Monthly Archives: July 2014

If I had a World of My Own

Have I mentioned I love all things Alice?If I had a world of my own quote, via

La Ferme des Papillons, St. Martin


La Ferme des Papillons, St. Martin, via Farmhouse38.comOf all the marvelous adventures we had on our trip to St. Maarten/St. Martin, I of course, must start by posting photos from La Ferme des PapillonsThe butterfly nerd wants what the butterfly nerd wants. If you are lucky enough to visit that beautiful little island, you simply must plan to make a stop at the farm. We arrived early in the morning, just after a rain storm, and it was magical.

La Ferme Des Papillons, St. Martin, by



La Ferme des Papillons, St. Martin, by

The incredible Dead Leaf Butterfly…folded up, looks just like a…(wait for it)… dead leaf.

La Ferme des Papillons, St. Martin, via

Holla, Swallowtail!

La Ferme des Papillons, St. Martin, via

Eggs on a banana leaf.

La Ferme des Papillons, St. Martin, via

Young larvae of the Giant Owl Eye munching on a banana leaf.

La Ferme des Papillons, St. Martin, via

A nearly full-grown Owl Eye larvae.

La Ferme des Papillons, St. Martin, via

The Giant Owl Eye Butterfly (can you tell I love this butterfly?).

La Ferme des Papillons, St. Martin, via

I was thrilled to see monarchs here (all the species represented at the farm are non-native). Our tour guide discussed the dwindling monarch population in America and, of course, got to hear me gush about my monarch-centric garden back home. This garden was full of gorgeous tropical milkweed that all the butterflies were going ape over.

La Ferme des Papillons, St. Martin, via

The curators of the farm collect many of the chrysalises they find and keep them safely in vented cupboards. These are opened every morning to release any new hatchlings. I was fascinated by these cupboards, and took billions of photos (of which I will mostly spare you)–they are treasure boxes lined with tidy rows of enchanting little charms. So breathtaking to see them displayed like this.

La Ferme des Papillons, St. Martin, via

Particularly fascinating were the cocoons of the Atlas Moth, spun inside dried leaves as camouflage.

And…speaking of which:

La Ferme des Papillons, St. Martin, via

By far, the most memorable moment of the farm (and maybe the whole trip for me), was getting to hold an Atlas Moth in the palm of my hand. The world’s largest moth…these things only live for seven days!!!

La Ferme des Papillons, St. Martin, via

This is one of those creatures that makes me lose my breath. It is so incredible that this thing exists–it seems like a prop out of some fantasy/science fiction movie. Right? How is this thing even real!!!

And in case you were wondering…the island, itself, was teaming with indigenous butterflies–everywhere you looked things were just alive with them:

I don’t mean to overshadow the gloriousness of the rest of the island with my trip to the butterfly farm–I just get overly excited about butterfly farms and pavilions and gardens (ya don’t say!!!). Stay tuned for a subsequent post with non-butterfly highlights from the trip that look a little something like this:

Visiting St. Maarten/St. Martin via

St. Maarten, via


St. Maarten/St. Martin is pretty easy on the eyeballs, let me tell ya.


A Little Change is Good, Methinks…


Hearts No. 1, mixed media metal art by Kate Richards of Farmhouse38.comIf you’ve been following me for awhile, you may have noticed I’ve slowed down a bit with my blogging. In fact, you may have noticed that there have been moments where it has come to a grinding, shrieking halt. Or maybe you haven’t noticed and I just think everyone’s been noticing. I’m a lot more important in my head. A LOT more important.

I know I’ve got some ‘splaining to do. So, it goes something like this: I’m an artist. Did you know that? I haven’t mentioned it much, aside from a little blip here and there in my profile, but so far, the art hasn’t surfaced much on my blog. There’s a reason for that…I’ve been on a prolonged, forced hiatus from the art. It’s the Farmhouse’s fault, you see. Sure, it’s been a real time-suck to renovate this house from top to bottom–I could easily blame it on that, right? But no–the real reason it has kept me from my art is that the garage renovation (err…studio renovation), was the very last on our kill list. It’s crazy how functioning kitchens and bathrooms and finished bedroom walls really take all the priority glory.

The Art Barn at

The garage, pre-renovation.

