Wednesday, February 27, 2008

why organic?

when i was a kid my sisters and i would spend a lot of time at my grandparents' house. they lived about 30 minutes from our house and we would stay there when my parents would go out on weekends, or once in a while when they would go on a vacation..just the two of them. my grandparents also started a tradition with my sisters and myself that still is one of my favorite all time memories. during the summer each of us would get to spend one week alone at my mom's two brothers and sister still lived there so the week was spent hanging out with them week that was totally focused on our favorite aunt would take us to the uncle miniature golf..other uncle..the movies... and my grandmother would prepare our favorite foods all week. i am the oldest so i always got to go first. my mom would drop me off, i would spend my week..then she would pick me up and drop off my sister susan. one week later she would pick up susan and drop off my youngest sister, kathi. each time one of us had to leave we would sob all the way home..really made my mom feel good don't you think??...but those weeks were so focused on us..simple times but happy. the love i had (have) for my grandparents can never be duplicated by anyone or anything else.

my grandmother was a terrific cook and the type that would go to the market everyday for fresh food. i never remember anything in her freezer but ice cream and ice. she cooked big meals... but somehow always knew how to make enough to ensure everyone could eat their fill..but not so much as to have leftovers. she used to buy fresh produce daily at a small open air produce stand..she called it the fruit stand...and we used to love going with her during those summer weeks. she knew the proprietor quite well..she would taste everything before she selected her daily items..and always made sure we tasted too. this was the late 60's and 70's so the proliferation of farmer's markets and organic produce had not yet begun.

i think this is what started my lifelong love of terrific tasting ingredients. i believe quality ingredients are an investment. an investment in your health, in really good tasting food, in supporting small farmers and in the earth. i looked up the word investment and the definition is either "an amount of money invested in something for the purpose of making a profit" or "something, e.g. a contribution of something such as time, energy or effort to an activity, project or undertaking, in the expectation of a benefit". i think both definitions apply to the concept of investing in quality ingredients. sure, they can be quite pricey..but they make all the difference in cooking. in future posts, i plan to discuss farmer's markets, buying local, quality ingredients and the push towards organic everything. this is a passion for well as a way of life..and i would love to begin a dialogue with you all to get your points of view on these subjects. for now i want to share two items. i shop a number of times per week..not everyday like my grandmother but close. i am lucky to live in the napa valley where fresh produce is abundant year round. we have a farmer's market twice a week and last week i began receiving a once a week delivery of organic produce. this is the coolest idea.... my neighbor discovered a local farm that specializes in this practice. they prepare boxes of produce straight from their farm and other, local farms. they deliver the boxes to a home in your neighborhood and you pick up. we decided to go in together and split each box...enough for a couple of meals..but not so much that the produce spoils...perfect timing to still allow my twice weekly visit to the farmer's of my favorite activities.

when the first box arrived, it was full of different types of greens..spinach, red chard, young broccoli, rapini etc, along with spring onions and citrus fruits (it is february after all). my neighbor took one look and said.."o.k., i grew up in a home where vegetables came out of a can or the freezer. what do i do with this? can you help me?" now, i think i mentioned that i adore cooking, so i packed up a good selection of extra virgin olive oils, sea salts, good vinegars, fresh pepper and spent the day at her house sauteing, steaming and roasting vegetables..all very simple easy techniques made special by the quality of the ingredients. she loved everything and later said that her family raved about each dish. success!! another convert to organic produce and quality ingredients.

please share your stories regarding cooking, food shopping and recipes..many of my future posts will focus on these topics.

for now..this is the website for the farm that i discussed.

they only deliver in the san francisco bay area..but if you live in this area please check it out..the produce is amazing. for the rest of you, i encourage you to seek out local farmers. buying local, organic ingredients is really good for you, for the farmer and for the planet.



Sunday, February 24, 2008

what is homeward bound?

o.k. so now you know how much i love my dog. i really wanted to experience raising a puppy and mose allowed me to fulfill this dream...loads of training, loads of time, loads of work and i loved every minute..well almost every minute. (also, to be fair, i was working a lot and peter spent every day with him..i had nights and weekend duty when i was not traveling) i hope mose is with us for a long, long time but..when the time comes for another dog..and i will always have a dog..cannot imagine life without one...i will opt for a rescue dog. call me naive, but i never really realized until recently that people were cruel to dogs..that people adopted tired of the work and then just abandoned them. that people hurt dogs on purpose..that people actually enjoyed watching dogs fight each other to their deaths. i do not know anyone who does this..who are these horrible people?? how can they be human beings? and yes, i can and will pass judgement...people who hurt other people and/or animals have no souls...all pets are terrific and i adored my cat but there is something about a dog. mose looks at me with those massive, expressive brown eyes and i melt every time.

i discovered a fantastic golden retriever rescue non-profit called homeward bound. they are located in northern california and they believe in the importance of rescuing all goldens..old, sick, disabled as well as young and healthy. they never turn away a dog and never, ever put the dog down unless they absolutely have to for health reasons. this is their mission statement:

