Community Travel

Asheville in October

Under the slow slope of snowy rhododendrons

the forest has taken leave

I am along for the ride

a passenger taking notes

driving down a frozen road

the fog is pierced by the black mountains

the frozen ground is purple

Asheville’s watershed holds bright yellow trees

the double falls in Linville Gorge

capture light for a  few minutes before sun down

we glimpse the light green fungus on the fir trees

and listen to the rushing pools

Our first day in Asheville is spent on an urban hike. We have a path through the city which we frequently turn off to stop in an art gallery, find a bookstore, eat lunch or drink a beer. But the path is our direction. I wonder if our trips into the forest are more pleasing because of the direction, and am inspired to create a psychological experiment by following  a trail in the city. I think it worked.

Asheville is where the south meets the mountains. Artists in the Woolworth Walk gallery are incredible with renderings, photo layering, and 3D Painting on cabinet doors by Deona Fish. Deona Fish describes the inspiration of meeting artists and how they have enhanced her own personal work, meeting them and getting into discussions at different art shows over the years.

This amazing work above is by Cynthia Decker, at Curious 3D . The piece below is by Red Head Press, Megan Stone who makes journals and collage books. I think I like her for a few reasons!

And now…

~The Battery Park Bookstore at The Grove Arcade~

Asheville shops are full of estate furniture and heavy framed portraits, and this book store was not an exception. We stopped for a while in the Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne bar where women, book clubs and group dates get together and discuss poetry, home schooling, adoption and dogs.. This place also caters to dogs. I see a man holding his poodle while looking through the shelves. Bookshelves and all types of lamp lights, spot lights, track lights, and pendants help to make each velvet chair space spectacular. Most books are $1. I leave here feeling like any 10 x 10 space making homemade clothes would make you a living here in Asheville, and the feeling of destiny control is overpowering.

The above and below photos were found on their site.

That night we took a pub crawl tour lead by Chris of Better Tours of Asheville. We met at Treasure Keepers -a small antique shop at 12 Church Street. There were trays of old jewels, a plush love seat pushed against the wall, four floor to ceiling portraits of men in armor that bear modern signatures, and in the back, a wine bar.  (Lots of businesses offered a tap in the back!) A pale girl with black hair and red lipstick asked us if we’d like to try a glass of red wine and we sat down to take her up on it. She was a little antique-ey herself.

Down the street a one room comedy club held a show in the small light of an interior bricked building. Open steps led down to a hidden stage. Outside, on the dark street, there wasn’t a soul to be seen, except for the five in our tour group party, listening to the ghost stories of Church Street.

We ended the night hearing historic tales through the Yacht Club tiki bar, The Vault cocktail lounge, and trying by the end to listen on while sipping one of the thousands of brews offered at the Bier Garden. It was a good night-cap, the discussion with new people over the course of an evening,  listening to the different lifestyle choices and resulting circumstances. A honeymooning couple had tried every tour Asheville had to offer, and that shed new light on the city. Our guide was one of the few local Ashevillilians working here. He suggested hiking Pisgah, which we did do the next day, and trying the Wedge Brewing company in the River Arts District.  Saturday’s plans were set.

Cotton Mill Studio, River Arts District, Asheville, nc

Cotton Mill Studios, photo taken from this site.

Building Sustainably Community Environmental

Americans are Close to the Soil


‘Americans are close to the soil.’ Faith said to a group of twenty people who gathered last night to discuss The Power of Community.

That was, the film’s director Faith Morgan. The film, released in 2006 captures how the island people of Cuba have formed alternate ways of transportation, organized the decentralization of universities, and have begun to depend on one another in collective efforts of their community to survive the past 20 years.

The full title of the movie, The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil, more accurately describes the discussion with Faith Morgan after the viewing. What is Peak Oil? Is there an effort to deal with Peak Coal? How can the secluded and resourceful nature of island people help the U.S. to define and enact false boundary definition in order to train ourselves to use the local resources in our own lives?

Faith Morgan spoke to the power of discussion. By simply living, working and depending on your neighbors, we make one another aware by our interaction of life choices. We slowly spread a sustainable life message and make ourselves available to learning from their life experiences as well.  She and her husband, Pat Murphy, have a mission to ‘ Wake People Up! ‘ To engage communities in community solutions. Ms. Morgan, an avid gardener, painter, and film maker is also the executive director of  Community Solutions, founded by her grandfather in 1940. It is ‘a non-profit organization that advocates for small communities and the benefits of face-to-face relationships in a particular place.’

