Posted in 1 Garden, 2 Home, 4 Patio, solar ovens

FREE Webinar on How to Cook with Solar

614035f6-000f-41e7-997a-29da799b0e1a.jpgIf you have a SUN OVEN you do not use often,

OR if you are considering getting one, we would like to invite you to join us Thursday evening for a simple, very basic online class for hungry newbies…SUN OVENCooking for Dummies.

For the past 19 years, I have had the privilege of teaching thousands of people on five continents how to cook, dehydrate and pasteurize water with the power of the sun. It is always rewarding to see the elation on people’s faces at their first taste of sun-cooked food.

In this class, you’ll learn:

  • How a SUN OVEN works.
  • What you can cook, what kind of pots & pans work best and why food cooked with the sun does not burn.
  • How much sunlight you need.
  • How to sun-bake a perfect loaf of bread.
  • Why a SUN OVEN is the most energy-efficient way to rehydrate your freeze-dried emergency preparedness foods.
  • How to use a SUN OVEN as a solar dryer or dehydrator.
  • The difference between boiling and pasteurizing drinking water.
  • How to cook your dinner in the sun while you are at work.
  • How to hard boil freshly laid eggs which are easy to peel.
  • Ways to use a SUN OVEN that have nothing to do with cooking.
  • The economic, health and environmental benefits of cooking with the sun.
  • What we are doing around the world and why we do it.
  • How to quickly pay for a SUN OVEN by reducing your utility bills.

Date: Thursday, June 1, 2017
Time: 7:00 p.m. Central Daylight Time, (8 p.m. EDT / 6 p.m. MDT / 5 p.m. PDT & AZ)
Duration: 60 minutes plus live Q&A
Cost: There is no cost for the class, but advance registration is required

AND:  A Free eBook
Everyone who registers will receive a helpful eBook:
Emerging From An Emergency What you should do if…? 
Being prepared for disasters and emergencies can seem like a big job. Many people don’t know where to start, so they never start at all.
This free 120 page eBook is a compellation of publicly available documents to aid you in the planning process to enhance your likelihood of your survival from any kind of tragedy.

Posted in 1 Garden, 2 Home, solar ovens

Free Stacking Cook Pots! And More…

Preparedness Package.pngThis season’s Sun Oven special is actually two – for you to choose:

A) a free set of stacking cook pots with the purchase of a SUN OVEN ($299).

B) The remainder of the “Preparedness Package” ($72 value) – ALL the items in photo – for $299 + 35.70 = 334.70.

Arizona residents, add 8% tax.

No other costs.  F R E E  SHIPPING.

Real Sun Ovens can be purchased most inexpensively from Sun Oven dealers, like myself, who are allowed to sell them as low as $299 – giving our customers $50 off the price they would otherwise pay on the Sun Oven site.  I’m happy to be one of those dealers.

If you seen a Sun Oven advertised for less than $299, it may be a copycat oven made overseas with toxic material, and/or you may find additional charges added at the end of the payment process.

You can find that I’m a registered dealer (New Mexico moving to Arizona by checking the official Sun Oven dealer page:

Choose Your Special ~

A)  FREE Easy-Stack Pots with interchangeable Lids
*  Set of two interconnecting enamelware pots which can be safely and easily stacked.
*  Includes an interchangeable enamel lid and a glass lid for improved visibility and browning.
*  Each 3 quart pot holds 3 pounds of poultry or a 3 pound roast.


B) The Preparedness Package 

  •  2 stacking cook pots with lids, described above
  • 3 stacking dehydrating and baking racks, with roll of parchment paper
  • 2 loaf pans
  • WAPI – Water Pasteurization Indicator (critical survival item)
  • Add $35.70 (for $72 value)

To Purchase with PayPal:

  1. Email with your order (which special), and physical address and phone number for delivery.
  2. I will send you a PayPal invoice which will explain and guide you through safely paying with a check or credit card – EVEN if you don’t have a PayPal account.   I will pay all fees.
  3. Expect your Sun Oven special in one week.

To Purchase through the mail:

  1. Email with your order (which special), and physical address and phone number for delivery.  Tell me you want to send a check in the mail.
  2. I will await your check and order your oven as soon as it clears my bank.
  3. Expect your Sun Oven in two weeks or more, depending on the mail.


Posted in 1 Garden, 2 Home, solar ovens

Summer Sun Oven Special

package2012Sorry, Everyone, for missing this Special and failing to let you all know, but better late than never.  Here we are:

Pay only $33.35 for each Dehydrating and Preparedness Accessory Package when ordered with a SUN OVEN through September 22, 2016*

Dehydrating and Preparedness Accessory Package Includes:

* Multi-Level Dehydrating & Baking Rack Set (set of 3 racks w/1 roll parchment paper)

* Two Easy Stack Pots w/interchangeable enamel and glass lids

* Multi-Fuel Water Pasteurizing Indicator (WAPI)

* Two Loaf Pans

* Computer CD featuring 600 recipes, videos and much more

*This package price is only available with the purchase of an All American SUN OVEN.

Offer valid through September 22, 2016

A Sun Oven is $299, the lowest price they allow, and the package parts, if purchased separately, cost about $75.  The stacking cook pots are the best for all-around cooking, roasting, baking, and stewing.  The WAPI is a potential life-saver.  I use my bread pans regularly too.  And I want to use my dehydrating and baking rack set more often.  The total cost of $33.35 is less than the cook pots and WAPI – almost essential items – so the other items are essentially free.  A very nice package.

The total plus NM tax is $358.94.  Ordering from other states, without added tax, is $332.35.

To order, call me at 575-534-0123, or email  You can either get me a check or cash, or I’ll send you a PayPal invoice, which you can pay with either PayPal or a credit or debit card.

(One day soon, I hope to have a new site with payment option imbedded.  Meantime, we get to be old-fashioned and actually talk on the phone if we want, or email.  Thanks for your patience!)

Posted in 1 Garden, 2 Home

Small-Town “Urban” Sustainable Home for Sale

Hi Friends around the world ~
inside gate.JPG

Know anyone looking to move to a wonderful, eclectic small town to live as ecologically-sustainable a life as possible in a small-town “urban” environment?  Please check out my home for sale:



Its values – in a nutshell:

IMG_5736.jpgZoned residential and commercial, blocks from the historic business/tourism district, this 2-bedroom, 1-bath home with detached studio was redesigned for winter passive solar gain, with sculptured adobe thermal mass for temperature stabilization, and modern insulation – for comfort and energy savings in all seasons.

The private gardens, designed for low maintenance and watered with rain from the steel roof and catchments, contain native and drought-resistant fruit and nut trees, grape vines, numerous herbs, and a full spring and summer of flowers, all on one-tenth acre.  Nooks and crannies in the garden provide seating in sun or shade every season.  The home, gardens, and kitchen also all support large gatherings.


