Sunday, December 29, 2013

Recommended Classes- Sewing Demystified- Sewing Classes in North Oakland, CA

With the new year coming soon, I thought I'd write about this sewing class I found out about!  The business name is Better Living Sewing and they provide sewing classes to individuals and small groups in a fun, patient, and supportive atmosphere.  Classes are small so you get individual attention and hands-on experience.  According to the brochure, ""You'll leave class with skills to help you fearlessly tackle new projects.

About the instructor:  Diana Stasko has taught sewing to hundreds of students for over 15 years in the SF Bay Area.  She has a 35 year sewing background in costuming, textile art, garment making and alterations.

Studio Location:  The sunny, private studio is located near 40th and Broadway in North Oakland.


Better Living Through Sewing
(510) 681-3779

Thursday, December 26, 2013

I Love Hallmark Channel Holiday Movies!

I love Hallmark Channel Holiday movies!  They are sweet, romantic, and when I watch them I usually feel like things are great with the world!  Our cable service currently doesn't get Hallmark channel, and I really miss watching the holiday shows.  I was at my brother's tonight and we watched a movie- my brother, son, our dog, and I all cuddled up on the couch and it was wonderful just to relax!


Holiday movies on Hallmark Channel

(This service is similar to netflix, but has more family friendly content, I haven't tried the service yet.  The service is owned by Hallmark, but all the Hallmark movies are not available on this service.)

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Historic Holbrooke Hotel, Grass Valley, CA- Christmas dinner is 11AM to 6PM- California State Landmark

The current structure of the Historic Holbrooke Hotel in Grass Valley, CA was built in 1862, it was then named the Exchange Hotel, because it was convenient to the local gold exchange.  In 1974, the hotel was declared a California State landmark.  I saw the Holbrooke Hotel this past Friday night when I attended the Cornish Christmas Festival in Grass Valley with my son.  Mr. Snow, a local, was roasting chestnuts in an antique popcorn popper over an open fire, and allowing people to taste the chestnuts for free.  They were delicious.  The Holbrooke Hotel was a gorgeous backdrop to the scene of the fire and roasting chestnuts, so my son and I wanted to go in and check it out.  The hotel was decorated for the holidays and was gorgeous!  They have a Christmas dinner menu, plus you can warm up by the fire inside the Golden Gate Saloon and enjoy specialty drinks.


The Historic Holbrooke Hotel
(530) 273-1353
212 W. Main Street
Grass Valley, CA  95945
(Open for Christmas dinner, menu at $28.95 per adult, and $15.95 per child under 10.)
 Hours are 1PM to 6PM for dinner.

Bronners Christmas Shop, "World's largest Christmas store!" Frankenmuth, Michigan

Bronners Christmas shop in Frankenmuth is thought of as the "World's largest Christmas shop."  The store is open year round, and has nearly every Christmas decoration you can imagine.  The ornaments are gorgeous, and they can be ordered online and shipped.  Frankenmuth is also decked out for the holiday season, and is thought of as "Michigan's little Bavaria."


Bronners Christmas Shop
25 Christmas Lane
Frankenmuth, MI

Christmas Buffet at Zehnders in Frankenmuth, MI

I remember going to Frankenmuth, MI around the holidays, with the lights twinkling and decorations galore!  The main dining room has a Christmas buffet.  When I think of places that would be fun to celebrate Christmas, I think the Zehnders would be special enough for dinner!


730 S. Main Street
Frankenmuth, MI
Hours of main dining room on Christmas Day:  11-8PM

Christmas buffet
adults, $24.50 per person, lower prices depending on age of child

Celebrate the Holidays in Nevada County, California

This holiday season, my son and I went to some of the holiday celebrations in Nevada County.  They really know how to celebrate!

These are some of the festivals they offer:

Victorian Christmas- Nevada City

Artisans Festival at Miners Foundry

Cornish Christmas - Grass Valley  (My current favorite)

Auburn Christmas Festival- Auburn


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Victorian Christmas Festival is today at 1:30PM in Nevada City, CA, great way to get in holiday spirit!

Nevada City is such a magical place around the holidays!  There are white, twinkling lights everywhere and beautiful buildings!  Today is the last Victorian Christmas Festival of the season, and it will be at 1:30PM.  This weekend before Christmas is a gorgeous time to be in this area as there are several winter festivals.  On Friday night was the Cornish Festival in Grass Valley, On Saturday night was the Auburn Christmas festival, and today is the Victorian Christmas festival in Nevada City.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Victorian Christmas Festival in Nevada City

Nevada City is where one of my favorite holiday films, "The Christmas Card," was filmed.

Sunday, December 22nd, is the Nevada City Victorian Christmas Festival.  Here's the official description:

The enticing aromas of roasted chestnuts and hearty holiday foods fill the air, along with cries of street vendors hawking their wares and lamp-lit streets filled to overflowing with authentic Christmas treasures. It’s the 35th one & only Victorian Christmas-full of new shows, sights, sounds and attractions.
Welcome the holiday season in style in historic Nevada City, a quaint, Gold Rush town nestled in the foothills of the snow-capped Sierra where each year the town’s picturesque downtown transforms into a genuine Christmas card come to life. It’s a magical setting of hilly streets outlined with twinkling white lights and authentic gas lamps, wandering minstrels and carolers dressed in Victorian attire, and a myriad of visitors sharing holiday cheer and good tidings.
This annual, family tradition takes place three Wednesday evenings and two Sunday afternoons in December and features holiday activities for all ages:  carriage rides, live entertainment, savory yuletide treats and libations, and of course, Father Christmas!
There is oh so much to see, hear, feast upon and experience at Victorian Christmas. Whether you’ve been naughty or nice…we look forward to welcoming the best of the holiday Season with you and yours!
For anyone looking for the Christmas Card movie, here it is:

Cornish Christmas in Grass Valley

The Cornish Christmas Festival in Grass Valley, California is tonight until 9pm.  We are having a great time!  

Lots of food, crafts, etc.  Hot cider.  Hot chocolate.  Cornish pasties.  Clam Chowder.  Tons of other food.  Police are patrolling on horseback.  Lots of people; great way to get into the Christmas spirit.  

One big highlight for us -- chestnuts roasting on an open fire in front of the Holbrooke Hotel.  Just like the song.  And we have just learned that my son loves roasting chestnuts.  

Another highlight -- a 10-year old student at Nevada City School of the Arts playing Christmas songs on the violin.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Red Microfleece Throw - on wicker rocking chair on front porch

When I went to a concert with friends just before the holidays, my friend picked up micro fleece throw at Target.  I liked them so much, that she gave them to me for Christmas!  I love them thrown over wicker rocking chairs.


Polartec Microfleece Throw, Oversized
Berkshire Blanket
$19.99 each

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Holiday Decorating- Net-style lights- can use on bushes

I saw some gorgeous lights last night on  bushes!  They are truly Hanukkah bushes or Christmas bushes, or anything you want them to be!  I went to the ACE  hardware store near my house and they are called net-style lights.


150 indoor/outdoor net-style lights
(Great for decorating bushes, trees, or windows)
Manufactured for Ace Hardware Store
Oak Brook, IL  60523
Catalogue #  48950-71
ACE # 9864307

rats and mice- unwelcome holiday guests in an old bungalow

Old bungalows have rats or mice sometimes,  I actually found a hole in my kitchen once that led outside.  I'm always checking for cracks and crevices.  The JT Eaton Stick-em rat & glue traps work well, and are easy.  Make sure you do not touch it as they stick well, and also keep off the floor if you have pets.  We found out about this type from a contractor.


The Original Stick-Em Rat & Mouse Glue Traps
Pre-Baited, Peanut Butter Scented, non-poisonous
JT Eaton

Monday, December 16, 2013

Rockridge Craftsman for sale in Oakland, CA with original oak wood and built ins

I went to an open house yesterday, which I haven't done in quite awhile.  I saw a craftsman home in Rockridge with 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, and what was really special about this house was the built ins and the original oak wood!  I appreciated that the wainscoting was not painted white, but was left with the original oak wood.  This is a beautiful house that is quite roomy for a craftsman style home in Rockridge.  It is hard enough finding a 2 bath home, much less 2.5 baths.  There were hard wood floors throughout the home, walk-in closets, and it is walking distance to bart, shops, coffee, etc.


