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By Cali Bagby Islands' Weekly editor


arlyn and Don Myers began gathering weather information on the islands about seven years ago and they just could not stop. "We are weather geeks," said Marlyn, with a laugh. Lately they have organized a county-wide weather recording group. For a year, this group has been keeping track of high and low temperatures and precipitation on Orcas, San Juan and Lopez. Locations include Buck Mountain, Guthrie Cove, View Haven, North Shore, Enchanted Forest Road, Mount Constitution, below Mount Constitution off the Olga highway, Killebrew Lake, Dolphin Bay and Obstruction Pass. There were also select spots on Lopez and San Juan. The results of a yearlong effort showed that Mt. Constitution received the most rain, 52.89 inches. The south end of Lopez had the least amount of rain of all the sites, at 18.63

inches. Roche Harbor also had low amounts of rain at 19.88 inches. The west part of Eastsound had only 22.32 inches. Deer Harbor and Spring Point each had about 25 inches of rainfall. The highlands, closer to Mt. Constitution, 27.75 and Olga 28.37. During a recent winter storm islanders reported diverse snow levels. In Olga, John Willis reported an inch and a half of snow. Islanders at Point Lawrence, just four miles from the Willis property, had 17 inches. There were also 17 inches of snow on the side of Buck Mountain. Residents on Mount Woolard reported 10-12 inches. At the end of Obstruction Point there was less then one inch. Enchanted Forest Road, near Eastsound, experienced 8-10 inches. The North shore had 5-6 inches. Killebrew Lake - six inches. The Ferry Landing - zero inches. "It does make a difference where we are," said Marlyn. Marlyn said the Olympic

Cali Bagby photo

A year of research shows that weather varies significantly throughout the San Juan Islands.

rainshadow reduces rainfall in the islands compared to Seattle because of our location in reference to the Olympic Mountains. She talked about how weather differs significantly on the various areas of Orcas Island. Olga is different than Eastsound and Deer Harbor can be different from both. She said that there are also two types of soil on Orcas waterfront with no nutrients and inland soil, which is much better. "I have a friend who lives in Deer Harbor who has the most beautiful ripe tomatoes, beans and berries," said Marlyn. "That does not happen where I live." To find out what kind of soil you have on your land, you can purchase a pH soil test from any garden supply store.


Home & Garden Contributors

Publisher: Colleen Smith Armstrong Editor: Cali Bagby Contributing Writers: Cali Bagby, Jody Burns, Heidi Lewis, Kathy Lunde, Erinn Nelson, Lou Pray, Scott Rasmussen, Regina Zwelling Advertising Sales: Colleen Smith Armstrong, Cali Bagby, Rich Peterson, Howard Schonberger Creative Artists: Scott Herning, Kathryn Sherman

Publication Information The Journal of the San Juans: 640 Mullis St., Friday Harbor, WA 98250 P: 360-378-5696, F: 360-378-5128 - www.sanjuanjournal.com The Islands’ Sounder: 217 Main Street, Eastsound, WA 98245 P: 360-376-4500, F: 360-376-4501 - www.islandssounder.com The Islands’ Weekly: Contact the Sounder office - www.islandsweekly.com

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Best reads for your home, garden and beyond Book guide by Heidi Lewis, collection development specialist, San Juan Island Library • A Field Guide to American Houses: The Definitive Guide to Identifying and Understanding America's Domestic Architecture by Virginia Savage McAlester. This is the updated edition of a 1984 classic and it's more complete than ever with every conceivable style and design as well as neighborhood styles. It's a treat to pour through the exhaustive photographs. • American Home Landscapes: A Design Guide to Creating Period Garden Styles by Denise Wiles Adams & Laura L. S. Burchfield. Once you've researched the style of your house or the style of the home you would like to evoke, this book will help you plan a garden to complement its architectural styles. The book includes historic photographs, contemporary photos, garden design layouts, and lists of plants for those layouts. • The Armchair Book of Gardens: A Miscellany by Jane Billinghurst. Filled with beautiful illustrations of flowers and gardens and prose about gardens from a variety of authors, this lovely book can be read at a leisurely pace and enjoyed on rainy spring days when you'd rather be reading about gardening than gardening in the rain. Book guide by Kathy Lunde, Orcas Island public services librarian • The Small Budget Gardener: All the Dirt on Saving Money in your Garden by Maureen Gilmer. With consumers seeking ways to do more with less money, this book is a must have for gardening on a budget. With helpful tips and advice, gardeners can create beautiful, healthy sustainable landscapes with recycled materials and limited resources. Author Maureen Gilmer includes a chapter on food gardening and preserving precious resources. There are also tips on building fences, drought tolerant landscaping, propagation and more. • The Vegetable Gardener's Book of Building Projects by the editors of Storey Publishing. This book offers 39 simple projects from cold frames to compost bins, planters to picnic tables, trellises to tool storage. Each project was selected by Storey's editors to be functional, attractive, and easy to complete. For each one, you'll find step-by-step