I’ve lived in Silver City for ten years and love it for many, many things:

  • Wonderful weather.
  • Many “Top Ten” small town lists, i.e., for wilderness, outdoor recreation, retirees, arts, etc.
  • The only small town in the Southwest with a food coop; it also has a Farmers Market, Permaculture guild, herb store, community garden, community radio, and more.
  • Home prices were/still are modest.
cherries in native collander
Two cherry trees, an almond, and apricot, two peach trees, and red flame grapes – plus medicinal and culinary herbs.

More about this home can be found on this site, or by contacting me:  575-534-0123 or

I’m looking for a buyer who’ll appreciate the sustainability and artfulness of this home and garden.

Thanks for passing this along!


HUGE apricots!

$160,000 – price negotiable.

Posted in 1 Garden, 2 Home, 4 Patio, solar ovens

FREE Online Sun Oven Cooking Seminar!

solar cook b
Summer Solstice 2004


Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 2.18.22 PM.png
Paul Munsen with Nelson Mandela, demonstrating solar cooking in South Africa

If you’d enjoy learning more about cooking with the sun, please join me and Paul Munsen of Sun Ovens International when he teaches an interactive online seminar next month.  (Paul has devoted his life to sharing Sun Oven Cooking to people all over the world.)

This FREE online webinar – Sun Oven Cooking Essentials Seminar – will take place on Thursday, June 9th, 6:30 pm Mountain Time (8:30 pm Eastern, 7:30 pm Central, 5:30 pm Pacific).

b9f19fc1-1251-4abb-a598-46523e75e700Paul will show you the fundamental cooking and baking techniques to help you save money now and be better prepared for emergencies.

Whether you know nothing about solar cooking, or you have a Sun Oven and want to learn more,  you will find this seminar beneficial.

PLUS!  There will be a special offer for attendees at the end of the webinar.

To register, click here, no cost:

Paul has been presenting these online webinars for a few months now, and I’ve heard they are lots of fun – and I look forward to you joining us.  If you have friends anywhere in the country who might be interested, you’re very welcome to invite them too.

Please register and put the date and time on your calendar.  Then we’ll give you a couple of reminders as we approach the date.

See you then!


Posted in 1 Garden, 2 Home, 4 Patio, solar ovens

Solar Inspiration! All the reasons I’m inspired by sun cooking

This was originally published almost ten years ago and has been re-published in Desert Exposure and other magazines over the years.  I decided it deserves a repeat on this site.

solar cook b
Summer Solstice Solar Cooking Festival, Bisbee, Arizona, 2004

I’ve used a solar oven now for two decades, and there was one year of my life when a solar oven was the only real way I had to cook my food.  I could use my fireplace, but even in the winter, the fireplace wasn’t nearly as easy.  It needed constant tending, and it coated my shiny steel cookware solid black with soot.

I’m in a small city now, but when I moved to the country in 1994 and began using my solar oven every day, I realized I loved to go outside to turn the oven.  I worked at my computer all day and watched nature through my windows, and if it weren’t for that oven, the habits of a lifetime could have kept that window between nature and me.  But solar cooking saved me.  It “forced” me outside, and so I went.

First, I noticed the clouds.  Were they moving this way and might slow down my cooking?  Or would they pass me by?  And look at that raven flying with the hawks!

I noticed the heat, I noticed the wind – powerful where I was on the western bajada of the Chiricahua Mountains.  Time to set a chair beside the oven so a dust devil doesn’t try to tip it over.  The vultures are rising this morning.  And phoebes are making their nests again in the eaves.  The day – the sunshine – feels wonderful.  So different than standing before a stove!

The solar oven forced me to take regular small breaks in my workday – something I’d known for years I needed to do, had been counseled about, but just couldn’t do.  My German work ethic was too strong to allow such “decadent” behavior.  What hundreds of dollars of therapy couldn’t accomplish, my solar oven did:  it attracted me with its practicality, then drew me outside so the day could whisper its seductions:  Isn’t the sunshine lovely on the skin?  Wouldn’t it be nice to sit for a spell in the sun and close your eyes?  Just a moment….  And I did.  Then I returned to my work, peaceful, satisfied, knowing that life is good, Nature cares for us, and I’m even learning how to care for myself a little better.

Speaking of decadence, have you ever eaten a sweet potato cooked to a carmelized mush in the sun?  It needs nothing to enhance it.  I discovered this one day, when I didn’t want to go back inside quite yet to get the salt, butter, plate and fork.  It was a lovely winter afternoon, one of those warm ones so common in the southwest.  I sat in the sun in a chair and gingerly peeled one end of the orange tuber held in my potholder, while looking across the mesquites to the oaks where I could see a single hawk sitting sentry.  I took a bite of a very sweet potato, dazed and delighted.

Some people theorize that solar energy affects the cellular structure of food in a way that electric and gas heat simply cannot – and I believe they’re right.  Decades of solar meals confirm this for me:  the food simply tastes better.  One day, perhaps we’ll have scientific research to explain exactly why, but I’m satisfied that it’s true.

Solar ovens are also forgiving.  One day, I was so focused on some project that I entirely forgot the casserole dish filled with simple rice and water that I’d put in the oven – four hours earlier.  If I’d put it on the stove, I’d have burned it up long ago.  I ran outdoors and found: my oven was no longer directed at the sun, but it was still over two-hundred degrees (they go to 350 or even 400), the rice was cooked, and moist as if it were being perfectly cared for in a steam tray.

Solar ovens are designed to hold in all the heat they gain, and by necessity they also hold in moisture.  So, rice stays moist, meat stays juicy, and pizza crust doesn’t dry out but bakes to a chewy, soft perfection.

Solar cooking can save a lot of money.  In the summer time, most people not only pay for gas or electricity to cook with, but then they pay again to reduce the heat created in the kitchen – or attempt to, in which case the “payment” may also include suffering a hotter house than need be.

In the wintertime, the financial gains are admittedly fewer because our cooking inside also heats our homes, and going outside to turn the oven loses a little home heat, but if we use an exhaust fan to exhaust cooking odors outside, and run it too long, it might also exhaust that cooking heat with the odors and cost more than the fuel used to replace the heat from walking outside.

After I left my hermitage in 2006, I moved to Silver City and held my first New Mexico solar oven workshop the next February.  On my fliers I printed “Call for alternate date in case of bad weather,” but a half–dozen intrepid folks showed up on a near-freezing day, to sit huddled outside, watching my ovens face nothing but clouds – so thick we could only guess approximately where the sun might be behind them.  Nevertheless, I aimed them as best I could, and we talked about solar design and cooking while watching the thermometer rise ever so slowly.  The temperature never got high enough for cooking (170 degrees), only to about 105, but that was impressive, since we had no direct sun.

