May 31, 2017

End of May

These are some of my last views of my Washington state, USA garden, as we are moving to Utah next week. It is bittersweet.
I'm soaking in every moment of the lovely view, but already a little sad about what I'll be missing.
That's what this blog is for, though!
I'll have pictures from last summer to look back on when I'm feeling sentimental.

Let's start out back this time.

Back slope/veg garden:

 The wild lupines and wild daisies are blooming--the prettiest time of year for this slope.

It looks like we'll the new owner will have a bumper crop of strawberries this year!

Thyme in bloom.

Back Flowerbed:

The end of May lull is in full effect.

We are not without hope of good things to come, however!

Peony buds--the flowers are white, but the buds have an intriguing blush of pink.

'Abraham Darby' buds.
If we were staying, I would be working on training this to a trellis this year.
As it is, I'm just hoping at least one of these buds will open up before we go next week!

Glorious geums in the shed bed.

Columbines and geranium in the shade bed.

Moving out front now.

Front terraced beds:

The bright pink tulips are fading now, thanks to a few really hot days, and irises and peonies are beginning to steal the show.

Cornflowers, laurel (shrub) and alliums.

Busy bumblebee!

This little potentilla has never been this loaded with blossoms!
I don't know what made the difference this year, but I am loving it!

Of course, the irises.
I was just hoping I would get to see them before we left.

Bright pink peonies to add a splash of color to the middle terrace.

Even though it is still small, this snowball bush has been loaded with blossoms every year since I planted it.

Faded tulips, columbine, lamb's ears.
One thing I like about these 'Mariette' lily-flowering tulips, is that they continue to look good even as they fade away.

Turning the corner to the East-side terraces:

(above and below) Various combinations of columbine and sorbaria.


One loaded lilac stem!
Not sure why this one stem got all the blossoms this year, but it is pretty!

What does your garden look like right now?

I am looking forward to getting to our new place.
Who knows? We may even get some vegetables planted, with a little help from family.
(Planting anything is very awkward at 8 1/2 months pregnant!)

Goodbye to all my flowers!

May 29, 2017

3 Fairy Tale Retellings

I have a read a handful of fairy tale retelling in the past 2 months. I think what I enjoy most about them is seeing the way the author takes this well-known template and creates something unique and even delightful with it. I mean, think about it: the main plot points and the characters are all pretty set. Obviously, any element can be played with, depending on how closely one wants to stick to the original tale, but to be recognizable in the genre there has to be at least some touchstones along the way.

These were all quite different from each other.

Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story, by Carolyn Turgeon

3 stars: Darker in tone, with bits of magical realism.

Lil has been around this world for a very, very, long time. She works at an used books store in Manhatten, and goes home at night to an apartment, alone with her memories. She used to be a fairy, living in the world under the lake. The brightness and freedom of that time seem so far away now. Her white feathery wings are all she has left as a reminder of who she was before she was banished, and even they must be tightly kept under wraps in the human world. You see, she made a terrible mistake in the matter of a young girl; a girl who was destined to meet a prince.

* * * * *
Have you ever seen the movie "Enchanted" with Amy Adams? [Pause while I go watch a couple of the songs on YouTube.] All right, I'm back. Anyway, she's a fairy-tale princess who inadvertently finds herself in New York. It is so fun and lighthearted, right? not like that. Take that idea, add some tragedy, unrequited love, terrible consequences, and an old lady who may or may not be completely crazy, and well, there you go. You're getting a little closer now.

To have a real live fairy godmother living in NYC, complete with wings, it may seem obvious there would have to be some sort of magical realism going on. I was going with it. I got comfortable with the idea. The wings seemed to be the extent of it pretty much. Then there was more. Things started spiraling.

The ending was disconcerting. It fit, I think, but I was left with the feeling of "Wait a minute, what just happened here?" Um...don't know what else to say about that without spoiling it. So yeah. Don't go into this expecting warm fuzzies or redemption. It seemed like that's where it was headed, but then it was like getting smacked in the face with a bucket of cold water. I suppose the magical realism in that way was quite effective. There were parallel realities going on and as the reader you got to choose which to believe.

If you read it, I definitely would like to discuss it with you!

Content: Some innuendo and strong desire, but all it led to was kissing.

