Paintings in Process

I’m working on 4 paintings at the moment (!). A small fairy and a pop-art piece, both using teas, herbs, and vitamin powders to play with the surfaces. In my “Divine Inspiration” Series, I have two pieces I’ve just started — Kuan Yin and the World Turtle, and Buddhahood. I’m really excited about both of them. The first I’ve got all sketched out, ready to start painting, and the second has it’s primary sketch painting applied. The world turtle is  modeled after a silver diamondback turtle, local to the east coast, which has gorgeous luminescent white skin with black specks or swirls — this should resonate well with the moon in the upper left. In Buddhahood the blackness will become the night sky with nebulas and galaxies in it. The negative space that is buddha you see filled with a sketch inspired by a photo I saw of a mass initiation ccceremony for monks in last month’s National Geographic.



Life’s a process, enjoy it!

LED lightbulbs are becoming economically viable for universal usage

I was excited to see today that ecoSmart LED 40watt lightbulbs at Home Depot have now come down to $9 (from $16). The 40w bulbs actually give out as much light as a 60w, are totally dimmable, and last for 50,000 hours, look like regular bulbs, and are mercury free! Compare that to a $4 40w CFL that contains mercury, lasts only 10,000 hours, isn’t dimmable, looks awful and takes a minute or more to approach full lighting capacity.

I started buying a couple LED bulbs each month to replace my regular incandescents a few months ago, the ones that were in my dimmable ceiling fans. At $16-30 a pop, that’s all I could justify on the monthly budget. At $9, I foresee buying three or four each month, and hope to have them all switched over by summer. Not only will they save money in the long run, but they also add another good selling point to a home. So switch over what you can and save some cash on your electricity bill 🙂

How to do a Safe Detox Cleanse and Spare Yourself Some Pain

( A Guest Blog from

I’ve noticed that as this new year has rolled in, there’s been a lot of talk about embarking on master cleanses that combine a system detox with the elimination of all those icky substances we ingest all year — caffeine, sugar, dairy, carbs, alcohol. Iif you love it, chances are you won’t be eating it on a master cleanse.

I think cleanses are great. When your organs and cells are operating cleanly, you tend to think faster, move more easily, and feel more upbeat. It’s easier to lose weight after a cleanse, because your body is more efficent. Think of a detox regimen as a tune-up for your body. You do it for your cars every so often — why not your own vehicle? My own body was resistant to conception six years ago, but after a summer spent doing various gentle detoxes and cleanses for my general health, I conceived easily.

You hear all sorts of horror stories about these cleanses, of course. And it’s true: done incorrectly, a cleanse might lead you to have headaches, diarrhea, bloated, skin breakouts, make you feel exhausted or just plain awful. This can happen in any elimination diet, due to the death-throes of addicted brain chemistry, but when you mix it with a cleanse your combining the pain with what we in the healthcare industry call a “cellular die-off”. As you dislodge toxins from your cells or kill bacteria or fungal infestations, such as candida albicans, these harmful gases and toxic substances are released into your bloodstream. They can course through the digestive system wreaking havoc, overtax your liver and kidneys and create all those aforementioned symptoms. We call this a healing crisis. You feel horrid, even though you are taking steps to heal your body. The unfortunate truth is that the more you need a detox, the harder it can be on your body. So, what’s a girl (or boy) to do?

In a word: slow down! Don’t just jump into a huge detox program. I recommend starting off by making sure your liver and kidneys will be up to the task. They are your primary cleansing organs, and the better they are operating, the better your skin and digestive system will fare as they try to eliminate toxins and handle an elimination diet down the line.

Milk Thistle is the number one herb for the liver: it has been proven to speed repair in a very short amount of time. The cool thing is that your liver actually regenerates itself entirely every 6 weeks. The key is to convince it to copy good, healthy cells, and not the old damaged ones. Milk thistle will help with this. Your liver is active mostly between 1-3 am each day, so take your milk thistle around 8-9pm. If  you are taking capsules, make sure you take them an hour before going to bed (any pills taken closer to bedtime can lodge in your esophagus and create reflux conditions.)

