Posts Tagged ‘Blue House’

Some Updates from Snowy Goshen

A few people have asked for recent updates on all things permaculture, holidays, blue house, writing, gardening, and pixie dust, so here’s a post of joyful tidings. The shortest version: things continue to breathe in and expand outwards in magical and synchronous ways.

Permaculture Course Update:

I’m still really enjoying the Permaculture Design Course from Permaculture Education Center. So far I have turned in 10 homework modules and have 8 to go, including my final project. I took a few weeks off during our holiday travels, guests and events, so I’ve actually read even further ahead. I just have yet to complete the homework for those chapters. Dr. Alan Enzo provides extremely thorough feedback on the homework, and I keep learning more than I anticipated. I love how this  course covers all of life, not just gardening and yard design. Lots of fodder for dreaming big!

If you’d like to take this course, you can contact Permaculture Education Center and mention the coupon code “LauraB” for $50 off. I receive no incentives to offer this code. Dr. Enzo reads my blog and wanted to extend the opportunity as a courtesy to my wonderful readers.


A whirlwind of guests, travels, office expansion and family responsibilities fueled the last five months of 2015 into hyper-drive. In addition to teaching several Reiki classes, I hosted Wheel of the Year celebrations on Autumn Equinox and Samhain, and I prepared and transported a Yule Feast for David and our friends in Madison. We had family in town for Thanksgiving and Christmas, plus a repeat of last year’s New Year’s Eve extravaganza at Goshen’s unique music venue, Ignition Music Garage.

On December 20, 2015, David’s daughter graduated from the business school of the University of Wisconsin at Madison. The grand occasion meant we finally got to make a trip to Madison, where we stayed with dear friends we haven’t seen since 2012. We attended an early morning to midnight celebration with David’s former in-laws. We all thoroughly enjoyed each others’ company, cherishing a wonderful day celebrating Allie and her achievement. David’s sister’s family and his dad also joined us for part of the festivities.

David’s daughter’s boyfriend’s family hails from South Bend, so we’ve gotten to see them more regularly in recent years than we might otherwise have with our restricted travel. They’re moving to California in March 2016, though, so we hope to make another, less whirlwind trip to Madison before they leave. It felt so good to be back in Wisconsin!

The holidays left us both renewed and in need of naps, yet brimming with ideas for our future, especially in conjunction with my permaculture lessons. With David’s family enough out of crisis mode and his daughter graduated, we plan to travel to Pennsylvania in March and to spend next Christmas in PA with my family. We also anticipate a continued influx of welcome guests in the new office space/guesthouse.

Speaking of the Blue House:

We’ve got pictures hung, and my magical writing office is now 99% ready for action.

You can see how much Mr. Meyer Lemon Tree loves my office! He’s treated me to full, fragrant blooms for weeks now, and even has a half dozen lemons in progress. I ordered the mandala rug on a super deal from, but imagine my delight when it shipped from my hometown of Bethlehem, PA!

Tania gave me the gorgeous full wall “Summer Goddess” portal tapestry as a housewarming/early Christmas gift. The photo above still shows a few creases from when it was folded on the rocking chair in the other photo. It took three people, a vegan lasagna dinner, and some creative ladder yoga to secure this heavy woven image near the ceiling. All creases have since come out, but according to my phone it “feels like 1 degree” outside, so it was this photo or no photo!

The Blue House, aka, “Haus am See,” has been classroom and student guest functional since September; however, I took my time selecting just the right mix of paint colors, rugs, curtains, wall art and accents so that this space truly feels like an alternate universe. Whenever clients, students or friends walk into “Haus am See,” their eyes open wide, then they relax and sigh with relief. “Ohhhhh, this feels so nice!” “Ahhhh! Great vibe!” I call it “my own private coffee house” and “the antidote to the Midwest Cloud Belt.” You can see earlier photos of the house in progress and read about the how and why of the Blue House  here and here.

I still need a bulletin board to go above the blue desk in my writing office, and the laundry room turned indoor garden center has quite a ways to go to become functional. I do have access to my filing cabinet again, and the friend we invited over for vegan lasagna also helped David move a giant door-turned-table into that room. The door, formerly crowding our windowless basement, will become the seed-starting table and winter greens center. It will eventually act as a demo room for some of the gardening and permaculture oriented classes I will begin teaching.

Writing (and painting, too!)

No, I have not yet started writing the words of another novel; however, everything you just read has led to the future writing of probably several more books. Most people know that I garden not just for food and Earth healing, but also to add much needed beauty to an area that used to wound my soul. I manifested the house next door when I realized we still had years to go here in Goshen, but I felt too constricted to expand my classes and permaculture in our current space. We didn’t want to move to another spot in Goshen. I just needed to expand, and I felt called to write fiction again.