instructions, detailed illustrations, complete materials and lumber lists, and a fourcolor photo of the finished product. Many of the projects can be done by beginners, and most can be completed in a few hours. Whether you need support for your beans and peas or a comfortable chair to relax in when the work is done, these projects are just what you're looking for.

• Garden Your Way to Health and Fitness by Bunny Guinness and Jacqueline Knox. Garden designer Bunny Guinness joins forces with physiotherapist Jacqueline Knox in this one-stop guide to all-around garden health. Step-by-step sequences based on the Pilates method illustrate the safe way to push wheelbarrows, lift heavy pots, pick low-lying fruit, and much more in a way that boosts fitness while avoiding stress and strains. The authors also detail a wealth of tactics for achieving beautiful gardens that require a range of exertion levels. They describe planting designs that are best for timepressed gardeners, how to use daily garden maintenance regimens to stay active, and how to design an outdoor gym. Illustrated sequences guide gardeners through physical exercises to suit their fitness levels. Looking after oneself is also key to good garden health. To this end, a comprehensive guide to growing fruits, vegetables, and herbs, a rundown of the best gardening clothes and ergonomic tools, tips for preventing and treating common ailments, and guidelines for winding down the healthy way complete this indispensable resource.

every gardener by Rodale Press. It has been around for more than 50 years, offering organic know-how for fruits, veggies, trees, shrubs, lawns and more. The latest version highlights new organic pest controls, new fertilizer products, improved gardening techniques, the latest organic soil practices, and new trends in garden design, and has a completely new section on earth-friendly techniques for gardening in a changing climate, covering wise water management, creating backyard habitats, managing invasive plants and insects, reducing energy use and recycling, and understanding biotechnology. I have to admit it, I love shade. Maybe growing up in the blistering sun of the southwest makes me more appreciative of the shadowy, sylvan glades and fosters my love of the myriad of greens therein. Of course, most gardeners abhor shade. Bring on the sun, they cry, for many plants need the rays' full power, like we need oxygen. One look around our friendly isle, though, and you’ll see: shady areas abound! One book I heartily endorse is Larry Hodgson’s “Making the Most of Shade” that shows how to plan, plant, and grow a fabulous garden that lightens up the shadows. Even the dimmest corner of your own particular patch has a plant that would shine in it, given the chance. Hostas, ferns, and a variety of flowery shrubs and flowers and some herbs can thrive in dappled or even full shade. All I am saying is give shade a chance… My third pick is not from Rodale, however, as it is fairly revolutionary, although it has been around for almost a century and involves creating an aerobic water

solution that has extracted the microbe population from compost along with the nutrients. It is called “compost tea” and is basically just a concentrated liquid created by a special brewing process to increase the number of beneficial organisms for an organic way improve soil and plants in a spray form. The book is, “Compost Tea Making: For Organic Healthier Vegetables, Flowers, Orchards, Vineyards, Lawns” by Marc Remillard. Want a great guide through the often conflicting world of “compost tea?” Remillard makes this challenging but rewarding tool more straight forward. I didn’t say simple. Lots of info is available online on this topic but this book distills the steps and the science behind it. So brew up a batch soon. No need for a special invite, the earthworms will come crawling to this tea party! Happy garden, happy gardening!

