as well as our winemaker get out in the field and pick with all the other people working in our fields. Just this past week we have already processes several tons of grapes, and pressed them. So, the fermentation process is already starting for the 2017 wines. I believe the Merlot for this year has already been picked, destemed, and pressed. 

These were photos of the grapes before some of the fruit was dropped. We have to drop fruit so the healthiest grapes will get the most water, and the best sunshine. Depending on the variety, canopy may have to be cut back to get the right amount of sun, or less sun. We want to pick at just the right amount of Brix, which is the sugar content in the grapes, too high, and the wine is too sweet, you want just the right amount to make great wine.

 We try to maintain a sustainable vineyard, and keep the dropped fruit for compost. Once the grapes are pressed the must will be used for more compost to mix back into the soil and boost the soil with microbes that recondition the soil.  Our ducks are always in the vineyard taking care of the slugs, and soon we want to introduce babydoll sheep and chickens. The sheep will help with the grass and cover crops, and the chickens will take care of the insects in the vineyard. The chickens will also give us fantastic eggs to eat. It all makes for better wine every year. A wine that you can enjoy and feel good about drinking. We look forward to getting closer to becoming more biodynamic! 

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Baby Goats

“Every mans can tell how many goats or sheep he possesses, but not how many friends.” Marcus Tullius Cicero

The babies are staying in the breezeway until they are bigger. If I put them in the pasture, they can wiggle under the gate. We don’t want that to happen.

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Fawn McNeill

“…and then, I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?” Vincent Van Gogh

One of my favorite artists (of our modern age), that paints scenes of nature, is Fawn Mc Neill, she see’s and transfers her vision on canvas so beautifully. I unfortunately, only own one of her paintings, but it is one that I see everyday. IMG_0198.jpg

I love flowers, and this is perfect to see first thing in the morning to remind me that it’s going to be a great day. Fresh cut flowers die, but flowers on canvas life for eternity. I life the face that she add the leaves of the flower as contrast to the stark pink. It’s magnificent!

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Bacon Wrapped Albacore Tuna

“A tuna steak and salad? Seventy bucks. Welcome to Los Angeles.” Mark Zupan

For the tuna

2 trimmed sushi-quality albacore tuna loins, each about 1-1/2 pounds

Course sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

6 to 8 strips of thin cut artisanal bacon

Pepper Cream Sauce

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 large shallots, peeled and finely diced

1 tablespoon freshly ground peppercorns

1/4 cup of Cognac

1 cup dry white wine

1 1/2 tablespoon of Dijon mustard

1 cup of heavy whipping cream

Course sea salt

1 1/2 tablespoon of fresh tarragon chopped, plus extra sprigs for garnish

1/2 lemon

Tuna- Sprinkle tuna loins with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. For each loin, cut 4 lengths of butchers string, about 12 inches long, and lay them parallel to each other (about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart). Place a strip of bacon in the center, perpendicular tot he strings. Lay a tuna loin on the bacon. Lay two more strips of bacon on top of the tuna (3 if it’s a large loin), bring the strings snugly over the loin.

Grill on a grill grate until the bacon and tuna are seared, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn with tongs to sear the remaining sides. The interior of the tuna should retain its rosy color; do not over cook. Transfer the tuna to a cutting board.

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, add the butter once the saucepan is hot, then add the shallots. Cook the shallots until they are translucent and soft. Add the black pepper and Cognac. Add the white white, and bring to a boil; reduce by half. Stir in cream and mustard and let the sauce simmer until it coats the back of the spoon. Add salt to taste. Stir in chopped fresh tarragon and squeeze of lemon. Remove the strings, and enjoy.

This would go great with our Estate Cab. Franc. It scored a 94 in San Francisco, and won double gold. IMG_0271

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Sage

“If the way of the sage is true, that we are all dreaming our world into being, then it has to apply not only to our private, personal universe but to the world at large.”

Alberto Villoldo

When I go out to feed the animals everyday the aroma of sage hangs in the air. It is that smell that lured us back every weekend to find the right property when we were on our search for the piece of property that would be our dream destination.

Honesty, there are those days that I want to just throw up my hands and surrender, but the smell of sage reminds me…”you knew this was going to be tough, so you got to just hang in there.”  Ironically, the sage plant is the only thing growing when all the other grass is dead. It is the thing that perceivers, and emits a fragrance that is intoxicating to me. It is my signal to keep moving forward, keep my head up, and everything will work out the way it is supposed to work.

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Maryanne Jacobsen

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” Vincent Van Gogh

IMG_9611.jpg

Maryanne Jacobsen is one of the few artists that I only own one piece of art from her body of works. I love this romantic piece in my living room. As the beautiful model takes her time in the garden to tend to her flowers. She is dressed in a vintage or antique dress with a red ribbon in her hair, and tends to red flowers, and finally there is a giant red bow on her back. Maryanne is directing our eyes to specific locations of the painting. Our subconscious mind looks at the red first, and then travels all over the painting. Her placement of the red in a triangle makes the most of canvas. Maryanne wants us to look at the at details and the nuances of the work.