For the love of fabric

We visited Ruby Street Quiltworks in Tumwater. It was our first quilt shop visit in the area and we were not disappointed. So. Much. Beautiful. Fabric. I found them online when searching for a source for American Made Brand solid fabrics. I have a quilt project planned that uses many different solid fabrics and it’s keyed to this brand and its colors. So, I thought I would make it easy on myself and find this brand. That search led me to Ruby Street Quiltworks and it turns out it was in a regular shopping path, not far from the Costco in Tumwater.

They have many beautiful fabrics including batiks, which I love. They also sell books and patterns, thread and tools. Ruby Street offers classes, too, check out their listing online.

They offer a special discount if it’s your birthday. I can’t think of a better place to celebrate.

Love,
Oly


Today’s weather: Rainy and cold and windy in the evening. Highs in the low 40s.

State Bird of Washington

Whenever I move to a new place, I always try to learn the local birds. One of the first birds we saw when we moved here was a bald eagle which feels to me like winning the bird watching lottery. A very large owl landed on a tree in my yard and took an uncomfortable interest in my dog. Since then, I am cautious even though my dogs weigh in at 50 lbs. or more. That owl looked like he wanted to earn his badass merit badge.

The state bird of Washington is the Willow Goldfinch also known as the American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis). The goldfinch was selected as the state bird by school children in 1951 (1). I recently bought a Nyjer thistle seed feeder and I am glad to know there is somebird that will enjoy. (I realize I should have done that the other way around. I got excited.)

I read an article that suggested feeding birds in the winter so they will help you would with pests in the spring and I thought that sounded like good advice. I love birds, my parent’s influence, I think. When I was younger they were part of the rare bird alert calling tree and would go out and look for rare birds. I thought that was pretty nerdy but now admit that I might do the same thing. Only now, we would just text the rare bird alerts. There is some controversy about bird feeders but I listen to my birder mother’s advice and feed birds in the winter. The rest of the year, I try to provide plants that offer food and protection to my bird friends. And it looks like the goldfinch population has benefitted from humans and their feeders.

Special thanks for the goldfinch photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash.

Be kind to our bird friends.

Love,
Oly

PS Please support free access to information by supporting the Wikimedia Foundation.


  1. McAuliffe, Emily (2003). Washington Facts and Symbols. Capstone Press. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-7368-2277-0.

Let’s Meetup

Tomato Seedlings

We went to a Seed Starting Meetup hosted by South Sound Vegans and Living Green in Olympia. Meetup is an online community/app that helps you to create and make connections IRL with people who share the same interests: gaming, cooking, hiking, politics — you name it–there’s probably a Meetup group for it.

I’ve been lurking in the Meetup world for about six months. I know, I know, I am slow to take the plunge. And then there was a Meetup on seed starting. If you dangle anything plant or garden-related in front of me you are likely to get my full attention.

We met at Encore Chocolates and Teas, 116 5th Ave SE · Olympia, WA.

Wow–so much tea. This is the place to go for tea! I tried the jasmine tea and it was fantastic. I’ll definitely be going back. How did I get out of there without trying the chocolates? I have no idea.  I think I was distracted by the gardening talk. Now you know my priorities!

Anna talked about a wide range of topics related to seed starting and has a new blog dedicated to South Sound gardening called Edible or Else.

Some things that I learned:

  • Anna offered a better explanation of hardening off that I have learned elsewhere: that is, making a slow transition to the outside for seedlings started inside.
  • Keeping seeds cool: I knew that they should be dry–did not make the cool connection.
  • If you have moved around, you know that getting the inside scope on the local growing environment makes all the difference, so I was happy to learn about Seattle Tilth’s Maritime Northwest Garden Guide. You can order a copy for $22.00 including postage and it may be the best $22 that you spend on the garden,

Buying good quality seeds means that the seeds are what they say they are, have been stored properly and are robust enough to sprout. Finding varieties that work well in your area is key. Sometimes, that means letting go of a variety that you grew up with (I’m looking at you Beefsteak tomato) in favor of varieties that match the length and temperature ranges of your growing season. Seed catalogs we learned about:

Another catalog I’ve used is Oregon-based Territorial Seeds for short season, cool temps-tolerant tomato varieties.

In addition to Edible or Else, check out the Northwest Edible Life blog, in particular, the monthly gardening guides.

I am new to gardening in the Pacific Northwest gardening but I am not new to gardening or short-season gardening or cool-season gardening. There are a lot of parallels to gardening in the low desert of Arizona and in Northern Nevada. A lot of people don’t realize that you can’t garden in the summer in Arizona. If you want to grow tomatoes in Arizona, you have to start your seeds in December for a February planting and then it’s a race against the calendar to get your crop before temps go well above 100. Native Seeds/SEARCH in Tucson was a go-to resource when I lived in Arizona and there’s some overlap in the cool season growing advice. Native Seeds is a nonprofit seed conservation group focusing on Native American seed preservation. Check out this article on cool-season growing. I like their BRAG memory device for cool season growing: Brassicas, Roots, Alliums and Greens. If you want to get started with seed saving, their article on seed saving is a good place to start. This is all to say that even if you are new to the area, you might know more than you think.

I am pretty excited about gardening this year and will share I’ll be keeping a garden journal on Instagram @LetsKeepGrowing. If you are a gardener, you know that January is when all of the seed catalogs come out. If you are new to gardening, it’s time to sign up for those catalogs. Get excited, people! Spring is coming.

Let’s get growing!

Love,
Oly


Today’s weather: It’s 40°F and raining at 5:30 am. Looks like it might rain all day.