Book Guide by Lou Pray, Lopez Island Public Library All of us in the book business have a publisher we are partial to for one reason or other - one that always delivers. Craving Science Fiction and Fantasy? I know TOR will help cure the itch. If I’m in need of a Zen moment or Asian tastes and styles? Hello, Tuttle, watcha' got for me? And gardening? Well, Rodale is the literary well for my pastures. Two of my favorites come from just this source. Let’s start with the gold standard: Want proof of a well-used cook book? Look for food stains on the most loved recipes. Same thing with gardening books, look for the books that have a lovely, soiled patina. Like Rodale's ultimate encyclopedia of organic gardening: the indispensable green resource for

Thank you, Orcas Island for your continued support!

I bow my head with gratitude…

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When rocks and dirt are all you need By Erinn Nelson


hen asked what he does, Michael Sterling will tell you, “Rocks. Dirt. Play.” Sterling is a long-time Orcas resident and business owner who enjoys what he does so much he doesn’t think of it as work anymore. Sterling was the guest speaker for the March 19 Orcas Island Garden Club meeting. He discussed many topics, but he emphasized the sustainability of hardscapes, plant selection, and the recycling of water and excess materials that already exist on the site. “It’s all about working with nature,” he said. He explained that rocks, bricks, fences, screens, and arbors are hardscapes, and though plants aren’t technically considered hardscape they can also be used for some of the same purposes. Plants can be used as living fences, decoration, food, pest control, and can even remove toxins from water. “It seems that plants are immune to toxins that kill humans,” Sterling said. He has used reeds in a 20x20-foot tank to filter out 10 milliliters of oil in about a half hour. But sometimes nature needs to be controlled. Sterling said he has seen deer three stories up on a deck near Rosario. For deerproof landscapes he recommends a fence,

but also the three plants he has found to be untouched by deer on the island are bird’s nest spruce, mugo pines, and blue atlas cedars. (Only capitilize proper nouns, for ex: Douglas fir.) He also stressed that the structure of the yard is the bones of the garden, and ideally to use it to control the water flow. Issues can be created from excess water that has no beneficial place to go, or erodes garden beds. “There should be no puddles or mud between where you park your car and your house,” he said. To help poorly draining driveways he said use landscapes such as rain gardens or bogs to remove toxins from the water that can be redirected and reused elsewhere. Other common problems island gardeners face are insects like slugs, snails, earwigs and the persistent prehistoric plant horsetail. Herbicides are never Sterling's first choice of defense. For insects he recommends encouraging more birds to come to the site with plant selection, letting nature work. Even for dreaded horsetail infestations he does not recommend sprays or herbicides. He has developed a method of control using turf grass and mowing for two years, or to dig out the soil down to clay and replace the area with a patio. But he cautions that digging around horsetail stimulates the roots and encourages it to spread. “The native people used parts of horsetail for scouring pads,” he offered as an “interesting tidbit,” and that native people ate the small nuts that grow on the roots.



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It has taken him decades to compile all the knowledge he shares willingly. “There is a lot to know,” he said, and, “sharing information is critical.” While working with rock is in his blood, from a family lineage of seven generations of miners, he built his first rock wall in 1975. It fell three times. “Mistakes aren’t that bad, you can learn from them,” he said. Since then he has never Contributed photo had a wall fall. He has finTop: A revolving gate in Sterling’s garden at his home: the ished the Master Gardener “Dream Ranch.” Seen through the gate is the amphitheater he program twice, once in 1979 and once in 2006. His busi- built for his wife. Inset: A whimsical fountain Sterling created. ness, SterlingScapes INC., has “enhanced the natural, pristine beauty of water features,” according to the website: scores of Orcas Island landscapes over the www.sterlingscapes.com The enjoyment and enthusiasm of his past 23 years with sustainable land use practices, unique rock work, and stunning See ROCKS AND DIRT, page 5

