Tag Archives: garden

A Colorful Weekend


Colordash, Monday, July 4

Friday: From the Sunset Test Gardens at  Cornerstone Sonoma with Rem:







Sunday: Marin Farmer’s with Ariel:





Monday: Colordash Fun Run (and walk) with Sarah, Ariel, Kathleen & Caitlin.



Caitlin stayed relatively clean because she is suffering a cold and veered off the course for some hot tea.






I also fit in crafting, cooking and walking.

I hope you had a good weekend. Thank you for stopping by.

Kathleen and I ta da moment


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Filed under Life

Little Fairy Gardens

Fairy Music Garden

I’ve been working on these little fairy gardens for awhile but they were gifts and I didn’t want the recipients to see them. I’m delighted to finally share them with you.

It was the project at a recent  Tuesday night Craft Gym at Once Around (a wonderful local craft shop).  The instructor, Lauren, posted a picture of Teacup Fairy Garden that she had crafted.  My initial response was lukewarm – kind of “meh.”  What would I do with it? Where would I put it?  I don’t have a teacup!

But the next morning on a walk I started thinking of upcoming birthdays and how a sweet, miniature garden in a small bowl, pot or teacup would be. Once I began gathering twigs and pods and thinking how they could be used for the project, I was hooked.

Heart Back Chair

Everyone brought their own containers to the class and we started creating.  Each miniature plot was different.  I found a small painted pot from Mexico at Sloat Garden Center in Kentfield and filled it with Irish moss.

Twig Chair Leaf Pillow

We learned how to make chairs from twigs adhered with hot glue. A leaf cushion made from thick felt added to the charm of the twig chair I made.  Small pine cones make finials.  The twisty twig heart used for the chair back was an item I picked up in the store. A little slice of branch makes becomes the top of a small side table, a perfect spot on which the little book can rest.

Leavesall about leaves

Sea glass, a flat glass marble, a shard of abalone shell and a sparkly silver-glitter star decorate one corner of the pot.

Sea glass

Small seed pods from a liquid amber tree strung with beads in between make a festive garland.

Seed Pod garland

Once I got started, I couldn’t wait to make another.  I stumbled upon the awesome The Magic Onions site which has loads of Fairy Garden pictures, DIY’s, information and even a contest, which I’m going to enter.  Be sure and check it out!

Here is another little fairy garden in a similar pot, also planted with Irish moss.

Angel Fairy Garden

The side table in this one is made from a cork.  A tiny acorn became a goblet of wine, or maybe it is nectar.  I used ink and Diamond Glaze to fill the cup and it stained the acorn red.

Book of music with wine

The cover of the music book is made from bark, backed with paper.  An itty-bitty succulent is potted in an acorn cap.

Succulent in Acorn Pot

Washi tape makes a colorful garland and acorn caps glued to felted green balls top the twig posts.

Washi tape garland

This mini-garden was created for a friend who loves angels so I found and copied this little bead angel that works perfectly as a garden ornament.  I found the beads at Baubles  and Beads in Berkeley.

Bead Angel

I made my third fairy garden a little larger because this one needed a bit more space.  I also decided to go with dried moss instead of living moss that would need watering.

A bowl found at Cost Plus World Market is the container.  Rocks in the bottom serve as ballast to increase stability.  I filled the bowl part way up with a potting mix for cactus then topped it with dried moss.  You can find it at a garden shop or craft supply store, but I actually found mine at Cost Plus.

Bowl with rock ballast


Moss in bowl

Another twig chair but this time I added a tiny bird perched on the back.  Once Around has a “Do Dad” section with jars of a changing selection of little goodies, like sequins, bottle caps, clothespins and other items and that is where I found the bird.

Twig chair with bird

I fashioned fairy-sized musical instruments.  This garden went to my friend Jane who was having a birthday celebration in her back yard and encouraged her guests to bring instruments.  I brought instruments, but of the teeny-tiny variety.

Fairy-sized instruments

I’m very pleased how these came out.  The drum has bark sides with paper for the drum head that I colored to make it look more like an animal skin. I peeled a twig for the mallet, twisted a tuft of wool around it and covered it in fabric.


