Blog Archives

Nesting in Nature: Cabin Homes

You can read my full article in Napa Valley Life magazine.

A low rock wall built from field stone marks the entrance to Anna Pope’s cabin. As soon I walk onto the property I feel myself slow down.

#20_cabin home_inspireyourlifestyle

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Autumn Inspiration

A bite in the air and a cool wind, fall is upon us.

Fall photos by Indra Fortney. Note- some are by other photographers, these are tagged. NEW POST ON MONDAY.

Ceramic lamps from West Elm

I love these glass gourd lamps- West Elm.

Nature is the best decorator flickr photo

Greek village


Artist files.

Surreal effect- photo in a jar of olive oil. Pinrest

A basket of clothes pins.

Layered rugs. Makleri & Interior

Kenwood barn.

Still life by traveling ma ma

Napa vineyard.

Notes from Greece: An excerpt from my travel memoir.

   Our house hunting advice comes from Mom, “Ask at the local market. If someone has a house to sell, they always discuss it with their grocer.”

            We begin our search in the village of Kalami where the owner of a grocery store tells us, “Yes I know of a place near here for sale, my neighbor is selling his house.” 

Shortly after we are introduced to a grinning round-faced man who shakes our hands enthusiastically. The grocer translates for the owner. “He says he is sorry. His mother has the house key and she is visiting his cousin in America. But not to worry, there is a way inside.”

            A ladder is dragged out and the owner gestures grandly for us to ascend. A pen of chickens squawk in distress as we climb towards the window of our possible future home.

            All five of us (Mom, the two Greek men, John and I) wedge ourselves through the window to stand with some trepidation on creaking, cracked floorboards. The room is so small I suddenly feel like Alice in Wonderland after she took the pill that made her a giant.

           It’s like we have opened up a musty scrapbook, a fine layer of dust clings to every surface. A large wood chest, possibly a dowry, sits at the base of an iron bed. Above hangs a discolored photo of a young man and women dressed formally, he in a suit and she in a high collared gown. I wonder if this is their matrimonial bed.

            There is no indoor plumbing, but the view makes up for the lack of pipe work. I hang my head out the window. A thick grove of olive trees runs downhill to a deep blue cove. Suddenly a  pebble zooms by my head. The owner grins and points. Somewhere down there, in the trees where the pebble landed, the property line ends.

            We look at a few more places. But in the end the one that most solidly captures our heart is a house owned by a Greek widow. She has put her nephew, Spiro, in charge of selling but he’s too busy running his Italian restaurant to be bothered much with it.

            The sole advertisement is an index card stapled to a telephone pole with the words, “house for sale” and Spiro’s mobile telephone number. There is no address, so the person who stumbles across this card is left to guess which of the many deserted homes it might be referring to.

            We park on the street and walk down a rocky path, careful to avoid the pitfalls of cat excrement decorously left here and there. When we come to a stone ruin with a floor of weeds and the sky as a roof, the path bends and we turn the corner to face a large, classic Venetian-style building. It’s a simple, yet stately structure. Eroding cream colored plaster walls support a chipped red clay roof, and a few small windows with flaking green shutters line the upper floor.

            It’s common for homes in Greece to be divided among family members. This one is no exception, we discover that a wall inside splits the house into two sections. Although both sides are empty only one side is for sale. When we speak to Spiro he tells us it should be no problem to buy the other half. Apparently the owners are penniless and if they refuse, Spiro stops at this point to stuff a cigarette between his lips, “If they refuse, then just kill them!” A rakish laugh shudders through him.

Spring Essence

En route to photo shoots I have the luxury of driving through a valley so breathtaking it forces me to pull off the road and whip out the camera. This spring Napa Valley unfurled one stunning scene after another, shifting dramatic focus.

Photos by Indra Fortney, may use with reference to this blog.



I Love Autumn

I love this time of year, when nature paints herself out of summer with one last stroke of brilliance. A client asked me to capture some autumn photos. This forced me to take a closer look at the beautiful surroundings we are lucky enough to call home. Photos by Indra Fortney, copyright applies.

New blog posts every Monday and Friday.


Apples from my backyard tree, which I refer to as the ‘giving tree’ since spring it has been producing buckets of apples.

A discovery at the end of a dirt road.

Cactus fruit and figs, California indeed.

Home sweet home.


Kuleto Winery

Pat Kuleto built a winery as a replacement to his home which burned down. kuleto is a self trained designer, builder, innkeeper, restaurant developer, and winemaker. This is a guy who at ten years of age built his play house resplendent with indoor plumbing! At eighteen he left home in a camper he had built and by the time he was just twenty eight, he had designed 60 restaurants.

The drive up to the winery, past Hennessy lake, is long and twisty, becoming more precarious once you enter the gate and head up the one lane driveway. Faced with oncoming vehicles the driveway gives you a chance to practice dexterous down-hill maneuvering. The reward is the vast vista atop the hill. I’m not a fan of the hand painted wooden signs, they smack of Knotts Berry Farm, but the overall rustic casual atmosphere feels like we have just driven over the border to a friends estate in Tuscany.

Photos below by Indra Fortney.

It’s a little confusing as to where and when our tour begins, so we bumble about on our own finding ourselves upstairs in the kitchen. The cooks greet us like friends and encourage us to have a free roam of the place.  The best down -to -earth touch is a friendly, tongue lagging chocolate brown lab who dissolves perfectly on a matching brown cracked leather sofa.

Finally our southern drawling wine host begins to pour. I love equally the soft fruity Rosato and the heavier warm, spicy Syrah. After tasting we take our picnic lunch to an outdoor table and enjoy the spectacular view while munching on bread and cheese.  Wine tasting is by appointment only $35 per person, for more information you can call (707) 963-9750. At the time I wrote this their website was down.

Photos below by Jenni Tapioharju.


Travel Tuesday- let’s go Calistoga Indian Springs!

When friends come to visit us in Napa valley, Calistoga Indian Springs is on the top of my list for a day of pampered relaxation. This natural hot springs resort has been operating since 1962, but the simple white cottages and gravel driveway feel more like a throw back to the 1940’s. Photos by Napa resident Indra Fortney.

“Sam Brannan, one of California’s earliest entrepreneurs, purchased the upper Napa Valley (all of it) in the 1860s, with a vision of creating a world-class resort. He built the original spa, mudbaths, pool and racetrack in 1861. In 1880, Leland Stanford purchased the resort with the intention of locating Stanford University here. Instead, he established Stanford in Palo Alto and the spa tradition continued as Sam Brannan had envisioned. In 1905, the Pacheteau family operated the property and renamed it Pacheteau Baths. It became a popular resort destination for Bay Area families for generations.”

An Olympic size pool of bath tub hot mineral water.

The gratitude tree with hand written notes from guests.

My girlfriends taking photos of themselves in the “funny mirror”.