country, farming, Fountain of Youth, Galleria, Happiness Project, Photography, Therapy Thursday, Throwback Thursday

Believing In Signs

One Big Sign

Before we found our farm, we looked for 7 years. It was a long seven years too. One gentleman promised we would have a house, and we stayed in escrow for 9 months. My husband was heartbroken. One day, on our way home from Santa Barbara we stopped to drive by the property in escrow. We saw the photo below, and I knew it was done. We were not going to get this property that was in escrow for 9 long months.

When I pray, I ask for big signs that I can’t ignore. I have even said out loud in my prayers…You know I don’t do subtle, so show me something unmistakable. I would say this sign was pretty clear. It looks like a giant foot to me. What do you think? On our drive home, I already started the mourning process for the property. IMG_3613

Collections and Obsessions, Design, Fountain of Youth, Galleria, Happiness Project, Museum Monday

Jeremy Mayes

I buy and commission work by artists that I enjoy viewing. I look all around the world instead of focusing in on one area. I try to find the best artist for the job that I envision. Jeremy had some paintings I saw of motorbikes that I just loved. The paintings had a depth that I was seeking. Does the muffler pipe look too hot to touch? Does the paint look fresh on the bike? Is there a personality that can be understood between the art and spectator?

At the time, I was looking for an artist that would paint one of the Lambretta bikes we own. It is a special bike that was a racer, and a favorite of Roberto. I wanted the painting to really showcase the bike, no background, this was all about the bike. The angle shows the piping of the bike beautifully. The light bouncing off the gas tank, the light on the fender, the nubs on the tires, and all that chrome.

Jeremy even painted the Lambretta in watercolor. Watercolor is the unforgiving media. Yet, when a master works with watercolor it is so beautiful. Nothing is taken from the painting. It is crisp, it is fresh, and it speaks to the viewer.

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Jeremy has done several pieces of art for me, and he has a great eye. Take a look at his some of his other works here.

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Honey Healing

One of the first weekends we were living in the country, this happened…

I was taking both of the dogs (Cane Corso females) for a walk. Since we were new to the country I did not want to trust to just let them out in the yard. Now, our yard is 42 acres. There are coyotes and other animals around here. I was gazing at the stars when all the sudden Sadie pulled really hard, and I did not let go. I was pulled across the rocks like I was a rag doll. I screamed, and Sheba stopped. Sheba stayed right by my side, and Sadie was running after what ever it was that was near our house. I limped back into the house with Sheba.

I went upstairs and washed my legs with soap and water. I had to take a wash cloth to get all the debris that was embedded in my legs. My left leg looked a lot worse than my right leg. It burned like hell…it was really painful. I took some honey, and put it all over the wounds, and took another wash cloth that was damp and kept it over the wound.

I kept the wound clean every day, and also added honey to it every day. By the third day it was really looking so much better. By two weeks it was healed. I believe I was in less pain, and it healed faster with the honey.

Collections and Obsessions, Cucina, food, Fountain of Youth, Galleria, Happiness Project, Photography, sweets, Wine Wednesday, Winery

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Nutella

Over Valentines Day weekend I was in charge of Red Velvet Cupcakes for the Pleasant Valley wine Trail, since we are a part of the trail. Everyone had something they made and then paired with a wine. We paired our cupcakes with our Late Harvest Zinfandel. I heard nothing but good things, so I was very happy that it was warmly received.

I made 100 cupcakes on Friday night, and then another 100 on Saturday night. I used the recipe that was passed down from my Great Aunt Nelle. She was a great cook, and it was said in the family that she asked about the recipe one time when she was visited the Waldorf Hotel. I later learned that many southern women told the story about asking for the recipe from the Waldorf. She was a traveler, and was a fantastic cool. I never questioned the story!

My Great Aunt used to make Red Velvet Cake for my dad every year on his birthday. It was his favorite cake. She also would make a mayonnaise cake that was so delicious. Although, I remember that she didn’t like to say the name around me, it made me sick to think of mayonnaise being used to bake a cake. When we would love something that she made, she would give an index card with the recipe to my mom. We would cherish those recipe cards. There was a special wooded box that we kept them.

