Love Letter to My Blog on the Occasion of Our 7th Blogiversary!

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Congratulations!

The Story

In the early 90’s I left my home in Mill Valley in Marin Co., and made my way up to the tiny town of Little River, on the coast of Mendocino Co. I simply wanted to “go to the country and get a dog.” So I did. Here I am with Moxie, my first Border Collie, whom I adored, in the woods, on our two acres, in front of our garage and guest cabin and our first little flower plot. Color us happy!

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And there I planted a garden, the first in a long while, and this simple act became the inception of what was to become my book Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden. The path to publication involved more than one agent, more than one artist, more than one proposal, a sale and a deadline, and, a variety of other plans, and unexpected turns in the road, including a complete rewrite, and, finally, the decision to self-publish, as, ultimately the plan that worked involved my being able and willing to assemble the team of people who would get me across the finish line. Whew! It was, stunningly, an over twenty year process. When it was at last time to consider the marketing, I rang an agent in the City, an old trusted colleague of mine, updating him and asking for his input. “You need to start a blog,” he said. “What?” I replied, surprised. “I don’t have a book, yet. It’s not finished!” “Doesn’t matter,” he said. “You need a platform.” Apparently being a book publicist for over three decades was no longer enough. Things were changing. “Put on overalls,” he said. (Like that was going to happen.) “Put yourself out there. Now.” Huh. This was completely counterintuitive to my publicity beliefs, but I saw he was right. I took his advice, in my own style–I managed a hat–

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— and began my blog, eventually finding the site Blotanical, a gathering of over 2500 gardening bloggers around the world, where Plant Whatever Brings You Joy became the #1 Most Popular Blog for over one year, was ranking in the Top Ten and Top Twenty Most Popular Gardening Blog lists, and was attracting a worldwide audience of over 40,000 people each month. It was on and through this blog that I met and developed friendships with gardening bloggers who to this day are a very treasured part of my life. Lifelong friendships have been formed, and I hold this network as one of the most precious gifts with which I am blessed.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Plant Whatever Brings You Joy did not just open up the door to meeting like minded gardening lovers around the world. It also served as the vehicle for two amazing social media events–first The Scarf Initiative, [for full story explore The Scarf Initiative category in right column] and later, I made a decision to use the blog as a focal point for helping to save the animals in the Tripoli Zoo in the middle of the Libyan revolution. Yes, seriously. It’s called Plant Whatever Brings You JOY. And as readers have learned over and over again, the book Plant Whatever Brings You Joy embraces a wide range of joyful topics, that might well have stemmed from a lesson learned in the garden, but the intention, always, was to apply those blessed lessons in our everyday lives. The tagline for this blog is Heart + Meaning =Joy. Each individual must define for himself or herself what has heart and meaning, that will ultimately lead to abundant joy.

I am deeply grateful this blog has for the last seven years been a place of inspiration to so many–myself included. Maintaining it has always motivated me to learn something new, to go on field trips to explore a new place I might share, to document the life in my garden, as a careful nature lover and observer, to share my favorite recipes. I have always turned away “advertising opportunities” and kept the blog as a sacred place, an oasis, where folks might come and be uplifted. And where they might be inspired. And where they might learn. I’ve included reviews of books I’ve appreciated. I’ve shared my photographs, sending them out into the world where many have a life of their own, moving around the globe unhindered. “It’s just light,” I have told folks. “If I’ve captured something that people want to send along and share, well, good.”

“Stuff your eyes with wonder.” ~Ray Bradbury

I am so grateful for these last seven years, and what has come forth, and I look forward to continued exchanges with you, dearest readers. Thank you for your comments, your readership, your subscriptions, your own blogs, your loyalty and love.

Recently I put together a board on Pinterest that is, essentially, a tribute to this blog and to the publishing of my book, and its journey as it continues to find readers around the world. Did I think I’d still be writing this blog after seven years, and promoting my book after four? It never really crossed my mind. But the path is still beckoning, and as the meme says, “Don’t quit before the miracle!” Can’t wait to see what happens next. Thank you for being with me on this journey! You are each so appreciated, more than you could possibly know.

Love and garden blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Postscript! Whoever leaves a comment on this Blogiversary Post–or my FB link– might be winning a copy of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy! On September 21st I will put all the names in a hat–and draw out the name of the winner. I will contact that person privately asking for an address where I might mail you your copy! Good luck! :)

Sunday, September 21st: The winner of the 7th Blogiversary Book Contest in Nell Campbell! Congratulations, Nell!


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Good Old Fashioned Applesauce!

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As with all the most delicious concoctions we make in the kitchen the fresher the ingredients, the better the outcome will be. That ladder and tree are in my back garden, so you can well imagine these apples are fresh–and organic! Sure there’s a moth or two in there, but for some blessed reason those moths dig into the center of the apple when they choose to inhabit, which is very handy for a cook with a good paring knife. Yep. A bug here or there may not sound appealing but upon consideration, and the knowledge that commercial apples can be sprayed up to 26 times in a season, well, it’s a small price to pay.

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So up the ladder I went, collecting these wonderful apples from my kitchen garden. This (very old) tree was professionally pruned last year so it’s expressing its gratitude with an abundance of very much appreciated fruit. Now, what to do?

