WALK THIS WAY
Free City Walks around Seattle

Come walk with us. We are leading free fun and interesting urban nature walks in the greater Seattle area.

You can get all the details for our walks by subscribing in the box on the left side of this page. Share with your friends. They are free and fun!

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A Sweet Little Guide to Nature Me For You

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A Simple Way to FEEL MORE JOY in your life

© Cary Given/Given Photography 2016

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Journal Archive
Friday
Jan092015

PICTURE IT WELL: be the one who has moxie

Black-crowned Night Heron. © Curt Given/Given Photography 2015This year switch up your resolutions. Instead of setting them based on what you haven't done like getting fit, cutting down on TV, or starting a new hobby, try this. Set them based on what you want to become. I read somewhere that the top three things women want are to be more courageous, to set strong boundaries and to not take stuff so personally. So what do YOU want to become this year?  A woman who takes more risks, knows her limits, or walks away from master button-pushers? This year, be the girl who has moxie! Happy New Year! 

PICTURE IT WELL photos from givenphoto.com symbolize some aspect of well-being. The brief text is meant to inspire you and demonstrate the uplifting power of nature.  

More PICTURE IT WELL posts

Creating space 

Find your path to joy

A peaceful way

Letting go

See the abundance in your life

Dig into your roots

Play it up in the new year

Do one thing

Reflect for growth

Monday
Nov242014

5 easy ways to practice gratitude in nature 

Spruce, © Curt Given/Given Photography 2014The holiday season is a wonderful time of year. Filled with well wishes, lots of merry and maybe a little craziness. Taking time to feel grateful about big and little things in your life during the next few weeks is the best way to change craziness into calm and truly feel the spirit of love and giving. Here are some of my favorite ways to practice gratitude outdoors.

1. Start a gratitude journal. Visit your favorite outdoor setting regularly to capture your thoughts. Write down the things in your life that you are grateful for--big and small. It will shift your perception, helping you to see old things in a new way. And you will soon find out that your life is pretty perfect as it is. No more striving. Just appreciation for what you have now. 

2. Look at the night sky and thank your lucky stars for all of the blessings in your life. Do this often and you will start to feel  a "bigger than you" presence.

3. Explore someplace new outside. We just got back from a wonderful trip to Death Valley National Park. What an amazingly expansive beautiful place. Throughout the trip I felt that I was meant to be there and so grateful that I was. I felt joy and wonder everyday as we explored the park. And, I am still carrying those feelings now. You don't have to travel that far...explore a new park, foot path, forest trail, beach or other green space near your home. Go with a sense of adventure, joy will bubble up, and you will naturally feel thankful that you are in that place in that moment.

4. Take children on a nature walk. You will catch their natural exuberance. They will ask you questions, show you what they discovered, and thank-you for taking them. And you will be grateful for making the choice to share the experience with them.

5. Take a gratitude walk. Check out this link to a post I wrote earlier about a super easy activity that will keep you balanced and appreciative of all the goodness in your life. 

Now it's your turn. What are you grateful for? Do you have any special ways that you practice gratitude? Please join the conversation and share in the comments below.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

If you like this article, please share with the button below.

Tuesday
Sep232014

10 ways to flourish this fall 

Silver Falls State Park, © Curt Given/Given Photography 2013Fall is my favorite season for many reasons. The gorgeous autumn colors, cool nights, and warm crisp days make it easy to be outside. I find myself naturally nesting and clearing inside and out. Insight and clarity seem to come easily, maybe because the busy summer months have slowed down and I take more time for reflection. And I always seem to find some area around the house to clear out--whether it's in the house or outside in the garden, the action symbolically helps me make room for personal growth. Exactly what the fall season is all about.

Here are a variety of ways for you to celebrate fall and maybe get a little clarity along the way.

1. Make it a season for change. The fall season holds a wonderful energy that helps shed the old and prepare for the new. You see evidence of this everywhere in our natural world. Take some time to reflect on what you would like to change or create in your life. It can be as simple as taking your dog for more walks or complex as moving to a different place. The secret is to set the intention first. Write it down. Then take small, consistent daily actions toward whatever you want to change. Know that you are doing your best. Act as if you've done enough and watch your results grow. (Remember to plan the most enjoyable path to your goal.)

