Light up your Seattle rainy days

Light up your Seattle rainy days !


I actually know friends who love the rain.¬† Some of them are from California. ūüôā¬† I also know many who don’t know how they can get through Seattle’s rainy season.

If you belong to the second group, there are things that can help you immediately.

I use full-spectrum light (simulated sunlight) on those days when the sun is behind the clouds. ¬†When I have the light on, I literally don’t feel bothered by the darkness outside.¬† ¬†It’s natural that we are drawn to light that comes through the window.¬† ¬†It makes us feel good.¬† ¬†Full-spectrum light intends to simulate natural light.¬† That’s why we feel better when we have full-spectrum light on when it’s cloudy outside.

Now I have a huge light at home.  However, you can get a more portable unit that has at least 10,000 lux.

A company named Verilux makes these lights. ¬†One of them is Happy Light Deluxe.¬† ¬†It’s light and portable.¬† You can even take it with you when you travel.

Another is Happy Light Liberty.  This is a smaller desk lamp that can improve your mood as well as providing bright reading light.

Both of these lights work best if you are within about 12 to 14 inches.

Actually, both are also available on Amazon if that’s where you usually shop.

Verilux Happy Light--Full Spectrum light UV Free

Verilux Happy Light–Full Spectrum light UV Free


The smaller light–Liberty–is wonderful as a reading lamp as well.¬† The 10000 LUX will help with winter blues.

Verilux Liberty--Like reading in natural light

Verilux Liberty–Like reading in natural light

Even though you can use it to help you “start your day”, both of them make good reading lamps as well.


This is a natural way to change your mood on days when you don’t see the sun.


If you prefer to check them out in person, there are retail stores that sell them locally.

Eastwest Bookshop stocks them.   The address is 6407 12th Ave. NE, Seattle.  (206) 523.3726

Zenith Supplies also stocks them.  The address is 6300 Roosevelt Way NE, Seattle  (206) 525.7997.


Another possibility is visiting stores that sell indoor gardening products.  Fremont has a store named The Indoor Sun Shoppe


I hope these ideas make your life lighter and brighter. ūüôā





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International Gathering Meets December 8, 2017

Our next International Gathering meets on December 8, 2017.   Our intent is to provide a community of friendship and support to immigrants.

Some of our members have known each other for a number of years now, and they all met each other at the International Gathering.  We continue to celebrate birthdays, special days, new babies, etc. with each other.

Meeting Location:

Redmond Library

Small Conference Room

12:30 to 2:00 pm


The address of Redmond Library is 15990 NE 85th Street, Redmond, WA


Recommended Books for English Learning

My ESL clients often ask for recommendations on how to improve their grammar and vocabulary.  Here are a couple of books.  They are both available on  The grammar book is available in most public libraries.

Basic Grammar In Use, by Raymond Murphy, and also the intermediate level Grammar In Use Intermediate¬†have answer keys in the back of the book, as well as a CD.¬† The reason why I like Murphy’s books (Basic level and Intermediate level) is because they offer exercises that satisfy intuitive learners as well as explanations that satisfy learners who want to understand when to use the rules.

The way I would use Murphy’s books is to go directly to the answer key in the back while you are doing the exercises.¬† Just fill in the blanks with the answer.¬† Yes, no struggle.¬† You are just filling in the blanks with the correct answer.¬† This way, you are learning the pattern intuitively.¬† You see example after example of a sentence using the correct pattern.

After that, I would go to the page with the explanation.  For intuitive learners, the explanations fall into place more easily AFTER you do the exercises.

One way to solidify your understanding of the pattern is to take one sentence from an exercise and substitute with other subjects and verbs.


Now for vocabulary…

I like The Facts On File Visual Dictionary.¬† The version I have is by Jean Claude Corbeil.¬† There are other visual dictionaries by different authors.¬† You can visit a bookstore and flip through the pages to see which presentation style appeals to you most.¬† Corbeil’s version shows the vocabulary for each part of an item.¬† For example, next to the illustration of a microwave are the words hinge, latch, handle, window, oven lamp, door, clock timer, control panel, etc.


