Nestling in bed on a cold day
House & Home

Keep Calm and Hygge On

Do you find pleasure in nestling deep in your blanket on cold days, or warming up the house with a slow-cooking stew? Do you feel content with sharing a simple meal with family and friends, or gathering around a campfire under a moonlit sky?

The Danes have a word for all these things: hygge. But hygge is not any one “thing,” per se. It’s a Scandinavian lifestyle concept that encompasses all things cozy (in its most simplistic definition) and the intimate connection one feels with others. While there’s no direct translation in English, hygge can be thought of as the pursuit of everyday happiness, or the art of creating a calming and comfortable atmosphere in and out of the home.

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Introducing my 10-month-old baby to snowboarding
Parenthood

Introducing My 10-Month-Old Baby to Snowboarding

Pre-parenthood, I always heard stories of babies that could swim before they crawled or run before they walked. It seemed that babies were built with instinctive reflexes that went beyond sucking or smiling — reflexes combined with a lack of fear and low center of gravity, two great advantages in the world of snowsports.

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Decoding your garden seed catalogs
Garden of Eatin', Seeds & Seedlings

Decoding Your Garden Seed Catalogs

Seed catalogs are starting to fill my mailbox with the imminent arrival of spring, and they’re one of my favorite ways to pass a rainy day. Parked on the couch, marker in hand, I can spend an entire afternoon circling seed choices and dogearing pages with the giddiness of a kid in a candy store. One of my Facebook followers put it best: it’s one of those times when the eyes are bigger than the stomach (or in my case, bigger than the garden).

I’ve been buying and starting seeds every year since I started gardening (a veteran or even an addict, you might say), but I remember those early days of trying to unravel the mysteries of the various terms and abbreviations in my seed catalogs. What was the difference between OP versus F1 seed? Or scarification versus stratification? What were all those weird letters listed in the tomato descriptions?

If you’re new to seed shopping, here’s the full rundown of what you might encounter in a seed catalog and what it all means.

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The first day of the new year at Joshua Tree National Park
Random Thoughts

Looking Forward

For the last several New Year’s Eves, our nights were spent somewhere far from home, usually with friends, and always with party poppers, glow sticks, and raucous dancing involved. But this New Year’s Eve was different. It was quiet. It was just the three of us, ringing in 2017 with a last-minute staycation in Palm Desert. We cranked up the heat in the pool of our rental house and took a midnight skinny dip together, passed out early (well, early for us) and started the first day of the new year with a leisurely stroll through Joshua Tree National Park.

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The garden after a good rain
Random Thoughts

Five Things Friday

The five little things that made my week…

1. Rain, rain, glorious rain. We’ve had more rain in the last couple of weeks than we’ve had in the last couple of years combined. It’s amazing for California on so many levels: putting a dent in our five-year drought, bringing much-needed snow to the mountains and setting up for a great kayak season. Here in my thirsty garden, the sight of everything drenched in rain is pure delight. Keep the storms coming!

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Looking back on Garden Betty's greatest hits (plus a reader survey)
Random Thoughts

Looking Back on Garden Betty’s Greatest Hits of 2016 (Plus a Reader Survey)

I’m a little late to the “2016 round-up” game, but I want to dive in before the first week of the New Year is over, take a look back on the previous year, and see what you most enjoyed reading and learning about on the blog.

Based on organic traffic to these posts from regular readers and search engines, and the amount of shares across social media, the following were the most popular posts that I wrote in 2016. Some of them surprised me, and some I wholly agree with!

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Eggs benedict on Christmas morning
Random Thoughts

Five Things Friday

I love the whole week that follows Christmas. You’re past the stress of holiday entertaining (and perhaps holiday traveling) but still riding a high from the gatherings and good fun of it all. And, you still have the New Year to look forward to!

Here were the five little things that made my week…

1. Christmas morning starts the same every year: I sleep in while the hubby continues the family tradition of making eggs benedict for brunch. He mixes it up every year, and I think his eggs benedicts get better and better each time. This year, it included spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, and olives with a delicious hollandaise sauce made from pastured orange-yolked eggs (though not from our chickens, who are taking their annual winter break). It’s my absolute favorite of all breakfasts, and I could eat this all day long.

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The curious history of the mistletoe (it's more than just the kissing plant)
Trees & Shrubs

The Curious History of the Mistletoe (It’s More Than Just the Kissing Plant)

Mention “mistletoe” this time of year and most people think fondly of traditions like decorating for Christmas or kissing under a bundle of white-berried boughs.

But beneath all the holiday cheer lurks an opportunistic plant with both a “naughty or nice” side: consumption of the berries of certain species can lead to illness or in severe cases, death, yet other types of mistletoe have historically been used to treat a host of ailments, including leprosy, infertility, epilepsy, and even cancer. (In fact, recent research suggests that mistletoe extract injections could be the next big thing in cancer therapy.)

How this seemingly innocuous — yet deviously toxic — plant made its way into our Christmas culture as the “kissing plant” is somewhat of a mystery, but some trace the tradition back to the Norse god Baldur, god of the summer sun.

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