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Simon & Romklao's Wedding Reception

simon and romklao

My younger brother and his lovely bride hosted family and a few friends on a bay dinner cruise last September to celebrate their union.

simon and romklao simon and romklao simon and romklao feltmans feltmans micah rick simon and men simon and rom micah and bella simon and romklao dinner simon and romklao cake simon and romklao cake simon and romklao cake simon and romklao cake dancing simon and romklao golden gate bridge arianna helen arianna helen rick

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Sunset Through the Grass

sunset grass sunset grass sunset grass sunset grass

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Spring 2013

bird wild garlic

Wild garlic (Allium triquetrum) flowers

wild garlic rosemary flowers

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) flowers

daffodil arugula flower

Arugula (Eruca sativa) flower


Grape hyacinth (Muscari)

Boxelder Bug

Within the past few days, hundreds or thousands of these Boxelder Bugs (Boisea trivittata) have suddenly gathered in my backyard. I tried to get the chickens to eat them, but they turned up their beaks to the crunchy critters. Today we noticed the bugs are covering the south facing walls of our house with eggs.

Reading up on them, I'm not too worried about them messing up my garden since they are pretty specialized in their diets, preferring boxelder trees, though they could do damage to my apples, pears, or plums later on.

Boxelder Bug Boxelder Bug

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HDR Experiments: Trees

hdr sunset trees hdr sunset trees hdr sunset trees

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HDR Experiments: Coast

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Laccaria and Hygrocybe Drawing


Started this drawing at SOMA (Sonoma County Mycological Association) Camp in January and finished it up last month: Laccaria amethysteo-occidentalis and Hygrocybe punicea.

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Fish in a Bottle

Fish jars

In Mexico, I couldn't take photos of the fish underwater while snorkeling, but I was inspired to draw them.

Fish jars

Butterfly fish. We made good friends (or something) with a juvenile one of these. It lived in a pool right at the spot on the beach we used to go in and out of the water. It would chase me and nibble my legs. So adorable and freaky at the same time.

Fish jars

Needle fish. I spotted one of these swimming spookily near the surface just beyond my peripheral vision (which isn't much with a snorkel mask on) and it caught me off guard. It was so obviously watching us and was nearly invisible in the water. I think I would see these from the beach as well, jumping out of the water and flying a ways. They are actually much longer and skinnier than this rendition but I drew it for this bottle. I really could have used an even taller thin bottle. I've had this bottle for years but when I saw it after returning from Mexico, it reminded me of that fish and that gave me the idea to do this.

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The Toothpaste Experiment

I've been working on perfecting homemade toothpaste for the past 14 months, experimenting with recipes and seeing how they pass the taste test, dental checkups, how well the paste sticks to the toothbrush (if it's too thick it's difficult to get a clump to stay on the bristles heading to your mouth), and how the consistency holds up on the shelf over time.

Most store bought toothpastes contain harmful substances such as sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium fluoride, artificial colorings, and antibacterial agents. Even though toothpaste is not meant to be ingested, these substances can be absorbed within seconds through the skin on the lips, or through the mucosal lining inside of the mouth which is about as efficient at absorbing as any other part of the digestive system.

Kitchen alchemy - toothpasteMy experiments only included ingredients that do more than just clean your teeth, they do it naturally and safely, and every one of them is also an edible food:
Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) whitens teeth, fights bad breath, and protects tooth enamel, but if you accidentally swallow it, it neutralizes stomach acid, kills the bacteria that cause urinary tract infections, and dissolves kidney stones.
Coconut oil is a highly nutritious food that has antimicrobial properties when used in the mouth for brushing or oil pulling.
Sea salt can polish teeth and help with gum disease, and if ingested, it is alkalizing to the body and contains necessary trace minerals.
Kitchen alchemy Xylitol fights cavities by reducing decay-causing bacteria in saliva, it possesses a cleaning action, and adds a mildly sweet flavor. It also acts against some bacteria that cause ear infections in children.
Stevia is a sweetener that inhibits the growth and reproduction of bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth decay.
Peppermint oil has numerous health benefits and has antiseptic properties in your mouth removing bad breath, fighting bacteria, and helps toothaches.
Oregano oil is especially useful for those who have gum disease, canker sores, or toothaches, it is a powerful antibiotic and pain-reducer, and it can help tighten gums.
Clove oil is both analgesic and antibacterial, a strong numbing agent for tooth pain, and can add a great flavor to the mix.
Vegetable glycerine is the least of the beneficial ingredients but it naturally adds moisture and sweetness.

