Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden Gifts • Our Fourth Year

Spring in Sonoma

Hummingbird gardenAs we celebrate our fourth year of gifting butterfly & hummingbird garden seeds to the community, I’d like to share my recent visit to the home and garden of my collaborator on this project, Karin Campion Mattoon, as well as my own home in Sonoma.

Karin & I dreamed up this idea in the middle of the pandemic when spirits were low, and business was slow.  We harnessed our resources and engaged the mentors and mentees at the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance to help with this meaningful project.  Our focus remains beauty, life, joy, and the importance of collaboration for the pollinators on our planet.

Today, we are grateful to the many local business’s who have joined us in sharing these gifts with their clients and friends.  We are part of a greater movement to support butterflies and hummingbirds.  I understand that the Monarch butterfly count has increased substantially across the nation.

Hummingbird gardens

Butterly and hummingbird garden
Planting new seeds in 2024, surrounded by the flowers from 2021 planting.

Bees in the garden

Art of Leisure Butterfly & Hummingbird Seed Gift Businesses • 2024

Sign of The Bear
Café Mac
Summer Vine
Prohibition Spirits Distillery
Sonoma Country Antiques
Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa
MacArthur Place Hotel
Refill Madness
Caddis Winery
Baker & Cook
Off Broadway Cleaners
Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau
Sonoma Valley Certified Farmers Market
Plain Jane’s
Oak Hill Farm
Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance

Edward Jones, Lindsey Stone
Sonoma Syrup Co.
Scott Nichols Gallery
Readers Books
Eraldi’s Men’s Wear & Shoes
The Loop Sonoma
Potter Green & Company
Vintage House
Chateau Sonoma
Tiddle E. Winks
Artefact Design & Salvage
Wine Country Garden Center
Sonoma Mission Gardens
Valley Swim Club
Williams-Sonoma, Sonoma
The Sonoma School of Martial Arts

Seed samples

Cafe La Haye
The Olive Press
Cline Cellars

This year, for a limited time, locally owned Sonoma Mission Gardens is offering a sample of an organic product to help the seeds to start their growth, and Wine Country Garden Center is offering a sample of an organic product to support healthy flower growth. These complimentary samples will be available after April 16th; visit each nursery to pick up your sample and to inquire about additional tips for planting success.

Butterly garden
Porches are so valuable in a home where you may enjoy the day or evening surrounded by gardens endlessly changing activity and beauty.
Butterly and hummingbird garden planting
Entering the home, we see a dining table waiting to display vases filled with colorful cuttings from the garden.

Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden Seeds

Art of Leisure & Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa

A lovely setting with abundant flowers at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, awaiting guests and the Spring Garden workshop.

In addition to the businesses participating in the seed giveaway, we are honored to collaborate with historic Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa as they celebrate Earth Day on April 19th with a Spring Garden workshop, creating sustainable hummingbird and butterfly gardens using our curated seed packets and garden pots. Gathered on the South Lawn at Fairmont Sonoma, you will learn more about these beautiful creatures and the importance of flowers as a food source for pollinators. Enjoy delicious tea featuring Sonoma Syrup Co. and made with nature’s freshest herbs while you assemble your own personal garden.  

Saturday, April 19th, 3: pm, $35 per person (one garden box per family of 4). You may view the program and purchase a ticket at their website here.

Butterly Pollinator

Relaxation and Rejuvenation in Sonoma & Napa Valley

Winter in Sonoma

As we begin the new year, it is a special time to pause, take a moment to enjoy a sunset, share something delicious with a friend, read a great novel, or maybe pop open a special bottle of sparkling wine for the simplest of reasons.  I share with you a few very special places in Sonoma and Napa Valley to accompany you on this journey to rejuvenation.

The quiet waters of Tomales Bay as seen from the boat landing at Nick’s Cove.  This bay is located along the coast just west of Sonoma and Napa Valley.

Bayside cottages are available to rent on the water.  The soothing sound of small, gentle waves under your deck can help to renew body and uplift spirits.

This painting by artist Kirsten Tradowsky who is represented by Maybaum Gallery in San Francisco reminds us to consider exploring new horizons.

