Spring is coming!

Get ready to plant!

My copy of the Maritime Northwest Garden Guide arrived today. This is the go-to guide for planning your garden in Olympia and other nearby locales. You can order a copy from Seattle Tilth for $22.00 including postage and it may be the best $22 that you spend on the garden.

January is planning time for gardeners. This is when you get out your seed catalogs, draw a diagram of your garden and make your plans. I like the Maritime Northwest Garden Guide because it has a month by month calendar of things to do, things to plan inside and out, garden chores and more. It also has a very useful and easy to understand crop rotation guide. Finally! I can see clearly what I need to do.

In my yard, I contend with some hungry critters: slugs, rabbits and deer. My garden area is thankfully fenced off so it’s just me and the slugs. I’ll let you in on a little secret. I don’t kill slugs. My husband loves them, I think they are his totem animal. And I have to say that I think they are pretty darn cool. I have no problem relocating them and I don’t mind doing the copper collars around my plants along with other methods to discourage them from eating certain plants. However, I don’t mind if they eat dog poop. They are a fairly good clean-up crew. So we coexist. I might get grumpy later but for now, it’s Kumbaya.

When I moved in, I had a couple of large piles of miscellaneous bricks and granite pieces. Last fall, I put them together to build additional raised beds. Next step is to fill them with garden soil and get ready for planting. I also have a small light stand for seed starting. I just need to order seeds and get to work!

What are you planting this year?

Love,
Oly


Today’s weather: It was raining cats and dogs today. Not really that cold, but rain, rain and more rain. This is the type of weather where my dogs take one look outside and say, “No thank you, I don’t really need to go.” And the FitBit steps suffer. <sigh> Luckily, they are not all like this. It was a good day to think about my springtime garden.

Meet me in the (Thai) Garden

Thai Garden

Thai food, Indian food, Mexican food and pizza–those are my comfort foods. And whenever there’s a birthday or another special occasion, you can bet one or more of these play a starring role. There may have been a birthday, so we had Island Market Pizza for lunch and Thai Garden for dinner.

Thai Garden Restaurant & Lounge
2735 Harrison Ave NW, Olympia, Washington 98502,  (360) 943-6292

Thai Garden is located near Target in Olympia. We got takeout this time but we have eaten in and really liked the ambiance and the service. This is a place to go for a dinner out with the family, visitors or for a special occasion.

I always get the golden tofu. My better half cannot get enough of the Tom Kha Vegan soup. We also shared the yellow curry and fresh spring rolls. We have been able to get vegan options here and the staff are helpful. When we ate in, our server gave recommendations that were spot on. We also really like their jasmine tea.

Happy eating!

Love,
Oly

Let’s Recycle!

Recycling

I am an avid recycler. I am always looking for ways to reduce, reuse and recycle. When I move, one of the first things that I do is to try to get the lay of the land with regard to recycling. Yes, please feel free to refer to me as a recycling nerd.

Thurston County maintains a list of materials and where to recycle: http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/cm/solidwaste/index.asp

Most materials can go in the curbside recycling bins if you have residential service. Here’s what can go in the bin. In Olympia, glass goes in a separate container and is picked up on a different schedule. Because it’s rainy here, the bins need to have drainage holes. A couple of my neighbors use bins with lids.

There are a number of stores that recycle specific items like e-waste, plastic bags/wrap, CFLs and batteries, including Target, Best Buy, Lowe’s and Home Depot.

One of the most vexing things here is the inability to recycle plastic clamshells. I just haven’t found a place nearby that will take them. We have tried to reduce what we buy in clamshells (typically it’s produce), but we still wind up with some. If you have ideas, send me an email.

OTOH, you can recycle styrofoam, both block and takeout containers. Clean polystyrene (Styrofoam) can be recycled at the Thurston County Waste & Recovery Center, 2420 Hogum Bay Rd NE, Lacey, WA 98516, (360) 786-5494.

I also learned that you can recycle plastic bags and plastic wrap at the Waste and Recovery Center! Yay!

The Waste and Recovery Center is a one-stop location for dropping off recyclables, trash and household hazardous waste. This is a great place to drop off large cardboard that doesn’t fit easily into curbside recycling bins. There is also a Goodwill drop off on site that will accept clothes and small household items (no large furniture).

