Green Rascal Design


We've Landed!


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. ;)

We're moving!


Yes, it's been a very long time since I have posted anything. I've been busy finishing projects and continuing projects.

My most important project continues to continue, which is fine for now. Eventually they're going to want their house plans, but I think while we're packing and moving they are fine with waiting.

I hope.

But since the end of November we've been working on this whole thing... What is it, you ask? Well, hubby got a new job... all the way across the country. The interview process at this new place is crazy long because it IS a company you have heard of. IT pros everywhere would LOVE to work there. It's a very good offer, and we'd be absolutely bonkers/crazy to turn it down.

So we are moving. We're going to rent out our house here in Pennsylvania and rent another house in California for about a year.

If you are interested in renting our house, send me an email or post a comment. :) We will have a management company locally take care of rent and maintenance of the house (NOT lawncare) so there will be 24/7 support for whomever rents our house. Just send me an email or comment.

I'm really sad to leave our house. We thought we would be here forever. We're not sure if we will be coming back here, so it's very difficult. We have put in so much love and attention to this place. I'm going to start crying...

The chickens ARE coming with us. They are our pets. Dog owners wouldn't leave their dogs, now would they? So since we've raised them since they were 2 days old, and we hold them and pet them when they're upset or needy... yeah they're coming with us. We will probably end up getting a shed to put them in, and it won't be as awesome as the place we've built for them here, but it's still better than any alternative. Eventually we'll buy a house there and build another awesome chicken cage.

And I'll be starting a whole new network in California. I'm not sure what I will do there, but for now Green Rascal Design is going to be taking a nap. It may come back, or it may morph into something different. Or I may try to get a job working for somebody else for a while. Or hey I may want to go back to school and study something related to policy and start that non-profit I've been wanting to start.

Care to vote for your favorite? no? ok...

Well hopefully we'll find a nice family to take over the roost for a while. Again, let me know if you're interested in renting.

with love,

I want you to feel abundance.

There is a spiritual awakening going on in the world, according to some. This takes many forms. I'm here to provide this one form to you.

No matter what your means are.

No matter how much space you have.

No matter where in the world you are.

Feel the abundance and energy of the living food forest.

I've been doing a lot of spiritual growth work lately. And it struck me today that besides all the other, more obvious reasons for growing your own food, there is a spiritual reason for doing so. When we have tons of fruit ripening on the vines it taps us into the abundance mentality, and being in the presence of nature taps us into the energy of Mother Earth.

Having an abundance mentality is really important for your health. I believe that worry is one of the most negative emotions you can have, and when you realize how abundant your world is then you don't have worry for that instant - however long that instant lasts. Especially around this time of Thanksgiving, it's easy to dwell on abundance. But giving thanks for what we have once yearly isn't enough, in my opinion. Because when you give thanks for what you already have you feel at peace. Your blood pressure goes down. You have a greater capacity to forgive and love. Regularly giving thanks and living in a place of abundance is what many spiritual leaders these days say will save you.

Take that however you like. Save your soul, save your life, save some money...

Think about how you would feel if you walked into your house through a food forest bursting with all the things you love to eat. Whatever that is. Apples, pears, raspberries, tomatoes, herbs... whatever. Would you still buy those things at the grocery store? I wouldn't. They're right there already. I don't have to worry about buying them. For example: If you're Italian, and you make your own sauce, wouldn't it be wonderful to just go out in the yard and pick the tomatoes for tonight's sauce as you're preparing it? Forget a moment about all the difficult things you associate with gardening. Focus on the feeling of having all that abundance at your fingertips. Wouldn't it be lovely? (to quote My Fair Lady)

Did you know that being around trees, just standing or sitting near them, actually has been proven to make people feel better? Did you know that? I've known it a few years, but never really thought about what it meant. When we're in the presence of nature of any kind, I'd be willing to bet, we feel better. What do you think? People are sensitive beings when our minds are quiet. Our bodies pick up on the energy of our surroundings.

Now imagine BEING a tree. What kind of energy would you have?

Imagine being a tomato plant. Now what kind of energy would you have?

Would it feel good?

Would you like to have that energy more often or less?

So if being in nature and having all kinds of abundant fruit at our fingertips can make us feel better, what else COULD it be but spiritual?

