Wednesday, September 29, 2010


...I shall plant a Witch Hazel tree.

I fell in love with this genus of trees (hamamelis) when I was first introduced to it back in college.  We were traipsing around the Washington Park Arboretum identifying plants with our professor.  And I knew right then that someday I would plant a Witch Hazel tree.


Because they look like this in the fall:

And they bloom like this in the dead of winter:

Need I say more?

My "someday" hasn't arrived yet.  But I'll just keep visiting the Witch Hazel trees at the Arboretum until it does.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Alpha and Omega

Two years ago,
You fell and
I fell with you.
Bricks and boards
Scattered in the dirt,
Nothing left of
All that came before.
You were the
Beginning of the
End for me--
The end of who I was
And who I
Was going to be.
Two years and
Too many losses later,
I finally understand:
The end is
Always the beginning.
You fell and
I fell with you,
But we will both
Rise from the ashes.

For Nathan (July 7, 1990 - September 27, 2008).

Saturday, September 25, 2010

'Autumn Baby' Crochet Blanket

About two weeks ago, my childhood friend B gave birth to her fourth child and second son.  You can see pictures of the little guy over on B's blog.  Cute, yes?  B's oldest child was the recipient of my first-ever crochet blanket, so I've been continuing the tradition with each of her children.  I feel a bit badly, however, that my blankets have gotten progressively better and more interesting since my first attempts.  I feel as though B's first two children might have gotten jipped in this process!  Maybe someday I can make it up to them.

For B's newest baby, I opted to go with the colors of fall--or "tree colors" as I used to call them.  I used my favorite yarn for baby blankets, Lion Brand's Homespun in Olive, Herb Garden, Barley, and Earth.  I tried out the classic "granny square" stitch pattern for the first time, which resulted in a square blanket rather than the traditional rectangle.  I was attempting to create a color progression from solid green to solid brown, but the yarn color variations were not exactly as I had hoped they would be and I'm not sure my color progression is very clear.

Here are some pictures:

I had fun working in a square rather than horizontal rows--it felt like I was making progress more quickly when, after the first sitting, I had the equivalent of a potholder rather than a long skinny row of stitches.  I also really like the idea of the color progression and would like to try it again with a different selection of yarns.

Congratulations, B, on another beautiful baby!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Winning Isn't Everything...

...But it sure is fun!

Thank you to everyone who entered the Tea Cup Giveaway this week and shared your tea recommendations.  It made me happy just reading about all that tea love.

With about a dozen entries into the drawing, I opted for the old-fashioned way and actually drew names from a hat.  And yes, it was an actual hat--not a bowl or some such thing.  Random number generation is so boring in comparison, don't you think?

Okay, now that I've strung you along for two paragraphs, I'll just get right to the important stuff:

Winner #1 is......Clumsy Girl, author of the Tales of a Clumsy Klutz blog and also known as my amazing friend from California!


Winner #2 is......Cousin Patty, who is technically my mom's cousin but I think that makes us first cousins once removed?  Not really sure.  All I know is we're related!

Congratulations to both of you!  For being Winner #1, Clumsy Girl can pick a color (pink or blue) and send that to me along with a current mailing address to Courtney{at}GrowingIsBeautiful{dot}com.  I promise to get your happy little cup in the mail this weekend.  As for Winner #2, I think a hand delivery might just be in order.  Unless you really love getting packages in the mail, in which case you can send me your mailing address, too.

As for the rest of you, don't despair!  I have at least two more giveaways planned for the upcoming holiday season, so you may still be a winner yet.  Well, actually, you are all winners in my book, in case that counts for anything!

Happy tea drinking, my friends, and don't forget the NW Tea Festival coming up in a mere 10 days!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fall Cleaning

Autumn leaves
Absorb the sun's color
And drift quietly to earth.
The wind gathers them up and
Carries them swiftly away,
Packing up summer
Into the attic
And making room
In the house
For winter.

(April 2010 Poem-A-Day Challenge
Prompt #6:  Ekphrastic Poem)

Happy First Day of Autumn, from my yard to yours!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Happy Thoughts

Five little things that are making me smile:

1.  I bought new glasses last week.  They're purple and black.  And oh so awesome.  Don't you think?

2.  I pulled all my tea mugs out of storage a couple weeks back and picked out five of them to make up my "Fall Collection."  Happy mugs make tea drinking even more fun than usual.

3.  The changing weather means its time to pull out my scarves--and not just any scarves.  These are silk scarves hand painted by my Great Aunt Chickee.  Beautiful, yes?

4.  Over the weekend, my mom and I went yarn shopping.  When I told her I wanted to make a blanket for myself, she was so excited that she bought all the yarn for me.  Apparently, it's well past time I made something for myself.  These are the colors I picked out. With names like Amethyst, Pesto, and Great Plains, how could they not be happy colors?