Rockridge Craftsman
5804 Ocean View
Rockridge district
Oakland, CA

Mark Bitzer Broker (Lic 0301863)
Bitzer Realty
(510) 757-8704
FAX 510-658-3008
(This property sold "as-is"

A new bike ride above the San Francisco Bay - from Oakland towards Treasure Island!

There is now a bike lane on the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge!  The ride starts near the Emeryville, CA Ikea, which also a great place to park, and then shop or eat afterwards.  The path is 3.5 miles and meanders under freeways and past the Oakland docks before rising over the bay.  The route now ends just short of Treasure Island.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Winter Swaps, Berkeley, CA

In Berkeley, there are now winter swaps the first Saturday of the month.  Bring books, clothing, crops, seedlings, or something homemade to share.  Enjoy the park and meet people in the community.  Participation open to everyone.  Cancelled if raining hard.


Winter Swap, Berkeley, CA
Sponsored By Transition Berkeley
Location:  Ohlone Greenway @Sacramento and Delaware, across from North Berkeley Bart.
January 4, 2014
February 1, 2014
March 1, 2014
April 5, 2014
June 3, 2014


Transition Berkeley

Transition Berkeley is part of a growing international network of Transition initiatives.

The purpose of Transition Berkeley is "Bringing neighbors together to build a more sustainable, self-reliant future for Berkeley.  We envision a strong, diverse local economy with a greatly reduced dependence on fossil fuels, and a cooperative, rewarding community life."


Transition Berkeley
See website for events and resources

Seed lending Library, Berkeley, CA

Discover the world of Saving and Sharing Seeds at the seed lending library!  The Cesar Chavez and Dimond branches of libraries in Berkeley, CA have seed lending libraries.  These free urban seed projects are committed to increasing the capacity of our community to feed itself wholesome food by means of education that fosters community resilience, self-reliance, and a culture of sharing.  The seed library is supported by volunteers and donations.


Seed Lending Libraries

Cesar Chavez Library
3301 East 12th Street, Suite 271
(510) 535-5620
Tuesday 12:30 to 8
Wednesday 10 to 5:30
Thursday & Saturday 10 to 5:30
Friday 12 to 5:30
Monday & Sunday Closed

Dimond Branch Library
3565 Fruitvale Avenue
(510) 482-7844
Tuesday 12:30 to 8
Wednesday 10 to 5:30
Thursday & Saturday 10 to 5:30
Friday 12 to 5:30
Monday & Sunday Closed

Saturday, December 7, 2013

BART Problems Visit Rockridge

A few days ago, a BART train got stuck in the tunnel between Orinda and Rockridge.  Passengers were trapped for around an hour, and complained that BART did not provide details on why the train was stopped.  A burning odor floated through the cars, and a number of passengers apparently ended up being hospitalized.

Here's the scene in Rockridge that night -- lots and lots of television vans!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Classic Train Set

I got my son a classic train set from the gift shop at the CA State Railroad Museum in Sacramento.  It contained everything we needed to set up a moving train.  It is not big enough to put around the Christmas tree.  I recommend this product, my son has really enjoyed it!  It even features lights and sounds.

Wow Toyz
103 Panton Road
Vergennes, VT  05491  USA
Item # WT-TR14
($14.99 at the CA State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, CA)

Recommended Wood Spoons

I really like using wooden spoons now.  They can be used on any cooking surface, and you don't have to worry about them melting or scratching teflon pans.  When I go camping or rent a cabin, I bring a few of mine from home, because they come in handy!  I even use them sometimes to serve a salad!  Handwashing is recommended, but we sometimes put them in the dishwasher.


wood spoons
Bradshaw International, Inc.
Rancho Cucamonga, CA  91730
(I use #27900 spoons)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Recommended beach bungalow rentals in Santa Cruz area (Aptos, Santa Cruz, Capitola, etc.)

We were looking for a beach bungalow to rent in the Santa Cruz area that allowed dogs, and we found one through Santa Cruz Getaways.  We rented the Harris II, which is at 100 Winfield  in Aptos, and it was wonderful.  It is walking distance from the Rio Del Mar Beach, has 2 bedrooms, and a fold out couch.  Rio Del Mar Beach is really dog friendly, there is also a cafe walking distance away called the Beach Bean.


Recommended Beach Bungalow
Harris II
100 Winfield
Aptos, CA

Santa Cruz Getaways
(831) 687-WAVE
Frank & Jewlia

Friday, November 29, 2013

San Francisco's Playland At the Beach: The Golden Years, talk by historian James R. Smith, 12/5/13, 7:00PM

California historian James R. Smith will guide you through one of America's landmark amusement parks with his book, San Francisco's play land at the Beach:  The Golden Years..  Playland at the Beach was a much loved institution.  (to be continued.....)

Tilden Park Carousel During the Holidays

Every year, at holiday time, the antique carousel at Tilden Park is decked out with lights and other fanciful decorations after Thanksgivng.  Each year, I think about it after the decorations are already being taken down.  This year I am determined to visit early.  The "Christmas Fantasy" is from November 29rh  to December 23rd.  If you are looking for something to get you into the holiday spirit, and feel like an evening drive into Tilden Park, then this will be a fun adventure!


Christmas Fantasy
Tilden Park Antique Carousel
November 29th- December  23rd
Time:  5:30PM to 8:30PM
Prices:  $10.00 for 7 rides
             $2.00 per ride

Return to the Little Ice Rink in Alameda, CA

One of our traditions this time of year is going ice skating at the Little Ice Rink in Alameda, CA at South Shore Center.  This place is the most family friendly ice arena that I've found in the bay area, especially since they have these orange skating aides called, Bobby the Seal, that the children can hang onto while they skate.  It is a great way for little ones to both learn to skate and develop their skill and confidence.  We went there for the first time this season on Tuesday night.  My son actually skated from 8:00PM to 9:30PM.  Usually his bedtime is 8:00PM but he was having so much fun, and it is also Thanksgiving vacation, so why not!

We also had dinner at Panera Bread, which is also in the South Shore Center.  My son likes the kids macaroni and cheese, which comes with an organic yogurt.  He also likes the black cherry smoothie, which they make with organic Stoneyfield farms yogurt.  We almost went again last night but we were both too tired.


The Little Ice Rink
at South Shore Center
Alameda, CA
November 8th-January 20th
(510) 629-1-ICE (1423)

Adults $15.00 Including skates, $10.00 if you bring your own skates

Children (up to 8 years old)  $10.00, including skates, $6.00 if you bring your own skates

Bobby the Seal- $5.00 (skating aide)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Crepevine in Oakland, CA is open until 2:00PM on Thanksgiving!

I took my son and dog to Crepevine today for breakfast.  I had my favorite crepe, which is the savory greek omelette with spinach, kalamata olives, roasted almonds, onions with feta cheese, and cucumber yogurt sauce.  My son had one pancake, one scrambled egg, and chicken apple sausage (which doggy shared)!   We had a great breakfast sitting outside, it was sunny so one of the employees pulled down the outside shade.  There are several choices for sitting here, inside, on the patio, or right outside the restaurant for a great dog-friendly choice.


5600 College Avenue
(between Keith and Ocean View Drive in the Rockridge District)
Oakland, CA  94618
(510) 658-2026
(open until 2:00PM today for breakfast or lunch, check website for regular, longer hours)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Recommended Furniture made from Reclaimed Wood, The Wooden Duck

The Wooden Duck furniture store in Berkeley, CA, has furniture made from 100% reclaimed wood.