In order to create alternate universes in books, I needed to begin from an alternate universe here. I can blog and write non-fiction without inspiring scenery, but in order to delve into the depths of challenged characters and to create full fictional worlds, I know I need to feel recharged by my surroundings. My gorgeously abundant full yard gardens help. I just knew I needed a deeper well of beauty, peace and magic from which to create the kinds of books wanting to come through me.

Since we cannot move to one of my more usual beautiful locations at this time without abandoning David’s parents, I summoned the ability to someway, somehow evoke the same feeling in our current location. I dug deep, added both Reiki and magick to the process, and everything synchronously began to fall into place. Step by step. Piece by piece. Loving intention by creative visualization and action, Haus am See and its yard transformed. No fiction writing would have occurred here without this full process.

At the end of 2015, I purchased a new laptop to replace my 6+ year old HP, and I’ve found a promising new (to me) writing program called Scrivener, which seems like it will ease all the trickiest editing and organization elements of novel writing I discovered with Schizandra and the Gates of Mu.

I decided to wait until Mercury Retrograde goes direct before setting up the new laptop, downloading software and beginning a massive new project. First things first. Merc Rx offers a perfect time for finishing old tasks, thus my push to complete permaculture training in this window. Someone also commissioned a mini-portal painting, “Door” Number 18, which I’ve already received in my head, but will also begin painting after January 25. Synchronously, I knew I’d paint at least one more portal door before beginning a new novel. I actually have two real doors awaiting their transformations; however, this little 8″ x 10″ potent piece will finish up much sooner than either of those doors would have!

Meanwhile, I’ve been brushing up on some novel writing techniques and ideas, honoring what feels like a sacred reclamation of creative writing since before I got divorced, left Northern California for the Midwest and started painting portal doors. Somehow things feel full spiral. Not full circle, since I’ve experienced amazing growth and deep roots. Full spiral feels like the right way to describe a long and windy path to different levels of creation.


Yes, I still harvest greens from our garden! They don’t grow fast in this cold weather, but row covers and cold frames keep kale, chard, spinach and collards alive. Since I have a lot of plants, the yard continues to provide at least a third of our very high greens intake.

Pixie Dust:

It’s alllllllll pixie dust, Lovey’s! Come see for yourself in spring when those 1000 flowering bulbs pop, or take a class here, or join us for a Wheel of the Year Celebration. In one of the least likely spots on Earth, magic and pixie dust abound. The faeries are happy with Faery Hof and Haus am See. And, as David likes to say, “Most importantly, so is the Big Faery.” 😉

Garden Update and Haus am See

Colette from Bealtaine Cottage has a newer, private blog for 12 Euros per year, to which I happily subscribe. Late in September, she shared a post called, “Tolerating the Intolerable!” The post discusses how the traditional medical industry treats depression with drugs instead of suggesting people address why they feel depressed. In many cases, the causes are obvious, and depression an appropriate response to intolerable conditions. Colette also shares the healing power of Nature, giving examples of how Nature acts like the balm of Gilead.

I left a comment there, since these last few weeks have felt like such a removal of the intolerable here in Goshen. Expanding lush gardens into the yard next door, creating a sacred office, classroom and potluck space with two guestrooms and then witnessing all the many guests wandering, delighted, in the gardens feels like a reclamation of several magnitudes on all levels. Here’s the comment I left on Bealtaine Cottage Good Life, followed by this week’s photos in the gardens:

“It’s so very true! When we first moved to this area with its factories, poverty, patriarchal religions and broken land, I found it so depressing — especially the first winter. It hurt my soul to leave our home, because it was just so ugly. When the first spring came, I got to work on the garden and was able to justify all the time, money and effort I poured into it because it was “still cheaper and far more effective than therapy.” Now, our yard is a balm to the soul, not just for me, but for everyone who visits. It’s not anywhere near “done” in terms of rejuvenation projects, and planting, but the absence of Nature can itself cause severe depression. In that case, the only true antidote IS Nature! And my, how She heals — even those who didn’t realize they needed healing. 🙂 Thanks and blessings! XXX”

People who know our house and garden as “Faery Hof” have asked if I’ve named the Blue House next door. Actually, David did. We call it the “Haus am See,” from this song:

