Serenity at Bloedel Reserve

A few weeks ago, we made it out to Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island. Bloedel is one of those in-your-backyard sort of places that we always seem to put off. It’s going to be too crowded, it’s too expensive, it’s just a garden, we’ll do it another time, it’s not adventurous enough, it will always be there. I have talked about going for years but always came up with an excuse. I am so glad we finally went.


Bloedel is not just a garden. It’s 150 acres of spectacular scenery, both wild and groomed, and full of life, even in the middle of February. We saw ducks, geese, a Pileated Woodpecker, and a number of smaller birds. Heard a raven and frogs. Saw a deer and a coyote. Flowers were already blooming–hellebores, camellias, primroses, and others. As beautiful as it was on the overcast, chilly day that we went, I can only imagine what it will be like in April or May.


We enjoyed it so much that we went back to the admissions desk and bought a year-long pass for the two of us, plus two guests. Well worth the $100 (plus you get a 10 percent discount at the gift shop, which has a lovely selection of local art and things–and where else can you find squirrel earrings!). I plan on going back once a month to chronicle the changes throughout the seasons.


There is lots of information on their website and at the Reserve so I won’t tell you all about it here. Part of the fun is reading about the history in the lovely home on the grounds. There are a number of special events throughout the year, or you can just go for a walk on your own. It took the three of us almost three hours (although some of that was in the gift shop!). We were constantly stopping to marvel at some beautiful plant or scene, but there were also people who live a little closer who use the Reserve for a brisk walk for exercise. I think I would do that if I lived on Bainbridge as well!

PS: Do be aware that pets are not allowed, and they will not let you keep one in your car while you visit (good for them!).


Sweet Orange Body Scrub

1 cup coconut oil (I use Costco’s cold pressed organic unrefined oil)

1-2 Tablespoons sweet almond oil

1/4 cup sugar (not too fine)

1/2 teaspoon dried Valencia orange peel

15-30 drops sweet orange pure essential oil

Finally, the long-awaited super simple body scrub recipe. This one is great because the above measurements and ingredients are just a starting point. You can alter this in so many ways. You can use salt instead of sugar (though I like sugar as it’s less likely to sting if you have nicks or cuts). You can leave out the orange peel, add more, or try something entirely different–just remember, whatever you add is going down your drain so nothing too big! And of course, you can use a different scent. It’s something that can be made very quickly, yet it looks nice and would be fun for gifts. And it’s much less expensive than store-bought scrubs!

Gather all your ingredients and a bowl for mixing. Start by whipping the coconut oil with a fork until light and smooth (you can also slowly melt over a double-boiler, but that’s more time and more dishes). Add the sweet almond oil and whip up again. Add the sugar and orange peel and stir well. Finally, add the essential oil. Start slowly and smell a few times before you add it all in.

Spoon the mixture into a nice unbreakable container. This is a slippery mix and you don’t want a glass jar falling on a tile shower floor! It will firm up a bit after standing and the scent will usually get just a bit stronger. Enjoy! But be careful not to slip–and warn anyone using the shower right after you (or be nice and clean the shower floor)!!!!

You can play around with all the measurements. This one is pretty oily, as I have dry skin. You could certainly cut back on the almond oil if you want it a little thicker. You can also add more or less sugar or salt. Have fun, experiment, and feel free to share your favorite recipe 🙂