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By Janis Ghazel


emodeling our kitchen was a

long time in the dream phase. The hardest part was nailing down the design, which I did myself with family input. I collected photog raphs, perused magazines, and had notebooks, pieces of paper, and drawings galore. Our space has particular challenges, which required thinking out of the box, and I was stumped for a very long time over certain issues. Once we finalized the design, the fun (and stress!) began. Fun choosing countertops, Contributed photo

Top: before remodel. Bottom: after remodel

ROCKS AND DIRT Continued from page 4

work is apparent, and he said that the more the process is enjoyed the more appreciated the outcome. “What I like is dirt and rocks,” Sterling said, “Dirt and rocks rule.” His own gardens can be described as magi-

cal, whimsical, and playful. His landscapes are individual works of art that begin with tons of raw materials. “I build sculptures,” he said. “Hardscaping is an organic process that grows and changes,” and, like plants, hardscapes adapt with the evolution of the gardens. “Hardscapes are exciting,”(Use ! Only when absolutely necessary) Sterling said. When told he thinks out of the box, he said, “There is no box!”

stress choosing appliances that you hope will last, and a whole new world in choosing cabinetry. Timing was crucial, and once the ball got rolling, things began happening fast. We did as much of the work ourselves as we could, and lived in the house while we remodeled. We also refinished the floors, which required completely moving out of the upstairs level (our kitchen is upstairs.) Our project took about 4 months. There was nothing easy about it, but I enjoyed bringing all of the ideas together. By removing a wall, we turned a small, one-person kitchen into a high-functioning average size kitchen, with work space throughout. Like

most projects, it ended up costing more than we liked, but I would call this a mid-range kitchen remodel. I like to cook, and it gives me great pleasure to have a beautiful kitchen that functions well. I can’t think of anything I would do differently. It was hard work, but it all fell into place somehow, and in the end the payoff was so worth it. I am happy with all of my choices. I think research pays off. If you are thinking of remodeling, start your dream phase very early. Get clear on what is important to you in your space. Be real about how your space is used, and design it accordingly.

Now’s the time to plan your garden and spruce up your yard for the summer. We have even more garden and lawn art this year than before, including sculptures of water-birds, frogs and bunny rabbits, decorative balancing stakes, spinners, and hand-blown glass pods & mushrooms, (some solar powered!) You’ll find both whimsical and elegant designs, as well as lanterns, outdoor candle holders, wind chimes, bird houses & bird feeders and lots of fun new planters & baskets. Not a gardener? No problem. We’ve got wonderful accessories for indoors too!

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Springing into gardening By Jody Burns


t’s time to think about planting the kitchen vegetable garden or cut flower garden you’ve been dreaming about. Blessed with a mild climate we can prepare our garden beds long before those poor souls in Minnesota and the Dakotas are able to see the smallest patch of brown earth peeking out of the snow. Now is the time to cut back the hardy perennials you haven’t

already trimmed and to clean up the plant debris which has littered your garden through the winter storms. After the clean up is done, mulch your beds with compost or a mulch of your choice. This will discourage weeds and maximize moisture. Time to get the hoop house or cold frame out of the garage and set up in the vegetable garden. Fertilize the soil, plant some lettuce, swiss chard, and kale

seeds. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly they germinate in the warmth of their protected bed. Visit the local nurseries and fill your arms with starts of your favorite cool weather vegetables – broccoli, spinach, cabbage, cauliflower, fennel, arugula. You’ll have your first harvest by mid-June! Live in town? Don’t have room for a vegetable or flower garden in your own backyard? Join

a community garden and grow your garden in the midst of people like you who know that the best tasting food comes right from the work of your own two hands. As always, the San Juan County Master Gardeners are here to help. Call us at 378-4414 or visit us on the web at sanjuan.wsu.edu/ mastergardeners. Burns is a Master Gardener for the WSU Master Gardener program.