Sigh in Sonoma is an especially bright and fun spot.  A wonderful place to stop by anytime to sip champagne or celebrate an occasion.

Both sparkling wine and champagne are served by the glass amongst inspiring quotes of notables from around the globe.

With Valentine’s Day coming soon, thought that you would like to know of this boutique baking business in Napa Valley.  Taart specializes in homemade desserts made with heart using recipes from family history.

This cake is a Fraise a la Rose, strawberry cake with aromas of rose, vanilla and cream.  Something sweet and beautiful which could also be the perfect hostess gift!

A plate of chocolate Saucisson au Chocolat, classic dessert served in many countries such as Italy, Spain, Portugal and France.  Each nationality adjusts the recipe adding a liqueur of preference.  The chocolate is mixed with toasted nuts and rolled in a cylindrical shape resembling a sausage.  It is served after a meal or along with a cheese board.

And to finish, a simple slice of cake in the afternoon is always welcome.  This Coconut Dream Birthday Cake has four layers and is inspired by a perfect snow day.  A small detail is that the sponge cake is lightly soaked in rum, then filled with coconut pudding and vanilla icing.

In my leisure time, it is always a pleasure to paint the animals of Sonoma and Napa Valley.  This is a dog named Moose who is at the Family Dog Rescue animal shelter in Sonoma.  He is a kind & beautiful dog looking for a new home.

Wishing you much health and happiness this year.

Holiday season

Home for the Holidays: Bringing Warmth, Color and Joy to Home

Fall in Sonoma

Late fall-early winter in wine country, we begin to rest and celebrate the year past, holidays of the season, and hope for the days to come.

Here are a few favorite shops filled with thoughtfully selected basics to bring warmth and joy into your home for the holidays this season.  These well curated offerings speak to the idea of a pause, how to incorporate nature, and bringing forth the warmth that is so welcoming as we embrace home this time of the year in Sonoma and Napa Valleys.

Home for the Holidays

At this time of year, we very much appreciate the cooler days and evenings; it is always a celebration when the vines are at rest.  There is a beautiful ease about the slope of the land, with the orderly march of the vines welcoming the winter rain ahead.  As we are a partially agrarian society, the combination of nature, authentic materials, and heirloom pieces are essential for a timeless feel in the home.

Vintage Home Napa Valley, Shoppe Amber Interiors and Chateau Sonoma are shown here, as they each uniquely excel at helping to create a welcoming home for the holidays.

Last weekend, an article in the Wall Street Journal relates how The Stagecraft of Holiday Dining Matters as Much as the Food”:

“Setting, atmosphere and the little familiar objects particular to each family are what make this time of year such a distinctive comfort and joy.”   Bee Wilson, December 16th, 2023.

A very timely read, it reminds us that it is the little things that make a big difference, whether while decorating or dining.

Holidays at Home
I just love the way this store brings the season forth from floor to ceiling.

At Shoppe Amber Interiors we see the most basic, high quality, elements for a home, to include books, furniture linens and art.

A simple, larger pattern, on a footstool can add just a touch of brightness to a room.

Holiday season at home
Linens and candles are an important part of the warmth of the season.

This relaxing bed ensemble speaks to the peaceful rest which is so desired.  The artful combination of textures, pattern, and neutral tones help to create an atmosphere of ease.

At Chateau Sonoma we see the lovely combination of organic materials, animals, plus antiques, to create this inviting table decoration.

Illuminating the darkness, music is such an important part of the holidays.

Recently, I visited the San Francisco Symphony to hear Handel’s Messiah, a holiday tradition around the world since its 1742 Dublin premiere.

Wishing you and your family a most joyous holiday season this year.  For an update on the national real estate market, please visit our Market Watch page.

Late Summer Gatherings: Linens and Dishes

Summer in Sonoma

It is late summer, and the days are sunny and warm.  As we approach the September holiday weekend, I’d like to share a few resources for your summer gatherings at home.  The following is a peek into the shop Sue Fisher King in San Francisco.  It’s an inspiring store with many unique home goods, quite a number handmade.  They also have a comprehensive website for last minute ordering.

