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By Sharon Magliano

Back-to-school season self-care for your inner writer

The days are getting shorter, the air is getting crisp, and yellow school buses are once again dotting the morning commute. While back-to-school time as an adult may not mean getting a brand new backpack or lunch box, it can be a good reminder that we should take the time to recommit to intentional learning and self-nurturing.

Back-to-school is a great time to deepen a practice of life-long learning, and Hedgebrook’s online writing series gives you the opportunity to experience a transformative writing program on a schedule that works for you. We know that it’s not feasible for everyone to join us as Writer in Residence, or to attend one of our Master Classes – each of which requires a commitment of time away from day-to-day responsibilities. With our online writing series, we’ve made Hedgebrook’s radical hospitality available in the comfort of your own home and at a pace that fits with your busy life. We offer classes in a diversity of genres designed to ground your writing practice and hone your craft. Classes are taped at the retreat, with the teacher and a small group of writers in the room together, so you’ll experience the alchemy of solitude and community that makes a Hedgebrook residency unique. Online classes are open to all genders and all levels of experience. You can sign up at any time during the class offering period.

As a bonus, we also share elements of Hedgebrook’s retreat experience to inspire your writing, such as recipes from our farmhouse kitchen and chefs (like this one for a fall favorite, Hedgebrook Curry Carrot Soup), images from our land to print or use as a screensaver, and messages to energize your process. 

Learn about Hedgebrook’s current online writing class offerings here.

By Hedgebrook Staff

Cooking Up Stories

We asked Betsy Andrews, food writer, poet, Executive Editor of Saveur Magazine, and Hedgebrook alumna, to answer five questions. Here’s what she had to say about herself, her work and her upcoming Master Class:


1) What is the most memorable meal you’ve experienced?

There’s not one! There are so many. And, of course, when we talk about food, we are not just talking about the aroma, the taste, the texture of the edible stuff you put in your mouth and chew and swallow. We are talking about a meal—a social and cultural and emotional event. Eating is very personal. It’s just about the most primal thing we do, and so it is, for a writer, a vehicle for the evocation of experience, of feeling and knowing oneself and the world. It is metaphor, and it is fact. Every story we tell about food is also a story about something, or many things, else.   Read more

By Becca Lawton

The Field

It’s 5:30 p.m. and something’s missing. I’m standing at my kitchen island, certain I’ve forgotten an appointment. But what? Nothing’s on the calendar, everything seems in place. Still I have the niggling feeling I’m overlooking something important. My gaze wanders to the windowsill and a postcard propped up on it. The caption reads, Cedar Cottage, Hedgebrook Retreat for Women Writers, Langley, Washington.

There’s the answer. My body remembered what my mind did not: if I were at Hedgebrook right now, I’d be arriving in the farmhouse kitchen just in time for dinner.   Read more

By Sarah Samudre

Christmas Baking: A Rite of Remembrance



Tonight I made a century-old family recipe passed down from my great-great grandfather, written above for my Mom in 1977 by Grandma as a Christmas/Welcome to the Salcedos gift. It was for Lemon Bread and Lemon Curd— my father’s favorite baked good at Christmas. Throughout the years, Grandma would give jars of the curd and loaves of lemon bread at Christmas and my Dad would rave to us about it, as if we’d never heard of dessert before.

The baking started as a nice thing to do for my Dad, to remind him of her and how she’ll live on in our Christmas traditions. It became something else.   Read more

By Hedgebrook Staff

What Kind of Pie Are You?

One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is introducing the idea of Hedgebrook to women for the first time. There is a place in the woods on Whidbey Island with six cottages that are always filled with women writers from around the world…It sounds like a fairy tale, and I feel pure delight as see I how brightly their eyes light up. Sometimes all they can say is “Oh….wow.”   Read more

By Cathy Bruemmer

From the Kitchen: Curry Carrot Soup

I love growing carrots. They are such a common and simple root vegetable, but the smell when they’re freshly pulled from the earth is amazing. The carrot rust fly makes it a bit challenging. It lays it’s eggs at the base of the greenery and the larva burrow tunnels as it feeds on the tip of the root. An effective and simple solution is to cover the carrot bed with a floating row cover. It denies access to the adult fly. It has the added benefit of helping keep the bed moist. Carrots take about three weeks to germinate and cannot dry out during that time. 