2. Plant something. According to every nursery owner I've talked to, fall is an excellent time to plant. You'll find great bargains at nurseries this time of year with full selections of perennials and lots of other ideas for fall planting. The soil is warm so plants have plenty of time to establish roots before winter. Consider planting shrubs that will feed the birds through winter such as serviceberry. Plant Coral Bells, conifers, or grasses for color in your garden all winter long.  

3. Take a walk around your neighborhood with the kids. Look for signs of fall near your home. Ask your kids to find plants that still have flowers and seeds. Then look for trees with leaves that are changing color or dropping. Look at the distinct shapes of leaves. Gather a few to rub in a journal or trace later for fun. Are birds around? See if you can identify them. Look at the sky. What color is it and what are the cloud patterns. You get the idea...note as much detail as possible and revel in the beauty of it all. Your kids will love it. 

4. Visit a farmer's market. I've wriiten about farmer's markets many times here in the Journal because it's such an enjoyable thing to do any time of the year. Autumn market stalls are not only loaded with the late summer harvest, the colors and smells are incredible. An absolutely wonderful way to spend a weekend morning. 

5. Make a big pot of scratch soup. Everyone deserves healthy, delicious meals. Tap into the nourishing bounty of your veggies from the market to create a delicious pot of hearty soup. This is an easy, satisfying thing to do, even for those who are kitchen challenged. Think of it as creating a flavor of love! 

6. Drink beer. Help craft brewers celebrate the hop harvest by quenching your thirst at a tasting room or joining one of the many brew festivals happening right now. My favorite--pumpkin beer. Even purists love these thick, spicy, malty ales. What's your favorite?

7. Take a hike. Fall hiking is one of the most spectacular, mood-boosting activities you can do. This time of year, lush green forests are laced with brilliantly colored hardwoods such as maple, birch, cottonwood and aspen. And the yellow needles of tamarack (eastern U.S.) and larch pine trees (western U.S.) will stop you in your tracks. Here in the northwest early to mid-October is your best bet for beautiful color.

8. Take a fall drive. An absolutely tried and true way to get your fall foliage fix. Be sure to stop along the way to immerse yourself in the earthy smells and colors. Stomp through some leaves, sit on the ground or take photos with your phone for a lovely look back later in the week.

9. Meditate in nature. My niece, Morgan Elizabeth, has created several free short guided meditations to help you transition through change. One of her most recent guides you through an imaginary storm that is helpful if you have challenges, obstacles or feel stuck in your life. Check it out. Journey Through the Storm Meditation

10. Visit Yellowstone National Park. I know...this is big, so I saved it for last. Maybe a little too late to plan for this year, but it is one of the most gorgeous, awe inspiring, breath-taking fall vacations you will ever take. I've done it many times and it never ceases to amaze me. The days are crisp and clear. Brilliantly colored aspens set against blue-blue skies. Frost covered bisons snorting clouds of puffy breath. Steaming geysers. Rutting bull elks corralling their big harems. Non-existent crowds. Incredible wildlife and scenery. Just to give you a hint of what's to come...one morning I crawled out of my tent to find that I was surrounded by several rutting bull elk with about a dozen wildlife photographers snapping away. Awesome!

Here are 7 more ways to make the most out of fall

If you like this article, please share with the button below. 

Enjoy your fall!

Friday
Aug152014

PICTURE IT WELL: a peaceful way 

© Cary Given/Given Photography 2014
When your thoughts are rattled from needless worry, doubt or stress, change your focus. Studies show that taking a walk, picking up a good book, exercising, or simple deep breathing can help ease your brooding. Really, any simple, engaging activity works. Choose one you love and watch those thoughts calm down and disappear. In addition to the immediate payoff, make this a regular practice to serve your long-term emotional well-being and soon you'll be on a path to peace. 

PICTURE IT WELL photographs symbolize some aspect of emotional well-being. The brief text is meant to inspire, get you thinking, and show you the healing power of nature.

