The End of the Beginning

Two years ago, we began this blog to chronicle our adventure of building a house on a hill.

Our dream began in 1987 when we acquired the raw land overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Life got in the way of building back then. But we perservered…and then we lucked out in meeting Don and Mark many years later. Their creativity and expertise made Casa Colina possible.

In late September of 2014, we began moving in. We completed the move at the end of October. Beautiful sunrises, fiery sunsets, and even a bit of snow on New Year’s Eve have helped make it a joy to live here. Every room feels like a luxurious Old World counterpart. We don’t like to leave, but approaching Casa Colina after being away fills us with delightful anticipation.

In a few weeks, with the help of our landscaper, Enrique, we’ll resume the landscape installation in other areas of our property. We’re getting the hang of it now; it’s fun to bring nature back to the land we disrupted in 2013.

What we won’t resume is adding new postings to this blog. Instead, we’re turning to a number of other creative endeavors that we put on hold for a while. One of those projects is the launch of a website that Joe created to showcase and sell his books and his fine art photographs. Please visit his website at and his Facebook page.  Thank you for spending some of your precious time with us and providing comments, suggestions, and encouragement. Now, we’ll enjoy watching our landscape grow as we create new adventures from our home on a hill. —Gloria and Joe

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Our First Phase of Landscape Installation

Installing hardscape and plants on a compacted granite pad is not easy. Digging drains is hard work. Using a jackhammer to create holes for planting succulents and native plants is slow and laborious. Making sure that the holes will drain well is a constant concern. After two months and lots of lessons learned, our courtyard and several areas outside of the courtyard have been planted. Now, we have to wait to see how many plants successfully adapt to their new environment.


Choosing the flagstone type and color took some time. Then, our stone supplier ran out of what we needed. So, we searched far and wide and finally found a second supplier to complete the order.


For months, we have been researching native plants and succulents. What needs full sun? Full shade? Partial sun? What’s on the fire district’s prohibited list? Which plants take the least amount of water in our drought-ravaged area? What colors go with each other? What fulfills the landscape design we have to compliment our architecture?


We added four dwarf citrus trees to the mix. At first, we wanted them in the ground but, later, we decided to put them in clay pots for more mobility. We’re still waiting for the pots.


We’ve used stabilized decomposed granite for pathways inside and outside of the courtyard.


In a few months, the planting areas will be filling in, adding texture and height to each space.


And, of course, we love the native landscape that surrounds us.

Our Landscape Installation Has Begun

Our interior decor reflects what we are designing for our exterior landscape—

bromeliad 2

We’ll be using “homegrown” rocks and boulders.


We’ll have a flagstone dining patio and walkways, some stabilized decomposed granite paths, and decomposed granite planting areas for succulents, cacti, trees, and colorful flowers.