Free books for everyone!

I have almost always loved books. I have to admit that there was a time after graduate school that I wanted nothing to do with books. And lately, I find that fiction does not hold my attention but I continue to be grateful for the wide variety of books available.

When I was a kid, a bookmobile came to our neighborhood and I went there with my dog Clifford. Clifford the Big Red Dog was one of the first books that I learned to read and it followed that my first dog would be named after my literary hero. The librarian, also having an appreciation for my dog and his literary namesake, let him curl up at her feet while I checked out as many books as I could carry. Every kid — and every adult — should have access to a library, but sadly, not all do.

After moving to Olympia, I decided to become a regular at the library and now I almost always have books checked out. I used to buy all my books but the library lets me try before I buy and keeps me from being overrun by books.

Which brings me to my own library. My better half bought me a Little Free Library and this weekend the post went in the ground and the Library went up. I filled it with books and a guest book and it’s officially up and running.

If you are new to these little libraries, the Little Free Library movement brings tiny libraries to neighborhoods and public spaces around the globe. I am a proponent of contributing to the commons and Little Free Libraries serve as quaint and quirky guideposts on the streets of life. LFLs encourage sharing and community. Take a book or leave a book is the most common format although some LFL stewards have their own take. Some are in urban spaces and some are even far more remote than mine. I would not be surprised if some of my neighbors think I have lost it putting a little library up on our gravel road. I feel like I put up a new bird feeder and I am waiting for the birds to find it! But the cool thing about caring for the commons is that it doesn’t matter how big or well-traveled your part of the commons is. It still counts.

So my Little Free Library is up and waiting for its first visitor. Will it be a Lady and the Tramp fan? Someone looking for a copy of Dale Carnegie’s classic How to Win Friends and Influence People? Someone just discovering the magical world of Harry Potter? Or someone drawn to the vampires and witches of L.J. Smith’s Night World series? Louisa May Alcott’s beloved Little Women? Or Anne Lamott’s standard for aspiring and/or struggling writers, Bird by Bird.

It will be fun to see what happens.

Keep reading!


Today’s weather was a mix of sun and clouds and rain. It didn’t keep me from working in the yard–I had all of those plant sale plants to get in the ground!

Go Native

It’s that time! The Thurston Conservation District native plant sale is Saturday, March 3! There will be vendor booths and activities for kids. And the Master Gardeners will be there!

The 2018 sale will be held 10 am to 3 pm at the Thurston Conservation District offices located at 2918 Ferguson St SW Tumwater, 98512.

The sale will also feature a few workshops:

  • 11 am: Gardening With Mushrooms –  Fungi Perfecti, Loni Jean Ronnebaum
    This presentation will feature information on low tech mushroom cultivation for home and garden, people, and the planet.
  • Noon: Best Practices for a Healthy LawnThurston CD, Nicole Warren
    Gear up for summer lawn parties! Are you frustrated by weeds and moss in your lawn? Come learn about appropriate fertilizer application, protecting water quality, and tips for a beautiful lawn.
  • 1 pm: MycoremediationFungi Perfecti, Tristan Woodsmith
    A brief overview of our research on the use of fungi for filtration of water (mycofiltration), the breakdown of toxic wastes (mycoremediation), empowering ecoforestry strategies (mycoforestry) and helping to influence and control pest insect populations (mycopesticides). Tristan will also discuss our current bee research with WSU.
  • 2 pm: Soil Testing for a Productive GardenThurston CD, Nicole Warren
    Is your garden not producing as much as you want it to? Seems lackluster? Are you amending your soils without testing them? Come learn why your soil’s nutrients affect plant growth, what you can and can’t change, and how to make those changes. Details of Thurston CD’s soil testing program will be shared as well.

The annual sale allows gardeners to pre-order plants so watch for that annually in January. I preordered a bunch of plants and picked them up today. Guess what I will be doing this weekend!

One of my goals in my yard is to remove invasive plants, like the Himalayan Blackberry, and focus on planting native plants.

