Archive for February, 2012


When we decided to host a craft sale here at the Pumpkin House, I realized I had better start crafting.  I love making so many different things, but it was a fairly easy decision to carve some new rubber stamps and start stamping.  I found different papers and napkins stashed away, waiting for that day, and set up a crafting studio in the storefront.  A different version of Pumpkin House Studio, but one that awakened the love of crafting that lies inside me.  What fun I had, and managed to make some notecards, napkins, and coasters.  Stay tuned for the seasonal craft sales at the Pumpkin House to come in 2012.  And more crafting to come.


I like to think of pruning as a mindful therapeutic activity.  Working from a morass of tangled grape vines, or canes, to a select tamed few that will hopefully bear fruit later this summer.  You have to make some quick (or in my case not so quick and sometimes hard) decisions about which are the best canes to save, and then follow with lots of cutting and clearing.  It is a wonderful metaphor for a simple life.  And I now have lots of bundles of cut and tied canes for future fire starting activities.

kale salad

Kale salad is one of those foods that I could eat for days, even weeks. Especially after the winter holidays, when I have felt so gluttonous.  I find it hard to believe something so healthy can be so tasty.  I love the making of it: when I can pick the kale from the garden and then dunk the leaves in cold clear water, pick a lemon from our lemon tree, and then whisk up the dressing and massage it into the leaves.  If I have an avocado lying around I like to add that, as well as some toasted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds.  I have learned other recipes, but I tend to always go back to the one that I learned from Charlie Cascio up at Wilbur Hot Springs.  It was so delicious then, and still rewards me now.  Thank you, Charlie.

kale salad recipe
1 part lemon juice
1 part tamari
2 parts olive oil
Kale, stripped off stems & finely sliced
Red onion

Thinly sliced red onion
Rub/massage dressing into kale & onion
Let sit 1-2 hours (ideally; I also eat it right away and have no complaints)
Add toasted pumpkin seeds and/or sunflower seeds
Add nutritional yeast
Add avocado (optional)

Will keep in refrigerator for several days–Make lots!

Adapted from recipe from Charlie Cascio, former chef of Esalen


woodburning makes a comeback

Last week I assisted a fellow parent in helping my son’s class burn designs onto wooden bowls.  I hadn’t touched a wood burning tool in at least 30 years, but found it was quite fun.  We found another tool was going to help move the project along, so I happily offered to buy one (thank goodness they still sell these at the art shop blocks from my house).  And once it came home, I had to put it to use.  Hmmmmm, what could I burn?  I looked around and found some redwood scraps, and remembered a friend’s birthday coming up.  A bedroom sign was born: sanding, sketching, and burning, followed by a little mineral oil.  Even the kids got into the project and made their own presents.  What an enjoyable way to spend a Friday afternoon!

winter garden

It took me quite some time (over 10 years) to get used to gardening in the winter.  Coming from a place with a snowy winter, November was a time to finish up the season’s garden and turn to cross country skiing, making soup, or knitting by the fire.  Not to plant.  But I have grown to enjoy the pace of the winter garden, as long as I don’t strive too hard.  Some kale, potatoes, cauliflower, and perhaps some garlic.  I keep trying to grow snap peas (or as my daughter says, “snack peas”), but it is always a battle between me and the slugs and snails.