Toothpaste Recipe #1

Kitchen alchemy - toothpaste6 Tbsp Baking Soda
2 Tbsp Sea Salt
2 tsp Xylitol
3/4 tsp Stevia Extract Powder
2 Tbsp Vegetable Glycerine
1/2 tsp Oregano Oil (blend)
6 drops Pepermint Oil (pure)

Mix the dry ingredients and then add the wet.

This toothpaste was very salty and gritty. I decided with my next version I'd leave out the salt. Over time on the self the liquid separated. The flavor was herby from the oregano, though if the salt hadn't overpowered it, it would have been nice.

Toothpaste Recipe #2

Kitchen alchemy - toothpaste3 Tbsp. Baking Soda
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Xylitol
3/4 tsp Stevia Extract Powder
2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
26 drops Clove Oil (pure)
14 drops Pepermint Oil (pure)
1 tsp. Water

Mix the dry ingredients and then add the oils and mix well until it forms a paste. Add water for a wetter consistency.

Before I added water to this mix, the dense paste seemed to keep from separating the way the first recipe did. After adding the water, the consistency was better, it stuck to the bristles on my toothbrush on it's way to my mouth, but sitting in the jar, the water separated out a little.

refilling toothpaste tubeThe flavor of this one was really good. Coconut oil can cause a greasiness around the mouth if you are a messy brusher... good thing coconut oil is great for the skin. Store-bought toothpastes would irritate my lips and the delicate skin around my mouth, this stuff moisturizes it!

refilled toothpaste tubeAt first I stored the paste in a jar, and I tried refilling toothpaste tubes by cutting off the back end, but they got too messy over time and when the early pastes separated, liquid leaked out either end.

I ended up getting a GoGear brand squeezable travel bottle which works great and is convenient for taking with us. So far it has not leaked (although I mostly tend to store it cap up). They have a nice wide mouth for refilling as well as a closable squeeze-tube type cap.

GoGear tubeThere's a similar brand called GoToob which I have not yet tested.

Toothpaste Recipe #3

2 Tbsp Baking Soda
2 tsp Xylitol
1/2 tsp Stevia Extract Powder
1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
20 drops Clove Oil (pure)
20 drops Peppermint Oil (pure)

Mix the dry ingredients and then add the oils and mix well.

I tried this batch without water to see if I could get it from separating on the self. The consistency started out alright since coconut oil softens so easily with just a little stirring, but the next morning after a cold night, it was too hard to squeeze out of the tube so I eventually took it out and mixed in some vegetable glycerine, ending up with a better consistency through time and temperature change.

Toothpaste Recipe #4

I actually failed to write this one down, though I know it was baking soda, liquid stevia extract, coconut oil, clove oil, peppermint oil, oregano oil, and I experimented with using olive oil as the wetting agent. The flavor and consistency was great, and olive trees are known for their dental health properties. However, the olive oil and oregano oil (also containing olive oil in the blend) made it very yellow. While I couldn't tell that it had a staining effect on my teeth, yellow isn't a color I like brushing with.

Toothpaste Recipe #5

Kitchen alchemy - toothpaste3 Tbsp Baking Soda
1 Tbsp Xylitol
1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1 Tbsp Vegetable Glycerine
8 drops Stevia Extract Liquid
20 drops Oregano Oil (blend)
20 drops Peppermint Oil (pure)
10 drops Clove Oil (pure)

This has turned out the best so far. Great consistency and flavor, though slightly yellow.


I like the flavor and medicinal properties of oregano oil, but I may try to source it as a pure oil rather than a blend, so that I don't need as many drops, don't have the added olive oil, and avoid more of the yellow tint it gives the paste. I preferred the smoother, non gritty pastes, made without salt or xylitol, both of which were fairly coarse granules. I felt like they could be more damaging to my tooth enamel. I plan to continue these experiments as I perfect the recipe, and I welcome you to try out making your own toothpaste and let me know what you discover. It's so easy to do, and a bargain.

The real test was going for my dental check-ups, two during this past year of using these homemade toothpastes, and both successful. While I have the start of one tiny spot of decay, my gum depth has increased during this time and my hygienist remarks on how great my dental health is. Now, if only I could get in the habit of flossing more than a couple times a week.

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