Summer Gatherings
This collection of beautiful white dishes would be welcome on most any table in Wine Country or beyond.


Late Summer Gatherings
Lovely place settings with a light, summer feeling, using white dishes and a natural themed tablecloth.


Summer Parties
Colorful artisan glass tumblers can add a spark of fun to brighten your home, inside or out.


Celebrations at Home
These handmade placemats and dishes are really quite special, perfect for summer gatherings or celebrations.


For many years I have visited this store, and Sue Fisher King now supports my Shelter Pet Card project, so I am especially grateful.  Wishing you and all with whom you may gather on this coming holiday an abundance of health, happiness, and wonderful moments.

Art of Leisure Paintings

Happy, adopted 2019

Art of Leisure has always been circling around home and the leisure lifestyle in Sonoma and Napa Valley.  This naturally includes the physical structure of a home, the spirit of its occupants including pets, surrounding gardens, and the thriving wine country community.  Below, you will see my oil paintings of pets, very much a part of a healthy and happy home life.  Our four footed friends are an important element of our lives, as noted by artists and authors over the centuries.

For many years, I have endeavored to help the shelter pet community.  Many afternoons, I would visit the shelter, sit with an animal, paint a plein air painting of it and share a print with the person who eventually gave it a new home.  This practice developed into the creation of my Shelter Pet Cards, sold at such shops as:

Now I am bringing this service to those who would like to memorialize a moment in their and their pet’s life.  Hopefully, a delightful, happy occasion in which I can help bring your pet to life in a pet portrait painting.

Animal Paintings


Pet Paintings
Buttercup, adopted 2015


Pet Portraits
Charley, adopted 2019


Dog Paintings
Black Dog, adopted 2015


Cat Paintings
Emily, adopted 2017


Consignment Pet Portraits
Gibbs, adopted 2018


Animal Art
Jack, adopted 2019


Cat Art
Jewel, adopted 2019


Cat Paintings
Mariah, adopted 2019


Dog Portraiture
Maui, adopted 2019


Cat Portraiture
Miss Emmy, adopted 2017


Painting of your pet
Oliver, adopted 2015


Peaches, adopted 2019


Pinky Pie, adopted 2019


Rigo, adopted 2015


Sadie, adopted 2019
Hummingbird Garden

Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden Gifts in Celebration of Earth Day

Spring in Sonoma

Hummingbird Garden

Bring Beauty to Your Home this Spring
with a Butterfly & Hummingbird Flower Garden

As we welcome Spring this beautiful year of 2023, I’d like to share with you a community outreach butterfly & hummingbird seed distribution program created just in time for Spring planting and the celebration of Earth Day.

Spring Gardening

Gardens are an important part of a home here in the Sonoma Valley and beyond.  My friends and I invite you to enliven yours with a gift of seeds to create beauty and abundance around you. These high quality seeds have been specially curated to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Both butterflies and these tiny, lovely birds are treasured contributors to our larger ecosystem. Whether in a personal garden or expansive field, they bring inspiring charm and joy into our lives.

The seed gift packets will be gifted to the community during the week before Earth Day 2023 at the local businesses listed below, located throughout Sonoma County. It is our hope that recipients will plant these seeds in their pollinator gardens in the spirit of celebration for Spring and our Mother Earth. Each gift will contain a mix of seeds ready for planting that will bloom into glorious flowers. These seeds are appropriate for a wide number of garden zones across the United States.

Included with the seed packets will be an information sheet with complete list of the flower varieties and simple planting guidelines.

These seed packets have been created and donated to the community by my Sonoma Nature Journal Club, with the help of Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance mentors and mentees, as well as the support of specialty food company Sonoma Syrup Co. As local professionals who help clients with homes, gardens, families and food, we hope that you will call upon us if we can assist you in any way. Visit us on Instagram: @artofleisuresonomanapa, @sonomasyrupco, @sonomamentoring.

Gifts will be dropped off at Sonoma businesses on April 20th. The community can stop by one of the following participating locations to pick up a Butterfly & Hummingbird seed packet from the 20th through the 29th of April.

Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden Seed 2023 • Participating Businesses

  1. Sign of The Bear
  2. Café Mac
  3. Summer Vine
  4. Prohibition Spirits Distillery
  5. Sonoma Country Antiques
  6. MacArthur Place Hotel
  7. Refill Madness
  8. Caddis Wines
  9. Baker & Cook
  10. Off Broadway Cleaners
  11. Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau
  12. Woof
  13. Sonoma Valley Certified Farmers Market
  14. The Corner Store
  15. Plain Jane
  16. Sonoma Mission Gardens
  17. Nomad Botanicals
  18. Williams-Sonoma
  19. Sonoma School of Martial Arts
  20. Oak Hill Farm

  1. Musette Atelier
  2. Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance
  3. Edward Jones, Lindsey Stone
  4. Sonoma Syrup Co.
  5. Art of Leisure, Brenda McNeill, Coldwell Banker Brokers of The Valley
  6. Scott Nichols Gallery
  7. Readers Books
  8. Eraldi’s Mens Wear & Shoes
  9. The Loop
  10. Potter Green & Company
  11. Vintage House
  12. Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa
  13. Chateau Sonoma
  14. Bartholomew Estate Winery
  15. Half-Pint
  16. Tiddle E. Winks
  17. Artefact Design & Salvage
  18. Wine Country Gardens
  19. Café La Haye

Art of Leisure & Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa

A lovely setting with abundant flowers at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, awaiting guests and the Spring Garden workshop.

In addition to the businesses participating in the seed giveaway, we are honored to collaborate with historic Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa as they celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd with a Spring Garden workshop, creating sustainable hummingbird and butterfly gardens using our curated seed packets and recycled wine boxes.

Learn more about these elegant creatures and the importance of flowers as a food source for pollinators. Enjoy delicious hot tea made with fresh herbs while you assemble your own personal garden, and linger afterwards for live music and elevated street food from CaliForno, Fairmont Sonoma’s signature food truck. Tickets include all of the materials needed to craft your unique garden box. If you are unable to take a box home with you, a seed packet will be provided for you to plant your own garden at home. 

Saturday, April 22nd, 3:30pm – 5:00pm, $35 per person. You may view the program and purchase a ticket at their website here.

Sonoma Mentoring Alliance
Mentor and mentee work together to create seed gifts for the community.

Pollinator Garden Seeds
Wherever you call home, it is my hope that you may find time to plant lots of flowers this Spring.

Butterfly Garden
And, whether you are renovating a home or relaxing with a hobby, that you may enjoy the Art of Leisure. Wishing you a beautiful Spring. If you would like more information on this project, please feel free to give me a call.

Rejuvenation Wellness

Rejuvenation & Wellness

Spring in Sonoma

Happy Spring! As we begin this season of growth, I’d like to share a few ideas for a leisure weekend of rejuvenation and restorative wellness.  In Sonoma and Napa Valleys, the abundance of rain this year has brought what we hope to be healthy vines as they emerge from their winters rest.  Thus, this is a perfect time to step out and enjoy something new and special before the full excitement of this season is upon us.

The idea of rejuvenation and wellness is inspiring because it evokes renewal, an abundance of energy, and a sense of optimism. To experience this feeling, here are a few places that offer various forms of personal tranquility and serenity.  From the visual to the experiential, these places and rituals allow the true feeling of rejuvenation to bubble to the surface naturally. From the simplest idea of a few drops of eucalyptus oil on a steaming washcloth in the morning, to visiting a spa-golf hospitality venue, or just maybe, up-close gazing at stars and planets at the most advanced observatory in the West . Whether inside or outdoors, a focus on rejuvenation and wellness is an element of the leisure lifestyle any day of the year. As always, I wish you many moments of ease and joy as you experience the Art of Leisure.