When I browsed on Amazon, I also saw the Visual Dictionary in other languages.  Here are a couple:

Merriam-Webster’s Spanish-English Visual Dictionary


Facts on File English-Chinese Visual Dictionary: Look Up the Word from the Picture, Find the Picture from the Word


If you need to hear the pronunciation of a word, go to, type the word in the search box, and click on the audio icon to hear the pronunciation.


I hope these recommendations are helpful in your search for effective English learning material.






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A 25-minute vacation?

Is it possible to feel like you’ve been on a vacation in 25 minutes or less?

My answer to that is YES.  I experienced it today.  Twice.

I finished my last afternoon appointment and took a detour home.  Just because I felt like it.  It was a great decision because it turned out to be my surprise mini vacation today.

The detour took me through less travelled roads lined with houses that are custom built.  I drove slowly to enjoy the architecture.  Then I saw this one street that leads to the waterfront.

There was public parking space for maybe 3 cars.  Mine was the only one on the street.

I got out of my car and saw a blue heron in the water, fishing.¬† It saw a target, and dove in with its full body for the catch.¬† It came back up empty-handed.¬† That’s what it looked like, unless it already ate its lunch under water. ūüôā¬† The heron continued to stand in the same spot, very still, and wait.¬† What a patient creature.

The scenery and the opportunity to observe a heron in its daily life took me away from my daily routine.¬† Even though it was only 20 or 25 minutes, I felt I was away on vacation.¬† Afterall, isn’t that what we seek when we go on vacation?¬† Something different from our daily routine?


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August 7th International Gathering Promotes Friendship Among Cultures

Dear Friends of International Gathering,

As usual, our gathering last month felt warm and supportive.  And we welcome back Maria from Denmark!  One of our friends is launching an adventure in her new career, and invited our input.  So we helped her brainstorm.  We had a marvelous time.  And we felt a close sense of community.

Our next meeting is Friday, August 7th.  This time we will meet in the Conference Room.  Still at Redmond Library from 11 to 12:30.

We are planning a get-together for September to celebrate several members’ completion of studies, a birthday, and new babies.¬† Details to come…


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Jimmy Carter new book A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety

President Jimmy Carter’s new book just came out.¬† It is A Full Life:¬† Reflections at Ninety.

This man and his wife, Rosalyn, have been working tiredlessly through the Carter Center to help people in less prosperous countries so they can improve their health, gain economic independence, and have their voice heard.

Since he left the White House, President Carter has been writing books (I believe one a year) and gives all the money back to The Carter Center  (  They still live in the same house that their children grew up in.

The book signing is on July 28, 2015
7 p.m.
Third Place Books
17171 Bothell Way NE
Lake Forest Park, Wash. (outside Seattle)

Here is a link to his book  A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety


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How to Practice Grammar Learning in Daily Life

2 days ago, I wrote a blog recommending some books to learn grammar on your own.  If you wish to read that blog first, please  click here.


Today, I want to give examples of how to use what you learn in daily life.

For example, let’s say you are learning a pattern from Raymond Murphy’s book on how to use “for” and “since.”

Sentence:¬† I have been studying since 3 o’clock this afternoon.

Sentence:  I have been studying for 4 hours.

You can practice this pattern in your daily life by substituting the subjects and verbs.  For example,

Substitute:¬† I have been cooking since 6 o’clock this morning.

Substitute:  I have been cooking for 4 hours.

Substitute: My daughter has been on the phone since 10:30 this morning.

Substitute:  My daughter has been on the phone for 2 hours.

By using subjects and verbs from your daily life, it makes the transition from book to real life easier.


My suggestion is to NOT do this when you are conversing with someone.  If you are this mindful of forming grammatically correct sentences while you are chatting, it could interrupt the flow of the conversation.  You or your friend may enjoy the conversation less.  You want FLOW in conversation, expressing your ideas so the other understands you.