Because I have a wooded yard with lots of plant material, I decided to order some marker flags from Amazon to mark the location of the new plants so it will be easier to keep an eye on them and enlist my better half’s help in watering them if needed.  There’s always some mortality when planting bare root plants and plugs so go easy on yourself if you decide to buy plants this way. The TCD provides good planting and care instructions. It feels like a little more work — with more uncertainty — but it can be easier to establish plants this way because they are growing in place.

You had me at “plant sale.” <3

Keep growing!


What time is it?

We went to see the newly refurbished Territorial Sundial in front of the Washington State Library, the Joel M. Pritchard Building, on the Capitol Grounds in Olympia. It was just reinstalled in early January and rededicated on January 30, 2018.

Territorial Sundial in Olympia WashingtonThe sundial was originally dedicated in January 1959. Sculptor and metal artist John W. Elliott (1883-1971) created the sundial with bas-relief panels depicting Washington’s history.  (Elliott also redesigned the Washington State Seal that appears on the state flag.) Originally installed in the 1950s, the sundial was in need of a number of updates. University of Washington emeritus professor and sundial expert Woodruff “Woody” Sullivan was a consultant on the project.

A sundial is made up of a flat plate and a gnomon (pronounced something like nomen). The gnomon is the part of the sundial that casts the shadow.

Want to learn how to read a sundial? There are handy instructions near the Territorial Sundial on the Capitol Grounds. Or check out Just Energy’s page.

Reading the Territorial Sundial in Olympia WashingtonDid you know that you can make your own sundial out of paper? Check out You can also buy a pretty cool pocket sundial on Etsy.

You can keep up with everything happening on the Washington Capitol Grounds by following  Enterprise Services on Twitter and by following the Washington State Capitol Campus Visitor Services on Facebook. You can also sign up for email updates.

The Washinton State Capitol Grounds are beautiful and even in February, several things were in bloom. It’s a fun walk with lots to see and mountain and water views.

Shine on!


Today’s weather: In the low 30s again this morning — warming up to the 40s — and cloudy but no rain. We did some yard work today and it wasn’t too bad.

More books? Yes, please!

I know I have written about the Timberland Regional Library before but I think their semi-annual book sales deserve special attention. This weekend is the book sale at the Olympia branch.

  • Sale Hours: February 10, 10 am–4 pm; February 11, 1–4 pm
  • Location: Olympia Library, 313 8th Ave SE, Olympia

You can get early access to the book sale as a Friend of the Library. See for more information on how to join or buy a membership at the door. Donations can be dropped off to the library’s circulation desk. Please place your donations in a box or a bag. If you have a large donation–10 boxes or more–please make an appointment. If you have a lot of books and cannot bring them downtown,  email the book sale coordinator Irene at Your donations are also tax-deductible.

Fun fact: Between 1,500 and 2,000 of book donations go directly into the library’s inventory and onto the library shelves every year! How cool is that?!

We went to the sale to stock our new Little Free Library AND support the Friends of the Library. And let’s be real: we both love books.

Some of our finds:

  • Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott
  • The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • Lady and the Tramp (based on the Walt Disney movie)
  • Two Night World anthologies by L.J. Smith
  • Watership Down by Richard Adams
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowlings
  • Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
  • Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
  • The Shack by Wm. Paul Young
  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  • Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
  • The Northwest Gardeners’ Resource Directory

Coming soon to a Little Free Library near you!

It’s just $10/year to become a Friend of the Library; $15 for families and just $150 to become a FRIEND FOR LIFE. Woo-hoo! 

Save the date! The next Friends of the Olympia Library book sale is May 12-13, 2018.

Keep reading!


Today’s weather: Colder this morning–31°F at about 6 am. Brrrrr. But we had highs in the mid-40s. And sunshine with no rain. Everything is a trade-off. I wore my sunglasses more than once today! #winning

Let’s Play

Gabi's Olympic Cards and Comics in Lacey

I visited Gabi’s Olympic Cards and Comics today. My better half had already visited for a board game Meetup but I wanted to see it for myself.

All I can say is wow.