Our group discussed Faith Morgan’s next film about the German Passive House and joining us in the crowd was Linda Wigington from Waynesburg, Pa of Affordable Comfort, Inc. (ACI). She leads the 1000 Home Challenge – enticing us to be smarter than our energy bills. But, how do we get our communities on board? A few people in the group were skeptical, but there were plenty of examples there in the room. Some people have Net Positive homes, others have built underground houses. Faith discussed an involvement by example, or a demonstration house to exhibit the no-brain-benefits of thickened walls and the importance of order in completing efficient home retrofits. These are for any homeowner who wants to lessen their dependence on electricity or gas in their home. Ultimately affordable comfort aims to provide comfort for you, your wallet and our earth.

Scattered notes that I scribbled in a fit of inspiration over the evening are as follows:


The bicycle transformation of Cuba after the Soviet Union collapsed.

During the special period.

Permaculture and working within boundaries to clean

every square foot of property has turned into an orchard

working with your neighbors promote a local economy.

Social fabric.

What is our existing collective sense of purpose?

You don’t need that much to be happy.



Photo by Javier Galeano, Found at


‘Thank you’ to Faith Morgan and everyone who attended last night’s Book Club Event!

Community Travel

The Grass is Greener where I Live

…a week spent in Colorado Springs.

Colorado is a dusty place with a western flair in the front lands where we were in Colorado Springs. My first time in Colorado mesmerized me.  The cave dwellings are here, the healing springs in nearby Manitou Springs, the Broadmoor, a resort by the lake with Rocky Mountain backdrops which will host the Women’s U.S. Open this summer is located here. The Garden of the Gods has a garden of vertical red rock slabs coming from the earth in hundreds of feet high. Colorado is a mystical place where I could sense past tribes, an old culture living in the mountains, a place that still held a maze of spells out to it’s visitors. My husband and I spent a week with old friends and here is what we uncovered.

Stone pillars in the airport walls.

The wind trying to break in our apartment at 3am

it was only rolling down the mountains just west of us.

We visited the Garden of the Gods

the dirty windy rock and sultry flat plains

before the Rockies in bright reddish colors.

We ate at the Pantry, in the gravel front yard where the screen door slammed behind our waitress and I gazed into the bright big sun I couldn’t hide from.

The shadowed part of the Green Mountain had waterfalls coming from below the melted ice. We scrambled lightly on the lush side of the mountain staring up into the open skies and rock. The day was spotless, very blue and slightly chilly. We’d walked along a cabin road with wood carved statues of bears.

Through old Colorado City we drove through flat neighborhoods where houses had turned to boutiques. Some young creative shops were booming –Squash blossom, Out of the Box, and Envi.

There were clay pot places and great western antiques. Signs were reminiscent of the old West and Las Vegas. On every drive you could see the dusty trails and pale ground cover going somewhere, perhaps all leading to the west, onward along Pikes Peak road to the Peak itself.

Then, there was Manitou Springs…

“Manitou,” a Native American word for “spirit,” describes this beautiful mountain community. Eleven named mineral springs throughout town are fed by the snows of Pikes Peak. Long before white men traveled here, the Ute, Cheyenne and many other natives considered this area sacred.  -Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau

The businesses boasted locally owned, not to Colorado but to Manitou Springs, and I began to think to myself about what made it special. Obviously being a hub for the Cog Rail up to Pikes Peak, and the mountains scored a beautiful backdrop, but if I were coming here to shop or drink at a local brewery, these things didn’t necessarily have to be there. I began to think about super imposing my town of St. Clairsville over the streets of Manitou.

Manitou brought visitors to town often with different parades, traditions, legends and events they held to celebrate them. What did St. Clairsville have?

Running at home, upon our return, I imagined all of our storefronts of St. Clairsville boasting a home brewery, an art gallery, a bead shop, a Hip Vintage Stop, Momentum, a potter… but all of our storefronts were dark and empty for a sunny Sunday evening.

We didn’t get to the Cliff Dwellings but next time that will be on my list. My visit also made me want to reread The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook.

About Me Community Resolutions

Over qualified, Over paid, Under appreciated.

