Linda Ly rock climbing in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

The Author

Above: Climbing in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam.

My name is not Betty. But I do love to garden. And surf, and snowboard, and ski, climb, camp, kayak, backpack… pretty much anything that brings me outdoors. I see it as a lifestyle, not merely a heap of hobbies. I love feeling the sun on my skin, the sand between my toes, the salt in my hair, the fresh air in my face. I love scaling up mountains as well as gliding down them.

Snowboarding in Lake Tahoe, California

Snowboarding in Lake Tahoe, California.

I feel incredibly lucky to live on the most beautiful coastline in Los Angeles. I can see the ocean from my house, hear the sound of foghorns in the harbor and the call of sea lions at night. I love hiding out in my tucked-away little corner of the South Bay… and on a typical day, this is what it looks like…

Living on the Palos Verdes Peninsula

My secret surf spot in the South Bay.

It’s really hard to get any work done here.

By day, I’m a trowel-wielding, plant-slinging, pickle-making, bread-baking, home-making blogger who loves to get my hands dirty while learning as much as I can. By night, I’m a hustler and a designer with a love of far-fetched ideas and a knack for coding. I’m hitched to this handsome hunk of artistic talent, and we often team up to photograph the happiest moments of people’s lives.

In my garden, I grow mostly food — I am amazed by all the food that comes from the earth. (And how little we see of it in the store.) I’m a bit of a garden foodie and my favorite meals come from what I pluck out of my own backyard. Most of my gardening is guided by instinct, and part of it follows the principles of permaculture. I believe that a passion for your environment inspires a more rewarding and sustainable lifestyle on so many levels.

Homegrown Chioggia and golden beets

Homegrown Chioggia and Golden beets.

Southern California is my home and heart. I can be anywhere within a couple hours’ drive — from alpine mountains to barren deserts, rolling sand dunes to peeling ocean waves. Living here means I can actually snowboard and surf in the same day! Spoiled, I tell ya.

Longboarding in Baja California, Mexico

Longboarding in Baja California, Mexico.

I’m a mom to a house full of four-legged and two-legged children. My first- and second-born are two of the most feisty, squishy, cuddly, lap-demanding little monsters. They snort and snore like a freight train but ohhh, I love ’em. They are also the most adventurous pugs you will ever meet. Hiking the Grand Canyon? Camping on Kings River? Been there, done that. But they’re a breed after my own heart, and love the beach as much as I do.

Lazing on the beach with my pugs

The pugs doing what they do best in Huntington Beach, California.

Gemma with her pug sister

Sisterly love.

A new sibling arrived on the first day of spring in 2016 and she is every bit as sweet, silly, and squeezable as her fur sisters. She loves to be outside as much as we do, and has counted camping, kayaking, rafting, and snowboarding among her list of adventures before the age of one. Seeing the world through a child’s eyes has been one of my favorite things about being a parent, and every day I strive to share with her the simple pleasures that make life so meaningful.

Relaxing on a lake in Montana with my girls

Soaking up the last days of summer on Lake Alva, Montana, with my girls.

I grew up a tomboy, and my earliest memories revolved around playing in the dirt, rough-and-tumbling with the neighborhood kids, and explaining yet another bump or bruise to my mom. I charged the steepest streets on trash can lids while screaming like a girl all the way down. (I can still be quite girlie at times!)

Now as I take on my 30s, not much has changed, except that I’m loaded with more toys and even more curiosities that need to be quenched.

I believe in the notion of il dolce far niente — the sweetness of doing nothing. Living life by instinct and passion, not by routine and shoulda-woulda-gotta. Indulging in the simple things. Relishing every breath.

Visiting a temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Reflecting in Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

I like watching sunsets slowly melt behind the sea. I like the smell of burning wood and bonfires — especially in my own backyard. I like wearing the same pants for five days while I’m out exploring the unknown. I like poking at bugs and chasing after critters. I like road trips with good people, great food over laughter. I like getting on a red-eye flight and waking up in a different country the next morning. I like this prologue from Sipping Jetstreams

Travel keeps you young. It does this by simply putting you in situations that make you feel like a child again. Magically lost in a moment of discovery. Beautifully confused. It could be the first time you awaken to the 5:00 am call to prayer from the local mosque on Morocco’s far Atlantic shore, the first time you feel the weight of the Egyptian sun on your shoulders, the first time you paddle out over the shallow reefs of the Caribbean, or the first time you realize that people living in squalor can achieve happiness as easily as those living in mansions. These are life’s opportunities to shed the hustle of modernity, to join the moment, and stop sprinting toward some prefabricated goal. Your heart races. Your metabolism shifts into a lower gear. Everything is new again. You’re Sipping Jetstreams.

Garden Betty is a personal blog — written, designed, and photographed by me — to share my love of the outdoors and my support of the Slow Movement. I draw endless inspiration from the organic processes of slow gardening, slow food, and slow travel. (Read more on why I write about my garden.)

Just a mere year after my site launched, Country Living named Garden Betty the “Best Blog in Gardening” and featured me in their December 2011 issue. Exactly one year later, on the second anniversary of Garden Betty, I landed in the September 2012 issue of HGTV as a garden expert! Believe me, no one was more blown away by all of it than I was.

My blog has since been seen in national and regional media including Better Homes and Gardens, Green Side Up, Edible, Los Angeles Times, and Heritage Radio Network, but my proudest achievements to date are the release of my books, The CSA Cookbook (2015) and The New Camp Cookbook (2017), both by Voyageur Press. (I documented the makings of the books if you’ve ever been curious how a cookbook is made.)

Since those humble beginnings in September 2010, blogging has become an even greater inspiration as I continue to learn and grow my craft.

I am a believer in the “work to live, not live to work” school of thought. And if you truly love what you do — not just for work, but also in life — that energy will come back to you tenfold. Every day I embrace the creativity around me, from the spirit of the people I meet to the beauty of the places I discover (or even rediscover).

And what I’ve discovered is that there’s no place like home, but life is too short to not get out of the house. Out of your comfort zone. Off the treadmill of life. Just more often than you think you can. Sometimes all it takes is a day to get away, or an uninhibited moment that can change everything you thought you knew.

Through my stories and pictures, I hope I can inspire the gardener, betty, homesteader, wanderer, adventurer, joy-seeker, and life-lover in you, too!

Linda Ly