Monday, April 30, 2012

Week 69 Random Pinehurst

Approximately 3 years.
Last time I watered that aloe plant.
Yes it is real, yes it is "alive"
If you would call it that.


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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bloom Into Spring Challenge - What I Got

Welcome to the Big Bloom into Spring Exchange Reveal, 
a lovely Spring event hosted by Meagan at Local at Last
and Kyle & Lisha at One House One Couple.

My partner was Louise from Laid Off Mom. She has a pretty awesome blog (and daughter, family and general outlook on life) and you should definitely check her out!

Here's what I sent her
(boo on the one pot breaking)

I loved that in her package to me,
she sent me a great little handwritten note.

That is so not common nowadays.

In her actual package,
she sent me all sorts of great cards to write my own notes,
some funky tissues
(really great timing for my spring cold)
some chocolate (gotta love that thought)
and great necklace
and, of course
(cause she is thoughtful like that)
a little mini globe.

Awesomeness in a box!

Because I got sicker than sick, 
her package was super late in getting to her.
I did send it pretty much carrier pigeon via China
(from Seattle to San Diego)
and might as well have taken it to SD with me
which is where I just got back from.


Bloom Into Spring!
And have a great one!

Linking up to the linky party


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Monday, April 23, 2012

Week 68 Random Pinehurst

It is so bright at 4 am in the morning
it is hard NOT to keep up
with my 52 in 2012 reads.


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Monday, April 16, 2012

Going Organic on the Tomato Plants

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Whitney Farms for SocialSpark
All opinions are 100% mine.

Okay, Okay.
I will admit it.
Even though I live in the Pacific Northwest,
in one of the greenest (both color and mindset wise)
places on earth,
my garden is not 100% organic.
Not even close.
That said,
when we first moved in here,
one thing I knew I wanted to do for sure
was to have our own compost pile.
And so was my intro to Whitney Farms®
when I went to McClendon's Hardware and asked the friendly folks
what else besides grass and leaves I might need to get started.
They suggested that I try Whitney Farms Compost Maker Plus.

Whitney-Farms-Logo_Banner_New_C.jpg (6 documents, 6 total pages)
After 3 weeks, I was sold.
My pile was breaking down quickly 
and the worms were really happy.

When I actually used that compost in my pots,
I was REALLY sold.

Impressed was an understatement
because those Hostas and Bleeding Hearts totally took off.
I didn't even have to use their organic soil,
but I can only IMAGINE how those plants
would have taken off
had I used their soil and compost enhancer.

I especially love that their products come in slim boxes
(easier to fit in my storage box)
and that when I use them,
there isn't a huge dust cloud that I have to protect the puppy from
and there isn't a strong manure smell
(also good for keeping the puppy mutt at bay).

All of that makes it so easy to use.
Recently, I've been thinking about trying 
some of their organic plant food.
Whitney Farms products contain beneficial microbes.

From what I understand,
they are specially designed to provide plants
with macro and micronutrients.

In plain speak - hopefully - that means 
less fertilizing through the season for me.

Or, at the least, less soil replenishing 
each and every growing season.

Because I love the Compost Maker Plus so much,
I'm going to sign up to get a $3 coupon 
to try their organic plant food.
You can hit that link and get a $3 off coupon too!

Though the plant foods actually come in bags,
I have some really neat jars that I could probably decant those in to
to keep things neat in storage.

          109103_1.jpg (6 documents, 6 total pages)

That is the stuff I eat 
That will be where I try to really go organic this year.

Or, if I get a p-patch
through the community gardens
they only allow organic.
So I'll get the plant food too.

Organic Plant Food

Who knows?
Perhaps my tomato plants will be
beyond awesome this year.

Tomato Success

I am going to feed some of my tomato plants with
Whitney Farms Tomato and Vegetable Food
and other tomato plants with Scotts Miracle Gro Tomato Food.
Can't wait to see which ones are more delicious.


Linking up of course!

Week 67 Random Pinehurst

They are green right now
And a lot shorter
But I know they will be this color
come the fall

and i *CAN* wait for that.
Enjoying the seasons as my garden grows


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Monday, April 9, 2012

Week 66 Random Pinehurst

Moving on up
and moving on
from this way too tiny
jewelry chest.

A girl collects some necklaces.
That is all.


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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sure Doesn't Smell Like Roses Around Here

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Triad Retail Media for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.


