Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens

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Love of Lotus Pavillion

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Beautiful Bonsai

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Natalie and Philip at the karesansui garden

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Tea Room

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Ladies dressed in kimono for Tea Ceremony

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Inside Japanese house- Love the bunny!

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I love everything about this picture- (except the guy standing on the other side )

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Lovely rose in the rose garden

Here are some pictures from our latest trip to the Huntington. On this particular visit,  there was a traditional tea (chado) ceremony. The picture of the women in kimono in tea house was a special capture. I wish I would have brought my larger lens, but I really love this picture!

Our family has been members of the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens for many years and we visit quite frequently. If you are a lover of plants, art, culture and beauty, this is the place to go. You could probably spend more than a day exploring, considering its massive size (120 acres to be exact) and more than a dozen different theme gardens to enjoy. The Japanese and Chinese are our favorite by far, but the tropical gardens and cactus gardens are special too. If you are a lover of art, this place has no shortage of it. There are several houses throughout to go and admire all the works of art.

 
If you can make arrangements ahead of time, I highly recommend enjoying the high tea room- fresh fruit, tiny sandwiches, desserts, salads and of course tea! Please visit http://www.huntington.org/ for more information. They are located in San Marino, CA

 

Bento Box Lunch

 

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heart shaped cucumbers

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Some Bento box materials

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Flower shaped carrots (we cooked them first)

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Some of the “fix-ins” for the Bento box

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We used small bread loaf pans as our Bento Boxes

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A Bento box creation

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Another Bento box example

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Do you see the face on the crackers?

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Beautifully crafted Bento boxes

Every Summer I teach a Japanese Arts and Crafts Camp for kids (age 8-13). This year, we created Bento box lunches. If you do a quick Google search you will find many fine examples of Bento box lunches.

 

It is said that the Japanese “eat with their eyes”, so it is important that the meal be visually interesting and fun. Our girls had so much fun creating these special little lunches. We used mostly fruits and vegetables in our bento, but fish, lunch meat, cheese and so on can be used as long as it can be refrigerated. Have a good time and try making your own Bento box the kids will enjoy eating!

 

Strawberry-Cucumber Relish over Wild Alaskan Salmon

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This Strawberry-Cucumber Relish is a Summer staple in the Greenwood household. With the bounty of berries in Summer, there is no reason just to eat them plain (though my kids love them!)

What I love about this relish is its super light, full of flavor and the perfect addition to nearly any kind of seafood (salmon, shrimp, mahi mahi, and more). You will not be disappointed with this Relish. For the vinegar I used this from Trader Joe’s http://www.traderjoes.com/fearless-flyer/article.asp?article_id=1653 though you could use balsamic vinegar and add a little honey for sweetness.

What you will need:

Fish of your choosing (I used Wild Alaskan Salmon)

2 cups fresh, rinsed and chopped strawberries

Handful of fresh mint, rinsed and chopped

1 medium purple onion, chopped small

1 large cucumber (I like the english variety), peeled, de-seeded and chopped

1 tbsp. Olive oil

2 tbsp. Trader Joes Pomegranate Vinegar

Make Relish first. You will want the flavors to settle a bit (marinade). Next, Season fish with salt. Set aside. I grilled the salmon on my indoor Staub pan and made some jasmine rice along side, topped with Gomashio (black and tan sesame seeds and sea salt). You could also use any kind of rice you wish. Enjoy!

DIY Japanese Garden

Backyard before November 2013

Backyard before November 2013

Grass and concrete removed

Grass and concrete removed

Mapping out

Mapping out

Lumber staining

Lumber staining

Heavy lifting done by Philip, Tony and Brandon

Heavy lifting done by Philip, Tony and Brandon

The work has just begun!

The work has just begun!

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Getting ready to lay the decking

Getting ready to lay the decking

Decking installed

Decking installed

Decking done!

Decking done!

Lattice work

Lattice work

Landscaping begins

Landscaping begins

My little helpers!

My little helpers!

Nearly there!

Nearly there!

The mound

The mound

Ready!

Ready!

Last summer, my husband and I were debating what to do with our backyard. When we moved in nearly three years ago we knew we didn’t want to tackle the backyard right away. I spent many nights, up late at night, scouring Pinterest (addicting I tell you!) for fresh ideas for our future space.