The Wooden Duck
1823 Eastshore Hwy.
Berkeley, CA  94710
(510) 848-3575

The Wooden Duck
1848 Fourth Street
San Rafael, CA  94901
(415) 453-0345

Farmer's Markets - Temescal, Sundays, 9am to 1 pm, all year

The Temescal Farmers market, in Oakland, CA in walking distance to many of the residents in Rockridge, a district of Oakland, CA.  I love the Blue Bottle coffee, so get there early before it gets busy.  The market features locally grown fruits and vegetables,  fresh ranch eggs, home-made bakery items, fresh cut flowers, unique prepared foods, fresh locally caught fish, handcrafts and more.  It fun to go there and sample the foods, meet the growers, listen to music, and learn about unique food varieties and cooking tips.  Make sure and bring your own reusable bags.


Temescal Farmer's Market
5300 Claremont Avenue
(off Telegraph, at DMV parking lot)

More information about Certified Farmers' Markets at

Gardening - Seed Lending Libraries - Oakland, CA

"Discover the World of Saving and Sharing Seeds!"
                                    -The Seed Library

The Cesar Chavez and Dimond branches have seed lending libraries.  These free urban seed projects are committed to increasing the capacity of our community to feed itself wholesome food by means of education that fosters community resilience, self-reliance, and a culture of sharing.


Cesar Chavez Branch Library
3301 East 12th Street, Suite 271
(510) 535-5620
Tuesday 12:30-8
Wednesday 10-5:30
Thursday and Saturday 10 to 5:30
Friday 12 to 5:30
Monday & Sunday - closed

Dimond Branch Library
3565 Fruitvale Avenue
(510) 482-7844
Tuesday 12:30 to 8
Wednesday 10 to 5:30
Thursday and Saturday 10 to 5:30
Friday 12 to 5:30
Monday and Sunday- closed

Friday, November 22, 2013

Chai - Best in the Livermore Valley!

Bombay Nick's Chai Bar is absolutely some of the best chai in the Livermore Valley, if not the San Francisco Bay Area.  I got introduced to the chai at a festival in San Francisco, and took some of the loose leaf tea home.  The chai can be purchased at home by looking at the website,  Thanks to Bombay Nick's,  I  can now make the chai at home!  It's perfect for this cold weather!


Bombay Nick's Chai Bar
4010 East Avenue
Livermore, CA  94550
(925) 493-7044

Monday-Saturday 8AM-6PM
Sunday 10 AM- 4PM

They also do private events and parties,  with a customized hot and cold chai bar for your guests.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Old Bakeries still alive in North Beach area of San Francisco

I love going to the North Beach area of San Francisco and visiting the old original bakeries.  Though some things have changed about the area over the years, it still has an Italian heart and soul.  The following are a few of the older bakeries in the area:

Liguria Bakery (est. 1911)
1700 Stockton
San Francisco, CA  94133
(415) 421-3786
(excellent focaccia)

Victoria Pastry (est. 1914)
700 Filbert Street
San Francisco, CA  94133
(415) 781-2015
(yummy chocolate eclairs and princess cakes)

Italian-French Baking Company
1501 Grant Street
San Francisco, CA
(415) 421-3796
(great chocolate croissants)

Stella's Pastry (ca.1942)
446 Columbus (between Green and Stockton)
San Francisco, CA  94133
(415) 986-2914
(tasty tiramasu, eclairs, and cannoli)

Mara's Italian Pastry
503 Columbus Avenue
(between Stockton and Green)
San Francisco, CA
(415) 397-9435

Monday, October 28, 2013

Recommended Artist and Artwork, Frank Erickson

Frank Erickson has a large selection of artwork on his website.  His inspiration for painting was growing up with beautiful artwork on the walls of his home.  Growing up with all those paintings on the walls was his "inspiration to be a painter."  He could therefore, "not resist to paint!"

On his website he even shares what paintings were on the walls as he was growing up, it is fascinating to witness this part of his history of being an artist.


Mark Erickson
(510) 893-2800

Friday, October 25, 2013

Knights Ferry, CA - Salmon Festival, October 26, 2013

Tomorrow is the salmon festival at the Knights Ferry covered bridge.  The festival will be from 10AM to 4 PM.  The covered bridge was built in 1864 to replace the original bridge, which was washed away by the flood of 1862.  The bridge is fastened together with locust pins.  It was a toll bridge until purchased by Stanislaus County in 1885.  The salmon festival will have the following activities:

*historic tours
*food, such as barbecued salmon
*live music
*fish print shirts
*salmon obstacle course
*fly fishing demo

Image from

Salmon Festival, 2013
10AM- 4PM
October 26, 2013
Located at Knights Ferry Covered Bridge
17968 Covered Bridge Rd.
Oakdale, CA
(209) 334-2968 ex. 403

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Recommended Cafe in Alameda, CA - Wescafe

I found a great cafe in Alameda, CA on the way to my son's favorite outdoor area in Alameda, Crab Cove.  It is called Wescafe.  I really love it as it serves other creamer other than just milk and soy, it has almond milk as well as Hemp milk.

Book Recommendation for Fellow Crafters - I Just Like To Make Things by Lilla Rogers

I was at Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago browsing in the bookstore with my son and I discovered the book, I Just Like To Make Things by Lilla Rogers.  Lilla is a top artist agent who founded Lilla Rogers Studio.  This book is a great read for someone like me who loves making things, doing art, and crafting.  The book starts with the introduction saying, "If you want to paint, craft, illustrate, or design, and make it lucrative and exciting, then this is the book for you."  While I was reading this book, it made me feel like I was having coffee with a good friend who happened to be an art agent, and she was telling me her secrets!  I have only read 1/4 of the book, but I am really enjoying it!


I Just Like To Make Things
by Lilla Rogers
Founder, Lilla Rogers Studio
Quarry Books
100 Cummings Center
Suite 406L
Beverly, MA 01915

Monday, October 21, 2013

I discovered this blog last night.  Jenny blogs about lots of home improvement ideas.  Great blog!


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Halloween Murder Mystery dinner at historic National Hotel, Jamestown, CA

The historic National Hotel was established in 1859 by Heinrich and Hannah Neilson.  The 2 wooden buildings were among the first permanent structures in the gold-rush town of Jamestown.  The wooden bar in the restaurant is original and on the wall there are pictures of people sitting around it since 1900.

 There is a Halloween murder mystery dinner at the hotel on Thursday, October 31, 2013.  Guests are encouraged to dress as a favorite movie star or favorite character from a movie, as a "casting agent" is there to find the perfect look-alike movie stars to appear in a new movie.  An original mystery will be used which was written and produced by Eric Owens.

 The party begins at 6:30PM for appetizers and drinks.  Then, there is a $70.00  three course dinner with choices such as Veal Rolatini, Salmon En Croute, or Chicken Crevette.  The dessert is delicate pastry cups filled with ice cream, berries, and chocolate!  The fee also includes a complimentary well drink, tax, tip, and sleuthing.  There is a resident ghost named Flo, who you can read about on the website.  There are hotel rooms available, with special murder mystery rate.  Maybe, if you stay, you can meet Flo who is supposedly a friendly, mischievous ghost.


1859 Historic National Hotel
http:  //
(209) 984-3446

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Recipe - Beer-Braised Short Ribs

Beer-Braised Short Ribs


3 pounds of beef short ribs, trimmed
(Have butcher cut the ribs into 2 to 2 1/2 inch lengths so that they easily fit in the pan.)
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
3 celery stocks, sliced
3 carrots, sliced
5 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 (12-ounce) bottles lager beer
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
14.5-ounce beef broth, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Hot cooked egg noodles
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sprinkle ribs with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  Heal oil in a Dutch oven or cast iron casserole over medium-high heat.  Add ribs to pan; cook 8 minutes or until browned on all sides.  Remove ribs from pan, reserving 1 tablespoon oil in pan.

2.  Saute onion, celery, and carrots in to oil for 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic and tomato paste; saute 2 minutes.  Add beer, Worcestershire sauce, and 1 1/4 cups broth to pan, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of pan.  Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

3.  Return ribs to pan, turning to coat with sauce mixture.  Bake, covered, 3 to 3 1/2 hours or until ribs are very tender.

4.  Transfer ribs to a serving bowl.  Skim fat from pan drippings.  Whisk together flour and remaining 1/2 cup broth; stir into pan drippings.  Bring to a boil; boil 1 minute or until thickened.  Serve ribs with hot cooked egg noodles; top with pan sauce, and sprinkle with parsley.  Makes 4 servings.