Why is there so much work to do and too many unemployed people? How do we find work, and ourselves, in a bad economy: what if we all lowered the bar a little, lost our egos and began to help our neighbors? I suggest the only thing we have to do to find work, is listen.

Imagine living in an overly happy world, where people read your mind. The neighbor made extra dinner and brought it over the day you were running late, someone pulled up with a can of gas as your car was coasting on an empty tank to the side of the road. When your best friend saw you walking down the street on a day you needed comfort. What if everyone who could help you were within walking distance, an interconnected world beyond wireless, a world where our actions and desires could be filled by simply being open to the fact that they could be.

I believe this overly happy world is the case, it exists around us right now, and if you don’t believe me I am going to suggest a good case of listening.

Think about your best friend. The best thing about friends are the way they listen. In return, the best thing about a friend is listening. When is the last time you were inspired talking to yourself?

Listening is about

enjoying an

o p p o r t u n i t y

and, you guessed it, about being more open. Lose your ego and discover where you find yourself. In a deeply interconnected world, I need to be less critical, even in my mind. Respecting someone with my thoughts if the first way to allowing them an opportunity to inspire me.

We give up the richness in life when we choose talking over listening. When I assume I know everything about you and my way is better, I forfeit the base of a relationship and an opportunity to enrich my life with something else.

How does this apply when looking for work? I’ll take myself as an example.

The woman I want to be: Someone who doesn’t need too much but likes the quality of things like a great china dish, a cuddling mug for coffee in the morning, things I’ve paired with a crisp table and fine linens that don’t match but look good as my collection. I want to make my own clothes, have time to think. I like this writing. I like a book club, I like arranging a room and the search for items but not as much as I like ordering what I have or making things I need. I like dinner conversations with my husband. I like to give my opinion on big questions. I like being conservative with what I own and how I spend time. I like hosting discussions…could I start a studio for community action? I like to draw and dream. I am an architect, I am a runner. I like coming together for group critiques. I love conversations with my friends.

Now, lets look at how this may apply to what I do for work, and treat it boldly, sarcastically as we all do when we sell ourselves. It is how we come across when we have the idea of what we deserve.

I am good at what I do. In the professional society I am specialized but can cover a large general area with what I do. As an architect I can dream, realize an actual, economical and buildable project for a client,  I can draw pretty pictures and fly you around in a 3D model. I can conceptualize, help you find a contractor and get your project built with one. I am a visual person. On the side I am a writer, I teach gymnastics, I enjoy art and galley openings, deep conversations and traveling. I can work hard for you and I am a little expensive.

Expensive. Hm… How many more thing I would do if they weren’t so expensive. Who else would hire me if they thought I was inexpensive. Now that I am a professional I can do these things because I can afford them. In a perfect world I’m paid well and often, so well, I can work less and earn more. I can afford my own time now.

But, it’s not the same for everyone.

Many people in my profession are unemployed, many people are trying to find higher paying jobs. Good employers don’t want to spend too much money on anyone they hire and we are all wasting too much time thinking about it. Everyone is being very picky about what they deserve. (I heard this last week listening to NPR) Why don’t we all just lower the bar a little?

I think I’m great. We all think we’re great. We know what we deserve, and that’s the problem. Has anything ever turned out exactly how you’ve expected? Does the right school, too many extra curricular activities, everything, ever mattered as much as the attitude you have toward it? I’d have to say for myself that it never did.

Too often we run around in a dazed, worried world in which we are not able to look outside of the bubble and question what really matters… question the heart of what it is we are trying to obtain. That’s why I think we should lower the bar on what we think we deserve. Don’t be too close minded to mistake work for an opportunity. You decide what matters most.

Too many of us believe we deserve our lifestyle -that we should not have to work hard. It’s discouraging to some, the state of our current welfare system -that everyone has the right to money for food -and everyone isn’t granted instead the right to work. (To earn money and make a difference could all be rolled into one!)

You and I need to be better listeners. As I began to seek answers I came across many applicable resources.  Charles Eisenstein wrote an article about community titled Shareable: A Circle of Gifts, an article in Architecture Record by Robert Ivy, an AIA lecture, and had a conversation with a friend about working together.