5.  And last, but not least:  The Tea Festival is only 12 days away!

PS--If you haven't entered the giveaway from last week, you still have until tomorrow (Wednesday) at midnight!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tea Time

Kettle filled to the brim
Leaves carefully measured out
Mug chosen to suit the mood
Timer standing at the ready
Now I wait for
Water to boil
Tea to steep
Stress to dissipate
And sanity to return

(April 2010 Poem-A-Day Challenge
Prompt #2: Water)
It's a well known fact that I love tea. In fact, some might even say I'm in need of an intervention in this regard. But mostly people just smile, nod their heads, and ask if I'd like a cup of tea. The answer is always yes.

With the impending return of Autumn comes something I've been waiting for all year: The third annual Northwest Tea Festival! What? You haven't been counting the days? Well, I haven't exactly been counting the days either, but I've been planning to attend the festival ever since I first experienced it last October. If you are going to be in the Puget Sound area October 2-3 and are a tea drinker of any sort, you really shouldn't miss this.

The event is hosted at the Seattle Center and is technically free, but if you want to sample tea (which, honestly, is more than half the fun), the cost is $5 for a tasting cup. There are a multitude of classes/presentations you can attend to learn more about the various aspects of tea as well as a variety of tasting sessions available. And of course, there will be plenty of vendors with their teas, tea accessories, and brewed tea samples. Oh, and did I mention the goody bag of free samples and coupons you'll get just for walking in the door?

So what are you waiting for? Go to the website at and start planning your trip to the festival!

And in honor of this most fabulous occasion, I thought a little giveaway might be in order. A number of months ago, I came across these lovely tea cups for a great price and have been waiting for the right time to give them away:

They each contain a high-quality infusion basket and a lid to keep the heat in while the tea is steeping:

Nifty, huh?

And don't worry. If you haven't gotten into loose leaf tea yet, this is the perfect cup to get you started!

Since I have two cups to give away, I'll be picking two winners. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post or on the Facebook link before midnight on September 22, 2010, to be included in the drawing. Oh, and I'd really, really like it if you also included a tea recommendation in your comment (doesn't need to be loose leaf)—an old favorite, a current love, a new discovery, or even one you've been wanting to try but haven't yet.

I'll go first—I mean, I'm not entering myself in the drawing here because, well, that would be silly. But I can still recommend a tea! My current favorite has actually been my favorite for a whole year—ever since I discovered it at the Tea Festival last year. It is Remedy Teas Flora Berry, a heavenly blend of rooibos (red tea), lavender, and berries. When brewed hot, all the flavors mingle into a very happy fruity/floral red tea. When brewed iced, the lavender is exceptionally strong and gives the tea a whole new spin. And it's naturally caffeine free, so I can drink it in the evenings after work. I just refilled my tin of Flora Berry recently, so if you win the giveaway, don't be surprised if you find a little sample of my favorite tea with your cup.

And no, your recommendation does not need to be all detailed and obsessive like mine. A name will be fine. I am, after all, the only one in need of an intervention here.

So hurry up and enter already, because I'm super excited to give these fun cups away!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Million Dollar Question

It's been a week since I wrote my last post. I'm getting the impression that many of you are waiting with bated breath to hear the answer to the million dollar question:

What difference has three days made?

Fair enough. I suppose it isn't very nice of me to leave you hanging. But if you're looking for a simple answer, you should know by now you've come to the wrong place. After all, when you look up the word "complicated" in the dictionary, I'm pretty sure you'll find my name listed there. If not, it should be.

I'll start with the bad news: I've been taking the B12/folic acid prescription for seven days and so far my fatigue remains largely unchanged.

The good news: I'm not surprised and not discouraged by that fact. We are correcting the root cause of the damage to my body, which means the damage will stop increasing. But we have yet to repair the damage that has already been done after 28 years of dysfunction. We have our work cut out for us, and it won't happen overnight. But at least now we have a shot at fixing what previously seemed unfixable.

The great news: I already told you, but you probably missed it. I'm not discouraged. Starting the very first day I took my prescription, the cloud of depression that has been pressing down on me for longer than I can remember disappeared. It's as if a switch in my brain has been flipped. I haven't cried in seven days. I catch myself smiling more often than not—because I can, and I want to, and I feel good.

Nothing in my external life has changed. My job is still awful, my finances are still dismal, my living situation is still less than ideal, and my future is still ridiculously complicated and uncertain. And yet, something has changed. I've changed. It feels as if something inside me has broken wide open and Hope has rushed in and filled me up to a level I've never felt before.

I don't understand it. I can't explain it. But I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Apparently God doesn't need three days to change the unchangeable. He just needs one.

I guess the short answer to the million dollar question is this: I don't yet feel like a million bucks, but I'm also not filing for bankruptcy anymore. And that, my friends, is some of the best news I've had in a very long time.

My advice to us all? Relax. Trust that God is at work. And remember that healing takes time.