I'm going rather quickly through this idea because I have just begun to think about it. But your body will resonate with your surroundings and your emotions, and I believe that having a forest of food to surround yourself with is a very spiritual practice. And it's my mission to bring this to everybody.

I want you to awaken, be happy, be healthy...

I want you to have abundance.

I invite you to send me an email and have a conversation with me about increasing your abundance factor.

This is the story of the end of my recent trip to NYC. I was there for RHHLive, which I'll likely talk about very soon. But after the event ended and everyone rushed off to escape before Hurricane Sandy hit, this is what I went and did. ugh!

I had been staying on the lovely historic ferry Yankee in Hoboken NJ. This was an awesome place for me to stay because it was a) lovely, b) historic and c) QUIET. Plus, the host was amazing. So she let me leave my huge bags there on the boat after I officially "checked out" before heading out for the last day of RHHLive. It was much preferred to storing my bags in some nasty place by Penn Station or lugging them to the Urban Zen Center, where they told us repeatedly not to bring our stuff. So that Sunday morning I ran off the boat telling the host I'd see her again in 12 hours.

Skip to coming back to Hoboken from Manhattan. I got off the PATH train and briefly considered just getting a cab there at the station. But my stupid head said, oh no you should walk back to the ferry because you'll be too early and will miss saying goodbye to the host. And I called the concierge to arrange a taxi pick up from the ferry at 7pm. The walk was very brisk because of the impending hurricane. But of course I stayed walking along the river for some stupid reason.

I got to the ferry, and all was dark. I went in and grabbed my baggage, and went back out to wait by the road for the taxi. I waited half an hour for that damn taxi. When they were late enough I called, and the jerk said he wasn't coming because the police told him to shut down for the night.

Crying, I started walking back down to the Hoboken train station. I had no idea if the trains were even still running to Secaucus, where I'd left my car for the weekend. like an idiot - trying to save 10$. I went onto the main road for this walk because the weather was getting ever more violent during this whole time. And then briefly considered waiting at a bus stop to see if I could catch a bus to the train station. But my stupid head told me the buses weren't running. Once again, on the phone with the concierge, crying, I tried to find out if buses were running, if the trains were running, if I was going to be stranded in Hoboken for the hurricane. Luckily while waiting on hold I did something intelligent and waved at a passing taxi.

To my amazement he actually stopped. Here I'd been thinking, idiotically, that all the taxis had been told to stop and none would pick me up. So I walked up to the window and asked, tears on my face because the whole day had been so emotional I couldn't control it anymore, "can you take me to Secaucus?" Naturally he said yes. lol

Thank goodness I found a nice calm driver who managed to get me to chill the heck out. It was a quick drive to my car, and we blessed each other as I handed him the cash. The rest of my journey back to Philly was quite literally smooth sailing. It was like being surrounded by a bubble of calm by God/The Universe. I felt no wind, and saw no rain. I got home astonishingly fast. just in time to put our five chickens in carriers and get them to safety in the basement.

While it's true I would have saved myself over an hour in time and lots of tears and aggravation if I'd just listened to my gut... could it be that I was being delayed intentionally so as to avoid whatever rain was on the highway? I'll never know. But I probably should have listened to my gut anyway. Not sure what I was thinking!

But I wish I knew how the Yankee fared through the storm.
Where oh where have I been? It seems as though I haven't been up to writing much lately, and instead just check in every once in a while with updates. Sad, I know. Not that I ever claimed to be super professional here, but this degeneration was unexpected.

I was rear-ended on October 13th. It was a lovely sunny Saturday afternoon, and I was minding my own business on the way to the mall for a sale at Soma. There was a lot of traffic, and there are a number of traffic lights on on the road from Norristown to King of Prussia. At one of these lights the person in front of me stopped more suddenly than I expected. So I stopped more suddenly than the person behind me had expected, so she stopped pretty darn suddenly as well. And the person behind her didn't even have a clue what was going on. So viola, a 4 car accident.

I've been going through it in my mind a lot. I've been having nightmares. Bad dreams of being hit from behind keep waking me up at 3am, and then preventing me from returning to sleep. What a mess.