More Picture it Well posts

Letting go

See the abundance in your life

Dig into your roots

Play it up in the new year

Do one thing

Reflect for growth

Saturday
Aug022014

Discover the secrets of Olympic National Park's seashore

Olympic National Park, Copyright © Curt Given/Given Photography 2014By Rebecca Bailey

Here's an article about near-perfect beach destinations in Washington State. Now through fall is the best time to explore these off-the-beaten-track places. I know you won't be disappointed. Enjoy!
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A beautiful, primitive seashore lies within the boundaries of Olympic National Park in Washington State. It is a place of lasting impressions. Its pounding surf, intertidal communities, beaches, and wildlife tell a wonderful tale. Although access is via remote roads or trails, with a little pre-planning, travelers can experience this seaside wilderness first-hand.  

The park’s protected coastline spans nearly 75 miles, starting in the south near Kalaloch on Highway 101 and ending in the northwest corner of the state near Ozette Indian reservation. Sea stacks, headlands and islands mark the landscape, providing important habitat for a diversity of plants and animals that flourish in this ecosystem.

Beaches are numerous and each is different from the others. For visitors, that means a wealth of choices along this coast. And since they are all gorgeous, there’s no such thing as a bad beach. Access may determine your choice. Generally, the park’s harder-to-access beaches are located at the north end of the coastal strip.

Rialto Beach

Centrally located is Rialto Beach, a small scoop of land that is easy to access. Bounded by sea stacks to the south and rugged headlands to the north, this beach has magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean. You’ll want to spend at least one morning or evening here because the light is the stuff of fairy tales. Sunsets are classic—brilliant pinks streaking the horizon. In the morning, white-gold light illuminates the foamy surf. 

Anytime of the day you can see brown pelicans flying north. These prehistoric looking birds are capable of amazing twisting dives as they plunge into the sea for fish. In the summer, it is common to see several big groups flying just a few feet above the water. 

Rialto’s shore is a popular gathering and feeding spot for many birds. Ruddy turnstones work the rocks and Sandpipers and other shorebirds probe the sand for small crustaceans. Gulls and crows congregate everywhere. Surf scoters bob along, their clown-faces surprising and delighting visitors.    

Directly behind this beach is a coastal forest of western hemlock, Sitka spruce, western red cedars, Douglas fir and alders. Beach logs from the forest lay every-which- way creating a haphazard fence between the forest and ocean. This natural playground inspires children and adults to build forts, create beach art, and climb around the fallen and washed up logs. (Remember to dismantle anything that you build to keep it looking natural.)    

Nearby, a picnic area with a paved walkway, restrooms and a parking lot are sheltered behind a pile of beach logs. And just down the road, the mouth of the Quillayute River dumps into the ocean. Here you might see river otters, merganser and harlequin ducks and bald eagles. 

Second Beach

Directly south of Rialto, via highway 110, Second Beach offers its own breathtaking views with several sea stacks scattered across the horizon. They come in all sizes and shapes, topped by windblown trees and colonies of nesting birds. 

Here, after less than 30 minutes of moderately easy walking with a short descent to the beach, you’ll feel like you’re visiting a remote island. Few people are around due to limited parking at the trailhead. 

This beach is great for exploring tide pools. The north end has a rich intertidal community with hundreds of tiny sea creatures living in rocky pools of water. Plan your visit during low tide to discover their hidden world. Sea stars, mussels, anemones, barnacles, and hermit crabs are among the many creatures you might spot--all fighting to survive the heavy wave shock from changing tides.  

For a good stroll, head south. The beach is long enough to get a good pace going. Stop every so often to scan the water and sea stacks for swimming and hauled out sea lions, seals and other marine mammals.

Throw in a glorious sunset and you’ll never want to leave. However, if you do stay to watch, you will a need a flashlight for the walk back or plan to spend the night. Some beach areas require reservations to limit overnight campers and they all require a backcountry permit, so check with the park service first.  

© Curt Given 2014Cape Alava Beach

For something different, drive to the northwest corner of the park and walk through a coastal forest to Cape Alava beach. The 3.3-mile (one-way) trail begins at the Lake Ozette ranger station, and is mostly on a gently rising and falling sturdy cedar boardwalk. At the end, wooden stairs help with the short descent to the beach. 