Daniel Island, South Carolina - Coastal Living Showhouse tour

Daniel Island which is outside of downtown Charleston, South California used to be a private hunting retreat.  Now, this quaint waterfront locale is booming after being developed by the Daniel Island Company.  The master-planned city's success is due to its commitment to establishing a true sense of community, even having building regulations that mandate that each home be equipped with an extra large front porch for neighborly get togethers.

Coastal Living Magazine has a 2013 show house in the community, featuring the best of Seaside design.  The house can be toured this weekend, October 19th and 20th.  Visit for more information.  This house is not an old bungalow, but I guarantee it has an amazing front porch!


Daniel Island, South Carolina
Coastal Living Showhouse tour

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sideboard Cafe, Danville, CA- dog and child friendly!- Update, January 2014, they are moving!

My son and I love going to the Sideboard Cafe when we are in Danville.  The Sideboard was founded on St. Patrick's Day in 2008 around the time my son was born.  I remember first going there with him as a really little guy with some of the moms I met at a baby sign language class at the Danville Library. They have a commitment to natural, organic, and sustainable produce whenever possible.  Sometimes we bring our dog and sit on the patio, which is dog friendly.  There is such an adorable selection of pooches on the patios with their owners!  They have a bright red wagon filled with comfy blankets for cold days or nights.  My son loves wrapping himself in a cozy blanket.

I like the fried brussel sprouts with dip, unbelievably yummy!  My son loves the cheeseburger.  They also have a homemade rub for pork and beef that they sell at the shop, made with Blue Bottle espresso. I sent a few bottles to family members out of state and they loved the gift!

Today, my son and I are going to check out the Museum of the San Ramon Valley on Railroad Avenue, which is walking distance from the restaurant.  Currently, they have an exhibit on Native Americans.  Also, there is a real train caboose that houses public bathrooms, but also has an exhibit.  My son loves playing around the real train!  We discovered together from this exhibit that the very train tracks on exhibit used to go all the way from Danville, CA to San Francisco, CA.  My son wishes that train still exists!  The train museum hours are limited, so check the website before visiting.


Sideboard Restaurant
411 Hartz
Danville, CA
(925) 984-2713

Update, January 2014
Sideboard is moving to Railroad Avenue in early 2014, so check the website for the exact opening of the new location!  I can't wait, though I loved the old location with the fun patio, with heaters, blankets, and dog and child friendly environment!

Museum of the San Ramon Valley
(925) 837-3750
205 Railroad Rd.
Danville, CA

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Recommended realtor in Copperopolis, CA

Copperopolis is a new, old town in Calaveras County, CA.  Aaron Stafford has lived in Copperopolis in years and loves the area!  He is extremely knowledgable about the area and is patient with questions.
I highly recommend him as a realtor in Copperopolis, CA


Aaron Stafford
Coldwell Banker
Broker Associate
Lic #01241567
Lake Tulloch
Cell:  (209) 840-1432
Fax:  (866) 807-8832
14  O'Byrnes Ferry Road
Copperopolis, CA  95228

Copperopolis, A New Old Town- Recommended Restourants

I visited Copperopolis, CA this weekend and I really enjoyed visiting this new, old town.  The Saddleback Resort is a few miles from the town square and they have some of the best golf in California!

 I went to two restaurants in the town on a recent visit and I recommend both of them.

 Paninis Italian Grill had delicious Italian food.  It is a locally owned restaurant and the owner greeted us at our table and gave us some interesting facts about the town.  I love supporting locally owned businesses, if possible.   My son had the spaghetti and loved it.  The lasagna was really yummy too.

Griff's Barbeque and Grill had barbecued food as well as delicious salads.  I had a really yummy salad and my husband and son had barbecue.  We all enjoyed our dinner.  The environment is great too!

The town was decorated for Halloween and there were ghosts and goblins flying in the town square and on the gazebo.  My dog enjoyed taking a break and running around the square playing catch.

Griff's Barbeque had an outdoor area where you can eat with your pooch.


Panini's Italian Grill

Griff's Barbeque & Grill

Local Cafe, Snaps, for coffee and hot drinks

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Autobahn Cafe, Oakland, CA- Victorian exterior!

I'm sitting at the Autobahn Cafe in Oakland, CA.  What a cozy find parallel to 880 near Jack London Square!  I was impressed how easy it was to park on the street outside the cafe, and the beautiful Victorian exterior with old style lamps, that may just be original.  The inside has high ceilings, fans, and comfortable wood tables and chairs.  I'm sitting at a window seat looking out a bay window (i'm looking at the 880 freeway, but with the song, "As Time Goes By" and other classic instrumentals, I feel like I can dream I'm anywhere I want to be!

I highly recommend this place.  For coffee or chais, they have soy milk and milk (no charge for soy milk.)  I am actually temporarily giving up both soy and milk, and I brought my own small coconut milk container and they graciously made me a delicious chai latte with it.  The people who work here are really calm and kind!  I highly recommend this place, it is my first time, but I will definitely be back.  There is a sign outside showing lunch items, and the organic quinoa salad sounds delicious!


Autobahn Cafe
571 5th Street
Oakland, CA  94607

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Dinnerware- 100% Tree Free Disposable Dinner Plates

I found some ultra strong dinner plates that are 100% tree free!  They are made from bamboo which is more eco friendly than regular wood because bamboo regenerates in as little as six months.  The plates are also microwavable!  We like to use disposable plates when we eat outside.


Ultra Strong Dinner Plates
18 microwavable plates
100% tree free
Distributed by Walgreen Co.
200 Wilmot Rd.
Deerfield, IL  60015

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Cleaning the home- Casabella Water Stop Gloves

I found the Casabella gloves at Whole Foods, but they can also be ordered online.  They are 100% latex and also have a comfortable cotton flock lining inside.  What is nice about these gloves is that they have a cuff that catches liquid from getting on your sleeves or hands.  I use these gloves for dish washing, car washing, oven cleaning, everything where I'm using water but don't want to get my hands wet.


Congers New York  10920  USA
Made in Greece

Dinner Recipe- Beef Meat Loaf from Whole Foods

Normally I make my own meatloaf, but when I was at Whole Foods yesterday I noticed they made it there fresh with freshly ground basel and other herbs, the butcher said he even brings it home and his own children love it.  For 1.940 lbs. it coast $10.65.   So, I tried it.  It is so easy, I just preheated the oven to 375 degrees and cooked it for one hour, then took it out and glazed it with organic catsup then cooked it for 5 more minutes.  It was delicious!


Whole Foods Market, meat department, Beef Meatloaf

Monday, October 7, 2013

Caffe 817, Old Oakland, CA

I am sitting at Caffe 817 in Old Oakland.  I ordered a house brewed chai soy latte, which is really tasty but not too sweet, plus I ordered a single poached egg and they only charged me the "add an egg" rate at $1.50.  The parsley and other spices they sprinkled on the egg really made it taste every savory! There are high ceilings, a wood tables, and large windows that look out onto Old Oakland.  Street parking can get tight at lunchtime, though there is a paying parking area across the street.  Right now I am parked on the street.  I have always liked Old Oakland shops on Washington Street.

Bungalow Mama


817 Washington street
Oakland,  CA  94607
1 (510) 271-7965

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Out and About in Rockridge is today until 6 PM. Rockridge, CA

Today is Out and About and Rockridge in Oakland, CA.  Festivities are today until 6:00PM.  We spent much of today walking around, having lunch, shopping, and people watching.


Out and About in Rockridge
Rockridge District of Oakland, CA

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Full Belly Farm has campout tonight!

Full Belly Farm in Yolo County, CA is having a campout tonight.  The price is $25.00 per car and no reservations are required, and you do not have to have a CSA membership to camp over.   This year is the 26th annual celebration, and the main festivities are  today from 11AM to 11PM.  Last year my son and I drove to Guinda for the Saturday celebration, but did not camp.  They had food, music, and other entertainment.  They also had tractor tours of the property which were really interesting!  This year we had another engagement so couldn't go, but I look back fondly at last year's trip there.  Next year I want to camp there as it was a long trip there and back.