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Honestly? The first thing I did was what I’ve done in years past. I pulled my dehydrator out of the shed and dutifully prepared and cut up apple pieces, just the right size, and placed them first on one and then on two trays. And then you know what? I plum ran out of steam. I accepted this, turned on the dehydrator and let it run all day long over the Memorial Day weekend, thinking surely I would get back to more another day. And here’s what I got out of that adventure.

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Are they delicious? You bet! But did I want to do it again? I did not. Part of that decision was based on the realization that even though they were dehydrated they still needed to be stored. And although I’d considered “putting them in the freezer” once I was actually experiencing how long it took to get them dry, I knew I didn’t want to store them somewhere they’d be absorbing moisture. I concluded that the best way to store dried apples was by using a heat sealer. And I was not equipped to do that in that moment. So. What to do? Applesauce. Delicious, easy, could be done in smaller batches and could be frozen. Perfect. So I did that.

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So easy. Quartered and peeled the apples. Pared off any offending intruder. I’d picked them off the tree directly, so no bruises to deal with. Popped them in my big pan, with a little water to get them going. And then I cooked them not until they fell apart, but until they were soft. Then I transferred them to my Cuisinart, where I carefully judged just how much I wanted them pureed. I wanted to maintain a bit of texture without their being chunky. Then I added a bit of lemon juice and a tiny bit of cinnamon and a very small amount of sugar. I have to remind myself I’m adding sugar to a sweet fruit, so it’s important to be conservative. And that’s it!

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I’ve made about four batches so far. Most went into the freezer in freezer bags. I will pull out as needed for a side dish, as an ingredient in applesauce cake or perhaps pancakes! I’m also going to make up a batch which I will also freeze to add to my dogs’ breakfast on occasion. They love these apples, I’m happy to say! And they will appreciate a bit of apple this winter.

What is your favorite thing to do with applesauce? Now is the time. Autumn harvesting of apples is upon us, a mighty blessing to be taken advantage of for a happier, healthier, more delicious winter!

Love and kitchen blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Book News: GreenPrints magazine has just put Plant Whatever Brings You Joy up for sale on their beautiful website. They surely did a wonderful job of presenting! Link to GreenPrints. And if you have not yet “liked” our FaceBook Fan Page, here’s that link, too! Lastly, if you’ve read Plant Whatever Brings You Joy, and loved the book, your review would be greatly appreciated on Amazon, where there are now 23 reviews, mostly all 5-star! Or Barnes and Noble! Thank you! xo


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Cherish the Beauty of the Season

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I must confess that all summer long I have been hovering over a particular
canna lily just outside my front door hoping it would blossom before
summer’s end. Last year it did not have time to come to fruition. This
year I have not been disappointed and I take great delight in the spectacular
persimmon colored lilies that now grace the entrance to my home.

Three decades ago I was hovering over my own splendid blossom inside
my own round tummy. Inside was a precious being getting ready to emerge who was my own beloved Antonia.

Unfettered by any ground outside my front door, I took my round tummy to Acapulco, to stroll and lounge in the sun on the beaches I had come to love in my post-college days. I have always felt so comfortable in Mexico. It is the place of my soul, the culture of my heart, and Spanish the language of my joy. I have returned over and over again to nurture and restore myself, and to rekindle my faith in humanity, resting in the kindness of the Mexican people and their profound open hospitality. This was the perfect place to be pregnant, in a mother country, in the culture that honors the Divine Mother, whose walls in homes and churches and wayside stations abound with the holy mother. Candles burn to her as a daily part of life. People pray to her. Women are deified, share the holy trinity, are blessed, honored, and included. Yes, this was the place where I wanted my child to grow within me, steeped in the lilting accents heard in the marketplace, in the crashing of blue waves on white sandy beaches, in the glaring sun of the tropics, in the clean air sweeping off the Pacific Ocean into the surrounding parched hillsides. Here is where my Antonia grew.

She drew sustenance from pineapple and mango, papayas and watermelon, and coconuts slathered in lime juice and a bit of cayenne for good measure. Strawberry liquados made with fresh milk. Fish caught fresh from the sea. She grew quietly and slowly, listening to the music of the mariachis who lined the boardwalks each evening. She baked in the sun by day and moved rhythmically inside her mother’s womb as her mother joyfully danced with friends by night. We slept late and peacefully, then awoke with nothing, really, to do except to enjoy another day at the beach, another day of being with world travelers, another day of great joy and pleasure and gratitude. Such was her early journey on Earth…

What precious season do you cherish most? What beauty that will not linger? What opportunity that you must hold dearest to your heart your whole life through in deepest gratitude, knowing that you have been profoundly touched with one of life’s greatest lessons, gifts and blessings? And thusly we cherish the beauty of our seasons.

Happy Birthday, Antonia!

Love and summer blessings,
Kathryn xxoox
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This post was excerpted from the chapter “Cherish the beauty of the season” from my book Plant Whatever Brings You Joy. To read this in its entirety and many other stories, please check your local indie or Barnes and Noble bookstores, or you may purchase on Amazon. Also! Plant Whatever Brings You Joy is now on Pinterest! I invite you to follow! Thank you.


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