(Finished reading April 26)

Five Enchanted Roses, Edited by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

3 stars: The average rating for the 5 stories.

A collection of 5 novellas, each a different retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

1. Espirit de la Rose, by Kaycee Browning

Cecilia's father is not a nice man. He has been a pirate on the high seas for some time now, in fact. Since the passing of her mother, all Cecilia wants is safe passage to her aunt and uncle's home in London, which he agrees to. Unfortunately, that means on one of his ships.

He has neglected to inform his daughter that he recently has stolen something that brings with it grave consequences: a mirror that belongs to the Fee. They are otherworldly creatures who live by their own rules and they don't take the theft lightly. In fact, they are coming after her father. Then Cecilia, acting more out of terror than rational thought, ends up taking her father's place.

She finds herself on a ghost ship, peopled with hideous creatures who used to be men. They lurk about her with sinister intent and it's only through the efforts of the Captain that they are kept at bay. As Cecilia finds out more about this ship she's on and the mysterious Captain Pepin, she realizes that she may be the key to saving them all.

* * * * *
This one only bore a passing resemblance to the original tale. I think this one would be better expanded into a full-length novel. I was left with several questions about this world, the Fee, and their prisoners, which I'm sure could be answered given another 100 pages!

2. Wither, by Savannah Jezowski

Lilybet Haverly takes her younger sister's place when the Beast of Briarstone Abbey demands an exchange. Ghouls and creatures of the underworld abound and there is definitely more to the beast (and the Abbey) than meets the eye.

* * * * *
Though I am usually not too keen on zombies and other gruesome creatures, I actually quite enjoyed this one. I liked that the beast had his own unique backstory and more to do than just schlump around the castle--oops Abbey--feeling sorry for himself. Also, that he gradually came to realize that Lilybet was the right sister for the exchange, after all. I liked that it was Lilybet's courage and strength, rather than beauty, that were needed, as it should be in a tale of looking beyond appearances.

3. Stone Curse, by Jenelle Schmidt

Ever since the night of the ball, Karyna has avoided the ballroom at all costs. You see, it is still full of people. Well, statues who used to be people, anyway. On that terrible night, Karyna lost everyone important to her: her father, turned to stone; and her best friend, the Princess Bellenya, who was taken away by the enchantress that cast the curse. She still has one friend in the castle--Prince Barend. Though he was turned into a beast that night, they have managed to continue their friendship.

When the Prince and Karyna find out that the enchantress is at an abandoned castle they know of, they decide to go seek her out no matter the consequences. They will do anything to break the curse, if it can be broken at all.

* * * * *
This was interesting. Rather than the focus being on the developing relationship between the beast and the girl, it was on the quest to break the curse. I had guessed a bit of it, so the ending wasn't a big surprise. It was fine, but I didn't love it.

4. Rosara and the Jungle King, by Dorian Tsukioka

Rosara is completely at home in the jungle. It hides her when Maor from the village would take her as his 3rd wife, by force. Then she meets the incredible jaguar, who watches over her. She may escape to the jungle forever, if the karawara or jungle spirits will grant her a boon. They are known to be tricky, though, and exact a terrible price for any gift they bestow. How much is she willing to give up?

* * * * *
Who is really the beast in this story? The answer is pretty obvious. A bit predictable. Hard to build up a relationship between a woman and a jaguar. I had a hard time getting into this one.

5. The Wulver's Rose, by Hayden Wand

In this Scottish retelling, the man who becomes the beast is innocent and undeserving of his fate. He is turned into a wulver--a sort of werewolf that is half man, half wolf. Though he does not start with beastly qualities, over a long period of time the wulver becomes embittered by the futility of breaking the curse. Enter the merchant who steals the rose, and then Bonnie, the merchant's daughter. She is terrified of being eaten, but slowly comes to appreciate the wulver's finer qualities.

* * * * *
This one stayed the closest to the original tale. Enjoyable.

The Merchant's Daughter (Hagenheim #2), by Melanie Dickerson

3 stars: It was good, but not exceptional.

Annabel's family has fallen on hard times, but she is the only one willing to step up and try to fix things. After public disgrace, a sentence is handed down: one of them will have to become an indentured servant to Lord Ranulf, owner of their land. It looks like it will be up to Annabel. Not that her family is grateful at all.

