Monday, November 29, 2010

Pretty Packages.

I love pretty packages. Just like cards, I love to make them, give them and receive them. I received many pretty packages recently for my birthday. Even my husband appreciates my love of pretty packages and he always wraps them so beautifully for me.

This is the time of year when packages start to arrive on my porch ~  from near and far. Today, an early, early morning visitor deposited a beautiful package on my porch. It is so beautiful that I photographed it (above) and I left it on my counter to admire for a couple of hours before I opened it. When I finally couldn't wait any longer, I carefully removed the beautiful packaging to discover an equally beautiful birthday gift from a dear friend. The orange letter-pressed card atop the package is gorgeous too!

I love dropping off packages at friends' houses during the holidays and throughout the year. Some people don't appreciate the uninvited visitor at their door, but I love the surprise of finding something unexpected on my porch. It adds to the mystery and beauty of sharing ourselves with others, in ways big and small, expected and unexpected. Whether it's a birthday gift, flowers, a magazine clipping that reminds you of that person, or Christmas cookies packaged up with a red bow, it is a joy to give and receive pretty packages all year long.

From my porch to yours, happiest holidays!

For more gift wrapping inspiration go to

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What are you thankful for?

I am thankful for my life. I know it seems really big and kind of trite, but it's true. I was born on this day, Thanksgiving, 39 years ago.

I have a great life, great family, great friends, great home ~  all of the important things in life. I am truly happy and blessed. In these uncertain times, we often forget to pause and think about how good we have it.

Growing up, my birthday fell on Thanksgiving every 6 or 7 years or so, depending on leap year. One of my mom's many traditions was to go around the Thanksgiving dinner table and ask everyone what they were thankful for. I rolled my eyes every time and was shy with my responses. I was a kid after all and I didn't appreciate all that I had. As an adult, I have so many things to be thankful for and I am not shy about showing my appreciation.

Another family tradition was going away for Thanksgiving and my birthday ~  to Cannon Beach with friends several years and to Leavenworth. Today we are going to Leavenworth for a few days to rest and reflect and celebrate. I am so very thankful.

I hope you will take the time to let your loved ones know what you’re thankful for today.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Soul Blossoms.

I have long loved Amy Butler's colorful designs. When I received an email last week announcing the launch of her new Soul Blossoms fabric line, I was once again inspired by her amazing creativity and Midwest sensibility. On her website she says, “This new collection is my interpretation of an enchanted, modern passage through the floral delights of India. Dreamy jewel toned prints in multi-hued flowers and designs - uplifting and passionate - weave together my ethnic inspired story.” I agree, and I think the three color collections - aptly named Passion, Joy and Bliss - are exotic, colorful and stunning.
I was first introduced to Amy Butler's luscious fabrics when I was looking for fabric for Sofia's crib bedding at Bolt, a fabulous fabric store in Portland, with my mom and sister. They helped me pull together the eclectic and colorful patterns which created the color palette for Sofia's room - green, orange and pink! I loved it then - three and a half years ago - and I still love it!

I often go to Amy Butler's website for inspiration for projects. I long ago gave up sewing, and as much as I try to get back into it, I just can't or haven't so far. But I love making cards and gift tags. Her papers and free patterns online inspire me every time, especially as I embark on card projects for dear friends. I love picking the perfect paper that I know they will like. Each card is unique and special, just like our friendship. Click here to for a peak at some of my favorites I've made over the years.
Amy Butler’s line continues to grow from fabric to paper to organic bedding and towels, handcrafted rugs, wall art, books, software and even luggage.  It’s all available online at



Take a look and see what inspires you. I hope you are as delighted as I am, and that you find your own inspirations to help your creative soul blossom! If nothing else, the photography on her site is sweet, sweet eye candy!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tea for Two.

I love tea. The ritual of it. The warmth of it. The taste of it. The history of it.

This morning my good friend and former colleague Heidi took me to tea at Queen Mary Tea Room
 to kick off my “birthday season.” Heidi loves birthdays as much as I do – possibly more. She is the one who originally coined “birthday season” – the celebrations during the week(s) before and after one’s birthday.

I mostly drink black tea – Early Grey with milk and sugar (or Creamy Early Grey as I had today), the sweet Paris blend from Harney and Sons, or Chai with milk and honey.  But yesterday during another birthday season celebration with my dear friend Liz I thoroughly enjoyed two cups of Might Leaf Green Tea Tropical, a new favorite for sure.  

