Abracadabra in only 6+ years…

So… this happened, right outside our window, as I was dusting the top of a bookcase a few days ago…

Which is one of the many things we just love about our new ‘hood in rural Northern California. And that brings me to the topic of this post, the very slow quick change of renovating a badly run down home. Yes, we did it. We purchased the worst home in the best neighborhood back at the end of 2010. We actually saw it once, rejected it, and then took another look as the price fell further. It was eventually bank owned. Several of our current neighbors had also looked at it and thought “too much work”. They were right… but the VIEW!!

Here’s a little montage of exterior “before” pictures… we used to call it the “blue boat”.


It was a sad blue monstrosity with a whole lot of dry rot, deteriorated wood siding, leaking deck, leaking windows and extremely dated on the inside. There was no back yard marked out, no fencing, rickety wood staircases, rusty metal railing out front… you get the picture. A Money Pit.

But.. we saw potential — That VIEW!

Our first task, after the purchase in the fall of 2010, was to find a contractor — fast. However this proved difficult in our new locale. No one was interested, many showed up to see the mess and submitted bids scrawled on scrap paper, or were very vague and faded away. We finally located a contractor from a neighboring town, who could actually use the computer, smart phone, camera and gave us a real bid. We grabbed him. Unfortunately perhaps not the best choice… but at the time it seemed like our only choice.

There was a lot going on in our lives at that time. My mother was very ill, and passed away in November 2010. Tim and I were both working in the Bay Area, and relied on phone calls, emails and photos to tract the progress on this property. We knew the priority was to get going, redo and seal the deck, replace all the windows and sliding doors, replace the siding with stucco, and massive interior work. Priority: “Button it up for the winter”.

For the most part, it went well, and we were (mainly) pleased with the work. However… somethings were not done was we had hoped. Shortcuts taken, attitudes changed… Long story short, in 2013 we had to sue this contractor as the deck was still leaking, and other things had not been done correctly. He refused to work with us, so we took the legal route. That in itself was a long drawn out, expensive process. But… eventually…we won. The settlement was not as much as we really needed, but enough to get most of the major rework done.

So…in early 2016 our new contractor ripped up most of the deck, replaced joists and studs, another local metal worker fabricated all new metal railings and cement staircases. We had a major setback when the deck topping product failed after careful application (and we fought with this company, via our credit card, to get this cost refunded). Our new contractor stuck by us, and together we found a different solution … and Voila:


We are quite pleased with the results, and lack of mold in the garages below the front deck! What a long, slow process this has been. But persistence definitely paid off, teamwork, patience and time… We really enjoy the peace and tranquility here!!

Below: State owned property right behind us with great walking trails — this was taken in the spring.



Carrot Cake Cookies (low sugar, vegan & gluten free)

This is a recipe I created for my husband, who has Type 2 diabetes. It’s become a real favorite. He watches his sugar intake, even fructose, aiming for 5 gm or less per serving on most things.

As you can see, I get a lot of “help” in the kitchen from the furries… ┬áBella, our long haired Manx loves to lounge right where I need to step!


Low sugar, gluten free “carrot-cake” cookies

Combine dry ingredients:
1-1/2 cup Almond meal “flour”
1 cup Oat flour (make: use food processor to pulverize rolled oats) OR Quinoa flour.
2 T Chia seed
2 packets organic stevia
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp cinnamon
2 T shredded coconut (unsweetened)

Mix well, set aside

Combine 2T ground flaxseed meal with 6T water in small bowl, set aside

Mix in separate bowl:
1 cup shredded raw carrot
15 pitted dates, pulsed in food processor to fine mince
1/4 coconut flour oil (melted)
1 cup chopped nuts (I’ve used pecans & walnuts)
1 cup almond milk (or soy or cashew, low fat version)

Add flaxseed mixture once it’s thickened (acts like eggs in recipes)
Combine dry with wet.
Let sit 10 min, mixture will thicken as chia seeds absorb moisture

Bake in heaping tablespoons size, 26 min at 350 degrees
Makes about 32



Falling in love with my own life.

These last few months, perhaps coinciding with the finish of the seemingly endless building construction we’ve had going on here, I’ve noticed a new peace and contentment settling over me. A full three years after leaving “Silicon Valley”, I feel a sense of grace sparkling over daily tasks. The joy of watching the garden grow in a rather inhospitable environment, running errands and lunching out with my husband, the hours spent painting in my home studio or at the art center drawing from life with other artists in the portrait group I attend a few times a month, Vinyasa yoga classes a few mornings a week, morning walks with Tim before the heat of the day sets in, enjoying time with neighbor friends on their boat out on the lake, snuggling with a cat and taking a nap when the body feels tired. Nothing earth shattering, just pleasant perfect moments building one after another creating sweet days I could only dream of before.

There were many years of working in cubicles or even in my home office where I hardly had a chance to look up from my computer, where I was lucky to get outside for a few minutes during the day. And so many nights when I waited long into the darkness of the night for Tim to get home from work. Dinners eaten so late, on to bed with sour stomachs, waking too soon to repeat the process.

I feel truly blessed to live this new life, I am slowly unclenching the stress response that used to feel so normal. I lived in the center of the flight or fight response, primed to do both, easily. So much anger…

It all melts away as I realize that this is my real life now, I don’t have to go back, I won’t ever have to shoe horn myself back into that cramped, restrained cubicle.