As Annabel learns how to work with her hands, she also gets to know Lord Ranulf, who is terribly disfigured from an accident in his past. Despite his prickly exterior, the two build up a rapport. She reads to him from the Bible at night and their shared faith becomes common ground for a friendship to develop.

* * * * *

Remember me talking about a book that I had read, then forgot about reading until I picked it up again a few months later? That was this book. So that's not exactly a glowing recommendation, is it? Reading the Goodreads description has brought it back to mind for me, for the most part! :)

A few things that made it unique from other retellings were the historical side of it--tenant farmers, and community courts deciding issues, etc.; not sure how accurate that was, but it added interest--and the Christian content. There's quite a bit about various Bible passages, and Annabel's strong desire to go into a nunnery plays into the way the plot works out in the end.

Content: Clean. There was an attempted rape, but Annabel defended herself and was rescued before it got anywhere.

* * * * *

Do you have a favorite fairy tale retelling? I'm all ears!

May 26, 2017

Series Spotlight: Finishing School, by Gail Carriger

If you like steampunk at all, give this series a try! Gail Carriger has a created a world of unlikely companions: for example, proper young ladies training to be spies and assassins. She has mixed in a few supernatural elements--vampires and werewolves--and added a school that's a floating dirigible, mechanical gadgets and gizmos, clever dialogue, and all the social conundrums and intrigues of boarding school.

The whole series was fun and entertaining. It never takes itself too seriously. If you need a break from more weighty fare, you could do a lot worse than these books!

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1)

4 stars: Highly enjoyable.

Sophronia is so busy riding dumbwaiters and climbing trees that there's absolutely no time leftover for being a lady, much to her mother's dismay. So her mother sends her off to Finishing School. As Sophronia soon finds out, it is a very unusual sort of school, with as much emphasis on information gathering and deceptive messages as eyelash fluttering or curtseys. Much to her surprise, Sophronia feels right at home.

But there's a puzzle to be solved: one of the older girls, Monique, has hidden a mysterious communication device that is highly sought after on all sides. In fact the school (3 floating dirigibles smashed together) has already been at battle with flywaymen because of it. Sophronia is determined to find it, no matter what!

The steampunk world already intrigues me, and this deliciously frothy plot topped it off to perfection.

(Originally reviewed on Goodreads, Dec. 2015)

Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School #2)

3 stars: If you liked the first, you will like this one!

Sophronia is back at school in the dirigible, and back to her old tricks--she certainly climbs down to the boiler room often enough to chat with her boy-pal Soap. Everyone on board is all atwitter, because the school is actually going to London. For a ball, no less!

However, not everything is as it seems (is it ever?) Sophronia is convinced there is something more to the trip than simply allowing the young ladies a chance to use their best ball gowns--and their espionage training. There are political rumblings amongst the supernaturals (vampires and werewolves) and London is the heart of all things political for the kingdom.

Sophronia is not about to let the wool get pulled over her eyes. In the meantime, there are lessons to learn (hive dynamics of vampires, the use of accessories as weapons), boys to practice flirting with, and best friends to defend. It's going to be a busy semester!

* * * * *
Much like the first, this was a fun ride and a quick read. Sophronia faces new obstacles with aplomb, both socially and in her clandestine activities.

It's all a bit over the top, but it's meant to be! Don't look for deep thoughts or subtle messages here. This is nothing but delicious book candy. Enjoy it while it lasts!

(Finished reading May 1)

Waistcoats & Weaponry (Finishing School #3)

3 stars: A stepping-stone on toward the conclusion.

Welcome back to steampunk England, where certain proper young ladies have to know not only etiquette and deportment, but also the inner workings of a werewolf pack. It would also help to know who they can trust, if anyone.

So what are Sophronia and friends to do when one of their own has an urgent need to return to Scotland? Well, they sneak out of school and find a way to get her home, of course. They hitch a ride on a train that is strangely empty. Well, almost empty.

The politics that Sophronia just brushed up against in book 2 are back in full force, and as usual, she finds herself in the thick of things. Saving London as everyone knows it may be up to her. Fortunately, if there's anything Sophronia's good at, it's coming up with a plan.

