Sunday, July 21, 2013

Welcome to Walden Cottage

Greetings from Walden Cottage.

As you may have heard, we moved house at the start of the month, and while we were sad to leave our home of three years, we are loving our new home even more!  

The set up is three 10x10 rooms in a railroad apartment layout with a 5x5 bathroom tacked on the back (the caboose).  But the real draw of the place was the outdoor space which has almost 600 square feet of living area including a covered deck, grape vines, dining table, room for two raised beds and a few half-wine barrel planters.  Oh, and a hot tub.

Moving day was a huge pain because we decided to move the garden as well (split between our yard and our landlord's yard), but fortunately our new home is just 2 blocks from our old home (which was just 2 blocks from our previous home).  We want to thank Mike, Blair, Kristin, Jared, Tim and Sascha for all their help on the 7th, and for making our transition here almost seamless.

We've decided to name our little house Walden Cottage because it's a space for spiritual growth, self-reliance and living in nature.  We expect to be doing a lot of outdoor living here: dining, gardening, reading, relaxing and swimming in our mini Walden Pond (the tub).

It's a bit run down but we've made it our own and feel very much at home already.

 Below are some photos we wanted to share.  We didn't include any of the bedroom as our bedroom furnishings consist of our California king size bed...and nothing else.

To those in the neighborhood interested in having a meal together under our grape canopy or jumping in the tub, email us.


Friday, January 04, 2013

Welcoming in 2013

Happy New Year!

As is our New Year's weekend tradition, we drafted our annual To Do Lists for the upcoming 12 months and we have already been busy checking things off the list. We spent much of the first few days of 2013 in the kitchen preparing homesteading projects including apple butter, french dijon-style mustard, rejuvelac, hot sauce, sprouts (mung beans and lentils) and cashew nut cheese. Many of these items were on our lists. And here are some other things that we hope to accomplish in the coming year:

One weekend of hike-in camping
Get my motorcycle license (CWB)
Cultivate head-stand, hand-stand and crow practice (PCB)
Teach yoga regularly (PCB)
Watch 3 new movies from the AFI Top 100 list
Attend the ballet
Complete a 5K Fun Run
Visit 2 new states
Visit 2 new hot springs
Attend 2 new festivals
Attend an orchid show

It's a new year so it's time to start new adventures (and blogging about them). If you feel like helping us with our goals or joining in the adventures, let us know!

Pearl & Chris

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

...just where the sea and sky come down to mingle...

Dear friends,

It is with great sadness that we note the passing of my mother. To those who knew her, please take a moment to remember and reflect on the love and life of Angela Carol Bauer (December 12, 1957 - July 18, 2012).


At 10:45pm (Pacific) on the evening of July 17, 2012, Pearl and I sat together in ritual and said our goodbyes to my mother, sending strength and peace of mind her way. Upon the conclusion of the ritual, we received word that she had just passed away in her sleep and was finally at rest.

We wanted to take a moment to thank each one of you--our friends, family and community--so very much for your unending support and kind words throughout these last six years as she bravely fought for another month, another day, another moment. We consider ourselves so lucky to have had her in our lives and also to have you in our lives now.

We flew into Boston last weekend for her service and it was wonderful to see how many friends, old and new, were there to celebrate her life. At the burial, as the pastor declared that she was finally free of the cancer that had been attacking her for so long, a large and colorful butterfly took flight, hovered momentarily in front of the pastor and then flew in amongst the watching crowd. It was as if she were saying that she was with us still and would be forevermore.

Goodbye, Mom. You will be much missed, though we will carry you in our hearts and thoughts always.

Christopher and Pearl


A reading from the church service (from Victor Hugo/Bishop Brent)

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then some one at my side says: ‘There, she is gone!’
‘Gone where?’
Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.  Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when some one at my side says: There, she is gone!’ there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout: ‘Here she comes!’


