Category Archives: Flowers

Midwinter Merriment: Buy That Girl Some Flowers!

Here it is – a countdown til spring. From now until the first day of spring, I will post ways to make the dreary days of midwinter a little more merry.

Day 18: Buy yourself some flowers.

4_PikePlace_FlowersI once had a boyfriend who brought me a beautiful bunch of flowers every week from the farmers’ market near his work. I know that may seem excessive and one might think the flowers wouldn’t be as special if you got them so often. Nope. They are. I never tired of having a vase full of beautiful blooms on my table. Of course now, there are usually only bouquets around when they are coming from my garden, but there’s something to be said about splurging on a bouquet from the market. And honestly, I don’t know why I don’t buy them for myself more often. We could all use some pretty every once in a while, especially during the dark days of winter.

Day 19: Go to the park and play!
Day 20: Plant peas (and sign up for my free newsletter!)
Day 21: Take a gardening class.
Day 22:Plant bare root.
Day 23: Sign up for Seattle Seedling’s Spring Fling!
Day 24: Plant primroses.
Day 25: Get yourself a doughnut and make it “for here.”
Day 26: Frequent the Farmers’ Market
Day 27: Eat Root Vegetables Disguised as Cake!
Day 28: Be a Garden Show Goer.
Day 29: Drink more hot chocolate.
Day 30: Create a springtime “advent” calendar.

Make a Microwaveable Neck Wrap

I can say with pride that I had a bumper crop of lavender last year. There was enough lavender for me and all of the neighborhood bees this summer. I tried to sell some of it, but still ended up with an abundance. I scored over two quarts of dried buds not including the large bouquets that I dried and strategically placed in different areas of the house in blue mason jar arrangements.

IMG_3314Needless to say, I’m having fun with lavender this winter and you can expect to see a series of posts to come on what I’m doing with all of it. The best part is every time I crack open a jar, the intoxicating smell of sweet lavender gives me a big dose of summer. On these cold winter days, I can use all the reminders I can get.

Got any ideas or favorite ways to use lavender? I’d love to hear them! Leave me a comment and tell me what to do with all of this lavender! I will be grateful!

IMG_3750Microwaveable  Neck Wrap With Lavender

(a.k.a Super Easy, but Awesomely Rewarding Sewing Project)

This project reminds me of my mom. She totally had one of these. For mine though, I used some fun, modern fabric to put my own hip twist on it. This neck wrap consists of two parts: a narrow, rectangular pillow filled with rice and lavender and an exterior sleeve that slips over the pillow like a pillow case, which can then be washed.

Lavender13Step 1: Cut Fabric for Interior Pillow and Exterior Sleeve

For the interior pillow, cut two pieces of fabric, about 19 inches by 4.5 inches.

For the exterior sleeve, cut two pieces of fabric, about 20 inches by 5 inches. I used two different coordinating fabrics for the exterior pillow case.

IMG_3410Step 2: Finish Exterior Sleeve Edges

Take one of the strips of exterior sleeve fabric and finish one of the short sides by using an iron to press the raw edge over and stitching a straight line across to hold it in place. Repeat with the other piece of exterior sleeve fabric.

thumb_IMG_3416_1024Step 3: Add Velcro to the Inside of the Exterior Sleeve

Along the finished edge you just created, on the backside of the fabric, add once piece of Velcro. Repeat with the other piece of velcro on the other piece of fabric. I used iron-on velcro in order for the outside of the sleeve to be mostly seamless. Plus, the brand of velcro I used said it strengthens when washed. Bonus!

thumb_IMG_3417_1024Step 4: Sew Together the Exterior Sleeve

With the right sides pinned together, sew the three sides of the exterior sleeve, leaving the velcro side open and obviously, unstitched. Turn inside out to end up with the finished pillow case.

IMG_3743Step 5: Sew Together the Interior Pillow

With the right sides of the interior pillow fabric pinned together, sew along three sides like you did with the exterior pillow case. Since this part will be hidden inside of the pillow case, I left the fourth edge rough rather than finishing it like I did the exterior pieces.

thumb_IMG_3418_1024Step 6: Fill the Pillow

Fill up the pillow 2/3 of the way full with rice. I held the opening of the pillow around the bottom of a canning funnel, which worked wonders for filling. For every couple of handfuls of rice, I added a spoonful or two of lavender buds. This is personal preference. I love the smell of lavender, so I was pretty liberal with the buds I added. I love how peaceful and calm it makes me feel when I use this at night.

