Descanso Gardens, An Urban Retreat

The Japanese Garden opened in the 1960s, and features plants native to Asia.

Descanso Gardens in La Cañada is one of southern California’s most beloved parks, but the area might have been developed into something completely different!  Back in the early 1950s when businessman and camellia grower Manchester Boddy was ready to sell his Rancho del Descanso, Walt Disney considered it a possible site for his theme park. Others suggested the land be used as a dump! Yikes! We can be grateful LA County recognized its value as a green space and opened it to the public in 1953.  It continues to serve as a necessary and much valued urban retre

Descanso Gardens is well known as home to North America’s largest camellia collection, yet the beautiful Camellia Forest is only one of nine distinct gardens within Descanso’s 160 acres. They range from the rugged Oak Woodland and carefree beauty of the California Natives to the refined five-acre Rose Garden and the tranquil Japanese Garden.

Descanso Gardens is a nationally accredited “museum of living collections.” Its mission is to “offer people an experience close to nature and cultivate understanding of the natural world and people’s place in it through inspiration, education and example.” Plan a visit soon, and be sure to check out their website for upcoming programs and events at

Descanso Gardens, 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011, (818) 949-4200

Posted on October 11, 2018 at 7:26 pm
Sue Cook | Category: Did You Know..., Just for Fun

Savor the First Day of Fall

With the autumnal equinox coming up on Saturday, Sept. 22, it’s
official: Fall is here. It’s a good weekend to savor hot drinks, go on a
cozy picnic, prep the yard for cold weather and dry fresh herbs from
the garden. And with hurricane season upon us, this is a good time to
check your family emergency plan.
Posted on September 18, 2018 at 9:12 pm
Sue Cook | Category: Did You Know..., Uncategorized | Tagged

Local Treasure: The Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team



The highly acclaimed rescue team marches in Sierra Madre’s annual 4th of July Parade.

One of the highlights of Sierra Madre’s charming annual Fourth of July Parade is the chance to see the city’s renowned Search and Rescue Team march down Sierra Madre Boulevard.

Did you know the team was founded over 65 years ago? In 1951, a young hiker was lost in the local mountains, and it took a disorganized group of volunteers three days to find him. Their nearly futile search inspired Larry Shepherd and Fred La Lone to establish the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team in August of 1951.

Over the years, and with help from the community, the group’s equipment evolved from a 30-foot length of rope and a flashlight to the best first aid equipment and mountaineering gear available. This well-trained volunteer team has responded to thousands of calls for help in the wilderness and saved many lives throughout the United States and in Mexico.

To learn more about the team, visit


Posted on July 11, 2018 at 4:50 pm
Sue Cook | Category: Did You Know..., Just for Fun | Tagged

Welcome Summer into Your Home With These 21 Tips

Summer is almost here! Here are some great tips from Houzz on preparing your home for the season.


Summer officially begins June 21 this year, but why wait until then to get into the summer spirit? Get a jump-start by prepping your home and garden for warm weather, setting up the perfect drip-dry spot for beach towels, reorganizing the kitchen (hello, smoothie bar) and more. These 21 to-dos cover all the bases, so you can enjoy the season to the fullest.

Things to Check Off Your List in an Hour or Less

1. Make your summer must-do list. Beach days, lemonade on the porch, pick-your-own fruit farms — with so much to look forward to in summer, don’t let it zip by in the blink of an eye. Be sure you are making the most of your season by creating a list of your personal must-dos and posting it where you can see it. A big chalkboard or family bulletin board would be ideal.

2. Empty standing water regularly. The best way to keep mosquito populations down is by regularly checking your property for standing water and emptying it. Even a saucer of water can become a mosquito nursery, so leave no pot unturned.

3. Set up a spot to dry beach towels and bathing suits. Soggy, sandy beach towels getting dragged through the house is a mess waiting to happen — but you can easily prevent this with a bit of planning. Choose a dedicated spot, either just outside the door (a covered porch works well) or in the mudroom, as shown, and hang a row of sturdy hooks for wet towels and bathing suits. Once dry, sand can be easily shaken off outdoors, so it doesn’t end up in your washing machine.

4. Corral summer necessities in a bowl or basket.Stash extra sunscreen, shades and bug repellant in a container near the front door for easy access when you’re in a rush.

Tackle These Tasks Over a Weekend

5. Install screen doors. If you use them, now is the time to take down the storm doors and put up screen doors to let the summer breezes pour in. Be sure to inspect screens carefully, patching holes as needed — even a tiny hole can be enough to let in a mosquito.

6. Check play equipment for safety. Over time, wood, ropes and fastenings can degrade, making outdoor play equipment potentially unsafe. Check swings, zip lines, slides and other structures for safety; repair or replace as needed.

7. Hang a clothesline for summer energy savings. While the weather is nice and warm, consider skipping the dryer and hanging your clothes to dry in the fresh air instead. It may not always be possible, but even occasionally putting a clothesline or drying rack to work will save energy. If hang-drying isn’t an option, you can still reduce your energy bill by washing in cold water, cleaning the lint trap and having your dryer vent serviced to increase airflow.

