Springing Ahead… Way Ahead….

Here in the Pacific Northwest, winter has been unusually mild. Flowers are pushing up through the earth and trees are blooming– a full month early!

forsythia in our front yard

forsythia in our front yard

flowering magnolia across the street

flowering magnolia across the street

I hope we don’t have a frost that will kill these flowers–or hurt our orchard mason bees.What are orchard mason bees, you ask? These amazing critters are used throughout the U.S., to pollinate fruit trees in orchards, as well as flowers and vegetables. They are gentle creatures (they avoid humans and don’t sting!), and are active for only a short time each spring. We buy them at our local hardware store. They come in a glass vial and can be stored in the refrigerator until the weather is warm enough to release them. (I wanted to show you the vial, but it got thrown away…)

orchard mason bee

orchard mason bee

Once a female works her magic, she lays eggs in a partitioned house, adds the pollen she has gathered, and seals each partition with mud. These bees aren’t able to bore into wood and make their homes, so we bought this little house at the same hardware store where we purchased the bees.

our orchard mason bee house

our orchard mason bee house

The female leaves the eggs to gestate and grow until the following spring, when as full-fledged bees, they break free and work their magic. This year, despite placing the bee house in a sheltered and relatively safe place, a predator of some kind ate all the eggs! We had to buy more.

With the sunny, warm weather we’ve been having, our orchard mason bees are already hard at work. I can hardly wait until the fruits of their labors bring us an abundant crop of veggies and fruits.

If only writing worked this way, with a big burst of work and creativity, and then a long period of seemingly nothing, while ideas hatched and grew into full-fledged, mature ideas. Instead, I’m hatching ideas all year-round, so many that I’ll never be able to turn them all into stories! Ah well, we writers to what we can…

Until next time,


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Motivational Monday: Recipe

green beans

Fourth of July will soon be here, and I wanted to share my new favorite green bean salad recipe. This is so easy and delicious, and pretty too!  Make several days ahead if desired, and store in refrigerator. Great served at room temperature, but cold is okay, too.

Green Beans with Red Onions and Olives


1/2 cup minced red onion
3 teaspoons balsamic or red-wine vinegar
3/8 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Additional Ingredients:

1 1/2-2 pounds fresh green beans, washed and cut in half (or frozen–but the whole bean kind if possible).

7-10 black or Kalamata olives (how many and what kind depends on your tastes, but I prefer Kalamata), pitted and chopped into about 8 pieces/olive

In a bowl, stir together dressing ingredients. Let sit while you cook the beans and chop the olives.

Steam beans until just tender. Don’t overcook! Pour on dressing while the beans are still hot. Stir in olives, mixing well. Cool to room temperature.


Until Wednesday, and happy cooking!


Motivational Monday: Brain Food- It’s Not Just the Edible Stuff

farmers market

Fresh fruits and veggies, free range chicken and duck eggs, low-mercury fish, nuts and seeds, raw honey, local cheeses and breads, hand-made ice cream and homemade pasta–does it get any better? And bonus, many of these are brain food! Here in Seattle, neighborhood farmers markets abound from May- October. Almost every day of the week, fresh food enthusiasts will find a farmers market someplace in the Seattle area.

Our biggest market, Pike Place Farmers Market, stays open year-round, along with two other neighborhood markets that I know of (Ballard and University).


A chance to taste and purchase these delicious and nutritional foods, often picked the very day of the market, aren’t the only reason I enjoy visiting the farmers market. I also go for the smells and the colors– but most of all, for the people. Overhearing snippets of conversation, watching a small child with her mom, laughing at the antics of an enthusiastic dog–all become fodder for the creativity mill in my head. More than a few times, the things I see and hear play into a story I’m working on or thinking about.

If you’re looking for ideas, give your brain a food boost and visit your local farmers market.  I guarantee you won’t come away empty.

Until Wednesday, and wishing you good food in whatever form,