Beauty and Tranquility as expressed by International artist/photographers today:
Available at Scott Nichols Gallery, Sonoma Square. www.scottnicholsgallery.com

Nicolo Sertorio, 12T 365265 m E


Christopher Burkett. White Dogwood Canopy


Sonoma Valley:

Napa Valley:


Regarding real estate, we are in a time of many questions and uncertainty.  If you would like to know the facts, historical data, and trends that we are seeing for 2023, contact me for a Market Update that will help define today’s reality.  Here are a few highlights as we peer into the future:

  • In the luxury market, we are seeing a trend toward more conscious spending with a movement towards minimalist luxury. The trifecta of location, home condition, and amenities are the primary decision making priorities.
  • Move-in-ready homes are highly sought after today. In some cases, homes are sold fully furnished, including linens and cutlery.

Overall, the mindset in real estate is evolving, as properties are taking longer to sell and buyers are in a less competitive environment. Every market is unique.

Recently, I visited a site in Healdsburg with new construction containing many of the elements of an Art of Leisure Home.

The property is the Mill District, and although quite different from a home in the country with land or in town, it does offer many desirable amenities to clients.

The interiors have clean lines, minimalist decor, and include some furnishings, including appliances and window coverings.  This is a very move-in-ready property that is located close to the Healdsburg Plaza for entertainment and casual to gourmet dining.

I wanted to share this property with you as it is an example of the trend location, home condition, and amenities as we look towards the future.

It is my hope that you will enjoy a beautiful spring, and as always, please contact me anytime with questions or thoughts about the leisure lifestyle or the market which is adjusting quickly today.

Relaxation and Sleep for Holistic Wellbeing

Fall in Sonoma

Recently, I was visiting with a friend who has created an aromatherapy company in wine country and she brought to mind the importance of a restful nights sleep for one’s wellbeing.  As this is an important part of the lifestyle within an  Art of Leisure home, I wanted to share a few thoughts with you.

Home is our haven and our wellbeing is largely centered around the places at which we feel at home.  This could be our own house or a well appointed resort or guest cottage.  A large part of the welcoming and relaxing experience that we feel is the air or scent of a location. Carole Addison-Goyne from Nomad Botanicals has created a lovely business with this as their priority.  In my own office, I use a lavender diffuser from Nomad Botanicals to enliven the air with a restful scent that reminds me of a trip to a monastery in Provence where monks grew acres and acres of lavender.


At times in which you seek a moment of ease, it is nice to remember that our sense of smell allows us to reach back to a pleasant moment or memory in an instant.  This is an element of the wellness provided us by natural plants, which I find fascinating.

In Sonoma and Napa Valleys, with fall upon us, we are feeling the shorter days and longer nights.  Along with the grapevines and land devoted to agriculture, we are grateful for the slightly slower pace.  With all of my involvement in creating a home and environment that nurtures a sense of wellbeing, it was the luck of synchronicity that I noticed a recent discussion on the importance of sleep and relaxation on the TODAY Show, with Ariana Huffington and noted Harvard professor and sleep doctor Rebecca Robbins, author of “Secrets of Sleep“.

This seems to be a popular topic today, as Carole was asked to speak at the San Francisco Academy of Sciences’ Nighty Nightlife event under the stars.

WellbeignA lovely older tree is an endless source of healing and airborne scents.

This picture of a very old tree reminds me of Forest Bathing which is receiving quite a lot of attention recently.   Forest Bathing, or  Shinrin-Yoku, is a healing ritual originally from Japan. Spending time in nature, has been linked to both cognitive benefits, increase in mental health, and emotional wellbeing. This Japanese practice of taking in the forest with all the senses is truly a rewarding experience.  A very interesting book on this subject is Forest Bathing by Dr. Qing Li, who is the chairman of the Japanese Society of Forest Medicine and Associate Professor at the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo.

Plants can be both hardy and delicate.  Accordingly, Nomad Botanicals shares three key areas of working with plants for health and wellbeing:

  • Begin with healthy, vibrant botanical plants: This brings forth authentic essential oils, imparting aromas along with vital life force with each drop.  A treat for the senses and protection from the elements.
  • Expert Formulations: This is very important as it is with study, apprenticeship and working in the industry that people such as Carole, who, with 25 years of experience, become knowledgable about plant chemistry, mixing scents with top, middle, and low notes.  The result is a creation of poignant aromas, textures and results for those who enjoy these products.
  • The gift of being able to transform routine moments into rituals which support wellbeing.  This begins with careful and considerate packaging, presentation, design and personal attention to clients.
This is the diffuser I use in my office.  It allows one to easily transport oneself, through scent, to the five different locations of the world identified by their unique scents.