* * * * *
I liked this one for all the same reasons I liked the first two: the steampunk setting juxtaposed with proper English society, and an intrepid maiden deftly finding her place in both worlds. Witty writing and enough action and romance to keep things moving.

This one didn't stand out in particular from its fellows, but by this point, reading it was a foregone conclusion.

(Finished reading May 3)

Manners & Mutiny (Finishing School #4)

4 stars: Everything comes to a head.

Sophronia is back at school just in time. This time the danger is going to hit close to home. While most of the young ladies are safely and properly not on board when the takeover happens, Sophronia is there--along with some of the less helpful staff members. Once again, though, people have secrets that Sophronia knows nothing about. It's time to put all her skills to the utmost test and bring this thing around--for the good of all England. It's unfortunate that the school itself may become a casualty in the fray.

* * * * *
This was a strong ending to the series. Loose ends were tied up. Like the others, there was plenty of sneaking around, plotting, and covert action. Meanwhile, there were a few secrets revealed that had been hinted at all along.

Sophronia had to make some decisions about what her future was going to look like and who would be included in that. I was satisfied on all accounts.

(Finished reading May 4)

* * * * *

A note on content: These are geared for teens and are clean, for the most part. These are proper young ladies, after all. When the werewolves transform into people, they are naked. Generally it just gets a mention, at times it is commented on a bit more. A brief discussion amongst the girls about the mysteries of male anatomy in one of the books.

FYI: This series is a prequel for Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series, which are written for adults, and include some sex scenes (according to reviews I have read.)  

* * * * *
Have you read these? What did you think?

May 24, 2017

Tulips for a Friend

A friend of mine did me a big favor recently.

I had a lot of fun cutting spring flowers to make a thank you bouquet for her.
So I guess really, she did me two favors, because her original kindness gave me the motivation to get out and play with flowers. :)

[Two views.]

This arrangement was all pinks and blues.
It included flowering almond (small pink pompoms), brunnera (tiny blue sprays), grape hyacinths (grouped together to make more of an impact), lady's mantle (the big leaves), and of course the tulips.

Yay for pretty flowers and kind friends!

May 22, 2017

Featured Author: Sharon Lovejoy

Sharon Lovejoy is my kind of lady! She loves gardening and kids, and especially combining the two. She's an award-winning writer, does her own illustrations, has lectured all over the country. I mean, is there anything this woman can't do?

I've read a few of her books now, and what I like best about them is the warm, friendly tone and the ideas that actually seem attainable. They all inspire me to get out there and create some wonder in my garden with the kids.

A Blessing of Toads

4 stars: A collection of essays and illustrations from her column "Heart's Ease," written for Country Living Gardener magazine.

Lovejoy's essays on gardening and wildlife are a pleasure to read. I wish we could be neighbors. I could use some good "organic gardening and lovin' the wildlife" vibes. The tone of the book makes it seem like she could be.

If you want more projects and less talk, read Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars instead.

(Originally reviewed on Goodreads, Feb. 2013)

Roots, Shoots, Buckets, and Boots: Gardening Together with Children

5 stars: A primer on gardening with kids!

Nine themed gardens to plant with your children, including a circular pizza garden (sectioned into slices, of course), a "snacking and sipping" garden, a moon garden, a garden of giants, and more! For each garden, she includes specific measurements, plant lists, and even recipes or craft projects to do along with the theme. She also includes a chapter on Top 20 Plants for Kids, a section on gardening basics, and a Resources list for ordering supplies.

The themed gardens all require quite a bit of space, but that's the beauty of the Top 20 Plants list. If you don't have much room, but still want to put in a few things for the kiddos, turn to the list. You will find not only vegetables, but also plants to touch and smell and taste, along with plants that have flowers or seedpods or other features just right for kid craft projects or fairy houses.

By the way, this one has more detailed instructions for planting the sunflower house mentioned below, if that's what you're interested in.

(Finished reading April 27)

Sunflower Houses: Inspiration from the Garden--A Book for Children and Their Grownups

4 stars: A scrapbook of joyful gardening experiences.

This is a grab-bag of gardening memories, favorite flowers, projects, and activities to do in the garden with children. Some of the chapters are more hands-on, and include instructions for making secret hideaways, wearable flower and leaf creations, and dolls and toys from garden materials. Others are more reminiscent in nature. As in some of her other books, she includes a list of plants for children, in a table format, with a brief summary of what in particular makes each one child-friendly. 