Yes, it’s in German, and David (who speaks fluent German and Dutch) translates the lyrics idiomatically to describe this imaginary lake house at the end of the street, which magically transforms mundane life into ideal, happy times full of community. The light blue color and our friend Jerry’s comment that the gardens “are the Goshen equivalent of beachfront property” gave David the idea. We’ve loved and referenced this song since Madison. Like the song’s sometimes paradoxical lyrics, the garden has shown some unusual time overlays, just like in the Faery Realm, in which everything buds, blooms, leafs and fruits all at once. Take this forsythia, for example, dressed in summer green, fall purple, and the yellow flowers of spring:


Out back, we’ve got heat loving okra finally blooming now that it’s cold outside, plus summer watermelon ripening alongside nasturtiums and an aronia bush turning scarlet for fall:


Basically, everything’s still explosively lush:


front yard

The front porch and dining room of Haus am See overlook the front yard winding paths. We had dinner guests the other night as payment for helping us move the former office’s futon into the new accommodations, and we all sat with the door open, enjoying the views and breeze:

from blue house porch

Even the backsides of the raised beds out back continue to overflow:

raised bed

malabar spinach and friends

Today is David’s mom’s birthday, but his sister, nephew, dad, David and I all celebrated with her last night. I brought a pint of raspberries from the yard and David got us vegan chocolate ice cream and regular chocolate ice cream for the others. David’s mom gets weekly or twice weekly bouquets from me all season, flowers permitting, but yesterday’s was extra special. As I wandered the yard picking different zinnias, a honeybee decided to sip from each flower in the bouquet, dining for the full half hour it took me to choose and arrange the blooms:

birthday bouquet

This week one of my favorite garden helpers ensured I finished two long standing projects. The herb spiral out back near the horseshoe shaped asparagus beds is now built and filled, though not yet planted:

herb spiral

After months of two giant loads of compost, the front yard next door finally has its witch hazel planted for very, very early spring color, two holly bushes transplanted under the windows, a climbing rose transplanted under the trellis, and areas now composted and marked out for various ornamental fruit bushes and bulbs. Lots and lots of bulbs! It still needs mulching, and transplanting of a privet hedge for the far right border:

blue house

It really is a joy to watch visitors wander around the paths and commune with butterflies, squirrels, rabbits, bees and other garden residents.


To complete the enchanted garden vibe, the fairy tale pumpkins are growing huge this year:

fairy tale pumpkins

Last Saturday, I hosted our Autumnal Wheel of the Year celebration at Haus am See, and, I felt so grateful for the community and our honoring of all the seasons. Earlier that day, a different gardener in training helped me remove spent garden plants and pokeweed in preparation for Monday’s refuse pickup. I usually compost things, but poke takes forever to break down, and those berries are prolific. I’ll let the city deal with those, mixed with plenty of chicken poo to heat through the seeds. As we pieced away at the overgrown poke, I felt an ache in my stomach I’ve not felt since April. It hit me that all this lushness will soon shrivel under frost and lay dormant until next year. I’d spent the past few weeks in complete denial of this beautiful, prolific garden season coming to a close, so that evening’s quiet ritual, good company, and huge vegan potluck helped ease the transition.

Of course, I’ve been researching and gradually planting year round color, and I remind myself that next spring’s bulbs will come earlier and more prolifically than ever before. Faery Hof and Haus am See are far from finished, but the Nature and community they provide on all levels continue to amaze and delight David, me and others. The local soup kitchen will receive over a hundred pounds of green striped cushaw squash from me this year, plus collards, collards, collards out the wazoo. The garden has also allowed me to cater most classes with meals made from fresh, homegrown produce, and it has provided bags and bags of produce to friends, little old ladies, friends of little old ladies, potlucks, and dinners galore for the generous people who’ve helped us in various ways this summer and beyond.

Not to mention two full freezers of raspberries, summer squash and tomatoes. From intolerable to wonderful. If it can happen here, truly, it can happen anywhere.

Blessed Be!

Blue House Update

Some readers, friends and clients knew that September marked the month of moving furniture from David’s parents’ house into the blue house next door, which I’ve taken on as a writing office, guesthouse, living room that provides larger classroom space and community kitchen for potlucks and other gatherings. This move synchronously allows David’s parents to keep some of their sentimental furnishings relatively close to the family now that they’ve moved into higher levels of care, in that I’m repurposing their furniture until one or the other of their children has room to take it on.

