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/

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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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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…