Monday, February 29, 2016

A Whirl of Fun

Why no posts this week? Because Seattle is wearing me out! I have been on a whirl between three days at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show, an evening out at a local dinner theater, a garden lecture, two days at the Sewing & Stitchery Expo and the Art Gallery of SnoValley grand opening party. 

To say that I love it here would be an understatement. Plus I am trying to spend as much time with Dan as I can before I fly back to Michigan to put our house on the market. 

I am about to spend my time with a clipboard in hand - the punch list will be for my life itself. That being said, my mind is full of stories and suggestions and I will not let you down. The blog will replenished before you know it. I just need to run to Costco first. (wink)

Friday, February 19, 2016

Forcing Branches: Improving February by Leaps and Bounds

Be still my heart! I was pushing my cart through the local QFC grocery store when I gasped and stopped. Then I said, "No way; no way, no way." This piqued Dan's interest. What on earth prompted this happy exclamation?
There were live flowering branches for sale! Grocery stores in Michigan don't sell live flowering branches ever, let alone in February. Okay, fine, if I went to a high-end organic store the likelihood of finding a treasure like this might go up, but I rarely do shop that way so I'm back to my original statement: never.
Yet here I was in a QFC (which is part of the Kroger Family of Grocery Stores) and I could buy and force my own forsythia or apple blossom branches! Did I mention that a large bundle was $5. I could hardly contain myself. I took this cart photo and texted my mom immediately. Look what I can have in this new wonderful part of the country!

I brought them home and had a large abstract swath of pink blossoms blooming on my kitchen ledge (lovely!) and tucked a few in my Valentine rose bouquet in the family room. All those years ago Martha talked about forcing branches and I was finally able to do it. Happy days are here again.

Am I going to make a scene about flowers and plants and life in the Pacific Northwest with its longer growing season until November? You bet.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Apartment Living: Northwest Flower and Garden Show 2016

I am covering the 2016 Northwest Flower and Garden Show to provide insight and increase enjoyment. My blog posts will spotlight specific categories and will leave a trail a breadcrumbs to help my readers find the items or features that will interest them the most. The categories are: Apartment Living, Farm Chic, French Flair, Romantic Touch, Love of Cuisine and Bee Specific.
Landscape Design Company, Cobble & Birch had my favorite display in the City Living section of the show. The glass sky bridge (between the two large exhibit areas) is lined with vignettes that can be recreated by city dwellers. A small outdoor footprint can handle big ideas if done well. Cobble and Birch highlighted the show theme "America the Beautiful" with items in red, white and blue. My favorite element is the vertical garden planted with healthy white primulas. The view from the sky bridge looks right down to Puget Sound and Pike Place Market!
When living in an apartment, you might consider a bonsai tree as an interesting addition to your interior design. Stop by Akira Bonsai (booth 2421, green, Plant Market) and see if you find the perfect long term project.
Bringing fresh cut flowers home is another practical way to keep the joy of flowers around. I really appreciate the long narrow design of the floral vases by Stem Vases (booth 1202, blue, Marketplace). They let the beauty of the flowers speak for themselves.
Are you looking to add a little whimsy to your place? I just love the distressed metal letters and number available from Release the Flying Monkeys (booth 965, blue, Marketplace). 
I can think of a million ways to use these (and a million phrases to spell out). They have a large selection of metal flowers and garden signs too. The shopping at this show is incredible.
As an apartment dweller myself, I know that a part of successful apartment living is getting out into the fresh air and exploring our great National Parks! This year, the Northwest Flower and Garden Show theme is "America the Beautiful" in honor of the Centennial Anniversary of the National Park Service. The show has a National Parks Service booth (next to the wine garden, adjacent to the large display gardens) staffed by the park service, who are available to answer questions and distribute literature. I was given a free packet of "Burpee's Bee Garden" seeds to plant as part of the National Pollinator Initiative. Thank you, National Park Service! I will plant them in my P-Patch this year. I was also given a map to follow the Lewis & Clark trail, a brochure about visiting Mount Rainier and information about getting a National Parks pass. 
The National Parks Service recently appointed Laura Joss as the regional director for the Pacific West Region of the National Park Service. Congratulations, Laura! Here she is in front of the magnificent display garden titled: The Tiny Tetons by Nature Perfect Landscape and Design. They had me at (what I think are) miniature blue iris. Blue blue blue. I could gaze at this all day.
Look at the magnificent piece of wood setting off the entrance!

