Trash to Treasure

After sharing a gelato with Len, I loved the polka dotted cardboard container so much that I washed it out and repurposed it — now it’s home to office supplies. 

The terms repurpose, recycle, and upcycle are often used interchangeably:

  • REPURPOSE: adapt for use in a different purpose.
  • RECYCLE convert (waste) into reusable material. Return (material) to a previous state in a cyclic process. Use again.
  • UPCYCLE: reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original. Give an unwanted or waste product a new or enhanced lease of life. 

I’m a huge proponent of repurposing, recycling, and upcycling. One of my favorite places in Boise, Idaho is Blooms Flower Studio. You can see in the photo below, that back in the day it was a service station. Today, it’s a gorgeous (inside and out) floral shop that also delivers impressive customer service.

What have you repurposed, recycled, or upcycled for reuse at your home?


A Twist on Impressionism

Avid walkers, Len, Willa, and I tend to rack up multiple miles per day and we never fail to see tracks of other various creatures who’ve been out-and-about enjoying nature too:





During our walks I oftentimes think of the famous adage — Take nothing but memories; leave nothing but footprints. It reminds me to respect Mother Earth and all of her inhabitants.

Both tracks and memories leave impressions:

  • Tracks in the earth
  • Memories in the mind

What kind of impression have you made?

© Laurie Buchanan

Find me on Twitter @TuesWithLaurie
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Stake in the Ground

We’ve been in Boise for almost a month now and love it here! And while our possessions are only semi-unpacked (we’re enjoying a 3-month lease while looking for more permanent digs), we’ve definitely unpacked our lives and are settling in:

  • We’ve met several people who’ve introduced us to more people — expanding our sphere of friendly people
  • We had our delightful neighbor’s over for a back porch chat
  • We got Boise Library cards and I’ve dog-eared a favorite writing table
  • We thoroughly enjoyed the Idaho Botanical Garden


    “Selfie” taken at the Idaho Botanical Garden — less than 2 miles away

  • We went on a guided bicycle tour of homes in the historic East End
  • We have Boise residential parking permits on our vehicles
  • We’ve been out to dinner and breakfast with new friends
  • We discovered the greenbelt that runs along the banks of the Boise River where giraffes peek over the zoo enclosure as we pedal by on our bikes

Giraffes peek over the zoo enclosure as we pedal by on the greenbelt

  • We’ve enjoyed a multitude of culturally diverse cuisine
  • We daily enjoy the designated bicycle lanes
  • I’ve pitched a project to one of the local newspapers and submitted an article to another
  • Our girls — Lexi and Willa — are getting their legs walked off at the dog park and on our excursions around town
Walking dogs

We live mere blocks away from the dog park

  • We walk or ride our bikes to Whole Foods daily to pick up fresh produce where we’re on a first-name basis with some of the employees
  • We’re getting ready to take the Idaho driver’s license test
  • We have “Cheap Date Night” at the River Room set as a recurring event on Monday evenings
  • We’ve potted several vibrant-colored flowers
Stake in the ground

We’ve stuck our stake in the ground

In other words, we’ve stuck our stake in Boise’s fertile soil and claimed it home!

When was the last time you stuck your stake in the ground?

© Laurie Buchanan

Find me on Twitter @HolEssence
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A Rose By Any Other Name

I love yard work! Not only do I find it therapeutic, but I also get a lot of head-writing done while pushing the mower.

I appreciate that the neighbors on each side of us work hard to keep weeds at bay. Last week there was a knock at the door. When I opened it, one of our neighbors said, “Please keep Willa and Lexi in for a while because I’ve sprayed for weeds on both sides of the chain link fence.”

Thanking her for her thoughtfulness, I stepped outside to see the weeds she was referring to. Wouldn’t you know it—they were the little purple flowers that I actually encourage to grow. I think they’re beautiful! I’m glad they’re still plentiful on the other side of the yard where they grow in profusion the full length of the privacy fence.

It’s been said that “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” meaning that “beauty” depends on who’s doing the looking—the “beholder.”

What is your definition of beauty? Click To Tweet

What is your definition of beauty?


The Aftermath

Vastly different than afterglow…we’re currently in the aftermath—wake—of yesterday’s storm that hit the greater Chicagoland area with over 200,000 people still without power this morning, ourselves included.

We live in an older neighborhood in Crystal Lake, Illinois laden with full grown oak, hickory, and maple trees. On our street alone, many of these stately giants were snapped like match sticks, or yanked up by 75 mile an hour winds and slammed across people’s homes, garages, or cars. Except for debris in our driveway and yard, we were left unscathed.

