Two sisters, two coasts, one blog

earth and vine



After a quick review of the last few weeks of ETWT I see there has been a lot of sorrow, transition and sad reflection (and sorry, but I cannot even begin to talk about poor Japan) so I’ve decided that what we really need is a ‘fluff’ piece. And what’s fluffier than Spring? Blossoms, soft downy ducks, the smell of fresh-cut grass and renewed possibilities.

Luckily this weekend is turning out to be full of spring-like fun and diversions. Starting with tonight.

It’s “Of Earth and Vine”, the annual fundraiser auction and dinner for Alice Birney Waldorf Inspired k-8  School. This is the school that my middle son Lincoln goes to. He is in kindergarten so it’s my first year participating as a parent at the event, but it’s my second time attending and I’m excited….

Firstly, it’s a chance to get dressed up and as you may well know about me…I LOVE to do that!! Now it’s not a formal event, but a little bird told me that Miss Pattie is going to be in a tutu and cowboy boots, so I might have to get my fancy on. Time to shave my legs.

And also, as I remember the food is really good. That’s not always a guarantee at  fundraising events, but this dinner is catered by Magpie Catering who specialize in local and seasonal dishes with the freshest ingredients. There will also be home-made desserts (like the mouth-watering fleur de sel caramel made by auction organizer and parent-extraordinare Shawn McFetridge), and of course yummy coffee from Old Soul Co.

silent auction tables, ready to go/ fresh cut lavender

I headed over to help set-up the event Saturday morning, getting my school volunteer hours in doing something fun. It was the easiest party set-up I’ve ever been at – belying all the hours of hard work put into planning I am sure. The tables were set with simple and charming details: butcher paper over white linens, a  shabby chic collection of  assorted  dinner plates, pretty with the centerpieces of potted herbs or fresh-cut yellow flowering mustard. Everything was stylish but ‘homey’ and defined what I’ve come to like about this school already.

Lots of love and creative energy can transform a place from ordinary to rich with beauty and success. Good job everyone!

photos courtesy of Anne Marquiss

Besides, the gods do seem to be on our sides today here in Northern California.  It’s blue skies and puffy marshmallow clouds. Everything that is yellow, from the daffodils in my garden to the sour-grass (oxalis) that runs riot over any open patch of ground, is singing its cheery song. Tomorrow is the beginning of daylight savings (an extra hour of sunshine!) and next Sunday is officially the first day of Spring (already??).

I love this time of year when Mother Nature starts calling out – it’s time to party!!

photo courtesy of Anne Marquiss

As to what to wear, well I need to go dig in my closet but I’m 99 %  sure it will be something from the always perfect Modaspia. I mean, I am blessed with a closet-full of her dresses skirts and tops, but even though I’m an avid collector I can still say that Ursula’s creations are always perfect for any occasion – stylish, unique, flattering, and in lovely fabric choices. It’s a great feminine aesthetic, just check out her blog.

I’ve got a red and gold sparkly sheath hanging in the back of my closet calling out to hit the town tonight. Maybe with my faux-antropolgie wedges that Lincoln found for me for $20, and my red studded pleather purse?? Oooo…I feel the fancy coming on!

little red Modaspia dress/with friends Bean and Joy

So wedges were dusted off,  nails were painted, legs went unshaved but that’s what tights are for, and as soon as the designated drivers arrived (thanks Anne and Andy!), we were off!

As predicted, it ended up being a really fun night. I saw lots friends there both old and new and although we may be mothers we are still fashionistas, so many were turned out in their finest.

the one and only, Miss Pattie!

I’ll admit to having developed something of a penchant for silent auctions over the years. I always see something I just have to bid on, and it never fails to surprise me which items bring on a bidding war. I myself was in a stand-off with bidder #161 (I think) over a decorative tree-face of all things. I don’t know that I even really wanted it but the price was low and then I just got swept away in upping the ante – in this case dollar by dollar until I wimped out at $18.

Not exactly a high-roller, I know. But that’s the good part of a fundraiser, no matter how much you spend it’s all going for a good cause. In this case it was ensuring that the students have access to all the specialty subjects which make Waldorf education so unique: movement, handwork, , music, woodworking and Spanish. My friends got into the spirit and even ended up buying the dinner plates they were eating on, a house-warming gift to themselves for their new home together!

None of my bids were victorious and I half-heartedly bought 30 raffle tickets, although I’m a notorious loser at raffles. But just when I thought I’d be coming home empty-handed, I heard my number called for the raffle basket that my son’s kindergarten class had put together!! It was a “wellness” themed basket which was full of lovely things such as  massage oils, eye compress, teas, honey from the school bees, a stethoscope (?) and a gift certificate for a 60 minute massage!