Never the less, here is the recipe for the cake…

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1  teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ pounds canned beets, drained and pureed
  • 1 tablespoon red food color
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature (I make my own by adding vinegar, and waiting for 10 minutes, 
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring (1 ounce)
  • 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Start preheating your oven to 375, drain and puree your beets. If you don’t have buttermilk in your fridge, I never do…Add one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to your cup of milk.

Meanwhile, add your dry ingredients together, add you eggs, beets, food coloring, vanilla, vinegar, olive oil and finally, the buttermilk. Mix until all the ingredients are wet.

Add the paper cupcake holders to the cupcake pans, fill up the cupcake papers about 1/2 full. This will make about 18 cupcakes. They will take about 25 minutes to bake.

While your cupcakes are baking, you can make the frosting…

8 ounces of cream cheese (softened)

1 Stick of butter (softened)

4 cups of powdered sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Blend your ingredients together to make the frosting. I used a pastry bag for the first time last week when I made these for Valentines day. I had to end up asking my husband to take the pastry bag away from me, since mine didn’t look good. His looked lovely!

Now, if you want to add the Nutella, it does taste delicious, but it is time consuming. We took a melon baller, and scooped out the center. After each one was done, we then added the frosting. Like I mentioned earlier, my frosting job was a little frightening, so I had my husband make them look pretty.

 

 

 

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Goat Photo Bombs

With all this crazy, wonderful rain, we have to move the goats to the stalls. This is also the time of the year when most of the females are looking VERY pregnant. They love hearing me walk near the stalls in the morning, because that means one thing…FOOD!

Nothing ever goes to waste around here. After we have had the apples for a weekend, we take them back to the farm. The miniature donkeys and the goats enjoy the apple treat. I usually have to hold on to the apple to get them to get the apple started. After a few bites, they are good to go on those apples.

Anything that is not good to give to the goats, or miniature donkeys goes to the worm farm or the compost pile. We are trying to make our vineyard as sustainable as possible, as well as our farm.

Without further delay, here are photos of the crazy goats…

Collections and Obsessions, country, farming, food, Fountain of Youth, Happiness Project, Museum Monday, orchard, organic, Photography

Paul Youngman

We have several pieces of art by Paul in our home. We have two bicycle paintings. I commissioned him to paint the bicycles for me several years ago. I just loved other paintings I saw of his with a transportation subject. I thought he would be there prefect candidate to commission for my bicycles.

I was really happy with the paintings too. The use of color, light, and shadow are perfect. The bicycle has hints that the rider of the bike is going to have a picnic. Bread, wine, and a table cloth are all ready. The faithful dog is ready to go along with the rider. The shadow of the dog is just beside him, and so is the bike.

The architecture of the building says to me that the rider may have chosen the bottle of wine from their own personal cellar. The rider may also be going to have said picnic on their own property.

The other bike Paul painted for me is red.IMG_1917

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The Sounds of Living in the Country…

We moved from the city to the county almost four years ago. It took all of us a couple of weeks to learn to sleep with so much silence. In the spring, there is one refreshing sound that is heard on our farm at night. When it is silent, we know there is a predator lurking around the house, office, garage, or stalls. Most of the time, this is the sound of spring in the country…

 

 

 

Design, Fountain of Youth, Galleria, Happiness Project, Therapy Thursday, Throwback Thursday

Our Special Door

Our house in Oakland was  under construction for 10 very long months. Sometimes, it was exhausting finding just the right materials. Our architect would send us one missions to find the tiles, doors, windows, carpet, etc. This particular time, we were on a hunt for our front door.  We had to go find a door that we wanted, and thought fit the house. Our house had European flare, so we wanted that reflected in the door. We spent a lot of time looking online before we went out looking for the one.

We saw there was one in the Moraga, Orinda CA area, so we set out to see the showroom ourselves. When we got there it was raining, so we told our very small children to shake off their umbrellas, and put them in the umbrella stand before we went inside. The older gentleman had a tin foil hat on his head. Yep, that is what I said…Tin foil on his head.

In the beginning I was thinking maybe he saw we had small children and he was being entertaining in his own way. One thing you learn really quick in California is…Don’t ask too many questions if you are not ready for the answer.