Burdock or Dandelion Tea drunk in the mornings and evenings will cleanse both the liver and the kidneys. Both are strengthening and beneficial to the body, and can be drunk for for up to several months. Stinging Nettles  are also good for detoxing the organs, and are anti-inflammatory to boot, while providing the body with significant amounts of vitamins and minerals including iron, vitamin K, C, A and calcium. You can combine any or all of these herbs with the milk thistle for an effective, gentle cleanse that will prepare your body for a more complete Master Cleanse.

Over the years in my practice I have seen that cleanses and diets begun following this preparation result in a more pleasurable detox, with fewer side effects and healing crises, along with higher long term success rates. Also, don’t forget to support your body while it goes through this process. Do some little things to let it know you still love it. Rescue Remedy from Bach (it comes in alcohol, glycerine and spray forms) and our own Ease & Flow formula (made using apple cider vinegar and water) are both good flower essence combinations for cellular and emotional support. You can also buy yourself flowers on a bad day, place affirmations throughout the house, or read some good inspiring books while you do this work. Support your body with lot s of whole vegetables and fruits, and don’t forget to drink tons of water to help flush all those toxins. And, remember to feed your mind while your are working on your body, so that they can work in tandem and help each other through the process.

Good Luck, and Happy New Year!

The Many Building and Garden Uses for Wood Ash

Chickens love to dust themselves in clean wood ash!

In keeping with my last post about green buildings, tonight I’ve been thinking about wood ash uses. We burn a lot of wood in our fireplace, and very little cardboard and never any plastic or toxic materials. This means that our wood ash is safe to use in various garden and home applications.

So long as you practice clean (no plastic, etc) burning, there are so many things you can do with wood ash, don’t just toss it away — since you have to save it for at least a few days anyways (to make sure all those little coals have completely died out) you might as well let your fireplace continue to pay for itself.

The Wonderful World of Wod Ash
Things you can do with your ashes:

1. Mix it with water to create lye, which you can mix with fat and use to make natural soap.

2. Carry a shoebox filled with fine ash in your trunk to get your car out of an icy parking spot — just sprinkle a handful for a foot or so in front of the tires.

3. Use it on your driveway for safe de-icing/traction.

4. Sprinkle it in your chicken coop or animal stalls under bedding to counteract urine odors and keep away insects

5. Make small piles or little bowls of ash in your poultry run for your birds to dustbathe in. They LOVE it, it’s safe, and it’ll keep them free of mites and lice.

6. Use up to 40% wood ash in your cement and mortar mixes without compromising concrete strength while adding some flexibility. There’s tons of specific research about this online for serious building applications.

7. Spread around your garden areas to keep away bugs and slugs. Don’t use it on alkaline soils.

8. Sprinkle near the roots of calcium loving plants like roses and tomatoes. Don’t use it on acid loving plants.

9. Mix small amounts with your compost to boost nutrient values (generally no more than 10-20%, unless you are trying to change your soil ph.)

10. Control pond algae. One tablespoon per 1,000 gallons adds enough potassiumm to strengthen other aquatic plants that compete with algae, slowing its growth.

11. Clean your sooty glass fireplace doors by using a damp sponge dipped in your ashes.

12. Make a paste with water to shine silver and scrub pots.

13. The same ash can neutralize odor in the coop, makes it wonderful for those times when your pets get sprayed by a skunk and you’ve run through all the tomato juice in the pantry — just rub a handufl right into your dog’s coat.

14. Ants coming in the house. Sprinkle the wood ash around the house as a barrier/deterrent. Also on any nests you want to get rid of.


