Category Archives: living

bread and roses*

Since I’ll be baking a blackberry cobbler tonight for a friend, I’ve got dessert on the mind and thought I’d share some of the cakes I’ve made recently. I had a last minute order for a birthday cake this past weekend that was fun to do, as I was given carte blanche in regards to the filling. I used my beloved vegan Lithuanian white cake for the base, soaked the layers in a homemade lemon simple syrup, and enrobed it in a fresh strawberry icing. Because I was short on time, I opted to decorate it with strawberries and candied lemon slices, leftover from the lemons I used for the simple syrup.

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My jadeite cake stand is one of my favorites, and it always looks good with pink icing! The best part about cake-making is leveling the tops – delicious scraps for days! I inevitably have leftover icing, as well, so makeshift cake sandwiches are made frequently. I’ve yet to use the scraps for cake pops, as I’m still on the fence about those. I know that sounds weird, but THEY seem weird to me!

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The client I had before this one had requested a cake with a bohemian theme, with fresh flowers. She also wanted the white cake, but with fresh raspberries for the filling and icing – this happens to be my favorite combination, so I was quite eager to make it and lick the spoon!

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I really enjoy using fresh flowers as decoration, and will never tire of using roses and raspberries together. Again, the color palette of jade green & rose pink will never grow old…

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She also wanted a bit of the “naked cake” look, so the icing wasn’t applied on it too thickly.

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those flowers, tho!

We have “treat day” at the station each year which encompasses delicacies of both the savory and sweet variety, ¬†and, naturally, I bring some kind of dessert. Last year I made a vegan dark chocolate yule log, but this year I decided to go with something a little simpler, and made a gingerbread cake with cream cheese icing and candied cranberries.

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We are savages at work when it comes to food, so the cake was gone within an hour, at best.

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holiday cake baby

Last, but not least, I made a dark chocolate cake for my former ūüė¶ co-worker’s birthday. I don’t really like chocolate cake, and because I think they all taste bad, I can never gauge whether or not mine are okay, haha. Still looking for that perfect chocolate cake recipe, so if you’ve got one, PLEASE send it my way!

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Inspired by one of my friend’s love for violet-flavored candies, I’ve got violet simple syrup on the mind now, and am thinking of making that the star of my next cake. I’m also leaning toward a slightly tart, slightly sweet grapefruit and poppy seed cake – doesn’t grapefruit curd sound so good?!

*extra credit if you get the title’s reference!

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West or Bust

Where to begin! I got really lucky in February and found an amazing price on tickets into LA, on which I just couldn’t pass. Double that luck when my parents’ best friends said I could stay with them during my visit! They live right around the corner from Mt. Baldy, which is a simply stunning mountain. Passion fruit smoothie in hand (assimilated quickly to the West Coast!), I headed up the mountain with Jim my first morning to take in some views. It’s pretty amazing to go from 70 degree weather to snow in just a matter of minutes. Aside from the natural amenities, the village of Mt. Baldy¬†actually has a lot to offer, including a Zen lodge, a museum, and restaurant. It’s such a great escape that’s a mere 5 minutes away from the rest of civilization. I wouldn’t mind having that in my backyard!

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view from Mt. Baldy

I spent the rest of the afternoon in Sherman Oaks with my friend, Shannon, looking at pups up for adoption at the local animal shelter, and driving into LA. Shannon and I have been friends since our art department days in college, and it was so nice to get to catch up with her and hear about her plans for the future.

I was eager to find a cute little store I follow on Instagram called¬†Pygmy Hippo Shoppe. It really is the most darling, tiniest shop ever! I picked up a few goodies for my pen pals, a Heinz pickle pin for my pickle-hating boyfriend, and found a pink vintage AKC rosette for my Rosie. This is the perfect shop for finding a unique, one-of-a-kind gift, and fortunately, they are online, too! I’m still eyeing their heart printed rain bonnets…

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just look at those adorable bonnets!

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souvenirs from Pygmy Hippo Shoppe

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mural by Chris Uphues

We drove through Beverly Hills and Laurel Canyon on the way back to Sherman Oaks, ¬†hitting up Melrose, Sunset, and Mulholland Drive, among other notable streets. It had rained a bit that afternoon, and California drivers canNOT deal, haha. It’s like when we southerners get snow flurries and the city shuts down. Bree made the joke that instead of locals running to the store for bread and milk like they do here, they rush out for bread and soymilk. Ha! I will say, however, that California drivers are so great. As long as your blinker is on, they will let you over, and move out of the way to help. While rush hour traffic does suck, they just deal with it and are straight up¬†nice¬†about it.

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Shannon and I getting caught in the rain ‚̧

I closed out the day with dinner at¬†Loving Hut¬†with Beth, Bree, and the kids. Vegan cheeze sticks, steamed dumplings, & chocolate chip “cheese”cake! Yum! I always knew I’d be able to eat in California!