Check out a video of full belly camp on tube, under the title of Full Belly Camp Documentary by Andrew Pinkham.

Full Belly Farm is a certified organic farm located in the beautiful Capay Valley of Northern California.  Their CSAF program offers boxes of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, and offers seasonal outings like these, some for members of the CSA only and others for the general public.


Full Belly Farm

Hoes Down Harvest Festival
26th Annual Celebration
October 5th and 6th
Yolo County
Saturday, 11AM to 11PM
Saturday Night camping, $25.00
Sunday- Specialized hands-on seminars in a variety of subjects, register at Ecofarm booth.

Fully Belly Farm
16090 Road 43
Guinda, CA
(530) 796-2214



Thursday, October 3, 2013

Recipe - Garlic Ginger Chicken

Garlic Ginger Chicken

2 Tablespoons of grass fed butter, unsalted (I used goat butter I had purchased at Whole Foods.)
1 Tablespoon of ginger root, minced
5 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced
1/4 teaspoon of fish sauce
1/4 cup of coconut aminos
8 chicken thighs
1 teaspoon of salt  (I didn't use any salt and the chicken was delicious.)
1 teaspoon of black pepper


1.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2.  In a small saucepan, melt the butter on low-heat.

3.  Turn the heat to medium, and add the ginger, garlic, fish sauce, and coconut amines to the butter.

4.  Allow the mixture to come to a bubble, and stir for 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat, and set aside.

5.  Place the chicken thighs in an oven safe baking dish, and pour the sauce over the chicken.  Optional:  I used a large cast iron pan to cook the chicken on each side for a few minutes before placing in the oven.

6.  Sprinkle each chicken thigh with pepper and salt (optional)

7.  Bake the chicken for 45 minutes and allow it to cool slightly before serving.

This recipe is adopted from the Garlic Ginger Chicken recipe on page 132 of the book, The 30 Day Guide to Paleo Cooking by Hayley Mason and Bill Staley.


The 30 Day Guide to Paleo Cooking
by Hayley Mason and Bill Staley
Victory Belt Publishing Inc.
Las Vegas
Copyright 2013
ISBN 978-1-936608-49-2

Tours - Bay Area Green Tours, SF Bay Area

Last year I went on a sustainable restaurant tour in San Francisco, by the waterfront,  through Bay Area Green Tours.  I found out about the tour from a friend who goes on many of their tours and loves them!  It was a very enjoyable and delicious day and I want to go on more of their tours.

The tour topics are the following:

Alternative transportation

Sustainable San Francisco

Green Building

Renewable Energy

Moveable Feast

Wine and Cheese

Green Pioneers

Sustainable Agriculture

They also offer private tours for schools, colleges, businesses, tour groups introducing their guests on the tour to sustainable businesses and organizations that are role models for a sustainable economy.

The locations where tours are offered are the following:

Napa County

Marin County

Sonoma County

Moveable Feast-a sustainable restaurant tour, the tour I went on, LOVELY and YUMMY!


Bay Area Green Tours
2150 Allston Way
Suite 280
Berkeley, CA  94704
(510)  704-0379

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Cookbooks - Good Morning Baking, by Mani Niall

I am sitting with a hot cup of coffee and a oatmeal sour cherry chocolate chip cookie at Sweet Bar Bakery on Broadway street in Oakland, CA.  This is my favorite bakery in Oakland, and also my son's favorite place to get a chocolate chip cookie with organic flour and a glass of organic milk!!!!  I love this place.  A few days ago I had talked to the owner and he told he that his dried cherries of the oatmeal sour cherry chocolate chip cookies come from Traverse City, Michigan!  Now, I know why this place reminds me so much of my childhood in Michigan.  Also, the owner and chef, Mani, spent his early years growing up in Michigan.

He has a new cookbook called Good Morning Baking!  It has delicious recipes to start the day.  As I looked through the book, I noticed the Strawberry-Rhubarb Turnovers which reminds me of the rhubarb pie my grandma used to make from rhubarb in her garden!  I will ask Mani if I can share this recipe on a future blog!

His book is dedicated to the memory of his father, George Brendan Nial, Sr. whose idea of a good morning began with soft scrambled eggs, crisp bacon, and black coffee.  My father, like Man's father, always had us start the day with a real breakfast such as eggs, bacon, pancakes, and biscuits!  In my dad's mind, breakfast was the most important (and tasty) meal of the day!  All  of us 4 children in my family grew up knowing how to cook eggs, bacon, and sausage, and we all have loved a great breakfast!

Sweet Bar Bakery has a delicious gluten free frittata for a breakfast choice, they also have breakfast sandwiches.  Coffee refills are free, too!


Strawberry-Rhubarb Turnovers, from p. 71,
Good Morning Baking, Delicious Recipes to Start the Day
Mani Niall
Photographs by Erin Kunkel
Egg & Dart Publishing
ISBN 978-0-9838595-7-4

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Porch - a glossary of words

I've been noticing porches in my neighborhood recently, and it is really fun looking at the different aspects of the porch and actually knowing the language.

Here are some words I've recently learned referring to different aspects of a porch.

Baluster - One of the small upright posts that support rail and sometimes connect to a lower rail.

Balustrade - The entire railing enclosing a porch, staircase, balcony, or deck, made up of a series of balusters.

Gingerbread Trim - Ornate wood decoration common on Victorian homes.

Header - Horizontal framing member above the porch posts.

Lattice - Decorative, openwork wooden panels often used to fill the space from the porch floor to the ground

Newel - The post at the top or bottom of the stairs.

Ornament - This includes millwork, moldings, gingerbread trim, and other detailing added for decoration.

Pediment - A low-pitched gable often used as a porch roof.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Blogs - Mimi's Way - 10 steps to a perfect dinner party

Mimi says, "Really spoil guests with good wine."

Mimi Thorisson has a gorgeous website, called Manger.  She lives in a rambling farmhouse in France, has a wonderful family, a husband who is an amazing photographer whose photos you can see on her blog, and seems to have an amazing life of visiting winemakers, food artisans, antiquiting, and entertaining friends and family.  She has 6 children and 14 adorable dogs!  Here is her seven steps to a perfect dinner party:

1.)  Prepare ahead!

2.)  Begin the evening with a game on the lawn.  It helps people work up an appetite and gives them something to laugh about over dinner.

3.)  Choose an easy aperitif spread, like charcuterie.

4.)  Give people tasks they can handle:  opening wine lighting candles, etc.

5.)  Serve the best possible wine.  It really makes the meal unforgettable- even if you can't quite remember it...

6.)  And the best possible bread.  I'd drive 30 minutes to find the best baguette.

7.)  To put the meal over the top, finish with mignardises, or little candies or cookies.  I serve homemade caramels and marshmallows in antique apothecary jars.


Mimi Thorisson's Blog, Manger
http: //

Dessert recipes - Blackberry ice cream

My son loves blackberries, so I'm excited to try this recipe that I slightly modified!  I found it on Mimi Thorisson's blog, Manger.  Her blog is a feast for the senses, I love it!

Blackberry ice cream
(serves 8-10)


2 cups of blackberries
6 tablespoons of granulated sugar
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of water
1 cup of heavy cream


     Rinse blackberries and drain.  In a saucepan, place blackberries, sugar, 2 tablespoons of water, and lemon juice.  Cook for 10-15 minutes on a medium to low heat stirring frequently.  Pass the mixture through a sieve to remove pips.  Set aside and leave to cool completely.  Then, place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

     Combine blackberries mixture with the heavy cream.  Switch your ice cream maker on, pour in cream mixture.  Churn in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.  Transfer ice cream to an air tight container and place in freezer for a few hours or overnight.

Main Course Fall Recipe - Caramel Chicken

I found this recipe for Caramel Chicken in the October 2013 issue of Bon Appetite magazine. It sounds like a perfect fall recipe to warm up the kitchen and have a cozy dinner!  I modified it a bit to fit my family's needs, such as changing the soy sauce to gluten free, as well as a few other minor changes.