These forests appear all along the coast, but perhaps nowhere as lush. Bottle-green sword ferns, salal and skunk cabbage creep over and along the boardwalk, while giant Western red cedars and hemlocks tower overhead. About halfway to the beach, you’ll come across Ahlstrom’s Prairie, which was the site of a Scandinavian homestead. Here you may see grazing black-tailed deer. 

Cape Alava offers one-of-a-kind beauty, with its rugged headlands, sea stacks, tide pools, islands and wildlife. Sea lions and seals swim along the shore, or warm themselves on flat jutting rocks. For a good view of these playful creatures, bring binoculars. You can see unusual piebald deer with large patches of white fur. Surf scoters, grebes, murres and other ducks bob and dive among the waves. Use binoculars and spotting scopes to see nesting and flying birds around the sea stacks, which are part of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.  

A low tide will bring pairs and groups of raccoons out to forage for food in the tide pools. Be wary though. They are abundant on the coast, love human food, and often raid unattended backpacks or picnic baskets. This is a popular backpacking spot, so if you stay over night, you will want to hang your food at least six feet above the ground and six feet away from tree trunks. 

The Ozette Indian archaeological site is located here. Washington State University excavated the site during the 1970s. It’s now closed and buried. Most of the artifacts found during the excavation are on display at the Makah Cultural Center in Neah Bay. 

For a longer hike, you can do a 9.3-mile loop by hiking three miles south along the beach from Cape Alava and returning to the Ozette ranger station via the Sandpoint trail. 

Tips and what to bring

When taking extended hikes along the coastal beaches, several points are passable only at low tide. It is critical that you carry a topographical map and know how to use it. Tide tables are available at ranger stations and visitor centers.  

Likewise, before you hike to any beach, it’s a good idea to check trail conditions on the park website. Routes can be closed or in poor condition. Bring warm clothes, rain gear, and wear sturdy shoes because trails are often uneven, slippery, and muddy. Save your flip-flops for the sand.

To make your trip more enjoyable bring a field guide to help you identify some of the outstanding sea birds found along the Washington coast and binoculars are essential for wildlife viewing. Restaurants are sparse, so pack lots of food and water. Park campgrounds fill fast and most are first-come, first-served. Camping fees range from ten to eighteen dollars per night. Accommodations are available in the park, Forks, Port Angeles and at local bed and breakfasts. Admission fee into the park is $15 per vehicle for a 7-day visit. 

For more information about all of the park beaches and other places in Olympic National Park, visit the Olympic National Park website.

If you like this article, please share with the button below! Many thanks.

Tuesday
Apr152014

April 22 is Earth Day: 3 simple things you can do

Chinese Mountain Ash, © Curt Given/Given Photography 2014I love Earth Day and I still remember the very first one on April 22, 1970. 

I was a student at Winston Churchill High School in Eugene Oregon and our entire school scoured the city for trash in public areas. The big find of the day--an old toilet that some really boisterous senior boys found and hauled back to our school's giant pile of trash. 

Kids in our school were among the 20 million Americans who demonstrated support of earth sustainability through action on that day 34 years ago. 

It was the beginning of our modern environmental movement ultimately leading to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. Soon after passage of acts to protect our air, water and endangered species followed.

Today, as we all know, ongoing sustainability efforts are critical to keep our great big earth healthy. And there are many easy things we can do to support this effort. 

Here are three easy things you can start doing right away. Remember, small changes make big results. 

1. Set your mower blades high. Skip the golf course look and leave your grass 2 to 3 inches high. This will make your lawn healthier and help it retain moisture--so less watering. 

2. Scoop your poop. It's a change that is becoming more widespread, but picking up after your dog does it's daily thing helps keep our water sources clean. Otherwise it's just untreated raw sewage running off into our storm sewers, rivers, lakes and other bodies of water. 

3. Use canvas shopping bags. The benefits of using a canvas bag for your groceries is far reaching from saving paper to eliminating the use of plastic bags. Some stores even offer incentives for using your own bags. It's an easy habit to create and makes you feel good every time you do it. 

Do you have ideas. Share with us and share with your friends by clicking the share button below!