Homeward Bound's Mission
Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue & Sanctuary, Inc. is a non-profit volunteer organization with the mission of securing safe, loving homes for displaced or homeless Golden Retrievers. We receive Golden Retrievers from owners who can no longer care for them because of changing circumstances in their lives. We maintain close working relationships with animal shelters in Sacramento, Sutter, Placer, El Dorado and surrounding counties to ensure that Goldens are relinquished to us prior to being euthanized. We also rescue Golden Retrievers found wandering the streets or reported to us by concerned neighbors. We rescue Goldens of all ages, and even mixed Goldens on occasion.Each rescued Golden immediately receives a thorough exam at one of our participating veterinary hospitals. All of our Goldens will be spayed or neutered before an adoption can occur, and all shots are brought up to date and each Golden is tested for heartworm. We rescue the sick and injured Goldens as well as the healthy ones. Some of these Goldens will have significant health issues and it is our responsibility to provide them with expert veterinary care prior to offering them for adoption.Homeward Bound is not affiliated with any breed club. Consequently, we will be able to rescue Golden "mixes" when special circumstances arise. We have the capability to rescue a Golden even though it may not be carrying AKC papers in its luggage.

check out their website at there is a section of stories about the dogs currently up for adoption. i challenge you to read their stories without crying..i never can...

there are many of these type of rescue organizations throughout the country for all types of breeds. i encourage you to support them and to speak out for animal human has the right or authority to inflict pain or suffering on any animal.
thank you,
"live a green life of style"™

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

first photo is mose at 8 weeks. second photo is mose today..he spends loads of time looking out the kitchen window. people constantly stop and take this photo...mose is famous!!

Why Mose??

so i told you in an earlier post that i lived with my husband and massive dog. the husband's name is peter..the dog's name is mose. (or mo, mosey,posey etc.) come people make up weird nicknames for their pets?? mose is a 115 pound golden retriever..who knew they could get that big..he is not fat just massive!!

anyway, we live on a corner lot across the street from the napa river in napa, ca.. there are a number of bed and breakfasts in my neighborhood and everyone has a dog. our street is well traveled with people walking, biking, jogging and many have their dogs with them. our house has a front and side yard and is completely fenced with the obligatory white picket fence...i told you it was an victorian farmhouse right? mose is the mayor of the neighborhood. he is the happiest dog who ever lived and loves people more than anything..even more than treats which is saying something. strangers are always petting him through the fence and..because they look at his tags..all know his name. he is way more popular than peter or myself. all day long i hear people exclaiming "MOSE!!!" as he leaps through the air with joy. because of this i am constantly asked how he got the name mose..which of course as you start to get to know me..leads to a goes..

peter and i have been married for 25 years... freaks me out everytime i say that..not because of the marriage..very happy thank you very much...but because i am actually old enough to be married that long. anyway, we got a cat..her name was lucky... the month we got married..she was terrific..more on that in another post... and lived to age 20. when she died my husband and i mourned for months and we decided we could not get another cat..felt too disloyal. i had always wanted a dog but our constant travel, peter's work hours and the fact that at the time we lived in a flat in san francisco...made it impossible. when lucky died we decided to give it a try..peter was consulting and working from home so we thought we could make it work. who knew that 6 months later we would buy our napa farmhouse..we didn't...... we researched dogs that would be best suited for our environment..the only non-negotiable was that we both loved big dogs. all the research showed that goldens were best suited for us..and they were already my favorite breed. we wanted a puppy (one time only) and found a number of breeders in the bay area. i phoned one guy who said he had 6 week old puppies..3 females and one male. we had decided to get a female thinking they would be smaller and calmer..better for a flat with a small shared yard. we both love music..especially the blues..and decided to name our puppy lucinda... after the musician lucinda williams..and call her lucy for short. we decided to drive out to visit this breeder just to check it out as we completed our if you knew my husband you would know that he is not the lecturer type..but in this case the1 hour drive to the breeder was interminable. peter lectured me the entire time saying over and over that we were just looking..not to fall in love with the first puppy i saw...we needed to set up our house first..etc..over and over and over. i truly was still in research mode so the constant chattering took it's toll. we pulled up in front of the breeder's home where he had a big open air pen in the doorway. three adorable goldens were standing up looking at us..the cutest thing i had ever seen..or so i thought. we parked and started walking up the driveway. all of a sudden..over the backs of the three female puppies..appeared another golden..this one with a massive head and massive paws. this was the male..his body was about the size of his 3 sisters..but oh that head..those paws... peter took one look, glanced at me and said. "let's take that one"..all remnants of lecture gone. i must admit..this truly was the cutest thing i had seen and i, too..fell instantly in love.

well we did get that one..the breeder told us he would be big..probably 90 pounds. at 4 1/2 years of age he is 115 lbs without an ounce of fat so who knows how big he will get?

so.. at long last.. the name thing. lucinda was obviously out so we needed something new..something male. the breeder would not let us take him home for another week so we went home, looked through our cd collection and tried to find a blondish blues singer that we liked. settled on mose allison which seemed appropriate. and mose it is....

much more on mose in future posts.



