Green Rascal Design

 

We've Landed!

04/26/2013

 
Hubby and I are now successfully relocated just south of San Jose, California. People think this is the middle of nowhere because it takes us 20 minutes to reach anything. But we like it.

We brought the chickens with us, and they have a nice big fenced-in yard to scratch around in. There are lots of new things for them to interact with: pocket gophers, giant jerusalem beetles or whatever they're called, blue-bellied lizards... turkeys, peacocks... cows across the street.

The cat made it more or less unscathed. He continues to freak out about certain things. This cottage is a lot smaller than our old house, so he's bummed out about the lack of hiding places. However, that is a small price to pay for all the fun wildlife he gets to now look at.

Our tiny dove, Peet, did not make it. He sadly died the second night here. :( We miss him.

We have been working on a garden here. The landlord said make use of whatever is available, so we have been. Unfortunately I don't have pictures on this computer to share right now. We're learning about things that grow in California. Lots of things are different here, so the learning curve is kinda steep right now. But most things that haven't been eaten by the pocket gophers are doing well. There's a raspberry, strawberry patch, herb garden, vegetable garden (mostly lettuce so far), a small fig, various potted citrus trees, and a pomegranate that's doing really well. I have also prepared a long line of "pots" to plant things in, and a long skinny bed for future tomatoes and hot peppers. In addition, we have partially buried two toilets that we found in the junk pile out back, and put some flower seeds in there.

There was a pretty big junk pile behind the shed where mice had made nests inside an old gas grill, etc. Amongst the true garbage was a small pile of decorative concrete blocks which we will use as a border around something. Not sure what yet. The neighbors took the "dog igloo" to a local shelter that may be able to use it. There were three small dish network satellite dishes, a full table, two partial tables, lots of wood, three task chairs, one folding chair and a poster that says "red elvises." There are also two metal trash cans full of garbage, which we plan to empty over time and then use to grow sweet potatoes.

I'm finishing up one house I've been working on (off and on) for ten years. Hopefully it will get built this year!

There is a logo in the near future for some old friends. That will be fun.

Other than that, I'm not continuing work under Green Rascal Design. This website will probably just get a large overhaul at some point so that the blog can live on. I'm excited about making new connections here around San Jose, and possibly building something else new depending on finding funding for it. So stay tuned. ;)
 

Catalysts

10/02/2012

 
I am a catalyst! Rock on. I just discovered this today, and while it's yet another example of a test telling me about my own personality, I think it's probably true. I've got lots of great ideas and the ability to communicate with enthusiasm. But I'm short on power, consistency and strategy. Everybody in the business world has always asked who my ideal client is, what is my strategy and what makes me an authority. And ya know what? Despite all my recent efforts to "improve" myself in these areas, I still don't know who my ideal client is, what exactly I'm trying to do in business or what I have the gall to think I have authority in. (can I get an eye-roll now?)

And then this thing today says, "heloooo, you're a catalyst." I'm not sure why, but I felt like it made a difference in my perception or something. Finally all that other advice that said, "focus on your strengths..." clicked.

So, what else is going on?

Last Thursday and Friday I was fortunate enough to attend PennDesign's Make -ing Space Symposium. It was excellent. a catalyst of sorts in it's own right.

There was discussion on top-down vs bottom-up design interventions and their relative success/reach with respect to provoking, engaging, advocating, working in new ways and with new expertise.

The symposium got me thinking about Green Rascal in terms of what it could become, and it got me thinking about what else I could do if I were to start something new. Of course, nothing has been decided yet. These were just thoughts stemming from those great conversations situated in really uncomfortable chairs.

What I am sure about is that we will now be describing ourselves here at the Green Rascal Roost as something like non-disciplinarians. I have yet to really come up with a catchy new title for my business cards.

What has got you going recently?
 

