Monthly Archives: May 2011

Say Hello To My Little Friend

Posted by Sandi

Yesterday we had the thrill of spotting our first hummingbird nest of the season. It was about 15’ off the ground in the lower limb of a fir tree in our yard. We could see two beaks peaking out, and the nest was bulging so we knew they’d be fledging soon. I could hardly wait to check on them when I woke this morning.

Little Angel - a bit ruffled and not fully feathered

Sure enough, the peeps were gone. I spotted one on the fence being fed by mom, then saw him fly around quite well. But baby #2 was still up in the tree, near the nest. She looked a little wobbly so I decided to keep watch. It was a long way down, and we were in Murphy territory (Murphy is our giant Leonberger).

My heart skipped a beat when I saw baby #2 lose her balance in slow motion and feebly flap her wings to a soft landing below, a few feet from snoozing Murphy. At that moment I named her ‘Angel’ and called for Bob to banish Murph from the yard.

I reminded myself that fledglings are supposed to fledge (this I learned a few summers back after returning babies to the nest when I didn’t feel they were ready!)  Fine, but here was this tiny vulnerable creature in the middle of our path. I gently scooped her up and relocated her a safe place below the nest tree. Soon after, mom found and fed her. Ahh.

Little Bobby - a rufous hummingbird - ready for his first flight

What a wonderful Sunday it was, hanging out with my binochs, checking on Angel all day. It reminded me of my first summer here, when we watched ‘Little Bobby’ grow from a helpless raisin to a flying daredevil. Angel doesn’t appear to have all her feathers yet; I hope she fills in and makes it off the ground soon. Stay tuned!

Looking to enjoy the simple life on beautiful Orcas Island?
Contact T Williams Realty  – we’ll help you find your way home.


Filed under Nature

Shaw Island – So Close, And Yet So Far (For Some)

Posted by Sandi

Yesterday, Teri and I had a site visit with a client on Shaw Island and decided to add some sightseeing between ferries.

This gorgeous sandy beach is part of 60-acre Shaw Island County Park. There are campsites here too. I'll be back in the summer!

After our morning meeting, we picnicked on the beach at Shaw County Park. Like many parks in the islands, this is not only a pretty place but has some interesting history too.

The consummate planner of fun, Teri packed us a yummy picnic lunch.


We then made a mini tour of the island including the school and the historical museum. Our last stops were the the tiny post office and charming general store, which along with the ferry landing were run until recently by the nuns of Our Lady of the Rock.

All was going according to plan until we realized our 12:25 ferry never arrived. Why? Because there is no 12:25 ferry to Orcas!!! We had both misread the ferry schedule and the next ferry to Orcas wasn’t until 4pm!

After having a good laugh and promising never to make fun of newbie ferry confusion, we decided to keep moving, albeit in the wrong direction. We stretched our legs on the 12:40 ferry headed to Lopez and Friday Harbor, finally arriving on Orcas about 3pm. The peaceful ferry rides turned out to be the perfect opportunity to catch up on some of our business planning (and summer party planning too:)).

Ferry docking at Shaw Island, one mile from Orcas.

Once back on Orcas, I looked across Harney Channel to Shaw and had to smile at the fact it took us 2-1/2 hours to get home instead of 15 minutes. At least we spent our time on a ferry instead of a freeway. 🙂 I can’t imagine a better place to live!



Looking to enjoy the simple life in the beautiful San Juan Islands?
Contact T Williams Realty  – we’ll help you find your way home.


Filed under Adventure, Community

Quiche – Simple, Elegant For Any Occasion

Posted by Teri

Quiche creates elegance for any occasion, especially when served on grandma's china and a lace tablecloth.

I am not a cook who likes to follow recipes, but must admit I do read cookbooks for ideas. Easy and able to use what I have in the cupboard is a must!

One of my favorite things to make is this quiche because the base is simple and I can add filling based on my mood, feeling and fresh ingredients on hand. 

Teri’s Simple Quiche Recipe

Crust: Start with a Marie Calendar pie crust from the freezer section (don’t tell my grandma this isn’t homemade!)