The next day there was to be a meet-up at the dog beach in Newport. Though it sounds like something I would do, I actually did NOT plan my trip around seeing a dozen Boston Terriers, hahaha. I just got lucky that the first meet-up of the year coincided with the weekend of my vacation, and I was absolutely going to take advantage of it to meet some of Rosie’s friends! Plus, I wasn’t going to turn down the chance to go to the beach and stick my toes in the Pacific Ocean! Get ready for an overload of BT photos….

Sweetheart Day, pt. 2

I’m very lucky to have a partner who humors me when I say that we should go to the Korean spa and get naked with a bunch of strangers. Being a nude model, I don’t mind shedding my clothes around people, and this is a far more relaxing (and warmer!) way to do it. Naturally,¬†Jeju¬†has segregated locker and bath areas, so we were only able to go to the large saunas and restaurant together. Even then, I like to be as warm as possible, so while I spent much of my time in the Rock & Salt sauna & the steam rooms, he prefers cooler temperatures and enjoyed the frigid meat locker known as the Ice Room. Off our separate ways we went!

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restoration in the Jewel Sauna

Once most people pulled out their mats to go to bed, we headed back to the hotel. At only $25 for 24 hours, I’d have no qualms about staying overnight! But, it was nice to fall into that big king-sized bed, replete with fluffy pillows and hotel amenities. The hotel in which we stayed was a childhood favorite, full of gardens inside and out – including a little Japanese one! We overslept, but still had plenty of time to get in all of our planned excursions before heading home. We hit up¬†The High¬†first, where we were pleasantly surprised to find free admission due to a big family festival they were having that day. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the museum that crowded! It’s nice to be able to go there and the¬†Columbia Museum of Art¬†and experience all the different events both museums have to offer.

I’m a big fan of the American and Folk Art wings, and had to take the opportunity to snap photos of work by some of my favorite artists – Bill Traylor, Joseph Stella, and Howard Finster, just to name a few. I’ve got my eye on a Bill Traylor anthology, as well as a Walker Evans one they have for sale in the museum shop. They may have to come home with me on our trip to see the¬†Basquiat exhibit!

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“The Lion and the Bear”

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close-up of “Purissima,” Joseph Stella

After the museum, we grabbed a quick lunch from the food carts positioned outside of the Woodruff Arts Center (a veggie burger & plaintains for me, pasta and spicy meatballs for him!) and skipped down the road to the Atlanta Botanical Garden. The Tropical Rotunda is just full of the most perfect plant species, especially all of the varietals of Philodendrons.

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I’ve never been one who favors photographing flora, but I have to admit that I do enjoy taking portraits of strange plants and curious leaves.

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a close-up from the High Elevation House

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your cliche “hand on plant/#liveauthentic” photo

During our visit, we delighted in the Nepenthes, or Asian Pitcher Plant, exhibit. I love love love carnivorous plants, and these were a sight to see!

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sweet nectar

 

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next painting subject?

I’m working on a couple of photo series’ right now, as well as some smaller watercolors for another project, and trying to decide which one I want to go with for an upcoming show in the Fall. Plant portraits are weighing heavily on my mind, and I certainly have more than enough photos from which to choose now!

Speaking of photography, my boyfriend is also a talented photo-maker, and he surprised me with an image of a really special moment. We went to a Clinton rally a couple of weeks ago, where we got to hear former President Bill Clinton speak, and I even managed to take a selfie with him! While taking said selfie, my sweet beau jumped on the risers and snapped a photo of us, and gifted me a print of it for the holiday. I ran around the station with it, proudly sharing it with everyone and anyone, and now have it hanging up behind my desk. It was such an honor to meet him, and to have that second captured in time truly is a treasure. #endgushing!

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You’re due for a Rosie post, so look for one soon highlighting the her souvenir from Philadelphia and her Valentine’s present. She’s also highly in need of a bath, so I may give you a glimpse into what a spa day looks like for her!

 

Sweetheart Day, pt. 1

This Valentine’s Day, we decided to get away from it all and headed to Atlanta for a quick, but relaxing, overnight trip. About a month ago, I had booked an appointment with¬†Radiant Human¬†at¬†Young Blood Boutique¬†to have my aura photographed, and couldn’t decide if I should just drive up for the day solo and then have a quiet Valentine’s Day at home or if the boy and I should go together and explore. We like a challenge, so we decided to go for it and pack in as much as we could in those 24 hours!

Our first stop was at Argosy so I could get my cards read by my friend, Katie, of Psychic Joy. She was eerily accurate in December, and I was curious as to what she and the cards had to say a couple of months later. She was right on the money again! You should definitely check her out during one of the Argosy Swaps, and take a look at her goods at Psychic Joy Shop.