Welcome to Fall

09/24/2012

 
The summer has gone out like a lamb here on the blog, but that's only because I was dealing with a lion at home. We were so busy canning tomatoes and jarring jams and selling eggs and checking-in guests that I just plain took a vacation from networking and writing.

Now that it's officially fall, I realize why I haven't felt the deep need to take pictures of everything and post them up on the interwebs. In the spring all the ripening fruit is new. It's just after the hunger gap - the time after we've used up our last can of tomatoes/jar of jam but before anything has started going in the garden. So naturally once things get going in the garden we're oohing and aahing everything and taking pictures like mad and bragging about how awesome we are.

As time goes on throughout spring and summer the novelty wears off. Sure there are some new things going on, like our first real fig from the fig trees we got as a gift. And we got a single goji berry from the tiny stick we planted at the beginning of the season. And we got 11 tiny arctic kiwis. But none of those things have been bumper crops, so we didn't really feel like sharing. I guess it's permagarden fatigue. kinda like senioritis.

But we have been very busy. We've had to order more Weck jars. And I even bought some at a popular retailer. (gasp!) Our little cupboard in the dining room is crammed with sauce and jam. Plus, we've been making wine. This batch of strawberry wine is not good. The nettle wine we just finished off was excellent. So we takes the bad with the good.

And the airbnb thing has been wonderful. We've had about 7 guests, so not too many. We enjoy a couple weeks of guests per month. That keeps me washing linens and towels and hanging stuff out to dry a lot. Now that it's getting chilly out, I'll have to take the air conditioner out of the window and find a couple of nice space heaters. It's not very warm up there. I could also advertise it as a cold house; apparently that's a thing that some people seek out. But most of our guests have been here for work or school. We haven't had a single vacationer here yet.

We're now busy thinking about whether to get more fruit trees next spring and where we might put those. The apple trees did not do well this year. If this happens again we might consider replacing them. They get every disease possible, and it's very frustrating. We may not replace them at all if they start doing better. But next year we might get some jujubees and put those in the front yard somewhere. lol. Along with this we're reconsidering our vegetable patches and what to do with potatoes. Our potatoes were a bust this year too. Next year we will probably do containers to keep the voles off them. Luckily the parsnips and onions will probably be coming back. The skirret, lovage, and good king henry seem to have established themselves. And I'm hoping for better cilantro performance next year. The herbs in the front yard all seemed to do well, except for the white dwarf lavender and one of the corkscrew chives.

Oh, and I've been trying to post regularly on the Green Rascal Design facebook and twitter pages. If you're on either of those social media channels, check them out! Despite appearances, at some point I do intend to serve more clients. So if you're new please say hi! We don't bite. not even the chickens do that. ;)
 
 
I'm going to be making some changes to the site, hopefully before my computer dies and I can't access it anymore. This is because I feel things are just not right.

Something is going away. Not any of the neat things that I've been talking about here... just some services. After I'm done with a couple beloved projects that have been started I won't be putting any more energy into finding that type of work in the near future. I will still be writing about sustainability, gardens and design, and of course the chickens aren't going anywhere.

I do reserve the right to continue writing reviews of networking event venues because they're fun, and I believe I can provide a unique perspective on those spaces.

However, I'm not interested in practicing architecture as we know it. It's very difficult for me to admit that my attachment to architecture as a business has been hurting me. a lot. It's time to stop hurting myself. I believe I can be of higher service to the world in other ways, and once I stop clinging to what's not working I'm certain that things which will work will find me.

Just last year I had planned to go into business with a couple other architects 'someday.' I was stunned to hear recently that one of them took me seriously. And even as late as February I was diligently studying for the ARE. But that credential holds no value for me anymore. I can continue to hang onto my childhood wishes, or I can grow up and find my true path.

Exuberance must be present in what I fill my time with from now on. I'm not making any money by trudging through this life as an architect. So instead of being poor and miserable, I intend to be joyful - for poorer or richer. (planning on richer)

True gratitude goes to my mentor and networking friends who have tried countless times to provide me with quality referrals and projects to work on. Your actions have been very kind and valued. I won't be needing that assistance anymore. Instead, your support for my random ventures will be a big help.