The handles of the maracas and the stringed instrument are from the same seed pod, with the heads of the maracas from small acorns. There are tiny seeds inside the maracas so when you shake them you can hear the rattle.  The pan pipes are cut from a reed and glued together.  I used embroidery thread to make the oh-so-little tassels.

pan pipes

Music in the garden

I love how the sea glass looks in these fairy gardens so I included it in this one too.  Dried bougainvillea bracts, rattlesnake (or big quaking) grass and a few other dried plants I picked up on hikes complete this garden.  I even added some coriander seeds to a bit of dried berry bush that was missing its berries.  They don’t show here, it is behind the chair, but I want the garden to look good from any angle.

Here is a felted gnome I made, waiting for the fairy music to begin.

gnome and fairy garden

Thanks for stopping by.  Do let me know if you make your own fairy garden.







Filed under Crafts

Apartment Curb Appeal


We live in a small apartment complex with a carport at street level, a flight of cement steps up to a common patio area and the doors to four apartments.  Metal stairs leads to the second floor and four more apartments.

The cement patio, with adjacent gravel roof over the carport,  inexpensive screen doors, an emergency ladder by our door and a chain link fence around the perimeter, is not the most welcoming space.

In the years we’ve lived here, neighbors have done what they could with plants in containers to soften the starkness.  I’m not much of a gardener and certainly a handful of pots on a paved courtyard don’t make much of a garden, but it does help to make the entry to our home more inviting and welcoming.

Lately I’ve become a little blind to the space that I walk through on the way to and my car, and it had gone from appealing to neglected.

Behind these pots, for example, was a mess of dried leaves, spiderwebs, cat hair and dead bugs.

Neglected Plants

The plants had seen better days.  Someone with more gardening skill (and patience) than I could probably have pruned the geranium and whipped it into shape.  I just see it, all leggy, and feel guilty.

There was a lovely collection of pots of dirt and one badly root-bound pot of spindly mint.

Pots of dirt

The larger boxes have bulbs in them and in the spring it is very pretty with daffodils blooming.  Now, not so much.  I’m still not sure what do do with them in the interim.

Then there was the dead rosemary plant.  I’d had two rosemary plants and the larger, healthier one had been mortally wounded when an upstairs neighbor dropped something over the railing as she was moving out.  It broke both the terracotta pot and the plant.  I gave it a dignified burial.

This one had gone from pathetic to pretty much a dried stick in a pot.

Dead Rosemary

Coming home from work and seeing that dried stick in a pot has been disheartening.

Finally – our door mat: the landlord layered a new one on top of the old one, and the combination didn’t offer much of a welcome.  Now both of them were worn out and ugly. It was time for me to give my garden some attention.

Not so Welcome Mat

A trip to the garden section of a hardware store got me started with a selection of succulents that were on sale.  From what I’ve read about succulents, they are a little more tolerant of some neglect.  I moved all the pots, swept the whole area and got to work potting succulents.

Hello, Aloe

Pieces of abalone shell look nice in between the plants.

Succulents with abalone shell

I love going out the front door for a pinch of rosemary so picked up two healthy new rosemary plants.  I  expanded my options and got thyme and mint as well.

Healthy Rosemary

Rosemary and Abalone

I like how the variegated ivy looked so I put it in the pot with the thyme.

Thyme and Ivy

I found a pot on sale at OSH in a pretty shape and color for the mint. An anonymous neighbor contributed something that might be cilantro that the local kitty is very interested in.  Maybe it’s fresh catnip.  I picked up a lantern and candle at IKEA.

Blue Square Pot

A lavender plant also caught my eye.


Over the course of several evenings after supper and some time on the weekend, it started to pull together.

Plant with driftwood and shells

A neighbor gave me some faux terracotta pots to use, I bought a few new ones and re-used ones I already had.  I put all the new plants into pots, and re-potted the healthier plants.

I was a bit more selective with the pieces of driftwood and abalone shells I’ve collected over the years.

Curvy Driftwood

I think the wood and shells make the patio surface look a little like a beach.

Wood & Shell

I love how the rosemary looks – so healthy!

Spider Plant

The rust on this stake is just the right color for this happy dachshund.


The finishing touch was at the top of the post: a new Welcome mat.

Angled Welcome

The view from the front door is so much better now.