A bee roaming my neighborhood on a summer afternoon.  Simply looking and smelling flowers or consuming honey can be healthy additions to our day.

As one of the more relaxing scents, lavender is abundant in Sonoma and Napa Valleys.  Grown for both medicinal reasons and for landscaping. essential oils from plants such as lavender are at the heart of the mind, body and soul-soothing world of aromatherapy.  It was interesting to be reminded that essential oils in plants are their organic method of communication with the environment around them.  This is both to attract creatures, such as pollinating bees and butterflies, and to deter predators. How plant oils affect our mood and brain is an organic experience that has much to do with our past experiences and the influence of scent.

Towels are most always part of a wellness ritual.  These are a few lovely thick white towels and a waffle robe which I saw recently at the Chateau Sonoma store on the Sonoma Plaza.

Another wonderful example of organic towels from the sustainable home decor shop JAK W in Sonoma, just off the Plaza.  This style would be perfect for an outdoor shower as can be easily hung from a hook and dry in the breeze.

Alchemy Works is a newer store to Yountville which offers a number of very lovely products.  Seen her on the shelf is their room spray which features notes of bergamot, vetiver, and sandalwood with hints of nutmeg and fresh geranium.

Cooking can offer its own form of aromatherapy as seen here at Alchemy Works in Yountville.

This bag and hat would be especially welcome on a leisure wander along a path in a forest or tree lined city street, shown at Alchemy Works.

Wishing you many moments of relaxation and beauty as you enjoy the Art of Leisure.  Feel free to contact me anytime.

Fall in Sonoma

Healthy Soil + An Organic Pumpkin Patch

Fall in Sonoma

In Sonoma and Napa Valley because we live in an agricultural area the health of our soil is very important to our wellbeing.  As the soil directly impacts the health of the foods we grow and our community, it is my thought that we all may like to know a little more about nutrient rich soil.  For that reason, and to teach kids in my Sonoma Nature Club, I did a little experiment to study the effects of various microbial and nutritional additions to the soil on five different small areas of land in wine country.  Healthy land and gardens are an important part of the leisure lifestyle in Sonoma and Napa Valley.  In 2021, I began the research project on how soil amendments adjust the crop output and water retention of plants.

This informational and educational project included the participation of the Sonoma Nature Club (described in this local article) and Sonoma Mentoring Alliance members.  It  has been inspiring for kids of all ages to better understand the cultivation of soil and the growing of crops, farm to table, the endeavor has since transitioned into a valuable source of knowledge for the community.  Hopefully, this will be helpful to you and your plants as they thrive through the growing season.

Wine Country

Here, Sonoma Ecology Center Garden Park manager Steve Carara and I enjoy some of the harvest from my 2021 organic pumpkin patch at Sonoma Garden Park.

Sonoma Garden Park
One corner of the crop in the field.

This is partial list of what was monitored by Sonoma Nature Club:

  • Growth + health of plant
  • Count of pumpkins and size of fruit, plus foiliage
  • Soil water content
  • Soil compaction
Pumpkins in Wine Country
The 2022 pumpkin patch. You can see the rocks that a Sonoma Nature Club member painted on the lower right corner.

A few larger pumpkins at Sonoma Garden Park which we will study and then carve for Halloween festivities this year.

A few members of the Sonoma Nature Journal Club carving their 2021 pumpkin crop.

Sonoma Garden Park
Friends in the garden include pollinator butterflies.  We always appreciate a lovely Swallowtail butterfly visit.

This study of soil is part of the immersive agricultural experience that I have offered to kids and adults at the Sonoma Garden Park for a number of years.  The focus is specifically on analysis and education about crops, soil and the land, which will be helpful to both the personal gardener and the crop grower.  It has been my belief that becoming more comfortable with the land and nature is of the utmost of importance for everyone.

