Wednesday, May 28, 2008

i gave my nephews 1/2 a goat??

regular readers know that i love to talk about non-profit groups that i feel really make a difference. i strongly believe that the "teach a person to fish" approach delivers lasting change. one of my favorite organizations is heifer international. i have found that many people i meet are unaware of this amazing goes one of my stories....

as many of you know, i have twin nephews...truly loves of my life...they just turned 12 last week..the fastest twelve years of my life. they also celebrated their confirmation this i spent some time thinking about what would be an appropriate gift. i asked the boys what they would like for their birthday..and chris said.."you know auntie..i really only have a couple of things i asked know..i really have everything i need" cool is that? but, you know..he is correct. our family is so lucky..we really do not need more things. so for the boy's confirmation i decided to give a gift to charity in their name. i thought heifer international was perfect for them because i could..kinda..give them an explain...this is the organization's mission...

"heifer international is a nonprofit organization working to end hunger and poverty while caring for the earth. heifer provides animals and training to help impoverished families become more self reliant. since 1944, heifer has helped 8.5 million families in more than 125 countries. each recipient agrees to "pass on the gift" of one or more of their animals to another family in need, creating an ever-widening circle of hope"
so it works like "buy" an animal..say a cow. the money you send funds the cow and care training to a needy family somewhere in the world. the family sells the milk to provide an income. the family breeds the cow and gives the offspring to another family to pass on the gift. there are all kinds of animals to pick..i selected a goat for the boys because..for some grandmother loved goats and it became a family "thing". she used to say she liked goat milk because it tasted "goaty". it made me laugh when i gave the goat..i know that somewhere in heaven gran is smiling... it made me feel good to gift a gift in the boys' names..chris and shaun..and know that as a family we were working to "give back".
please take the time to check out heifer international at . their web site provides loads of stories and additional information. for now..i will leave you with a couple of quotes regarding this amazing non-profit..
"Heifer International deserves its stellar reputation. Its approach offers immediate help to our planet's most vulnerable citizens; and it builds community strength for longer-term solutions. Linking people across continents, Heifer is the positive face of globalization--connecting communities around the world through hands-on projects that get to the root causes of hunger." — Frances Moore Lappé and Anna Lappé, Small Planet Institute
With a gift of a Heifer International animal, it is not just giving money away to some vast organization that you hope is going to trickle down to the people who need it. You are giving a living, breathing, breeding gift, so that you know exactly what it is that participants in Heifer programs around the world are going to get, and you know it's going to change their lives dramatically." — Brad Whitford/Jane Kaczmarek, Actors

napa farmhouse 1885
"live a green life of style"

Friday, May 23, 2008

overwhelming response!

just a quick update to thank all of you for the overwhelming response to the robert mondavi post. i have received countless emails..everything from long stories describing your memories of past trips to napa..your personal commitments to giving back..and the emails that just say.."one more donation to the charity"...i am learning that you guys are quite the emailers..and not so much posters. a couple of you asked for instructions on how to comment..just click the word comments at the bottom of the post and you will be taken to the proper screen.

in any case..we will have quite the contribution to the napa opera house in mondavi's name..thank you so much...and remember..we will add to the contribution for each post or email left until this sunday post away...

napa farmhouse 1885
"live a green life of style"

Saturday, May 17, 2008

how do you thank an icon?

robert mondavi died on friday morning. for those of you who live in the napa valley, you know that this has been front page news for the past three days. the tributes and shared memories are non-stop...this has been the main topic of conversation all weekend. for the rest of you, you have probably heard about his passing on the news..and this may or may not have been a lead story where you live. if it was should have been.

there will be tons of stories about the impact of robert mondavi and his family on the wine industry in this country..especially here in california. he passionately believed that wine produced in california...especially napa..could rival the best wines in the world..and he spent his life proving that assumption to be true. in my opinion...equally important but less publicized...were his philanthropic endeavors. every story i have read about him this weekend has used the word "generosity" when describing his life. when you live in napa..or have the opportunity to visit...the evidence of this fact surrounds you.... so this post spotlights the mondavi legacy of "giving back"