Tucked onto nearly every page are quotes, poems, and illustrations. Great to settle in with for an hour or two, or to dip into here and there. The projects in this one do not have the specific instructions like in Roots, Shoots, Buckets, and Boots, but are presented more as general ideas with a few practical tips.  

(Finished reading April 23)

Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars: Grandma's Bag of Tricks

5 stars: You don't have to be a grandma to make the most of these fun ideas!

Full of fun things to do with grandchildren--easily adaptable to engaging and playing with the children in your life, whatever their relationship.

Most of the ideas are simple--like waking the child up to watch shooting stars, and growing avocado pits in a jar of water--but the simplicity makes them that much more accessible.

(Originally reviewed on Goodreads, Aug 2011)

* * * * *

As you can see by my ratings, I tended to enjoy the more practical, hands-on books a little more. Just reading them gets me excited for summer again, and doing fun garden projects with the kiddos! I'm telling you now--there WILL be a sunflower house in our future! I would dearly love to plant it this summer, but with the move and the baby, I'm making no promises. In fact, I haven't even brought it up to my kids, in case it doesn't happen, but if I have any kind of energy left you know what I'll be doing!

In the meantime, there are several simpler ideas that I know we could fit in this summer.

If you want to encourage a love of gardening in your kids, choose one of these books, choose 1 or 2 projects, and go with it! I bet your kids will love it! They are very accessible, even for beginning gardeners. (I guess that's sort of the point, since most kids would fit into that category!)

Then you have to report back on what you try! I plan to do the same.

Happy gardening!

May 18, 2017

To Be A Queen

Quite without meaning to, I've managed to read 2 different books about queens this month. One was historical fiction, based on extensive research, about Queen Katherine of Aragon--King Henry VIII's first wife--and the other was a memoir by Queen Noor, wife of King Hussein of Jordan.

Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen, by Alison Weir

3 stars: I learned a lot from this.

Catalina was only 16 when she left her home and family in Spain and travelled to England to marry the Arthur, the Prince of Wales, King Henry VII's oldest son. She was warmly received and the marriage itself was very grand. Her husband was quite sickly, however, and in fact died within the year of tuberculosis.

Fairly soon afterward, she was then betrothed to the next son, the future King Henry VIII. However, at 5 years younger than her, their marriage had to wait until he turned 18. During this waiting period, she was pretty much stuck in England. Her future father-in-law refused to finance her living expenses, due to a dowry payment that had never been paid, and she was as much in poverty as a future queen living in a palace could be.

Finally, the long-awaited time arrived and she and Henry were wed. Providing an heir and successor to the throne became Katherine's new role. Unfortunately, pregnancy after pregnancy ended in miscarriage, stillbirth, or babies that died several hours after birth. One little boy lived 52 days before dying, to the devastation of all. Princess Mary was the only child to live to adulthood out of all the pregnancies.

King Henry VIII's determination to have a male heir seems to have greatly contributed to all that went on later in their marriage. His pursuit of a divorce from Katherine, which eventually led to England's break with Rome and Catholicism entirely, his affairs and later marriage to Anne Boleyn, and so on.

The book stayed true to Katherine's perspective throughout, following her into exile over her refusal to yield her position or title, and the indignities and privations at the end of her life.

* * * * *
If you are a student of English history, none of this will be new to you. I have learned some here and there, so the historical characters were passingly familiar to me, but this brought them to life in a whole new way. I didn't know much at all about Queen Katherine going in. As she was portrayed here, I couldn't help but admire her for sticking to her principles, and sympathize with her tragic losses. I'm interested now to learn about this time period from other perspectives.

Though it is historical fiction, the writing style made it feel more like a historical biography with conversations and personal speculations added in here and there. Not that I was bored, but I wasn't swept away either. At just over 600 pages, it was a bit of a time commitment. I read it concurrently with some fiction, which helped break it up a bit.

Content: Some sex scenes, though not graphic.

(Finished reading May 6.)

Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life, by Queen Noor

4 stars: Eye-opening account of Middle Eastern politics from the perspective of one who was in the thick of it.