Front Door View

More welcoming, don’t you think?

Kitty at the Door

A few days after pruning and re-potting, this plant has some tender new leaves.

New growth

I’m already thinking about getting a small table and chairs but I think I’ll wait until next spring.

Garden Gloves

Thank you for stopping by.


Filed under Life

Ballard Locks & Theo Chocolate

I wish I could do a brain meld with all my readers and get everyone caught up with posts I want to write.  There are still a few things I want to share from my vacation and that was in late September! I’ve been crafting some cards I’m really happy about and I want to share them. I made a salad adapted from a recipe that I enjoyed on vacation called Emerald City Salad that has kale, chard, fennel, apples and rice in it.  It is a great fall dish and it’s coming soon too, I promise.

So, here we go: Ballard Locks. We really enjoyed our time there and I would recommend it as worth a visit.

As I mentioned in my previous post, this place is officially the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks & Carl S. English, Jr. Botanical Gardens.  Kind of a mouthful!  You can see why it is known as Ballard Locks (the Ballard comes from the neighborhood).  The garden, which I looked at briefly as we strolled through to the locks is nice and probably really stunning in the spring, is not the main attraction for most of the visitors.

Did anyone else used to think of fuschia blossoms as little ballerinas?

I call these “fried egg flowers” but apparently they’re really known as Matilija poppies.

Rem and I rode with Ted while Liz parked elsewhere and rode her bike and met us there.  Luckily Ted had sweatshirts in his car because Rem and I had been pretty blithe about the temperature and by the water it was on the cool side.

There are two locks – a large one and a small one.  They go in opposite directions.  Boats were coming in to the large one and than tying up to rails along one side and tying up to each other, with larger vessels against the side of the lock.

Note the level of the water and the green walls of the lock.  We’ll see these boats later when the water has level has gone up in the lock.

Meanwhile, the small lock filled and emptied several times because it is so much smaller.

This tour boat practically filled the small lock.  In this direction the boat comes in at a high-water level.

Than the lock operators close the gates and the water is drained out, like water out of a giant bathtub and the boats sink down.  They open the gates and the boat or boats go on their way.  Or at least that is what is supposed to happen.

Back at the big lock they were closing the gates.

At the last moment, these three Canadian Geese decided they wanted to go through the gates.

Luckily, no one lost any tail feathers.

The water level started to rise.

The first three boats in line are still tied together. These are the same three as seen in an earlier photo, but taken from a different angle.

The water inside the lock is almost at the same level as the water on the other side of the gate.  They gate starts to open…

The higher water flows into the lock, evening out the difference between the two levels.

The large cabin cruiser, Lexington, started up their motor and havoc ensued.  Apparently, in an effort to save time and get going out of the lock quickly, the people on these front three boats had untied the lines at the bow of each boat, ahead of the signal from the lock workers directing the boat traffic from the sides of the locks.

When Lexington started churning up water with their powerful engine, the two smaller boats, now tied together only at the rear or stern of each boat, started knocking together and turning in the flow of water coming in from the opening gates.

The boats are still tied together, people are yelling at each other.

The water flowing in from the open gate of the lock is pushing the two smaller boats the wrong direction.  They’re now blocking all the other boats from leaving the lock.

It’s a big mess.

A lock worker is shouting directions, telling them to untie the lines.  The Auklet, which started in the middle is now on the outside, facing the wrong direction and the sailboat Kona Wind swings into another boat.

The crowd watching from the side groans in unison. I can imagine the nearby boat captains watching these two boats swirling towards them just wincing as the Kona Wind careens their way.  They can’t take evasive action because they’re still tied to the rails on the side of the lock.  We heard a crunch but when everything was finally set to right, no damage was visible.

In all the hubbub, the cabin cruiser glides out the open gate of the lock.  From my point of view, though they might not have been fully to blame for the problem, when they started their motor, they certainly made things worse.

After all the excitement, Rem and I checked out the fish ladders to one side of the locks (no fish action while we were watching) while Ted and Liz relaxed in the sunshine.

We left Ballard Locks, ate lunch, wandered the Fremont Sunday Street Market and wrapped up our outing with a visit to Theo Chocolate.

