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Holland America Tulip Festival

Walking the u-pick tulip field with Chloe

Have you ever been to a tulip festival? Chloe and I came upon one by chance yesterday. We were a few hours into our homeward journey from a friend’s house north of Seattle and were more than ready to stretch our legs. This festival was at the Holland America Bulb Farm in Woodland, Washington. Such a sight! So many colors and so many gorgeous varieties. I’ve seen pictures of masses of blooms, but to see it in person…

smelling the bright pink tulips

This was our first tulip farm experience. We stayed about an hour, enough to browse the garden gifts, sample some “deep fried popcorn”, sniff some different varieties and wander among the u-pick area to select the stems we wanted to take home. Of course, I also took a lot of photos. While most of our drive had been rainy, the sun just happened to come out when we arrived. For the record, I did not alter the color of these photos at all. They were truly that rich and vibrant against the gray intensity of the sky.

In the colorful tulip field

smelling the yellow tulips

I’m so glad we took the opportunity to stop. It is so easy to focus on the destination, and not take time to savor the journey. A fitting and memorable reminder to “stop and smell the roses” (- er, tulips). Don’t you agree?

 


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Photo Friday: Peach Blossoms

First, I just wanted to announce the winner of the the Elmer’s Painters and $25 Walmart Gift Card! Congratulations to latanya who said “This would be great fun for the summer!” Also, a BIG thank you to everyone who participated with a comment on the Spring Painted Flowerpot Makeover. I was crossing my fingers for 40 entries, but ended up with over double that. Awesome!

Now, back to the photo above -  two pink blossoms from our young peach tree. While not as showy and profuse as the plum blossoms, they are still special. Each of these little flowers is capable of transforming into a delicious piece of summer fruit. This will be our third summer with this tree. We plan to move it out of its container and hopefully find it a permanent home in the back yard.

Proper pruning technique still eludes me, but one thing I learned last spring was to thin the amount of growing fruit. This is done by rubbing off over half once they are about the size of cherries. Thinning allows for better spacing and lets the remaining peaches grow to an edible size. Its silly, but I found thinning to be somewhat sad. Pruning is like cutting hair to me. I get that. But rubbing off all those little hopefuls… well that was different. However, the results were sweet, small-to-medium-sized peaches, so it was definitely worth it.

I guess that’s a lesson that applies to life in general, right? Some things are hard to do (like exercising, or practicing a skill, or raising children), but doing so is rewarding. Food for thought (ha!).

Have a great weekend everyone!


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Stitched Fabric Heart Cards

The other day at Ikea I finally convinced my husband to let me purchase a batch of Ribba frames. I’ve been wanting to build a display wall of photographs in our hallway, but David isn’t really a family-photo-display-wall kind of guy. However, this time he was into it and I jumped at the chance. I’ve been spending time today looking through my Flickr account, trying to decide on the photos I’d like to use. That is when I came across these fabric heart cards I made from two years ago. Wow. You mean I actually had time back then (with only one child) to do fun projects like this?

Anyway, you can see they are very simple. I had a batch of blank white patterned cards, cut out a silhouette from the center, backed it with another piece of white card stock and sewed up the edges to secure it. The stitching also added a nice little frame on the heart and tree versions. On the flowered version I cut out some fabric flowers, pasted them on and stitched a line down the center. Not sure what happened to these, but I’m thinking I might have given them as part of a gift. It sure what fun to see them again!

 


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Flowering Artichoke

Have you seen one of these before? I hadn’t, until we moved in to our house six years ago. It is an artichoke that has been left to flower. Isn’t it magnificent? Kind of structural and prehistoric looking, in the way a passion flower is. A couple of months ago my mom was visiting. She picked a few, sliced and steamed them, and added them to couscous. I was pretty impressed. We had never eaten them before, and just enjoyed the flowering. They attract lots of bees, too. They burrow in between the florets as if in bee nirvana. Some don’t come out. I wonder if it is a sweet death, gorged on whatever it is they are eating in there.