Saturday, February 16, 2008

why napafarmhouse1885?


ok..the obvious first question is why napafarmhouse1885? the easy, simple and obvious answer is that i live in napa, california in an old victorian farmhouse. the more detailed answer has more to do with living my dream life than anything else. i grew up in southern california in a perfectly nice brand new "rancher" in the suburbs. looking back, i had a really good childhood..two worked, mom stay-at-home mom who loved being a wife/mom more than anything else. the kind of mom who baked fresh cookies/cakes for after school and cooked a home cooked dinner every night...led the campfire girl troops, get it..that kind of mom. the kind of dad who worked really hard, but was always there nights, weekends, father-daughter teas, help with home work...made us chocolate milk at night as a treat and suffered through family vacations with my mom, me, 2 sisters and, since each of us could invite a friend, 3 additional girls in a station wagon driving to beach towns throughout california for camping trips. who does that...6 girls and my mom in the car with my best friend and i in the very back blasting led zeppelin on a portable tape deck???

whoa...where did all of that come from? back to napafarmhouse1885.... anyway, my entire family lived in a 30 mile radius of our house so we constantly got together for every family event possible..we celebrated every birthday, holiday, school name grandparents lived in a wonderful spanish style home built in the 1920's. lots of arches, spanish tile, rooms at different levels..and my favorite part was a room my grandmother called the sunroom in the center of the house. the room had a ceiling made out of large stained glass tiles and was open on 2 sides to the rest of the house. the sun through the stained glass would throw off the coolest colors/light throughout the house. i loved that house. when my grandparents passed away a few years ago my mom and her siblings sold the house. a horribly sad time.

my grandparents house was the catalyst for my life long love of old homes. when my husband and i moved to san francisco 15 years ago for business we bought an old victorian flat in the city. the flat was very cool but needed a lot of work. i quickly learned that the maintenance on an old home is verrrrry different than on a brand new house but i really loved the idea of restoring and protecting beautiful old homes. 4 years ago my husband and i discovered the town of napa. we had visited the napa valley loads of times but, like most people, zipped up hwy 29 and sailed past napa the town. by accident we met a real estate agent who showed us some of the old victorians for sale. we did not see anything we loved but a week later he sent us some additional listings
on line. i opened the email and the first house i saw was my dream house...the house i had imagined since i was a little know..the house all kids draw..the square with a triangle on top for the roof? this house looked like that with a wrap around porch..picket fence..gazebo. now this is not a big house, but perfect for 2 adults and a big dog. enough room for friends/family. my husband and i had never even talked about buying property in napa..but we loved this house so much we bought it with the premise we would use it as a weekend/vacation house but also rent it out to vacationers looking to experience wine county. hah..that never happened. not only could i never bear the thought of someone else in "my" house..we decided that we needed to chuck it all..sell our san francisco home and move here full time. after 15 years of living in the city this has been a major..but amazing...change.

our farmhouse has been the key to all the recent changes in our life. i look forward to continuing to share my stories with you...

live a green life of style

now that you are starting to get to know me i should warn you..these posts may sometimes be really long if i get on a a former boss used to tell me "you will never be accused of being pithy!!"

Thursday, February 14, 2008

February 14th, 2008

welcome to my first post. this one will be a bit long so please bear with me. as i stated in my intro, i am almost one year in to a "retired" life. i always seem to use quotes around the word retired because it is hard to believe this has really happened. i spent 30+ years in the specialty apparel retail business and always experienced 60-80 hour work weeks. needless to say i never had the typical home/family life....coming home at dinner..eating with the family etc. i rarely was home before 8:00 pm and traveled a minimum of two weeks per month. i worked really hard that i could retire early and experience a different kind of life. i have been married for 25 years to an amazing man, have a massive, adorable, energetic golden retriever and really wanted to spend lots of time with both of them. my strange realization after this year is that, although i had periods where i really loved my jobs and was quite successful, i never really had the passion for fashion required to truly be satisfied with my career. this year has been one of discovery and, as cliched as it sounds, searching for my bliss.

ok..just realized spell check does not work..kinda in a panic with this as i type faster than my brain processes spelling...will try to correct errors but if a few slip through please forgive me....

i have spent the past year focusing on what i, cooking, recipe development, gardening, non-profit work, etc. so many opportunities have opened up that i am always busy. people constantly ask me so many questions... if i am bored, how i spend my time, how to make this work to get involved in non-profits, etc that i thought i would start a blog and share my life, my experiences and my journey. i hope to make this a 2 way dialogue with readers so please, if you read my blog, please feel free to comment and share your thoughts and questions.

all for now,
happy valentine's day!