If I’d started a dish indoors, say, in a cast iron pot that would hold significant heat in its mass (as I often do on winter days), the oven could have held that heat and the food would have certainly cooked – but I hadn’t started any dish inside, not believing anyone would come out on a day like that!  Though I failed my participants by not starting something inside first, the solar ovens gave us an impressive show.

Solar ovens can also be used for canning – and it’s generally summertime when we want to can food and summertime when we don’t want to heat the kitchen, so I hope to do more of this.

They can also sterilize water – not purify it, as it has no means of removing toxins – but bacteria and other living organisms can be killed, so that water can be made much safer to drink.

For this reason, a lot of people consider a solar oven to be an essential survival item.  It has occasionally been a fleeting goal of mine to prepare for survival situations, but today I’m less concerned about personal self-sufficiency than I am about community sufficiency.  All the media talk about terrorist acts I generally ignore, except to acknowledge that we as a culture are terrifically dependent on a vulnerable infrastructure that delivers us all our most basic needs – food, clean water and energy for warmth.  In the event this infrastructure was broken in any manner, nearly every one of us would be hard-pressed to take care of these needs.  It’s commonly known that our supermarkets only contain 3 days of food at any given time to feed their buyers.  Considering our government’s failure to help New Orleans in its time of disaster, I can’t put much faith in their help should even a small part of the nation lose connection to the grid.

So what can we, in our communities, do to plan for our “hometown security?”  Every garden is a good first step.  Every greenhouse.  Every rain barrel.  Every sun room.  And every solar oven gives me hope that our little town will be that much more friendly, more cooperative, more community minded if anything should ever force us to face our vulnerability to simple cold and hunger.  Every solar oven provides not only a way to cook food, but an example that can be duplicated easily with salvage materials!

A few years ago, I took my solar oven to Mexico and cooked all our meals on it, easily, on the Seri beach for five days.  The Seri chief came to visit and walked a circle around the oven, looking for the heat source, then expressed astonishment that we could cook without wood.  The women in his tribe walked miles every day in search of enough wood to cook their meals.  In my broken Spanish, I promised to return and bring him one. Years have gone by, so I’m way overdue for my return with this gift.

When I traveled to Peru last April, I had the opportunity to describe solar ovens to a family who cooked us a beautiful meal on an adobe wood stove.  Their eyes lit up with my description, heavy with sign language, and they clearly wanted one.  As in many places on the planet, the forests of Peru have been clear-cut, not only by multinational corporations, but by people simply gathering cooking fuel.  They pollute the air, their homes and their lungs by working in tiny, un-vented adobe kitchens.  (We, too, pollute the air with our cooking, but we do it far away, with gas wells and electric plants on other parts of the grid, so we can pretend it’s not our problem.)  I promised the Peruvian family, too, to return with an oven as a gift.  If I can’t make it soon, I will send one with a friend.

As soon as I had my first solar oven, I wanted to build something to help heat my family’s water.  So, in 1988, I held my first solar water heater workshop, and we built one that eventually became a pre-heater for the standard water heater in our home.  This saved us heating dollars while giving us dependable hot water for a family with teenagers – at any time of day.

That success led me to design a solar home, and I built my hermitage in the country.  My little strawbale abode was designed with the same elements as an oven, only slightly different:  it had huge south-facing windows (no reflectors); plenty of thermal mass in the floor, in the stuccoed window seats, and in the brick fireplace hearth; and wonderful insulation in the R-60 straw walls.  It always amazed people to visit in the winter and learn that I had no external heat source.  My inspiration began with a simple solar oven.

They cook!  They save money!  The food never burns, and it often tastes better.  They inspire us to sit quietly for precious moments in the sun – speaking of which, I think I’ll go outside now, put something in oven, and catch a few rays on this lovely, sunny, wintertime day.

Posted in 1 Garden, 2 Home, 4 Patio, solar ovens

Free Dehydrating and Baking Rack Set

Fresh_Tom_in_GSO.jpegHi Friends,

Gotta let you know about Sun Oven’s newest sale:

a free Multi-Level Dehydrating & Baking Rack Set with any purchase of a Sun Oven!

The set provides a simple, effective way to use a SUN OVEN to dry and dehydrate with the power of the sun.

Easily stackable wire racks allow up to 4 layers of drying or dehydrating. Can be used for baking 4 layers of cookies, tarts, breadsticks, cinnamon rolls, flat breads or fish. (Comes with a set of 3-stackable racks and one roll of unbleached, silicone coated parchment baking paper.)

Through June 20, 2016, the Multi-Level Dehydrating & Baking Rack Set is being provided FREE with the purchase of an All American SUN OVEN (you MUST mention this with each order you place).


The remaining items in the “Dehydrating and Preparedness Accessory Package” (stacking cook pots with lids, loaf pans, and water pasteurization indicator) can be purchased for an additional $34.20 when purchased with a All American SUN OVEN.

The rack set or full package can be shipped inside the SUN OVEN without increasing the cost of shipping.

Posted in 2 Home

Volunteering to Bring Toxic Chemicals into our Homes…  and Pour Them on our Heads

IMG_4841This article was published in the Silver City Daily Press – Independent (the weekly arts and entertainment edition) in September 2015:

That naked man or woman (from last month’s column) still stands in the shower, this time with shampoo bubbles sliding down the body – containing known carcinogens.  This is especially troubling as the warmth of a bath opens one’s pores to drink up the chemicals from scalp to toes.  And it happens to millions every day America.

Our Food and Drug Administration allows hundreds of toxic chemicals – banned in other nations – to be added to the products we pour on our bodies, wash our towels and sheets with, swish in our mouths, “clean” with, and consume – even with evidence mounting that, alone, they cause cancer and in combination we can only guess at their danger.  Even toothpaste tubes for children warn that the paste should not be swallowed and, if it is, Poison Control should be called!

Just holding flouride toothpaste in the mouth allows the chemical to be absorbed into the body, as it’s intended, despite studies showing it’s linked to neurological damage in children and adults.

So what’s a thinking home maker to do when faced with laundry soaps, fabric softeners, “cling”-abaters, odor cover-uppers, furniture polishes, upholstery and carpet foams, silver polishes, degreasers, and so many other personal and household products containing chemicals that are known to cause cancer?  Consider these options.

1) Shop carefully, reading labels, avoiding everything with a strange-sounding name.  Downside:  research may be daunting, and you might not find much.

2) Change where you shop, seeking out your local “alternative” health food store or coop to find cleaning products with few and simple ingredients.  Downside:  They might cost a little more, and you might not find everything you’re looking for.