i never had the good fortune to meet the man..but i often saw him and his wife margrit biever mondavi at charity events, art venues and restaurants. two weeks ago, my husband and i attended a concert at the napa opera house. we saw dave brubeck and his band perform. robert and margrit were in the audience seated two rows behind us....margrit in an aisle seat and robert in his wheelchair sitting next to her. the napa opera house is a fantastic historic building which opened on feb 13, 1880. it closed in 1914 due to extensive damage suffered from the 1908 san francisco earthquake. in 1997, robert and margrit mondavi issued a challenge grant of $2.2 million to help jump start the efforts to restore and reopen the theatre...their challenge was met and the theater was restored... the venue is beautiful and, in honor of the mondavi's, was renamed the margrit biever mondavi theatre. during the brubeck concert, margrit was called to the stage after intermission to welcome dave brubeck back to the stage. she graciously thanked all of us for supporting the opera house and for supporting the arts in the community. she received a standing ovation and as she acknowledged her husband the entire audience turned to look at him and give him his own standing ovation. he looked very frail and, frankly, very old..but he was beaming and smiling as the applause went on and on..... little did we know that two weeks later he would be gone. that night, as we were driving the short distance home, i reflected on how much the mondavi's had "given back" to napa. in addition to the opera house, robert mondavi was one of the main leaders who founded auction napa valley. this annual event raises money for non-profits in the napa valley. the first auction was held in 1981 and, to date..almost $80 million has been raised. this year's event..always held in june...should include a pretty massive tribute to the man. the mondavi's gave a $20 million bequest to launch copia, the america center for food, wine and the arts. copia is kind of a museum to food..they have organic gardens with garden tours, food and wine events, art shows, film festivals and concerts. the mondavi's founded the summer music festival, which supports the napa valley symphony and music programs at schools throughout napa. they have been major contributors to the lincoln theater in napa and to the oxbow school..which is a high school focusing on the arts.... they donated to the cantor art center at stanford university and gave $35 million to uc davis to build the mondavi center for the performing arts and the robert mondavi institute for food and wine science. i could go on and on..but you get the idea. regular readers of this blog know that i often like to spotlight individuals, companies and not-for-profit entities that i admire. robert mondavi certainly qualifies for a, how do you thank an icon that you never met? for me, i hope that telling people outside of the napa valley about this amazing man is a start. in his name, napa farmhouse 1885™ will give a donation to the napa opera house for each comment made to this blog, or for each please comment often and share your thoughts as to what it means to you to "give back".....

and raise a glass to toast robert american icon....

napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green life of style™"

Sunday, May 11, 2008


happy mother's day to my mom and to my sister..two of the coolest mom's i know.
“To love someone deeply gives you strength. Being loved by someone deeply gives you courage.”
—Lao-Tzu (ca. 600 B.C.), philosopher
to all mother's who love deeply! we love you back..more than we can properly communicate.
love from napa farmhouse 1885™!
"live a green life of style™"

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

have you experienced a natural disaster?

two weeks ago there were fires in southern california raging out of control. this photo was taken from the main street of a small town called sierra madre, ca. the town is next door to the town of pasadena where i was born. i have relatives living throughout the area..this photo was sent to me by an uncle who lives just a few blocks from where this was taken..scary and... .oddly..beautiful. the photo is a bit blurry..but was taken from a camera phone....happily, there was damage to only one homes, businesses..or more importantly..people were hurt. the photo reminded me of the numerous natural disasters i have lived through..and what those experiences do to your psyche. when i was growing up..we lived in the foothills of the san gabriel mountains. really beautiful..but a fire danger most years. southern california experiences something called the "santa ana winds". this usually occurs during september and october each year. the weather is still pretty hot, and when the santa ana's occur the wind blows from east to west. normally it goes the other direction and ..blowing from the get the ocean breezes to help cool things down. the santa ana's are strong, swirling, and blow really hot air. if you are not from southern california it is hard to imagine what this does..but historically fires start, rage out of control and massive damage occurs. i have many memories as a child of watching fires near our house..being on the roof with my dad hosing it down..smelling the fire and breathing in the bits of burned char swirling around in the hot breezes and preparing to evacuate... a number of times we were ordered to leave..and there was nothing scarier for a kid than to be in the family station wagon with your mom, dad, 2 sisters and the family dog..and whatever possessions would fit..driving away not knowing if your home would be there upon your return. thank always was there..and we were always o.k.

i have lived in california all of my life..this means i have experienced earthquakes..too many to mention..including the 1989 earthquake in san damage to our home. our napa farmhouse is located across from the napa river and we dealt with the floods of new year's eve 2005..we live on a corner lot and all three streets flooded and came to the top of the sidewalks..we needed to evacuate..but no water came onto our property.