Bauer, Angela C.
Angela Carol Bauer of Westwood died Wednesday, July 18, 2012 following a 6-year battle with chondrosarcoma, a form of bone cancer. Raised in Newton, MA, Angela devoted her life to caring and advocating for children. A mother of 5, she and her husband Chris were foster parents for 13 years, and very proud adoptive parents. In addition she worked in a variety of child-care settings, and for 10 years ran a family daycare from her home in Newton. She succeeded in her life's mission of making every child she cared for feel like a part of her family. She was, simply, a mom at heart. She is survived by her husband Chris, her children Christopher, Tanya (Rossner), Jessica, Kelvin, and Diana. She leaves her parents Ralph and Barbara Zani of Boston, and her siblings Susanna (Suggs), William, Felicia, Anthony, Nathan, Monica, Nicholas, and Alexandra (Trudo). A Funeral Service will be held at the Congregational Church of Needham, 1154 Great Plain Ave Needham, on Saturday July 21st at 11:30am, to be followed by a burial service at the New Westwood Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Heifer International, one of Angela's favorite charities. For obit, directions or to share a memory of Angela please visit

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Spring 2012

Last weekend we had a visit from Candice and our god-son Chayce. We wanted to share some photos from the trip.
The highlight of Chayce's trip was seeing him playing in our garden. He picked a lot of carrots, peas, and made lemonade from our lemon tree. With Chayce's help, we planted some cucumbers, corn, lettuce, carrots, radish and tomatoes.
Here are some photos of our garden as it looks now. We've started to harvest beets, peas, onions, carrots, lettuce, celery, broccoli, collards, strawberries and are currently drying some fresh oregano. We are patiently waiting on peppers, tomatoes, corn, cucumbers and spinach.
And this was today's bounty, including our first ever strawberry!
We also wanted to share some photos from previous weekends. Recently, we made homemade mustard...
...explored the Marin farmer's market in San Rafael (where Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Civic Center)...
...and went on a hike in the Berkeley Hills where we found some turtles sitting on a log enjoying the sunshine...
That's all for now as it's time to get back to the garden...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Urban Homesteading

So far this year, a lot of our personal growth has been centered around urban homesteading, working in the garden and playing in the kitchen.

Last weekend, we planted our Spring crops: strawberries, peas, carrots, parsnips, beets and radish. We pulled a lot of the winter crops (mostly greens), leaving only a few behind that continue to produce (mustard greens, cabbage), and those which we hope will over-winter and produce next year (habanero and jalapeno peppers). The blueberry and goji berry bushes continue to grow (slowly), the herb garden is looking healthy, the camelia is starting to bloom, and it appears as though some self-sown tomato plants are trying to get an early start to the season.

Mustard Greens and Cabbage

Strawberries in a wine half barrel

Recently, we made granola for the first time: a blueberry macadamia granola, and a cranberry almond granola. Both turned out amazing, much better than store-bought granola. Here's the recipe we used:


3 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup coconut flakes, unsweeteend
3 tablespoons flax seeds
1 cup toasted mixed nuts, chopped
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup grapeseed oil
4 tablespoon pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups mixed dried fruit

Preheat the oven to 375. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except the dried fruit. Stir well to incorporate.

Spread the mixture on the prepared baking sheet, spreading it out into an even layer. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes (depending on the depth of goldenness you’re looking for), stirring every 10 minutes.

Remove the granola from the oven and and cool completely, in its pan. Once the granola is cool, mix in the dried fruit, and serve.

Cranberry Almond granola

We also made a Serrano pepper hot sauce (which will be stored in a cool dark place for six weeks before use), and apple butter. Apple butter and almond butter on a rice cake or toast is divine.

Hot Sauce

Apple Butter

OK, that's all for now. It's time to decant the kombucha, and soon the kim chee will be ready, and isn't it about time we went on another mushroom hunt, and then it will be time to try the hot sauce, and what about…

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Our Favorite Bay Area Hikes

In the last 5 weeks we've been on two fantastic hikes, one in the East Bay and one in the North Bay. This lead us to start thinking about our favorite hikes since moving to the Bay Area. By limiting the list to the Bay Area, we're leaving out fantastic hikes that we've done further abroad (Yosemite, Mendocino, Napa, Santa Cruz, etc), but perhaps we'll save those for another post, another day.