Like other things I’m experiencing these days, tea slows me down. Ever since I gave up coffee about five years ago, it welcomes my mornings, provides a pick-me-up mid-day, and nurtures wonderful, long, warm conversations with friends. 

I leave you with these pictures from my tea celebration today and this quote that was scribed on a bookmark I picked up at Queen Mary:

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”
– C.S. Lewis

Heidi and me enjoying our tea. And, yes, I even wore a hat!

Delicious sweet and savory treats accompanied our tea.

Queen for the day! Since we were celebrating my birthday, I got to wear a tiara.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I dream of

Jeanne is a very talented artist and fashionista! This is one of her many beautiful blue and white watercolors.

My friend Jeanne's blog, cleverly named "I dream of," is one of the many things that inspired me to start my own blog. A mutual friend forwarded Jeanne's blog to me with a note that said, "It's so pretty and inspiring and blue!" She was right! I launched my blog the very next day and "I dream of" continues to inspire me every day.

Jeanne and her husband just returned from a trip to London. I feel like I went with them! That's the joy of following other people's blogs. You get to experience new things and maybe see life in a different way. Or get an idea to do something you have been wanting to do or something you hadn't even thought of.

Thank you, Jeanne, for this gift. I hope my blog serves this same purpose for my handful of followers, or those who casually stumble upon What Feeds My Soul.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Wine Guy

I bought this Mesta Tempranillo at the Wine Outlet today because I liked the orange label, of course!

In my first-ever blog post a couple of weeks ago I promised to follow up at some point about “the wine guy.”  Well, today is the day because I had an experience with the wine guy this afternoon. Actually it is a different wine guy than the one who originally inspired the mention, but my point is still the same.

When I was on my walk that fateful day a couple of weeks ago when the idea for my blog came to me, I saw the original wine guy – the owner of Madison Park Cellars. I have bought wine from him a few times and we always have a very lovely, long-ish chat. And for some reason each encounter is memorable. For one, he always confuses me with "that mom from Seattle Prep." Each time I say, "No, that's not me." He politely apologizes and we continue talking about the wine I am buying, or my dinner menu, or our travels, or our neighborhood. But I think it’s more than that. It’s his slow pace, calmness and interest in engaging with me and having a conversation. Not just a quick transaction.

Today I stopped in the Wine Outlet in SODO, just a couple of blocks from Starbucks headquarters where I worked for eight years. I was always curious about the Wine Outlet since it was opened a couple of years ago by former Seattle Times wine critic Richard Kinnsies to much fanfare, but I never had (made?) the time to go in. Today I had the time, and I had a similar experience with another “wine guy.” He promptly offered me a good-sized taste of Richard Kinnsies’ own Tempranillo red as he described the grape I had not heard of before. He walked me around the well-laid out store and we had an interesting conversation about the high-quality wines offered at discount prices and his background as a local caterer for 30 years.

To me the wine guy represents the local shop owner who moves at a slower pace and has all the time in the world to chat. He slows me down, which is good. And helps me appreciate the small things – like a great bottle of Tempranillo – or tells me about a fabulous venue for a friend’s wedding. I always leave feeling like I made a new connection and that I want to go back – when I have the time.  

It is like stopping to smell the roses. Life is so much more interesting when you slow down and take the time to really connect with people.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What a Feast!

A couple of years ago I hosted a Halloween luncheon for my PEPS (Program for Early Parent Support) group. It was a potluck so everyone brought something yummy to share. One of the moms brought this fabulous Roasted Squash salad and it has been my favorite fall salad ever since. Fortunately it wasn’t a secret family recipe so she shared it with the group immediately. I made it tonight and served it with roasted chicken. After dinner, my husband exclaimed "Wow, what a feast!"

I am a visual learner. When reading a recipe, I sometimes miss an important step. So here is the recipe, with visual aids.
Bon appetit!

Roasted Delicata Squash Salad with Greens and Toasted Almond Dressing

1.    Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2.    Peel and seed 1 delicata squash and then cut into ½ inch cubes.
3.    Toss squash with 1½ TBS olive oil in a shallow baking pan and season with salt and pepper.
I love this non-stick Silpat pan liner, made in France, of course!
4.    Roast stirring once, about 30 minutes.
5.    Coarsely chop ½ cup whole almonds, then add them to a skillet with 4 TBS olive oil.
This Lamson Sharp Knife is the best! My mother-in-law is a kitchen designer and she turned me on to this brand. They are the best knives I have ever used.
6.    Cook almonds over medium low heat stirring often until golden, about 3 minutes, then put a strainer into a large salad bowl and strain the almonds and reserve the oil. Set aside both to cool.