If I'd stopped at any of the the places I briefly considered stopping, this would not have happened. First I thought it might be good to stop at the thrift store. Then some girl pulled out onto the road right in front of me, and I narrowly missed hitting her. Then I thought maybe I should stop by my mentor's office and see how hubby was doing with the computer repair project there. Then I thought about getting gas. Then I considered stopping by the chiropractor's office to pay a bill. Then I pondered getting coffee. All these stops were RIGHT THERE on the way, and instead of listening to my intuition I charged on ahead to get that ever-important panty-line-free underwear. And then BANG!

So my alty is in the shop again, little less than 2 years after the first time I was rear-ended. I swear if I can ever get a new car it's going to be BRIGHT GREEN so people are always watching out for me, instead of being lulled into driving slumber by a silver car.

The alty should be back in a week or so, according to the nifty pictures the shop sends me. I'll be glad to be rid of the rental car. It's nice, but the lights are not automatic, and it doesn't have posh heated seats like the alty.

So that's where I've been since the ides of October. The moral of the story is I need to listen to my intuition/inner guide/internal guidance system more! much much more. What on Earth was I thinking to not listen to my gut?

What on Earth are you thinking not listening to your gut?

Re: Gas Mileage


Do you have sucky MPG? My hubby had a car with sucky MPG for a long time. In this letter he writes to his sister how he saved himself $15 per week on gas just by changing the way he drives.
By Chris Holcombe

First thing is get yourself a scangauge. Its about $100.  That may sound like a lot but you're about to get 50% better than the EPA rated mileage for your car.  That scangauge gives you real-time feedback about your driving.  

Next thing is fill the tires up to the maximum rated pressure for them. 

Now it comes down to driving techniques:
1. Increase the distance between you and the car in front of you by double.  You'll see why in a minute. 
2. As you encounter traffic try to use your increased distance to coast as long as possible in neutral until you have to stop.  This saved me recently.  A lady in front of me was texting in traffic and crashed into the person in front of her.  I was coasting and able to easily avoid hitting her. 
3. Stop lights - coast to the stop light in neutral.  When you stop put the car back in drive.
4. Acceleration - accelerate as slow as possible and go no faster than the speed limit.  Ideally slower than the limit especially on highways. Fast acceleration kills MPG
5. Highways - if the speed limit is 55 oscillate between 60 throw the car in neutral and coast to 50.  Then rinse and repeat.  This is especially useful coasting down hills on the highway.  Accelerate slowly up the hill and then coast down in neutral as far as possible within reason.  Note that you'll need to stay to the right lane because people behind you will go insane.

This is a skill.  That's why the scangauge helps you hone your ability. At first I only got the EPA MPG.  Then I beat it a little.  Now I'm destroying it.  Just takes practice.

Consider this.  I drive 320 miles per week.  At 26mpg that my old car got that cost me $50 per week.  I raised it to 35mpg just by doing this.  That saved me $15 a week or $60 per month.  Scangauge paid for itself in less than 3 months. 

My new car is rated 42mpg.  I'm averaging 65mpg going to work.  That brings my cost down to $19 a week.  :-)

Yes, hubby recently got himself a 2010 Honda Insight. He loves it. I'm not happy with the seats because they're so darn uncomfortable, but as long as hubby is happy, I'm happy. He's happy because now he gets almost 70MPG every day he drives to work. But even if you have sucky MPG rating on your car you can save gas and money by driving more slowly.

Happy driving!

PS: someday soon we will be videotaping what happens on Chris's commute and putting it on YouTube. I'm sure it'll be hilarious how insane people get.



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


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. ;)

More Work Please!


Not that I'm excited. On the contrary, I need more work. I haven't been around for the last month because I've been busy with house stuff and picking fruits off of every kind of plant we have, and also my own ennui.

So I have been thinking about writing more. Yes, I said THINKING about writing more. Turns out writing books is difficult. haha. The thought of rejection letters... ugh. I have all these stories I came up with titles for, and not one of them has been written. It's sad. Looking into a cool organization my wonderful psychic friend suggested didn't help much either. Hopefully I can find that creative place again and get moving.

And my photo card reader does not work anymore. I need a new one because the USB cable that linked my (newly re-installed everything) computer and my all-in-one device is crap. Most of my USB ports are crap. So we put the printer on the network, and now I'm unable to share photos with you. You'll just have to take my word for it that we've gotten 50lbs of tomatoes this summer. And how overgrown everything has gotten... it forced me to take a whole day to slash paths through between the chicken cage and the compost bins. And I can't show you how I staked up the blackberries - that took a whole day also.

