By Christoph

Eclectic Bedside Table

Pia inherited a small antique file cabinet piece from a friend and immediately knew she wanted it to be a bedside table. Just the right size, and two small drawers with a sliding divider inside, make it the perfect fit next to her bed. But how to attach legs without having to make extensive changes to the old piece? Turns out the bottom of the cabinet is inset about 3/8" from the bottom of the sides. Inspiration struck: We can loosely rest the cabinet on a 3/8" plywood platform.

Seat cushion made from recycled coffee bag -

The secret here is how to achieve a snug fit of the coffee bad around the foam without rubbing your knuckles raw as you pull the bag over the foam. We have made mattresses and seat cushions before, and while the results were great, it took a week or longer for our fingers and knuckles to recover from the ordeal. As Pia was discussing our plans for the coffee bags with friends, they sagely nodded and said they'd been do this road before and had to pay with blood. We were not looking forward to that! Then Pia came up with the glorious idea of using a trash bag to reduce friction and tears.

Congestion / cold / flu tea -

This tea works better for us than most over-the-counter medicines, and it tastes really nice. Our kids often prepare it just for the enjoyment.

Produce sticker codes tell you whether it is organic, conventional, or GMO

Even though California voters decided that they don't want labeling of food sourced from genetically modified organisms, you can still tell. Just learn the codes on the standard produce stickers and choose wisely.

A 5 digit code starting with 8 is GMO food - avoid. A 4 digit code is conventionally grown produce - keep moving. A 5 digit code starting with 9 is organic produce - bingo! It's as easy as that. I may just learn to love those stickers after all. (I have a long standing hatred of stickers on food and in my compost.)

Zucchini and Crook Neck Squash from the Weber's garden

Pia is so psyched that this year we get a real bounty of summer squash from our own garden. For some reason this never worked well for us in previous years, even though summer squashes are supposedly very easy to grow. Regardless, it is such a pleasure to harvest today's dinner in your own garden and eat it as fresh as can be. Tomorrow there will be more, and the day after even more. Come for dinner!

Our Tangelo tree on Dec. 4, heavy with fruit

This year our little 4 ft Tangelo tree didn't just have lots of sweet smelling flowers - next to Jasmine, this tree has the most amazing scent of all plants in our garden! After flowering the tree set a load of fruit and the little green balls kept on growing. Usually, most of its fruit shrivel and fall off in short order, but not this time! By mid May we knew we'd have some nice Tangelos come Fall. Around Thanksgiving the little tree was laden with fruit and we anxiously kept checking whether they were ripe enough.

Pia's butler chair

The Butler Chair

Who doesn't have the perpetual disarray of clothes in the bedroom, not going into the closet for some reason, but not into the hamper for another? So these clothes are in temporary limbo, and there's never a good place for them. In our master bedroom, a perfectly good chair and a perfectly usable chandelier serve as holders for those clothing items. Not anymore for Pia, for the Butler Chair was built for the purpose. It has a clothes hanger back with a second piece above and can take care of those stray clothing items elegantly. The seat is a bit lower, so you can comfortably reach your feet while putting on socks and shoes, and when seated you can effortlessly slip into the jacket hanging from the clothes hanger back. Simply genius! And then there's the secret compartment under the seat. Pia is in love!