Jun 19, 2013

The Tank: One Year Later

And months and months go by with nothing on the blog...
Like so many, the instantaneous satisfaction and ease of Instagram has replaced this space.

That said....time to check in on the tank, yes?
Welcome to all of those who found their way yonder via The Homestead Survival. Cool to be included on such an awesome site. So many of you have left comments about how to transform the tank into a heated tub for the cooler months; thank you. I'm stockpiling all of those suggestions for when we can fit that dream in to our budget.We've now weathered a full year with our beloved tank. The poor tank spent a cool winter covered up and very neglected. For the most part, we didn't do anything with the tank. We collected the rain water, drained it occasionally and sometimes put the cover on. It was not a pretty site. We shamefully take responsibility for the deaths of 4 squirrels (now buried in our animal graveyard) and countless massive spiders.

But enough of the sad fall and winter. Summer and warm weather is upon us again and after a good scrub-down, the tank is back in action.
A few notes:

+ The peroxide solution (see the end of this post for details) is still how we sanitize and we're very happy with it.

+ We had to replace to cover as it had been shredded to bits by the above squirrels and a variety of other animals trying to sneak in for drinks escape with their lives.

+ We upgraded to a pump! We no longer shop-vac out the last few inches of water. The pump is small and takes a while but it's able to suck out the last dregs of water and it feeds directly in to the hose for watering our trees.

Thanks again for all of the suggestions and comments. It's fun hearing that a few of you were even inspired to jump on the bandwagon and set up your own swimming tanks!

Oct 12, 2012

Home Studio

Much progress has been made towards my goal of making art and feeling creative but I'm lacking some serious organization and focus. 

At my day job, we have an incredible space with walls and walls to spread out the hordes of inspiration we collect. At home...eh, not so much.

I use Pinterest to collect images that I find exciting and inspiring but I'm having a hard time sorting through the virtual piles. The image above is the extent of my workspace at home plus maybe a teensy part of a wall. I'm feeling out of sorts and overwhelmed by the freedom of making my own work and not having space to spread out and make a mess only compounds the confusion.

Any ideas for how to collect, organize and then actually display inspiration in a TINY space?

Sep 21, 2012

On Relaxation and Tradition

Schedules have changed recently so that home projects have fallen by the wayside. It's not that there's a lack of things to do, there will never be a lack of things to do around our house, but the weekends have become precious relaxation and family time. 

Currently, we have a backyard filled with building materials. They're covered in rain-tarps waiting to be put to use. We have doors, windows, bricks, redwood boards, concrete screen blocks, concrete chunks, a custom-welded steel gate frame, industrial trusses...you name it, it's there. 

After 5 1/2 years of constant work on the house, the addition of a baby and a new time-consuming/soul-sucking schedule, we're slowing down. Those materials will find a way to draw us back soon enough but for right now, watering the garden is all of the work we need.
While down in LA to visit family and celebrate the New Year, I had a conversation with my Grammy about what tradition and ritual means to me.  My grandmother does not ask these questions lightly, she's an MFCC by training and a professional discusser by birth. When she asks a question, you had better have an answer.

She and my Papa were raised as Orthodox Jews to immigrant parents on the southside of Chicago. It must have been quite a shock to her sense of tradition when they moved out to California during the war, away from both of their families, only to start their own. They did not raise their children as Orthodox and they watched as each generation became more mixed. First came the addition of Catholics, then Mexicans, Roosevelts and finally Germans. I can't imagine that in her wildest dreams, my Grandmother (now 92!) could have foreseen that she would one day be a great-grandmother to a German-American-Jewish little girl (with blonde hair and blue eyes!).