I also can't show you how Pepper has grown all her feathers back and is lookin' stylish in her new blacker ensemble. All the fluffies are doing really well. We're only getting about 2 eggs a day, but it has been super rainy and the days are shorter. Suprisingly, demand for eggs hasn't gone down. But I feel weird raising the price of a dozen to $5 to cover the costs of their fancy organic feed.

At my CSA I volunteered to help run a pie bake-off. You might see my pleas for pie donations in a couple weeks. We also need to cobble together 6 judges to judge two categories of pies. 3 judges for fruit pies, and 3 judges for "other" such as banana cream or key lime. I think it shouldn't be too hard to find volunteers to eat pie for an afternoon.

We've had a couple guests here at the Green Rascal Roost recently. I enjoyed having them here tremendously, and hope to see them again soon as they've moved into a nice apartment just across the border of Philadelphia from here. We have another guest coming in a couple days, and he'll be here for about 4 nights. And we had an inquiry for the first week in October! Hosting people on air bnb has been a lot of fun, and I'd really love to have more guests. (hint hint)

I've been working on more logos for some small businesses. Those are fun because I like helping people with great business ideas. I'll have to upload one new logo to the site later.

And I recently found A Course in Miracles at my local bookstore, and started reading that. My spirituality practice has gained strength and momentum, and I'm really grateful to be growing and living more in tune with the universe. It's almost as awesome as my tai chi practice, which I'd really love to focus more on.

The thing is, hubby needs a newer car. It's stressing us the heck out. I'm trying my best to tap on the stress and have confidence that the universe will provide... but my dear wonderful husband doesn't share my optimism. His mood of lack is seriously dragging me down. So I'm writing today to ask for more work. Please help me find more paying projects and more airbnb guests. I'm not desperate, but I don't have any better ideas than to simply throw it out there. I am doing the best I can, and right now we simply don't have enough to cover our bills. I need a miracle.

With gratitude,
Recently, not too recently, I was at a networking event at a little place called Fabio and Danny's Station Cafe. This was their first networking event, I believe. And I was an hour early (oops!). And I should mention this was their Wayne PA location, not their other one - which they're having lunchtime events at but I don't remember what town it is or when since I can't make those.

By day the Station Cafe is exactly what you'd expect, a train station cafe. They have sandwiches and coffee and pop and all the other things you might want on your daily rail commute. That particular Friday evening, however, it had a musical event and us networking too. Well, we tried networking. I saw some of my network and attempted to add to it, but it was difficult.

The music was good. I can't really comment because it was acoustic and not really my thing at all. But the kids had real talent and lots of people were really into the tunes. It didn't make for good networking because it felt rude to talk while they were singing, and for a good portion of the time we wouldn't have been able to hear each other well enough anyway.

We ended up sitting at a table, which made networking nearly impossible. But this was a highly unusual event already, so just went with it. I mean, by this point I think it was more just hanging out with friends than networking.

The cafe would be a good networking venue, but I do have some suggestions. Mostly the acoustics need attention. I'm not sure what they can do, considering this is a small family owned business, and I'm guessing they don't have a lot of discretionary income to make capital improvements. But something soft would help. I'm not sure if a rug is okay to have in such a public place. It might not meet code, or might need to be nailed down, which would probably not be fun to clean. They have art on the walls. Maybe more of that would help. Perhaps hang more soft art, like tapestries or t-shirts for sale or something. The ceiling is very high, and if they can find a way to hang something soft up there that would undoubtedly help.

Besides the acoustics, the layout is good. The cafe is divided up into the business end and the sitting end. I could see networking events taking place more in the seating area, where there aren't any fridges or counters, etc. As it was, that's where the band was situated... So I guess that proves it works spatially. Since this place doesn't serve alcohol, or at least it didn't when I was there, there wasn't any kind of mad crush at the bar. They served coffee, but on a Friday night I'm not sure how popular it was.

I have to say though, that the owners there are incredibly nice and respectful. They let me in an hour early, for crying out loud. I will attend more events there in the future once this new networking group gets rolling.