Bottle Bricks and Hobbit Homes

Oh, the awesomeness. I am so inspired by people like the ones below. To build a home with circular walls, organic whole wood beams, rammed earth, hay bale insulation, bottle walls… would be so, so wonderful. Right now I have little land and live in a town of massive zoning restrictions, but someday soon I hope to do something like this. In the meantime, we experiment with our gardens and smaller home projects… My number one home project wish is to have solar anything, but we get so little sun here on our property. To live and dream, tis a wonderful thing!


More about the hobbit house here:

Wonderful way to use cans for siding...


Fifty years ago, Alfred Heineken designed the Heineken World Bottle (wobo), which he called "a brick that holds beer." The bottles interlocking design was to encourage its use as a building block after consumption. Unfortunately, only a few thousand were made. Photo:


Horse Slaughter is Back on the Table

*Warning: images from slaughter facilities do follow *

Investors are already being lined up to fund slaughterhouses for horsemeat for human consumption since Congress and the President quietly lifted a 5-year-old ban on funding horse meat inspections. Slaughter opponents pushed a measure cutting off funding for horse meat inspections through Congress in 2006 after other efforts to pass outright bans on horse slaughter failed in previous years. Congress lifted the ban in a spending bill President Barack Obama signed into law Nov. 18 to keep the government afloat until mid-December.

It did not, however, allocate any new money to pay for horse meat inspections, which opponents claim could cost taxpayers $3 million to $5 million a year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture would have to find the money in its existing budget, which is expected to see more cuts this year as Congress and the White House aim to trim federal spending. The USDA issued a statement Tuesday saying if an equine slaughterhouse were to open, it would conduct inspections to make sure federal laws were being followed. USDA spokesman Neil Gaffney declined to answer questions beyond what was in the statement, such as, would there be funding for regular follow-up inspections of the live transport and the facility?

Sue Wallis, a Wyoming state lawmaker, said ranchers used to be able to sell horses that were too old or unfit for work to slaughterhouses but now they have to ship them to butchers in Canada and Mexico, where they fetch less than half the price. The federal ban devastated “an entire sector of animal agriculture for purely sentimental and romantic notions,” she said.

REALLY? The un-sentimental FACT is that most horses that are being slaughtered have consumed medication over the course of their lives that is unfit for human consumption. Their meat is already banned for pet food in the US. Which means that this  horsemeat is literally poisoning the inhabitants of Europe and Asia, and zoo animals, the two primary markets for horse meat worldwide. So, let’s take a look at the issue:

Slaughtered Horses come from mainly from auctions, where they’re sold by private sellers, as well as many irresponsible breeders who continue to breed at regular levels despite a depressed market. According to the USDA in 2006, 92% of American horses being slaughtered at US plants were in good health. Rarely are auctioned horses  sick and injured,as those horses have trouble withstanding the long, crowded transportation conditions.

About 90% of the horsemeat is exported for human consumption overseas, where it sells for approximately the same price as veal. The rest goes to zoos. Horsemeat was outlawed in pet food in the 1970s.

A Slaughter facility in Mexico

Slaughter of horses is opposed of by about 70% of Americans, as shown in multiple professionally-conducted surveys.Horses are widely perceived as companion animals like cats and dogs, or deserving of humane consideration because of their roles serving Americans as working animals and for sport – and because they are not bred or raised for food in the U.S. In addition, the routine abuse and inhumane treatment horses are subjected to in the slaughter pipeline has created strong objection from horse owners to the industry’s continued usage of American horses.

American horse meat raises a number of potential health concerns, mainly due to the routine usage of medications in horses banned in food animals, and the lack of tracking of this usage in horses. Unlike livestock raised for food, where all potential medications are tested for withdrawal times; approved or banned for usage, and vigilantly tracked for each animal, there is no way to guarantee which medications have or have not been used in a particular horse. Horses in the United States are not bred, raised or treated as meat. Almost all equine medications and treatments are labeled “not for horses intended for human consumption.” In fact, The European Commission Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) found serious violations during inspections conducted in November and December 2010 of EU regulated plants in Mexico slaughtering horses for human consumption. Most American horses destined for slaughter end up at EU regulated plants in Mexico and Canada. The meat of some horses killed in Mexico are mixed with beef and sold back to unsuspecting United States consumers. Horses, unlike traditional food animals in the United States, are not raised or medicated during their lifetime with the intent of one day becoming human food. Because American horses are not “intended” for the human food chain, throughout their lives they will often have received medications that are banned by the FDA for use at any time during the life of food animals.

