Debra Prinzing

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I think I lost an entire month!

March 14th, 2010

Celebrating my birthday with Paula Panich at Girasole in Los Angeles, a sweet French bistro

Dear friends, 

Where did February go? And for that matter, where did the first half of March disappear to?  

I’m so sorry! I’ve been racing around like a crazy woman. Like my fellow *Gamma-Sisters everywhere, the world is asking more of us at every turn. Eternally curious, we’re inspired by exciting, interesting and compelling people, places, projects and opportunities. As one of my friends pointed out, I am easily drawn to “bright, shiny objects.” It’s irresistible. There are literally not enough hours in a day to “do it all.” 

One of my excuses is that I have been traveling more than usual. Another is that my little family is currently in its bicoastal phase, with Mom and sons in Southern California and Dad (for the most part) in Pittsburgh. His occasional trips home are a highlight for us and exhausting for him. In between, I’m solo-parenting, burning the candle at both ends and juggling everything (while also letting some important things slack off, such as keeping in touch with friends, answering 500 emails in my in-box, and blogging!). I had to put the pause on the blog for a while. No promises, but as of this weekend, I sincerely hope my “blogger’s block” has been broken – and that I can return to regular correspondence. 

By July, we will be reunited as a family, but I am well aware that July is still several months away. In the meantime, we have to ready this 1980 Spanish-style ranch house for sale; get packed and relocated; get our oldest son ready for his freshman year in college and move me, younger son and our family pet to Pittsburgh. Oh, and find a place to live! Crazy, life is just crazy. 

I don’t want to leave Southern California, especially with its glorious natural beauty, amazing gardening and garden design community, and (for me) wonderful opportunities to gather and tell stories. So, I guess I’m going to try and become a working writer with two home bases: Los Angeles and Pittsburgh. We’ll see how that goes. I don’t want to lose these ties I’ve been so fortunate to develop since moving here in 2006. Imagine: I didn’t want to come to L.A. and now I don’t want to leave! 

Just to bring you up to date, dear readers, here are a few highlights of the past month. If we’re connected on Facebook, you may already have seen some of these items. If not, then click on my Facebook icon (see right) and join in. 

February 12-20: 

Dinner at Jan's in Seattle, from left: Me, Jan, her mom Pat, and Jean. Sammy the cat is on Jan's lap.

After only being home for five days from my January trip to Seattle (for the Northwest Flower & Garden Show), I returned to the Pacific Northwest on Friday, February 12th to speak at Portland’s Yard, Garden & Patio Show. Even though it was a short visit, my son Alex and I had a great time. We were so “green,” relatively-speaking. We took Portland’s MAX light-rail train from the Portland Airport all the way to downtown Portland; then we transferred to Portland’s cool Trolley, which took us to our hotel in the Northwest district. That we were hauling Alex’s heavy snowboard bag filled with gear made us feel all the more victorious about being so independent. 

We stayed at a very cool retro hotel discovered by my friend Judy Bradley, president of the Pacific Horticulture Society. Since our board was to meet for an all-day session on Feb 13th, she recommended this cool pad, complete with a rooftop garden, hip teal and chartreuese interiors and complimentary breakfast! 

While I was lecturing about – what else? “Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways,” at the YGP, one of my favorite traveling companions Lorene Edwards Forkner graciously drove Alex out to Portland’s airport. He flew to Seattle by himself to meet up with family friends and his best buddy Max, for midwinter break. Lucky me: I got Lorene all to myself for the following two days and nights – and we gabbed all the way up to Seattle on our three-hour Sunday morning drive. I won’t even bore you with the all-day board meeting. It was a board meeting. Enough said. 

Sunday evening – Valentine’s Day – I was treated to a wonderful Middle Eastern dinner by my friend Jennifer. Her husband was away on a trip; mine was back east. Our boys were playing very dangerous video games and we had a Mom’s Night Out with her friend Karen. 

The rest of the week was filled with my typical Seattle agenda of a little bit play, a little bit work, a little bit kid-stuff, and a lot of sentimentality. I hopped back and forth between Jennifer’s (where my son Alex was staying in West Seattle) and my friend Jan’s, which has become our home-away-from-home in our former neighborhood. Just thinking about being there makes me want to cry, because it so much reminds me of my two decades living in Seattle. The view of Lake Washington and the Cascades, the Craftsman house, the familiar streets, sidewalks, architecture, trees, shops. I desperately would love to live there again. Some day, right? 

With my niece Marquita in Seattle. Unfortunately, her sister Marquis could not join us that day.

 On Monday, I enjoyed lunch with my niece Marquita. She is a talented, accomplished young woman who just finished graduate school and is halfway through her challenging first year as a 4th grade teacher in Seattle Public Schools. We spent lots of time brainstorming about the flowers for her summer wedding to her fiance, Vu. I’m so excited that they are allowing me to be part of their ceremony. We’re planning on using seasonal and sustainable flowers from local farms. The bouquets will be almost as beautiful as the bride. 