We decided that we would take out all the grass (big water save) and remove a lot of the existing concrete-it was just a giant sea of concrete that really had no purpose. We wanted to create a back yard that reflected the simple character that our Craftsman style home has. Having a love for the simple, Japanese aesthetic, we followed our hearts and decided on a traditional Japanese garden.Truthfully, we modified our plans over and over again. Did you know how many different kinds of gravel there are? Choosing one plant over another. Researching which bamboo is not going to be invasive…and so on and so on. My handy husband built the wooden pergola, installed the decking, and built the fire pit/seating area. I was in charge of the landscaping design and finishing touches. After 6 looooooong months of working on our project (literally every weekend) it’s completed! We are so pleased with how it has turned out. We just hosted a baby shower with 40 people over and it is a wonderful place to have a party! Now that it’s finally Summer, were hosting a movie night with friends!

Lucky Bunny

Thelma and Louise

Thelma and Louise

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Louise

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Thelma

Liv and the bunnies

Liv and the bunnies

Playtime!

Playtime!

What a cutie

What a cutie

Meet the newest members of the family, Thelma and Louise. We adopted these sweet girls nearly a week ago and we are so happy to have them as our new house bunnies. Curious little creatures they are!

Nearly six months ago, Olivia was very persistent with us and her want/need of a new pet. We currently have a dog Ginger so we were reluctant to look into getting more animals. Olivia was determined and made a good case why we needed a bunny. She researched long hours on the computer (always passionately sharing her findings with the family), what the requirements were to have a house bunny and be a good bunny mama. Diet, care, grooming, knowing how to hold a bunny and signs when bunny might need veterinary care. She really did her homework!

So, nearly a week ago we made a visit to the Lucky Bunny Rabbit Rescue in Murrieta to see the kinds of bunnies that were available for adoption. We instantly fell in love with Thelma and Louise. Both bonded (bunnies do this for life), both sterilized, perfect size, litter box trained (yes, they poop and eat from the same box) and the ideal pair for our home.

Thelma and Louise were up for adoption because their previous owners decided to dump them off at a park and they had a hard time catching them- enter the story of Thelma and Louise. The girls loved that they had a story and decided to keep their names as is.

It’s so funny because these little guys sure are fun. They took a couple of days to warm up to us, and now they climb all over us! We decided that they needed their own space, so we made an extra room the bunny room. It has a two foot high fence around it when we want them to stay in their space. Twice a day (first thing in the morning and later in the afternoon) they get free reign of the upstairs to run around and explore. They have so much fun scampering about. We even planted a “bunny garden” outside on a balcony with all the fresh greens they eat daily. We love our new house bunnies!

Japanese Arts & Crafts Camp for kids

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Making carp kites

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Art and kites

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Learning Anime, Manga and Chibi drawing

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Getting ready for Ikebana!

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Tea Ceremony

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Demonstrating Ikebana

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Finished products- beautiful Ikebana from the kids

Watercolor kimono's

Watercolor kimono’s

Shodo (Calligraphy)

Shodo (Calligraphy)

Zen gardens

Zen gardens

Candy sushi

Candy sushi

One of my favorite subjects is art. Any kind of art really- watercolor, pencil, woodblock even graffiti are special. The creative process really inspires me and makes me oh so happy. If you were to take a peek into our home, you would see that we always have some sort of art project in progress.

Last summer was our first Japanese Arts and Crafts Summer Camp for kids. I am a Japanophile at heart and doing a camp like this is so much fun! The kids get really into it and enjoyed doing something new.

This year we are instructing classes in:

Ikebana (flower arranging)

Shodo (Calligraphy)

Art (Anime, Manga and Chibi)

Kumihimo (braiding)

Suminagashi (marbling art)

Origami (paper art)

Japanese Lanterns

Japanese Cooking

Kokeshi dolls

Candy sushi

and so much more…

For Boys & Girls 8-13

June 16-20, 2014 (Mon-Fri) 9 am to 12 noon.

Cost (Includes snacks and all materials):

First child: $125

Siblings: $100

For more info please call (951) 440-8682 or visit GreenwoodAikido.com to learn about other classes offered.

7 Places I’d like to travel to…

Turquiose Lake in Italy

Turquiose Lake in Italy

Zion National Park

Zion National Park

Portugal

Portugal

New Zealand

New Zealand

Nagano, Japan

Nagano, Japan

Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden

Amalfi Coast, Italy

Amalfi Coast, Italy

Don’t these places look amazing? I love to travel. It’s one of those things that you never tire of- the anticipation of visiting a new place, different cultures, new foods and just the thrill of exploring without a care in the world. Let the planning for the next trip begin…