Lisa Halaby was born and raised in the United States, in an Arab-American family. She grew up and graduated from Princeton. She first met King Hussein of Jordan as a young professional, working at an international job. Later on, after the death of Hussein's third wife, they met again. This time, a friendship became courtship and later marriage.

Upon marriage, Lisa renounced her American citizenship, as well as the Christian Science faith that she was raised with. She simultaneously took on a new name (Noor), a new religion, and a new country. She also became stepmother to King Hussein's already large family of 8 children, including 3 little ones still very much in need of a mother. Together she and the King had 4 more children.

In addition to her personal life, this was the story of her husband's reign over the 20 years they were married, until his death from cancer. Queen Noor described the constant conflict and international tensions in the Middle East, including countless frustrating setbacks in the pursuit of peace.

* * * * *
First, just let me say--this one has been on my "to-read" list for ever! I remember checking it out from the library way back when I worked there, but returning it unread. So that would have been in 2005, or thereabouts. I found a copy at the thrift store about a year ago; same story. I finally tackled it and I'm glad I did! (Plus, check off one more book that I've read from my own bookshelf. Woohoo for working on New Year's Rezzies!)

It was fascinating to get a different perspective on all the happenings in the Middle East over the time period of the book. It helped me understand where the Palestinians have been coming from all this time. As the book points out time and again, the U.S. is very pro-Israel, including in our journalism and reporting of events, so I appreciated seeing the other side of things from an insider's point of view.

Queen Noor talked some about family life, though not as much as I would have liked. I can understand, though, how her position in the family and in the country would not tend to a share-all attitude. She mentioned some hard times, but didn't dwell on them.

Content: clean

(Finished reading May 17.)

* * * * *
Reading about these women in positions of power and influence was so interesting. They both made many sacrifices for their kingdom and their husbands, particularly in their private lives. I couldn't help but compare their situations. Let's talk about it!

First wife vs. 4th wife
Both monarchs had other women in their lives. Queen Katherine's entire later life was consumed by her husband's pursuit of Anne Boleyn. In fact, this affair turned questionable marriage dragged all of England into its chaotic wake.

According to this account, Katherine and Henry's best years of marriage were at the beginning. They enjoyed spending time together, he was respectful of her, they mourned the loss of their babies together. However, as time went on, he became more and more estranged, began having affairs, and eventually became very embittered toward her.

On the other hand, Queen Noor was Hussein's 4th wife. She was much younger than he when married, and immediately took on the responsibilities of motherhood, as she raised his children by previous wives. Though their marriage went through some rough patches, they stayed faithful to each other and truly loved each other to the end. Noor stayed by her husband's side at the Mayo clinic all during his chemotherapy treatments the last 2 years of his life, and after 20 years of marriage, they were still deeply in love.

Queen Noor does describe some challenges--not so much with the earlier wives (2 of the 3 were still alive), but with raising her stepchildren. She said there was a period of a couple of years, with several teenagers in the home, that she didn't think she could make it one more day. However, over time, it gradually got better. Older children moved out and started families of their own and tensions eased.

Babies, or Providing an Heir
This was a Big Deal back in Queen Katherine's time. In fact, her entire focus for many years was having a baby boy to be the heir. Pregnancy after pregnancy. She was not successful in that, so on top of dealing with the grief of losing so many babies, she also had enormous guilt that she had failed her husband and her country. (She took all the blame upon herself, according to this book, which was probably accurate for the time.)

In contrast, King Hussein had already named his brother Crown Prince many years before Queen Noor even came on the scene. Just before his death, the King changed it up and gave the title to one of his older sons instead. So that part of it didn't really have anything to do with Queen Noor.

As for babies, she and King Hussein had 4 children together (plus one miscarriage.) Every child was welcomed. She mentioned, though, that they had an initiative going in Jordan to lower the high birth rate, so she felt a bit guilty or wondered what the people would think when she got pregnant with their 4th. Wow, what a difference between those ideas!

The Role of the Queen
Queen Katherine's main role was to provide an heir to the throne. She did dabble in politics for awhile, while her husband was away at war and England was invaded. For awhile, she was appointed Ambassador for Spain and enjoyed the added respect and power that title afforded. However, it didn't last, and she was back to primarily being arm candy for the King, while pregnant. The book indicates that early in their marriage, he discussed everything with her and she felt like she had quite a bit of influence with the King's decisions. Later on, of course, that all changed.