Caramel Chicken
Active- 1 hour 15 minutes
Total- 1 hour and 45 minutes

4 servings


2 Tbsp of vegetable oil
2 1/2 lb. skin-on, bone-in chicken legs and thighs
kosher salt
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup (or more) unseasoned rice vinegar
2 1/4 " thick slices of peeled ginger
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup reduced sodium, gluten free soy sauce
2 scallions, thinly sliced
cooked white or brown rice (for serving with chicken.)


     Heat oil in a large wide heavy pot over medium-high heat.  Season chicken with salt and, working in 2 batches, cook until golden brown and crisp, 6-8 minutes per side; transfer to a plate.  Add garlic to pot and cook, stirring often, until golden, about 2 minutes; transfer to plate with chicken.  Pour off fat from pot.
     Return pot to medium-high heat and add 1/2 cup of water, scraping up browned bits.  Add brown sugar; stir to dissolve, then cook, stirring, until mixture thickens and turns to a deep amber color, about 4 minutes.  Carefully add vinegar (it may bubble up; sugar will crystallize); stir to dissolve sugar.
     Add ginger, broth, and soy sauce, then add chicken, skin side up, and garlic.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer gently until chicken is cooked through, 20-25 minutes.  Transfer chicken to a plate.
     Bring cooking liquid to a boil and cook until thick enough to coat a spoon, about 10 minutes.  Return chicken to pot; turn to coat.  Top with scallions and serve with rice.

Calories 490, Fat 18 G

Recommended realtor in Oakland, CA

Jennifer Graham has her office with Alain Pinel in Montclair Village, a district of Oakland, CA.  She has amazing knowledge about the different communities in Oakland and also has a great sense of ways to remodel to help places sell!  Jennifer is a really kind and warm person, so I highly recommend her!


Jennifer Graham
Realtor, Alain Pinel
Montclair Village
6211 La Salle Avenue
Oakland, CA  94611
Cell  510-409-9916
FAX  510-339-3747

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Foodie shopping: Oaktown Spice Shop, Grand Lake Neighborhood, Oakland,CA

     When I was in Chicago, Illinois this summer I visited an amazing spice shop in old town.  I'll never forget the smell of the freshly ground cinnamon and other spices!  I am so happy we have our own spice shop in Oakland right in the Grand Lake neighborhood.  John Beaver and Erica Perez opened Oaktown Spice Shop last December.

      John Beaver worked in the spice industry for many years at a family-owned spice shop outside of Milwaukee where he is from.  Within the shop, it is a feast for the senses!  There are vintage scales and spice jars, as well as antique maps that point out the region where the spices come from.  This is a great place to visit if you have a little time to spare and want to learn and try something new.  The shop caters to the everyday cook as well as to the gourmet.

Beaver sources the very best spices from all over the world.  He has handcrafted blends that you won't find anywhere else.  They are right down the street from the Saturday Grand Lake farmers market, which has so many food loving people.


Oaktown Spice Shop
12-7 p.m.  Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.  Saturday, 12-4pm on Sunday.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Home Maintenance: spider web blocks burner

Fall is in the air, and I even had spider webs in my burners this morning to prove it!  I noticed this past week that a few of my burners weren't working so had to call the Sears Blue Service Crew (repairman.)  When Patrick came out this morning he said I had a blockage inside my stove's RR burner cap and center orifice from spider webs.   Though the stove had been purchased in February, this had not happened yet.  Patrick recommended that I turn on all the burners every day to prevent this from happening again.  I was really happy with the service.


Sears Blue Crew
Sears Blue Service Crew 
Technician ID#  666214

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Tours: Today is the Alameda Legacy Home Tour! 9/22/13

Today is the Alameda Legacy Home Tour in Alameda, CA.  The event is from 11AM to 5:00PM, and tour tickets can be purchased at Franklin Park, corner of Morton Street.  I went to this event last year and really enjoyed it!


Alameda Legacy Home Tour
Sunday, September 22, 2013
11:00AM to 5:00PM
http: //

Entertainment: Freight and Salvage Coffee House, Berkeley, CA

For the last 45 years, the Freight and Salvage has been the epicenter of all kinds of acoustic music.  The Freight provides a home for traditional music, a dynamic living, developing art form, since 1968.  The Freight is a non profit community arts organization dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of traditional music.

I went to a concert there tonight to see the Baguette Quartette.  It was a farewell performance for this bay area treasure that has been playing for the last twenty years, playing the music of Paris in the 1920's and 1930's.  The group featured Odile Lavault on accordion, bandoneon, and vocals.  Rachel Durling on violin, John Schott on guitar and banjo, and Richard Trevor on string bass.  They played tangos and waltzes, paso doubles, and fox trots, plus marches and musettes.  The group has released sex albums, including their last, A La Noce.

The Freight and Salvage hosts traditional music concerts almost all nights of the week.  See the current schedule on their website at  They also offer ways to learn to play instruments, such as Classes, Jams, and workshops.

They have a cafe with coffee, tea, snacks, plus there is a small bar area with adult refreshments.  They only provide snacks so I would recommend you have dinner before the concert.

If you can't make it to a concert, you can watch the show live by looking at


Freight and Salvage
2020 Addison Street
Berkeley, CA
(510) 644-2020

Friday, September 20, 2013

Urban Ore, for recycling building and other materials, Berkeley, CA

Urban Ore's mission is to end the age of waste.  Yesterday, I saw their truck in front of a home in Rockridge, CA that was being renovated.   They were taking scraps of things that ware not going to be used in the remodel.  I highly recommend using Urban Ore them during a remodel.  I've also dropped off gently used curtains, clothes, lamps, etc.  The receiving part of the store closes daily at 5:00PM.


Urban Ore
900 Murray Street
Berkeley, CA  94710
Phone:  1 (510) 841-7283

Hours:  Monday through Saturday, 8:30AM to 7 PM
Sunday, 10:00AM to 7:00PM  (receiving closes daily at 5:00PM)
Closed:  Christmas, New Year's, Easter, 4th of July, and Thanksgiving

Saturday, September 14, 2013

fire pit out on the deck

Tonight we had a fire out on the deck, we could see the moon from above the roof!  We have lights in our tree in the backyard, lights that I purchased before we even had electricity in our backyard.  I remember imagining how pretty they'd be in the tree, where they are now hanging.  Though they actually had laid on a shelf for years before we finally got electricity in the backyard and I could put them up.    As we sat back there, we came to the conclusion that our backyard has had the biggest transformation from when we moved in.  When we moved in there was no electricity outside, there wasn't an outdoor light by the back door, there weren't little lights on the trees and deck, and we didn't have any outdoor furniture in the beginning when we first lived in our old bungalow.  Now, it is truly an outdoor room!  Tonight, we moved up our firepit onto our deck, which we'd never done before.  I use Java logs from whole foods as it doesn't cause the same allergic reaction as other fire logs do.    My son wanted to roast marshmallows, but I hadn't gotten marshmallows from the store, as I hadn't known we were going to have a fire.   I like the kebab skewers from home depot, they work well with marshmallows.  Also, the Whole Foods marshmallows are heavenly, they are made with no corn syrup.


Large Firepit and Grill,  from Orchard Supply,  Concord, CA  Item # 4443230   $129.99

Kebab Skewars (we use them for marshmallows and for roasting hotdogs) - 4 pack, from Orchard Supply,   Concord, CA  Item #  060197104158

Orchard Supply and Hardware
2050 Monument Blvd.
Concord, CA  94520  (925) 685-3000

Whole Foods very vanilla bean marshmallows, no corn syrup or artificial colors, made by hand, yum!

Javalog,  made with recycled coffee grounds , burns 3 hours (as I write this, the log is still burning outside, in fact I think I'll go outside and sit by myself for a little while with my dog, after I finish this post!)

A fire outdoors can be magical to both children and adults!


