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The Inevitable

September 16th, 2014

Well it looks like we may have frost on Thursday night. The gardens here are south facing and we are on top of a hill, so we get frost much later in the fall than many of the gardens in the area. I have a few melons and butternut squashes that I will cover just in case, but most everything else will be allowed to live or die depending on what happens that night.
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I used to cover tomatoes and peppers, trying to eek out a few more ripe fruits, but realized quickly that my efforts were in vain. Now I will only cover things like squash that will continue to ripen for winter storage.
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In some ways frost in welcome this time of year, particularly right now. It’s been a busy summer for us and I welcome the sense of finality that frost brings to the garden year. There’s still a lot to do to get the garden ready for winter, mulching and seeding cover crops are two big chores that will take a lot of time. It is nice to see the finish line up ahead, I’m really looking forward to a little rest this coming winter!

When is your first frost, does it seem early/late this year?

Hello Houses

September 15th, 2014

I meant to do this as a Friday Favorite and completely forgot.  When my mom and I were in Seattle last week we rented a small bungalow in Alki Beach instead of staying at a hotel.  For many years now, we’ve been renting homes/apartments through Home Away instead of staying at hotels. Not only are they more comfortable, I like avoiding funding large corporations even when traveling. In case you’re headed to Seattle and are looking for a great little house, here’s the listing for this place.
alki beach bungalow 1
Another bonus is that they’re often much cheaper than a hotel and much more comfortable. I like having the option to prepare some of my own food on vacation, especially breakfast.
alki beach bungalow 2
Another great thing about staying in homes is that you get out into the neighborhoods and get to know the places you visit a little more intimately. Every evening we walked through different parts of the neighborhood and looked at gardens. We ate at local restaurants and shopped at local grocery stores.
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The gardens in the neighborhoods were especially lovely, we walked for an hour or two every evening down along the beach and zig zagging through the streets looking at plants, peeking in courtyards and enjoying the plants that dominate real gardens in the Seattle area.
neighborhood gardens
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Nothing makes you feel like you know a place better than staying in a home and being immersed in non tourist dominated things. This was my second time staying in a home in the West Seattle area and I know my way around the streets and I even have a favorite coffee shop.

Have you ever rented a home when on vacation instead of staying in a hotel?

Quote of the Day: Prentice Bloedel

September 14th, 2014

“Nature can live without man, but man cannot live without nature.”

-Prentice Bloedel

bloedel reserve
Last Tuesday we visited Bloedel Reserve right after our visit to Heronswood. One of the things I like about this garden is that there are so many large naturalized areas. There are meadows, sheep barns, woods, large sweeping borders, ponds, marshes and so much more.
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The line between cultivated and wild blends blends beautifully in a way that most gardens cannot achieve. In much of the garden nature is allowed to progress as it should, trees fall and are allowed to decompose where they are, no tidying up as you so often see in other gardens.
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I like this garden because it’s grand, and yet it’s very simple. The most cultivated area is the Japanese garden, the rest consists of large sweeping borders filled with shrubs. While it was clearly a very expensive garden, the ideas used would be very feasible for the average gardener with a larger lot. This garden is very inspirational for someone like me who now has a very large parcel of land.

Is there a public garden you have found particularly inspiration for your current garden space?

Always Amazing

September 13th, 2014

The first time I went to Mr Rainier National Park was over 16 years ago on our honeymoon. It was impressive and still is each time I have returned. Yesterday we make the trek down to the mountain. We even hiked a few miles to different overlooks up from Paradise Inn.
Mt Rainier 1
Overall we gained 1600 ft of elevation above the inn on our various hikes and the views were quite amazing. This is one thing that was new for me, I have never done any hiking up from the main visitor center.
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Who can resist singing “The hills are alive with the sound of music” when they’re on an alpine meadow? Apparently everyone else but me, because I didn’t see anyone else doing it.
Mt Rainier 5
What national park visit is complete without a picnic lunch? We were lucky to have delicious salami, cheese, and arugula sandwiches with olives on the side – delicious post hike fuel.
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Mt Rainier 6
Mountains are magical places, I’m not sure what it is, but they always make me happy. I love visiting them whenever I can. Perhaps they provide a reminder of how small and insignificant we are and that there are greater things at work.

What places are most awe inspiring for you to visit?

Hidden Gems

September 12th, 2014

I always like to go on vacation to a place where I can cook my own food, or I can find good food and great coffee out and about. Yesterday we headed over to Volunteer Park and stopped at Victrola Coffee on the way, when I saw they had single origin espresso I knew it would be a good cup of coffee, and it didn’t disappoint. I tend to find most coffee shops have coffee that’s far too “bright” for my liking, I tend to prefer a dark chocolatey roast. Since Mr Chiots and I roast our own coffee, we try single origin espressos quite often, though they often lack the complexity of a blend, they are quite good in their own right.
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We decided to stop at St Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral since the conservatory didn’t open for a few minutes and it was recommended to us. I need to read up a little more on this building because it’s really unique and interesting.
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After that we went to Volunteer Park to see the conservatory, which is under construction, but the corpse flower and half of the building was still open.
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The dahlia garden was right across the street and was fabulous, I love that the dahlia society takes the time to plants and label so many wonderful varieties in one place.
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We then stumbled upon a gem that has never been mentioned to me, at least not that I remember. I have visited Seattle many times and have read lots of blog posts on things to do and see while there. The water tower observatory was never mentioned, which is rather odd since it was wonderful. There is pretty much a 360 degree view, you can see the city, Mt Rainier, and the Cascades. There are a few steps to climb, but not enough to keep it off of anyone’s list of places to go while in the city.
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Since we were still in the neighborhood we decided to go Southern for lunch at the Wandering Goose. A delicious salad with eggs, smoked tomatoes, buttermilk dressing and fried chicken was the perfect meal to fuel our next garden visit.
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We hopping in the car and headed up to the Dunn Gardens, which was night, very historic. I can only imagine how beautiful they are in spring when the azaleas and rhododendrons are in bloom.
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After getting stuck in traffic for and hour, we decided to call it a day and head back to our bungalow to eat the double chocolate cake we got to go from the restaurant. We were both tired and wanted to rest up for our trip down to see Mt Rainier today.

Have you ever discovered hidden gems while traveling?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.