The hours for the Waste and Recovery Center are:

  • Monday through Friday: entrance gates open from 7 a.m.– 4:45 p.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday: entrance gates open from 8 a.m.– 4:45 p.m.
  • Entrance gates close at 4:45 p.m.

If you are interested in recycling green waste, the Waste and  Recovery Center also accepts green waste:

Items accepted as self-hauled yard waste

  • Garden trimmings and prunings
  • Grass clippings (as fresh as possible)
  • Leaves, needles, and cones (no dirt or rocks)
  • Tree branches and cedar boughs
  • Tree stumps and roots (no dirt or rocks)
  • Untreated lumber (no paints or stains; nails are OK)
  • Plywood and particle board (no laminate)

If you have things to shred, there are a number of free shredding events throughout the year. Some serve as fundraiser and food drives: http://www.lemaymobileshredding.com/community-shred-events

For hard to recycle items, there’s always TerraCycle. This is a more expensive option but it’s very satisfying to be able to recycle as much as possible. TerraCycle sells postage-paid boxes that can be filled and returned. TerraCycle does have some free programs.

Happy Recycling!

Love, Oly

In Search of the Perfect Cup

For the love of coffee

I really love coffee and long before I moved here, I was a fan of Olympia Coffee Roasting Company. I was gifted several bags of coffee, different varieties.

I have visited two locations in Olympia, downtown at 600 4th Ave E and 1706 Harrison Ave NW. When you visit the downtown location, check out the massive pour over station that is poetry in motion. It’s a thing of beauty and mesmerizing. The location on Harrison in West Olympia looks like more of a stand but it’s a walk-in location that also sells bags of coffee. Before Christmas, I went there to buy some coffee for a friend and asked one of the baristas about their holiday blend. She said: “It tastes like plums and takes cream like a dream.” Free poetry with every bag! I bought a bag for myself. I finally opened it a few days ago while I was putting away holiday decorations and it was as described. So good!

If you like coffee but can’t drink caffeine or you like to switch between regular and decaf so you can sleep at night, you know that it can be hard to find good decaf. Why is it so bad? It’s almost as if coffee roasters think that decaf drinkers are second-class citizens who don’t deserve a perfect cup. Well if you are a decaf drinker, you can say it loud and say it proud at Olympia Coffee. Their Asterisk decaf is quite good. If you drink regular, treat yourself to a sampler pack of four single origin coffees. Coffee is available online, but for the poetry or the poetry in motion, you need to visit in person.

Happy coffee drinking!

Love,
Oly

I Heart the Library

Olympia Timberland Library

“There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.”

― Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie supported the building of more than 2500 libraries, 2509 to be exact. The Little Free Library movement had an initial goal to build 2510 libraries, one more than Andrew Carnegie (and they blew well past that goal).(1)

One of the first things that I did when I moved to Olympia was to get a library card. I love books and I love Amazon, but the older I get, the more I realize that I can’t own every book that I want to read. For me, public libraries are a critical part of the commons. They are a place where knowledge is freely shared and a haven in the storms, real and metaphorical.

The Timberland Regional Libraries (TRL) include 27 libraries, two cooperative library centers and four library kiosks in Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific and Thurston counties.

What I love about the library:

  • It’s regional so the collection is much larger than the local branch.
  • You can browse the entire catalog online and place holds online. Holds are kept in a self-service area near the checkout. So you can place your hold online and be in and out of the library in 30 seconds.
  • You can borrow books for your e-reader. I have borrowed books using the familiar Amazon interface and downloaded them to my Kindle app.
  • In addition to the ubiquitous Dewey Decimal system, the library has easy to read category signs in the stacks that make browsing easy.
  • Free circulation books: there is a selection of books to borrow from that doesn’t require checkout so you can keep it as long as you want and return it when you are done.
  • The Friends of the Olympia Library have an ongoing book sale shelf in the Olympia library during library hours. There are several shelves of used books for sale, organized by topic. Most of these books are $1 to $2. I always browse the used books and I have picked up several good gardening books including regional gardening books. There’s a drop box for payments so bring your small bills! (Other branches sell used books, too.)
  • There are book return drop boxes at several locations. We use the one at Haggen’s grocery store.
  • Check out the homework help resources for kids and teens.
  • It’s free. All those books and resources are available to just for signing up for a library card. (The library has compiled this handy Saving You Money page.) What are you waiting for?!

