Painted Ladies

My butterflies are emerging today. It feels so symbolic for the current state of affairs. What could have been a dark weekend has turned into one of the most inspiring, lovely times of my life. 

Yesterday I marched with my sister and millions of other women the world over. I felt so empowered, supported, and proud to stand up, speak out, and celebrate our different beliefs. In the midst of thousands of ladies laughing together, encouraging one another, and flying through Seattle, Beau texted to tell me my first Painted Lady butterfly had emerged. 

I haven’t been silent on here about how disillusioned I am about Trump being president. At first I thought I was one of very few. The way he speaks about women, and countless who condone him made me want to do something tangible. I made my female symbol out of red and blue and posted it here, then started following grassroots movements online. On Pantsuit Nation I read countless stories from marginalized women, some of hope, some so hard to read I couldn’t stop crying. It’s been such an interesting time of discovery for me, realizing the fight women have been through in our century, and how much of my own views have been distorted by society. Just because a law says we have rights, doesn’t mean they’re still followed, and people saying we at least don’t have to cover ourselves up like in other countries cannot understand how demeaning that sounds: as if the very basic right to show my skin should be a triumph for me.

I marched for the environment. I marched for my friends struggling with gender roles in their private and professional lives. I marched for love and acceptance. I marched for those who have experienced sexual violence. For those who are physically or verbally abused. I marched for the girl me who was scared, the woman I am now, and the future me. Yesterday I was inspired by a quote by Feminist Nellie McClung, who fought for women’s voting rights:

“Women are going to form a chain, a greater sisterhood than the world has ever known.”
I think that happened yesterday, and I wish the suffragettes could have been there to see it.


Golden growth

“You say it’s your birthday! It’s my birthday tooooo!” ~The Beatlesscreen-shot-2017-01-10-at-7-22-44-pm

Beau and I went to the butterfly house at the Pacific Science Center and I spent about an hour just ogling chrysalises and taking pictures of fluttering wings. I found out about Paper Kite Butterflies. First I was just enamored with how many big white and black butterflies there were, all fluttering together in lazy flocks. I even took a selfie with one. Then, while looking at all the pupas I gasped at some shiny bright metallic gold chrysalises. I had never seen anything like them! I took a picture. On the way home I looked at the name of the pupas in the picture, then looked up their butterflies on google. They were the same black and white butterflies! screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-7-17-00-pm
Fast forward to later when we had all had some cinnamon roll birthday cake, Harry brought a christmas present from my mom I hadn’t opened the packaging too. A little butterfly kite!

I can’t help but see some significance. Birthdays remind me of change and growth. I’ve felt a little bit chrysalisish…perhaps even caterpillarish lately. (The irony of my wearing a striped shirt just like the striped caterpillars of the kite butterfly was not lost on me.) More and more I realize that we are eternally going through different stages of growth all throughout our lives.  We can even be simultaneously sprouting wings as we are still working on a cocoon. It never really ends. The trick is finding beauty in every stage. I think getting older is helping me see how. The things that mattered so much to 20 year old me seem trivial now. I’m glad to think that things that make me sad today will someday have some time and wisdom between me and them. I’ve learned that loneliness is time to reflect and work on self care, humility is a step into reality, and failure is fuel for courage.

But I wouldn’t have known these things if I’d been flying high as a kite all through the years. And I won’t be able to go deeper and learn more if I don’t expect and welcome change now and in the future. Even the coloring of the butterflies means something to me. When everything is going well life seems to be black and white, you think you can see clearly and make decisions and create ideas based out of naivety and jadedness. But truth and strength come from adversity. Life doesn’t have easy answers, and the world needs to be seen from different hues.

Perhaps the butterflies were trying to show me that while difficult to shed one’s exoskeleton and become something new, it can be a brilliantly golden time. Ones own poetry and glittering soul are shown when the pain of growth happens.screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-7-14-11-pm
image from

I’ve been loving these lyrics from La La Land’s The fools who dream:

“A bit of madness is key
to give us to color to see
Who knows where it will lead us?
And that’s why they need us

So bring on the rebels
The ripples from pebbles
The painters, and poets, and plays

And here’s to the fools who dream
Crazy, as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that break
Here’s to the mess we make”


Moonlit magic

I watched Woody Allen’s movie Magic in the Moonlight last night and fell madly in love with every beautifully framed shot.