For lots more ways to "save the Earth," check out Jonna Yarrow's book 1,001 Ways to Save the Earth. It's a tiny little book, but packed with helpful ideas about simple changes we can make in our everyday lives. Not preachy at all. 

For fun things to do on Earth Day, read my previous post, Earth Love.

Happy Earth Day!

Thursday
Mar272014

Want inspiration? Visit a botanical garden

Camelia Bush, © Cary Given/Given Photography 2014The other day a friend of mine enthusiastically commented on how great it feels to have a day to yourself. No demands or anyone telling you what needs to be done.

Really empowering.

I whole-heartedly agreed and was inspired to begin planning.

For my day, I chose to get into the newness of early spring by wandering through the Bellevue Botanical Garden.

This is an absolutely delightful way for anyone to spend a few hours. No need to be a botanist or even an avid gardener to enjoy a botanical garden. And now is the perfect time to see and be inspired by all the seeds, flowers and leaves that are beginning to sprout and bud. 

Botanical gardens are found in many urban areas, but an arboretum, large park or conservatory are also wonderful places to explore.  

If you need more convincing, this activity is a great mood booster, leaving you refreshed, full of new ideas and inspired to take action. For a peek at Bellevue Botanical Garden, see intro and link to the article and photos below.

Do you have any inspiring activities that you love to do this time of year to share with other readers? What's your favorite thing to do when you have time to yourself? 

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Read about my lovely day at Bellevue Botanical Garden in the Puget Sound Urban Nature Series...

I sit in the middle of a tiny forest, feeling like I am miles from civilization. Surrounded by big old trees, singing birds, blooming plants and giant woodpecker holes, it is easy to get quiet, calm and settled. I feel soothed by the wooded surroundings. (Bellevue Botanical Garden article, continued)

If you like this article, please share with the button below. 

Monday
Feb032014

'Tis the season for Snow Geese and other wintering birds

Snow Geese, © Curt Given 2010It was unexpected. The rise of feathered chaos as a huge mass of white birds lifted off in unison from a farmer's field accompanied by their crazy cacophony of honking. Conversation was impossible. I laughed out loud, knowing it was a one-of-a-kind moment. 

I was standing along a rural road in the Skagit flats area watching a thousand plus flock of snow geese feed and rest in a farmer's field. I can only guess that the flying chaos was caused by some unseen predator. 

Every winter I take this fun little day-trip, really an adventure, which always reaps BIG rewards.

The best part is that you can do it in a few hours and end the day feeling quite satisfied while enjoying a cozy dinner at one of the charming little cafes or brew pubs in La Conner, Bow-Edison, Conway or Mount Vernon.

So, bundle up, fill your thermos and pack your sense of adventure for a glorious day of viewing some pretty spectacular birds that spend the winter in the Skagit flats area, located about 90 minutes north of Seattle, just east of Mount Vernon.

Snow geese, swans, snowy owls, and eagles are at the top of your list. 

Snow Goose, © Cary Given/Given Photography 2014Approximately 65,00 snow geese make epic migrations from the Canadian and northern Alaska tundra to spend the winter here in Washington state. Two other distinct populations of snow geese migrate to eastern and central areas of the U.S., as well.The geese begin arriving in November and stay until late March. 

And, as you can imagine, they put on quite a show. 

These splendid birds congregate and feed in large areas of the Skagit flatlands, which is a large floodplain of nice fertile land. The flats are made up primarily of farm fields, brackish marshes, creeks and tidelands that border Puget Sound inlets. And the birds love it.

The area is marked with many crisscrossing farm roads and huge flocks of snow geese can be seen in the fields anywhere along these roads. See where to find the birds below.

The geese spend their nights in the bays near La Conner. For an extra thrill, you can stand on the dikes that border these bays and watch group after group of geese fly inland to rest and feed for the day. Quite a beautiful sight at sunrise.

Tundra swans, Skagit flats, Washington, © Curt Given/Given Photography 2014A great number of trumpeter and tundra swans spend the winter in the flats, too. About 10,000 of these migrate from northern areas. These graceful birds congregate in smaller groups, but are no less fascinating to watch. It seems to me that they really love foraging in the mud. Their beaks are often covered with long tendrils of muddy grass. If you're interested in distinguishing the difference between a tundra and trumpeter swan, check out Sibley guides.