Charles Eisenstein views community as the answer to our overly commercial, less fulfilling, dwindling resource world. If we are to make a difference we can begin by helping those around us, so that in return we can depend on them. Beyond this main point he describe the history of communication and the change of our lifestyles to be more individualized.  Our focus has become monetized and as a result, less giving. He introduces  Alpha Lo’s idea and a social invention describing the gift circle as a way of fixing this. Isn’t it about love anyway? I suggest you read this article! Shareable: A Circle of Gifts

Here is a part of the article:

Wherever I go and ask people what is missing from their lives, the most common answer (if they are not impoverished or seriously ill) is “community.” What happened to community, and why don’t we have it any more? There are many reasons – the layout of suburbia, the disappearance of public space, the automobile and the television, the high mobility of people and jobs – and, if you trace the “why’s” a few levels down, they all implicate the money system.

More directly posed: community is nearly impossible in a highly monetized society like our own. That is because community is woven from gifts, which is ultimately why poor people often have stronger communities than rich people. If you are financially independent, then you really don’t depend on your neighbors – or indeed on any specific person – for anything. You can just pay someone to do it, or pay someone else to do it.

In former times, people depended for all of life’s necessities and pleasures on people they knew personally. If you alienated the local blacksmith, brewer, or doctor, there was no replacement. Your quality of life would be much lower. If you alienated your neighbors then you might not have help if you sprained your ankle during harvest season, or if your barn burnt down. Community was not an add-on to life, it was a way of life. Today, with only slight exaggeration, we could say we don’t need anyone. I don’t need the farmer who grew my food – I can pay someone else to do it. I don’t need the mechanic who fixed my car. I don’t need the trucker who brought my shoes to the store. I don’t need any of the people who produced any of the things I use. I need someone to do their jobs, but not the unique individual people. They are replaceable and, by the same token, so am I.

That is one reason for the universally recognized superficiality of most social gatherings. How authentic can it be, when the unconscious knowledge, “I don’t need you,” lurks under the surface? When we get together to consume – food, drink, or entertainment – do we really draw on the gifts of anyone present? Anyone can consume. Intimacy comes from co-creation, not co-consumption, as anyone in a band can tell you, and it is different from liking or disliking someone. But in a monetized society, our creativity happens in specialized domains, for money.

To forge community then, we must do more than simply get people together. While that is a start, soon we get tired of just talking, and we want to do something, to create something. It is a very tepid community indeed, when the only need being met is the need to air opinions and feel that we are right, that we get it, and isn’t it too bad that other people don’t … hey, I know! Let’s collect each others’ email addresses and start a listserv!

Community is woven from gifts. Unlike today’s market system, whose built-in scarcity compels competition in which more for me is less for you, in a gift economy the opposite holds. Because people in gift culture pass on their surplus rather than accumulating it, your good fortune is my good fortune: more for you is more for me. Wealth circulates, gravitating toward the greatest need. In a gift community, people know that their gifts will eventually come back to them, albeit often in a new form. Such a community might be called a “circle of the gift.”

Fortunately, the monetization of life has reached its peak in our time, and is beginning a long and permanent receding (of which economic “recession” is an aspect). Both out of desire and necessity, we are poised at a critical moment of opportunity to reclaim gift culture, and therefore to build true community. The reclamation is part of a larger shift of human consciousness, a larger reunion with nature, earth, each other, and lost parts of ourselves. Our alienation from gift culture is an aberration and our independence an illusion. We are not actually independent or “financially secure” – we are just as dependent as before, only on strangers and impersonal institutions, and, as we are likely to soon discover, these institutions are quite fragile.

Given the circular nature of gift flow, I was excited to learn that one of the most promising social inventions that I’ve come across for building community is called the Gift Circle. Developed by Alpha Lo, co-author of The Open Collaboration Encyclopedia, and his friends in Marin County, California, it exemplifies the dynamics of gift systems and illuminates the broad ramifications that gift economies portend for our economy, psychology, and civilization.

The ideal number of participants in a gift circle is 10-20. Everyone sits in a circle, and takes turns saying one or two needs they have. In the last circle I facilitated, some of the needs shared were: “a ride to the airport next week,” “someone to help remove a fence,” “used lumber to build a garden,” “a ladder to clean my gutter,” “a bike,” and “office furniture for a community center.” As each person shares, others in the circle can break in to offer to meet the stated need, or with suggestions of how to meet it.