8. Reorganize your kitchen.The change in seasons is a good time to rethink how you have things arranged in the kitchen. If there are small appliances you use more in the warmer months (a blender for smoothies, perhaps, or an ice cream maker), move them to a more accessible spot, and you will be more likely to use them.

Stations devoted to a certain purpose can also do wonders. If you have children on summer vacation, create a self-help station stocked with healthy snacks. Or create an iced-coffee bar or smoothie-making station for yourself with all needed supplies within reach.

9. Make space for summer crafts.A dedicated space for arts and crafts can provide screen-free entertainment and a creative outlet — and it’s not just for kids! Even if you must work all summer, having a space to devote to a hobbycan re-energize and inspire you.

10. Organize and put away school papers. If you do have kids, at the end of the school year, it can be tempting to jump right into summer. But taking the time to sort through each child’s school things will help prevent clutter from piling up, and you can start the summer fresh. Sort through the papers, artwork and projects from the year, choosing the best representative pieces (and those that most pull at your heartstrings) to save in a portfolio or document box and then recycling the rest. If you want to preserve more than you can keep, consider scanning the artwork into your computer and creating a photo book with the pictures.

11. Keep cooling systems running smoothly.Take the time before hot weather sets in to dust ceiling fans, install window air-conditioning units and schedule maintenance for a whole-house cooling system.

12. Lighten up decor.Roll up heavy rugs, put crisp percale or cooling linen sheets on the beds and bring in accents in lighter hues for the warmer months ahead. Breezy white curtains look delightfully cool in summer, but if the weather gets quite hot where you live, you may want to leave heavy window coverings in place. Closing the shades during the heat of the day can actually help keep your house cooler.

13. Plant bee-friendly flowers.Help give pollinators a place to thrive by adding bee-friendly native plantsto your garden now for fall blooms. Which flower species you choose will depend on your region; ask for assistance at a local nursery specializing in native plants if you are unsure.

14. Keep an eye on irrigation systems. A faulty sprinkler or irrigation hose that goes unnoticed can quickly cause big problems for your lawn and garden. Make a habit of checking each component once a week, especially in summer.

15. Give your garage or shed a clean-out. Since you’ll likely be spending more time in your outdoor spaces during the summer, it’s a good idea to take some time at the start of the season to clear out space in your storage area. Take old paint cans to a hazardous waste drop-off point, sell or give away items you no longer want and organize what’s left into zones of use: garden tools and supplies, outdoor adventures and sports gear, and household tools.

16. Get seasonal gear ready. What with camping and beach trips, summertime activities come with a lot of gear. Get it cleaned up and ready now, so you’re not surprised by a leaky tent or blown-out beach umbrella when it’s too late to replace them. And if you plan to waterproof anything (tents or outdoor tablecloths, for example), now is the time.

Maintenance and Extras to Budget for This Month

17. Refresh your bathroom. 
Shower curtain liner looking a little dingy? Bath towels seen better days? Give your bathroom a mini spa makeover, and swap out your tired old bath linens for fresh, fluffy new towels and a new curtain liner. Use a woven basketto corral rolled towels. And contain toiletries on a tray or in zippered containers.

18. Update first-aid kits and emergency supplies.Be prepared for everything from minor snafus to natural disasters with well-stocked first-aid kits in the house and car, plus emergency supplies for your family and pets. Not sure what to include? The American Red Crosshas a helpful checklist.

19. Clean gutters and downspouts.If you did not get your gutters cleaned in spring, be sure to get this essential task checked off your list as soon as possible. Leaf- and debris-clogged gutters can lead to leaks and siding damage with summer storms.

Learn how to clean your gutters

20. Schedule major outdoor projects. Whether you are dreaming of a new patio or need to replace a deck, don’t delay booking a landscape architect or contractor for your projects. Their schedules tend to fill up quickly in the summer.

21. Catch up on projects and maintenance. No one is perfect, and chances are there are a few home-maintenance projects you’ve been meaning tackle. Why not make June the month to get caught up?




Posted on June 20, 2018 at 4:52 pm
Sue Cook | Category: Did You Know..., Just for Fun

Shredding Event in Honor of Earth Day

Earth Day is coming up on April 22, and what better way to observe the day than participate in Podley’s Shredding Event. Shredding is good for the environment, and helps guard your identity, too!

Posted on April 19, 2018 at 5:27 am
Sue Cook | Category: Did You Know...

Lucky Baldwin

       Lucky Baldwin, Arcadia’s Founder


Elias J. “Lucky” Baldwin was one of the greatest and most colorful pioneers of California business in the second half of the nineteenth century. He made his mark on the development of Southern California, starting with the Santa Anita Rancho.