That night I had a lovely dinner with my friends Robyn and Don, who fed me seafood straight from the Pike Place Market and let me spend the night so we could get up and enjoy breakfast the following morning. What a blast! Before dinner, Robyn and I tootled around the PPM to buy fish, cheese, wine, veggies and more. Then we snuck down to Il Bistro for happy hour before driving back to Queen Anne for supper. I seriously could just move into their downstairs atelier and never leave! 

On Tuesday night, my friend Jan hosted a wonderful dinner for her parents, Pat and Bob (turns our that our moms have been artist-friends for several years!) and our mutual friend Jean. The three of us gals had a blast pre-planning our May adventure. That’s when Jan and Jean come to L.A. to spend a few days here, for their respective birthdays, and also for the three of us to see Carole King and James Taylor at the Hollywood Bowl! I am so psyched to plan their garden touring activities while they are here. It will be a treat! 

On Wednesday, Alex and his friend Max and I met up with Carrie and her boys for an all-day Snoqualmie Snow Day. The boys were ecstatic to go snowboarding, while Carrie and I went snow-shoeing. I couldn’t believe our good luck with weather. While Seattle has had a warm winter resulting in not the best snowpack, the snow at Alpental was just fine for our level of skill and ambition. Carrie and I spent many a weekend cross-country skiing back in our pre-mom days and for one afternoon, we returned to that camaraderie and companionship out in nature. What a treat! 

On Thursday, I saw friends for tea, lunch and dinner, and also squeezed in a meeting with my webmaster Bob Meador of Cultivate Design. Maybe you’ve noticed some changes here to my web site. Bob is responsible! He and I have been planning this switcheroo for several months. Not all the bugs are worked out, but you’ll notice that we decided to blend my main web site – with my blog, It only took me three years to figure out the benefits of this combined strategy (sorry, when it comes to technology, I’m a slow learner). Kathy Purdy’s suggestions and encouragement helped get me to this point and Bob has made the whole thing look seamless! The best features of my blog, combined with the best features of my web site, and voila!  A new and improved site. Everything will point to, which makes more sense, especially as I move forward beyond the “shed focus,” with multiple themes and topics on this blog. 

By very early Saturday morning, we headed home to Burbank at the end of this long, fruitful week. It was good to be back in the sunshine. 

February 21-27: 

Here I am with the Garden World Report "team" - Alex, Shirley and Heather

I hit the ground running since this was my birthday week! First of all, friends Sharon Lovejoy and her husband Jeff Prostovich came to spend the night on Tuesday, driving down the coast from San Luis Obispo to come for dinner, great conversation, and – finally – bedtime. A gifted illustrator, storyteller, designer and writer, Sharon is a personal and professional inspiration. Jeff is a brilliant businessman, especially when it comes to managing Sharon’s publishing and lecture ventures. I’ve learned so much just sitting around the table with them and soaking up advice. We all should be so lucky! 

The following morning, I set off for my appointment with “Garden World Report,” the online show created by Shirley Bovshow. She had invited Sharon, Nicholas Staddon of Monrovia, and me to tape “expert” segments for new episodes. This was the real deal! Shirley has teamed up with talented director/editor Alex to take GWReport to a whole new, professional level of television production. She turned the living room of her home into a TV studio, complete with a “green screen.” She brought in Heather Coopersmith, an accomplished makeup artist, to turn our ordinary faces into TV-ready ones. We showed up with changes of clothing, talking points, and a willingness to work outside our comfort zones. Well, I’m talking about myself. Sharon and Nicholas are naturals! I required many, many “takes,” just ask the tolerant and kind director, Alex. 

Shirley has created something very exciting with Garden World Report. The new version of the show debuted a few days ago, and you must watch it. I’m honored to be in on the early stages of such an inspiring enterprise. We’ll be able to say “we knew her when.”
Watch the first “new” edition here: 

Later that week, I had a lovely birthday luncheon with my dear friend and writing mentor Paula Panich (see photo at the beginning of this post). We met in her neighborhood, Larchmont Village, a charming Los Angeles ‘hood where people still walk to the shops – reminiscent of Seattle’s Madison Park, where Bruce and I lived for 10 months with a five-yr-old and a newborn (while building our house in Seward Park). Little independent shops and restaurants dot the sidewalks on either side of a broad street. Strollers, dogs on leashes, pedestrians. Love it! If we could move out of the ‘burbs and into this type of neighborhood, I would be a happy woman. 

By that evening, I was at Burbank Airport to fetch Bruce, who flew home to help me celebrate my birthday. We had a wonderful, much-anticipated 3-day weekend. Went to a movie, cooked our favorite meals, at a delicious meal prepared by our oldest son, and even had a swanky lunch at Spago, Beverly Hills. What a memorable birthday! 

February 28-March 6: 


The highlight of this week was the GARDEN DESIGN Hollywood Issue Premiere Party at Rolling Greens Nursery in Hollywood. Garden Design’s editor Sarah Kinbar asked me to plan the party and I worked with wunderkind-event planner Kyle Schuneman to pull it off. 