We are in the midst of garden seeding and spring cleaning here at Pinehurst. And one thing is for certain:
It sure does NOT smell like roses around here.
That is probably because:
1. I don't plant roses. Sure, they probably grow better here than in Las Cruces, but I just don't think the pleasure would be worth the pain and high maintenance.
2. I admit it. After a long, stuffy closed up winter season at our house, I love to open the windows and smell nature. And when we can't do that because the April showers are more than intense, "faux rose" is not my preferred pick me up scent.
That is where the new Lavender and Juniper Berry Glade® Expressions™
refillable (yes!!) fragrance mist comes in. - Glade Expressions Air Fresheners
I absolutely love the spray bottle design of the fragrance mist. Rather than having a tiny spray button that cramps my style by the time I have "refreshed" my whole house, you squeeze to spray the bottle.
My budding enviro self also loves that I don't have to buy a whole new bottle and that I can buy a smaller refill bottle to, yep, refill it. You know I love the potential of a refillable bottle (wink!)
And the scent! Now that I live right next to the trail head (and get to smell real Juniper whenever I get off my bumm) AND my four lavender plants are waking up for spring, I am super excited that the Glade® Expressions™ scent is so realistic.
Because I want my whole house to smell the same, I got the mist. But the diffusers looked really cute and I will definitely put one in the linen closet  in my bathroom downstairs.
I ended up trying Glade® Expressions™ because I was able to find a $1.50 coupon for use at Wal-Mart. And, best of all, quite frankly, I can GET A REFUND - especially if my diffuser stops smelling pretty before the 30 days it is promised to last
It is that time of year to open up and refresh and I love how the Lavender and Juniper Berry scent makes that happen.
Only wish the Cotton and Italian Mandarin - Glade Expressions Air Fresheners
came in a diffuser because that would be great in my bathroom.
Let the outside in, folks!

Visit Sponsor's Site

Friday, April 6, 2012

In Real Life | The Bullying Epidemic

Thanks to The Bully Project for sponsoring my writing. 
Visit their website to join the movement and learn more.

Often, in the emails I get 
from those of you smarter than me 
about your online trail, 
I get asked what I do in real life. 
The common guesses are:

master gardener
puppy chef

No one ever guesses that I'm an educator. 
(well, in real life, that gets assumed often)

What I DO do in real life is kind of complicated.
The easiest way to say it is that I work for a school district
in the evil central office
(booo...hiss!! I know, I know)
and I get to "lead"
(trust me, there are LOTS of people "leading")
our work on family and community engagement.

I also have 2 years, 7 months and 9 days to close
the achievement gap.
But that's the half of my job that gets controversial 
and we'll leave that conversation for it's own little post.

Back to the parents.

In my work with parents, 
we do parent education
about their rights and responsibilities
as partners in their child's education.

We also help to coordinate parent advisory groups
that help us figure out things like 
how to most efficiently get new products out to them
(ie, at the high school level,
we have a really neat "on track" website
that parents and students can look at
to see if they are passing their state tests,
getting enough credits, 
and attending enough school
to be successful once they graduate high school).

But the bulk of our parent engagement efforts at the 
central office/district level,
quite frankly,
is about family concerns.

And many, bordering on most,
of those concerns
are about bullying and harassment.

I work with a Family Engagement Specialist 
who does intake to hear what the situation is.
Often, parents are to the point that they have kept their kids 
out of school
because their child is just not comfortable
in the learning environment.

It's often hard to imagine the craziness we hear about
being remotely real.
Here is a great illustration of what we deal with.
This is the trailer for Bully.

The rating for Bully has just been changed to PG-13

So much of what is in that TINY trailer breaks my heart.
Every. Single. Day.

And the American school system's response to bullying
IS at a crisis point.

I see it in my own system.
I see it in my own state.

Just recently, 
our state Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction
(OSPI for short, basically our state dept of ed)
released revised bullying and harassment reporting, training and investigation guidelines.

It was not a moment too soon.

When I see the Bully trailer, 
I see some of what I see everyday:

kids bullied on the way to and from school
really YOUNG targets- not just middle and high schoolers
kids so uncomfortable with school, they take their own lives
parents who ring the alarm and are told "nothing is wrong"
the pervasive belief that "kids will be kids"

What you don't see in the trailer
(but maybe it shows up in the movie)
and you definitely see all the time in my district:

bullying has no color boundaries - it isn't just a white kid thing
it isn't just the geeks that get bullied
kids so uncomfortable with school, they stop going
privacy laws rendering actions taken by a school "invisible" 

Like any issue,
there are so many layers to bullying.
I plan to see the movie and to promote it as a tool in my district
for talking with kids about what is going on.

There are lots of great things happening across this nation
to stop this now.
At the risk of getting too technical,
I'll note that we're a school district that uses 
a system that promotes sharing with kids what 
positive behavior is supposed to look like
and providing supports for kids that don't 
meet those expectations.

While that goes a long way towards ensuring
no kid ever skips school because he or she feels unsafe,
that hasn't eradicated the problem.
Especially given how much bullying happens 
online, on the way to and from school and outside of school hours.
The link is that the kids know each other from school
and that school is where they spend the most time together.
But it does get difficult when it happens off school grounds
(kids can be savvy that way)
and we need school partnership to intervene outside of school.

That's to say it takes all of us.
This is not just an issue for those who have kids
or work at schools.
This is an issue for ALL. OF. US.

we can all ensure
that kids never
get so desperate
that they take their own lives
physically, emotionally, or academically.

