Craft: Kawaii flower planter

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After cleaning with soap, I just cut the top off

 

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Next, I draw the design

 

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Prime and Paint

 

 

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Meow!

 

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Add “kawaii” features

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After visiting the nursery, we added our flowers

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Kitty planter gets some wild, spiky grass

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Little bear and pig

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All three done!

This was a fun craft! The best part was getting to reuse something I would normally just toss in the recycle bin. We used old Silk Almond Milk and Horizon Half and Half half gallon cartons (water tight, no leaking). First, I cut off the tops and washed out with soap and set aside to let dry.

Next, we primed them using Premium Gesso Canvas Primer. It absorbs well to accept oil and acrylic colors, pastels, charcoal, pencil, and crayon. You can use it on a wide variety of surfaces besides just canvas. This acrylic Gesso primer is non-toxic as well. I would highly recommend using a primer. If you don’t, your paint may not stick to the material. We used two thin coats of primer before painting.

After the paint was dry we took a trip to our local Armstrong Nursery and picked out some colorful flowers and wild, spiky grass. You could also fill the planters with potting soil and plant seeds (wheat grass or catnip) or herbs.

 

Japanese Arts and Crafts Camp 2015

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Here are the details to the 5-day Japanese arts and crafts summer camp I teach each summer. This fun, hands-on learning experience highlights all there is to love about Japanese culture, crafts and traditional arts. The kids have a great time creating and making new friends. See pics from past years camp here, here, and here. Hope to see you!
Sign up online at greenwoodaikido.com

Local Spotlight: The Spice and Tea Merchants

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Need a custom gift box made up?

 

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Looking for new recipes to try?

 

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I never knew there were this many different kinds of salt!

 

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Trying out some of the Himalayan salt

 

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Everything is neatly organized. The people know a lot about their products!

 

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Enough said: TEA WALL

 

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Blooming teas!

 

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This really is one of my favorite places to visit in Temecula. Tucked down a small alley in the Historic Down town you will find the Spice and Tea Merchants. This place has everything you need to prepare a tasty meal- spices- (think truffle salt and several different curry), spice blends- my favorites are Togarashi (a spicy Japanese blend), Jamaican Jerk (made this with it), Saugatauk Steak Rub (this makes grilling steaks extra yummy), herbs, extracts, local honey, and an amazing tea variety. I love their Bombay Chai and Cha Cha Chai. The Spice and Tea Merchants also carry a wide variety of pastas, rice and gifts. For those living outside of Temecula, The Spice and Tea Merchants offer an online shop to have their goodies shipped directly to your door. For more information, visit https://secure.spicemerchants.biz/sm/

Anza Borrego Desert

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For me there is only the traveling on paths that have heart, on any path that may have heart, and the only worthwhile challenge is to traverse its full length -and there I travel looking, looking breathlessly.” ― Carlos Castaneda

 

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Last weekend we went camping in Anza Borrego Desert at the Agua Caliente campgrounds. When we travel here, it’s like being transported to another world. The fact is, it’s only 1.5 hours from home in Temecula, California.

I’ve always been in awe of the desert. From its rugged landscape, to other-worldly feeling, it is a wonderful place to reconnect, recharge and unplug-being without cell reception was a major bonus.

Many describe the desert as desolate, lonely, bare and infertile. To me, the desert is a magical place. It offers the choice to really slow down (more here), explore the fauna and beauty and just be. One late afternoon, I sat motionless and watched the beauty of afternoon light, dance across the mountain scape into a beautiful show of color. Nature has a way of making me see so much, feel so much.

Apple Cider Braised Cabbage

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Though I’ve never been a fan of corned beef and cabbage (I grew up with the smell pouring out of my Grandmothers house regularly), I am a huge fan of Tom Colicchio from the Top Chef. As a subscriber to Food and Wine magazine, I enjoy trying new recipes. This one here looked delicious, so I had a go at making it. It is a little labor intensive, however the finished dish is well worth the time and effort. Enjoy!

You will need:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

One 1 1/2-pound head of green cabbage, cut through the core into 6 wedges

1/2 cup chopped bacon (2 ounces)

1 medium onion, halved through the core and thinly sliced lengthwise

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

2 cups apple cider

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Salt and Pepper

Directions:

In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the cabbage wedges cut side down and cook over moderate heat, turning once, until browned, 6 to 8 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.