The third photo shows the mystery plant that Chloe brought home from preschool earlier this summer. Turns out it is a sunflower. A giant sunflower. If I’d have known that I would not have planted it in our vegetable garden. It perplexes me that the teacher wouldn’t have chosen something smaller, but c’est la vie. I’ve kind of grown to like it. And the rest of our garden? Despite not giving it as much attention this year (with the baby and all), it is doing better than ever. Who would have guessed?


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Details

Is it really almost September? Already, the white anemones in our front yard are in bloom, the last of our plants to flower before fall and winter come. Other than the heat wave we had recently, the summer has been pretty mild. Too mild, maybe, since our tomatoes plants are still only laden with green fruit.

This has been an unusual month for me. I guess something is out of whack with my system, and my body is letting me know it. Usually I feel fine. Hopefully it is nothing to be alarmed about, but the advice nurse at the clinic scheduled some tests and an appointment early next week. At this point, I’m happy to go.

I inspect the garden every day. Although we were sad to loose our backyard trees earlier this year, the garden is flourishing. I’m often surprised by even the day to day changes, and especially the details. Take a look:

Have a great weekend!


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Little Garden Visitors

Chloe and I play out in the back yard almost everyday. This year, early in the season, we bought several flats of fund-raiser plants from a neighbor. The growing color back there is wonderful! I’m also happy to report several mini-green tomatoes, zucchini, grapes and green beans peeking out from under their abundant foliage.

Yesterday, we saw an unusual amount of butterflies visiting our yard. Their drunken fluttering makes Chloe nervous, so she likes to have me close by. Unfortunately they were practically impossible to photograph. So we turned our attention to these little garden visitors instead…

Honey bee, back legs laden with pollen
Male “12-Spotted Skimmer” dragonfly, back view
Mason bee (I think)
Male “12-Spotted Skimmer” dragonfly, front view


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Valentine Idea: Day 10 – Origami Love

Origami Love – Paper is truly a remarkable material, and an inherent part of Valentine’s Day! How about spreading a little love around by folding a batch of these beauties to share…


Origami Kusadama Flower


Origami Fortune Teller


Sweet Origami Hearts


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United States Botanic Garden Conservatory

One of the highlights of our trip to Washington, DC (besides spending time with family) was the afternoon we spent at the United States Botanic Garden Conservatory and the National Museum of the American Indian, right next door. Despite growing up here, there are still a lot of places like this that I have yet to explore. There is a cool feature on the Conservatory’s web site to take a virtual tour, but it is not the same as being there, of course. I took a ton of photos with my new camera, everything was just so beautiful. I think the orchids were my favorite, but I also found the spice (vanilla, cacao, allspice, nutmeg, etc) and other exotic plants fascinating.

Parking downtown is always tricky, but we were lucky to find a metered spot not too far away. I would highly recommend the metro, especially if you don’t have a car or want to be bothered with the traffic and parking. Like many of the memorials and monuments in DC, these two were free. I didn’t take many pictures of the American Indian Museum, but if you visit be sure to have a bite at the “Mitsitam” (meaning “Let’s eat!”) café to try the authentic Native foods of the Western Hemisphere. We tried the Tamales de Rajas with Red Chili Sauce, the Black Bean and Beef Paspusas, and Fresh Yucca Fries with Lime and Cilantro.

Click here to see more photos from the Garden Conservatory.


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Felt Flower Hair Clip Giveaway!

I finally found some time to make some new hair clips! These are just so fun. I can’t wait until Chloe has enough hair. Meanwhile it gives me plenty of time to build up my stash, since I’ve been giving most away as little gifts. I also decided to add a few to my sorely neglected etsy shop, and included a couple with matching cards:


Would you like to win the white felt flower hair clip in the top photo? Leave a comment below on this post and I’ll announce a random winner next weekend. Good Luck!