The wow-factor of this event was amazing! We gathered to celebrate great garden design, combined with a little celebrity sizzle. 

I’m still in awe of the fact that with no staff, a conservative budget and lots of support from friends, we were able to pull off such a cool party. 

Many thanks to Greg Salmeri, Angela Hicks, Jesse Lopez and Alexis Florio of Rolling Greens Nursery for their support and hard, hard work to ready the setting for the party. 

Caterer Jack McLaughlin created a dee-lish menu of hors d’oeurves and drinks (including the signature party drink to fit Kyle’s coral-and-teal palette). What a superb party! 

All smiles, with Megan at the party

Megan Padilla, Garden Design’s senior editor, and Donna Reiss, art director, flew in from Orlando for the party. People were so excited to meet them and learn about the magazine’s editorial direction. I am so happy to be a part of this effort, as we highlight and document the very best landscapes in the country – and beyond. Our celebrity-sightings included none other than John Voight, who arrived with celebrity garden designer Jon Goldstein of Johnny Appleseed’s. Goldstein’s landscapes for actors Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks, Desperate Housewives) and Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) were featured in Garden Design’s March 2010 issue. 

My story about the gorgeous garden of Mary Steenburgen and Ted Danson is a central feature of the Hollywood issue. Unfortunately, both Mary and Ted are busy filming right now, so they couldn’t come. But two of the members of their design team, Jessica Thompson and Kimberly Ainsworth, of Green Goddess Gardens, came to the party to help celebrate. The magazine’s cover story – about the Hollywood Hills landscape of director R.J. Cutler (“The September Issue”) – lured R.J. and his entourage, including interior designer Lory Johansson and garden designer Scott Daigre

March 7-13:If the previous week wasn’t crazy and fun enough, this week was just as amazing. It was my Better Homes & Gardens PHOTO SHOOT! On Tuesday morning, Shelley Caldwell, deputy art director for BH&G, and L.A.-based freelance stylist Char Hatch Langos showed up with two carloads of “stuff” – the props and accessories needed to help create five tabletop vignettes for our upcoming June 2010 BH&G article about planting long-blooming containers for summer’s backyard entertaining. 

BH&G’s Home editor Amy Panos asked me to create five planted centerpieces for the feature story. After many back-and-forth discussions the styles and plants were finalized and I planted the containers last weekend. But those vessels filled with blooms now seems like such small detail, compared with the theatrics involved in pulling off the photo shoot! 

Whew. All I can say is – it’s hard work to make pretty! 

Jack Coyier and his assistant Stuart Gow are super talented! They did some awesome photography and worked like crazy men to turn our tabletops into magic for BH&G’s magazine pages. Shelley and Char were magicians! It was a treat to watch them mix-and-match and shift and adjust everything from linens and dishes to furniture and candles. Wow! 

This has been a very, very full and gratifying month. I hope you aren’t as tired as I am . . . just reading this entry makes me realize why I’ve been unable to stay on top of blogging. But it was worth it. 

thanks for reading along. . . 

On location in my own backyard with Shelley Caldwell, a BH&G art director

5 Responses to “I think I lost an entire month!”

  1. compostinmyshoe Says:

    I hope that people realize when you are so busy with life that it is the stuff of blogs and can’t be rushed!
    .-= compostinmyshoe´s last blog ..The Layers to an Answer =-.

  2. sharon Lovejoy Says:

    Oh yes dear Deb, you are on the go 23 hours a day! I know that for a fact.

    And we Californians DON’T want to lose you. At least Jeff and I can see you when we drive to Maine.

    Thanks for the post, we were hoping you weren’t in over your head.

    Sharon Lovejoy

  3. Lydia Plunk Says:

    Reading your schedule is exhausting! Good luck on the bi-coastal life. We did the bi-continental while our boys teenagers- as exhillerating as it was- it is good to be in a more rooted lifestyle now.

  4. suzanne st pierre Says:

    It doesn’t look to me like you lost a month. It looks like it was filled with wonderful people and adventures.

    “No matter where you go, there you are”
    I hope your transplant to Pittsburgh is as fruitful as your move to LA.

    the best to you,

  5. Janna K. Says:

    Hi Debra- Happy Birthday!

    Met you at Paula’s workshop in January, just now had a little time to check out Paula’s and your blog
    (I lost a month too! And I still don’t know why you and I looked familiar to each other, but it was fun playing “six degrees of separation for Nan Sterman” with all of you that day.) Checked out one of your Tuscan trip posts, liked your learn from a Tuscan garden post. Am now a little bummed that you will be moving- just when I met you!

    Looking forward to also checking out your blog list when I get sometime. Probably when I don’t feel like gardening in the summer heat, judging from all the weeds that the winter rain brought!

    Found a few faves that you might like if you are feeling “un etat d’esprit francais:

    French Word A Day learn French, writes posts about life in France, has cute puppies!
    Gypsy Purple “should have been born a French gypsy”, lives in South Africa, decor,
    gardens, (found her from her post about gardening friend Heather
    Lenkin’s gorgeous garden)

    Going to the L.A. Garden Show?


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