Base egg mixture: 5 eggs, 1.5 cups milk. Beat and put aside.

Filling – Here are some of my favorites:

  • Handful of spinach, ½ chopped leek, 1 c. shredded jack cheese. Pour egg mixture over and top with sliced tomatoes or red peppers.
  • Handful broccoli heads, ½ c. chopped red peppers, 1 cup cheddar and parmesan cheese. Pour egg mixture over top. Push broccoli down in egg mixture.
  • Line bottom of pie crust with Canadian bacon, 1 c. sharp cheddar cheese, pour egg mixture over and top with sliced tomatoes.
  • 1 cup crab meat, 1 c. pepper jack cheese, chopped scallions. Pour egg mixture over top.

Substitute your choice of filling and cheese (cheese is very important and subtly changes the mood.)

Bake for 45-55 minutes at 350°. Pie should not wiggle in the middle.  Let rest 10 minutes from oven before you cut. Can be served hot or cold. Keeps 2-3 days in fridge.

Serve with iced coffee in a wine glass and invite your best friend over for lunch in the garden!!!!

Looking to enjoy the simple life on beautiful Orcas Island?
Contact T Williams Realty  – we’ll help you find your way home.


Filed under Recipes

Wild About Yellow Island

Posted by Sandi

Approaching Yellow Island - an 11-acre preserve owned by the Nature Conservancy. What a gorgeous day for a paddle!

Yesterday I finally did one of the San Juan Islands’ must-dos: a tour of  Yellow Island during the  peak wildflower season.  We hooked up with Jeff Zbornik, owner of Shearwater Kayaks, for an easy paddle from Deer Harbor. Wow! Now I know what everyone’s been raving about.

The island’s caretaker, Phil, who has lived there in a driftwood cottage for 13 years, said this is the most spectacular spring he’s seen. The extra rain and cooler temps have extended the camas flowers by a month, synching blooms with Harsh Paintbrush and Buttercup. The result: a dizzying combo of purple-blue, red and yellow. I hope to be posting a video soon; in the meantime you can see more photos at my husband’s website. 

Harsh Paintbrush, Great Camas and Buttercup. Some of the Camas were waist-high!


McConnell Rock connected by spit to McConnell Island; background is Deer Harbor and Turtleback Mountain

Things to know before you go:

  • No food or drink allowed on the island.
  • No restrooms.
  • No pets.
  • Stay on the trails.
  • A group of six or more requires permission. Call 206-360-4344
  • All of the surrounding islands are either private or off limits. But tiny McConnell Rock, just north of Yellow Island, is open to the public. Go at low tide so you can land on the spit that connects McConnell Rock and McConnell Island.
  • To go ashore Yellow Island, use the south beach only. 

There is some interesting history to this area. I will save it for another post. Meanwhile, this adventure reminds me why I love living in the San Juan Islands — so beautiful and so many cool things to do within easy reach (or paddle!)

Looking to enjoy the simple life on beautiful Orcas Island?
Contact T Williams Realty  – we’ll help you find your way home.


Filed under Adventure, Nature

Gearing Up For Strandings In the San Juan Islands

Posted by Sandi

Yesterday my husband Bob attended his annual Marine Mammal Stranding Network (MMSN) refresher course on Orcas Island. Bob is part of a group of volunteers in San Juan County that respond to reports of live and dead marine mammals. I am much too sensitive for this task. ;o

Bob watching over stranded seal pup in Doe Bay

During pupping season, many seal pups are left on the beach temporarily while mom hunts for food. Others, though, are abandoned or injured. The pup in this photo was found dehydrated on a beach in Doe Bay. He was transported to Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center on San Juan Island, treated, and later released. He was only helped because there were dogs roaming on the beach, otherwise he would’ve been left alone for nature to to take its course. According to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, volunteers can only interfere when there is an injury or threat by a human or domestic animal.