Why does this matter to me?

This matters to me because he thinks sewing (and rockets) are cool.
For a black boy in a society that generally says kids like him
only fit in if they're good at sports, hustling, or "music"
he sticks out.

And when you stick out - for being different, for being good at something, for being your own drummer on a different beat,
that makes you a target.

I don't know what I would do if he took his life because 
someone thought his joys and talents were "weird".

Check that.
I know what I'd do.
And though orange is my favorite color,
I don't need a new jumpsuit anytime soon.

That's how outrageous this bullying epidemic is.


See the movie.
At least watch the trailer.
Definitely check out the page.

Please and thank you.

I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective
Find showings in your area for The Bully Project 
and buy tickets here.


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Monday, April 2, 2012

Week 65 Random Pinehurst

Time to refill this vase
with lovelies
from my OWN garden.

Random Pinehurst Master Bath
I loathe those tiled counters...


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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Just Go Already | Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

If you ever check out our about us page 
or our FAQs
you would see that we claim to be the traveling type.
To that, it only makes sense that,
occasionally at least,
I write about that.

So here goes nothing!
Ready. Set. Go!

Where are we going?
La Conner, WA
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
(here's a bloom map!)

Who goes to La Conner, WA anyways?
Lots of people go.
Especially on the weekends.

By the Festival's count,
every year hundreds of thousands
of people visit.
I'm sure they are double if not triple counting us.
For lots of folks, it isn't just a 1 shot deal.
Check that.
For photographer types,
you have to go over multiple weeks
to get the best shots.

The festival lasts throughout
the month of April.

So I suggest you quit your job
and go on a weekday
if you don't want 92 other families 
up in the background of your gorgeous photos.

Why are we going to La Conner, again?
Because every April, 
daffodils, tulips and iris
bloom like crazy in just over 20 fields
(apprx 1000 acres)
throughout the Skagit Valley.

And it isn't that far from Seattle 
(or Everett)
so all the city folks
get dressed up in their Sunday best.

And all of the mommy bloggers
break out their DSLRs
and don't you DARE get in their shot
as they stage the annual
family Easter Newsletter photo.

But truly.
The size of these fields makes the show.
You drive through miles and miles
of flowering bulbs at the height of the season.

What is there to see and do there?
Eat 1/4 of a scoop of ice cream
from a homemade waffle cone
from the Snow Goose Produce Stand
between LaConner and Conway.

It is WA state so people are friendly.
If you ask someone in line to hold your space
while you gawk a bit
(yes, there WILL be a line - a really long one)
(**I mentioned the hand dipped cones, right?**)
(***and the handmade waffle cones?***)
Besides the gorgeous tulips,
Snow Goose has produce 
(it's a produce stand, after all)
baskets, photographic art prints & cards
plant pots, seafood, gourmet foods
and, did I mention?
Ice Cream.

In all sorts of normal and glamorous flavors.
Robert gets Rainbow Sherbert
(which is how our stop here started.
no Rainbow Sherbert, no stoppy)
I get Raspberry Sherbert.

Don't say I didn't warn you about the scoop sizes.

Once you're back on the road behind all of the other cars going where you want to go,
keep your eye out for fields that have parking.
IF you are reasonably healthy,
you can get out and walk between some of the fields.

Again, don't say I didn't warn you about the sides of the fields.
Just saying that in some strategic locations
(which I have yet to figure out)
you can get prime enough parking
to access two or three lots from one
parallel parking debacle.

If you take pictures or photographs
(I take pictures, he takes photographs)
be on the lookout for interesting things
in the field
to juxtapose
(that's my 50 cent word for "put next to each other)
with your flowering bulbs
(I keep wanting to write tulips, 
but I know there are more than just tulips out there)

And for the really adventurous,
(or the tourists)
you can also visit the RoozenGaarde fields.
They have a whole set up with education 
(Washington Bulb Company, the parent company of RG, 
is the largest bulb grower in North America)
about various flowering bulbs,
tons of food choices, farm rides and all sorts of kitschy little 
cut out props for your picture taking pleasure.

When is the best time to go?
Depends on your purpose.
If you want to go when it is most convenient
(ie, the weekend)
keep in mind that it is most convenient
for everyone else on the weekend too.

That said, if you don't mind lots of cars in your shots
and literally having to get down and dirty on the ground
for unique camera angles
that cut out MOST of the people
then weekend it is.

Preferably closer to the end of the day
when people are heading home
and magic light is about to happen

Above all else
take your patience.
Or your face will look like this in a hurry

Stop babbling and just show me more photos:
You get two more.
You will do lots of this "staging"

with a tripod and timer
to get the right angle
to end up with various photos like this

No we didn't change clothes.
We were just there for the billionth time that week.
And I might have just dropped my ice cream cone 
on the ground.

I was VERY adult about it, though.

So what are you waiting on?
April 1 - 30, 2012 is the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.

Google images of it.
You will NOT be disappointed.

And now...a message from Florida