Surprisingly, I had overlooked Young Blood each time I was in the Highlands, always spending the afternoon in¬†Highland Row Antiques¬†digging for records, jade dishware, & vintage adornments. Nutmeg Vintage is without a doubt my favorite booth, so give her some love next time you’re there!¬†As for Young Blood, they carry almost all of¬†my favorite brands –¬†Mudpuppy Ceramics,¬†Native Bear,¬†Portland favorites¬†Betsy and Iya¬†&¬†Imaginary Authors, &¬†Group Partner, just to name a few. I managed to get away without causing too much damage, with a long-coveted tee from¬†Otherwild, some chocolate from¬†Compartes, and the most adorable plum-flavored lolly from¬†A Secret Forest.

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also shown: a lovely labradorite I picked up for some extra good energy

I’ve been dying for one of Michael’s All-Seeing Eye Hand Amulets, and now I’m obsessed with his decal adorned skulls, particularly the boob one! Seems like it would be pretty perfect for my desk at work, no?

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Getting my aura photographed was all that I hoped it would be. Christina is so kind, and she took the time to explain what the colors of each person’s aura meant. The purple/violet color at the top represents my consciousness – being a visionary who is¬†¬†unconventional, non-judgmental, playful, loves to be inspired and delight others. The red right represents the exterior, the energy pushing out, or how the world sees me – strong with great will power, someone who looks to new beginnings, leadership, action, and practicality. It is¬†encouraged to get plenty of exercise and get into nature to achieve balance. As for the lower left-hand, that represents how I see the energy coming in, or the lens in which I view the world – a blue color stands for depth of feeling, trust, devotion, loyalty, nurture, personal relationships, supportive, intuitive, and sensitive, and it is recommended to pursue creative endeavors. I’d say that’s me in a nutshell!

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Christina is based out of Portland, but is constantly on tour photographing auras. I urge you to check her dates and see if she will be in a city near you so you can do this, too! It is an experience I will always treasure – and definitely not a bad start to a lovely Valentine’s Day weekend! Next up, Jeju, the High, and the Botanical Gardens!

*Kawaii BB*

As every little girl in the early 80s, I was IN LOVE with Sanrio¬†& Hello Kitty.¬†My dream job was to wear the Hello Kitty costume at Sanrio Surprises in the mall (lofty goals, I know), and I distinctly remember being distraught over the loss of my “sea foam green” (the seven year old artist!) Little Twin Stars pencil. They were my favorite, alongside My Melody and Spottie Dottie, with Tuxedo Sam rounding out the group. Did anyone else watch¬†Furry Tale Theatre¬†on Saturday mornings? Wasn’t it the best?! I may or may not have bought the newer versions on DVD in the 2000s… ūüôā

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my sweet mama surprised me with a stuffed Totoro last Valentine’s Day

Fast forward a few years to the English release of¬†My Neighbor Totoro¬†& life would be forever changed. I was fortunate enough to have a friend whose uncle designed stickers in Korea, and he would send us tons of Japanese and Korean stickers, with lots of Miyazaki ones included. Practically wearing out my VHS, all I dreamed of was living in a giant Camphor tree and eating bento boxes with that fluffy giant! I settled for collecting Bonsai trees and gobbling up noodles, though, and to this day, think of Totoro every time I pick up an acorn or see a soot sprite. A couple of years ago,¬†Cine¬†in Athens had a Miyazaki fest, and I finally got to see my beloved film on the big screen (although it was the newer, Disney dub which I do not love quite as much). It was hard not to cry, being able to experience a childhood favorite the way it’s supposed to be seen. One of my best friends, Karen, is also a huge Japanese/anime fan, and I recently lent her a copy of the film so she and her kids could watch it. ¬†It’s been so rewarding to hear how much her little sprites love it as much as we do!

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special birthday presents!

Karen gifted me some Totoro items from Japan for my birthday two years ago, and we shared some snacks from Okinawa just recently. Making the food from all of our favorite Miyazaki films and a day full of Studio Ghibli screenings is next on the list!

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treats from Okinawa

Another one of my besties, Savanna, and I joke about “finding our people.” Thus, she is also a lover of all things Kawaii! When we went to see one of our most treasured bands,¬†Eisley, back in October, we made sure to dress up in our “Lolita” best – braids, bun-buns, swan socks, gold shoes, ruffles, & pink! In our excitement, we neglected to get full photos of ourselves, but we did get a little one with Christie Dupree, so that’s what counts, right?! Savanna and I hit up our favorite local Asian markets last weekend to stock up on snacks and other necessities for making pho, rice bowls, and the like. My mom and I have always loved the strawberry & chocolate wafer sticks, but I picked up some ube flavored ones this time – and boy, are they are delicious!!! I did get some more strawberry ones, but the tin is not as cute as the one they’ve been in in the past. First world problems!