Bungalow Mama

Friday, September 13, 2013

Classes: The Institute of Urban Homesteading

I just recently found out about The Institute of Urban Homesteading, which provides classes in Oakland and Berkeley, in California.  The classes provide classes in skills for self-reliance, community resilience, and urban transformation.  Listed below are some samples of types of classes the institute provides:

-fiber arts
-seed saving

Upcoming Event in North Oakland
Day of the Dead
Dover Park
Friday, November 1, 4pm til dark
Altars at 4 PM
Procession at 5 PM
Dinner at 6 PM

Sample Classes in September:

Sat 9/14   Managing the Urban Harvest
Wed 9/18  Cheese Making  101
Thur 9/19  Dehydration Basics
Sat 9/21  Canning Extravaganza
Sun 9/22  Orchard Care and Pruning
Sun 9/22  Pollination Ecology
Sun 9/22 Home Smoking Foods
Wed 9/25  DIY Local Medicine II
Sat 9/28  Natural Fiber Felting
Sun 9/29  Healthcare for Urban Livestock
Sun 9/29  Hand Spinning Wool

Wed 10/2  Brewcraft:  Mead
Sat 10/5  Fall Foraging
Sun 10/6  Fermentation Intensive
Wed 10/9  Meat 101:  The Chicken
Thur 10/10  Homemade Toiletries
Sat 10/12 & Sun 10/13  Cheese Making Intensive
Sat 10/19  Rabbit Butchering & Tanning
Sun 10/20  Decadent Cordials
Sun 10/20  Home-Scale Aquaponics
Sat 10/25 & Sun 10/26  Day of the Dead Workshops

Friday 11/1  Day of the Dead Celebration
Sun 11/3  Xmas Confection Xtravaganza
Sun 11/3  BioChar Presentation
Wed 11/6  Carob Harvest and Preparation
Sat 11/9  Bar & Liquid Soapmaking
Sat 11/19  Soil Health & Science
Sun 11/17  Wheat, Gluten & Grain-Free Living
Wed 11/20  Cheese Making 102
Sat 11/23  Hand Sewing Basics
Sat 11/23  Machine Sewing Basics
Sun 11/24  Olive Picking and Brining

Sat 12/13  & Sun 12/14  Winter Open House

Classes take place evenings and weekends at private locations throughout Berkeley and Oakland.
Sliding scale tuition for all classes.  Pre-registration is required.  Exact locations are given upon registration.

For detailed class descriptions, class times, prices & registration, visit their online portal

Festivals- Rockridge Out and About, Sunday, October 6, 2013, 12-6 PM

The Rockridge Out and About is coming up on October 6, 2013 from 12-6PM.  This is a big event in our neighborhood and most, if not all, of our neighbors are actually, true to the name, out and about on College Avenue.  This is a fun event for all ages!  Listed below are a few of the fun things featured at the event:

- Chef's Stage
-Artisan Alley
-57th Street Gallery Jazz Stage
-Musically Minded Stage
-Picnic on the Street
-Kid's Court
-Wellness Area


Rockridge Out & About
Sunday, October 6, 2013
12-6 PM

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Rockridge Kitchen Tour is September 29, 2013

I love the Rockridge Kitchen tour!  I've been several times and I always think it is super interesting!  This year marks the tenth biennial event since 1995, and continues to offer guests a personal look inside nine beautifully remodeled residential kitchens in the historic Rockridge neighborhood.  The tour is self-guided and offers guests an opportunity to view a variety of kitchen styles and sizes.

Rockridge Kitchen Tour
Sunday, September 29, 2013

For ticket purchase:
Online-  Advance tickets ($35) may be purchased through September 27th online at

On the avenue-  Advance tickets ($35) are available at Rockridge Home, 5418 College Avenue, open daily from 11a.m. to 8 p.m.  Tickets are available here through september 27th.

On Site- For those who wait, $40. Day of Tour tickets will be sold at the registration desk in front of the College Avenue Presbyterian Church, 5951 College Avenue, beginning at 11 a.m., Sunday, September 29th.

Monday, September 9, 2013

fun home design websites

It is amazing how many home design and accessory website there are now.  I've listed a few below that I have stumbled upon, seen in magazines, or have been told about.   It is fun to look at these sites to get ideas when doing some redesigning.

Resources: vintage and new home accessories  affordable art prints interior accessories made by european weavers and craftsman  hand knit birds Japanese enamel stock pots

Bay Area Cafes-Farley's Coffee, Oakland, CA- Community in a cup!

I love Farley's coffee in Oakland, it is becoming one of my favorite coffee shops in Oakland.  Farley's has three locations, San Francisco, Oakland, and Emeryville.  This coffee has delicious real food too, such as gluten free and regular frittatas, paninis and salads, plus all the usual cafe fare.  There are tons of magazines, a great loft upstairs that looks out on the street, with real outlets.  I've noticed lately some cafes do not have outlets, as they do not want people to linger.  Farley's has a real sense of community, with tons of people on their laptop, meeting with friends, or poring over magazines.


Farley's Coffee, Oakland
33 Grand Avenue
Oakland, CA  94612
(510) 835-7898
Hours:  Monday-Friday  7AM-9:00PM
             Saturday-Sunday 8:00AM-9:00PM

Oakland Art Murmur- 1st Friday evening of the month

I've gone to the Oakland Art Murmur in Oakland, CA at least five times, I honestly love it!  As I walked down some of the streets around Broadway and Telegraph and in between, I felt a great sense of pride that I live in Oakland.  Plus, there is an undeniable energy and excitement that feels great!  I've never seen any violence or crime while I've been at the Art Murmur, but I'd recommend dressing casually, without designer clothes.  Also, don't walk down the streets on iPhones or sit outside a cafe on a computer- but I recommend that in any big city!  For a great cafe that you can sit inside and have coffee and work on your computer, see my next blog today!

I recommend coming early to Art Murmur, as it starts as early as 5 PM.  This way, if you drive, you can park before the crowds arrive.  Though, you can also take bart.  You can also park at Jack London Square, and then take the free Oakland shuttle uptown that runs until 1 a.m.   This way, after you arrive in Uptown, you can work your way towards downtown and Jack London Square, back to your car.  By the time things can busy, you'll be back in a less crazy area.  If Telegraph Avenue feels too packed, then try accessing the fun from Broadway.

If you feel uncomfortable walking around the streets of Oakland at night, then consider the Saturday stroll.  This actually happens every Saturday, NOT just once a month, from 1 PM to 5 PM, with almost all the OAM galleries participating.


Oakland Art Murmur
(First Friday  night of the month)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Recipes- Bill's garlic bread

My father, Bill, used to like to make garlic bread just before I went on a date!  He wanted to scare my date away, at least that is what it seemed like at the time.  The first time I ever went on a date, the guy said, "Don't worry, sir, I'll get her home early!"  My dad said, "I'm not worried I already wrote down your license plate number off your car, here it is, and showed him the paper."

Ingredients for  garlic bread on BBQ

soft french loaf bread
1/2 cup of butter
2 tsp. of granulated garlic ( or 1 tbsp. of minced garlic)


Melt 1/2 cup of butter with 2 tsp. of granulated garlic ( or the t tbsp. of minced garlic) over low heat.  Slice 1 soft French-style loaf ( about 15 inches long) in half lengthwise and toast, crust side down, on a BBQ  grill until crunchy, about 3 minutes.  Turn and toast cut side about 3 minutes.  Brush garlic butter onto Bread and cut into 1 inch slices.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Kitchen-to-Dining Room Pass-Through Cabinet

We saw a bungalow in Alameda the other day that has a very interesting feature.  Between the dining room and the kitchen is a cabinet / pass-through area.  It appears to be an original feature of the house.

Here's the view from the dining room:

Here's the view from the kitchen:

New Safeway in Rockridge

After years of debate, the builders have broken ground on the new Safeway.  Here's the view of the construction site from across the street at the fantastic Cole Coffee.

The pictures really don't do it justice.  In person, the bulldozer you see here is climbing a massive hill of soil.    

Recipe- Chicken Wings

Great article in The New York Times today about cooking chicken wings!  Check out

Our own more labor-intensive approach to cooking wings is here.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The old doorbell

I came home a few days ago and the "new" doorbell -- which was taped to the old doorbell -- was on the ground.  I felt like crying as I finally had thought the problem was fixed by placing a new doorbell on the old one.  When we finally resolve this problem, I'll update what actually worked!