Going back to the question of tradition...she asked me what was important to me about the holiday and if I feel any sense of connection. I think it's hard for her to grasp that I do feel very connected to my Jewish heritage, despite my mixed-but-not-religious upbringing. I told her that for me, it's about being with family and reliving all of the traditions (bagels and lox on Sundays!) that we've created together. 
Roosevelt tradition of burning the meat
My family has a sort of chaotic irreverence when it comes to observing tradition, but we've always managed to gather the majority of our group to stumble through the blessings, tear the Challah and dip the apples. In the end, it doesn't matter that we never celebrate on the right evening or that we sometimes forget a proper discussion of the meaning of the event. It's the zhum-zhum (my Papa's word for chaos) that feels like home to me. 

So now in my little family, away from my big family, I'm trying to figure out an easy tradition that we can call our own. Dinners on Fridays, a sort of modern-day non-Shabbat for our non-religious and mixed home, seems like a feasible start. Tonight we'll sit together, for the first-time in a week, and break bread. It's not much but it feels important.

And so I ask, what traditions have you created for your families that work in the zhum-zhum of everyday life?

Sep 6, 2012

Pt. Reyes

A couple of weeks ago, my parents, my brothers, and our little Oakland gang met up in Pt. Reyes for a 5 day vacation. My parents rented an awesome party house that slept the entire crowd, plus my fantastic red-headed cousin (and her dad for one night).
I had visions of us shucking oysters, touring creameries, walking out to see the elk at sunset and making our way down the 308 steps to the light house. We didn't do a single one of those things.
Instead, we took easy walks through the fields near the house to look for ladybugs, biked in to town for ice cream replenishment (multiple times), picked blackberries along the highway and neighborhood roads, ate too much cheese, played crazy ping-pong (called Chinesisch if you're German or "Berlin-style" if you're a Mission hipster), hosted the first annual Pt. Reyes Olympics in the pool, watched baby deer jumping, played "Sentence, Picture, Sentence" (aka Exquisite Corpse if you're fancy) and baked the most perfect birthday cake for a certain golf-obsessed 30 year old brother.
Oh, and I scored a beautiful birthday gift (thanks Ma and Pa!)  from a local jeweler.

Aug 16, 2012

Another Year

I was a huge fan of Aesop's fables when I was a kid. I remember reading the stories and then writing my own version of morality tales. These days, I'm not a big one for quotes or anecdotes, but someone told me a good one this week that resonates pretty strongly these days. 

Forgive me while I get all hippy-dippy spiritual on all y'alls for a moment. I'm quoting loosely and not as poetically as it was told to me:

Everyone has two wolves that live with them from the time they are born. One of them is the wolf that lives off of generosity, positive actions and love. The other is the wolf that survives from jealousy, negativity and anger. At a certain point, you will only have enough to keep one of the wolves alive. In the end, the wolf that survives is the one that you choose to feed. 

It's simple and obvious but it's a hard thing to remember sometimes. Negativity feeds negativity and it really all comes down to a change of attitude (thanks Ma!).

The older I get, the more I realize that you never truly outgrow your insecurities and issues, you just become more okay with never outgrowing them. Maybe that's being more self-accepting or self-aware? Either way, I think it's a good change. To quote my favorite toddler, "I like it".

Aug 1, 2012


Forgive the repeat of photos if you're checking in with me over at Instagram but I thought I'd share some photos for those of you who haven't yet succumbed to the "new blog".

In the recent weeks/months we've had a lot going on. Nothing unusual but lots of "zhum zhum" to quote my grandfather. 

E has been sick for the last week and uncharacteristically clingy and weak. It's been a rough few days and it makes me thankful for her regular stellar personality. 
Our yearly visitor finally arrived on Thursday, after much anticipation. Happily he doesn't seem the least bit fazed that his sister has taken over his bedroom and left him with the couch.
The tank and steps are done and fit seamlessly and beautifully into our backyard. 
one of many glass jars found whilst digging in the backyard
We've already hosted quite a few baby pool parties and I look forward to many, many more. L has been taking full advantage of the heat and is doing his best to splash out every last bit of water possible.
I've started to sneak in creative working time during E's now regular naps. 
It feels really good to be playing with drawing and painting again. I'm not sure where this is going but for now I have a wee shop set up on Etsy as a sort of point of motivation...thinking about having some cushions and scarves made up. 

