Category Archives: Gardens & Special Places

WA_spring5

Spring is different here.

Over the weekend, we went to the Washington Park Arboretum.  (It’s hard to believe we have only been here for 7 weeks, and we’ve already been to two zoos and two gardens.  Can you tell we’re looking for something that reminds us of home?)

WA_spring3

We saw some familiar faces — camellias, cherry blossoms, and daffodils, but they looked different against their backdrop of moss and damp earth.  The forests here have a monotonous sort of beauty.  Everything is carpeted in green and guarded by seemingly endless trees.

WA_spring

I was telling a woman I met how pretty I thought Seattle was.  ”Your trees have moss on them!” I exclaimed.  The lady looked at me like I was insane.  I think this is akin to saying, “Your dirt has grass on it” in most places. However, I have never seen so much moss.  Not like this.

I am realizing that living in Southern California for so many years, I never really understood the concept of Spring.  Spring, to me, was just the weather “trying to be Summer and failing at it.” I never thought of it as a destination all its own.  Outside, it looked nice, the weather was warm, but still not quite warm enough.  I wore the same combination of t-shirts and hoodies year round.  There was no dramatic shift — only the same sun, the same ocean breeze. The temperatures rose slowly, so gradually you could miss them if you weren’t looking.  And usually, I wasn’t.

WA_spring4

Now, I see why people like Spring, look forward to it, wish for it, need it.  These new blossoms stand out here — bright spots in those stretches of green.  The fact that it is still so cold and sometimes raining outside only makes them feel more miraculous.  How did these flowers get here?

WA_spring2

I feel hopeful that I will be able to find lots of inspiration in this new place.

P.S. – THANK YOU to everyone who has left me such sweet notes about Storybook Lane.  Don’t forget the free fabric give away ends on Sunday, April 1st at midnight!


Spring Suspicions

Walk_Woods_550

Spring is the season I am slowest to accept. I do want to trade my weather in for sunnier days, but I’m suspicious of the whole thing.

The minute I peel off those winter layers, I just know the weather is going to shift and I am going to be caught out in the cold, far from home. By far from home, I mean the parking lot at the grocery store. Just to be clear, we’re not talking Siberia — but still. That could be a very unpleasant walk to my car.

Perhaps I just don’t want to get my hopes up. We had one blissful weekend where we sat outside on the deck wearing shorts and flip-flops. I tried to position myself so that I would not blind any of the neighbors with my pale, ghost legs. I drank a lemonade. I wanted to cry from happiness.

Butterly_Shower_550

However, it’s best to pretend that was a freak incident and will not happen again. It’s too crushing to put the sweaters back on when you have had a taste of something else.

My friends and family in Southern California make sad, consoling noises on the phone when I talk to them about the weather. (You can tell we don’t have family in Chicago or Minnesota or someplace that might put our temperature-related problems in perspective.) The thing I am now realizing is that I have always been this moody about the weather. It’s just that in LA, you are highly trained to appreciate the shifts even a few degrees could make. There is a delicate balance to be maintained. Do I wear the t-shirt or the tank top? IT CHANGES EVERYTHING.

Spring_blossoms_550

I try to be upbeat about Spring.

My neighbors and friends up here are so positive. I don’t want to ruin it for them. And they have reason to be. It’s ridiculously beautiful. I just need a few more weeks to be convinced. I was thankful I went the conservative route and wore black boots and a warm jacket to church for Easter Sunday, feeling very relieved I had not purchased a pastel sundress in a fit of optimism.

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I think this may sum up my life right now. I am convinced that good things are on the horizon. I know they are. However, I am not rushing either. It is one step at a time. I want both eyes open, prepared for anything. When it’s time to embrace that sunshine, I plan to do it with abandon.

{All images are taken by me for my tumblr blog.}

Filed under Gardens & Special Places, Random Stuff. Tagged with , , , .

Holiday Lights

holiday-lights

On Saturday, we had a beautiful, clear night and an hour of free time before dinner. We bundled up and headed out to see the Garden d’Lights at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens.

I am totally in love with the way this area pulls out all the stops for the holidays. There are gingerbread displays and holiday light shows everywhere you turn. And, while I have never met a Christmas light I did not like, this was really something special.

Christmas-light-fountain2

Decorated entirely by volunteers, the gardens were decked out with all sorts of flowers, plants, and butterflies.  There was an underwater area with fish, coral, and jellyfish — and a few mushrooms and dragons for good measure.

Of course, I had to study how they were doing all this so I could point it out to my husband and make sure he understood what was expected of him next year. (Everyone should have a one-year grace period between moving in and putting up their Christmas lights, right?)

I leaned in as close to the displays as I could and took a few notes. (Not literally. It was too dark. But you better believe that next time I’m bringing a miner’s helmet and clipboard!)

Holiday-lights-fish

holiday-lights-mushrooms

The displays were made using a really clever method of zip-tying the lights together to form the shapes.  Then, they swapped out individual bulbs to create multicolored effects all on the same strand — like the petals on a flower were pink while the stamen was yellow.  There were red bulbs for the cherry tomatoes right next to the green bulbs for the leaves of the tomato plant.

Genius!  I’m so used to seeing lights wrapped around large wooden forms that this way of creating designs was really inspiring to me. We’ll see what I can accomplish on a much smaller scale.

holiday-lights-bokeh

What about you? Have you been able to take in any holiday sights? Is there something you look forward to seeing every year (a department store window, a street full of lights, a church lit with candles) that takes your breath away?

Filed under Gardens & Special Places, Holidays, Photography. Tagged with , , , .

