Hey you, I know you…

“If you have the courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed.” – David Viscott

Where has the time gone? Has it really been years since I’ve published a blog? With every day that went by, the anxiety of putting my fingers to the keyboard piled on. I’m telling you the writer’s block was real, and no amount of sticky note reminders or inspirational quotes around the house could get me unstuck (that big boat in the Suez Canal was me!!!)

This year brought a new perspective and a burst of motivation to face down my demons.  I had to reconcile my very messy desk and an expanding waistline (thanks, Covid).

I decided to bring in some big guns to help me find my mojo.  With the guidance of BJ Fogg, Ph.D.’s book Tiny New Habits, Jack Canfield’s The Success Principals, and my patient trainer Shane Cervantes I moved out of my rut and cleaned my desk.

A clean desk led to a sharper focus and adding a daily guided meditation (just 5 minutes a day) worked wonders.


With my first book delivered to the publisher (and due in the world on May 4!!!), I was ready to get my digital house in order. So I set about to acquire my wayward URL (no dashes—thank you very much!). We also gussied up the look of the website in anticipation of my cookbook release. Please check it out and let me know what you think about the new look and format. Feels really good to be back at it.

growing vegetables

Writing about the garden seemed like the perfect place to begin after my hiatus—it is after all the motivating influence of my life and the origin story of my blog. Every day in the garden was an exciting one this winter. So much to do, see, seed, prune, and sprout.

In January we pruned all 90+ rose bushes, which took a full two weeks. We also cut back the salvia and pulled out considerable numbers of dahlia bulbs that we let die-back from summer blooms. I want to plant the dahlias in blocks of color rather than the previous year’s hodge-podge version of Joseph’s Technicolor Dreamcoat, so separating and labeling the bulbs by color and variety was a must. The cleaner workspace seems to have migrated from my desk to my garden.

Garden Dahlias

We added an additional compost unit closer to the veggie beds for easy access. It’s small, upright, and fitted with a hose to extract compost tea (Aerobin I heart you). I also purchased a specialty thermometer for my larger stacks so I can check to see if they are getting hot enough. The internal temp should be about 150° F to quicken the decomposition and fend off weed seeds and any unwelcome pathogenic organisms. Sexy!

And just like that, it’s time to plant for summer. Early April is the perfect time to add a few tomatoes (I start with the smaller-sized ones first). If you are anywhere in the vicinity of a tomatomania sale head there for some beautiful varieties, or in Santa Barbara check out the selection of plants at my favorite local nursery Island Seed and Feed.

Portrait, dahlias, and garden bed image by Gemma and Andy Ingalls.
All other images by Valerie Rice