Northwest Flower and Garden Show at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. Show is open Wednesday, Feb 16 - Saturday, Feb 20 from 9am- 8pm, and Sunday, Feb 21 from 9am - 6pm.


#NWFGS #springinfeb #seattle

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Romantic Touch: Northwest Flower and Garden Show 2016

I am covering the 2016 Northwest Flower and Garden Show to provide insight and increase enjoyment. My blog posts will spotlight specific categories and will leave a trail a breadcrumbs to help my readers find the items or features that will interest them the most. The categories are: Apartment Living, Farm Chic, French Flair, Romantic Touch, Love of Cuisine and Bee Specific.

Are you a romantic at heart? I've gathered a few suggestions that just might strike a cord with you.
Show the birds some love with these adorable, refillable bird feeders with heart shaped seed blocks available at Swansons Nursery (booth 1218, blue, Marketplace). 
Perhaps you'd like an upscale retreat down by the lake? Kensington Garden Rooms (booth 2152, blue, Marketplace) offer beautiful rooms to enhance your outdoor living. This growing business was recently featured on my favorite television show, CNBC's, The Profit. Create your own private Idaho within walking distance of the house where you can enjoy a glass of wine and the sound of silence. 
Do you enjoy the English country estates on PBS? There is a free seminar called "Who Needs Downton Abbey: Great Garden Estates of the Northwest" designed to get you in the car and on your way to explore our great region. Hosted on Sunday, February 21 at 1:45 pm in the Hood Room.

Need something for your romantic getaway? Rose Marie Designs (booth 519, blue, Marketplace) is back again this year offering lace bedecked this and vintage style that - her clothes have a romantic sensibility that may be just what you're looking for. 
Perhaps all you need to make your heart go pitty-pat are a tray of violets in full bloom. Sometimes all it takes is a little color. Enjoy the show!
Northwest Flower and Garden Show at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. Show is open Wednesday, Feb 16 - Saturday, Feb 20 from 9am- 8pm, and Sunday, Feb 21 from 9am - 6pm.

#NWFGS #springinfeb #seattle

Love of Cuisine: Northwest Flower and Garden Show 2016

I am covering the 2016 Northwest Flower and Garden Show to provide insight and increase enjoyment. My blog posts will spotlight specific categories and will leave a trail a breadcrumbs to help my readers find the items or features that will interest them the most. The categories are: Apartment Living, Farm Chic, French Flair, Romantic Touch, Love of Cuisine and Bee Specific.
Have you ever read Edible Seattle magazine? (booth 2151, blue, Marketplace) This magazine is replicated in major cities around the country and celebrates local and seasonal cooking. The magazine is handing out free copies in their booth and encouraging attendees to subscribe. Check it out.
Salt Spring Island Cheese. (booth 2117, blue, Marketplace) They had me the moment I saw their packaging. They make soft goat cheese spreads with artistic and flavorful toppings (pink peppercorn, garlic, lemon). These are the cheeses I would bring to a party. Today I sampled their lemon topped goat cheese and it was as lovely as I had remembered. Then my mom tried it and bought a tub for us to share. A tasting party before Downton Abbey, perhaps?
Doesn't this display of ironstone and such get you in the mood for entertaining? Mismatched treasures abound in the Vintage Garden Market, from hotel silver to saucer champagnes. This white on white display is at Oscar & Co (booth VGM 57, orange, Vintage Garden Market). I call dibs on the lidded soup tureen.
If you like to cook and entertain, then I assume you have an herb garden, yes? I was impressed with the selection at N&M Herb Nursery (booth 2218, green, Plant Market). I heard a fellow shopper ask her companion, "Don't you think we should get Chocolate Mint?" If they stock chocolate mint, then I bet they have loads of the unusual mints I am always hunting for. I can't wait until I can plant a Strawberry Pot full of herbs again.

Like to end your evening with a nightcap? Why not check out the free seminar:
"Good Libations: Concocting Cocktails from the Home Garden" on Saturday, Feb 20 at 11:45 am on the DIY Stage.