Debris from storm 07-11-2011

Debris from storm 07-11-2011

In making our way to our business—HolEssence—to assess any potential damage, we saw that the destruction was widespread, with emergency vehicles and Commonwealth Edison trucks everywhere due to trees and power lines laying across main and side roads.

After the storm roared through, we spent the rest of the afternoon clearing dangling limbs from trees and debris from our yard and driveway. The 91 degree heat and humidity made it somewhat of an unpleasant chore with no fans or air conditioning to take a break in.

Reading by Coleman Lantern 07-11-2011

Reading by Coleman Lantern 07-11-2011

Making lemonade out of lemons, we enjoyed an evening of reading by Colman camp lantern. Without power, I’m a day behind in catching up with emails and blogs. I intend to start today at HolEssence between clients because we have power here.

What was the last big mess you had to clean up?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               — Laurie Buchanan and our Facebook page

© 2011 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved

Mosquito – The Illinois State Bird

Summer’s here and so are the mosquitoes!

While trimming the box hedges the other day, I couldn’t dance around and swat at ’em—it would’ve been too dangerous while wielding the electric hedge trimmers. When the job was finally finished and we got back inside, my arms and legs were polka-dotted with red, raised mosquito bites.

We use natural (and sometimes otherwise) mosquito repellent—from geranium essential oil and dryer sheets, to “Off”—but our mosquitoes seem to be immune. And they’re big. REALLY BIG! I’m fairly certain they could carry off small children and most companion animals.

Summertime in the back yard by Laurie Buchanan

Summertime in the back yard by Laurie Buchanan

And smart, to boot! They’ve obviously read the school safety literature because they always travel in groups—or in this case, swarms! The thing that seems to deter them best is our citronella oil flame pots. Most evening in the back yard we “circle the wagons” and sit inside them for protection.

Citronella Fire Pot by Laurie Buchanan

Citronella Fire Pot by Laurie Buchanan

What's bugging you? Click To Tweet

What’s bugging you?


Moonlight Beach – Encinitas, CA

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Moonlight Beach is one of the many jewels in the beach-community crown of Encinitas, California. It’s located in a residential neighborhood at the bottom of a steep incline that gently slopes into the Pacific Ocean. The word “moonlight” in the name comes from the fact that in the early 1900s, residents used to come to the area for midnight picnics.

This well-loved beach receives a lot of face-time by local volleyball players because of the three beach courts. And with a large playground, ample picnic tables, lifeguards, and snack bar, it’s family-friendly and perfect for a picnic or a day in the sun. The icing on the cake? Plenty of clean restrooms and showers.

Thinking about hangin’ ten? Just click on this LINK for the current weather and surf forecast.

Cowabunga dude!


S is for Simplicity

I’m drawn to simplicity, efficiency, and order—a place for everything and everything in its place. For me, outer order contributes to inner calm.

I’m drawn to space—the efficiency of physical space.
I’m drawn to clearing clutter—mental and emotional.


My lifestyle is simple, functional, and full.

I’ve shared with you before that my creative muse is wabi-sabi: a practice where inessentials are trimmed away or eliminated. The intersection where wabi (minimal) and sabi (functional) meet is the platform for my creativity—space and quiet solitude—simplicity.

In over 31 years of marriage, the one bone of contention that Len and I tug back and forth good-naturedly is that I’m a minimalist and he’s a “maximalist.” I throw and he saves.

During a recent discussion, he asked, “Just exactly why is it that you need to have empty space around you?” I answered, “Because it appeals to my zensibilities.” I meant to say sensibilities, but in retrospect, the word I said fits so much better.

It’s more than being content. For me, it’s the enjoyment of very little, with awareness and deep appreciation of how less is truly more.

Are you more of a minimalist or a maximalist? Click To Tweet

Do you remember the television show The Odd Couple? Are you more like Felix Unger—neat as a pin, or more like Oscar Madison—creative disarray? What’s your lifestyle?


Q is for Quintessence

Sunbeams by Laurie Buchanan

Sunbeams by Laurie Buchanan

One of the buzz words in the field of cosmology is “Quintessence.” And when it comes to it, I don’t pretend to be an expert, and neither do the experts…

In strict usage, cosmology refers to the study of the universe in its totality as it now is—or at least as it can be observed now—and by extension, humanity’s place in it.

The term quintessence was borrowed from the ancient Greeks who used it to describe the “fifth element.” In addition to earth, air, fire, and water, they believed that quintessence is what held the moon and stars in place.

A number of modern-day cosmologists say that quintessence is an exotic kind of energy field that pushes particles away from each other, overpowering gravity and the other fundamental forces.