We've had our fill of wildlife in the backyard: baby grasshoppers, feral kittens, big spiders, fruit-stealing squirrels, crow vs. hawk fights...it's fun to watch E take it all in. She now thinks that all cardboard boxes contain small kittens.

no cat for us...we took her to the Oakland SPCA
Summer is so great. Definitely my favorite season...until Fall rolls around!

Jul 16, 2012


The TANK. 

A few before, during and after shots of the summer game-changer:
pre-tank, note the baby pool in the background
after (freshly treated with penofin)

C bought the tank up in Dixon, just outside of Davis, at a feed store. He used leftover pieces of recycled redwood to build the platform and benches around the pool and we filled the area with a mix of river pebbles (cheap) and mexican black river stones (not cheap but so pretty).

And now the important details for those interested:

+ the tank holds 800 gallons, it's 8 ft diameter and about 2 feet deep (perfect for soaking and floating)

+ we drain and clean the tank roughly every other week (depending on how many stinky feet and peeing babies have taken a dip) and use the water to water our garden.

+ we treat the water with peroxide following this non-toxic sanitizing solution

+ UPDATE: I forgot to mention our amazing pool cover! we bought the 12' round solar cover and cut it down to size. it looks like blue plastic bubble wrap but it does a most excellent job of heating the water.  it heats up the top 4-5" of water and you just give it all a big stir 'fore jumping in. though some (*ahem*, Germans) don't mind the cold, it's a lifesaver for those with more delicate sensibilities.

+ we took a plunge (ha, ha..) and splurged on a solar powered filter. we were lucky and scored a sweet deal on a refurbished model. so far, it's been awesome...check out this thrilling video for proof of the awesomeness.

Jun 20, 2012

water water everywhere

It's been quiet around here. I seem to be doing that over the last, oh...3 years or so. Sometimes it's nice to blog and connect to this internet/blog world and sometimes I have to take a step back. These days I haven't felt compelled to blog but I have been living it up over on Instagram.

In house news, the big "game changer" this summer is the addition of an 8ft. diameter tank. We've been swimming (rather, floating) for the past 3 weeks and it is fantastic. I'll share some details of the tank and how we're cleaning and filtering in case anyone needs some guidance.

Mar 22, 2012

spring time and planting

The amount of planting that has happened in the past month is fairly insane. 

C put about 20 rosemary plants in the ground, 3 gorgeous Pride of Madeiras (aka Alien Plants), some rockrose, sage, a Bottlebrush shrub and maybe 10 or 15 Carmel Creepers

This is all part of the backyard revamp project. We're working towards creating a more child-friendly area so that E can entertain over the summer. We're using the rosemary bushes as a natural wall instead of a fence and planting big cushy shrubby areas to prevent little ones from tumbling down hills.

C also planted another orange tree (Roberts Navel), a yellow peach and has a Gobi berry ready and waiting. The Gobi Berry is an experiment...it was on sale. 

Next up: leveling out the play area, reworking a vegetable box into a sandbox, figuring out some durable ground-cover and planning where to hang the shade-sails we found at Ikea.

ps- in other news...we have a walker! (Thanks to J for the photo)

Mar 16, 2012


C cleared all of the oranges from the tree. The squirrels were making quick waste of the fruit. Instead of continuing to shake our fists (and sending Elli after them), we picked the tree clean.

They look so pretty in the basket that C's cousin made. 

Happy RAINY weekend!

***late addition*** someone i know is a wee bit obsessed with weather maps. he asked me to attach the above image.

our modest plans:
+ we have a new peach tree to plant, a fuschia colored rock rose (can't remember the proper name) and more rosemary to add to the garden
+ dirt to fill the vegetable boxes which are mostly filled with horse manure
+ laundry (of course)
+ J visiting from LA! she's the maker of this mobile and a bff from high school
+ and we now have a true toddler to chase around the house...