Northwest Flower and Garden Show at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. Show is open Wednesday, Feb 16 - Saturday, Feb 20 from 9am- 8pm, and Sunday, Feb 21 from 9am - 6pm.

#NWFGS #springinfeb #seattle

Farm Chic: 2016 Northwest Flower and Garden Show

I am covering the 2016 Northwest Flower and Garden Show to provide insight and increase enjoyment. My blog posts will spotlight specific categories and will leave a trail a breadcrumbs to help my readers find the items or features that will interest them the most. The categories are: Apartment Living, Farm Chic, French Flair, Romantic Touch, Love of Cuisine and Bee Specific.
Is your heart back on the farm? I gathered these terrific examples of barnyard chic items that just might speak to you. First of all, someone has to buy these ceramic chickens! MD Arts and Linen (booth 407, blue, near Display Gardens).
A chicken coop (featuring a perfectly happy live chicken) was the focus of Cascadia Edible Landscapes' Design Garden. It shows how a rooftop garden can be perfectly within reach if you plant it on top of a custom chicken coop. No stepladder needed. 

Does your inner farm girl say things like "put up vegetables?" There is a free seminar called "Eat Locally Because You Can: Easy Canning For Gardeners" on Friday, Feb 19 at 1:45 pm.
Do you need seeds to plant, so that you can have too many vegetables and you'll need to can? Me too. Actually, I signed up for my first P-Patch (an organic community garden with small plots tended by individuals or families) and I can't wait to have my first vegetable (and edible flower) garden in Seattle. Living in an apartment makes me realize just how much I like whiling away time in the garden.

I was taken with the artwork on The Living Seed Company (booth 2527, green, Plant Market) packets and I know that I'm not alone when I say that I often buy them because of how pretty they are.  Remember when I made seed packets into business card cases? I can and I did.
No time to grow actual vegetables this year? What about displaying a small basket of these works of art? Totally Blown Glassworks (booth 1118, blue, Market Place) has a farmer's market full of choices.

Northwest Flower and Garden Show at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. Show is open Wednesday, Feb 16 - Saturday, Feb 20 from 9am- 8pm, and Sunday, Feb 21 from 9am - 6pm.
#NWFGS #springinfeb #seattle 

Bee Specific: Northwest Flower and Garden Show 2016

I am covering the 2016 Northwest Flower and Garden Show to provide insight and increase enjoyment. My blog posts will spotlight specific categories and will leave a trail a breadcrumbs to help my readers find the items or features that will interest them the most. The categories are: Apartment Living, Farm Chic, French Flair, Romantic Touch, Love of Cuisine and Bee Specific.
Gardeners know that bees are everything. I noticed all kinds of bee and honey related items in the show and I want to put them in the spotlight and encourage you to help keep the bees in Washington state strong. I thought these mason bee homes were very interesting and they are on the shelf in McLendon Hardware (booth 2434, green, Plant Market). 

To brush up on the necessity of bees, you can sit in on a free seminar:

"Beneficial Orchard Mason Bees: Our Northwest Native Pollinator" on Friday, Feb 19 at 10 am on the DIY Stage

or

"Gardening 101: Protecting Vital Wildlife and Pollinators" on Saturday, Feb 20 at 2:15 pm in the Rainier Room.

Bee sure to look for Bainbridge Beewax Works (booth 2150) which offers exquisitely designed beeswax pillars. Burn them if you must, I would leave them in their natural glory as art on the shelf-  delicate vines and flowers twisting round and round. 
Have you ever served white cheddar cheese with a slice of apple and a dab of honey on a cracker? It is delicious! Tarboo Creek Honey (booth 2426, green, Plant Market) is selling gorgeous jars of honey (above) and beeswax candles from their own bees. We tried a sample and bought a jar on the spot.
Northwest Flower and Garden Show at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. Show is open Wednesday, Feb 16 - Saturday, Feb 20 from 9am- 8pm, and Sunday, Feb 21 from 9am - 6pm.
#NWFGS #springinfeb #seattle

French Flair: 2016 Northwest Flower and Garden Show

I am covering the 2016 Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle to provide insight and increase enjoyment. My blog posts will spotlight specific categories and will leave a trail a breadcrumbs to help my readers find the items or features that will interest them the most. The themes to my blog posts are: Apartment Living, Farm Chic, French Flair, Romantic Touch, Love of Cuisine and Bee Specific.
Ooh la la. The Northwest Flower and Garden show has many beautiful booths and items for sale for those of us who love all things French. 