When everyone has had their turn, we go around the circle again, each person stating something he or she would like to give. Some examples last week were “Graphic design skills,” “the use of my power tools,” “contacts in local government to get things done,” and “a bike,” but it could be anything: time, skills, material things; the gift of something outright, or the gift of the use of something (borrowing). Again, as each person shares, anyone can speak up and say, “I’d like that,” or “I know someone who could use one of those.”

During both these rounds, it is useful to have someone write everything down and send the notes out the next day to everyone via email, or on a web page, blog, etc. Otherwise it is quite easy to forget who needs and offers what. Also, I suggest writing down, on the spot, the name and phone number of someone who wants to give or receive something to/from you. It is essential to follow up, or the gift circle will end up feeding cynicism rather than community.

Finally, the circle can do a third round in which people express gratitude for the things they received since the last meeting. This round is extremely important because in community, the witnessing of others’ generosity inspires generosity in those who witness it. It confirms that this group is giving to each other, that gifts are recognized, and that my own gifts will be recognized, appreciated, and reciprocated as well.

It is just that simple: needs, gifts, and gratitude. But the effects can be profound.

First, gift circles (and any gift economy, in fact) can reduce our dependence on the traditional market. If people give us things we need, then we needn’t buy them. I won’t need to take a taxi to the airport tomorrow, and Rachel won’t have to buy lumber for her garden. The less we use money, the less time we need to spend earning it, and the more time we have to contribute to the gift economy, and then receive from it. It is a virtuous circle.

Secondly, a gift circle reduces our production of waste. It is ridiculous to pump oil, mine metal, manufacture a table and ship it across the ocean when half the people in town have old tables in their basements. It is ridiculous as well for each household on my block to own a lawnmower, which they use two hours a month, a leaf blower they use twice a year, power tools they use for an occasional project, and so on. If we shared these things, we would suffer no loss of quality of life. Our material lives would be just as rich, yet would require less money and less waste.

Whether natural or social, the reclamation of the gift-based commonwealth not only hastens the collapse of a growth-dependent money system, it also mitigates its severity. At the present moment, the market faces a crisis, merely one of a multiplicity of crises (ecological, social) that are converging upon us. Through the turbulent time that is upon us, the survival of humanity, and our capacity to build a new kind of civilization embodying a new relationship to earth and a new, more connected, human identity, depends on these scraps of the commonwealth that we are able to preserve or reclaim. Although we have done grievous damage to earth, vast wealth still remains. There is still richness in the soil, water, cultures and biomes of this planet. The longer we persist under the status quo, the less of that richness will remain and the more calamitous the transition will be.

On a less tangible level, any gifts we give contribute to another kind of common wealth – a reservoir of gratitude that will see us through times of turmoil, when the conventions and stories that hold civic society together fall apart. Gifts inspire gratitude and generosity is infectious. Increasingly, I read and hear stories of generosity, selflessness, even magnanimity that take my breath away. When I witness generosity, I want to be generous too. In the coming times, we will need the generosity, the selflessness, and the magnanimity of many people. If everyone seeks merely their own survival, then there is no hope for a new kind of civilization. We need each others’ gifts as we need each others’ generosity to invite us into the realm of the gift ourselves. In contrast to the age of money where we can pay for anything and need no gifts, soon it will be abundantly clear: we need each other.

Work for love.

Work at love.

Give love a chance.

Robert Ivy writes of the importance of a tangible urban society. In Architecture Records’ August 2010 editorial titled Scraping the Limits.

Today’s fragile world, with its dwindling resources and expanding populations, is calling for other agendas in the West. Attribute it to changing fortunes or the bitter aftertaste of spilled oil, our architectural sights have now shifted to a more socially, environmentally conscious agenda. We’re imagining a smaller scale, hands-on, ecofriendly urban world. We have corrected our course from too much bigness. Right?

AIA 2009 Convention lector, Peter Head of Arup tells us that first steps to advancing an ecoecology society from an industrial society is to involve community… bring together the experience of people to form a collective voice – made of many parts from the get go. He speaks of finding the connectivity of what exists in a community to implement better resource management. This is called open source modeling. This advances a greater social cohesion. Our skills need to be shared, pulled together and pushed quickly he says! Projects come from action. Community is so important in development. We need multidisciplinary teams who put in a small amount of work to solve each other’s problems as the first step. Before projects, these charrettes and workshops in the early stages help to seek an entire answer for a community to use its resources within and together, to create a closed loop, dependant upon one another. This is best for the world when we consider the limit of our resources. He ends with… ‘we are always in a reflectful phase.’