The costumes, sets, vistas and romantic lighting…swoon! I need more chinoiserie wallpaper, floral hats, and lacy feathery sparkly dresses in my life! (as if I don’t already). I love it when movies take you on a mini vacation. I feel like I just walked through a flower arbor tunnel in the French riviera.

And although the story line and writing didn’t get great reviews,  I liked the idea of it: if skepticism makes you unhappy, why not look at the world in a miraculous light?

The real problem with this movie is that the age difference between the two main actors is so unrealistic that the romance takes you by surprise.  You’re not rooting for them to fall in love because the whole time you’re thinking he’s more of a mentor. I never felt butterflies in my stomach and the final scene at best is a shoulder shrug and at worst makes you think about kissing your dad.  I think this movie would have done much better at the box office if Allen had chosen a younger man or an older woman. Maybe it says something that I was paying more attention to their clothes and the chairs they were sitting on than the scenes themselves?

The country diary of an edwardian lady

I’ve been reading Edith Holden’s 100 year old book. It’s a log of all the more exciting natural beauty that occurs throughout the seasons. She paints flora and birds and gives snippets about the months. Ellen gave it to me on thanksgiving! screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-3-49-11-pm

I’ve been thinking about how I have been a modern version of her lately. “The City diary of a Millennial Lady” ha! There are many parallels between our experiences. screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-3-49-59-pm

We have a love of the same kind of poetry and red toadstools and birds! I’ve documented and given snippets of my days throughout the last ten years or so. I’ve also been writing about my floral inspirations and seasonal memories for my next book; The Art of Flora Forager. I hope it’s as well loved by someone as I love Edith Holden’s book!  screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-3-49-30-pm

Here’s my diary from the last few days…

~Made a Polyphemus moth out of sticks, leaves, and floral matter. I had the perfect curled up dead leaves to make its cocoon, and orange berries for the nobs on its caterpillar’s head.

~Drove down a dark forested highway to pick up my sister. The trees were black against a solstice evening sky.  One valley had a ghostly mist looming at eye level so I could see above and below it. It was a living thing, creeping nearer as I escaped into the mountains.

~I used lots of curry spices, cardamom and cinnamon for a soup.  The children surprised me by loving it.

~I set up a butterfly enclosure in the sitting room. Ten wriggly caterpillars came in the mail and I have been eagerly watching them grow every day.  Soon they will be chrysalises and I will hang them in the enclosure so they can transform into Painted Lady Butterflies!

~flocks of tiny bush tits have been in the lilacs bushes eating their pods. One flew into the house and fluttered back out when he noticed me.

~We’ve had a few snowflakes interspersed with rain. I wish it would stick and stay for christmas, but it looks like we’ll have a sunny holiday. I’d like that better than rain, so I’ll take it.





Today I got to take some pictures of feathers at the Audubon Center! Stellar’s JayEagleHummingbirdFinchDuck (previous three)Barn owlHawk

Aren’t they just amazing? I donated a dead Sap Sucker my brother in law Kris found in the snow. Pita Marina is my contact there and she was so darling with my boys while I snapped pictures of the birds! I love that there are people in the world who dedicate themselves to educating youngsters about birds. 

The Nutcracker!

On Friday my sister Lucy and I went to the Nutcracker! The Pacific Northwest Ballet generously gave me a tour of their costume shop last week and it was amazing to see their handiwork on stage! It was such eye candy! Here’s a little floral design I made after seeing the sugar plum fairy costume…screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-10-44-39-am
Ian Falconer’s design was magical. He’s the Creator of Olivia the Pig…see her in the box to the left?screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-10-44-50-amEverything was so colorful and detailed. We gasped a couple of times! I wish I could have taken a picture of the snowy forest with layers upon layers of branches or the walnut boat arriving in the candy kingdom covered with doilies and sweets! I loved the forced perspective of the living room decorated with silhouettes and pastels and red stripes. I felt like a little kid! When the tree got bigger and bigger I was so excited. I had only ever seen the show on tv, and nothing can compare to being in person!screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-10-44-59-am
The flower waltz was obviously my favorite dance. Especially since I got to see the design and the women who painstakingly cut each and every petal!screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-10-46-11-amscreen-shot-2016-11-29-at-10-46-56-am
Isn’t this transformation from paint to fabric incredible? They even dye all their own fabrics!
I loved finding out special details, like how the rat king has one gold tooth,screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-10-46-02-amscreen-shot-2016-11-29-at-10-45-53-am
some of the womens’ wigs have birds on them,


they use a pancake griddle to heat up their stick-on jewels, (They were SO sparkly on stage!)screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-10-45-32-amthe parzipan skirts were literally made to copy a doily Ian Falconer brought in and showed them!