MD Arts and Linen (booth 407, blue, near Display Gardens)
Be still my heart! You will be hard pressed to find a larger selection of French linens, dishtowels, aprons and tablecloths.  I simply stood and stared the first time I saw this booth. They do not have an online presence, so buy what you love while you have the chance.
Pelindaba Lavender (booth 1015, blue, Marketplace) This lavender farm is located in the San Juan Islands and I'd love to visit the San Juan lavender festival in mid-July. The large banner in the photo (below) shows off their fields in full bloom.
You know that I have been to lavender festivals and have toured lavender farms (once on harvest day!); I've eaten lavender ice cream and woven my own lavender bouteilles.  I have had the full range of lavender experiences, yet something tells me that a lavender farm on an island is even more wonderful. I'm going!
I could not resist these fire starters made of dried lavender stems dipped in soy wax. Aren't they cool? They look like giant purple matchsticks. Do I have a fire to throw them in right now? Nope, they'd just bounce off the glass door of my gas fireplace. But someday I will start a fragrant fire, I am sure of it.

There is a free seminar called "Lavender: One Herb Does It All" on the DIY stage Thursday, Feb 18 at 5 pm.
Love topiaries? Me too! The healthy plant on the right is made of thyme and you can find it at Li'l Spout Nursery (booth 2217, green, Plant Market). I would love to have a topiary at the window over the kitchen sink. 

I hope these suggestions help you to find just what you are looking for.

Northwest Flower and Garden Show at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. Show is open Wednesday, Feb 16 - Saturday, Feb 20 from 9am- 8pm, and Sunday, Feb 21 from 9am - 6pm.
#NWFGS #springinfeb #seattle

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Northwest Flower and Garden Show is a Utopia for Gardeners

The Northwest Flower and Garden Show is a utopia designed to delight every possible kind of gardener. 

In my lectures, I discuss the satisfaction people find when they live a life of layersThe idea is to give yourself as many opportunities in your daily life to experience and to look at what you love.

The Northwest Flower and Garden Show has done just that: it is designed to let us look at what we love.  

Visually, you will be astonished by the scale and beauty of the 19 large display gardens. Flowering trees, giant boulders, live moss and spring bulbs are woven together to create themed vignettes honoring the Centennial Anniversary of National Parks Service. This portion of the garden show is all for show. Stand and soak it in. Take pictures and imagine incorporating some of the scale-able elements into your own backyard. 
Yet the popularity of Northwest Flower and Garden Show goes far beyond the impressive display gardens. There are living plants of all varieties for sale (succulents, fern, ivy, seeds, bulbs) in the Plant Market.

The selection of garden and flower related products to shop for in the 350-vendor Marketplace is second to none. Need flower arranging tools, garden baskets, bonsai scissors or oilcloth aprons? They've got you covered. In my opinion, access to the Marketplace alone is worth the price of admission.

Looking for a concrete ideas and a chance to mull over what you've seen so far? Look at the schedule and take a seat in one of the 100 free how-to presentations.

Ready for lunch? There are great choices this year from salads and pasta, to soups, burgers and cheese platters, in addition to craft beer and regional wine.
There is more to tell, of course. Floral competitions to judge. Garden War competitions to cheer. Landscapers to hire. A garden society to join. I will be attending the show tomorrow (Weds) and delving in more deeply to be able to give you a tailored look at the show. Tomorrow night I'll have 100 more reasons to attend this year's Northwest Flower and Garden Show at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. Show is open Wednesday, Feb 16 - Saturday, Feb 20 from 9am- 8pm, and Sunday, Feb 21 from 9am - 6pm.
#NWFGS #springinfeb #seattle

Monday, February 15, 2016

Seattle: This Week: Northwest Flower and Garden Show

Clear your schedule! The Northwest Flower and Garden Show opens at the Washington State Convention Center on Wednesday, February 17 at 9 am.