That is inspirational. Once I’ve started listening I hear more and more about communities, grassroot organizations, local people, and friends making small differences with our actions that are copied by those around us.

This makes me question …what does my community need to overcome to work together better? What barriers exist that take up our time and prevent an open, eager, listening mind? It seems like the last generation  has impressed the tradition of territorial behaviors upon us. I live in Ohio but work in West Virginia. I say we need to ‘Bridge the River!’ I have family within an hour away in Pennsylvania.  There is the Power of 32, thirty-two counties trying to break down borders. These antiquated limits of state lines we live by need to be rethought.

My time most likely involves things that I am passionate about. So why shouldn’t my work involve things I am passionate about? Instead of trying to figure out how you should make money, perhaps you should be questioning what you should be spending time doing.

If I am to engage in community I should do that with my work. It has worked for the local advocate, gardener, vista volunteer, Danny Swan. Through his passionate efforts of growing a garden he had helped to feed and empower young children in depressed areas, -children that live within two minutes walking distance of where I work each day.

It’s not about money, it’s about helping your neighbors. We all need to work harder to help people in our own community. Stop thinking about what you deserve and give someone what they need.


Architecture Building Sustainably Community

Rural Studio, One of my Favorites


Sam Mockbee, the architect who worked with Auburn University to create Rural Studio is highlighted this month with a new film airing on PBS. The Butterfly House is shown above.

As architecture in the computerized world comes farther from hands on experience, Mockbee taught his students not only how to construct, but that the profession of architecture could be a humane endeavor to aid the human spirit. 

In the rural setting of Hale County, Alabama, students have worked over the last seventeen years to try and create a better life for residents who would otherwise not have the ability to live in architecture. 

PBS runs, Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee, on August 23rd, a film I cannot wait to see. Zack Mortice writes a full article here covering this and the life work of Samuel Mockbee.  


Community Food & Exercise

Garden Support

I support my beginner vegetable gardening abilities with supplements from my local farmers market.

This is how I began my back yard garden in the spring. Plots in my front bedroom window capture the afternoon sun, and then I bring them outside to get them acclimated to the outdoor weather a week or so before I plant.  I began beans indoors this year and it didn’t work out so well. The best beans were harvested from the seeds planted directly into the ground. A neighbor begins beans and peas in May, and then in August does a second round of bean planting. I may do that before taking off for my honeymoon and come back to produce!

This week we got Julia tomatoes and sorrel from Herbold Farm, a third variety of plums to try from Bob Gillespie as well as another jar of local honey, lettuce and okra from Susan West, and blueberries that I will try hard not to drop on the floor.

I found an article online by Emily Dominici –Taste Buds: Ohio Valley Farmers Market who categorized the vendors noted below:

Eric Rubel of Crossroads Farm, Belmont – meat and eggs

Connie Morris – cheeses and eggs, produce, baked goods, confections

Ken Swisher of Mr. Greenjeans, St. Clairsville – produce, herbs

Bob Gillespie, Belmont – fruits and honey

Susan West of Lone Oak Farms, Bellaire – organic produce, herbs

Holly Herbold of Herbold Farms, Cadiz – produce

Rebecca Weiss of Sparta Farm, Hopedale – produce, maple syrup

Bill Bertram of Bertram Farm, Piedmont – produce

Cindy Rodak of Blue Ridge Farm, Dillonsvale – shitake mushrooms

Vicki McCoy, Glen Easton – produce, breads

Matt Stosoinsky – produce

Myra and Tom Thorton of Thorton Enterprises, Jacobsburg – produce

Pam Dunn of Fine as Frog’s Hair, Bridgeport – fresh cut flowers, handmade soaps

Holly Dunn and Todd Hughes of Basic Kneads, Bridgeport – artisan breads

Bruce, Ginger and Sally Kinsel of Smithkins, Bridgeport – dog biscuits

Diane Conroy of The Cookie Jar, Jacobsburg – cupcakes, baked goods

Crafters include:

Bev Beatty of Free Flow Artworks, West Liberty

Lauren Norton of Happy Threads

Kim King of Pine Valley Crafts

Christa Devine of Devine Jewelry, Barnesville

Nicholas Bogosian – Bluegrass music

Community Food & Exercise

Ohio Valley Veggie Eaters

St. Clairsville Farmers Market was last night. I hear that last week, a very rainy Tuesday, was the best business day ever for most of the farmers there. I guess everyone wanted to play outside with their umbrellas. It is like the phenomenon I heard about while at school in talking to a professor from Finland. At ‘first snow’, everyone goes to get a coffee to stand outside. I looked up Finland and coffee just now to find that Finns drink on average 8 cups of coffee a day! That is my kind of place.