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A lazy, sunny weekend


ceanothus ‘victoria’ & heather ‘c.d. eason’

lithodora ‘grace ward’ & yellow swallowtail butterfly on wallflowers

It feels like it has been a while since we’ve enjoyed an entirely sunny weekend. On Saturday we took a ride out to our favorite nursery (again!) to pick up some color for the two bare spots still left. We decided on shade tolerant impatients for under our front yard japanese maple, and a contrasting mix of spreading blue lithodora and rich magenta heather to add color to the back border of our “round” garden. The only spur-of-the-moment purchase was a lovely blue flowering evergreen called ceanothus victoria. We just couldn’t pass it up, and used David’s 30% off coupon on it. No idea where it’s final resting place will be just yet, but it needs full sun

On Sunday morning we woke up early and decided to head out to Ikea. We weren’t looking for much – a couple replacement 365+ square plates that mysteriously got chipped, a cushion for my office chair, two small vases and a couple of other kitchen and house gadgets. It was also a good opportunity for us to look at the nursery furniture. I thought I’d pick up some fabric, too, but nothing really appealed to me this time around. And if you ever find yourself at Ikea in the morning, their $1.99 breakfast is a tasty value (scrambled eggs, bacon, sticks of crispy french toast and breakfast potatoes).

The butterfly photo was shot moments after we pulled into our driveway. With our side garden in bloom, we always take a moment to admire the flowers when we get in or out of the car. This butterfly was taking a quick dip into our wallflowers and I was able to snap just a few pics before it fluttered away. The rest of the day was spent reading, helping David briefly while he installed irrigation to our vegetable garden, and a quick run to the grocery store for some Ben & Jerry’s and other staples. A sweet way to end the weekend.


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Harbingers Of Spring

The weather has reverted to its normal cloudy grey self today. Right now all their little heads are tightly closed against the cold, but this weekend several little blooms peeked out to say hello. David and I both snapped several pictures, hoping to preserve the feeling of joy at these first little signs of spring. Neither the snowdrop or the yellow crocus shown above are ones that we’d planted, so their arrival is that much more pleasantly unexpected.


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Teeth & Taxes

What a week. David and I went to the dentist yesterday for a checkup and cleaning. It has been a few years since my last visit, mainly because I don’t have dental insurance and I don’t make those visits a priority like I should. Anyway, I’ll just say that it was a long and uncomfortable visit, and I have no one to blame but myself. David had to wait an extra hour, even though we were both scheduled at the same time. I won’t even mention the blood. And yes, another cavity has joined the party in my mouth.

Also this week was the yearly trip to our tax guy. Why are business taxes so complicated? What happened to those blissful days of simply filing a 1040EZ like I used to? Oh why couldn’t one of us be blessed with the organized paperwork and spreadsheets gene?

The photo above is of my birthday bouquet. This is just a fraction of all the blooms, not including the gorgeous red roses, large pink gerbera daisies, stems of hypernicum berries, and sprays of purple, white and green flowers that I can’t even name. It is still going strong after so many days. I’m grateful to have such tranquil beauty to admire.


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The Unique Beauty of Passion Flowers

passion flowers

Our friends Marcy and Alex have the most amazing passion flower vine growing on a beautiful handmade trellis off their deck. I’ve taken multiple photos, particularly this summer, and just recently thought to look up a little about them.

I remember the first time I ever saw one of these blooms in person was at a visit to the Oregon Garden (a worthy trip, especially to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s Gordon House). I was stunned at this flower’s unusual structure and unique striped color combination. Pretty unforgettable.

passion flower

Turns out the word “passion” doesn’t refer to the romantic kind at all like I’d thought. Instead, according to wikipedia:

“Passion” does not refer to love, but to the Passion of Christ on the cross. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Spanish Christian missionaries discovered this flower and adopted its unique physical structures as symbols of Crucifixion. For example: the 72 radial filaments (or corona) represent the Crown of Thorns. The ten petals and sepals represent the ten faithful apostles. The top 3 stigmata represent the 3 nails and the lower 5 anthers represent the 5 wounds. The flower has been given names related to this symbolism throughout Europe since that time.

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