There wasn’t time for the factory tour, but the showroom has samples every where you turn.

A few well-chosen books were on display.

But it was mostly chocolate.

I did a lot of tasting and a little shopping.

The chocolate dipped smoked almond sea salt toffee was pretty awesome.

I did both share and enjoy the confections I bought as well as the lovely samples.  It was a wonderful finish to an already full day.

Thank you for coming by.


Filed under Life

Wonderful Fried Egg Sandwich Recipe (and a Birthday)

My basic recipe for a great birthday is to figure out what you want to do, and do it. Where do you want to be? What do you want to do? Who do you want to be with?  What do you want to eat?  I know that we can’t always get what we want but I knew that being at work was not going to make it a special day for me.  So I took the day off on Friday to celebrate my birthday.

Rem asked if I wanted the “gym alarm” set and I decided that though I would go work out, I was going to just go when I woke up…which turned out to be 10 minutes later than the alarm would have rung.  It felt good to start the day with a workout especially because I knew I would be having some wonderful meals later.

Here is what 52 looks like, for me anyway, with no makeup, no Photoshop, nothing retouched, right after my shower.

Bathroom Mirror Self-Portrait. I’m 52 today.

Now it was time to fix a special breakfast.  Deb Perelman, who writes Smitten Kitchen, one of my favorite food blogs, posted a Fried Egg Sandwich recipe last Monday.  I love fried eggs and I love fried egg sandwiches and when I read her recipe I knew it was what I wanted for my birthday breakfast.

This sandwich has the components of one of my very favorite lunch dishes, Salade Lyonnaise.  I’ve had it at Left Bank in Larkspur and it is a lovely combination of bitter greens (traditionally frisée, though escarole, dandelion, and arugula all work beautifully), crisp bacon,gently cooked egg and warm Dijon mustard vinaigrette.

The salad would be delicious with croutons (I can’t remember if it usually has them or not) and the toasted ciabatta roll which is the base of the sandwich made a great foundation and would make great croutons. I didn’t find any frisée (French curly endive) by itself at Safeway, so I got some spring mix and picked out lots of the frisée from my bag.  I could happily make it with arugula which I can get at Trader Joe’s but if you don’t like bitter greens this would also be very good with spinach.

I increased the bacon from the Smitten Kitchen recipe from one thick slice for two sandwiches to two thick slices for one sandwich.  I hardly ever buy bacon and I really wanted to enjoy it.  I also cut it into a large dice than the 1/4 inch pieces Deb suggests. Here is my (barely) adapted recipe.

Fried Egg Sandwich with Bacon and Cheese

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Cheese is not pictured above because I didn’t like the idea of blue cheese on this sandwich – I thought it would overwhelm the bacon-egg combo.  At the last minute I added some crumbled feta and it was delicious.


1 ciabatta roll

About 1 cup frisée, spring mix with frisée, arugula or spinach torn into-bite size pieces

2 slices thick-cut bacon

1 teaspoon Dijonnaise (a combination of Dijon mustard and mayonnaise from Best Food’s that I love) or 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 to 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese or blue cheese if that appeals to you


1 large egg

salt and pepper

I find eggs cook better if they are at room temperature (thank you Tom Hudgens from The Commonsense Kitchen).  I don’t usually remember to take the egg out of the fridge soon enough, so I put it in a bowl or measuring cup and cover with hot tap water for a few minutes before cooking.

Split the roll and toast it.

Put greens in a medium bowl. Cut bacon slices into 1 inch pieces and cook in a small, heavy pan over moderate heat until crisp.  Transfer bacon to paper towels, and save the bacon fat in the pan. Stir the red wine vinegar into the bacon fat and let it bubble  for 20 to 30 seconds, then remove from heat and whisk in Dijonnaise. Immediately pour hot dressing over greens and toss together with with crisp bacon.

Lightly butter the toasted roll and mound the dressed salad on one half. Top the salad with crumbled feta cheese.

Wipe the frying pan with a paper towel so you don’t get scorched bits of bacon in your egg.  Reheat skillet over medium-high heat and add a pat of butter and swirl it to coat the pan. (Yes, you could spray your pan with non-stick spray and omit the butter but I figure you’re already in deep with the bacon and egg, you may as well enjoy every calorie). Crack the egg into the pan, season lightly with salt (with bacon and feta already in your sandwich, you probably don’t need much salt) and pepper and reduce heat to medium. At this point you want all your attention on cooking the egg.  My egg was cooked slightly more than I would have preferred, though it was still delicious, because I was opening a birthday present. Put a small lid over your egg and cook for one minute.  Remove the lid, flip the egg (you can turn off the heat at this point, the pan will stay hot enough) and cook 20 seconds more.

Put your perfectly cooked egg on top of the salad on the roll and top with the other half roll, and enjoy!

The beautifully wrapped birthday present I was opening contained this marvelous set of little painted pottery bowls.

Of course I had to have my fruit salad in one.  I love them!

After breakfast, I headed south to Filoli, in Woodside, California, about an hours drive from our apartment.

Rear View Mirror Self-Portrait.  Heading to Filoli.

Filoli is a country estate with 654 acres of land, a 36,000 square foot Georgian house and the part that I love, a beautiful 16-acre formal garden.

It was named by the first owner, William Bowers Bourne, by combining the first two letters from the key words of his credo:

“Fight for a just cause; Love your fellow man; Live a good life.”

I have been visiting Filoli for several years and I was hoping to see the Daffodil Meadow in bloom. The garden is beautifully maintained and constantly changing, so I knew it would be a good visit even if the daffodils weren’t in full flower.

This lovely arrangement greeted all visitors in the Visitor and Education Center – I couldn’t fail to see it was bursting with daffodils.

The grounds are calm and the garden is designed so vistas open to you as you wander between each area.  The main sound is birdsong and the air is fragrant with the scent of blooming flowers.  Potted daffodils were in profusion from these little miniature “Tiny Bubbles”,

to giant pots bursting with bright, cheerful blossoms.

I got to see the Daffodil Meadow in bloom.

It will be blooming for the next few weeks I would guess from all the buds I could see.  It was early for many of the flowers, but it was still beautiful. I circled around through the various garden spaces, past the swimming pool, around the terraces and back to Daffodil Meadow for another look.

Grape Hyacinth:

Filoli Self Portrait.

Parrot Tulips (also called Ruffled Tulips):

The Garden House:

The Garden Shop where I bought a cuff bracelet for myself:

The walking had whet my appetite so I finished my visit with lunch at the Cafe, turkey and Havarti panini with pesto and artichokes and a side salad:

Plus a slice of lemon cake:

Note: More pictures from my Filoli visit are here.

I did a little more shopping on the return trip to Marin and still had time for a pedicure before going out to dinner.

“Grand Canyon Sunset”

Rem and I went to Insalata’s in San Anselmo.

The lighting was low and romantic but not very helpful for pictures of our (mostly) delicious meal. I started with the Syrian Fatoush Salad and then had the Lamb Tagine.  Rem enjoyed Porcini Crusted Flatiron Steak. Though I loved the salad, I found the sauce with the lamb a bit too salty and I didn’t finish the sauce-soaked cous cous.

Which was a good thing.  Less cous cous meant more room for dessert.  We decided to split this one because the name alone was enough for me to want to give it a try.

“Happy as a pig in mud” always sounded pretty happy, relaxed and content.

This should have been called pig in mud since there was only one pig.  But the large shortbread cookie and the rich pudding was more than enough for us to share.

Until our waitress brought another dessert!  We really became the pigs at this point.

This decadent and delightful dessert was a triple chocolate torte with a burnt sugar caramel sauce and creme Chantilly. I could have licked the plate clean it was so good.  I was a very full but happy and content, much like a pig in mud.

Rem took these last photos when I was showing him the bracelet and two different necklaces I had bought for myself.

It had been quite a lovely birthday, punctuated with several wonderful phone conversations with friends and family, filled with love, beautiful flowers, delicious food and plenty of chocolate.  I was tired and happy.

Thank you for the visit.


Filed under Cooking, Life

A Taste of Spring

Daffodils are linked in my mind with my birthday and the arrival of spring.  This year I visited Filoli in hopes of seeing the Daffodil Meadow in bloom.  I was not disappointed.

Daffodils were in lavish supply.

