Day Trip: Diamond Valley Lake

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We spent the morning out at Diamond Valley Lake to celebrate my husband, Philip’s birthday. It was a beautiful, temperate day and the wildflowers were in FULL BLOOM- a spectacular show of many varieties- California poppy, arroyo lupine, goldfields and canterbury bells, to name a few. After all the much needed Winter rain storms we’ve had, the lake was full of water! Living in Southern California, we’ve seen nearly all of our lakes water deplete year after year of drought, to alarmingly low levels. It’s a great place to visit and hike, fish or just enjoy the beauty. We had a great time and can’t wait to go back. 

For more information, visit http://www.dvlake.com/

Elfin Forest

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Nestled in the hills of San Diego’s North County, Elfin Forest is 784 acres of hiking trails.

 

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We spotted some tiny little mushrooms

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Gushing creek after the rain

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The area has a lot of reported paranormal activity

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Perfect day to hike

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Olivenhain lake and dam

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

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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.

 

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Into The Wild

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Albert Einstein once said “Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better.”

Going into the wild does so much. For me, it clears the head, recharges the spirit, opens up the senses and invigorates the soul. It really is the only therapy one needs.

Modern Kanzashi Hair Ornament

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French clip style

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Kimi’s pretty kanzashi hair ornament

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alligator and french clip style

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bunny comb

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kanzashi and jewels

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detail of kanzashi

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Hannah’s lovely hair ornament

Today, we made beautiful tsumami kanzashi hair ornaments. This style (folded flowers)- are usually made out of silk.

Our version has a modern take on this traditional craft. We used a variety of card stock paper for the base- there are so many types to choose from. Next, we glued our card stock (I suggest making templates to use) and placed it carefully onto our alligator clip and french clip barrettes. Lastly, we chose kanzashi flowers and sparkly gems to glue on. We had so much fun making these hair ornaments. Each girl had so much fun with this craft for our Summer Camp. Many told me they can’t wait for next year! As a teacher, this makes me so very happy. 🙂

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…