3) Best:  opt for simple ingredients in non-fancy packages, like pure soap, borax, washing soda (sodium carbonate – one of those chemical names you might not realize is okay when beginning your research), white vinegar, ammonia, baking soda, salt, hydrogen peroxide, cream of tartar, lemon juice, etc!  Then go online (or find a book, perhaps at your grandmother’s?) for recipes for cleaning just about anything. Downside: time to mix simple recipes – but less time than needed to pay for toxic products.  Besides, it’s fun, they work, and they’ll save a lot of money.

Recently I began to make my own baking soda toothpaste with coconut oil and peppermint – but also with Xylitol, which made it sweet and provided an extra abrasive, though I had concerns about its true “naturalness” and whether it would actually be non-toxic with a name like that. Shortly after, I learned that Xylitol is no longer considered safe – and an alternative for toothpaste was bentonite clay, ironically what I’ve been using for years in my mouth like a poultice around any tooth that might feel sensitive, to help draw out bacteria.  I’ll soon mix up a new batch of toothpaste with bentonite clay, which both draws bacteria and can also help remineralize our teeth!  (Another new possibility is to use activated charcoal.)

Downside of any coconut oil and baking soda toothpaste:  It requires a little care to not mix it too greasy – though that’s an easy fix by adding more soda.  Second, we need to create a new habit for spitting, because the oil would clog up our home’s plumbing, so we need to get it instead inside the trash.  The up-sides win with cost, non-toxicity, and healing properties.

Recipes for cleaning nearly anything with non-toxic ingredients an be found with a web-search for “old-fashioned cleaning recipes,” “home-made toothpaste,” or shampoo, etc.   Take it little-by-little, but do it!

Want to dump those unused toxic products?  Please take them to the next hazardous waste collection, so they don’t wind up in our aquifer, coming back later on our heads.  Thank you!

Posted in 1 Garden, 2 Home

The Evolution of a Design

One of the “rules” of Permaculture is that every design evolves.  And it should, as needs change and plants grow.

house front orig
I called my new home “the ugliest house on the block.”  Today’s sitting garden (pictured below) is where the gold truck is parked.

When I first moved into this house, I knew I didn’t want an extensive garden to take care of, because the house itself needed so much work, and I had other things I wanted to do.

What I needed for the front yard was 1) sunlight to reach the south-facing windows, 2) year-round beauty, 3) privacy, and 4) low-maintenance.

The solution was to erect a fence, and plant evergreens near the street that wouldn’t grow higher than 8 feet, so the lowest winter sun can still heat the house; use shorter plants and deciduous trees near the house, so the sun can shine over or through them in winter; and plant perennial and native flowers everywhere I could.

mesquite2Keeping things simple (I’d complicate it later), I created narrow gardens, 2- to 3-feet wide, all around the perimeter of the yard, next to the house, next to the road, and around the one enclosing side.  Done.  Simple.

Later, after the water harvesting and solar features were developed, and the kitchen-side garden terraces were built and planted – and even after I added a mesquite tree and bench to the front yard – I found the big empty space was just not inviting, even surrounded by greenery and flowers.  Besides that, the granite gravel needed weeding!

The Permaculture solution to weeds is to plant more of what you want.  So I expanded the garden space to every square inch that wasn’t needed for a walkway or for sitting.

Not that I wanted the extra work of creating or maintaining more gardens, but this felt like playwhen the time was right – and I did it little by little.  The payoff was huge!

And it actually resulted in less work!  Gardens, as living communities, tend to take less work than single plants or spare gardens.  The plants in a more complex community provide each other nutrients, shade, moisture, mulch, and more – and that’s work we don’t have to do.

Widening the gardens meant that I’d need to utilize the “keyhole

From Toby Hemenway's book,
From Toby Hemenway’s book, “Gaia’s Garden.”
one winter squash will be nestled in each lobe of this adapted
See the keyhole on the left, near the hose? The original garden is back where the roses are, on the right.

garden” design (creating short walkways into them every six linear feet or so, so that every part of the garden is within a three-foot reach.

front yard
Since this photo was taken last year, we’ve laid down cedar mulch over the gravel, giving the yard a much softer “forest-like” appearance.  Sunflowers have been positively amending the soil (thanks!), but also rather dominating the space, creating a much wilder picture! And the central mesquite (rather obscured in this photo by the elderberry behind it) is bigger this year too – one day providing more serious summer shade.

And here’s the garden today, so lush, I begin nearly every day, summer and winter, sitting here, feeling oh so blessed!

Posted in 1 Garden, 2 Home, solar ovens

A *Hybrid* Tulsi Solar-electric Oven is for Sale

tulsi solar cooker
My Tulsi cooking two pans of flat enchiladas and two pans of rice. (The electric cord plug is the barely-visible black rectangle on the side near the white rice.)

Hi Local Friends ~

A friend of mine bought a Tulsi *hybrid* solar-electric oven from me a couple of years ago and gave it to a friend who recently confessed he’s never used it and so returned it to her – with the film still on the reflector, truly unused.

Since she already has two other ovens, she gave it some thought and decided to sell it and asked me for some help.

This solar oven is no longer on the market, so this is a rare opportunity.  My friend says it seems to be in perfect condition except for one latch being broken.  This isn’t an essential piece, and the oven should cook fine and maybe just need a little thoughtfulness when carrying it closed – or a latch repair.

The “hybrid” designation refers to the electric heating element built into the bottom.  This is nice when you plan to cook and then see clouds rolling in that may or may not interfere.  Just plug it into a regular AC outlet and push one button to set it to 300 degrees, or both buttons to indicate 350.  Then, the heater will come on when the temperature needs a boost and will turn itself off when it has reached the designated temperature.

When I use my Tulsi, I rarely use the electric option (just leave the cord in storage), but I have used it a couple of times, and it works as promised and has been most appreciated on those days!  But it’s not necessary.

Oh, yes, and when I demonstrate all my ovens, the Tulsi always gets the most attention because it’s narrower than the Sun Oven and carries “like a suitcase.”

This oven used to sell for $299, but it is now discontinued and replaced by a larger, deeper oven that sells for $529.  My friend would like to sell it for $299.  We both would prefer not to deal with shipping, hence this offer to “local friends.”

Please email me at or call me at 575-534-0123.  I take cash, checks, and credit cards now!