Originally, I thought I’d begin the lease September 1, but our landlord kept deciding to make more upgrades, so officially, my lease over there did not begin until September 15. We did, however, begin moving things in on the 8th, since we’d already arranged movers. With two Reiki classes scheduled this past Saturday and Sunday, the fluid time schedule, extra upgrades and some moving-snafu’s-turned-blessings made for quite the crazy past two weeks! People have been asking for updates, but I’ve just been too busy getting things ready for the classes and two student guests who arrived on Friday. Today, I’ve had a chance to catch up on both house and garden updates, which I’ll spread through two posts, so as not to overload anyone’s inbox with too many photos. 🙂

First of all, I love the house! Teaching there felt so natural, expansive, and easy, and all the students and guests just loved it, too. Here’s the dining room/entrance view as of Friday:

dining room

The picture will be hung, instead of propped on a side table, and I’ve got a giant sun with stars to hang to the left, which is actually a piece of metal garden art. Everyone asked if I did the painting. Well, sort of. I decided to have minimal art in the blue house, just letting the colors speak for themselves, but I wanted a few garden and nature inspired pieces. I had this painting in my head to paint but didn’t have any time to do so before the class. A week and a half ago, my friend Kimber took me to Hart City Resale to look at crystals, when lo and behold, I saw the painting in my head hanging on the wall there! “Oh, there you are!” I said, and promptly purchased it, saving me many hours of time and ensuring the painting in my head was present for the first guests and classes.

I particularly love the massive numbers of dining options for students and community gatherings. The dining table easily sat eight of us on Saturday, without even adding in any of its four leaves. The kitchen table provides another 4-8 seats, depending on how many leaves we add to it. We currently have no leaves in either table:


You can see my Vitamix, which I reclaimed from a friend I’d let borrow it for the past 2.5 years, so now guests can make green smoothies or soups without needing to lug along a blender. David loves kitchen gear and has enjoyed some strategic ebay auctions to get the blue house’s kitchen fully outfitted not just for guests but also for very large potlucks and gatherings. We’ve now got a 16-gallon soup pot, which should accommodate some of those enormous green striped cushaw squash still growing like crazy outside. (Photos of those in the garden update post.)

The living room/classroom space has two colors of blue. The lighter for three walls, and the darker blue on the wall with an archway that leads to the orange/red dining room:

blue room

That room will eventually get the blue futon from my previous home office I’m winding down upstairs in our own, live-in home, but due to an unexpected bed construction project, we didn’t have time to move that over. I filled in for the lack of furniture with extra dining chairs, rockers I brought out from my new writing office and temporarily from our house, and lots of strategically placed bouquets. When in doubt, add flowers!


The bathroom received the fewest upgrades, so I added the biggest and brightest bouquet there as a diversion. Mission accomplished! The bathroom won hands down as everyone’s favorite room of the house. Never underestimate flowers and faery magick. 😉

I will not include photos of my new office, because a) it’s my private space that will eventually have its own locked door and b) it’s completely unfinished as of yet! I do love the periwinkle color and the fact that it looks out on the current side garden and soon to be backyard garden of the blue house.

One of the biggest moving snafu’s was that due to a tight, turning staircase, we could not get the full sized box springs upstairs. Instead we needed to bust one apart, throw the other away, and then rebuild or build wooden bed platforms from scratch. Heading up that very tricky stairwell, I opted to hang a second hand quilt over the mini wall at the top:


I had our landlord paint the upstairs in a muted rose tone, which surprised people by just how different, subdued and restful it feels upstairs compared to the bright, open, expansive feel downstairs. Mission accomplished again. 🙂 Apparently, the bed platform construction project paid off. David overbuilt the platforms to support an elephant, possibly two at once, and we already had queen sized foam mattress toppers on the full sized mattresses back from days we used to visit his parents’ house. I switched their full sized sheets to new queen sized sheets and quilts I managed to manifest at very reasonable cost, so that the full sized beds sleep like super comfy almost-queen sized ones.

We added hassock fans and vintage oscilating fans to each room, and with the windows closed, both guests slept extremely well. The guest in the front bedroom slept so well the first night, she decided to turn off the fans and open the window the second night, which finally convinced her that yes, those train horns are freakin’ loud until we get the quiet zone officially registered with the federal government. With the windows closed and fans on, though, our guests could not believe how well they slept. Another mission accomplished.

Here are some photos of the bedrooms. Sorry for the blur, as the muted lighting in there makes things cozy but not so fab for photographing:

front bedroom

Same (front) bedroom, at night with one of the dressers:

front bedroom side

The back bedroom is smaller and only fit one dresser. The other will eventually go downstairs in my office closet:

back bedroom

back bedroom bed

Everyone, including our landlord, loves this back bedroom, because with the slanted ceiling, the quilt, vintage fans, angled bed, and 1950’s furniture, it became a cozy little haven that takes you way back in time. Both bedrooms will eventually get curtains, but again, the unexpected construction projects meant a few details did not happen before the guests arrived. Window blinds worked fine, though.