No dried lavender buds? No problem! Add a few drops of whatever essential oil you love into the rice and mix it around before you fill the pillow.

thumb_IMG_3420_1024Step 7: Stitch Close the Top of the Pillow

Once filled, stitch across the top to close. Placing the stitches on the outside of the pillow makes it easier to rip out the seam when you’re ready to replace the filling, which should probably be done every six months or so, depending on how much you use it. That way, you can discard the filling, wash the case, refill and stitch it up again!

IMG_3427Step 8: Heat Up and Relax!

Place the pillow in your microwave for 90 seconds. If you want it hotter, continue heating in 30 second increments, checking often. It never feels very hot when I first take it out of the microwave, but always seems to be perfect when I put it around my neck after 90 seconds. Just try it out and see what works best for you! Slip the pillow in the pillow case, put around your neck and chill while your neck gets some much-needed TLC.

Vashon Makes a Girl Want Some Flowers

I’ve always had a thing for flowers. Most girls do, I know. But my attraction to them has grown over time and is getting even more pronounced. It’s the big beautiful summer blooms that really get me – the ones that are rich yellow and hot pink.

It’s the ones that draw in the bees that really draw me in too. I gravitate to their petals like bees to their pollen. I noticed this heightened attraction when I went to Vashon Island a few weeks ago, when those summer blooms were bountiful!

At the farmers’ market, the buckets holding summer bouquets immediately drew me in and made me happier than I expected. My $3 bunch of rubeckia pretty much made my day and I think I might have made the sweet gentleman vendor blush with my giddy appreciation.

The bouquets of rubeckia, sunflowers and zinnias at the adorable Island Meadow Farm Stand had me swooning and the U Pick Flower garden at Hogsback Farm Stand ’bout did me in!

Is there anything more lovely than grabbing some shears, walking through a yellow wooden gate and picking flowers to your heart’s content? I’m already planning my trip back this time next summer!

And it all got me thinking about my own little “farm”.  With the exception of the pollinator-attracting blooms in my side yard and my row of lavender, I’ve really given up flowers for food. Where I once grew dahlias, I now grow fruit. One rogue dahlia I obviously failed to remove now grows on the neighbor’s side of the yard and peeks over into mine as if to taunt me for rejecting her.

So, if all these flowers bring me so much joy, why am I not creating more of a U-pick in my own backyard? With my hardcore drive to grow as much food in my yard as I can, would I be willing to carve out a bit of space for some self-indulgent garden blooms?

Producing food in my yard will always be my number one goal – it’s a passion that’s gotten me far. But I think some balance is in order, food for my belly with some food for my soul. Creating an environment that attracts pollinators attracts me as well, so maybe it’s not all that self-indulgent.

While I may not be able to eat what I grow in the backyard bed that I’ve now designated my future U-pick flower garden, it will give me even more reason to be outside in my urban farm oasis. And lucky for me, it will give our neighborhood pollinators more reasons as well.

* This is the first post of a series on the plethora of reasons why I love Vashon Island. It stole my heart this summer. I’ll show you why…


These Flowers Never Die

I think that’s what made these flower stones so appealing to me when I first started creating them. Because they never die. That was before I was such a garden nerd. These stones are the kind of thing that are such a familiar part of my landscape now, I hardly remember they’re there.

That’s probably why it always surprises me when people who visit my yard for the coop tour are as interested in the mosaic artwork around my yard as they are the chickens. And why I was delightfully flattered when a second-time visitor to my yard asked if I’d teach a class. The word yes flew out of my mouth before my mind had time to get in the way of that answer. I said yes and like clockwork, everything fell into place.

I held the class in my dining room and all the ladies who signed up for the class brought goodies to make things more festive. The island in my kitchen was covered with cheese, delicious snacks and bottles of wine while the dining room table was covered in art supplies.

My house was filled with laughter and inspiration as new and old friends created masterpieces of their own. My neighbor even brought over her bread machine to make rhubarb jam while we worked since I just about lost my mind when I heard you could make jam in that multi-purpose machine! So my house was filled with the smell of sweet jam makings too!

As we wrapped up the class and I looked around at the state of my dining room, I realized I was smiling, unaffected by the mess. This class was the result of serendipity, inspiring me as much as I think it inspired my students.

I’m hoping it might inspire you too! I’ve decided to hold the class again, this time in late fall, when we need a little inspiration. When we need a little color amidst the grey. Stay tuned!