And did you know that professional ballerinas can go through three shoes in one night?

So much goes into a show like this!
Getting to go to the show after all this behind the scenes fun was truly a one in a lifetime experience. Thank you to Lindsay Thomas and the incredible team at Pacific Northwest Ballet for making it all happen! If you haven’t been to the Nutcracker, go! You can get tickets here.

Artist Love: Norman Hartnell

I love these cream puff confections created by the fashion designer for the ladies of the royal family in the 20’s through the 50’s.  He designed their wedding dresses, ball gowns, fancy wardrobes, as well as Queen Elizabeth’s ornately embroidered coronation dress with beaded thistles and roses.

I love this sweet story…When Queen Elizabeth I first visited France with King George VI in 1938 she had to be in mourning for her recently passed mother. But instead of all black, Norman Hartnell had the idea to have her wear all white dresses, hats, gloves, and accessories.  It is now known as the White Wardrobe and at the time it inspired France so much that they called her “The Queen of two Nations.”

Imagine being able to wear one of these sparkling pieces… you’d definitely feel like a princess!

“I despise simplicity. It is the negation of all that is beautiful,” ~Norman Hartnell

Wild about wild mushrooms!


This year I went to the Wild Mushroom Show with Sarah Hartsig of Hazelwood Forest. She’s pretty much the only person I’ve ever encountered who loves mushrooms and Beatrix Potter as much as I do. Probably more! screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-6-18-48-pmscreen-shot-2016-11-21-at-6-20-17-pmI wore a vintage mushroom dress I’ve had stored away for just the right occasion!screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-6-18-58-pm

October was all about mushrooms. Hunting, painting, marveling, eating… I have always detested the taste of mushrooms but have been trying over the last few years ever so carefully to find the ones I love. Chantrelles and truffles have pretty much been it! I like them in soups and on pizza. This year I tried cooking the rare matsutake mushroom that tastes a little like cinnamon…I liked it! It only cost me $34 a lb..haha.

Because I really have no intention of eating mushrooms, when I go hunting it’s just to find the prettiest, biggest, most fascinating ones!  The kids love it. We were especially delighted by all the Amanita Muscarias that were out this year!


My painting and Oliver’s painting of mushrooms :)screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-6-20-49-pm

I think my favorite thing at the show was the natural dye display. The colors contrived from lichen and mushrooms are SO delicate and muted. I just adored seeing the silks, yarns, and felt in different fungi palettes. They’re perfect colors for fall!screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-6-20-08-pmscreen-shot-2016-11-21-at-6-19-59-pmscreen-shot-2016-11-21-at-6-19-10-pmscreen-shot-2016-11-21-at-6-19-18-pmscreen-shot-2016-11-21-at-6-19-27-pm

Artist Love: The New Yorker

This is obviously a variety of artists throughout the decades, but I love how The New Yorker’s art is both commentary and beautiful. Clean, simple lines, and somewhat pastel. It reminds me of artists like Walt Peregoy (101 dalmations) and Eyvind Earle (Stleeping Beauty). We recently subscribed and I’ve especially enjoyed the satirical covers over the last few weeks.

The articles have a dreamy, yet frank quality that I am not used to, but am devouring.  Perhaps switching from news online to an actual printed publication is reteaching my brain to enjoy the beauty of taking a breath between headlines.  I’m currently reading Esmé in Neverland by Jill Lepore and loving it. Screen Shot 2016-11-18 at 11.13.31 AM.png

Back to the Garden

We are stardust
We are Golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
back to the garden


And everywhere there was song and celebration
And I dreamed I saw the bombers
Riding shotgun in the sky
And they were turning into butterflies
Above our nation

We are stardust
Billion year old carbon
We are golden
Caught in the devil’s bargain
And we’ve got to get ourselves
back to the garden

Joni Mitchell