If you see a stranded marine mammal, don’t go near it — they carry diseases! Call the MMSN Hotline at 800-562-8832 or send an email to: Dead animals should be reported too because they provide scientific insight when necropsied at the University of Washington labs in Friday Harbor.

MMSN is a program of The Whale Museum, and on Orcas it’s managed by the SeaDoc Society. This is just one of many ways you can get involved in protecting our rich marine ecosystem in the San Juan Islands.

Looking to enjoy the simple life in the beautiful San Juan Islands?
Contact T Williams Realty  – we’ll help you find your way home.

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Filed under Community, Nature

Searching For Island Fairies – The Elusive Calypso Orchid

Posted by Sandi

Our native Calypso Orchid - isn't she a beauty?

The cooler wetter spring we’re having is rewarding us with extended bloom times. As our aquifer is recharging, both natives and ornamentals are flourishing (as well as the pesky weeds!). And for those who know where to look: the tiny Calypso Orchid — also known as the Fairy Slipper — one of 42 native orchids in Washington State.

Taking the name “Calypso” from the Greek meaning “to hide”, she lives in seclusion, requiring just the right combination of shade, moisture and fungus in the forest duff to pop up in the spring. If you kneel down to take a picture, take care not to compress the ground around her. She doesn’t like that. And for heaven’s sake, don’t dig her up – she won’t survive!

A clan of Calypsos peeking above Broadleaf Starflower in my woodland garden. They're thriving this year because I put a fence around them to create a "fairy garden."

We have the ideal climate for the Calypso Orchid on Orcas Island, but if you’re interested in trying to grow this pretty, you must be very patient – she can germinate for years before sprouting a tiny leaf the size of your fingernail! A good source for growing tips (and also for bulbs and seed) is The Calypso Orchid Company.

Now that you know how delicate she is, next time you discover her you’ll have a new  appreciation for our little native fairy. Walk lightly!

Looking to enjoy the simple life on beautiful Orcas Island?
Contact T Williams Realty  – we’ll help you find your way home.


Filed under Gardening, Nature

Spud Time: All Eyes Are In The Garden

Posted by Teri

Mr. Potato and Friends

One of my must-dos in May include planting spuds. This year I purchased organic seed potatoes from a new local group called Food Masters who are working towards creating a sustainable food supply on Orcas by helping islanders grow their own food. They purchased 700 lbs of organic, certified disease-free seed potatoes (25 varieties!) from Eastern Washington growers. They say if all those potatoes average 7:1 return — the typical return is anywhere from 5:1 to 10:1 or even better — Orcas should have 3500 lbs of homegrown potatoes next fall!  Continue reading

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Filed under Gardening

Fawns In Our Blueberry Patch

Posted by Sandi

The other day I went up the hill to weed our neglected blueberry garden and was delighted to find a dozen or more fawns…White Fawn Lilies! I’ve seen the striking mottled leaves of our native (Erythronium oregonum) hugging the ground all around our property, but never a bloom because we’re heavily browsed by deer. Solution: put up a deer fence and let a section go wild!

Our native White Fawn Lily is becoming more rare because people pick them or try to transplant them, usually without success.

While this wasn’t the plan (the blueberry patch was my husband’s project that fell out of favor after losing last summer’s crop to birds), I was thrilled nonetheless. It makes me wonder what other natives would flourish if we deer fenced our property. Continue reading


Filed under Gardening, Nature

Fav Orcas Eatery Is Back – And Better!

Posted by Sandi

This weekend my husband Bob and I celebrated our anniversary with dinner at Westsound Cafe at The Kingfish Inn. After being for sale all last year and closed for the winter, the Inn reopened this month under new ownership.

Kingfish Inn and Westsound Cafe

The menu is all new but I was thrilled to find my favorite fish tacos still offered. They were slightly different, but just as good. And this time, instead of being served in a basket with soggy bottom paper it came on a square china plate. Prices seemed about the same.

Best of all, they installed acoustic panels on the ceiling. It used to be so noisy when the place was full that you could hardly hear yourself. Owner Nanae Fralick told me that had been one of her complaints as a customer too. Continue reading


Filed under Community