So, in the sunny weather yesterday we didn’t have to dodge the crowds or the rivers like last week. We bought bread, were given bread by another baker, purchased more sorrell (yum!), wax beans, yellow plums, peppers and dilly beans. Then, I came home and took a picture of it all on my table.

Oh yes, blueberries too that I later spilled all over the floor…oops. But, I will still eat them anyway.

Then, dinner was served. A salad of East Wheeling Greens, purchased from Life Savers Health Food store on Market Street in downtown Wheeling, a peach, salmon cuts, pieces of torn jalapeno bread, and hot mustard on the side. Top it off with Annie’s dressing, split a Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, and catch up on a  good conversation equals a quality night!

About Me Community

Homemade Wedding

Has it already been a month?  Yes!

My husband and I wanted the wedding day we shared to be relaxed and fun, special and intimate, and personal in our home town. We wanted to share the great things about our place with our family and friends.

Beginning with our invitations which we made at home and had printed on plantable paper. These are a few pictures of our operation invitation. Our seed paper has yet to produce any wildflowers but I’m keeping my eyes peeled!

My husband drew this map to get guests from our church to the reception at The Farm.

I just love it!

The second large project I took on with my mother. She agreed, after some bribing and begging, to make my wedding dress with me! We clocked in at just under eighty hours, with 75% of those being hers. I kept a journal every time we met to document where we began, what we did to create the pattern, buy and cut the fabric, make mock assemblies, and finally sew and resew the seams until it laid exactly right! The day of my bridal photos was meant to be our dry run. We bought the veils to top it off and mom ended up sewing a few last stitches just before the pictures began! It turned out beautifully! More to be posted on the making of the dress soon.

We ate a celebratory dinner at The Farm restaurant!

A few homemade gifts were a set of pottery bowls that had been made in Astoria, Oregon as apart of a soup bowl project.

The beautiful bowls are made by  this pottery artist who hosts his own blog about building a kiln here in Ohio.

My aunt made our huge cake, and cut the initial toppers out by hand!

Below is a picture of a spoon bracelet. I remember commenting on my cousin’s this past Christmas.  She and her family remembered and I received one as a gift. I have been wearing it most days since.

A hand painted plate of our home.

A clock! Yes, hand crafted by one of our good friends. She even cut out the tiny date of our wedding if you notice it in the bottom right corner!

The jewelry I wore was by Juleray Designs. This woman owned business is right here in St. Clairsville and if you like what you see you may email her at She custom-made the ruby earrings you may have noticed at the top of my blog. A friend of mine gave me the rubies for my birthday, and I had Juleray Designs make dangles out of them.

Here is a fuzzy shot of the ruby earrings again.

Then, what wedding is complete without a custom couple logo?

My husband and I played around a lot while designing our invitations, and though the plantable envelopes wouldn’t cooperate with my printer to don this on each one, we still ended up incorporating washed out versions of this below.

Community Food & Exercise

The Wheeling Ogden

34th Annual Ogden Newspapers 20K Classic

Race this morning!

I will be going head to head with and against my brother! I thought it was a friendly race until the other week when he emailed me to say that he’d stay with me for the first four miles before kicking it in!  While he did just complete the Pittsburgh Half Marathon, I have at least run this HUGE Hill called 29th Street Hill. I mapped it out for him below so he could know what he was up against.

Two years ago the Ogden Relay Race was introduced. Instead of training for the full 20K, two people could run the race, and swap a baton in the middle.

My brother will be running the relay race with my friend against my fiance and I, who will be running the relay as well.

The race transforms Wheeling’s quiet river city into a huge race weekend. There are so many healthy happy people hanging out, talking and stretching where I typically take lunch on a quiet lawn.