The Art Barn at

The studio, post-renovation.

The studio barn at

The studio all lit up at night (with a couple of guard cats keeping the look-out for wandering bands of art thieves).

The studio barn at

As you can see, it’s already quite well-used; those floors do not stay clean.

You may be thinking that this is a pretty weak excuse; this not-having-a-proper-studio baloney. I kind of agree (especially in retrospect). But my ‘artwork’ is a little off the wall (pun intended). It’s not as simple as setting up a temporary easel in the guest bedroom, because my medium of choice is actually metal (you didn’t see that coming, now did you??). So there is a lot of welding and grinding and metal shrapnel a-flying. I can’t do it in the house (obviously). I can’t even do it outside in the driveway because of the shrapnel (which becomes inherently dangerous to animal paws and crops when it’s lurking in the cracks and crevices and dirt). So I had to wait (rather impatiently), for my studio. And wait I did. For five years. But, in the meantime, I started a blog–so it wasn’t all for naught, right?

The mixed media metal art by Kate Richards of

Me welding up a metal ‘canvas’.

Mixed media metal art by Kate Richards of

Me being gravely serious at the easel.

Let me elaborate on the artwork. When I say ‘metal’ and ‘welding’ people tend to picture big, hulking sculptures–but no, that’s not what I do. My stuff is actually more along the lines of mixed media painting; my ‘canvas’ is metal, my ‘mixed media’ is a rather alchemic blend of patina, paint, and dye. Sometimes glitter. Sometimes a little dog hair. The latter two are kind of hard to avoid around here–they are in e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. Cheers! I digress. I grind a lot of pattern into that media, so the paintings all typically wind up with reflective ‘metal’ elements.

Ikat No. 1 mixed media metal painting by Kate Richards of

Ikat No.1, mixed media metal painting on aluminum. (The whitish areas are actually reflective, raw metal).

So what’s my point here? For quite some time, I’ve been keeping the FH38 blog and the artwork completely separate…almost leading a double life, if you will. I was worried that, with so much stuff going on at Farmhouse38, the art would just further muddy it up–that the blog and the art would dilute each other, if that makes any sense. So I was gearing up to run two separate social media profiles…and you know what? I’m exhausted. I can’t do it, people, I just can’t do it. So after much deliberation and soul-searching (do I close up shop on one and focus on the other? How do I choose my favorite child?), I’ve decided to merge the two. From here on out, you guys are going to start seeing a lot of art on this site; all the rest of the stuff–the chickens, the garden, the crafting, the cocktails, the farmhouse projects–it will all still be here, just gently interspersed between the antics of my artistic ebb and flow. Eventually, my stuff will be available to buy on Etsy and other such sites, but for now, you can check out to see a straightforward gallery (I am going to leave that website up as a one-stop informational shop for just the artwork, but make no mistake, it will all eventually be found on Farmhouse38, too). Be sure to follow me on Instagram, because I’ve already been posting quite a bit of behind the scenes arting shots there.

Neon No. 1 mixed media metal painting by Kate Richards of

Neon No. 1, acrylic on reclaimed steel. This is a good shot of what a ‘metal canvas’ looks like. Kind of like a metal box lid with 1 inch or so edges so that it can just hang on the wall like a normal painting.

In addition to all this art, you’re going to be seeing a lot more flowers. The flowers have always been a part of FH38, but now that my mini, wannabe flower farm is hitting its stride, slow flower arrangements and arrangement how-tos are gonna hop to the forefront along with the art. Metal art and flowers, people. And probably a whole lot of metal flower art. You’ve been warned.

As part of this Farmhouse38 redirection, I will also finally (FINALLY!!!) be switching the blog from its current state to a self-hosted situation. That means that the new blog will be found at (which currently redirects to–no more already! Geez!!). I’m working on it now, and since I have never actually done this before, I expect that there will be some hiccups. In fact, I expect that I will make a complete and utter mess of the whole thing–so please, please, please bear with me as I muddle my way through it. As I always like to say: it has to get worse before it gets awesome. 🙂 Don’t worry, I will give you all plenty of notice when I make the switch so we can all have a good laugh at how I’ve gone and mucked it all up. Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest…it’s harder to mess those up (believe me, I’ve made some valiant efforts).