7.    Leave the rubber band on 1-2 bunches of arugula and cut into thirds, discarding the rubber banded stem ends. (I used the pre-washed bagged arugula from Trader Joe’s.)
8.    Clean and stem ½ bunch of spinach, if using only 1 bunch of arugula.  (I didn’t have spinach so I replaced it with romaine for crunch.)
9.    When the oil is cool, whisk in 2 tsp fresh lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

10.    Add the squash and half the almonds to the dressing and toss to coat.
11.    Then add the arugula/spinach and toss again gently.
12.    Sprinkle with remaining almonds. Enjoy!

Please note: This salad is best enjoyed with a good glass of red wine!

Recipe courtesy of Helsing Junction Farm CSA.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Do you believe in reindeer?

I do! The magic of the holiday season officially kicked off for me today. I took Sofia to the Reindeer Festival at Swansons Nursery. Sofia was so excited to see the reindeer. There were a camel and donkey too. It seemed a little early for Santa (we are having Santa photos taken next weekend) but it didn't seem too early for his reindeer. Seeing my little girl's eyes light up when she saw the reindeer made me very excited about all of the wonder we are about to experience ~ through her eyes ~ this holiday season.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

This is Drees.

Simply put, Drees is all of my favorite things:  beautiful cards, pretty gift wrap, yummy candles, French linens, beautiful throw pillows, unique gifts, beautiful glassware, fabulous fabric, one-of-a-kind jewelry,  wonderful scarves and more – all of the highest quality.  My favorite wedding gifts were from Drees.
It is lovely, lovely, lovely. Arguably one of the best gift shops in the country! There’s nothing quite like it.
Located in Olympia, Washington, Drees was first started by Jimmie Drees in 1929 in the height of the Depression. It has survived and thrived thanks to the complete commitment and dedication of its current owner (for the last 34 years), my good friend, former employer, mentor and “auntie” Ruthann Panowicz Goularte. 
Today I drove to Olympia for Drees’ 75th annual holiday open house. I don’t know many retailers who have had the great fortune to celebrate that many years.  It is truly a treasure and a destination for the best gifts for a friend, your home or yourself!
For years, I have been telling my friends, acquaintances, anyone who will listen about Drees – this special jewel in Olympia. I always get a puzzled look and the response– “in Olympia?” So I bring you these images so you can see for yourself how wonderfully amazing Drees is. Enjoy!








Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Small Town Goodness

I am from a small town and proud of it! When I graduated from high school all I wanted to do was “get out” and move to the big city, which I did. I have lived in Seattle ever since and I love it. But I sometimes yearn for the goodness of small towns which can be hard to find in the big city. Especially now that I am a parent of a young child. Life is slower, friendlier, easier there.  It’s just different….
This past weekend we made our annual fall journey south to Hood River, Oregon.  Actually we stayed across the river with dear, old friends in White Salmon, Washington, a town so small that we refer to it by its sister city’s name – Hood River – the big, small town directly across the Columbia River.  It’s a beautiful, beautiful place and it’s always hard to leave. We are already planning our winter ski trip down there.
Everyone knows your name.
It was so fun to walk around town with my good friend, Glacier, a local boutique owner.  She knows everyone and everyone knows her name. I even ran into someone who knew my name and I don’t even live there. I love that!  It reminds me of growing up in a small town. I don’t get this much in Seattle. It’s a pretty big deal to run into someone you know in the big city. In a small town, it’s a way of life.
Kids can run free.
Growing up, I spent all of my time outside, running with the boys, building forts, riding bikes, doing kid stuff! It was so fun to let Sofia run free outside this weekend. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous when the girls were out of sight, running free in the big, open yard because I never take an eye off of her in the city. I think she really enjoyed the freedom and getting a taste of small town life too. It was probably good for me to let her explore on her own without my watchful eye.
The local coffee shop is king.

It is the hub of town. Growing up in Olympia, it was Batdorf & Bronson. In Hood River, it’s Doppio Coffee & Lounge.  It’s friendly, welcoming, laid back, clean (very important), cool, warm, hip, colorful. All the things a good coffee shop should be. I have no idea how the coffee tastes – I prefer tea these days. But they go above and beyond to make the experience special from the cute writing on my cup to exquisite teas (my fav is Harney and Sons Paris) to a relaxing environment, outfitted with a variety of current magazines and children’s book. Locals ~ young and old ~ were meeting and greeting each other. It has a great vibe and is truly local.
Help yourself!

To me, this sign says it all! Three moms took our young kiddos, Genevieve, Chance and Sofia, to a great farm about half way up Mt. Hood on Sunday morning before it “opened.”  But not to worry, it’s “always open.” Just help yourself to pears, apples, squash, jams and ciders, and pay, on your honor. I know for sure this is a small town thing. You would never see this in the city! It was so refreshing and gave me faith that human beings can be trusted.  I’m sure the owner gets ripped off every once in a while but the message this sends is so positive. I couldn’t stop thinking about it the rest of the weekend.

We ended the long weekend with a hearty, home-cooked lunch at my husband’s aunt and uncle’s house in Hood River. It was yummy, and homey and familiar. Such a great way to end our long weekend.
More small town goodness.
Back in Seattle for less than 24 hours and I’m already missing the small town goodness.  So I’m planning to make another voyage south to my favorite small town this week – my hometown of Olympia, Washington!  I’m going on Thursday for a holiday open house at Drees – an exquisite gift/home shop where I worked during high school and college – and to have lunch with my best friend from childhood. Oh, small town goodness awaits!!
Check out the other small towns I adore and I think you’ll understand what I’m talking about!
Port Townsend, Washington
Truckee, California
Tahoe City, California
Winslow, Bainbridge Island
Do you have a favorite? Please share!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cards ~ in the mailbox.

I love sending cards, making cards, receiving cards. I love all kinds of cards: birthday, anniversary, thank you, holiday, "just because".... For as long as I can remember I have loved cards. I love knowing someone is thinking of me, appreciating me, caring about me, celebrating me. And I love for others to know I am thinking about them too. I love the sentiments, the designs and even the paper. I could brouse a card shop for hours, but it rarely happens these days.

Yesterday I was so excited to receive a "just because" card from my dear friend Tessa congratulating me on my blog. It was a quick note written on beautiful orange stationary. It meant so much. Tessa loves cards as much as I do. What amazes me in this era of "all things digital" is that one of the busiest people I know took the time to not only write me a card, but find a stamp (who has stamps these days?!) and put it in the mail just a couple of days after I launched my blog. Simply amazing and so thoughtful.

My three-year-old also received mail yesterday. A darling thank you card from her friend Julia who turns four on Saturday. Sofia was just as tickled as me to receive a card in the mail. I love thank you cards. For as long as I can remember (probably since I could spell my name) my mom made me write thank you cards. I used to dread it after each birthday and holiday. But I am so grateful to her now for instilling this important ritual of gratitude in me.

I could go on and on about how I love cards but I will save it for another post or more!  I am so excited to order my holiday cards and send them to dear friends near and far. And I think I will treat myself to a visit to Paper Delights sometime soon.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wabi Sabi Gerberas

I love Gerbera Daisies too. Almost as much as I love hydrangeas.  They are perfect until they “tip over.” Then I usually cut them down and put them in a small vase or glassybaby so I can enjoy them as long as possible.  This morning, I noticed several of the uniquely colored red and white gerberas Sofia picked out for me over the weekend had tipped over. My instinct was to cut them down right away. But I stopped and forced myself to appreciate the imperfection in my pitcher of gerberas, a few fallen and a few still upright.  By this afternoon, all but one had tipped over but I left them in the pitcher anway. It’s hard for me to not cut them down and tidy them up like I did with the ones that tipped over a couple of days ago. I’m sure by nightfall they’ll be cut down and beautifully arranged in a small vessel. Now that I am aware of the beauty in imperfection – wabi sabi – my vision of perfection is changing and I’m constantly noticing and appreciating a new kind of beauty all around me. 
By the way, do you say Gerbera or Gerber?!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Did you know ladybugs have orange legs?

While reading my book this afternoon in the sun at Volunteer Park (decadent!) a bug landed on my book. My instinct was to shoo it away ~ it's a bug after all. Since it clung to the page I was forced to take a look at it. I was pleasantly surprised to see it was a ladybug. A good bug. I stopped reading and just watched it walk around the page, orange legs and all. (I love orange ~ save for another post!) And then it spread its wings and flew away, just like that. It stayed just long enough to show me its orange legs and feminine wings! I am really appreciating the little things these days and truly amazed at how happy they make me.
The leaves on the trees at Volunteer Park were gorgeous today.
All shades of yellow and orange. This picture taken on my phone does not do them justice at all.
They were simply breathtaking.

Sun drenches the resevoir at Volunteer Park.
If you look closely you can see the Space Needle in the background.