Bloom Time!



Now that plants have been well-watered by April’s showers and the sun is finally out, shrubs and trees are blooming and most notably, the neighborhood is filled with the scent of lilacs. The flowery aroma is filling the house this year because May has been warm enough to have windows open. On a recent walk we saw white lilacs and more shades of purple than I knew lilacs could be.

The state flower, rhododendron, is bursting forth throughout the neighborhood in shades from pale pink to the vivid red here too.



Are we ever going to have apples this year! Pear, cherry, and plum trees also have tiny fruits beginning to grow. If I run out of freezer space for applesauce I can share the apple crop with a nearby little pantry.


The strawberry harvest looks to be shaping up for a good year, and I’m hoping to keep bunnies and squirrels from eating the fruit by covering it once the blossoms are done. Don’t worry, there are strawberries in the backyard for the wildlife to enjoy. Later this month more strawberry plants will be joining the blueberries and filling in bare spots in the yard.




Speaking of blueberries, they are flowering and this will be the first year we’ve had a crop from the raised bed in the front yard.

This little creeper, Kenilworth ivy, also graces the yard and didn't cost me a penny. Unlike many gardeners, I’m happy to have it trailing around walls and planters. 


 Soon bee balm, hyssop, lavender, and sage will be in bloom to provide a continuing buffet for bees that make all the fruit possible.

Ready, Set, Grow!


Asian pear ready to go!

It’s been an unusually cold, wet, windy March and April here in the Pacific NorthWet. Not many fruit plants are budding yet, but our Asian pear (above) is ready to get this season going! Buds are bursting out greater than previous years. Most of the other fruit trees and vines are saying "Slow down, it's still too cold and wet!"

Plum just starting to blossom

I was diligent this winter (when it was milder) about fertilizing all our fruit plants in February and again in March, also adding compost to the soil to provide good nutrients. I’m eager to see how the blueberries, raspberries, cherries, pears (new this year), plums, and apples perform. I’d love to be able to do more canning and preserving of home-grown fruit!



Garlic left in raised beds over winter is coming on strong. The asparagus planted last spring is starting to come up, and rhubarb that I divided in late winter is also robust. Several onions that I'd left as failures last year are now reaching through the soggy soil.

New this year are two elderberry plants that are slow to

Hyssop coming back vigorously
show growth, but the season is still young. I also doubled the number of blueberry plants in a raised bed last fall. Hyssop has surprised me with a vigorous re-emergence from last year, and the bee balm from last summer that I’ve already divided is coming along well.

This year I will focus on more plants to attract bees and look forward to putting in more bee balm and hyssop. Calendula is a flower I’ve never grown, but will sow outside in a couple weeks. I’m hoping the poppies I planted last year have self-sown and will also come back.

I've had some luck this year transplanting and propagating. Flowering red currant is one of my favorite plants for attracting hummingbirds, and despite the cold weather, it is showing its beauty. Later this year I'll plant ones I'm propagating for even more showy pink blossoms throughout the yard!

Flowering red currant   

Foiled Again



My favorite foil
 No, my attempt at something wasn't thwarted. Rather, while making Christmas cards I rediscovered the joy of foiling. I did also relearn the difference between the two primary ways I make foiled cards, so I guess you could say there were some foiled attempts through this process.

The first way I can foil cards is with a device called the Go Press and Foil as seen at right.This device uses plates that are heated and a special foil that is heat activated to adhere to the paper.


This is the birthday card I created for my sister using the hot plate shown above. The pink outline of the flowers is foiled and I colored in the rest.

The March kit
Now that I’ve been buying quality products, I am delighted with this process and even signed up for a monthly hot foil kit-of-the-month subscription. Each month I get a new plate and die set along with a roll of foil.

The second method of foiling cards is with the Glaminator. This machine needs a product called transfer gel or embossing powder to make foil adhere to the paper. It can be trickier to get clean results, but with the Glaminator I can use stencils with transfer gel, or stamps with embossing powder that melts to allow the foil to adhere.

Glaminator success

Foils for each machine come in a variety of colors and patterns.  Having done a lot of practice this month, I now have everything well documented so there are no more foiled attempts at foiling cards. 😀

Happy Belated St. Patrick's Day Readers!





The old year didn’t end strong for me, nor has the new year been the best so far. In the midst of all this turbulence, my meditation group has provided stability through our practice and topics we are exploring.


The worst thing to distress me was self-evaluation and feeling I'm a failure. Does anyone stack up to what they expect of themselves? Our meditation leader had me look into the concept of the joy of insignificance. This doesn't mean we should give up, but to find value in the ordinary. 

A podcast exploring this topic is from Ten Percent Happier with the guest Dr. Ron Siegel, a part-time assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School and a board member at the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy.  

In his talk, Dr. Siegel discusses being kind to yourself and your expectations, being useful rather than successful, and how being special is a burden. Concepts I need to take to heart to get out of my personal rut of feeling I'm a failure.

Another article on the joy of insignificance assured me that we don’t need to do something extraordinary in order to live a good life and that we should avoid comparing ourselves to others.


 The idea of not surrendering your spiritual authority was also suggested as a way of being true to yourself. This isn't a religious concept, rather it is about the truth, beauty, purity, and goodness that is and always has been you, and allowing it to flow effortlessly through you to radiate out into the world. Embracing this approach gives me comfort in being my genuine self.

Finally, a poem by Martha Postlethwaite, Clearing, gave me additional peace and comfort and helped me find my way again.

Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
a clearing
in the dense forest  
of your life
and wait there
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself to this world
so worthy of rescue.






One Thing Led to Another



I vowed not to take any more online classes until I retired, but the temptation was so great that I took a writing class again last fall. Just two days into a week-long, lunch time class I realized I wouldn’t be able to finish due to work demands. Still, I love learning and had to find a way!

I turned to online self-paced courses and these, I’m delighted to say, are working perfectly. There are even Facebook groups associated with the classes, and unlike in-person classes, I virtually meet people from all over the world and learn from their questions and different situations.

My first venture with an online class grew from my interest in cooking with herbs and wanting to know how to use herbs in healing teas. I’m especially interested in contraindications—when NOT to use particular herbs. 

This interest led to an online class in herbalism
with the Herbal Academy. The class turned out to be much more intense than I was prepared for, but I could take my own sweet time, any time, and it was a success! For anyone else interested, the additional cost for the book set is worth it.

 This class led to the purchase of an herbal calendar that I love. Every other day it has useful and interesting facts on herbs ranging from history, medicinal uses, growing tips, and recipes.





Through the Herbal Academy Facebook group I then learned of Grow, Forage, Cook, Ferment, a self-paced online class covering foraged plants and how to use them. Yes, that led to me enrolling just a day after learning of this course.

All of this has led to even more herbs planned for my garden, such as purslane, purple dead nettle, self-heal, miner’s lettuce, calendula, and more. One herb I had to remove was lemon balm as it is contraindicated with thyroid conditions. My spiral herb garden is now where the lemon balm patch was.

I’ve also learned of some edible wild plants that already grow in my yard such as chickweed, wild violet, plantain, and the ubiquitous dandelion. Since I grow organically and have no outside pets, I can be assured my plants are safe to consume (though I of course still wash them!).

As my garden grows I look forward to seeing where my herbalism and gardening paths leads next!


Bloom Time!

    Now that plants have been well-watered by April’s showers and the sun is finally out, shrubs and trees are blooming and most notably, th...