Our Five Favorite Bay Area Hikes…

1. Abbot's Lagoon
January 14, 2012 with Sascha

Our most recent hike and our favorite. From marshland to lagoon to seaside, this was a beautiful hike even in winter. Lots of birds to see, including this brown pelican:

After reaching the dunes, we walked for about 1/2 mile along the
oceanfront with Pearl practicing cartwheels along the way.

On the day we went, there were hardly any people on the trail so we practically had the beach to ourselves.

We even heard elephant seals at the South end of the shore getting ready for their mating season. Towards the end of the hike, with skittish quail dodging about in the underbrush, a herd of deer moved down from the hills to graze at the trailside. Beautiful.

2. Tennessee Valley
May 17, 2009 with Pia and Dustin; July 3, 2009 with Jackie

Another hike through the marsh and past a lagoon that ends up at the ocean.

The weather in May was perfect (in July it was cold and windy). We saw quails and wild turkeys as we walked the trail, and were dive-bombed by an angry hummingbird. The cove at the end of this hike made for a lovely picnic spot.

3. Coyote Hills Regional Park (Fremont)
December 17, 2011 with Krista, Sascha, Tim, Travis

Coyote Hills Regional Park is located on the East side of the San Francisco Bay. We didn't see any coyote here, but we saw plenty of muskrats by the edge of the marsh. And there are lots of birds here, from ducks to hawks to egrets, we saw perhaps two dozen different bird species. There are some fantastic photos of the kinds of birds you can expect to see at the park on the Bay Area Hike website:

We definitely plan to return with binoculars and a high-def camera.

4. Coit Tower and the Filbert Steps
March 28, 2009, just the two of us; August 20, 2011 with Krista, Mags, Mark, Sascha, Stu.

We hiked Coit tower in 2009 shortly after seeing the documentary The Parrots of Telegraph Hill, about the colony of parrots that inhabit the trees on the Filbert Street side of the hill that leads up to the Tower.

The tower itself is worth seeing as a city landmark, though it's been very crowded both times we visited. Our favorite part about this hike is the 436-steps up Filbert to get up to Coit Tower. We have yet to see any parrots on our walks here (though we did get to see some from our deck in Noe Valley), but you can't miss their incessant squawking in the trees overhead. The gardens along the steps are not to be missed, and neither is the wonderful view of the city skyline from atop the hill.

5. Secret Sausalito Stairways
August 14, 2010 with Stephen

It was the Car-Free Outdoors website that introduced us to the Secret Sausalito Stairways, for which we are very grateful. The next time you're in Sausalito, try touring the seaside village by way of Jen's instructions in the link above. Climbing the stairs is quite an adventure but the views make it all worthwhile. Turns out, this trip was training for Pearl and Stephen's trip to Machu Picchu later this year.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Playing With Our Food

As we continue with food experimentation, we've added a new tool to our kitchen arsenal: a vita-mix! Check out this fabulous home-made nutella (chocolate/hazelnut spread) which tastes much better than the store-bought kind.

Chocolate/Hazelnut Spread

Our kombucha flavor list keeps growing, and we've recently been experimenting with a variety of different spices. Some of our more successful flavors include: cardamom apple, apple cinnamon, star anise and fennel, and espresso beans and vanilla pods. We are trying to prepare flavors that are in alignment with the current season, and we can't wait for the spring and summer as the berries and fruits of the new season will bring exciting flavors to our palate!

Red Date Kombucha, Rosemary Salt, Cardamom Kombucha, Sauerkraut, Fennel Anise Kombucha

We've also been in a pickling mood as of late, preserving daikon in sweet and spicy vinegar, and carrots in a spicy brine.

Lastly, our cabbage experiments are going very well: we made a successful cabbage, dill, garlic, and ginger sauerkraut and are currently fermenting our very own kim chee. The only problem with these is that the smell really takes over the house so we have to keep the door to the rear mudroom shut at all times.

Playing with our food is as much fun now as it was when we were kids!