Rooster No. 1 mixed media metal painting by Kate Richards of

I can’t not have some metal chicken art. This is Farmhouse38, afterall.

Mixed media metal artist Kate Richards of

There are almost always chickens in my studio. It’s just how I roll.

So there you have it: my blog midlife crisis in all its glory. Who’s coming with me?!!



All About the Flowers (of Garden to Table Feast)

Slow Flowers at Garden to Table Feast by, photography by AmenPhotography.comI just wanted to take a moment and bask in the beautiful local flowers that we were so lucky to have for the Garden to Table Feast. So-prepare yourself- I’m gonna fill your feed with endless images (mostly captured by the lovely Amen Photography). I regret nothing!!! I had always planned to pull flowers and greens from my own garden for the event, but as it grew in size, I realized that I would need to source additional materials from elsewhere. And I wanted those ‘elsewhere’s to be as local as possible.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by, photography by

Garden roses, leucadendron, alstroemeria, draping amaranthus, and grapevine.

In the heart of Los Angeles, local flowers have been a really tall order for me in the past. Sure, it’s easy to find flowers; walk into any local supermarket, or even home improvement centers, and it is sometimes astounding what a selection they have. But are they local? Most likely not. And the very point of the Garden to Table Feast was to choose the slowest materials and ingredients possible–not what was commercially (and in most cases, the most easily) available. Fortunately for us, the amazing California Cut Flower Commission  stepped in and reached out to several local flower farms on our behalf. Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers, Mellano & Company, and The Sun Valley Floral Farms all generously provided us with a wealth of bafflingly beautiful flowers and greens. I was blown away, and completely humbled.

Slow Flowers at Garden to Table Feast by, photography by

Lovely yellow Alstroemeria from Mellano & Company, Craspedia (Billy Balls–love these!) and various mints from the Farmhouse38 garden.

Additionally, I decided to reach out to the one and only super-local grower I knew of: Silver Lake Farms. This is a remarkable little urban farm so snugged away inside Los Angeles that you would never know it was there (unless you knew it was there). I’d read about them so many times in the past (in the Urban Farm world, they’re kind of the stuff of legends), and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to see what they had up their sleeves. I wasn’t disappointed, in fact, I was beyond elated at the overflowing buckets I loaded into my car.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by

My Silver Lake Farms haul: the best kind of cargo. Side note…my car needs to be washed. When you can see dog paw prints on the bumper…ya. Time for a wash.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by

Silver Lake Farms is what my garden wants to be when it grows up.

Because I didn’t know what I was going to get from any of these places, my floral design strategy was pretty basic: mismatched, clear containers, and a riot of botanicals with no set color scheme. Perfect for a Garden to Table Feast, in my opinion.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by, photography by

A wide assortment of botanical materials and colors are unified by their intentional unintentionalness, and by the repetition of clear glass containers. Keeping the linens and place settings neutral also helps tie everything together.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by, photography by

Gorgeous colors, with no rhyme or reason. Seasonal perfection.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by, photography by

A whole batch of loveliness from Silver Lake Farms; Sweet Pea, Monarda, and a bunch of other pretties that are beyond my realm of identification!

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by

Lilies, Queen Anne’s Lace, and some sort of amazing green balls (perhaps a type of leucadendron?) from Resendiz Brothers Protea Farm that I have no idea the name of-but am completely enthralled with.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by, photography by

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by, photography by

Lilies, Queen Anne’s Lace, Monarda, and broccoli.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by, photography by

Leucadendron, hydrangea, kale, and radishes.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by, photography by

Garden roses, snap dragons, a couple of pincushions, lavender, white thistle, and sweet peas.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by, photography by

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by, photography by

Flowers always kind of make the event, if you ask me (I’m probably a bit biased). But I have to say that having gorgeous flowers and knowing exactly where they came from takes it to a new level. I highly encourage you guys to go do some digging, find your local flower farms (they’re out there, I promise!), and buy from them. Check and the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers for lists of farms and retailers. And when you do go to the local market, look for labeling like the CaGROWN sticker, or the new AmericanGrown labels, or simply ask your grocer where they get their flowers. If they don’t buy locally already, they’re never gonna start unless their customers speak up. Challenge accepted, am I right?!!

%d bloggers like this: