Fun Children Books to Give

I love children’s picture books. I love the illustrations, I love reading them to my children.  I love the silly stories.  These are a few favorites that you may enjoy giving as gifts. Just click on the photo to find out more information on the book at Amazon.  Make sure to click the link “look inside” if offered, on the left side of their page. I think all these books are ones that would be welcome in any child’s home library.

The gift of reading is a gift that lasts forever.

 

To encourage the love of travel:

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For the love of laughter

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Such beautiful illustrations:

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To encourage life-long interests:

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To encourage a love of history:

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I receive a small affiliate fee from Amazon if you choose to purchase via the link.

Reasons to Travel: Boston

Boston is one of those historic cities every American should visit. Growing up on the west coast, we just don’t have that extensive architectural history to draw upon.  In Boston, they love their red brick, and many homes, buildings, and walkways are made from brick. It can be pretty cold in winter, but the tourist count is low so you can see so much more.  They have a wonderful self-guided tour built right in – follow the red brick “Freedom Trail” built right into the sidewalks that will take you past all the major historical buildings including the USS Constitution, Bunker Hill, Paul Revere’s House, the Old North Church, site of the Boston Massacre, and several old burying grounds.

I love love love children’s books and am continually blown away by the beautiful illustrations found inside.  I love the elaborate worlds depicted, the humorous characters, the realistic settings that are like pieces of fine art.  I also love the graphic design elements – the black and white illustrations, the simple graphic drawings.

This list is from a blog called “Flaunting Your Life” which has some great book lists including this one for baby books:

Every child needs a good library of books at home to explore and have read to them. Board Books are an excellent gift to give at a baby shower. Make sure to include at least one and create a life-long reader and explorer.

via Books to Give at a Baby Shower — Flaunting Your Style

Seeking Fall Foliage Photos

I have recently begun researching for story I want to do for a travel blog I write for BestoftheNorthwest.com – seeking out the best places to go to see beautiful fall foliage in the Pacific Northwest.  I have become rather frustrated as I look for photographs to use in my post to augment the ones from my personal files.  More and more I find that when I search up “autumn pictures of Oregon” or something similar, I come up with many photos of beautiful scenery that have obviously been doctored in this new digital age.  It is all too easy to press “enhance” on your photo app or tweak that saturation toggle, turning what should be a beautiful photo of nature as it exists, into a garish, neon, Vegas-style “photograph” that does not represent reality.

The problem?

The problem with doing this is that it gives visitors unrealistic expectations of what they will see if they come to visit the Pacific Northwest.  Yes – we have gorgeous fall colors – beautiful drives – beautiful scenery – but it doesn’t come in neon bright colors.  There is nothing wrong with creating these photographs if you are advertising it as art, but I see too many travel blogs and news stories that are using these images in their travel reports, misleading their readers into thinking they will see something like this:

Beautiful, yes.  Reality? No.

Mother Nature blessed the Pacific Northwest with enough natural beauty that I feel it does not need to be enhanced.

If you have a beautiful photo of fall colors in the Pacific Northwest that you would give me permission to use in my travel blog, please contact me!  I’d love to consider your photo for sharing on our website!

July in the Garden

The July garden is doing surprisingly well as we have been having an unusually mild summer so far here in the Pacific Northwest.  The daylilies are the prime source of color right now, along with the ever-happy looking daisies.  Daisies + red crocosmia seem the perfect summer combination.  Of course, daisies are the perfect foil for most all summer blooming flowers including the goldenrod which has just started blooming, the burgundy foliage of sedum Vera Jameson, the purple blooms of linaria, the hot pink lychnis, and the blue thistle.  I prefer the shorter variety called “Becky” as it stands up to the weather better than the taller “Shasta” daisy. It is also a good height for being a companion plant.  My favorite daylily is called “Joan Senior” which is a lovely pale yellow which also is the perfect companion plant for all colors.  There is nothing it doesn’t pair well with.  I find myself wanting to transplant divisions of daisies and Joan Senior all over my yard, just to have those great color combinations.

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Lychnis
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Daisy “Real Galaxy”
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Daisy “Becky” plus Daylily “Joan Senior”
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Daisy “Real Galaxy” plus Daylily “Eggplant Ecstasy”
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Daylily “Summer Wine”
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Daisy “Becky”

Travels to Aarhus, Denmark

I just returned from a visit to a place where the past and the present exist side by side in perfect harmony.  The Danish people are well known for the Danish Modern design – that special Scandinavian way of designing every day objects so they become perfectly formed works of art unto themselves.  Sleek, clean lines, unfussy.  And yet they treasure their old buildings.

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Historic cottages on cobblestone streets
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450+ year old buildings still stand along the streets

You would assume their passion for sleek and modern would mean they have torn down all the old and replaced with new.  Not in the least.  Aarhus was the most perfectly intact city – with cobblestone streets, historic buildings with their ancient timber frames curving and leaning, and block after block of well maintained circa 1700 buildings with their detailed doors and decorative rooflines. DSCF7979

The town looks like it has always been – but it is not a city in mothballs.  It has thoroughly modern shops on the ground floor.  The main downtown core has undergone a renovation in recent years – uncovering a long-ago covered up narrow river that ran right through the city center.  Now it is home a long promenade lined with restaurants with wide sidewalks and plenty of outdoor seating.  A car-free zone where pedestrians wander freely amongst the shops and restaurants, hang out on the steps to the river’s edge, and enjoy the well-planned downtown core that should be the envy of all small urban cities.

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The pedestrian friendly downtown area

While there, I visited the Den Gamle By living history museum.  It is located right near the town center and is an amazing place.  It has rescued, moved, and reassembled dozens of historic buildings from all over Denmark – from humble peasant cottages to wealthy mansion and every tradesman home in-between.  They have faithfully recreated what life was like prior to the 1900s in homes and businesses.  A few have workers in period dress, some have mannequins, and some are laid out more like a traditional museum.  A surprise to someone of my age, was finding they are in the process of recreating an entire city block circa 1975 (does that belong in a museum already??) complete with a travel agent, stereo hi-fi store, jazz club, and grocery store fully stocked with foods you might have found on a grocery store in 1975.  Fascinating and well worth the visit.

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A realistic mannequin shows life as a tailor in the 1800s

Aarhus is a University town about a 3 hour train ride from Copenhagen, or a 30 minute bus ride from the Aarhus airport. While a member of the European Union, they do use their own currency.  English appears to be everyone’s second language, so you will not have any language barrier.  If you are looking for a visit to a small European city that is very walkable, I would encourge you to visit Aarhus.

 

 

Flower of the Day: Shogetsu

Shogetsu cherry tree in spring
“Shogetsu” cherry tree

 

Although the tag on this tree showed a tree fully covered with light pink flowers, mine are mostly all white.  The Shogetsu is the last cherry tree to bloom in m yard and is covered with white (and a few pale pink) blossoms that are just breathtaking against a spring-blue sky.  In autumn the leaves turn later than others as well, turning a gold after most have already dropped their leaves.  The blooms are so delicate – it is a joy to watch when one of those gusts of wind we get in the spring causes a rainshower of white blossoms to sail on the wind.