Below are all the official features, specs, how it works, and accessories:


  • High performance solar oven w/”energy miser” back up AC 120v. electric elements, ultimate in solar oven technology up to 400F in hybrid mode. Convenient, reliable, economical.
  • 95% reflective scratch resistant reflector panel for longer wear and higher cooking temps, higher reflectivity than a standard glass mirror.
  • Double-paned oven window instead of the typical single pane, holds trapped energy longer for superior heating.
  • Double rubber oven seals instead of a single seal, better long-term heat retention.
  • Attachable Temp. Booster Reflector panels for Higher Temperature Cooking.
  • Larger internal cooking chamber, cook 4 different food items at one time or how about one large pizza.
  • 24/7 electric back-up system is energy-efficient using typically 75% less electrical energy than your standard in-house oven. The cost to operate is pennies.
  • Rugged suitcase design offers clamshell like protection to internal parts.
  • Portable for easy carrying or transport, the suitcase style design fits easily in car trunk, campers, RV’s, or boat. Sets up in seconds: Simple as opening a suitcase.


Hybrid: The Tulsi-Hybrid can be just an electric oven. No sun required. However, as just an electric oven the cooking temperature is constant around 300 as this is the temperature that the internal thermostat shuts-off and on too.  The Tulsi-Hybrid actually cooks hotter and can reach 400+ when the electric and sun are used in unison.

Cooker size: 540 x 540 x 200 mm. / 21.25 in. x 21.25 in. x 7.87 in.
Material: Molded body made of UV resistant fiber reinforced plastic
Cooking capacity: 2 Kgs. or 6-8 Kgs. per day / 4 Lbs. or 13 to 17 Lbs. per day
Total weight: Approx. 13 Kgs. / 29 Lbs. including cooking pots
Tray material & coating: Aluminum sheet, black painted for high UV heat absorption

Energy source: Solar & electric power for backup

Electrical consumption: Low setting. 0.2 KW/h – High setting 0.4 KW/h. depending on amount of food being cooked & ambient conditions
Two Power source: Solar – Electric 120 volts / 60 cycles.

Electrical wattage thermostatically controlled:

Normal setting: 200 Watts (2 amps) 

High setting: 400 Watts (4 amps), (+/-10%)

Manufactured by Rohitas Electronics of Kanpur, India

How It Works

Sun BD Corporation presents Hybrid Solar Oven Technology at its finest, it is easy to use, portable, sets up in seconds and is safer to use because there are no dangerous open flames. The Tulsi-Hybrid produces zero carbon emissions!

OK, this all sounds great you’re thinking, it’s  state of the art technology, easy to use, portable, and cooks without flames. BUT, how does the darn thing work? Like a piece of cake!

The Tulsi-Hybrid solar cooking oven can be operated in any one of three ways:

1) The Tulsi-Hybrid Solar Cooking Oven can be used in Hybrid mode:

We call using both solar and electric in combination – peace of mind. It’s  the best of all worlds. You can solar cook more often and never have to worry about clouds again. When the sun is out the oven acts as a solar oven but when the sun disappears the oven acts as an electric oven cycling itself on and off between electric and solar when the sun reappears. Forget the roller coaster cooking temperatures and the threat of bacterial food poisoning that can happen with solar only ovens. The Tulsi-Hybrid’s  two setting thermostat automatically controls and maintains the cooking temperature inside the oven chamber so your food is always safe and cooked to perfection even when the weather isn’t.

2) The Tulsi-Hybrid Solar Cooking Oven can be an electric oven all by itself.

The Tulsi-Hybrid is thermostatically controlled and reaches cooking temperature of 300 degrees F. The Tulsi-hybrid cycles on and off after reaching cooking temperature for economical energy-efficient operation. It’s so easy to use just plug the Tulsi-Hybrid’s  power cord into any standard 110-volt electrical outlet. Operational cost is only pennies. The power source can from the electric company, a DC/AC inverter, or any back up generator. Wattage requirement a measly 200 watts (+/- 10%).

3) The Tulsi-Hybrid Solar Cooking Oven can be an efficient premium solar oven all by itself.

Simply point the Tulsi-Hybrid towards the sun and adjust the back reflector panel to shine the sun’s sunlight into the oven’s dark cooking chamber. It’s that easy.

You will never find another solar oven like the Tulsi-Hybrid, it’s the ONLY Hybrid Solar Oven sold inAmerica . It’s like having four appliances in one: a solar oven, crock-pot, slow cooker and portable outdoors camp oven.


4 Cooking pots w/Lids:  4-Stainless steel pots w/lips, hard black-coated for UV heat absorption.


Posted in 1 Garden, 2 Home

Global Sun Oven has announced their newest Special!

IMG_3572Ah, let’s talk business in a moment….

First, we had a great time at the First Annual “Summer Solstice Solar Cooking Celebration” on Saturday, June 20, at the Silver City Art Market.

We had box cookers, like the Global Sun Oven I sell, and a home-made version made by one of the local pioneers of solar cooking – the mother of Susan Berry, who gave me the oven of steel and glass, made sometime last century!  It’s nice to have a bit of local history to share – especially apropos since Susan is the recently-retired director of the Silver City Museum.  Thanks so much, Susan!

SunnyCookerWithPyrexBowlsWe also had home-made parabolic cookers that can be taken camping!  Those were demonstrated by Asher Gelbart, of Green Energy Now, who’s doing great work in a lot of related areas far beyond solar cooking.  You can also find him on YouTube, Linked In, and Google+.  Obviously, I think he’s worth looking into, especially if you’re local.

And thanks to Art Market artist-vender Cedar Smith (pictured above, solar cook and maker of beautiful copper items for the home) for hosting this event at the Market!

Finally, if you‘re a solar cook in the area, or will be by next year, I encourage you to join us on the Summer Solstice (June 20th) at the Art Market in 2016!

(Oh yes, I brought three box cookers and completed two meals in each between 9 am and noon!  That’s the Summer Solstice for you – when the day is not only longest, but the sun shines most directly through the atmosphere, giving us the most powerful “solar gain.”  In 2004, I cooked five meals one after the other in a single oven in a single day – just to see what I could do on the Solstice.  Fun!)


Did you know the first solar oven was designed and used in the 19th Century?  Yes!  Horase de Saussure, a swiss naturalist, cooked fruits in a box that reached 190 degrees Fahrenheit.  (Foods just need 170-180 degrees to actually cook.)


So, Let’s keep on enjoying these benefits that can save us money, environmental destruction, and hot kitchens!

To that end, Global Sun Oven – a wonderful company that puts out a high-quality product and sends them to 127 countries around the world, especially those fighting deforestation – has announced their newest special:


If you buy a Sun Oven now (my usual “lowest price they allow me”:  $294.00 – includes shipping), you have the option to also purchase their “Preparedness Package” (value $99) for just $32.70.

The Preparedness Package includes:

* (my favorite) Stacking Cookpots of black granite-ware enamel on lightweight steel construction, designed to stack safely – with an enamelware lid and a glass lid (for when you want things to brown).
* a set of three dehydrating/baking racks with a roll of parchment paper
* two loaf pans which fit side-by-side neatly inside the oven
* a WAPI – Water Purification Indicator – which allows you to know when your water or other liquid has been pasteurized safely – before it reaches boiling, saving you fuel, time, and possibly uncertainty about safety, should your fuel run out or the sun sets – an important potential survival item
* a CD of 600 recipes, FAQ, videos, and more!