Simply practice this when you are not engaged in a conversation.  If you make this a habit, soon you will transfer your deliberate practice into your conversation without thinking about it.

Yesterday, a client was practicing this technique in our session.¬† When she was in college, she used to put into songs what she needed to remember for her tests.¬† Singing helps her solidify the information.¬† So while we were walking and talking yesterday, Julia put into songs the patterns that she’s been practicing.¬† And I joined in.¬† We made up tunes.¬† We laughed.¬†¬† It was fun.

And talking about fun, here’s another key to remembering what you learn.¬†¬† Many years ago, I had the opportunity to observe a French teacher in action.¬† She taught both children and adults.¬† When she taught children, she would have them sit on the carpet, spread out a deck of cards, and point to different ones.¬† The children would identify the cards in French.¬† And they had fun playing this game.

With the adult class, Joanne would present a pattern without explaining in English.  After several examples, the pattern would become obvious.  Then she goes around the circle and practice the pattern with each person.  When I left the class 45 minutes later, the class members were already using several patterns with ease and confidence.

Joanne shared that most children who take a foreign language class, when tested after summer vacation, retain about 20% of what they learned.  However, her students retained about 80%.

I think 2 keys to this success is due to her students having fun while they are learning.¬† They are relaxed.¬† I suppose it’s like dining in an enjoyable atmosphere.¬† Food seems to taste better, and probably better for digestion, when we enjoy our dining experience.¬† Maybe we “digest” our learning better in a relaxed atmosphere too.

The other key to this success is that Joanne waits for her students to be at least 80% confident of their learning before she gives them a test.  Many teachers give tests before students have a solid grasp of the material.  So testing becomes an experience of stress rather than one of feeling successful.   Picture your feeling in relationship to the subject when you see a test score of 45% and when you see a test score of 95%.  You probably feel  more confident and eager to learn more about the subject with a test score of 95%.

Have fun playing with your new learning techniques!


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Fun movies to warm up winter days

In case you want some light-hearted movies for the cold winter days, here are some that warm your heart…
The American President,

What to do in Washington

What to do in Washington


Leavenworth (German town)

If you are planning to go to Leavenworth for Octoberfest, here is a link.
If you are planning to visit Leavenworth for Christmas, make reservations early! It is listed as one of the most ‚ÄúChristmasy‚ÄĚ towns in the U.S.


Seattle Center has events all year round


Memorial weekend in May every year is Folklife festival at Seattle Center, with music from around the world


Easy hikes

If you have children and you want to take them on hikes that are easy for them, check out this book.



Have you explored Eastern Washington?  The landscape is completely different from Western Washington.


Columbia gorge concerts


Washington is also known for our wineries.  Here is a link.


San Juan Islands

Considered to have one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world


Things to do on Orcas Island


Moran State Park, Mt. Constitution


I also heard that Friday Harbor’s Kiln Point Park is a good place to see whales. ¬†One year in mid-July, a friend saw several whales within 20 minutes. ¬†Just from the shore. ¬†This is on the island of San Juan (the 4th and last ferry stop of the San Juan Islands)


I personally like Orcas Island because from Mt. Constitution (around 2000 ft.) you can see all the islands around you. ¬†I haven’t seen whales there, but I heard that they can show up anywhere.

Orcas is the ferry stop just before Friday Harbor.


Quaint towns


Where to dig for gem stones in WA (what I heard from others)

calendar of what to do


This is another lovely place I like.  Mt. Baker.  This takes an entire day.


Hurricane Ridge, another lovely place.  This takes an entire day.


I saw this program (a regular program) on TV, for those who love Oregon.


AAA magazine


8)  Here is a list of activities in the area (some within several hours)


There are many u-pick farms in the area. You can pick strawberry, blueberry, and other berries. Here is one link to the Cascadian Farm from Natasha


When to pick what from a farm

useful website

cultural navigators program page:


And flyers in various languages attached. CISC¬†šĽĀšļļśúćŚčôÁ§ĺalso provides services in Chinese to seniors on the Eastside¬†¬†and to all ages as well as Vietnamese at their main offices in Seattle.