I’m not the only one that loves the library–there were over five million checkouts and downloads in 2016! Plus the library is a great place to learn more about Olympia.

Libraries are familiar and comfortable places. They are different but somehow the same. I love this quote from author Germaine Greer in her book, Daddy, We Hardly Knew You: “Libraries are reservoirs of strength, grace and wit, reminders of order, calm and continuity, lakes of mental energy, neither warm nor cold, light nor dark … In any library in the world, I am at home, unselfconscious, still and absorbed.”

The TRL turns 50 this year. So young to have accomplished so much! Here’s to many more.

Love,
Oly

1. Aldrich, Margret, The Little Free Library Book, 2015, Coffee House Press, p. 4.


Today’s weather: Cloudy but no rain today and it was in the 40s on our morning walk today. Funny how 40°ish has become my new 70°F. And I wore sunglasses without feeling ridiculous.

Stay on Target

Stay on Target

Even chain stores have a little local flavor. And let’s face it, sometimes you need food, socks, lip balm and kitty litter. Target has all of this and more. The food section of the Olympia Target is legit. Not a lot of produce, but the basics. Sadly, there is no Sprouts or Whole Foods here, so if you are looking for vegetarian/vegan options, you have to get creative. Target carries a decent selection of Amy’s, Gardein, Silk, Ripple and Annie’s. This the place to get the almond and coconut versions of Natural Bliss creamer (addicted).

The Olympia Target store has it’s customer service desk in lane one of the registers rather than along the perimeter. Everyone seems super nice. During my last trip, two associates helped me and another stopped to ask how I was. The Olympia store is also home to the Sticker Lady cashier. We go through her line whenever she’s working for the pick-me-up.

Looking for Seahawks gear? You can find also find that here. Target offers seasonal merchandise in addition to year-round offerings: back to school, outdoor living/furniture and holiday decorations.

Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater, and unincorporated Thurston County have a plastic bag ordinance so stores carry paper bags and you have to pay for bags. This encourages people to bring their own bags, of course, and no one seems to care if you use your Trader Joe’s bags at Target. (There is a Trader Joe’s in Olympia! More on that in a later post.)

The Olympia store has a CVS Pharmacy and a Starbucks and you can recycle plastic bags at Target. Speaking of plastic bags, you can pick up a free umbrella bag when it’s raining to contain your wet umbrella while you shop. Be sure to reuse and then recycle it! 

There is another Target in nearby Lacey.

Building community and inspiring a love of reading: Free Little Libraries

Griffin Fire Station

Free Little Libraries (LFLs) are small libraries that can be found in front of homes, businesses and in public spaces. The idea is to build community by sharing books with your neighbors. Watch this great explainer video to see how LFLs work! These little libraries vary widely in terms of size, style and decoration. As of November 2016, there were over 50,000 Little Free Libraries registered worldwide — in all 50 states in the U.S. and 70 countries! — including more than a dozen in Olympia.

The Little Free Library at Griffin Fire StationLocal residents and the Friends of the Olympia Library sponsored a Little Free Library at the Griffin Fire Station on Steamboat Island Road. We checked it out recently and even picked up a book. There was a good selection of titles and it was easy to find and there’s easily accessible parking out front.

Some Little Free Libraries also serve as seed exchanges. Some have taken the same concept and built free pantries to share food items. The Little Free Library organization recently gave away 100 LFLs to police stations. And the U.S. Girl Scouts have installed 500 LFLs!

Coming soon! A second Free Little Library on Steamboat Island. We are putting up our own Little Free Library. We plan to have a seed exchange and a game exchange.


Today’s weather: I didn’t notice any rain until after 12 noon and then it was off and on. I have three categories of rain: light rain, raining cats and dogs, and please make it stop or I’ll need to build an ark. Today was really a light rain day and totally manageable. Also, not as cold and in the 40s around noon.

For the Love of Pizza

Island Market

I love pizza. It’s a comfort food and a reward food. Whenever I am in a new town, I like to try all the pizza I can find. I will eat a wide range of pizza, from the classic cheese pizza to vegan gluten-free roasted veggie pizza, gourmet pizza (hello, brie), unusual pizza (I’m thinking of you, potato curry pizza), frozen pizza (Trader Joe’s), fast food pizza (I was a fan of the Subway pizza). But I do have favorites and my current favorite is the pizza made at the Island Market on Steamboat Island Peninsula.