(If you have it delivered to anywhere in New Mexico, I will need to add tax.  If you’re having it shipped out of state, you’ll save that $20-some!  So when you buy your own, think of friends and family out of state.)

I’m also able to take credit cards now via PaypaypalPal – if you visit and we use my handy new card reader – or we’re friends and/or you trust me with your card information.  (Sorry that WordPress no longer supports PayPal buttons.)

To contact me, write jean7eisenhower (at), or call me at 575-534-0123.

Happy Summer Cooking!

Posted in 2 Home

Building an Adobe Tree!

canelo projectThere’s a rare and wonderful tribe of individuals practicing “natural plaster artistry” – raising the ancient skill of adobe building to new and even fantastical heights!

I learned the craft from Bill Steen at the Canelo Project (logo to the right) in southern Arizona, back in 2006, just before moving to Silver City.

And I hired Gavio [no last name] of Sebastopol, California, to help me implement a design in my home under renovation.  As soon as I began removing walls, I discovered my home had 9″ deep buttresses in every corner and every nine feet along the walls that had been hidden behind drywall.  These not only robbed my home of valuable space, but ruined the passive solar potential* of this home – unless I could find a way to incorporate those buttresses in my design.

The photo below shows part of a buttress sticking out from the corner, mostly hidden by the cream-colored drywall on the right, with the concrete wall painted green on the left.

tree beginningThis is Gavio, beginning the first adobe sculptural tree in my home.  Notice I’ve brought down electricity for my inspirational contribution – a lighted “moon” fixture.

tree branches 3I have no idea what he’s designing, so I hold my breath.  On the other hand, I’ve seen photos of his work, which I like very much, so I hope and pray.  I like very much the branch he’s installing that will cross in front of the moon!

He uses a variety of hardware to attach to the old concrete.

(The original green wall has been painted with a mix of Elmer’s Glue, sand, and water to help the future adobe stick to it.)

tree base 4

Here’s the base, where you can see we used all sorts of random scrap debris to hold things together, fill in the space so we don’t use more adobe than we need, and to have a rough surface to apply to.  We used scraps of chicken wire, hardware cloth, lumber, rope and more – whatever was around, rough-textured, and malleable.

tree mudded 5I’m still g0ing on faith here, as we begin adding “rough plaster” from the wheelbarrow. Looks rather ugly to me.

I’m still really not sure about this, but Gavio’s in charge.

tree mudded 6Still needing faith….

tree wall moonThen we make up a batch of “finish plaster” to finish the wall, and I still worry about that tree.

wall scupture unfin

We “finish plaster” the tree and it all begins to dry – back to ugly again!

tree sculpture

I’m unsure, but keep my feelings to myself.

office fin

We paint the wall and archway with alises – two paints we made with natural earth pigments, white clay, glass sand, mica, and wheat glue.  Then Gavio finishes the tree trunk with three different glazes made of earth pigments and milk casein.  Casein paints are more transparent than alises.

I love it!  Reminds me of a gnarly old oak in an ancient forest.


* Above, I mentioned that the drywall “ruined the passive solar potential” of my home, which might require some explanation.  When a passive solar home gains its heat in the winter daytime, it needs to store it to last through the night – which it does in its thermal mass.  Thermal mass is anything heavy, like adobe, brick, stone, and tile, which my home had plenty of, but which must not be buried beneath elements like drywall, which would keep the heat from being absorbed.  Therefore, the drywall had to go.  (And the exterior of the house had to be insulated, but that’s another story for another time.)

Posted in 2 Home

Natural Plaster Artistry – a Dang Long Haul – But Beautiful!

IMG_3363Well, they say this work is better done by younger people – it’s SO labor intensive, and the work, if it’s done artistically, requires repetitive movements of the wrist.

tree croppedAnd so I had to quit and heal my wrists for awhile – just didn’t realize I’d wear braces on them for six months and wait five years to return to the work!  (I’m 62.)

This is how we began, in 2010:

wall moveFirst, we had to move some walls, which left odd buttresses jutting out into the rooms.

So I called a friend who’d taught natural plaster application, Gavio, and together we decided to hide the worst-placed buttress with a tree sculpture (above).

Then I organized a Dory cropworkshop to teach the skills and get a little help.  The participants were great!  This is Dori.  (They didn’t suffer like I did, but no one was as fussy as me either, and I did work on the most detailed items, so perhaps it’s more than just age.)

Gavio sculpted the trunk out of branches, and I fussily commanded the perfect placement of other branches to be the actual branches of the finished sculpture, which I’d earlier collected, chosen, cleaned, sanded, and varnished.  (Again, see above.)

(Sorry I don’t have photos of that process, but in my next post, I’ll show photos of the same process done in the guest room.)


We mixed adobe and applied it to the trunk, beginning with “rough adobe” to approximate the shape, then “finish adobe” (every ingredient sifted through 1/4″ mesh) for the finish, and – optional – a selection of three natural earthen glazes for the tree-trunk and “alis” for thinly covering the walls and door and window arches.

Sounds easy!  And, in a sense, it was.  But there’s a lot to know – such as how to sense the perfect mix of sand and clay that will go on easily but not crack.  And a few natural additions to improve stickiness and inhibit mold while the mixture dries.

Once you know that, it’s almost like playing in mud as a child.  It’s natural and organic, it’s sensuous, and it calls out to be played with.  And so we did.  We couldn’t help it!

IMG_3397 w ovalFor instance, why create a flat adobe interior wall finish, when you can have flourishes around the sconces on either side of the tree?  (See inside the left oval to the right – that flourish has a shelf below, perfect for a small statuette.)

IMG_3398We built in bookcases, covering scrap lumber with adobe.

IMG_3410We put cat’s paws on the corners, just for fun.  (Gavio’s idea – I approved.)

IMG_3429 crop

And every doorway has an arch, which suits my desire to minimize or obscure rectilinearity!IMG_3401

And now, I’m healing my wrists again!  Wish me well.  (It’s been two weeks and some fingers are still tingling.  And yes, I’m getting medical advice.)

In my next post, Building an Adobe Tree, I’ll show photos of how we began the the first tree in the guest bedroom five years ago, to give you a sense of the sequence.

If you haven’t seen it yet, you won’t believe the amazing transformation!tree beginning

Posted in 2 Home, workshop

Opportunity to Learn Natural Adobe Plaster Interior Sculptural Techniques

RMS_Sunroom-glass-table-arched-window_s4x3_lgAs passive solar design  becomes more widely understood, design will mean more than just bringing in the light and heat… and demand will grow for the most beautiful methods of bringing thermal mass into the interior of a home.