Here's a picture:

You can see the new smaller white wireless doorbell button sitting on top of the old yellow large one.

The bottom line - wireless doorbells are just NOT the way to go.  We're going to have to just wire up a regular doorbell.  Wish we had done that before we moved in (even better - wish the prior owners had wired one up).

Recommended Realtor in Portland, Oregon

My dear friend, and fellow bungalow lover, recommended Rambo Halpern, known in Southeast Portland as "the bungalow guy."  I called him today to find out more about the bungalows in Southeast Portland and also to ask about whether I should connect my dining room and kitchen, as I am itching to have more light in my dining room and create more of a great room feel.  He gave some great honest advice!

He recommended that those looking in Southeast Portland neighborhoods for a bungalow look at his Facebook page,  He explained how he just added a listing of a 3 bedroom and 1 bath bungalow for $399,000.  This bungalow is in a neighborhood of Portland that is walkable to everything.  This is similar to the Rockridge neighborhood where I live, though Portland is still more reasonably priced.

I recommend talking to Rambo, the bungalow guy about bungalow neighborhoods in Southeast Portland, or even about bungalow questions!

Rambo started out by acquiring a few older homes in N.E. Portland and began the work of renovating them with the help of a good local contractor.  His greatest assets as a realtor is knowledge of the local market and the ability to match a person's needs with a suitable property.  He also has a trustworthy recommended network of lenders, contractors, and home inspectors in the area.

Rambo specializes in neighborhoods in Southeast Portland, such as Brooklyn Heights and Hawthorne, which both have easy access to downtown.  Many of the homes are turn of the century, arts and crafts homes, and are walkable to shops and restaurants.

In my research of Southeast Portland, I found that there are various neighborhoods, some are just beginning to revitalize so there are still bargains available.  I found another website discussing Portland Eastside, at  


Rambo Halpern
"The Bungalow Guy"
Re/Max Equity Group
Phone- (503) 715-1399
FAX- (503) 715-1399

Portland Eastside

Open dining area to kitchen?

We are doing a kitchen remodel in the next several months as soon and I am trying to figure out whether I should somehow connect the dining room and kitchen.  I would love to be able to pass food and beverages through to the dining room from the kitchen.  Plus, when I was at Frank Lloyd Wright's home in Oak Park, Illinois, I saw that Frank Lloyd had built one of those in his own home.

Yet, if we did add this, a contractor we interviewed had said it may be difficult matching up the newer elements of the kitchen to the all original elements of our dining room.

Today, I talked to Rambo Halpern, a realtor and resource recommended to me by a friend in Portland, Oregon.  He has an informative and well thought out blog, called  When I called him to ask his advice and to find out more about the bungalow market in Portland, Oregon, he told me that many of his clients are looking for an original bungalow, with as little untouched as possible.

Our conversation reminded me of when we started looking for bungalows in Rockridge, and so many people had painted the wainscoting white and taken out the original china cabinets or fireplace tiles.  At that point, after talking to the "Bungalow Guy," I started rethinking my idea of putting a hole through the wall from the dining room to the kitchen.  Thanks Bungalow Guy!


Rambo Halpern
"Bungalow Guy"
Re/Max Equity Group
Phone- (503) 473-4127
FAX- (503) 715-1399

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Recommended Realtor in Ann Arbor, MI

For Ann Arbor, MIchigan realtors, I recommend Heidi Elder.  She has lived in Washtenaw County, MI her whole life and is very familiar with Ann Arbor's neighborhoods and surrounding areas.  She has had experience as a licensed realtor for over 8 years.


Heidi Elder
Buyer's Agent
The Bouma Group Realtors
564 South Main Street, Suite 100
Ann Arbor, MI  48104

Direct Phone:  (734) 929-6107
Cell Phone:  (734) 945-7736

Ann Arbor, Michigan - beautiful bungalows in a college town

 Bungalows are a popular style of home in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  They feature the classic bungalow characteristics that make homes so charming:   things like low-pitch rooflines, deep overhanging eaves, exposed rafters or decorated brackets under the eaves, and a front porch covered by an extension of the roof.

I remember driving by these bungalows as a child and wanting to live in one of them!  Around the holidays, there is a fairytale quality about some of the Ann Arbor neighborhoods.  People in Michigan love the holidays!

First 30 Days

I found a blog called about how if you want to make a change in your life, you have to start by just looking at the first 30 days.  We are working on remodeling our kitchen in our old bungalow, and yesterday I almost gave up on doing it at all.  I cried, I was angry, and I was frustrated after meeting with a potential contractor and realizing the whole thing was going to be harder than I thought, and that I was not going to be able to open up the dining room as I wanted.  My dream home has a more open feel than my current bungalow with separate rooms.  I am going to spend some time later today reading the blog!

(a blog about making changes by looking at the first 30 days!  Changing anything is so hard!)

Ann Arbor, Michigan

The locals sometimes call Ann Arbor A squared.  The first member of my family to go to University of Michigan was my Aunt, when she went to medical school there.  Then,  two of my brothers went to University of Michigan, which is why I first visited it.  My oldest brother was twelve years older than me, so when he went to undergraduate college in Ann Arbor, I was only eight years old.  We used to visit him often as we only lived an hour away.  My mom would make freshly baked chocolate chip cookies with walnuts my father cracked himself, and  my brother would open the door when we arrived, take a cookie from the decorated tin and smile like a 5 year old.  He had longish, blonde, curly hair and a huge smile!  I loved going to Ann Arbor all those years ago, and I still love it now.  It is one of the places in Michigan, I could see myself happy living there.  When I visited Eugene, Oregon for the first time this summer, it reminded me of Ann Arbor years ago.  Ann Arbor has grown over the years, yet I still love it, it is just a bigger town now.

I had another brother who got his MBA at University of Michigan.  He was a member of a fraternity, so I went to my first fraternity party when I was around 12, and I was in heaven when my brother had his fraternity brother dance with me!  I loved Ann Arbor and the University!

One of the things I love about Ann Arbor is that they have great ethnic restaurants!  Ann Arbor is somewhat different and secluded from other Michigan towns, yet there is so much in Ann Arbor, you don't really need to leave!  Of course, Ann Arbor also has a world class university, which is how many people hear about the town.  There are plenty of bike lanes and superb trails, such as the 35-mile border2border.  It is great since you can bike a really long way without having to turn around, and without seeing cars.  There are plenty of places to escape on the weekend if you like the outdoors, such as 17 miles of single track at the Potowatomi Trail in nearby Pinckney State Recreation Area.  Also, there is  the 976,043 acres at the Huron-Manistee National Forest, which is only a couple of hours up interstate 75.  As my brothers and my aunt would say, "Go Blue!"

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Recommended Realtor in Indian Village, Detroit, MI

Betty Warmack has been an Indian Village resident for 36 years.  She is also a member of the Indian Village Association.  She is a home and garden tour active participant and is a member and former board member of the women's garden club.  She is a Detroit Waldorf School alumnus parent, which is impressive because if I lived in the area, I would send my son to the Detroit Waldorf School!  Overall, she is an Indian Village Specialist and has worked with the area for over 22 years!


Betty J. Warmack
Real Estate One
27320 Harper Ave.
St. Clair Shores, MI  48081
Office- (586) 771-1271
Cell- (313) 995- 3845

Recipe- Sesame-Ginger Green Beans

Sesame-Ginger Green Beans

Makes 4 servings


1 cup of vegetable oil
3 small shallots, thinly sliced
1 pound of fresh green beans, stem ends trimmed
t tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sesame seeds


1.  Preheat oven to 400%.  Meanwhile, in a small pan over medium high heat, heat vegetable oil.  Add shallots and fry, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.  Transfer to paper towel lined plate to drain.

2.  Meanwhile, on a rimmed baking sheet, toss green beans with olive oil, sesame oil, ginger, and salt to coat.  Roast beans until tender but still green, 5-8 minutes.

3.  Transfer beans to a serving dish and toss with sesame seeds.  Top with reserved shallots.