I’ll post more photos once everything gets completed, but that might be awhile. David, our landlord, and I are all wiped out from the big push to get things guest ready, so the remaining and less urgent details might take awhile to finish. I’ve got a Wheel of the Year Celebration scheduled for Saturday, and we might have family coming in the following weekend, so my office, the laundry room turned seed and indoor garden center and details like light switch plates and screens might take a back seat to some much needed relaxation.

Plus, I’ve got a whole ‘nother yard to get ready for Spring, hundreds of bulbs on the way this Fall, more fruit trees and giant piles of compost and mulch to move before season’s end. I have to say, I look forward to frost so I can finally get back to the two courses I purchased this summer before the blue house became a dramatic opportunity for expansion, a writing office/study, and community gathering space. All good things, but I really do look forward to hunkering down this winter to complete my exciting studies. Stay tuned for the garden update, coming up next and showing the side yard between our house and the blue house, as well as some very in process projects for the blue house yard.

Cheers and blessings!

Some Notes about the Blue House Next Door

I’ve received a lot of excited emails about my expansion into the “Blue House Next Door,” often shown in garden photos, since the main part of the garden exists between the two houses. From questions and comments, it seems people remain unclear what’s happening with that house, so I thought I’d address some of the most common questions and misunderstandings here.

First of all, David and I are not moving into the Blue House. We love our current home and have no desire to move out. Rather, I will be renting the house next door primarily as a writing office. Virginia Woolf famously said, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” I heartily agree! She also said, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”

Apparently, in Goshen, Indiana, I need not just a room of my own to write fiction, but an entire house! For a variety of reasons, it became clear to me this past Spring that I will never write more fiction, or even another book length anything, from my office in our current home. For one, I need a view, and my office here looks out either on a wall or a factory, neither of which transport me to another realm I wish to enter. By contrast, the bottom bedroom of the Blue House looks out from two different angles on my garden. It offers a space completely free of day to day concerns, and I’ve gotten our landlord (same one who owns this place) to paint the entire house in bold, bright colors to counteract the Indiana Cloud Belt’s excessive winter grey.

Along with the primary purpose as a tax write-off writer’s retreat so I can finally get working on the books wanting to flow through me, the house offers a large community dining space and living room for potlucks and Wheel of the Year celebrations currently limited by the size of our house, as well as David’s schedule. In the new space, I can host these gatherings every six weeks without needing to disrupt whatever involved projects or space limitations we have going on at our house.

In terms of classes, instead of capping off attendees to however many can fit in our living room with all its furniture, I am purposely leaving the living room of the Blue House quite empty and flexible. We have a variety of folding chairs, rocking chairs, etc. and at some point will likely get a daybed for that room, too. In most cases, I can double the number of students per class, which makes things much more flexible for would be attendees. The two bedrooms upstairs (and potentially the daybed downstairs) will also allow me to house a few out of town students who would otherwise need to budget for local hotel rates in addition to the classes. The kitchen with Vitamix will allow people to make their own food, and in the right seasons, that house will also have its own garden free for harvesting/food prep.

Both houses are zoned residential, so although I can live and operate my primarily phone and internet based business with occasional classes in our living room from either location, I cannot legally open up a “school” or run a “hotel.” I’m not doing so. I’m renting this space as a guesthouse/expansion of our current house, in order to write. If, at some point, demand grows so much for classes such that the Blue House would hold more than a few classes per month, I would need to go before the zoning board to ask to make this a business property. In the meantime, it’s a rental for writing, studying my permaculture design course and some other online courses on docket for Fall and Winter. It also offers far greater flexibility for community building, a guesthouse for visiting friends, family and students, as well as a larger/more flexible living room. Move-in date is set for 9/7/15.

I hope that explains what’s happening. LOL, I’ve gotten questions ranging from “When are you and David moving next door?” to “Are you guys pulling a Frieda Kahlo and living in separate quarters?” No, we are not both moving next door. No, I am not moving out of this house by myself. I am renting the space as a creative, spiritual and community space that happens to offer a guesthouse and an additional yard to garden. At some point, if the permaculture thing takes off, perhaps I’ll need to approach my friends in zoning, but for now, I need to get in there to finish some research I’ve begun, hopefully let these books flow through, and to build much greater community through celebrations, visitors and classes.

Yes, I am very excited! And yes, so is David. He gets a garage out of the deal, since our garage has remained a storage unit turned garden shed. 🙂