mr. el casco gardener

Hi friends.  Today, It's my pleasure to introduce you to my dear friend Terry and his new blog, Mr. El Casco Gardener.  He has a degree in horticulture and is also a master gardener.  He is a veritable wealth of information regarding gardening and simple living.  A long time ago, way before reality television, he lived off the grid for 4 years in Minnesota.  He has great stories to tell about his life in the canyon and also lots of stories about what it was like living off the grid.  He raises the most adorable chickens too!  He has given me invaluable advice and lessons about my own garden. So I really, really hope you go over and just say hi and welcome him to the world of blogging, it would mean so much to me.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.


camping and the super moon

No matter where you were on this beautiful earth last night you got to see a super moon. We drove out to Joshua Tree for a little R&R.  Camping these days just isn't what it used to be.  We figured out on the drive in that we have been camping in Joshua Tree for 40 years now.  Over those years the campers themselves have changed.  Joshua used to attract a sort of hippie, laid-back kind of person but now its just regular people who's idea of camping is dragging the city in with them. Big box type recreational vehicles, radios playing, loud talking is the norm now, which is totally sad but in a way will force us into changing.  We will go back in the next couple of days, only this time we'll backpack out into the forest of yuccas so we can experience the quiet of the desert, the whole point of going there.  We will be by ourselves, well if you don't count the mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes and snakes...oh, and the moon.



The kind people from eshakti clothing company approached me and asked if I would take a look at their clothing line and write a review for them.  I have been approached before by a few clothing companies and for one reason or another have turned them down.  But eshakti isn't like most clothing companies.  They are a semi-custom clothing company.  You can you can read about them and their policies regarding manufacturing right here.

thrift store jeans, vintage bag, ebay mules

How many times have you found what could be the perfect dress but it's too short?  Or it's too low cut? Now that I'm 55+ I'm running into this problem more often than not.  This is where eshakti comes to the rescue. I'm pretty excited about this!  You can pick any one of their pretty dresses or blouses and they will customize not only the length but also the sleeves and necklines for you.  You create just what you need, so it's like a custom fitting garment. The fee for alterations is nominal.  They sent me this linen sleeveless shell to see the quality of materials and workmanship.  It's excellent.  The fabric is lovely and it is nicely lined. It also has the extra nice detail of bra strap snaps on the shoulders too. It's currently on sale for $39, which is a fair price.  The entire site is on sale right now.  I know I will keep this little top forever. There are so many choices it's almost too hard to decide.  Pop over and take a peek and see what you think!


mashed potato tacos

When I was in Hawaii, M and I decided that we were going to make potato tacos for dinner one night.  I thought we would saute the potatoes with onions and peppers but she had the brilliant idea to mash them.

So we made mashed potatoes and added some taco seasoning, fresh grated garlic, salt and pepper.  We cooked the corn tortillas without oil in a skillet until they were crisp.  Topped them with salsa and fresh avocado.  The creaminess paired with that crisp corn shell is heaven.  Simples, as my Brittish friends say.

In other news we are waiting for the temps to cool before we start prepping the house for paint. Can't wait!


the slow path to a beautiful home

This past weekend M and I went to 2 wonderful estate sales.  One of the best things about going to estate sales is getting to see how people really lived their lives.  It used to make me sad, watching a bunch of strangers rifling through a deceased persons belongings. Now my focus is on the beauty that was woven into each of their lives.  You see the dishes they used each day, the art they looked at and the wear marks of a favorite chair.  It really is an absolutely fascinating glimpse into a life lived.

The first sale was a home in Sierra Madre, a pretty little town near Pasadena.  The gentleman that lived here was a collector extraordinaire. The company that organized the sale said it took them nine, 15 hour days to get it only partially sorted.  Imagine that. There is still a great deal that will have to be gone through and another sale will take place in the future. One of the rooms in the house was dedicated to his work and love of the Navajo. There were gorgeous rugs, baskets and a museum worthy photography collection. But there were also collections of butterflies, arrowheads, shells and axe-heads that he cataloged with painstaking detail.  Just check this out...

Above is just a small sampling of his shell/arrowhead collection.  Each and every one of these tiny shells and arrowheads has a notation on them as to the location it was found and the date. There are thousands of them!  Each arrowhead, each butterfly...everything was recorded in this manner. It's an incredible collection and the attention to detail is staggering.

The other sale we went to was in swank San Marino, an upscale town also near Pasadena.  It appears the lady of the house was at one time an antique dealer specializing in French antiques.  She was a lover of beautiful art, books and gardens.  It was pure joy walking through her home.  I picked up an old teak garden chair, a couple of old books to give as gifts and a lampshade that I thought might fit a lamp I had gotten at an estate sale about 2 years ago.  The shade is beautifully made but I wasn't sure it would fit.  For $3 I took a risk.