Someday I might design buildings again. Just not anytime soon.

Email me with questions or encouragement. :)
Thanks!
Hollie
 
 
Things have been SO BEAUTIFUL out, that it has been difficult to focus on work.

It's now too hot for the chickens. They're being very demanding, and want to be out in the grass nearly all the time. But they continue to lay about 4 eggs a day, and we have way too many eggs now.

All the plants are putting out their leaves. Our trellis is almost looking happy again! I tied the blackberry and raspberry canes in interesting shapes so they look less messy, and hopefully will be easier when it's time to pick berries. Hubby threw down a seed mixture he'd concocted after reading several examples of other people doing so, with mixed results. The plants are all clumped together, so I'm worried about over-crowding.
 

Small Updates

01/24/2012

 
We've been making some small changes around here; I dunno if you noticed.

First there is the Drawing Board. It's something I decided to toy with after seeing it on another blogger's site. Basically it is an accountability group for gettin' stuff done. Everyone's workload is different, so no judgements!

Then there are the Rascal's friends, who we decided to add there on the right hand side for anybody who wants to know about the kind of people we scratch and peck with all the time.

We've also gone into garden arts professionally. So I'm working on how to word that and get it up in the services list. The services list needs an overhaul.

That's about all that we're working "On the business." I better get back to working "In the business," and crash on my AZ house plans. Yay!
 
 
Things are way too busy around here right now. Well, I wouldn't say it's a bad thing, but it's been a long time since we've taken pictures of the garden or the birds or done a building project.

First, I was at the annual CEDIA Expo in Indianapolis weekend before last for the other company I'm working for, High Def Zone. (shhhh! don't tell anyone!)

Getting ready for and recouperating from a 4 day long business trip really took it out of me. And the fluffy chickens missed me a lot. So I spent some quality time with them for not only their sakes but mine too, because playing with the birds always puts me at ease.

The squashes growing on the chicken cage have gotten enormous to the point of nearly ripping the fence down! There are also several large squash vines taking over our butterfly bush. I'm not sure if there are actual squashes on them, but it looks crazy anyway.

Also on the chicken cage are overgrown Chinese yard beans. We will have tons of yard beans available for planting next year. If you want some, I'm sure hubby will be happy to share. I can't see how any one household could use that many beans! We basically haven't harvested any of them, prefering instead to give them to the chickens as treats. I don't know why, but the birdies LOVE those beans.

Our tomatoes went absolutely crazy. They grew out of control all over the yard and over the sidewalk, making it interesting times getting to my car in heels and a pencil skirt. We haven't been picking many tomatoes lately as they are taking much longer to ripen with all the clouds and shorter days.

The hardy kiwi vines, I'm happy to report, have made it to the TOP of the trellis finally. Now they are looking really awesome. The male vine actually needs to be trimmed back now! So hopefully next year we'll get to experience some of these little hardy kiwis.

We let the raspberries and blackberries grow long and take root so that we can dig them up and give them to the farm. Henry Got Crops has been a great experience this year, and we're looking for more ways we can easily support them. I don't have time to work in the fields, so maybe a gift of 10 or 20 little plants will help.

I was at FOUR evening networking events last week! One of which was a SARA PA board meeting on Tuesday. (love those guys!) A Women in Business Alliance event in Princeton Wednesday (where I was recognized for winning the logo contest). A King of Prussia Business Networking meetup Thursday which was HORRIBLY attended - NO offense to the 4 great guys who actually bothered to show up. And then there was the AEC Networking group first annual golf event on Friday... and I've never played golf before, but my team was amazing and I really need to follow up with a couple of them and schedule a lunch...

This doesn't include the daytime stuff: CSA pickup on Tuesday, Women to Watch by the Biz Journal on Wednesday morning (at the ass-crack of dawn), and BNI on Thursday morning (also the ass-crack of dawn).