I use metal hoops to keep the row cover above the foliage. My method of securing the cloth is to hold the edges down with bricks. Clips are available for a less rustic look. Both sunlight and water penetrate the fabric so it’s not necessary to remove the cloth for watering. The only drawback for me is that I sometimes forget to check on carrots needing to be thinned. When the “to do” list is long it’s easy to overlook the hidden veggies.

Today I checked the Washington State University extension site and was surprised to find out that theses flies also attack parsley. I’d been wondering for a couple of years what was damaging my curly parsley. The Italian flat leaf seems unbothered but the curly would start to yellow and then pull from the ground with very little of it’s root system left. Another problem solved! Recipe…   Read more

By Julie Rosten

My Dream Job

I love to cook and I love dinner parties. It becomes expensive when you are single and on a budget so the dinner parties have become rare occasions.  Denise, the head chef at Hedgebrook, who is a dear friend of mine, kept after me about joining the kitchen staff at Hedgebrook.  Little did I know that it would become my “dream job”!

Not only can I have dinner parties with some of the most interesting women from all over the planet, but I have access to one of the best designed and well equipped kitchens on the island.  Not only that–I have access to local grass fed beef and pigs (finished on apples) and local Spring lambs and organic chickens and fresh seafood from right out of the surrounding waters of Puget Sound.  To top it all off, I have my own gardener! Cathy, who lets me poor over her seed catalogs and will grow whatever my heart desires (within our climate limitations anyway). Yes, it is the best job ever…  And my dinner guests?  They are the most appreciative and gracious guests ever – after all they are women who know how to express themselves.

I feel very fortunate to be part of the Hedgebrook family.  Thank you for allowing me to express myself (my art form) in the Hedgebrook kitchen.



By Cathy Bruemmer

An Update from the Hedgebrook Garden

The growth in June is outrageous.  We have gone from famine to feasting and I’ve renewed my job as vegetable pusher.  Actually I’m pretty much just a salad pusher (keep reading for Denise’s amazing Caesar dressing), but at least the greens are abundant.  The pea vines are FINALLY flowering and I hope by next week we can start picking.  Strawberries began ripening this week and the first bulbing fennel are beginning to fatten up.  Mustard greens and baby bok choy are making their way into the kitchen and the first big bundle of carrots wound up in Julies Indian stew.   Read more

By Denise Barr

Rhubarb Cake

Each spring, when the rhubarb begins to flourish, this recipe is a hit with staff and residents at the retreat. It’s just one example of the way Hedgebrook features the bounty of the land and garden in the kitchen and at the table. Enjoy!

Rhubarb Cake

Preheat oven 350
Butter and flour baking dish (9×9 or 7×11)

½ C butter (soft)
1 C sugar
3 eggs
1 ½ C unbleached flour
3 tea baking powder
¼ tea salt
½ cup milk
1 tea vanilla extract
2 ½ C chopped rhubarb (¾ to 1 in pieces, about 4 stalks)

Cream butter and sugar until light
Add eggs, 1 at a time, beat well
In separate bowl sift together flour, baking powder and salt
In separate bowl combine milk and vanilla
Alternate adding wet and dry ingredients to butter mixture
Spread 1/2 batter into buttered and floured baking dish
Sprinkle on rhubarb (do not press rhubarb down)
Top with rest of batter

Back 35-40 min. plus (test with a tooth pick, should come out clean)

Variation: May replace rhubarb with 2 ½ C blueberries or 2 ½ C raspberries

Back-to-school season self-care for your inner writer