As we talked about the VERY high price of the door. We talked about how the door came from a forest where the people of the forest are given a fair trade price for the doors. Hence, this was the reason for the high price. We were then talking about the opening, and the measurements, and still he had on the foil hat. I was wondering when he was going to be funny. Then my son, he was about three at the time ask the question all of us were dying to know. Why do you have the foil hat on your head?

Oh boy, he then stated to tell us that since it was raining the aliens had special powers that could get into our heads. My son covered his head. I told my son “he is just kidding.” The little old man then started to explain the seriousness of the situation, and how I should protect the children. He told us with a straight face…  “Always know where your foil is!!” OMG! I almost started busting out with laughter. I couldn’t even look at my husband. This guy was the only guy around in the East Bay that had the door we wanted. I didn’t wan to offend him, and I just wanted to order the door.

My daughter started getting cranky, and he said the littlest one is feeling the vibrations from the aliens. I gave my husband the LOOK. He then politely told the gentleman that we had to go.  We did finally get to order the door. The little old man continue to talk as we were leaving his shop. He even accompanied us to the car. picture-1

We finally got the door, but the hinges were on the wrong side. We had to send the door back, and wait for a main door for Three weeks. We were pretty grateful that we had another temporary door.

Fountain of Youth, Happiness Project, Throwback Thursday

Lou Lou, and the Fairy Dust

I am going to tell you a story, so don’t judge me. My daughter had an ugly doll that she named Lou Lou. I don’t know where she came up with the name, she just liked it. She always had Lou Lou with her, however Lou Lou was always naked. One time my daughter decided to give Lou Lou a bath. She gave her a bath, and her head filled with water. As my daughter ran with Lou Lou everyone could hear the splashing of the water inside Lou Lou’s head.

The water inside of Lou Lou’s head began to stink. I was afraid that the water would somehow leak out of Lou Lou’s head and spread it’s contaminated water on my daughter.

I came up with a plan to get rid of Lou Lou. I purchased an American Girl doll for her, and hid it in the basement. I took a baby asprin and crushed it. I placed the crushed baby asprin in a bag in the envelop along with a note that I had written. When the mail came that day I acted as if I had got the letter from our mail carrier.

I gasped as I read the letter. The kids wanted to know what the contents of the letter said, and what was in the envelop. I read the letter…

Dear Parents,

We wish to bestow upon you some fairy dust. We limit the amount of fairy dust that we give to the “mortal population”, so much care must be taken when handling this fairy dust. Since we have observed such sweet behavior of your children we are offering you one wish with this fairy dust. Please do not handle the fairy dust until you are ready to make your wish.

Much love,

The fairies

I told the kids…”We have to be very careful.” then I ask them “What do you think we should ask for a wish? My son responds right away…”I think we should ask that people everywhere have food to eat.” WOW! How was I going to get from feeding the world to getting rid of the doll with the stagnant water? I told them…Well, I think that is a great wish, however this is a wish for something for you two. I don’t believe fairies have the power to feed everyone.  My daughter said…I want to make Lou Lou better. My son said that he couldn’t think of anything he wanted for himself, so lets make Lou Lou better.

We took the “fairy dust”, and Lou Lou downstairs. We added Lou Lou and the “fairy dust” to the washer. I told the kids to cross their fingers. We all went back upstairs. I told them I heard something downstairs, so I better go check to see what it was. I opened the washer took out Lou Lou, and put her in the trash. I took the American Doll out, and put her in the dryer. (I did not turn on the dryer)

A little later the kids were ready to go see what the “fairy dust” had done to Lou Lou. We all looked in the washer…I exclaimed “Oh My Gosh, Lou Lou is gone. My son said, “lets look in the dryer. He opens the dryer and says, What the heck is this? It kinda looks like Lou Lou.” My daughter picks up the doll, looks at it and says “this is Mianna.” I was floored! She just made up that name out of the blue. Mianna went on to be a part of her life after that episode.

Have you made up stories to get rid of things?

country, farming, Fountain of Youth, Galleria, Happiness Project, Photography, Terreni D' Oro Tuesday

Our Newest Addition

Meet Stella, she is the newest addition to the farm. She was born last week.

Luna gave birth to a healthy baby girl. Willie Nelson, our sire goat, is already allowed to get close to Luna. She is jumping and running all over the pasture.