Passing through the San Gabriel Valley on a business trip in the 1870s, Elias J. “Lucky” Baldwin was amazed by Santa Anita Rancho’s rich land, rolling contours, and great oaks. He gasped, “By Gad, this is paradise!” and he simply had to have it, even though its price was high and only increased every time he spoke to its owner. Once he purchased the Santa Anita, he planted orchards and vineyards in the lowlands and grazed livestock on the oak-dotted hillsides. On the western edge of his land were the Baldwin Stables with Lucky’s championship racehorses.

During the land boom of the 1880s, Baldwin sold 845 acres of the Santa Anita Rancho to Nathaniel Carter who formed the town of Sierra Madre, and 240 acres to William Monroe who created the town of Monrovia. When Baldwin saw how Carter and Monroe profited by selling plots to easterners arriving on the newly completed railroad, Baldwin decided he would not be left out.

Baldwin set up his own town site with beautiful tree-lined streets, including a double-drive he called Santa Anita Avenue. Lucky named his town Arcadia, or “serene countryside”. When told the prices he was charging for homesites were too high, he argued, “We’re giving the land away. We’re only selling the climate!” Baldwin put his profits into improving his home ranch with driveways, lawns and shade trees. He built a Queen Anne Style cottage by his lake for entertaining.

When he passed away in 1909, Arcadia mourned the death of its founder. The city praised his “great charity for the deserving and helpless, his great eye for the beautiful in nature, his great love for the things that grow, his adoration for our native trees, and his faculty for beautifying the land, all of which during his life, tended to the upbuilding and planting of this little city, in the midst of the most beautiful valley of the State.”

Posted on April 11, 2018 at 11:13 pm
Sue Cook | Category: Did You Know..., Uncategorized

Santa Anita Derby, Stepping Stone to Kentucky Derby


Santa Anita Derby April 7, Stepping Stone to the Kentucky Derby

If you’re excited about watching the Kentucky Derby on May 5, you wouldn’t want to miss your chance to see two of its top contenders slug it out right in our own backyard. Kentucky Derby favorites Justify and Bolt d’Oro will run in the $1 million Santa Anita Derby this Saturday. It’s a race contested by 3-year-olds at a distance of 1/18 miles or 9 furlongs.

Justify is a relatively inexperienced colt. He would need to win first or second on Saturday to become eligible to run in the Kentucky Derby. If he wins the Kentucky Derby, he would make history as the first horse since 1882 to win after not racing as a 2-year-old! “This horse is just imposing. He is big and bad and his stride is fluent. If you’re looking for a horse that is progressing perfectly at the right time to win the Derby, then this is your boy.”- Pete Monaco, The Eighth Pole.

Bolt d’Oro’s name is a tribute to sprinter Usain Bolt. He’s already qualified for the Kentucky Derby and is a favorite to win it. “Justify? I say bring him on.” says Bolt d’Oro’s trainer Mick Ruiz. “Bolt d’Oro…hasn’t had a bad race. He’s all class, shown he’s got the heart and fits well with the top contenders. He will be one of the deserving top choices come Derby day.” – Pete Monaco, The Eighth Pole.

Excitement is building in Arcadia for The Santa Anita Derby. The Derby has produced countless racing legends, and you may just get a chance to see legends in the making this Saturday!  Visit for more details.


Posted on April 5, 2018 at 8:56 pm
Sue Cook | Category: Did You Know..., Just for Fun, Uncategorized

2018 Sierra Madre Wistaria Festival


Wistaria Vine

Whether it’s spelled Wistaria or Wisteria, Sierra Madre’s Wistaria vine will always smell just as sweet! Sierra Madreans are understandably proud of their vine and eager to share it . After all, it is one of the seven horticultural wonders of the world, along with the redwood forest in Sequoia National Park, Brazil’s tropical jungle in the Amazon Valley, and the gardens of Buckingham Palace.

This year’s Sierra Madre Wistaria Festival begins on Saturday, March 17, noon – 9pm with a green event and St. Patrick celebration – how appropriate! On Sunday, March 18, from 9am – 5pm, visitors can enjoy a craft fair, kids activities, an auto show and live music at Memorial Park. Most importantly, they can take a shuttle to view the vine.

Alice Brugman planted the one-gallon, 75-cent wistaria vine in her backyard in the 1890s. The vine grew to two acres at its peak in the 1920s and began taking over the house. A new house was built 200 feet away, and the original house was used as a support for the vine until it was crushed beneath the vine’s weight. Sierra Madre’s 250-ton wistaria vine now measures more than an acre and has over 1½ million lavender and purple blossoms. It holds the Guinness record for largest flowering plant.

Wistaria plants symbolize welcome, and Sierra Madre welcomes everyone to enjoy a wonderful weekend of celebration at their annual Wistaria Festival.

Some Details:

Shuttle tickets are available at the Bottle Shop, Savor the Flavor and Bean Town: $12 adults, $7seniors and children 6-16.

For more information go to:


Posted on March 15, 2018 at 9:48 pm
Sue Cook | Category: Did You Know..., Just for Fun