I am going to the press preview tomorrow morning and will create my own visitors guide based on themes that I don't want you to miss! Check back tomorrow afternoon!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Seattle: Searching for Starfish

I am so very new to Seattle and I have found that people to go out of their way to be friendly. I think the secret to connecting in a new place is to be genuinely interested in the area. When I thought that I was only coming to Seattle for just a few months, I read travel books and magazine articles, asked friends for recommendations and made myself a notebook of restaurants, parks and the must see aspects of Seattle, as they were mentioned to me. If you read my blog posts from April, June and September 2014, you can tell that really experienced a lot in a short amount of time. You can also tell that I loved it out in the Pacific Northwest.

I always have a local person, place or thing "up my sleeve" to discuss when I meet someone new. I was lucky enough to sit next to a lifelong resident at a charity dinner last spring and when I mentioned I was hoping to see starfish on the beach, he leapt into action. He not only directed me to this section of Alki Beach, but he opened up a maritime tide chart (an app he had on his phone!) and told me exactly what day and time I needed to visit.
I found this speckled tan starfish blending into the damp rock. Naively, I was looking for them in perfect starfish formation. A class of 25 university students (some are shown above) was spread out across the newly exposed surface of Puget Sound armed with cameras and clipboards. After a few minutes of fruitless searching, I called to one of the students for help to find a live starfish and they all came over to help.
What a lush scene. Can you spot the starfish? A red starfish is clinging to the rock in the foreground. I zoomed in (below) to show him basking in the sun.
This was such a cool experience. Trouping along the shoreline looking for sea life was really fun and not something I would normally do on a weekday. This is the beauty of everyday life. Be interested in the world around you and be open to spending a little time in someone else's world. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Design Your Own: Cork Trivet

I was so happy to find round cork trivets at Ikea. A set of three is $3.99 and they are thick and would make a wonderful gift if you jazzed them up a little with fabic. 
Jazz them up, I did! I love this tea-themed fabric and I've been holding onto it for just the right project. Pot holders?  Yes, they would be darling, but I've been having a hard time with bias tape lately. An apron? Yes, except I have too many aprons already. So when I realized that I could effectively adhere them to cork trivets, I was sold.

I bought a roll of Heat n Bond Ultrahold and followed the package instructions to iron the 2-sided adhesive onto the wrong side of my cute fabric. Then I traced the cork circles onto the back of the fabric with pencil and cut them out. Then a followed the package instructions to permanently adhere the fabric to the cork. I've been collecting vintage Pyrex and I feel like this fabric underscores my mood in the kitchen right now.  This project is so easy and so great. 
Modern, yet cute. A design element, yet still functional.

I plan to lightly spritz the fabric topped trivets with Scotch Guard spray to help the trivets stand up to the inevitable drips and spills. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Mount Rainier: The Perfect Vintage Postcard

I have a weakness for messages written on postcards. I can't resist picking them up and seeing what the person had to say. When the postcard is pretty, I imagine turning the image into a pillow.

Since I am new to Washington, I was immediately drawn to this beautiful image of Mount Rainier. I haven't had a chance to drive over to this grand national park (but Dan has hiked on it), but I admire it from afar whenever she shows herself.
Did you know that people refer to Mt. Rainier as they would the moon? They describe whether or not it is clear enough for the mountain to be "out." The distance and clouds can keep her (the mountain is also referred to as feminine) from being visible for days. 
What really sold me on this particular card sent in 1937 was the statement:

"I found some new views of Rainier and Alaska, nice to see some new ones for a change. This scene is taken at Paradise Lodge same as most of the Rainier cards are."

It tickles me that back in 1937 they were tired of the same old images that always appeared on the local postcards. Some guy named Brown found this new card and had to send it along to his old friend. Little did he know that we'd be taking about it 79 years later. 

He goes on to say:

"Sure would like to make a trip up there over the 4th as I get 3 days off but I'm short on cash right now. hope to get up there this year tho. The trip isn't bad but the dollar to get in the park makes it just too much if you only go up once during the year."

He would think it was outrageous that I paid $2 for his musings. But I will protect this little piece of Washington history, Brown, don't you worry.