L: my friends Nick and Anne (neither of whom were raised by their grandmothers - sorry, inside joke!) R: Coach Andy McKay, who is always a winner! photos by Justine Belson

the big win!! / Joy and Malcolm with their new plates!

Home before midnight, the one-too-many drinks starting to kick in, I followed my friend Heather K’s timeless advice: “dilution is the solution”. Drank 4 glasses of water and stumbled to bed.



Although Sunday is officially my day to sleep-in, I was abruptly awakened to the sound of my poor husband yelling out, having sliced his finger open on a  knife submerged in the dishwater. Morning trip to the ER.  Luckily it was a minor laceration, only needing two stitches, but it did derail our original plans for the day.

In keeping with the Spring vibe, we had thought we would go check out the Capay Valley Almond Festival and end up at Good Humus Farm for a picnic in their blooming orchard. Sounds dreamy doesn’t it? I’ve never been to the Almond Festival (although the Capay Valley is one of our closest agricultural regions in the Sacramento area) but every year I’m curious, especially to see who gets crowned “Almond Queen”.

Peach trees in bloom, Main Family Farm, Good Humus Produce, Capay, California. Photograph by Alix Lowrey Blair.

We’ve been CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)  members of Good Humus Farm off and on for almost 10 years, receiving a box of farm-fresh seasonal produce each week. Good Humus Produce is a small family farm, owned and run by Jeff and Annie Main. They have 20 acres including an organic farm, Annie’s beautiful perennial garden, and their family homes.

Last fall they hosted a pumpkin-carving event out at the farm to which our family were the only people to show up (it was a rainy, bleak day if I remember). They were welcoming and gracious hosts and the kids still talk about the trip out to “our farm”. They were going to repeat the open-house style event today with a ‘Picnic in the Blooming Orchard’, an opportunity to visit the farm and see the fruit trees in their springtime splendor.

Alas as a result of the stitches snafu, the loss of that extra hour thanks to daylight savings (Spring Forward!) and the pressure of  ‘blog Sunday’ breathing down my neck, we didn’t end up making the trip out there and I had to make do with the blossom-show from the ornamental cherry blooming in our side yard.

view from my bedroom window

With Keith safely home from the hospital, I realized it was actually 11:30 instead of 10:30 and that we’d have to make our weekly run to the Sunday Farmers Market within a half-an-hour, since it wraps up at noon. I took the two littlest boys and raced over there.

I happen to think that our Sunday market is one of the best Farmer’s markets I’ve been too (and deserving of it’s very own blog post, perhaps sometime in the future). Located at 8th and W, under Highway 80, it’s always such a feast for the senses with the gorgeous seasonal colors of produce and flowers. The boys were great shoppers and we picked up flats of fresh eggs, early season strawberries, asparagus, beets, mint, a loaf of day-old rosemary bread, onions, and brocolli. Mmmmm.

Being surrounded by the gifts of the earth and the vine, and by the friendly dedicated people who feed us each week with their local produce did wonders for my “morning-after” disposition.

my most-coveted plant, california wild rose/Lincoln by the pussywillow

As a consolation prize for missing out on the trip to  Good Humus (where I had big plans to buy some starter plants from farmer Annie Main – the perennial plants I bought from her last fall are the strongest, most healthy plants in our garden), I stopped in at one of my favorite stalls at the market All Things Wild which specializes in California native  and habitat plants. The proprietor Genelle Treaster is vivacious and  knowledgeable and talks about her plants as if they were her good friends. Today she was having a sale “Buy 2 get 1 free”. How could I resist??

my new friends from All Things Wild.

I came away with a California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) starter and  pack of seeds, which I’m excited about as I’d like to naturalize them in our front garden; a hybrid white Yarrow (Achillea x kellereri) that Genelle promised has a beautiful unique flowerhead; a pentstemon with a brilliant blue flower (Penstemon azureus) and a coastal sagebrush (Artemisia californica) which was Genelle proclaimed was pure aromatherapy. Can’t wait to get them in the ground!!


On our walk back to the car the boys and I cracked-up when we spotted my excellent parking job. Guess I was a little over-eager to get to our share of earth’s bounty this week. Spring fever wins again!!


4 Responses to “earth and vine”

  1. jacquelyn

    Love from Costa Rica where the Acacia trees are blooming, the Howler Monkeys are leaping and howling and the “girls” are Zumbaing!!

  2. Aunt Diana

    How creative you are dear niece, with writing, photos and clothes. Not to mention enterprising…even if you didn’t quite make the Good Humus festival I was there with you until I discovered that you hadnt actually gone. Commiserations to the cut hubby. And fond memories of the Sunday market….


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