Here is what the lamp looks like...

The lamp was $5 and so pretty but I failed to realize how hard it was going to be to find a shade that fit it. But low and behold, 2 years later a perfect match was found.

Everything in this cabinet, including the cabinet itself was obtained 2nd hand.  I think that's why I love shopping this way.  It's a slow, steady and mindful path to beauty.

Those tiny pine cones were picked up last year while walking through Prince Charles' garden at Highgrove. I'm sure a definite no-no but I couldn't resist.  Inspired by the gentleman in Sierra Madre, I'm going to put a little notation on these pieces so maybe one day someone will see a story instead of just an object when they pick it up.  Decorating this way takes time but it is so rewarding.  Your house won't just be a reflection of your taste but will indeed tell the story of your life.  


probably pink

Well hello there. If you've been reading this blog for awhile then you know I really don't like the fact that my house is painted red.  I've always envisioned it white or gray or even black.  This waffling over paint colors has gone on for the 6 years we've lived here.  We do know that this house was pink at one time and I guess I like the idea of returning it to one of its former colors.  The house is 125 years old so I know it has probably been quite a few different colors.  Anyway, my mind has been made up.  Pink it is!  I know it is a far cry from white, gray or black but I think it will be perfect.  Above is just a small sample of  Lady Pink by Valspar.

As you can see in this photo, the pink to the right is one of its former colors.

The house needs painted in the worst way so all I have to do (besides gather the $) is narrow down the color.  I want it to be a pale pink but not peachy.  I think if any house was ever gonna be painted pink this cottage would be a good candidate plus pink is really just red's little sister.  I'm sure the neighbors will still freak out because everyone seems to love the red besides me but you know what?  They are just gonna have to get over it.


yoga garden

Hello there.  We've been busy giving the yoga a much needed face-lift.  See for yourself...

For impact sake lets see at how the garden looked when we got here.  You can use that huge Sego Palm as a reference point.  In back of it is a fountain that we've yet to get running but it's next on the long list of things to do around here.

It's amazing what can be accomplished with a machete and water.  That lawn has cooled this area down by about 10 degrees.

Looking left.  And now....

Looking right.  And now...

There is still work to do in this area. I am on constant bamboo watch, trimming and clearing ivy, repairing the fountain etc etc etc.  But I feel like we made an room addition to the house.

I've been having morning tea out here but the evenings are really so nice.  I have my eye out for some old garden furniture, but in the meantime we've been using those junk store chairs and an old wrought iron table. So that's what I've been up to.   What about you?


beautiful kauai

I have been back from Kauai for a few days now and have had a hard time getting into the swing of things.  I think that's a sign of a good vacation. Thanks to dear M who laid out the red carpet for me. She spoiled me rotten. She shuttled me around, fed me and kept me in stitches the whole time. It was so fun seeing what her life is like living on Kauai  vs being a tourist at a resort.

My beautiful hostess

Saying Kauai is beautiful really isn't sufficient. Its beauty is other-worldly and the colors are so vivid that it almost hurts. That top photo taken of the Nepali Coast is a perfect example. I took this with a crap camera and still...look at the colors.

I am now obsessively madly in love with the color pink.  This is the prettiest shade of pink I've ever laid my eyes on. The petals are soft and furry just like lambs ear. Here is its official name...

While hiking through the McBryde Botanical Gardens we stumbled upon these antique tiles that made up a short wall.

Long sleeves and long pants were the recommended garb for the botanical garden because of mosquitoes.

  I didn't want to get out of this gorgeous water.

Ho-hum...more staggering beauty.

I wore this vintage maxi because it would have been wrong not to.

Gorgeous view from our table at the Makana Terrace restaurant at the St. Regis.  

Super comfy striped maxi dress by Michael Kors.  Perfect for travel because it rolled up and didn't wrinkle plus hid all kinds of bodily sins.  I also like it because it is lightweight yet you can't see through it. Slits on the side make it comfortable for summer weather too.  I got mine at Marshalls but Amazon has it in case you are interested.

Spectacular waterfalls.

Waimea Canyon.

Following are a few snaps of M's house and garden.  She has always told me her house in Hawaii is nothing special because there is no shopping on Kauai.  There is a Walmart, Kmart and recently a Costco.  Few companies ship to Kauai either. There are no junk stores to speak of or antique stores either.  So everything she has here has been brought in suitcases and their original container when they moved here over 10 years ago. I fell in love with it all and knowing how hard it is to get things there made it all the more special.

Her garden

I can't imagine being able to go outside and pick a papaya for my morning smoothie.
So that's it.  I am so incredibly grateful to have visited and been so well taken care of.
Thank you M. x