The Dirt

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.

Climbing in Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

(Above: Climbing in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. Below: Snowboarding in Lake Tahoe, California.)

Snowboarding in Lake Tahoe

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…

My little corner of Los Angeles

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

By day, I’m a dirt-slinging, trowel-wielding, jam-making, bread-baking, barefoot beach bum who loves to plan my next vacation and well, my next vacation after that. By night, I’m a freelance designer with a love of lettering 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 somewhat of a garden foodie and my favorite meals come from what I pluck out of my own yard. 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.

I love food that comes out of the ground

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 barreling ocean waves. Living here means I can literally snowboard and surf in the same day! Spoiled, I tell ya.

Surfing in SoCal

I’m a mug (mama pug) to two of the most feisty, expressive, capricious, kissable, squishy-faced, 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? Off-roading at Pismo? Been there, done that. But they’re a breed after my own heart, and love the beach as much as I do.

Off-roading at Pismo Beach

(Above: Pismo Beach, California. Below: Holcomb Valley Pinnacles, California.)

Snoring up a storm at Holcomb Valley Pinnacles

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!)

Growing up a tomboy

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.

Taking it all in at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

(Above: 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, good 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 magazine named Garden Betty the “Best Blog in Gardening” and I was featured in the December/January 2012 issue. Exactly 12 months later, on the second anniversary of Garden Betty, I landed in the pages of HGTV magazine as a garden expert!

My blog has since been mentioned in a multitude of media (including Better Homes and Gardens, Clean Eating, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, and MSN Money) but my proudest achievement to date is the release of my first book, The CSA Cookbook (Voyageur Press, 2015). The book has been a #1 New Release on Amazon for several months running, and believe me, no one is more blown away by it than I am!

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


December 21 2010      Leave a comment     Linda Ly