Queen Noor was and is very active politically. Outspoken and intelligent, she travelled all over the world, making speeches and doing everything she could to further Jordan's (and her husband's) causes. Back at home, she started a Foundation to oversee all of her pet projects, including help for refugees, women's rights, and an annual cultural arts festival. She and the King weathered every setback side by side.

* * * * *
There were more comparisons, but I'm going to stop there.

So tell me--would you want to be a real-live Queen? I'm thinking it's not all those princess movies make it out to be!

May 16, 2017

May Bloom Day

Welcome to my Eastern Washington state garden!
This will be my last Bloom Day post from here, as we are moving in 3 weeks.
In fact, that is my excuse for posting late--I didn't have any pictures of the front beds yet, and I knew I would want some to look back on later.

So, here we are!
We have finally gotten some warm days this spring, and occasional breaks from the rain.
We've even had to mow the lawn a couple of times.

Let's start out back!

back bed overview

This back bed is awash with pink right now!
The tulips are in their glory.
I'm really enjoying the golden ninebark (Physocarpus opufolius 'Dart's Gold') there on the right, as well. The foliage color really offsets the pink tulips.

On the other end of the bed, the flowering almond steals the show.
Here's what it looked like about 10 days ago.

Here it is fully blooming today.

Moving around to the front:

Phlox, tulips, and few last grape hyacinths hanging on.

Rose (front right) putting on new growth, but I haven't seen any buds yet!

The peonies in front of the tulips all have buds--I'm hoping I get to see them bloom before we go.

The phlox is finally spilling over the wall!
It has taken a few years to get to that point, but I really like how it looks.
The white on the end is candytuft.

These deep purple columbine with the pink tulips behind them make me happy.

A quick peek at the front porch bed:

Yay for bleeding heart!

This end looks a bit bare, but the hydrangea is starting to leaf out.

Almost done! 
Down around on the East-side terrace:

One lilac blossom.

I had to lean way down for this picture.
The other 2 bushes have buds on them, but haven't opened up yet.

Plus, the pie cherry tree we planted last year is just loaded with blossoms!

I hope the next person enjoys them!
I'm a little sad to miss them, to be honest.
I'll have to plant a pie cherry tree at our new house!

As I look back at these pictures, I'm realizing how pink everything is right now!
I enjoy it, but I'm thinking at our new house I may try a different mid-spring color scheme. :)
Actually, if we were staying here, I would be planning out what to add to give it a little more depth/variety right now.

May 12, 2017

Famous People Talking About Flowers

A few of my favorite flower-related quotations!

Of course, the tagline on my blog ranks up there, as well, but you already know that one.

If I had talents in graphic design, I would make up some free printables for you. Alas, I do not.
However, if you go on etsy, you can find all sorts of versions of most of these.

For here and now, you'll have to make do with photos of flowers from my garden.

"Where flowers bloom, so does hope."
--Lady Bird Johnson

[I first saw this one on a friend's wall, but it was misquoted as Eleanor Roosevelt.
Mum's the word! I'd hate for her to have to replace her lovely sign.]

"I'd rather have flowers on my table than diamonds on my neck." --Emma Goldman

[From what little I have read, I fundamentally disagree with most of what Emma Goldman stood for, but this is a sentiment I can get behind!]

"I must have flowers, always, and always."
--Claude Monet

[My sentiments exactly!]

"My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece."
--Claude Monet

[Not that I'm putting mine on par with his, you understand.]

"Earth laughs in flowers..."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

[Bright, happy geum blossoms remind me of laughter.]

"Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them."
--A.A. Milne

(common dandelion, above; purple vetch, below)

[Ahh...weeds. There are some I think are pretty, in their place. I quite enjoy the vibrant yellow of dandelions on the back slope, and seeing vetch overrun the nearby bike park in the spring doesn't bother me in the slightest. That doesn't mean I never grumble when I'm digging them out of my lawn or flowerbed for the 20th time!]

"Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light."
--Theodore Roethke

[That's the miracle of spring, isn't it?]

Do you have any more flower quotations for me?
I'm making a collection!