Redmond, Bellevue area

blueberry farm in Bellevue

Winter House trail in Bellevue


Trails in Redmond


Seattle area

I find that by letting myself get lost, I discover new places.

To see cherry blossoms,

1)  Look for a school named Holy Names Academy

728 21st Ave E  Seattle, WA 98112

Walk down 21st Ave. East

between E. Aloha Street and E. Prospect Street (a few blocks from Volunteer Park Conservatory)

Cherry trees line this block. ¬†It’s like seeing snow, except the “snow” is cherry blossoms”


2)  A few blocks from Montlake Community Center,

there are unique houses on East Blaine Street and East Howe Street, Boyer Ave. E.

Some of these houses make you wonder which country you are in.


3) ¬†If you go to U.W., the cherry blossom is in the “quad” ¬†That’s the cherry blossom lane”.


4) ¬†A client showed me this special room because it is his favorite reading room. ¬†While at U.W. visit Suzzallo library, go up the stairs to the second floor. ¬†The Reading Room looks like a room from Harry Potter movies. ¬†It’s a special feeling in there. ¬†Complete silence. ¬†You have to turn off your cell phone.


5) ¬†While at U.W., if you go inside the Henry Art Gallery, there is a special room with an oval opening on the top. ¬†I believe it’s called the¬†James Turrell Skyspace. ¬†That IS the art. ¬†You just enjoy the clouds in that room.


6) ¬†After you leave U.W., go toward Roosevelt Way and turn left. ¬†Roosevelt turns into Eastlake. ¬†Turn left right after the bridge when you see Sebi’s Bistro. ¬†3242 Eastlake Ave E


Find parking near Canal Market Grocery and Deli

2919 Fuhrman Ave. E.

Seattle, WA 98102


and walk to the intersection  of East Shelby Street and Fuhrman Ave. E.  The view is like something from a post card.

It is a residential area, so be discreet about using cameras.


Drive a little further on Fuhrman to around 19th, 20th, 21st. Turn either right or left and you’ll see houses with different architecture.

If you prefer not to get lost, here’s one landmark you can use on your GPS so you can always get back to a specified location.


St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church
2100 Boyer Avenue East
Seattle, WA 98112


7)  And if you want to smell fresh flowers from Hawaii, visit the Hawaiian General Store

258 NE 45th St  Seattle, WA 98105

They have fresh leis shipped from Hawaii every week.  The price is very reasonable, given that they are sent from Hawaii.  The leis are around $21, and your whole house smell great.


Enjoy your mini vacations.

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Turn Holiday Photos Into Income

Some international friends are considering different careers now that they are in the U.S.   Perhaps part-time careers so they can take care of their family and still have a flexible schedule.

2 ideas came to mind.


I attended a conference in Calgary, Canada.  After learning an online program on Travel Writing that I bought from AWAI (American Writers and Artists Institute), I decided to test it out.

I contacted the manager about writing an article on the hotel.¬† The end result was…I was upgraded to the VIP floor at this Fairmont Hotel (the same floor that Queen Elizabeth stayed in), had lunch with the General Manager, and my article was published.¬† I could hardly believe it was so easy.


Since my international friends have travelled to many countries, if they enjoy writing, they can benefit from this online program.  And if they are worried about their written English, they can write the draft and have someone from or edit their writing before submitting the article.


The other idea I thought of is for those who like to take photographs.¬† With the countries they have visited, they must have hundreds of photographs, if not thousands.¬† These can be sold online.¬† And there’s an online program that teaches you how to turn your travel photographs into cash.


I like the AWAI programs because they are practical and easy to follow.  And they are taught by people who actually do that as their career.  So their ideas are practical.


Here are a couple of links for those who want to explore either the Travel Writing or Photography program.

Turn Your Pictures Into Cash

Travel Writer’s Life


I hope you find both prosperity and fun from them!


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