Island Market is a mini grocery store with produce, staples, a post office and more. It’s also my neighborhood store. But the best part of Island Market is the pizza. Comes in one size, large. We freeze the extra slices and they are great heated up in the toaster oven. It reminds me of the pizza of my youth, Vennari’s Pizza. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s the closest that I have had and I am a big fan.

If you don’t need a whole pizza, sometimes you can get slices and they have a loyalty punch card. Be sure to call ahead to order, 360-866-2536.

Hours: Monday – Saturday: 6am – 10pm, Sunday: 7am – 10pm

Location: 3403 Steamboat Island Rd NW, Olympia, Washington 98502

Love,
Oly


Today’s weather: cold and cloudy but no rain. About 35°F at noon. Rain is coming! We took down holiday decorations today so that we wouldn’t need to do it in the rain this weekend. Weather app says six days of rain ahead. Stay tuned!

Burfoot Park

The beach at Burfoot Park

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Burfoot ParkWe checked out Burfoot Park, a Thurston County Park. This 50-acre park includes saltwater beach frontage on the Budd Inlet near Boston Harbor. From the park, you can see the Washington State Capitol and the Olympic Mountains. The park is right off Boston Harbor Road and is clearly marked.

There’s a large green space with picnic tables and playground equipment. With a few parking areas, there is plenty of parking. The park includes three picnic shelters that can be reserved online. One of these is really in the woods–not your typical city park shelter. There are also bathrooms with sinks and flush toilets. Nothing fancy but an upgrade from port-a-potties and outhouses. We also saw several joggers running the perimeter of the green space.

Dogs are permitted but need to be licensed and on a leash. For everyone’s safety and comfort, please observe leash laws even if your dogs are friendly. Burfoot Park is open year-round, 9am-dusk.

There are several marked trails: we took the trail marked “Beach.” We could not find a trail map at the park, but I’ll update the post when I find one.

Location: 6927 Boston Harbor Rd NE, Olympia WA 98506

Difficulty Rating: Beginner+
I am truly a novice hiker and parts of this trail down to the beach and back were challenging especially because it was wet and a bit muddy. I noticed a couple of hikers had poles and that seemed like a good idea. I recently started the 9-minute workout from the New York Times, so a couple of muscle groups complained. We saw small children to senior citizens during our visit. 

What to see: Definitely worth the trip down to the beach. Even with low visibility, we could see the Olympic Mountains.

How long does it take: We walked down to the beach and back at a leisurely pace in about 40 minutes, taking time to enjoy the beach.

We are trying to visit every city, county and national park in the Olympia area this year. It’s beautiful here! Get outside!

Love,
Oly


Weather report for Jan 2: 35°F and cloudy at 11 am. No rain!

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365 Days of Oly

Frye Cove Park in Olympia

We moved to Olympia last year and we are still getting to know this little evergreen town that the locals call Oly. So for 2018, I am doing this 365 days of Oly journey. I hope you will join me on this daily journey through this Pacific Northwest gem. We will go shopping, get outside, visit local attractions … I’ll also provide a daily weather report.

Olympia, Washington is located in western Washington and is one of the cities along the Puget Sound, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean. The USGS considers the Puget Sound to be an estuary and in the United States, it is second in size only to the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. That puts Olympia just about at sea level with water all around. Olympia is also the capital of the state of Washington and has a population of about 50,000 in the city and about 250,000 in Thurston County which encompasses Olympia.

A couple of things you might not know:

It looks like Olympia is close to Seattle but if you have ever made the drive on I-5, you might feel differently. Those 50ish miles can take three or four hours to traverse depending on traffic. It’s worth the drive but I would not call it close. 

It doesn’t rain here all the time. The summers are actually pretty dry. The rest of the time you might feel like building an ark.

Those perfect summer days are wonderfully LONNNNNNNNG. I drove home from an event last summer after 9 pm and still had light all the way home. The not-so-perfect winter days are SHORT. More on coping with short days later.

There’s a salmon run here! More on that later in the year. You don’t want to miss it.

Olympia is near Olympic National Park, a vast and incredibly diverse National Park.

To know her is to love her. Welcome to Olympia!

Love,
Oly

Today’s weather: it’s cold and sunny today but with limited visibility near the water. No rain! About 37°F at 12:30 pm.