By Cali Bagby Islands' Weekly editor


Residential and Commercial Architecture P.O. Box 995, Eastsound, WA



here are no bears, wolves or mountain lions on the island. When the sun goes down there is little to fear from the wild world when it comes to large predators. Smaller mammals like the raccoon are wild and can cause problems especially when humans interact with them as if they were domestic creatures. Although San Juan County does not have an animal control sector, the Sheriff ’s Office does handle problems involving “dog behavior – barking, biting, running at large, chasing or injuring/killing livestock, menacing people,” said Sheriff Rob Nou. “On issues like raccoon attacks and/or problems, we can solicit help from Fish and Wildlife to try to trap and relocate offending critters.” But Shona Aitken, education coordinator at Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, said removing problem animals does not solve the problem. “If you remove raccoons it creates an open space and other raccoons will move in,” she added. Adult raccoons weigh 15 to 40 pounds, their weight being a result of genetics, age, available food, and habitat location. Some males have weighed in at over 60 pounds. The average life span of a raccoon in the wild is two to three years. As

Contributed photo

Raccoons at the Wolf Hollow Rehabilitation Center.

long as raccoons are kept out of human homes, not cornered, and not treated as pets, they are not dangerous, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Raccoon populations can get quite large in urban areas, due to hunting and trapping restrictions, few predators, and humansupplied food, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's website. Aitken said raccoons often become a problem when they have been regularly fed by humans or when someone who has fed See WILD WORLD, page 7

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The art of fermantation: nutritious and delicious

Contributed photo

The fruits of a fermentation labor

By Regina Zwelling


his is my coming-out article. I am a zymurgist. Yup. I love fermenting. Probably best known for its starring role in the making of alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine, fermentation is also a process whereby foods can be made more digestible, nutritious and delicious. What’s not to love about that? Traditionally, fermenting was a means of preserving foods before there was refrig-


eration and chemicals to do the preserving for us. Today, eating fermented foods can be one of the best things you can do for your health. 80 percent of our immune system is regulated in our guts, and fermented foods help keep our guts healthy. And, eating fermented foods may make us happier. Serotonin receptors are found on every single cell of our bodies, not just in our brains. The largest concentration of these receptors are found in our guts. The term “gut feeling”

Continued from page 6 them for ages suddenly stops. “Then there are a bunch of raccoons with youngsters getting desperate because their usual source of food has disappeared,” she said. “Anyone who has been regularly feeding animals such as raccoons for a long time, should discontinue, very gradually, over the period of several months.” Another reason for an increase in raccoon activity in residential areas may be the recent spell of hot dry weather, said Aitken, which makes it more difficult for them to find sources of fresh water and juicy food, so yards look even more tempting than usual. Raccoons also are found in areas with their favorite snacks like clams, crayfish, frogs and snails. This is also baby season, so mom can be protective of her young … and take risks she would not otherwise consider, Aitken said. Aitken added that the best way to deal with raccoons is to make sure they are not enticed to

has a scientific basis. Eating fermented foods aids in the production and utilization of serotonin throughout our bodies. Fermented vegetables (think kimchi or sauerkraut) are rich in probiotics, which are critical to the health of our guts. They also contain prebiotics, which is the food that feeds the good bacteria. They contain enzymes, which helps our bodies digest and absorb the nutrients in our food. And the nutrients contained in the vegetables are enhanced and more easily absorbed. Cabbage, for example, is a nutritional powerhouse, but like many cruciferous vegetables can be hard for some people to digest. Fermenting increases the nutrient profile, while making it easy to digest, and oh-so-yummy! Grains can also be fermented (think sourdough). There is a lot of hype around gluten these days, and a big part of the problem stems from using GMO-wheat, and lack of proper preparation.

come onto your property. This can be accomplished in a few steps: 1: Spray your yard and deck with unpleasant scents like coyote urine (available for purchase online), lemon juice or vinegar. If you see raccoons in your yard, spray them with a hose to show them they are not welcome. Installing motion sensors for lights or sprinklers also dissuades the animals from coming near your home. 2: Keep compost, garbage and other food contained. Do not leave your pet food outdoors. 3: Keep pets inside. Dogs and cats can be attacked by a range of wildlife. Aitken said there is no record of any reported cases of rabies in mammals on the islands, but that doesn’t mean people should not be concerned about wildlife. “Pet interactions with wildlife happen all the time,” Aitken said. “We feel like we are safe because we don’t have large predators, but it’s a false sense of security.” Aitken said people can call Wolf Hollow 378-5000 if they have questions about wildlife. You can also call the WDFW Regional Office at 425-775-1311.

