For a couple days last week, I had the privilege of catching up with some extended family in Bowie, MD. Some of my cousins, on my paternal side, who sadly I have only met a handful of times, graciously hosted me and my friend Fred. We desperately wanted to check out their house, ideas, and lifestyle. They have a truly lovely home and acre of land. The main house and then two separate out buildings are made using straw bale building techniques. Straw bale building is on the forefront of eco-construction practices, here is the wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw-bale_construction The house filled with tons of DIY and personal creative touches here and there was a warm and inviting place. The bathroom was complete with a compost toilet... which I think everyone should have, well, everyone not living in a giant apartment building in New York City. The two other buildings, one called the "eco house" which sat as an educational example for several months in the DC mall, has found its permanent home in my cousins side yard!! The second little building is Kappy's studio/retreat space and evokes just that when you are inside... calm, peaceful, and quiet. Here is a picture of the "truth window" inside the studio. They are working on connecting the two buildings right now, utilizing found/donated/recycled supplies. Fred and I spent 2 hours busting up old cinder blocks for the foundation!!! (I am now an expert sledge hammer slinger... sore muscles to prove it.)They have a beautiful garden, wood working studio, dog and cat, and jars of bees (Sam is a bee guru). Every book on every shelf is one I wish I had or had read. Something to aspire to. Thank you, dear Universe, for awesome family, which I have in abundance!!