In this article:  – What is and why care about thermal mass?  (It’s all natural, inexpensive, local, artful – and makes  our homes more efficient.)
– A Silver City, NM, opportunity to learn sculptural techniques.

office fin
This tree form has a full moon light behind a branch. It sits between two windows, both with arches matching natural plaster sculptural arches throughout the house.

Thermal mass is what holds the heat inside a house, so it doesn’t escape through leaks or when you open the door.  It greatly moderates the natural “temperature swings” from day to night, and keeps a sun room from becoming unbearable, as it will, if it has no thermal mass.  Indeed, it is a common complaint about sunrooms – that they get too hot to enjoy and must be shaded.

This does not need to be the case!  The sunroom doesn’t need shade; it needs thermal mass and probably venting or other airflow assistance to help move the heat to the rest of the house.

I brought 1.5 tons of thermal mass into my home already and have plans to soon bring in at least a 1/2 ton more.

Thermal mass is anything heavy that absorbs and holds heat, such as adobe, stones, tiles, bricks, and containers of water – nothing high tech, nothing expensive, but simple, easy-to-obtain, even ancient materials!  These, when exposed to the sun, will absorb and hold the heat, and when the heat source is gone and the day cools, they release their heat slowly, all through the nightand that’s the key.

The most common interior materials in modern American homes are drywall, wood, fabric, foam padding, and insulation, which don’t hold much heat and whatever they do hold, they release readily, saving nothing for the cold nighttime.  Besides that, their components often degrade in heat and light, so it behooves us to protect them, in front of windows or in sunrooms, and this can best be done, not by shading that valuable wintertime sun, but by absorbing the heat to use – by bringing thermal mass into our homes.

Every home can benefit – even if you heat with a fireplace, gas or electric – by incorporating thermal mass, for the same reasons as above.

buddhahall gavio
Classic design of a California meditation center, by Gavio.

Natural plaster is inexpensive, natural, non-toxic, local, and very beautiful – and of course it can make your home an art piece of your very own creation!  You can show off or keep it simple and classic.

Some say the tons of clay continue always cleaning the air.  And most everyone agrees: “It vibes beautifully.”

My first outdoor carved natural plaster wall relief, built at the Canelo Project in 2006.

Bill Steen, of the Canelo Project in Canelo, Arizona, taught me natural plaster techniques in 2006, just before I moved to Silver City.  The workshop was one-week long, cost over $1,000, and included a myriad of interior and exterior applications, from building entire walls and shelves, to carved and built-up sculptural relief, to paints with pigments, mica, oils, and more.  (Check the site for more inspiration.)

Gavio, natural plaster artist and instructor from California.
Gavio, natural plaster artist and instructor from Sebastopol, California.

In 2009, Asher Gelbart introduced me to natural plaster artist and instructor, Gavio (whose website is down now for redesign) who helped me begin a big project I’d long desired but needed help and inspiration to begin.

Together we built and designed two rooms, one a multi-purpose great room, with many unique and functional features, as I describe below.

This “banco” beside the fireplace absorbs heat, provides a comfortable seat and has behind it storage for firewood.
Notice the cat paw on the top corner of the shelf behind the curved-wall display for my Mata Ortiz pottery.

livingroom w music

Gavio returned to New Mexico this afternoon, in part to help me finish my home’s interior
– and we want to offer the opportunity for others to learn this wonderful craft.

Commercial natural plaster mixes can be purchased for nearly $100 per bag – which may not cover a single wall, even thinly.  And printed instructions for applying a simple flat coating are on the bag, but hands-on instruction is invaluable, especially if you want to have some fun.

So, as a truly natural, low-cost, and local-materials alternative, we will teach a few participants how to create, not a bag or batch, but a ton of plaster for around $100.

We’ll work approximately three days each week for the next month, depending on our energies and that of the people who’d like to participate.

We’ll mix plasters, learn how to prepare foundations for flat work and sculptures, create paints (alises), work with earth pigments, create textures, and more.

Participants will be selected according to their letters of interest.  We’re looking for people who not only want to learn, but who might have related experience.

The workshop costs $100, and participants will be offered two days of instruction, mostly by hands-on work, with more days of hands-on instruction offered no cost to those who prove their interest and capability.

Folks can pay by cash or check, and if you want to use a credit card, I can even accept credit cards.  We will also consider partial scholarships to those who give us compelling reason.

Class size will be limited to four participants per day, so please let us know soon of your interest, by calling 575-534-0123.

For more inspiration, enjoy the photos below, copied in a few “screen shots” from a web search for “natural plaster”:

Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 10.02.08 AM Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 10.02.19 AM Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 10.02.33 AM

Posted in 1 Garden, 2 Home

Sun Ovens really calling these days

solar cook bAlmost every day recently, we’ve put something in the Sun Oven.

One day, it was beans, for soup, to cook them without adding their strong odor to the house – !

sweet potatoesOne day it was sweet potatoes.

rice dinnerAnother day, left-overs – a no-brainer!  They cook quickly, without drying out – because one of the beauties of Sun Ovens is that they hold in the moisture, so reheated food doesn’t stick.

And one day I used the drying racks to make biscotti of a cake I thought we wouldn’t eat quickly enough!

With the weather so nice, I thought others “on the fence” about the purchase might also be inspired to finally get their Sun Oven, so I spent the day updating my purchasing page, with all my favorite accessories.

And I also spent some time with PayPal, making sure that I’ve made the process as easy as possible for you.

Fresh_Tom_in_GSO.jpegIf you’re inspired, I sure recommend these wonderful items!  (And there’s a special one right now – a baking/dehydrating rack set will come free with your new oven.)

smile SO WSI offered free workshops for years before ever deciding to become a distributor – I believe in them that much.

  • They save you money.
  • They save energy and therefore the planet’s resources.
  • They make you go outside – ! – to notice the weather, the clouds, and birds!
  • They inspire you to live right in so many ways and to understand how easy passive solar energy can be to create – for cooking, heating water, and even heating your house.

Here’s an essay I wrote a few years back, published in numerous places, about the inspiration gained from solar ovens:

chicken beautifulGet inspired!

Posted in 2 Home

Spring Sale on Sun Oven with Dehydrating & Baking Rack Set

solar cook bIt’s a great time of year to start cooking with a Sun Oven if you don’t already!

To encourage us all, Sun Oven has offered only us distributors a special price to offer our communities ~

Fresh_Tom_in_GSO.jpegFrom now til June 19, the Multi-Level Dehydrating & Baking Rack Set is being provided FREE with the purchase of an All American SUN OVEN.

The rack set can be shipped inside the SUN OVEN without increasing the cost of shipping.  (Total cost – including shipping – is $294.  Tax will be added.)

