DIY: Kokedama String Garden

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Image via Pinterest
kokedama via string gardens
Image via String Gardens
kokedama
Design by Fedor Van Der Valk
kokedama.jpg via pinterest 2
Image via Pinterest
kokedama 1
Image via Pinterest
kokedama via pinterest
Image via Pinterest
kokedama image via slowpoke
Image via Slowpoke

The Japanese string gardens, called kokedama are a unique and beautiful way to display and enjoy your plants in a natural setting.

The kokedama literally means “moss ball” and is a ball of soil, covered with moss, on which an ornamental plant grows. The idea has its origins in Japan, where it is a combination of both Nearai and Kusamono Bonsai styles. Today, Kokedama is very popular in Japanese gardens.

Kokedama is also called poor man’s bonsai. It’s made of wet soil and peat moss and formed into a ball. The plant is set into the ball and the moss is wrapped around. Aluminium wire or nylon wire fixes the whole bundle, and is sometimes used to suspend the kokedama in the air.

Care of: Kokedama must be watered regularly. When the ball feels light, it can be submerged in water. The best plants for kokedama making are ones that require medium to full shade, since direct sunlight will likely burn and ultimately turning your kokedama a shade of brown.

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Japanese Fairy House

japanese fairy house via weefolk studio
image via weefolk studio
japanese fairy house via moss and stone gardens dot com
image via mossandstonegardens.com
japanese fairy house via pinterest
image via pinterest
japanese fairy house via amazing beautiful world.net
image via amazing beautiful world
japanese fairy house via etsy
image via etsy

When my girls were little we loved making fairy houses. After visiting the local nursery for all of our supplies, we would find a pot big enough for all the pebbles, small rocks, plants, and ornaments. Sadly, I don’t have any pictures of our fairy houses from those days (hello old school camera) but I can vividly remember Olivia setting out a small bowl of milk and honey to entice the fairies to visit. It was a magical time! Here are some very fun, Japanese inspired fairy houses.

Domo Arigatou!

 

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
Kawaii planter
After visiting the nursery, we added our flowers
kawaii planter 2
Kitty planter gets some wild, spiky grass
kawaii planter 1
Little bear and pig
kawaii planter 3
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.

 

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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!

A year in pictures

Weekend in Palm Springs
Weekend in Palm Springs
Blissful weekend with friends at Big Bear Lake
Blissful weekend with friends at Big Bear Lake
tether ball fun
tether ball fun
Lots of beautiful music everyday
Lots of beautiful music everyday
Fun homeschooling!
Fun homeschooling!
Fresh beets from our garden
Fresh beets from our garden
Took Olivia snowboarding for the first time
Took Olivia snowboarding for the first time
Aerial Tram up San Jacinto Mountain- view of Palm Springs
Aerial Tram up San Jacinto Mountain- view of Palm Springs
Planted my first Japanese Maple (love this tree!)
Planted my first Japanese Maple (love this tree!)
Watched Olivia become a really great ice skater
Watched Olivia become a really great ice skater
Saw this sweet girl write her first book about a little panda
Natalie wrote her first book about a little panda
Spent lots of time creating art
Spent lots of time creating art
My best friend had her baby- Welcome Farra!
My best friend had her baby- Welcome Farra!
Good times with good friends!
Good times with good friends!
Did my first tea ceremony for others to see
Did my first tea ceremony for others to see
Many hikes in wilderness
Many hikes in wilderness
Has had the best year getting to know this great lady-good times at the blueberry farm
Has had the best year getting to know this great lady-good times at the blueberry farm
Training in Hombu Dojo, Tokyo Japan for the first time- amazing experience!
Training in Hombu Dojo, Tokyo Japan for the first time- amazing experience!
Awesome traveling companions to Japan
Awesome traveling companions to Japan
Had my first onsen (traditional Japanese bath) experience
Had my first onsen (traditional Japanese bath) experience
The people who make my world complete
The people who make my world complete
Aikido has really challenged me and has been a year of growth for me
Aikido has really challenged me and has been a year of growth for me
A fun trip to Disneyland
A fun trip to Disneyland
These girls are inseparable
Besties performing in their first play
Spending lots of time here makes me happy
Spending lots of time here makes me happy

Going through this last years pictures, I became quite emotional. As I clicked through which ones to highlight for this blog post I completely lost it- I was in tears. So many pictures, so many stories told. For me, there is something about seeing your kids growing up so fast, catching them as they become more independent, confident and watching them become their own person is pretty powerful to see as a parent. I am just so happy to be Olivia and Natalie’s Mom. I’m so lucky to have Philip as my husband and life partner. I could not ask for any more. My world is complete, and rich beyond my wildest dreams because of them.

What an amazing year~ So many fun, exciting, wonderful times and memories I had, shared, and lived with those I love and care about. Those experiences will forever live on as long as I keep snapping away on my camera.

Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year full of wonder, excitement and joy.

Until next year…

Fall To Do List

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Pick a pumpkin at Peltzer Farms in Temecula
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Ginkyo’s beautiful Fall leaves- at The Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens
Apple picking at Riley's Farm in Oak Glen
Apple picking at Riley’s Farm in Oak Glen

There’s nothing quite like Fall. It’s always been a favorite season of mine. Cooler weather means sweaters and boots, changing colors in nature, good books with tea, pumpkins, delicious soups, movie nights and Halloween! Here’s a list of things were planning this Fall:

1. A visit to the local pumpkin farm is always a must. Our favorite is Peltzer Farms in Temecula to play, pick out pumpkins and watch pig races!

2. I’ve always wanted to host an Oktoberfest Celebration (chock full of sausage and beer) with friends and neighbors. My inspiration is here

3. Make this and use up the last of the cherry tomatoes in the garden

4. How fun does this giant DIY Jenga game look?

5. Visit the Whaley House Museum in San Diego for a spooky good time- a real haunted house!

6. Riley’s Farm for apple picking. Super fun for families. A yearly tradition for us

I would love to know-what’s on your Fall to do list?

Japanese Gardens 101

Karesansui Garden in Pasadena, California at Huntington Library and Botanical Garden
Karesansui Garden in San Diego, California at Japanese Friendship Garden
Raked design
Rock textures in Pasadena, California
Pathway- notice the different shapes, sizes, textures. This is the designers way of controlling the visitor’s experience.
Common feature in Japanese Gardens: bridges
Pond stocked with koi. Notice the asymmetry of the rocks in the pond
This water basin is for visitors to wash their hands and refresh before entering the tea house.
Courtyard garden in Toyama, Japan
Gorgeous Japanese Maple with red foliage
Often large ponds like these will include an island.

One of my favorite aesthetics of Japanese design is in the garden. In a traditional Japanese garden, design emphasis is placed on the balance of yin/yang, harmony, mystery, and meaning. Here are some of the fundamentals in Japanese landscape design:

1 Gravel or sand- “Karesansui”-which in Japanese, translates as “dry mountain water”. This style of landscape is meant to be viewed but never entered- except for raking and maintenance purposes.

2 Rocks- Each selected as a work of art and it’s shape, color, texture, and character are carefully considered.

3 Plants- The seasons dictate which plants to use. Each plant is selected for its leaf colors, bark, stems- even branch pattern. Asymmetry is the goal.

4 Water- Represents change. It represents impermanence: it flows. A stream, pond, lake or even just a simple granite water basin creates ambient sound that’s conductive to meditation.

5 Paths- Paths are meant to guide you through the garden and are constructed in such a way that a visitor must move carefully and slowly through the garden.