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Many folks who thought they were gluten-intolerant find that they can enjoy bread and wheat products when they are made from freshly-ground, organic flour that is properly soaked and prepared. Fermenting grains greatly reduces the phytates and enzyme inhibitors that make digestion of grains difficult. (Phytates and enzyme inhibitors are ingenious evolutionary tactics that allow grains to be eaten by birds and other wild animals in nature and passed through

the digestive tract intact and then pooped out into a nice pile of “compost”.) Industrial processing does not reduce these digestion-disruptors, instead adding a toxic load of chemicals, additives and preservatives to our diets. So what does it take to work this magic? Salt, vegetables or flour, a liquid, and time. Fermenting is a fun and ideal way to preserve your garden abundance. Just chop up your favorite veggies into small pieces, add salt, pound till the veggies

are juicy, pack in a jar so the liquid covers the veggies, and store in a cool dry place. Taste after a week or so. The fermentation process produces more flavor the longer the veggies sit. Don’t worry, the salt preserves the veggies and creates an ideal environment for the good bacteria to flourish. If you’re feeling inspired to become a zymurgist too, there are plenty of resources available to help you find many delicious ways to prepare your very own fermented masterpieces!

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Home ownership: alternative in the market By Scott Rasmussen Journal editor


rocus, daffodils and daisies aren't the only things that pop up in large numbers with the coming of spring. Add real estate "For Sale" signs, and garage sales to the list. The market picks up significantly as days grow longer and temperatures rise, and the idea of buying or selling a home truly takes root.  Still, more and more

people are finding the path to homeownership lies outside the conventional market in the San Juans, where wages consistently lag behind state averages and real estate prices have long been among the state's highest. Two distinct and different approaches are available for those of low to moderate income, and both fall into an "affordable housing" model. Lopez, Orcas and San Juan islands are each

home to a community land trust, a non-profit organization that will buy land and retain ownership of that property in perpetuity. Those land trusts, all overseen by a board of directors, rely on state and federal grants and donations, to build homes, typically in clusters, and then lease the land beneath the homes to creditworthy buyers that meet income and residency criteria, and that can qualify for a mortgage.

LAND SURVEYING • Planning a garden? • Wondering where your property line actually is? • Thinking of building a fence or a garage? • (360) 378-2300 • sanjuansurveying.com • info@sanjuansurveying.com Robert Wilson, PLS Andy Holman, PLS Patrick Kirby, PLS

By removing the cost of the land from the equation, homeownership becomes a reality for many who would otherwise not be able to afford it. Those three land trusts together have been the springboard for construction of roughly 200 permanently affordable homes.  Ho m e s for Islanders, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development program, offers what's typically known as a "sweat equity" path to homeownership for creditworthy low-income households. Homes for Islanders assists qualified homebuyers access USDA-subsidized low-interest construction loans, which convert to home loans after a home is built, and provides technical support in the construction phase. Families devote 1,2001,500 hours to building their own home, gener-

n our Garden Center! i w e N Bare root trees & shrubs, A wide variety of roses and ground covers, Veggie starts and flowers…

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ally through a teamwork approach, under the socalled sweat equity program. In the end, they own their home and land on which it is built, and may sell it in the conventional real estate market. To date, about 70 homes have been built through the Homes for Islanders program, 56 on San Juan

Island and 14 on Orcas Island. For more information:  Lopez Community Land Trust: 360-4683723, www.lopezclt.org Of People and Land (OPAL): 360-3763191, www.opalclt.org San Juan Community Land Trust: 360-3785441. 

our Home Center! n i w e N Garden supplies: Seeding soil, peat pots and seeds and seed trays. Organic seeds from Territorial, Botanical Interests & Burpee. Check out the raised garden bed brackets. We have a wide selection of Bird Seed and Suet, as well as Feeders and Houses for our feathered friends! Our mowers styles and wheelbarrows are out!

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Home and Garden - 2014 Home and Garden  


Home and Garden - 2014 Home and Garden