i wrote a post last week and asked "what are you grateful for?" i was thinking this morning as i looked at the sierra madre photo...of how grateful i am that my family and friends have endured all of these natural disasters safely without any damage to themselves or their properties. we are all o.k... the same is not true for so many people..both in this country and throughout the world. napa farmhouse 1885 supports habitat for humanity...and their efforts to rebuild in the katrina ravaged parts of the gulf coast states..along with other agencies helping others rebuild their heart breaks for the people of myanmar..and we will do what we can to help..

have you experienced a natural disaster? if so, please share your story.

napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green life of style™"

Thursday, May 1, 2008

gardening or meditation?

today was a perfect of those days where....right in the middle of the day..i realized how happy and grateful i am to be "retired." why the quotes? retired is a funny word to describe my life. remember in one of my first posts i told you that after 25 years in corporate life i decided to take early, early retirement? i smile because it is not as if i get retirement benefits..i was too young to qualify when i stopped working. but my husband and i invested, saved and realized that we had enough to live we certainly are not rich..but we just did not require more "stuff" and would rather be together than keep working to climb the corporate ladder..we just could not see the pay-off for us..and for our life. the funny thing is i am now starting my own very small business..just cause i want to...but this is totally different. for one thing..i am the boss..can i tell you how cool it is to say that? no one but no one can tell me what i should be doing..what i should be i should behave..etc. all the "coaching" and "performance reviews" corporate life brings..yuck! and i can set the vision and mission and product assortment exactly the way i see it in my mind.."my brand", on the other company is based in my kitchen...i have not yet opened the on-line store so no revenue..and i have no "people" so i do it all myself..but i am having a ball. i plan to write about starting a small business in another! what an education. how many of you work from home..or have started your own small business? what works for you? what doesn't?

but today's post is about taking the time to appreciate simply being at life. i have been working hard the past month operating in "start up" mode for the business. ..but i am able to go to the gym in the middle of the day 3-4 times per week to ensure i take a break...i am able to cook dinner every night. now i love cooking so this is really cool..if you do not enjoy cooking this may not sound so wonderful...i can have a meeting with my business partner, (my husband, peter), in my pajamas drinking coffee, and i can take mose for walks throughout the day..he is the company's director of security so they are business walks :).. today i decided to take the afternoon and work in the garden. my roses needed pruning, it was 75 degrees and i said.."what the heck"..that was the whole point of retiring..finally being able to do what i wanted to do..when i wanted to do it. our farmhouse has a small rose garden in the front of the house and a few rose bushes spread around the side and back. there are 25 total..not a ton..but for a girl that lived in a san francisco flat for 15 years without a is enough. spring in napa can be tricky..there are always a few really warm days in january and february, so the roses are pretty well leafed out in march. march and april have a number of rainy days, a number of foggy days, some warm to hot days and cool..sometimes freezing nights. so the roses sometimes get really whacked out (love my gardening term?) they start blooming early..and frequently develop black spot and rust...o.k...if you do not garden i know i am probably losing you with this post..but hang with me for just a bit...back to the roses...
so, to avoid the rose diseases, it is important to keep them pruned enough to allow sunlight to hit all the least this works for me. i noticed this morning that they were a bit overgrown and needed pruning and decided this afternoon was a perfect opportunity. i started pruning, mose sat next to me and moved each time i moved to a different bush..and before i realized it..4 hours had passed. you know what, i felt fantastic..relaxed, pleasantly tired, and really happy. i had been concentrating on the pruning..ensuring each cut was the correct cut..and just kinda zoned out. the roses looked great, i had come up with a number of ideas for the business, and i felt really good. i realized that this was one of the first times i had experienced gardening without a predetermined time frame. prior to retiring my life looked like this.... leave napa early monday morning and drive to my office in san francisco. stay in the city, away from my family, monday-wednesday night, work thursday until really late and then drive back to napa... work from napa on friday. this happened on the rare weeks that i did not fly out on monday morning on a business trip and return friday night. that meant that something like gardening had to be completed on the weekends..along with everything i always was on a schedule..even on the weekends. i enjoyed gardening, but felt the pressure to "just get it done". pressure.. i only finished half the roses worries..i can finish tomorrow..or saturday..or whenever i want. i have never, ever been able to live this way. it just felt right to acknowledge how grateful i am for being able to enjoy everyday things like cooking, gardening, exercise, walking the a real life... and to commit even more to ensuring there is adequate time in my life to give back..and give thanks..for my life, my family, my friends, my faith...

what are you grateful for?
napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green life of style™"
oh..and if you have tips for organic rose care ..please share.....