Favorite Spots: The Museum of Glass

Tacoma_glass1

Earlier this year, we splurged on a second DSLR. Secretly, I think my husband went along with it just so I would not get make-up on his camera anymore. (For more on photography including what lenses we use, see here.)

We both really enjoy photography and for a long time have just done the camera shuffle — passing the camera back and forth and trying to piece together later who took what. Except that his photos are better than mine, and I found myself deferring more and more to him and not getting much time to practice. Anyway, I have no excuses now. Plus the new camera does video and I have big plans for that.

Tacoma_glass2

One of the first places we ventured to was the Museum of Glass. This is a great spot for a photo date. The building and outdoor installations are gorgeous, and you can take advantage of those overcast, gray skies which make everything else pop.

We weren’t the only ones who thought so. There was a wedding party taking photos the day we visited. (Note to brides: Giving all your groomsmen matching umbrellas is really cute. Just make sure you’re cool with the inevitable umbrella jousting matches!)

I was not really familiar with Dale Chihuly before we moved here even though I had seen his work and not realized it.  (Perhaps you too have marveled at his glass flower sculptures in the Bellagio hotel in Vegas?)  Here at the Museum, one of the highlights was the Bridge of Glass.  (That photo up top is the view directly over your head as you walk underneath the installation.)

I also really enjoyed these still-life pieces (below) by Paul Stankard.  Each orb featured tiny bees, roots, and even little people.

Tacoma_glass3

It’s hard to believe this is only one of a handful of spots to see glass art in this area. We still plan to make the trek here.

[Outside photos courtesy of my husband. We may have 2 cameras, but we still share lenses!]

Filed under Gardens & Special Places, Photography, Travels Near & Far. Tagged with , , , .

Favorite Spots: Rhododendron Botanical Gardens

Rhododendron_Garden_550

Ever since we moved to the Seattle area, we have been steadily exploring our new home and gathering up a little treasure map of places to love.

I’m always looking for that weekend balance between visiting new places we’ve never seen before and revisiting old favorites.  My brain likes a nice mix of surprises and those comforting rituals that don’t make you think too much.  I think we’ve found a new spot that will make the return visit list — the Rhododendron Botanical Gardens.

This place had me at hello.  I like it in a quirky, personal sort of way.  I would not recommend it as openly as I would, say, the Huntington Gardens, where it doesn’t really matter if you like plants or not.  You can’t help but be impressed.

However, this garden is intimate and peaceful.  And to be honest, I really did not care what the garden looked like inside, because first, you drive through a forest and right by this: the Weyerhauser building.

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I don’t know if you’re going to think this is cool or not, but the building is covered in plants and looks like something out of Jurassic Park!  You walk down a foresty trail (still thinking about the Jurassic Park implications and imagining what could possibly be behind this secret walled garden paradise).  After a very short hike, you arrive at the garden itself.  They have a collection of bonsai trees out front which is surprisingly large (and free).

As usual, we have a knack for arriving at the wrong time and in the wrong season to view the really spectacular stuff.  So, of course, you would expect us to visit the Rhododendron garden when the rhododendron are finished blooming and resting up for next year.

Rhododendron_Garden_2_550

We are very poor map readers.  I mean, we can read them, but we just don’t really like to.  However, this place has a very nice printed brochure that gives you a walking tour with markers pointing out the various plants and giving a little bit of detail and history about them.  Even for us jaded non-map-readers, we had a lot of fun searching through the foliage to find all of the plants mentioned in the guide.

Rhododendron_Garden_3_550

Lately, I’ve been on the hunt for new textures and shapes as I work on my next collection.  For me, it all starts with these garden walks where you can let your imagination roam.  I snap photos wildly trying to take home souvenirs of the experience — little flashcards that bring back to mind a specific time and place.

Do you have places like this?  Ones you love but can’t totally explain?

Filed under Gardens & Special Places. Tagged with , , , .

Springtime In Seattle

WA_spring5

Spring is different here.

Over the weekend, we went to the Washington Park Arboretum.  (It’s hard to believe we have only been here for 7 weeks, and we’ve already been to two zoos and two gardens.  Can you tell we’re looking for something that reminds us of home?)

WA_spring3

We saw some familiar faces — camellias, cherry blossoms, and daffodils, but they looked different against their backdrop of moss and damp earth.  The forests here have a monotonous sort of beauty.  Everything is carpeted in green and guarded by seemingly endless trees.

WA_spring

I was telling a woman I met how pretty I thought Seattle was.  ”Your trees have moss on them!” I exclaimed.  The lady looked at me like I was insane.  I think this is akin to saying, “Your dirt has grass on it” in most places. However, I have never seen so much moss.  Not like this.

I am realizing that living in Southern California for so many years, I never really understood the concept of Spring.  Spring, to me, was just the weather “trying to be Summer and failing at it.” I never thought of it as a destination all its own.  Outside, it looked nice, the weather was warm, but still not quite warm enough.  I wore the same combination of t-shirts and hoodies year round.  There was no dramatic shift — only the same sun, the same ocean breeze. The temperatures rose slowly, so gradually you could miss them if you weren’t looking.  And usually, I wasn’t.

WA_spring4

Now, I see why people like Spring, look forward to it, wish for it, need it.  These new blossoms stand out here — bright spots in those stretches of green.  The fact that it is still so cold and sometimes raining outside only makes them feel more miraculous.  How did these flowers get here?

WA_spring2

I feel hopeful that I will be able to find lots of inspiration in this new place.

P.S. – THANK YOU to everyone who has left me such sweet notes about Storybook Lane.  Don’t forget the free fabric give away ends on Sunday, April 1st at midnight!


Filed under Gardens & Special Places, Photography. Tagged with , , .