Soil Science
Part of our soil science study involved the product Biochar which is available from the company Pacific Biochar.  The Chief Executive Officer, Josiah Hunt is shown above discussing how this soil enhancement product increases crop yield for vineyards.

Biochar is simply defined as a fine-grained biomass charcoal used or found in soil.  For as long as fire and plant life have co-existed, pyrogenic organic matter (biochar) has played a role in the development and fertility of topsoil.  One of the findings in our Art of Leisure soil science study is that biochar does increase water retention in and around the root mass of the plant, allowing for better root development and water availability for the plant.  It also helps to increase soil tilth and supports microbial communities.


It is quite interesting to know and see how Biochar is created.  First, the natural wood pieces are carefully burned or heated with a minimum or absence of oxygen.  When air is excluded, oxygen for combustion is stripped from the biomass, which is thus reduced to carbon bonds of charcoal.   Above is a container burning at Donum Estate Winery earlier this year.

Here we see the opening of the container and cooling of the product.  It will then be packaged and transported to a site for distribution.  I have used this product as part of the soil science study for Sonoma Nature Club and the community.  It is my belief that the foundation for soil health is in increased microbial activity in our soil.

Healthy soil that has some structure and can bring nutrition to the roots of a plant can be accomplished in a number of ways.  This engaging agricultural study is helping us to better understand the process.  Below is an example of a cover crop of mustard seen in the Napa Valley earlier this year.  Mustard is usually incorporated into the soil later in the season, all part of sustainable agriculture.

If you have an interest in this, please feel free to give me a call anytime.

Home and Nature

Sonoma Insiders Guide: Favorite Ice Cream Spots and Homes with Space

Summer in Sonoma

It is late summer in Sonoma & Napa Valleys and truly quite warm.  Here, I share a few favorite ice cream spots and two lovely homes with pools that are wonderful examples of how to use the available space on a property for living the leisure lifestyle.

Ice Cream Spots

One of the many joys of life is an ice cream cone.  No thought of nutritional content or how it may look on you tomorrow; just the pure, pleasurable experience of going to the ice cream parlor, choosing the flavor, picking the type of cone, and enjoying the cold delight for as long as it lasts.  Slowly enjoying a little homemade ice cream is one of the timeless and true friends from our youth.  These paintings by a local artist are so evocative of the feeling of this authentically delicious frozen treat.  I hope that you may be able to step out and visit one of these spots soon, or pick up a painting as an endless reminder of the experience.  I wish you many moments of happiness and sustenance as you experience the Art of Leisure.

As expressed by International artist Hadas Tal

THREE SCOOPS, by Artist Hadas Tal
Christina Maybaum Gallery, San Francisco

CHERRY CHUNK, by Artist Hadas Tal
Christina Maybaum Gallery, San Francisco

Sonoma County:

Napa Valley:


On these hot summer days, we are reminded of the importance of the use of space at a home or property.  The homes below offer some portion of their outdoor space for a swimming pool.  This allows for swimming as exercise, a place for gathering with friends and family, something beautiful to observe most any time of the year, a way to break up an expanse of land with a view, and many other pleasures.

Homes with Space
A sparkling pool in the western hills of Sonoma at 3350 Vigilante Road.

Sonoma Homes with Space
Built in 1990, this home has a lovely exterior color and openness to the outdoor balcony area.

Open Space Sonoma
The view looking east from the balcony just outside the above doors.

Glen Ellen Homes with Space
A bedroom with history.  The lovely wood ceiling reminds one of the trees and land just outside the window.  A very relaxing and natural feel to the space.

New Home Sonoma
Brand new construction on two acres of Sonoma land with a pool to take full advantage of the outdoor space, a pool house, and open floor plan for the main residence.  Located at 21706 Hyde Road, Sonoma

Open Living Room Sonoma
The main residence living area offering a very airy and open use of space

Sonoma Homes with Pools
A fresh feel to the refreshment area in the pool house.

Homes with Land in Sonoma
Spare furnishings and new construction give this property an ease that has been well curated.