Snowy Owl, © Curt Given/Given Photography 2014As you cruise the farm roads, you might be lucky enough to spot a Snowy Owl. These are large beautiful birds whose feathers are mostly white, helping them blend into the frosty ground. They migrate here from the arctic tundra. You can often find them sitting in a farmer's field or perched on a piece of driftwood near water. They stand perfectly still, usually sleeping from their nocturnal activities.

Bald eagle calling, © Cary Given/Given Photography 2014Although Bald eagles and hawks are common in the Skagit flats, it feels anything but common when you spot one. Their wing spans and flying talent are always amazingly acrobatic. You'll probably see eagles and hawks throughout the flats as you cruise the roads.

Hope you are inspired to take on this little adventure...it's so worth it.

Where to find the birds

Start by taking exit 221, Conway/La Conner and drive west about .2 miles to Pioneer Highway and Fir Island Road. Turn right onto Fir Island road and cruise the next 5 miles looking for geese and swans. Good viewing can often be seen at the Fir Island Farm/Hayton Reserve and the Snow Goose Produce Market. Your chances are pretty good at seeing wintering flocks somewhere in this area. If not, continue to cruise other Fir island roads, including Moore and Polson. Overall, you can explore the grid of roads that are bordered by Mount Vernon to the east, La Conner to the west and SR-20 to the north. 

Once you've found the geese and swans, head to the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve for some great eagle viewing. (Although you may have seen one by now because they fly all around the flats.) But for a nearly sure thing, head north to SR 20. Cross the highway at the Farmhouse Inn onto Bayview-Edsion Road  and head north for several miles to the reserve.

You can watch for all kinds of waterfowl as the road follows Padilla Bay or get out and walk the Padila Bay Shore Trail. Once you reach the interpretive center you may see eagles in the tall trees across the road from the center.

This is a great place for a restroom stop and the center has awesome displays. If you still have not seen eagles, try the March Point area. Head back to SR-20 and turn right (west). Follow a few miles to March Point. You can often see eagles perched on old pilings out in the bay or tall trees on the point. 

If you like this article, please click the share article button below or send it on to a friend.

Happy Birding!

Thursday
Nov212013

Morning at the Market

Last week, in anticipation of Thanksgiving, I spent a morning at the outdoor Ballard Farmer's Market with my daughter Tiffany. We happily wandered, browsing stalls that were packed with veggies and bursting with color.

As we filled our bags, Tiffany so aptly described how we both felt--that we were very much a part of a community. All coming together in a loving spirit, sharing, conversing and connecting.

Here's a look at this wonderful market.

 

Colorful festival banners are staked up at both ends of the Ballard Farmer's Market, setting the upbeat tone of this popular place. The market is open every Sunday, year-round. 

 

Vegetables are the big sellers and this time of year the stalls are loaded with root vegetables. Perfect ingredients for a big pan of hearty soup. Check out this delicious Creamy carrot and sweet potato soup recipe from Cooking Light. My very talented daughter, who is a high-school teacher, taught her students how to cook this in her nutrition and wellness class. 

 

We saw bins and bins of big, plump market squash. Always perfect for roasting.

 

Vendors at this market get pretty artsy with their displays. We particularly loved this giant pile of beets with bags of fingerling potatoes at its base. Amazing that it didn't topple over. 

 

Baskets of always sought out herbs are tucked among the vegetable bins. The smells are heavenly.

 

The market is staged for several blocks down the center of Ballard Avenue, which is located in the cool historic district of Ballard. Quirky shops, popular restaurants and eclectic bars line both sides of the street. 

 

Although hundreds of people visit this market, the crowds are manageable so you have plenty of room to browse inside the vendor tents.

 

It wouldn't be a farmer's market without a beautiful selection of low-cost, just-picked flowers. These fall bouquets were particularly stunning. 

 

This is definitely a dog and kid friendly place. Lots of families and dog owners were among the shoppers, adding even more character to this bustling market. 