Other game shops I have been to pale in comparison. Located in Lacey, this game store is a hometown gem that seems to have grown bigger and better over the years. This place is huge–7,000 square feet!–with impressive inventory in multiple categories, including the biggest selection of Funko Pop I have ever seen. I had no idea there were so many! And the vibe was just right. This is a friendly place where all are welcome and it seemed like a great place to spend an afternoon–and the nearly 1000 5-star reviews on Facebook support this assessment. Gabi herself stopped to ask me if I needed help. (Be sure to read her amazing story.) There are two levels. Downstairs you’ll find games, toys, models, paint, collectibles, comics, graphic novels and other books. Upstairs there are rows of tables for playing games. There are also games that you can play so you can try before you buy.

Check out their Facebook page for upcoming events. And stop by and see for yourself.

Location: Near Fred Meyer in Lacey, 4230 Pacific Ave. Lacey, WA 98503, (360) 459-7721

Hours (always a good idea to call)
Mon., 10 am-9 pm
Tues.-Sat., 10 am-Midnight
Sun., 10 am-6 pm

Today’s weather: The weather alternated between fine and terrible today. It felt colder than it was (40s) because of the 20ish MPH winds in the morning that took down several large branches in our yard and on our street. When we were out and about it was fine and then not and then fine again. Shortly after we got home we had hail. It was enough to make you say, “What the hail!”

Hidden Gem: Frye Cove

Frye Cove

Looking for a quick and easy hike that will surround you with nature? Check out Frye Cove on Steamboat Island Peninsula. Frye Cove is a Thurston County Park.

Frye Cove is a 67-acre park located along Eld inlet. It has over 2 miles of hiking trails plus restrooms and picnic areas. We walked through the park in about 45 minutes and would have done a second loop if we had more time. We will definitely be going back!

Apparently, it’s a popular spot for weddings and I can see why. It’s so beautiful–a perfect forest setting. Even “magical forest” doesn’t quite do it justice. Everywhere we go in Olympia, we feel like we are walking through the pages of The Hobbit.

Frye Cove

Rating: Easy. We saw people of all ages at the park.

Frye Cove Park is located at 4000 NW 61st Ave, Olympia WA 98502. The entrance to the park is easy to find. The park is open 9 am to dusk. Frye Cove allows dogs on leash. Please respect the leash laws and always pick up after your dog.


Today’s weather: It rained in the early morning. It stopped raining later in the morning, just in time for a long dog walk. The rain picked up again after the evening dog walk. Temps in the mid to upper 40s today.

Rainy Crafternoons

Have a nice crafternoon

What do you when it’s raining, raining, raining? I think you buy a good raincoat and you just get used to it. I have three levels of rain: barely raining/mostly wet, raining steadily, and raining cats and dogs. I have become okay with level one. I just go about my business undeterred. I do find myself watching my weather app for breaks in the rain and planning accordingly for levels one and two. But for level three, I just stay inside. Rainy days are great days for reading, games and CRAFTS.

For an affordable afternoon of crafting–crafternoon!–head to Pinterest for ideas. You can find a lot of amazing projects that you can do with Dollar Tree finds. There are a couple of Dollar Trees in the area: on the west side near Target and Wally’s, in Tumwater near Costco/Walmart/Home Depot and in Lacey near Fred Meyers and across the street from Target.

  • 2104 Harrison Ave NW A18, Olympia WA, 98502, 360-534-0210
  • 606 Sleater Kinney Rd. SE, Lacey WA, 98503, 360-456-2878
  • 5203 Capitol Blvd SE, Tumwater, WA 98501, 360-628-8522
  • Store Hours: 9 am – 9 pm, every day (it’s always a good idea to call ahead)

On a recent trip, I purchased a heart-shaped wire wreath form. I want to make a Valentine’s Day themed ornament wreath and this is a perfect size–and perfect shape, of course.

Remember to check out Pinterest for some great Dollar Tree hacks. Happy crafting!


Today’s weather: It rained early in the morning and then cleared up. At about 2 p.m. the rain started up again. The afternoon dog walk was a little bit too wet. But–not cold.

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!


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

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.


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.