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Design Inspirations  Green Talk



Seriously Bent but not Broken

I found myself looking through old black and white negatives from my days as an aspiring photographer, looking for the one really good picture of my Grandpa Suzuki. My sister in law requested it so that she could make copies of it; it was known as the best picture of my grandpa ever taken.  I took that picture.  I also took a good picture of my mother before she died.  Ironically, this is one of a few that we have of her since she tore up all the pictures that were taken of her.  

I do not regularly look at old pictures but when I do, as I was searching for the negative of that one good black and white photo of my grandfather, I am reminded of a life full of excitement and drama, lots of people, lots of laughter lots of sadness.  How I got to my current place in life is beyond me. The pictures show a daisy chain of my life that is broken and crooked, but I managed to survive.  I’ve soul searched a lot in the last few years dragging myself through two divorces, one of my own and one of my fathers, struggling to keep life in balance.  Is it me or do people stay away from you when you are going through a divorce?  I feel alone and tired, feel like my life has become one little blip in the blips of the world and no one really cares about little blips.  I guess the pain of divorce is a pain that you have to go through yourself.

I have a beautiful new Design Studio and Gift Shop and am dying to have a ‘grand opening’ but the owner of the Yoga studio wants to wait until June.  June!  That’s 3 months after moving in!  I’ll really lose momentum by then! A student at our studio created T-shirts for the grand opening that read “Seriously Bent” on the front, “But not Broken” on the back.  I really wanted to have a big party to celebrate this new part of my life, but I guess I have to have patience. 

And yes, I found the negative of that great black and white picture of my grandpa as well as the one of my mom.  I think I will reprint both of them.  They will both be happy to know, that through it all - I may be seriously bent, but I am not broken!   Keeping Green, Christine


Environmental Guardianship Failure 

Our earth has provided safe food and water for us for millions of years.  Unfortunately, we have contaminated our earth in some areas to the point that the food and water is harmful to our health.  The water in nine counties in West Virginia is undrinkable, closing restaurants, hotels, schools and other businesses.

The January 9th chemical spill contaminated the Elk River with crude MCHM, a chemical mixture used in the coal production process. MCHM is toxic if ingested.   A ‘Do Not Use the water’ order left 300,000 West Virginians without potable water.  The water coming out of their taps was poisonous brown and liquorice-scented.

After 10 days, the water was declared safe to drink.  However West Virginians remain skeptical.  "If one smells the odor, people know the chemical is in the water," said Dr. Rahul Gupta, the director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.  Governor Tomblin has told residents that the decision of whether or not to use the water is a personal, individual matter.  After he made that announcement, news broke that crude MCHM can break down into formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

Sadly, on February 7th, weeks after the water was declared safe, two of the chemicals were detected in the water supply of George Washington High School. The tell-tale licorice odor was back, and students and staff reported symptoms that included burning eyes, light-headedness and headaches. 

Why are we allowing this to happen to our world?  When will it stop?   Can we end this contamination? Or will it end us? 

Always green, Christine


New Beginnings

Happy New Year!   Along with you, I have been reflecting on the past year and setting new goals for 2014.  Welcoming in the new year is like getting onto an airplane.  One of the things I like about getting onto an airplane is that I feel that I am about to embark upon a new adventure and that I am leaving my troubles behind. (at least symbolically.)  This is how I feel about 2014, it is a new year and I am embarking on a new adventure! 

After much deliberation, I have decided to go back to school. Sitting next to young smart people is stimulating enough but I also find that I am excited to be in a learning environment!   I will have help maintaining my Design Studio and Remodeling services and in fact I am adding to my Cabinet displays.  We are moving the showroom/office two blocks to a new location where I will have all my materials displayed along with a new cabinet display showcasing Bellmont’s wide array of chic styles.  I am also going to have a small Store that will feature healthy and sustainable health supplements, skin care for adults (my age!), specialty teas, non toxic cleaning supplies, meditation cds, bags and gifts using recycled materials, books, yoga mats, chocolate nibs (high on anti-oxidants,) and more.  

Our new name reflects our passion – Healthy Homes & Lifestyles!  You HAVE to visit US!

Please join us in the celebration early March (details to follow), our new home will be 7800 NE Bothell Way Suite 150, Kenmore WA

Always green, Christine


Who do you shower with? I shower with Marble!

I shower surrounded by marble and I love it.  There is something both peaceful and elegant when showering in marble enclosures.  Natural stone triggers our body to relax, as does landscape pictures, and other symbols of nature.  Marble also gives a sense of elegance that ceramic tile just doesn’t have. Marble Tiles, Bellmont Cabinets

Marble is relatively low priced (compared to granite) and polished marble tiles can be used on the walls of your shower.  When having a marble tile shower enclosure installed, I request that my installer uses a very small grout line, just a hair.  That way we see more of the natural material and less grout.

 One extremely successful option that I recently explored is using entire slabs of marble on the walls of the shower and adjacent walls.  With few to zero seams, you really will not ever have a ‘grout problem’ and the result is spectacular. Marble Slabs An easy way to go about this is to visit a ‘stone yard’ and look at marble slabs.  There will be a wide variety of selections and with it, a wide variety of prices.  But some of the most beautiful stones are the most ‘common’ ones and many of those are in the lower price section.  Stone slabs come in different thicknesses.  3 cm is for counters, 2 cm can be used for counters OR shower walls.  Some slab yards have 1 cm slabs that are specifically for walls.  These are even lower priced because they are very thin.

A popular finish for stone is ‘leather’ (it comes in a variety of names).  This finish is not polished, and it is not honed.  It has a textured ‘hand’ which feels very ‘natural’ and ‘unproduced’ AND it is difficult to stain.  Leather finished marble is perfect for a shower enclosure.  It has the beauty of nature and the elegance that only marble brings to the table. 

So, Who do you shower with?  I shower with Marble!



Microwave ovens – will we replace them with Steam ovens?

Years ago, Miele (German manufacturer of appliances), introduced the ‘Speed Oven.’  It was the first hybrid of a microwave and a convection oven.  It is still one of the leading technologies of microwave/convection because it not only cooks either microwave or convection, but it can utilize both at the same time to increase the speed and quality of the cooking.  Miele was  mindful of the limited space in some kitchens and used the microwave (which has become a mainstay of the contemporary kitchen) to double as a second oven.

Recently Miele has taken its Steam Oven and combined it with a Convection oven (called a Combi-Steam oven.)   According to the representative, the Combi-Steam oven is overtaking the Speed oven in popularity, mainly due to the healthy benefits of steam cooking over microwave cooking.

Once considered a ‘specialty’ appliance, the steam oven is working its way into the standard kitchen appliance list.  Everyone knows that steam cooking is the healthiest way of cooking, mainly because it retains the nutrients, vitamins and minerals of the food.  It also maintains the moisture in the food and you do not need to use any oils or fats.  Because of the lack of oils and fats, cleaning the pots/pans is extremely easy.  In our new ‘health’ oriented society, steaming is ‘in’ and microwaving is ‘out.’  Although the FDA claims that microwave cooking does not reduce the nutritional value of foods ‘any more than conventional cooking,’ steam cooking experts claim that up to 60% of the nutrients and glucosinolates can get damaged by boiling or microwave cooking.

I’ve noticed that with every two steps forward in technology, we demand back a little of our old fashioned values, eating whole foods, raw or steamed, not boiled or fried, buying food from local farmers or even growing it ourselves to try to encapsulate the vitamins and minerals that are often lost in mass production.  Asking if the food has been genetically engineered, looking for quality products, grown in quality conditions, to put inside our body.  Keeping our bodies healthy….we all may be steaming soon!

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