 

Many of the vendors are from small farms, and participate in community supported agriculture programs. Boistfort Valley Farm has 70 acres of organic vegetable, herbs and flowers. They deliver freshly harvested produce at drop-off stations around the Puget Sound area. 

 

More and more people are buying organic these days and many farmers are meeting that demand. You'll find a large selection of certified organic produce among the stalls.


A nice display of organic herbs and veggies.

 

The farmers and helpers working in the stalls are awesome. Friendly, helpful and very knowledgeable. You really get the feeling that they farm from the heart.

 

Not only did we get great fresh vegetables, we sampled a few really good wines. And they were so good we both bought a bottle to take home.

 

 

You'll find a lot more at farmer's markets than produce. Free range eggs and poultry, wild fish, artisan cheeses, honeys, bakery goods, orchard fruits and home-grown teas are all part of this wonderful local market . 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday
Nov082013

PICTURE IT WELL: Letting go 

Buckeye Tree and Maple leaves, © 2013 Curt Given/Given PhotographyLetting go of your need to control is one of the best ways to feel empowered.

Seems kind of counter-intuitive, but according to emotional well-being experts, it's an effective way to feel liberated.

How often have you felt left out, been afraid to take a risk or felt like you disappointed someone? Your initial reaction might have been to try to fix it. Force an outcome. 

Next time you're struggling like this, take a step back. 

Then ask yourself these powerful questions to help you get beyond your immediate need for control.

How is this belief or behavior helping me? What purpose is it serving? Is this stress making me happy? Is it fulfilling a need? What am I trying to accomplish? 

Chances are, you'll discover that whatever has been making you suffer, is all about your need for trying to control the end result. And it's holding you back or limiting you in some way. Definitely not really serving your best interest.

That is is your motivation to let it go. Move on and open up. Know that you can only control yourself.

Then the real power comes. Freedom.

(Picture it Well are photographs that symbolize some aspect of personal wellness. The brief text is meant to inspire, get you thinking, and/or show you the healing power of nature.)

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More Picture it Well posts

See the abundance in your life

Dig into your roots

Play it up in the new year

Do one thing

Reflect for growth

Tuesday
Sep102013

Start your week with a day off

It's like getting a brand new outfit for the party. It's way better than driving to work a new way. And the anticipation is sweeter than your daily nibble of chocolate. You'll look forward to it all weekend.

Monday. (Or, whatever day begins your week.) A day to yourself. No kids. No work. No obligations. Freedom.

And if you're thinking Friday would be better. It's not. You'll end up treating it just like Saturday and it won't feel as special. But, when Sunday night comes along, after two days off, you will feel rested, fresh and excited at the idea of having one more day.

Have I got you interested? I used every cliche in the book (one more) to try to convince you!

So give it a go. Make those arrangements now. I guarantee you will love it. 

Read my latest from the Urban Nature Series about how I spent my last Monday off...

I climbed the narrow winding path curious, wondering where it would lead. Excited too, because so far my exploration of this lush park was filled with nothing short of wonder at its amazing beauty. [Continued...]

Monday
Aug262013

7 ways to make the most out of late summer and early fall

Last week as I kayaked with my daughter on a beautiful local lake, I realized that I was not ready for summer to be over.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jul152013

Ten summer lovin' fun ideas for you

I don't know about you, but when summer kicks in with its long warm days, (which can be intermittent here in the Pacific Northwest), I instantly make a mental list of all the fun things I'm going to do. But, by the time mid-August shows up, I've forgotten most of them and done very few. This year I'm writing them down. Here are some suggestions for easy summery things you can do that will keep you enjoying every last warm day.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jun182013

PICTURE IT WELL: See the abundance in your life

Experiencing abundance in your life is easier than you think. And an abundant life does not mean having more stuff or more money. According to spiritual guru Deepak Chopra, the secret is that it's right in front of you. No need to seek. Just open up to what is already there.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
May152013

Make it a bird walk!

One of the easiest and best ways to enjoy nature is while you're on a walk. Whether you are in a park, wilderness area or your neighborhood, paying attention to nature adds a whole new dimension to your walk. Especially if you watch a few birds along the way. Birds? You might be asking.

Click to read more ...