I’ve written more about my birthday this year here and have pictures of a past visit to Filoli here. I wish I could share the soft scented air and bird song that enhanced my visit.

Thank you for stopping by.


Filed under Life

Mother’s Day Hat Card

Some occasions just cry out for a flower-covered hat.  A garden party, for example, or the Kentucky Derby. And of course the Royal Wedding.  You can probably guess what my inspiration was for this beautiful Mother’s Day card in the shape of a hat adorned with paper roses and ribbons.

I knew I wanted to use flowers for my Mother’s Day card so I was delighted when I saw these swirled paper roses created by Gladys Chia.  Her site is loaded with cards and ideas and worth a visit.  One note: the roses add a lot of dimension to the card so it won’t fit in a flat envelope.

You can download the template for the hat or you can make a few of these roses to add to another card.  They’re not hard to make but take a little patience. You may want to make the hat card and add your own decorations – a paper milliner.

Swirled Paper Roses


card stock paper circles about 2 3/4″  to 3 1/2″  in diameter. You can trace a jar lid or ribbon spool or use circles on the hat template.


craft tweezers

round toothpick

glue dots I used the 3/8 inch Zots medium clear adhesive dots


(Theme music for this step: Paper Roses)

Trace and cut out circles – I made 7 roses in two sizes and several colors.

Cut each circle into a spiral.

Trim off any angles that may result from cutting the spiral.

Starting from the outside of the spiral, roll the paper up into a rosette.  I start by rolling around a toothpick and you can roll the whole rose this way, but I found it easiest if, once it was started, I pulled out the toothpick and used my craft tweezers to continue holding the spiraled-center and rolling until it is done.

Press the finished rose onto a glue dot. Continue until you have as many roses as you want for the project.



scraps of green card stock


pinking shears and/or scalloped edge scissors (optional)

oval punches  with plain or scalloped edges Mine are from Stampin’ Up!

foam pad or other soft surface (several layers of folded paper towel will work)

table knife

bone folder


green ink pad


Punch ovals or cut leaf shapes using plain or decorative edge scissors from green card stock.

Place paper shape on foam pad, and use the rounded end of the handle of a table knife to rub the leaf, pressing it into a curved shape.

With the leaf still on the soft surface, use the point of bone folder to score a line down the length of each shape and add angled lines to form the veins on the leaf.

Turn the leaf over and gently sponge green ink over the surface, making raised lines more visible.

Other options for leaves: Stamp leaf images onto green paper and cut out.  Add dimension by shaping with table knife handle on foam pad as above.  Cut out leaf images from printed paper, shape as above.

Now you’ve made the roses, you’ve created leaves, it’s time to put them all together in the hat card!

Hat Card


pale yellow card stock, 7 1/4” x 6 1/2”

apricot card stock, 2” x 7 1/4”

ribbon I used green grosgrain for the hat band with a pink gingham bow and sheer white organdy streamers

swirled paper roses

paper leaves


adhesive gems and pearls (optional)

rubber stamp greeting and ink (optional)


pop-up adhesive dots

adhesive (I use Tombow double sided adhesive)


Download and print out template and cut out pattern pieces.

Score and fold the yellow card stock the long way to form a narrow rectangle and put the top edge of the pattern on the page at the fold as indicated. Trace and cut out hat. Be sure not to cut at the fold or you’ll have two hat shapes!

Trace and cut out accent piece from apricot card stock.

Adhere the apricot piece along the front edge of the hat card.  If necessary, trim edge of yellow hat that may show below accent piece.

Adhere a piece of green ribbon as a hat band.

Adhere a piece of sheer white organdy ribbon folded in half to hang down as streamers.

Tie the pink gingham ribbon in a floppy bow and adhere over the white ribbon, again leaving long ends for streamers.

Using adhesive pop-up dots, adhere some green leaves.

Adhere roses, building up a cluster.  Start with larger roses and fill in with smaller roses around them.

Add an additional leaf or two if desired.

Add accents of adhesive gems and pearls to the roses and the hat.

Stamp your greeting inside the card, sign your name and sign the back.  Now it is ready for mom.

Hat’s off to mom’s everywhere, past and present: Happy Mother’s Day!

Thank you for stopping by.


Filed under Crafts