In most countries where horses are slaughtered for food, they are processed in a similar fashion to cattle, i.e., in large-scale factory slaughterhouses. Unfortunately that results in a less than acceptable rate of effectiveness rendering the horses unconscious with a captive bolt gun, due to the difference between trying to get an accurate shot on an unrestrained horse vs. an unrestrained cow. In addition, horses’ brains are set further back, so even when the shot is in the correct spot, it sometimes doesn’t render them appropriately unconscious. Conscious or not, they are then killed by being exsanguinated (“bled out”) by severing the jugular vein or carotid artery while suspended by the rear leg by a heavy chain shackle. Horse slaughter is similar to beef slaughter except for the fact that the overhead rail that the dressed horse carcasses ride on during process is two feet higher than a feedlot beef dressing line to suit the varying sizes of the carcasses. Some plants don’t bother to elevate the horse rails and they drown as bleed out on the floor, conscious and distressed.

With the recent economic downturn and subsequent contraction in the horse market, horse breeders – particularly those who breed in quantity – have come under increasing scrutiny for their continued breeding in a down market, while many of them actively lobby for slaughter to subsidize their continued breeding. The director of Equine Protection for the Humane Society of the US subsequently reported in the LA Times seizing large numbers of horses and the horse rescues were taking in more horses that ever before, despite the record number of horses shipped to Mexico for slaughter.

The Department of Transportation has officers at the enforcement points to ensure proper transportation of horses, but has no jurisdiction beyond transportation matters. Horses that are severely lame or disabled are not supposed to be accepted at the plants. In 2008, Animals’ Angels received over 900 pages of documents and photographs from the United States Department of Agriculture taken during part of 2005 at the Beltex horse slaughter plant in Texas. The document revealed an appalling number of incidences and an equally appalling degree of suffering sustained by horses, including hundreds of photographs that graphically depict horses with open fractures, legs missing, battered and bloody faces, eyeballs dangling and what appears to be horses left to bleed to death.

The abuse horses suffer throughout the slaughter pipeline, from feedlot to auction to transport to the kill process itself has been widely documented by Animals Angels in this 30-page report. Findings included dangerously overcrowded pens, aggressive, rough handling, equine suffering that is observed and tolerated, transport with no rest, no water and no food for 28 hours by law, for longer by actual practice, no food, water, shelter for extended periods – at auction, during transport, at feedlots and export pens, transport in double decked trailers between auctions and feedlots only tall enough for cattle, and injuries untreated.

SO. Does this bother you at all? It sure bothers me. Horses are, for the most part, pets or service animals. Very few of them are fit for human consumption, or even animal consumption. These animals are highly sensitive and require very different handling than cattle in order to meet a humane end. As with all pets, their breeding should be much more limited than at the current moment. We simply don’t need so many pets. It is environmentally unsound, creating extra pressure on agriculture to feed them, and then polluting both water supplies and health of all organisms when they die. But one issue at a time, right folks? If the United States can not afford to inspect horse slaughter facilities, than it has no right allowing the re-instating of their operations. And animals should NOT be allowed to leave the country for slaughter. That is even more irresponsible. Facilities in Mexico and Canada are often less regulated than here in the US, and the horses must withstand both searing heat and extreme cold along with overcrowding, for 20-30 hours while they are driven from the Kill-pen auctions to the slaughterhouses.

Please, write your people. Write the president, your reps. Whomever. If you think this is wrong, take action.