Saturday after my weekly tai chi lesson I was dragged to the gun show in Valley Forge because of hubby's new hobby... yeah... tried to make it to my school's tai chi event in Phoenixville, but it just wasn't in the stars.

Yesterday I had a coffee appointment (just after the ass-crack of dawn). Today I was scheduled for a Power Lunch with some people, but it was cancelled. I'll just go pick up my CSA stuff. Tonight is my BNI group's open networking event at 8 East... I have a showroom to visit as well as an architect to spam. Then Thursday I have BNI again (you know, the ass-crack of dawn)... and later is the 422 ARCH September happy hour in Pottstown - which we have been mercilessly promoting all over the place. Then Friday (BEFORE the ass-crack of dawn) morning I'm lucky to have been invited to the Business Clubs America breakfast down at the Union League. Then apparently there is a Power Lunch that I had thought was on a different day, but oh well... Then there is a Penn alumni event that I was HOPING to make it to at the Mission Grill... but I'll probably just collapse on the couch instead.

So hopefully I'll have a few minutes one of these days to post pictures of the crazy squash and monster tomatoes. Until then, missing you!
Cheers,
H
 
 
I do a LOT of networking. Not to say that I do more networking than anybody on the planet, but I do more by far than most people I know. That's just how it is when you're trying to build up business. So it really irks me when people are rude about connection requests.

This has been happening to me a lot on LinkedIn lately. Now, I don't claim to be the MOST sensitive to others' needs, but I do try. I haven't bombarded any one connection with requests, and believe me I could. But I am trying to start relationships with certain people. This is what LinkedIn is for! It is a tool for building networks. You can also think of it as an online resume or ad space, but for the most part it is for networking. Thus the name, LinkedIn. You are Linked in to other professionals. I don't see why this is a difficult concept for some people to understand.

Another thing - when I see an opportunity for somebody I know (even if I don't know them all that well) I send them a note about it. It's good practice to try to help people. Most networking groups are explicit about this. They want people to give referrals. I have not found a single networking group that has stated you should go there and sell sell sell. So I personally have been very mindful to make connections where I see a possibility. Do not ever accuse me of simply being greedy and requesting connections willy-nilly.

So here I am,
 
 
Picture
I have taken time for granted! Just this morning I was thinking, Geez! There is WAY too much stuff to do! I haven't posted a blog in forever, and have been meaning to participate in the blogoff much earlier today.

Business has been very busy. I have a house plan I'm working on slowly. There have been several lunches, etc. I still need to send follow-up messages to thank all the people I've had lunch with, etc. Really, I do plan on sending out thank you messages! Promise!

And I've been working on stuff for a new project somewhat unrelated to my Rascal duties. I'm doing business development for another entrepreneur who has been working in a similar industry for years. It's fun because I studied home automation at Penn, and I find it really interesting. Hopefully it will take off. I will probably post links at some point, however things need to settle down first!

The little chickens are laying eggs now! I know I mentioned it before, but the fluffs are taking up some more time lately because of the heat. I have to furnish them with stockpiles of ice underneath their house in an attempt to keep them somewhat cooler. They seem to want lots of attention, too, and mommy just isn't around much this week.

The garden is awesome, but we're not really getting any blackberries like we hoped. Also, there were some teenagers back there last night really late smashing things up. They didn't really do any damage here, but next door they destroyed some plants and things. It was really upsetting, and I didn't get much sleep after they woke us up at 2:30am. So I lost sleep time too!

And this Thursday is the kickoff for the 422 ARCH. We have been running around like, well you know what, trying to figure out who is coming, how many of them there will be, and how do we collect all this info for next time... It's a madhouse. I'm very much looking forward to Thursday evening when we will finally all just be there hanging out, and can collect biz cards so we know who actually showed... We're already starting to plan the next official event. (there are two unofficial events scheduled in between!) At our August event we hope to have a speaker! It'll be really cool - but this all takes so much time to set up!