Add the bacon to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until rendered but not crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and just starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and simmer over moderately high heat until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the cider and bring to a boil. Nestle the cabbage wedges in the skillet, cover and braise over moderately low heat, turning once, until tender, about 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or spatula, transfer the cabbage to a platter and tent with foil.

Boil the sauce over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and swirl in the butter. Season the sauce with salt and pepper; spoon over the braised cabbage and serve.

 

Alternative Schooling

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I have been reading some interesting books like (this) and (this) to learn more about alternative schooling. Our family has been homeschooling for nearly seven years and have been really happy about our decision. However, more recently, through curiosity, I discovered the Sudbury Valley School model. The idea is to let kids lead their own learning through self direction-without the coercion of adults. I was interested to know more…

At Sudbury Valley School, children arrive at school and have no agenda. There’s no set curriculum, no classrooms with rows and rows of kids being “schooled”. They are free to do anything they want (this is a democratic school, so there are some rules to abide by). If they choose to play outside, they’re free to do so. Play cards with friends, same. Visit the library and read-they can do that too. Here, children decide what they are going to give their time and energy to. Adults are on hand if a student should inquire about further study in a particular subject. Only then does an adult help them understand what it is they want to learn more about.

Daniel Greenberg, Founder of Sudbury Valley, says “It’s the hardest school to be in because they have to ask themselves what they really want to do. Children need to prioritize their time. This allows them to find out who they are.” It’s about discovering the self. Isn’t this what we want for our children? We want them to discover who they are and to follow their passions and dreams until ultimately, they are living a real life that they created; not a life where they have been told/manipulated/coerced to go down some superficial “safe path”- get good grades, get accepted into college, get a high paying career, and spend the rest of your existence living up to others’ expectations or in some un-fullfilling job that you hate. Through unschooling, like the Sudbury Valley model, children learn on their own by making decisions for themselves. Not by adults force feeding them their own ideas of what they think is right for them.

The most interesting point Daniel Greenberg makes is that “When you wanted to learn something, how did you do it? You found something you were curious about, and you immersed yourself in studying it. You had a desire to progress in your learning.” For me, all of the things I have ever become interested in I have done because of a natural curiosity. No one has forced or manipulated me into thinking I “needed” to do something.

I’ve seen this with my own children. They have their own wills, their own internal compass. My girls are so different from each other. I have witnessed through homeschooling my girls, how they get frustrated when it’s time to do a subject they don’t care about. They are not interested. They just “get it over with”. Over the years I began to understand their learning styles. I thought this was important. Truthfully, I thought by knowing this, I would be better able to teach them. I have come to the realization that it’s not my job to “teach” them. They will do it for themselves.

Over the last week we’ve been unschooling, or rather, deschooling. The funny thing is, it’s been rather enlightening to me. The kids are less emotional. Less fussy. There is less tension in our home. The girls laugh together, play together. They have been spending a lot more time outside, riding skateboards, exploring ponds, catching tadpoles, playing Scrabble, learning calligraphy, drawing more, reading more. I see no absence of learning happening. I’m simply allowing them to do what makes them happy. Ultimately, isn’t this, as a parent what we want for our children- to be happy? I think it’s a worthy endeavor for all of us, especially children.

Local Spotlight: Truly Madly Sweetly Bake Shop

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It’s time for dessert

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Indecision on what to get?

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Life is good!

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Lots of choices…

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YUM!

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Vanilla and strawberry butter cream

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Friends and sweet things go hand in hand

 

I am introducing a new segment I’m going to call “Local Spotlight”.

Temecula is a really special place. I have lived here a long time and have seen it grow from a small town to what it is today. It is a great place to set down roots (super family oriented) and is becoming well known for it’s beautiful wine country, award winning cuisine, great weather year round- all with a laid back feel.

We have many special “gems” I plan on spotlighting in the future. The first place I would love to recognize comes just in time for Valentine’s Day. It’s also pretty high on my list because it’s a family owned business. We love to support our local community whenever we can.

Truly Madly Sweetly Bake Shop specializes in cheesecakes, cupcakes, cookies and specialty desserts. Our family enjoys visiting here for one of their yummy cupcakes. The chocolate and strawberry butter cream cupcake is by far our favorite!

Truly Madly Sweetly Bake Shop is the perfect place to meet up with friends, take home to celebrate a special occasion or just because. Everyone loves a sweet treat!