Dehy-Prep-Accessory-Pkg-1024x768If you wonder what other accessories might be nice…

The Dehydrating and Baking Rack Set, which comes with a roll of parchment paper, is just one part of the “Dehydrating and Preparedness Accessory Package,” which also includes: 

– 1) Two Easy-Stack Pots w/interchangeable enamel and glass lids (my personal favorite “essential” accessory)
– 2) Two Loaf Pans (non-stick) and
– 3)  the Multi-Fuel Water Pasteurizing Indicator – theWAPI! 

The total value of the “Dehydrating and Preparedness Accessory Package” is $54.50, and these other pieces can be purchased for an additional $33 when ordering an oven.

wapi_case-1-148x148The WAPI deserves a little extra description:  It can be dropped in water, heated with any fuel source – a Sun Oven, campfire fire, or other – and will let you know by the simple melting of the special wax when water has reached pasteurization temperatures – which is below boiling.  Boiling, of course, gives you a simple visible sign, but in the event that fuel is in short supply or you must be away from your oven or fire, you might not know that your water has reached the critical temperature for safe consumption.

Since water pasteurization can be life-saving, it only makes sense that every home should have one of these – and they’re only $9.  If you want to buy extras for family and friends, quite a few can easily be added to your order without incurring extra shipping charges.  Just ask.

To buy an oven locally (and save PayPal charges, for which I’ll give you a free cookbook or other gift), just call me at 575-534-0123, or email me at

To purchase via PayPal, click here:

And to read about the new programmable food thermometer, read here:



Posted in 1 Garden, 2 Home

Programmable Sun Oven Thermometer with Food Probe

I don’t usually get excited about digital anything,
but I definitely like this brand new item now offered by Sun Oven:


Eliminate the guess work of knowing when your food is ready…
Bake roasts to your liking for meat type and doneness…
Externally monitor your meals while they cook…
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Programmable In-Oven Thermometer with Ultra Probe allows you to check the temperature of food and know when it is done without opening the SUN OVEN door!
The thermometer with an easy-to-read digital screen can be placed on or next to your SUN OVEN.  A probe is inserted into the food, and a high-heat silicone cord connects it to the thermometer.

The thermometer is pre-programmed for the desired temperature and beeps when the desired internal temperature of your food is reached.

This Programmable Thermometer comes preset with the USDA recommended safe temperatures for beef, veal, lamb, pork and poultry.  The preset buttons make it simple to cook to your liking for meat type and “doneness.”  One additional open setting can be programmed to your preferred temperature.
Price:  $28.00 + $4.50 shipping – unless included inside a Sun Oven.  Please let me know if you’re local, already own a Sun Oven, and you’d like me to include it with my next order to save the shipping cost.


Posted in 1 Garden, 2 Home, 3 Chickens, 4 Patio

Free Workshop: Introduction to Permaculture

DSC04421Introduction to Permaculture:  How to Plan to Have it All:  environmental responsibility, free energy and water, food, medicine, comfort, ergonomics, social space, privacy, beauty, and more – a one-hour presentation of beautiful photographs and diagrams to inspire you to PLAN get the very most from your yard.

Tues/Thursday, August 19 & 21, noon – 1 pm, at the old Yada Yada Yarn building on 8th and Bullard, hosted by the Silver City Food Coop, Silver City, NM.  Presented by Jean Eisenhower of Home and Garden Inspiration, a certified Permaculture designer since 1989.

Free and open to the public.  No reservation, just arrive!

Posted in 1 Garden, 2 Home, Spirituality

Energy Correction in a Fence Addition!

A good fence can turn a noisy, bright, busy, constantly changing place into a lovely sanctuary.

This is the view we shielded ourselves from, close neighbors and Market Street traffic:

5 stiles neigh view

It took 2 short mornings and 1 long day, and we spent only $240 for 27 feet (using mostly new materials, having spent most of our salvage materials on the chicken coop last summer).

(Harvesting wood in the forest would have been more ecological and saved money, and we seriously considered it, but this fence matches the existing fence, was much easier and quicker to build, and is more private than a rougher-material construction could ever be.  In this neighborhood, it seemed the right choice.)

First, we followed standard fence-building procedure, marking the fence post line with stakes and string.

(And, yes, we’re building our fence right up to and nearly touching our neighbors’ house.  Our houses were built before proper surveys, and our lot line had to be moved from under their house to the edge of their house.  Today, their electrical box and even their most recent stucco job hang over our property!)

1 posts wide

When all the posts were up and the concrete had cured a day or two, we put up the rails.

(The posts on either side of the corner are 4′ from the corner.  The post in between is 1′ in from the hypotenuse of the right triangle.)

In the two sections of the front corner, we attached these scrap 2×8 pieces on top of the rails.  It was a little tricky getting the curve drawn just right.  I held the center of an imagined quarter-circle while Greg cast an arc in chalk across the 2×8’s, again and again til everything lined up just right.

7 corner curve drawn

When the 2×8’s were removed, cut, and replaced, the pickets (alternating 4″ and 6″ wide) went on smoothly and quickly.

8 corner curve cut

A few hours of easy work later – we were done!

9 corner fin med

I have an affinity for the humble globe mallow, so we worked around this frail plant for three days!  I’m so glad we did.  It was in bloom, and they say that faeries especially detest the rudeness of making them move during flowering time.  And since I began to respect that possibility, my garden has been happier and I feel even more loved and supported by it.  So I took the job of digging that hole, right up to the edge of the plant, we were careful in our tasks near it, and it survived and now adds beauty!

Inspired by Andy Goldsworthy, I had to do something different with the gravel, so I sorted out the whitest ones and scattered them in a rough arc around the large stones, then finished the section of earth with the mix which blends nicely with the neighbors’ gray gravel.

(The pickets are not as bowed as they appear.  They’re bent because, inside the fence, as I explain next, I’m bracing the trees upright.)

12 corner rocks cu

Inside, we pruned the drought-hardy shrubs and two desert willows (one pink, one purple, the second an odd volunteer) and braced them to stand more upright, as they’d both been flagged hard by the winds.  With the surrounding fence, they’re beautiful corner trees!  (They were hardly noticeable before, as you can see in photo 2 above.)

13 willows

Here’s the finished design in context:  two matching curved corners, enclosing a driveway – which we think might become a new garden instead!  – in which case, we’ll add ten more feet of fence and a gate.  Not daunting at all!

10 fence fin med

Do you need a fence?

Don’t let mundane things delay you.  I wish I’d built both fences years ago.  They have made all the difference in our experience of this house!  The energy of the yard is indescribably sweeter!  It’s the like difference between how you feel in a parking lot or on a street versus how you feel in a park.  The energy change is powerful!