In December of 2000 at the 20th Texas Symposium on Relativistic Astrophysics in Austin, Texas, Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University explained how quintessence became the dominating force in the universe.

In 1998 cosmologists were thrown off their proverbial rockers by the discovery that the universe is expanding at an astonishing rate. Since the discovery, their task has been to explain how this acceleration can be physically possible.

If it’s true, what does it mean for our planet—implosion, explosion? Or will the force of gravity, the great attractor, the mother of all forces, keep the universe from flying apart?

Einstein thought about this. He developed a fudge factor called the “cosmological constant.” Einstein, and many other intellects in the early 20th century, thought the universe was static and that everything was contained within the Milky Way galaxy. The cosmological constant was an anti-gravity ‘vacuum’ force that kept gravity from pulling the universe in on itself.

By 1930, Edwin Hubble discovered that the Milky Way was but one of a multitude of galaxies and that the universe was expanding. So, there was no longer a need for a cosmological constant. Einstein dropped the number from his equations, calling it his “greatest blunder.”

According to Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University, the problem with the cosmological constant is that it is, indeed, constant. It yields the same force throughout time. Observational evidence indicates that whatever this force is that’s accelerating the universe, it hasn’t been constant over time.

He said, “The cosmological constant is a very specific form of energy, a vacuum energy. Quintessence encompasses a wide class of possibilities. It is a dynamic, time-evolving, and spatially dependent form of energy with negative pressure sufficient to drive the accelerating expansion.”

Vacuum energy is the potential energy in an absolute vacuum, devoid of matter or radiation. Think of a chimney sucking air from the living room; that’s the universe’s matter expanding into the great unknown. Quintessence is a quantum field with both kinetic and potential energy. Depending on the ratio of the two energies and the pressure they exert, quintessence can either attract or repel.

Not everyone has jumped on the Quintessence Bandwagon. James Peebles, professor emeritus at Princeton University said, “The theory of the accelerating universe is a work in progress. I admire the architecture, but I would not want to move in just yet.”

At the Texas Symposium, there were a multitude of polite arguments over quintessence. Some suggested that the nature of dark energy would become clear with a better understanding of gravity and gravitational waves. Regardless, it’s evident that astronomers and cosmologists are intrigued by quintessence; they simply need more details.

One point that everyone agreed on was that two space science missions are promising:

The Supernova Acceleration Project (SNAP) and the Microwave Anisotropy Probe (MAP). If quintessence does prove to be something that scientists can sink their teeth into, it would be yet another confirmation of Einstein’s theories, as well as a fine nod to the ancient Greeks who sent us down this path.

What is your quintessence – what holds your personal world in place?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               – Laurie Buchanan

© 2010 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved

E is for Elements

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Each of the traditional elements—earth, air, fire, and water—is associated with traits, meanings, and a direction on the compass. The information in this post is for readers in the Northern hemisphere. For my friends in the Southern hemisphere, please use the opposite correspondences:

Earth is associated with the north, the season of autumn, and the colors green and brown. Zodiacally speaking, the element of earth corresponds to Capricorn, Taurus, and Virgo. Considered the ultimate feminine element, the Earth is fertile and has the aspects of birth, life, death, and rebirth. The Earth element is thought of as nurturing, stable, and full of strength and endurance.  

Air is associated with the east, the season of spring, and the colors yellow and white. Zodiacally speaking, the element of air corresponds to Aquarius, Gemini, and Libra. Considered the ultimate communication element, this masculine energy is wise and has the aspects of intellect, focus, and telepathy. It supports the powers of the mind—intellect and claircognizance.

Fire is associated with the south, the season of summer, and the colors red and orange. Zodiacally speaking, the element of fire corresponds to Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. Considered the ultimate masculine element, fire is associated with strong will, vitality, and endurance. Fire creates and destroys; it can heal or harm; it purifies. And like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, it can transform.

Water is associated with the west, the season of winter, and the color blue. Zodiacally speaking the element of water corresponds to Pisces, Cancer, and Scorpio. Considered the most cleansing of the elements, this feminine element (Goddess energy) is associated with emotional healing. It is used in many spiritual traditions for consecration—setting something apart as holy.

Spirit is sometimes referred to as the fifth element. Spirit transcends, yet is part of all the other elements; it has no direction, yet encompasses all directions; it’s beyond seasons and times, yet is all seasons and time. It is the source of human love and compassion.

Depending on the culture and tradition, elements are used in ceremonies, rituals, meditation, and Zen practices. And while sometimes identified differently than I’ve described here, the basic meaning is the same.

Which of the elements do you resonate with the most?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               – Laurie Buchanan

© 2010 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved