Friday, April 29, 2011

The Language of Tulips

The Meaning of Flowers

According to The Meaning of Flowers - Myth, Language and Lore, "Flowers call to us. They speak a language we almost hear." I couldn't agree more. I have always loved flowers and I have written about them many times. I always have fresh flowers in my house, in as many rooms as possible. They comfort me, uplift my, speak to me.

As anyone who has visited the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival can attest, the impact of the colorful fields in full bloom is almost incomprehensible. Beauty abounds and the fields seem to extend to the horizon, making for a breathtaking experience.

In addition to their sheer beauty, I was curious about the history and meaning of tulips, and I thought you might be too. So I looked it up in The Meaning of Flowers.

Wild tulips are native to Persia - also known as Iran - (who knew? didn't you think they were from Holland?!), and first came to be known in Europe in the late 1500's, when a traveler, astonished by the tulips he had seen in a secret garden in Constantinople, brought some home to Holland. (ah, there we go!). The tulip was an instant sensation and became so popular that the bulbs fetched huge prices. Speculation continued until the market collapsed, plunging the country's whole economy into The Tulip Depression from 1634 to 1637. Could you imagine a tulip depression? How sad.

The word tulip is derived from the Turkish word for turban (tulbent), so-called because of the shape of its bloom. I can definitely see that.

In Persia, to give a red tulip was to declare your love.

The black center of the red tulip was said to represent
the lover's heart, burned to a coal by a lover's passion.

And, to give a yellow tulip was to declare your
love hopelessly and utterly.

Do tulips speak to you? What do they say? Even if you don't hear their voice, I'm sure they bring a smile to your face!

By the way, The Meaning of Flowers - Myth, Language and Lore is a great Mother's Day gift idea, along with a bouquet of fresh flowers, of course!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tulip Faces

When I was photographing the vibrant tulip fields of the Skagit Valley yesterday, I was struck by the pretty faces inside the colorful petals. Some consider this the heart of the flower, but I saw pretty faces emerging and smiling at me. So I wanted to share some of these pretty tulip faces with you. Each is unique and beautiful and mysterious in its own way.


And my favorite of all, my sweet Sofia's face!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Hi friends, Happy Easter! I hadn't planned on an Easter post until I visited my friend Ruthann, the owner of Drees, in Olympia on Friday. The store was gorgeous, as always, and the Easter treats were absolutely delightful. I had to share a few pics with you.

This Easter table is colorful and bountiful.

Chocolates, chicks and Easter bunnies, oh my!

A basket of bunnies!

Sparkly egg tree.

Eggs, large and small, in pretty pastel colors.

I hope you are having a beautiful and bountiful day. And next time you're in Olympia, do visit Drees. It is a treat!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day!

Hi friends, Happy Earth Day! To me, beautiful flowers are a constant reminder that the earth is a precious resource and we must honor and care for it. There are tons of ways to celebrate earth day today, or you can honor and celebrate it every day in big and small ways.  I'm not going to get preachy because I still have a long way to go to have a smaller footprint on the planet. Instead I want to encourage you to buy yourself some flowers today as a reminder of the natural beauty and bounty that the earth supplies to us.

I'm signing off for the weekend. Happy Earth Day and Happy Easter (if you celebrate it).

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Perfect Spring (Break) Day

No, we're not in Hawaii unfortunately but we are thoroughly enjoying Sofia's spring break from preschool, especially today when we ventured over to Bainbridge Island to go to the children's museum. We met friends at the ferry line in downtown Seattle and caravanned over to the charming island west of Seattle. Our first stop was Pegasus Coffee House, an island institution. I always try to hit Pegasus when I visit Bainbridge for tea, a latte, a croissant (for Sofia!) or lunch. Everything is so good there and it instantly sets your watch and your mind on island time.

Our next stop was KiDiMu, the wonderful  children's museum just a few blocks from the ferry. It's not a big place, but it's new and the play spaces are great. They kept our kids' attention for a good two hours - especially the bank with "real" money, the grocery store, the ATM machine and hoola hoops! Fortunately for us, the place was deserted because Bainbridge schools aren't on spring break. But I managed to run into someone I know there, an old friend from Starbucks who also recently left to spend more time with her kids. It was wonderful to see her and to reconnect. Before we left, we had a picnic lunch outside in the sun (yes, the sun!). It was wonderful. 

Sofia (left) and one of her best friends, Sienna, pose as a bee and a flower at the entrance to the children's museum.

Then we headed off the island to Suquamish on the Olympic Peninsula to go to the beach and soak in some more rays. Suquamish is a special place for us as my husband's grandfather lived there and it was Geoff's home away from home during college. It's a beautiful waterfront Native American reservation and the site of Chief Sealth's grave. A great place to take your city kids for some beach time and some NW culture.

The girls getting their hands dirty on the beach at Suquamish.

Our last stop was at one of my favorite places in the world - Bainbridge Gardens. We went their to get flower seeds to plant tomorrow and we ended up exploring the nursery and gift shop for about an hour.

 And enjoying tea in the sunny garden.

 The cafe tables, chairs and umbrellas in the garden were an eclectic mix of colors, which I loved!

 I couldn't resist snapping a few photos of spring blooms.

 After exploring every aisle at the nursery, Sofia said she had one more thing to show me. She lead me back to this huge orange pot. My girl knows what I like!

 Finally back on the ferry, we shared a bag of popcorn. It's a tradition every time we ride the ferry to get popcorn. YUM!

On the drive back to the ferry, Sofia exclaimed "Mom, we had a big day!" Indeed we did. As if that wasn't enough, after dinner, Sofia wanted to finish making the invitations to her butterfly birthday dance party next month!

So much for a "break" but it sure was fun. If the weather holds tomorrow, maybe we will head up to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. If not, I'm dying to see the Nick Cave: Meet Me at the Center of the Earth exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum.

What's on your spring break agenda? Maybe a ferry trip to Bainbridge? I highly recommend it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Cherry Blossoms Delight

Cherry blossoms bloom once a year in Seattle and I always anxiously anticipate their arrival as they signify that spring is (almost) here. The blossoms only last a week or two, so earlier this week I hustled over to the University of Washington campus (about a mile from my house and my alma mater) to take in the glorious blossoms and capture a few pictures to share with those of you who missed them this year. It was a beautiful sunny day and the quad was packed with students studying and tourists snapping pictures – it took me right back to my undergrad days.

On that same day, we visited our next door neighbors to show them this outfit that a friend from Japan sent to Sofia when she was a baby. According to our neighbor, Hiroshi, who grew up in Tokyo, it is called a Jinbei and is historically worn by men (like his father) but lately ladies wear them too. Sofia recently discovered it hanging in her closet (where it’s been since her birth) and she loves wearing it. I didn’t realize that the flowers on it are cherry blossoms, pretty timely with the trees in bloom right now. Hiroshi’s wife pointed this detail out and told us about the Japanese tradition of having cherry blossom parties under the trees. She said they eat lunch and treats under the trees. According to Wikipedia, they also drink sake in cheerful feasts. Sounds good to me.

The Japanese tradition of cherry blossom viewing parties are known as hanami. They gather in large numbers wherever the flowering trees are found. Thousands of people fill the parks to hold feasts under the flowering trees, and sometimes these parties go on until late at night. The Japanese people continue the tradition of hanami by taking part in the processional walks through the parks. This is a form of retreat for contemplating and renewing their spirits.

I wish I knew about cherry blossom parties earlier as we are heading out of town this weekend and the trees will likely be bare when we get back. But there is always, next year, right? If you’re in Seattle this weekend, gather some friends, bundle up, pack a lunch and some sake and head over to the UW campus for your own cherry blossom party.

Happy weekend friends!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Glove Box Greetings

Hello friends, today I am unofficially launching a new product line called Glove Box Greetings in honor of my dear friend Sienna's birthday. As I mentioned in my very first blog post, I love making and giving gifts. I also love nurturing my friendships. That is why for the last ten years my college friends Erika and Sienna and I have celebrated our birthdays together. It started out as dinners (pre kids) and now we enjoy ladies lunches at the birthday girl's restaurant of choice. 

Sienna (right) chose Cactus in Madison Park for today's fete!

For several years I have enjoyed making cards and gift tags and packaging them up for my friends’ birthdays.  A couple of years ago I gave my friend Lara Lyons a package of gift tags for her birthday. Just recently she told me how much she loves them and that she keeps them in her glove box and attaches them to gifts when she’s on-the go: flowers, a bottle of wine, a birthday gift, a meal for a friend, just about anything! Thus the idea for Glove Box Greetings was born and I was so excited to make the prototype in colors that I knew Sienna would love. After all, her mother, an artist, named her after the deep red color sienna. I am calling this first palette Sienna Blue in her honor.

So, what are Glove Box Greetings? They are a collection of assorted handmade gift tags that are hand-calligraphed (yes, by me!) with a variety of greetings for different occasions. Each set includes coordinating ribbon (I chose gunmetal grey grosgrain for Sienna) and a pen. It also includes Glove Box Notes for when you’re driving in the car and you need to jot something down. Doesn’t it seem like you never have a piece of paper and a pen handy?  I also had a stamp made for Sienna with the pagoda icon from the logo for her interior design business and included a sienna-colored ink pad. I can envision several other color palettes named after friends and colors, as well as more customization options including monograms and other motifs with birds, butterflies, flowers... really, the options are endless. So if you’re on my birthday list, don’t be surprised if you receive Glove Box Greetings from me this year!

Happy Birthday Sienna Lynne, and thanks Lara for the inspiration! Here's to girlfriends. You're the best!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring Cleaning "Light"

My organized and decluttered "accessories loft." Everything has its place and it feels so good to be organized and color coordinated, even in my closet!

I got the spring cleaning bug early this year. Actually it started in December when I read the book Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life. I successfully completed the awesome task of decluttering my life by cleaning out my closets, organizing my office and trying to have a place for everything. Admittedly it takes daily upkeep but I am well on my way and it feels great! Last week it felt so good to put those five huge bags of unwanted stuff on the curb for the big blue donation truck to pick up. Aaah, I felt lighter.

The closet in my home office is also color coordinated and organized now thanks to much-appreciated design help from my mother-in-law and IKEA!

If you’re not up for this kind of project, how about trying this “light” version? It is easy and promises big rewards. I did it yesterday and it took maybe five minutes and it feels so good! Here it is:

~ Feng Shui Your Purse or Wallet ~
To energize your finances this spring, examine the contents of your purse or wallet — the symbolic carrier of money and abundance in your life. Is it jammed with receipts, gum wrappers (that's me!), loose change, make-up, and no longer needed notes?

Create space for greater wealth to enter your life by emptying your purse and wallet and toss what is no longer needed. Place your bills in order of value, facing forward and upright, not upside down. Organize the compartments so whatever you need is easily at your fingertips. Add a positive wealth affirmation and give thanks for the abundance already present in your life.

And, while you’re at it, get a haircut and buy yourself a new tube of bright lipstick (I chose Sephora’s muted coral tangerine “it girl”) and you’ll be set for spring. Have you seen all of the bright lips for spring? They are everywhere. I love it!!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Just say "no" to . . .


And "yes" to colored tights! So many colors to choose from this season.
I chose violet yesterday and got tons of compliments!

mod dot tights

I love these pink "mod dot" tights from Kate Spade.

very opaque tights

And these "very opaque" teal tights, also from Kate Spade.

My friend Jeanne posted some great suggestions on her blog recently too. What color do you dare to try? Do let me know!

Happy Monday friends!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Oh, lolly, lollypop!

After yesterday's rather heavy post, I feel compelled to lighten things up with some happy images for the weekend. This yummy “lollypop” glassybaby makes me want to start singing “Lollypop, lollypop, oh, lolly, lollypop!”


And to lick a grape lollypop!

 And eagerly anticipating allium bulbs blooming in my garden - soon!

Happy weekend friends. Have a great one!


Friday, April 1, 2011

Sweet, Mysterious Violet

I did it. I picked this purple hellebore on my walk in the Arboretum on Sunday morning. I know, it's taboo, but I had to pick it. I think it is the same bloom I was taken with a couple of weeks ago when the first signs of spring were brightening our world.

Once again, on Sunday morning, I had a busy mind, fidgeting with my endless to-do list and things I wanted to get done that day. Instead of my usual neighborhood route, I detoured and decided to take a path on the outskirts of the Arboretum and I came across this lovely nature trail that drew me in. I’ve walked it many times over the years, but right now it is so lush and green, and I felt drawn to go this way.

And, once again, I felt an urge to focus on a color as a way to calm my thoughts and focus my energy. Sunday’s color was violet. Pantone calls it Hyacinth Violet.

It is the color of the seventh chakra (or energy center), located at the crown of the head. The seventh chakra is our connection to our higher energy source, a God source, a sense of oneness, and belonging, a divine wisdom and openness to embrace life. I learned in a recent color energy workshop I took that violet’s color energy supports art and beauty. Aaah, now I see why was drawn to it.

All along the path I looked for my color of the day. The path was mostly green but at the end was a field of deep violet hellebore - like a pot of gold - waiting there to delight me and teach me. I picked a sturdy, beautiful bloom and studied it all the way home. It has lines running throughout the petals, like the palm of a hand. I decided it could possibly be the perfect flower. At least from appearances. I looked up the meaning of the hellebore when I got home and found out that the ancient Greeks associated the flower with demons or possessions, and that all species of the flower are toxic. Hmm, not so perfect after all. (Yes, I washed up right away!) Strangely, it is also said to provide protection, and a vase of hellebore brought into a room will drive away an unpleasant atmosphere and replace it with tranquility. I like that!

After my walk, I dashed to church. I was a few minutes late because of where my walk took me. After finding a seat with a good friend, I immediately noticed that “my violet” was decorating the altar and being worn by the clergy. I emailed the rector after church for an explanation about this coincidence. He replied: “Color is a key component to worship at Epiphany. Here is a website that details how color is used in the liturgical rhythms of the church.” I learned that purple (with violet as an alternate) is a symbol for pain and suffering, and used as the liturgical color for the Season of Lent, the 40 weekdays before Easter. It is also the color of royalty, so traditionally has also been used for Advent.

I have to admit, I am struggling with the different meanings of violet. Some are beautiful and uplifting and others are not so uplifting, suggesting introspection about the mysteries of life. 

This week I started reading The Elements of Color by Johannes Itten, considered one of the greatest teachers of the art of color of modern times. (What a great thing to be known for, huh?!) He devoted more than five decades to the instruction of the visual, psychological and esthetic mysteries of color. So cool!)  After reading the foreward to the book, I went directly to the section on color symbolism and looked up violet. He says violet is "the color of the unconscious - mysterious, impressive and sometimes oppressive.” Again, a little good, a little bad. What does this all mean?

I do have some very sad things going on in my life right now that are weighing heavily on me (a good friend's son was recently diagnosed with Leukemia, another good friend with a brain tumor, and a close relative passed away yesterday from an awful, uncurable disease). In contrast, I feel happy and content and I have a lot to be thankful for.

To me violet is a beautiful, mysterious color. Maybe I am drawn to it for its complexity, and as a reminder of life’s highs and lows and that we must put our trust in a higher being. I obviously still have a lot to learn about color’s influence on our lives, but I’m excited to be on this journey as a student of life.


In loving memory of Maggie O’Brien Mathers

Geoff bought this glassybaby last night and we are keeping it lit in memory of Maggie. Its given name is “luxury” but we renamed it "maggie." She loved glassybaby and had a way bigger collection than me. It was one of the many interests we shared.  She had a very strong influence on my life as a mother, artist, neighbor, landlord, friend and cousin, by marriage. This week, two people asked me how she was doing and asked me to tell her hi. I was planning to walk over and see her this morning while Sofia is at school. I am sad I missed her by one day. I am going to take purple tulips to their house this morning. (I bought some for our house too.) Whenever I visited Maggie recently, she was wearing a gorgeous purple cashmere sweater. I will always remember her kindness, creativity and the advice she gave me, most recently about raising a spirited daughter. Her spirit will live on through her amazing children and everyone who had the honor of knowing her. My heart is heavy....