So there are so many things going on that I have not had a moment to think about what I have been taking for granted - other than time itself. It seems like only a few months ago I had some time and it was grand. The blog was being updated somewhat regularly and all was well here in Rascal-land. I'm really sorry I haven't been able to read the other blogoff posts yet today, but at this point I think I will have to extend my blogoff into tomorrow.

Time strikes again!
 
 
We haven't been on vacation, if that's what you're thinking. It has been super busy this week with the garden and extracurriculars.
raspberries
raspberry and blackberry bushes
I counted the jars of strawberry jam, and we have ten. Some strawberries are still in the freezer awaiting rhubarb season. There is also a gallon of strawberry wine bubbling in the basement. Since strawberry season ended and raspberry season has begun, we have canned 3 jars of raspberries. I will soon start to make raspberry vodka. Blackberries are on their way now, too.

We stopped trying to harvest sugar snap peas. They're just plain old peas now. The same is true for the lettuce. We just got sick of salads.

The kale and swiss chard is harvestable now. I know that's not a word.

And the tomatoes started invading the walking paths, so I had to spend an hour tying them up on the little trellis things that have been there for months with no action.
tomatoes
monster tomato plants
You can't even see the trellis things anymore because the tomato plants are THAT big. There are lots of tomatoes starting already.

The chickens have been integrated for a little while now. Pumpkin and Clover still get picked on a little bit, but there is very little screaming in the morning.

Also in that picture you can see a little bit of the new house we've been slowly working on. Now, this is NOT fine home-building. I read Fine Homebuilding, and our skills in no way match those of the professional builders you read about in that fine publication. However, the chickens are much happier now that they have more space and more private nest boxes. They can also go underneath the new house and roll around out of the sun where it's cooler.

In my backlog of tasks is the new shade device for the chicken cage. Eventually it will be fabulous, I promise. Ok, well maybe not FABulous...

Now away from home-base, there has been a lot going on all over the place. First, I had a chance to go see a potential project out in the middle of nowhere on Swamp Pike. It needs a TON of work, and I'm not sure how the potential clients intend to pay for all of this. But I need to write up a short proposal and send that off to them. That was Monday, and I feel bad it's been this long.

Tuesday after my regular work I went to The Power Lunch Project/King of Prussia Business Networking Group's speed networking event. It was really fun and interesting, and I'm glad I went. However, I still need to reach out to most of the people I met there.

Wednesday after my regular work I went to the Women in Architecture/SMPS presentation on networking at the Center For Architecture in Philly. There, too, I had a lot of fun and met interesting people. The speaker, Aimee Lala, was really cool, and I hope to rope her into talking to the 422 ARCH attendees about networking in AEC as well.

Thursday I had to go get chicken feed because we were completely out. The trip to Pickering Valley is fairly long, and so I ran other errands on the way. This all prevented any real work from getting done, but sometimes you just gotta do "office management." haha. I'm still recovering...

Today I had real work to do, and I'm happy that my one rammed-earth house project is under-way. I still have no idea how this "observation tower" is going to work! BUT at least I can entertain new networking contacts with the story of my rammed-earth design.

Luckily the new Rascal business cards arrived in time for all of this networking!
Rascal business card
latest card
Right now I LOOOOOOOOOVE the new card. Sometimes I just stare at it. It might be a little minimalist, which one may think is the antithesis of all that the Rascal stands for... but we're happy. Of course we are. I wouldn't be sharing them here if we thought they sucked. (notice how I've never shared a biz card here before?) So wrap your pretty little heads around that one!

Plus, it's prime Cancer season... I have lots of friends and relatives born under the sign of Cancer, so here's a shout out to all of them and a heads-up to say I did indeed send out birthday cards. Recycled paper with soy based inks, no less.

Have a great weekend!