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strawberry wafer sticks and lychee candy from last year. also, these Sucre shop utensils!

Yesterday, I received one of the best things ever – my first¬†Kawaii Box! This adorable company sends you 10-12 Japanese and Korean items each month from their shop,¬†Blippo,¬†ranging from brands such as¬†Sanrio,¬†Pocky,¬†Alpacasso,¬†Pony Brown, and, of course,¬†Totoro! I was squealing with delight as I opened each item – the package arrived in perfect time, too, as I am getting ready to hop a plane to Philly and NYC to see my loves, Crystal & Zach, and now I will have a new coin purse, notebook, & stickers to take with me! At under $20/month plus free shipping, you just can’t beat receiving a pink and purple wrapped box in the mail each month full of the cutest treasures. Alongside these boxes, the company also has¬†Japan Candy Box, a similar box full of sweets and treats – also under $20/month! Splendid gifts for the Kawaii lover in your life….or for spoiling yo’ self! Thanks so much,¬†Kawaii Box!

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Kawaii Box + blush pink Kanken + Rosehound pins

It’s safe to say I am ready to visit¬†Puroland,¬†Harmony Land, the¬†Ghibli Museum, wander the luscious¬†Biei¬†lavender fields, hunt for Morizo & Kiccoro,¬†and look for my very own Camphor tree. I also wouldn’t mind taking home a¬†capybara! Rosie even has some friends in Japan – George & Mimi Shugasuki, to whom we would love to say hello!

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What’s a geoduck?

The drive from Portland to Olympia can be a dangerous one, if you go it alone. That’s simply because the views are incredible. I don’t know how I managed to not hit someone or drive off the road while trying to take pictures and drive at the same time! (sorry, mom).

I got up early to drive to Nicole’s house (should I say, Lucille‘s house???), somehow managing to bypass any jet-lag out of eagerness to see my friend and her Bostons. After lots of puppy snuggles, we hopped in the car to explore and grab lunch. On the way into the city, I noticed this cute little  retro-themed burger shack, replete with dinosaurs and large wooden cut outs of cartoon characters, and thought to myself, “ooh, I hope we go there.” Nicole knows me pretty well because the next thing I knew, we were turning into the parking lot! Holy Hell. I don’t know how Olympia residents don’t eat at Eastside Big Tom’s on a daily basis. I was in veg heaven with veggie burger, hot dog, and chik*n sandwich options, plus fries, tots, and best of all, GOOP. The Goop was pretty much the main reason we went there-it’s a secret sauce they put on their burgers and you can order it on the side for your fries or tots, which I highly recommend. I was skeptical at first, being a big ketchup girl, but now I’m always trying to recreate the Goop in my kitchen across the country. It really is a THING out there! I devoured a veggie burger, fries with Goop, and a marshmallow milkshake before we headed to the farmer’s market.

Eastside Big Tom's!

Eastside Big Tom’s!

The Olympia Farmers Market, known as “The Jewel of Olympia,” really is a gem. I wish I could have bought all of the fruits and veggies they had-especially the Eastern European sauerkraut from Olykraut. (Please bring it to the South!) I did go home with the ‘Pineapple Express’ headband from Pieces to Peaces for my penpal, Adrienne, and a longing to shop there every week. The Farmers Market is in downtown Olympia, within walking distance to Budd Inlet.

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Budd Inlet

I debated buying all of these seed packets to grow in my garden, displayed so beautifully in vintage crates! It was hard not to scoop up all of the fresh lavender that many of the nursery vendors were selling…

sowing the seeds of love

sowing the seeds of love

Every now and then, I have to have an oyster or two. If you’ve ever read M.F.K. Fisher’s Consider the Oyster, then you’ll understand! How gorgeous are these?!

fresh oysters

fresh oysters

After the market, we made our way into the downtown shopping district. While Olympia may be a “college town,” it’s definitely got a big-city feel. The delicately curated shops have something for everyone, my favorite being Compass Rose. From Dram Apothecary bitters to vegan bags by Matt and Nat, stationary by the ever fabulous Cavallini & Co., and the best candles ever by Produce, I had to hold myself back from emptying my wallet there. I did, however, pick up a few 45s from Rainy Day Records. Sweet Nicole waited patiently while I sat on the floor, digging through boxes as quickly as possible! I got a couple of James Brown singles, and a copy of “Shake a Tail Feather” by The Five Du-Tones, among others. I fell in love with Psychic Sister, a vintage shop that also had tarot readings! I love getting vintage pieces from around the world, and found the most beautiful butterfly dress from the 70s that I was able to wear to a wedding recently. If you aren’t following these shops on Instagram or Facebook, you should be!

After a little shopping, Nicole drove me over to Evergreen State College, where we walked around the woods and took a little tour of the campus. It was there that I learned what a geoduck is! The mascot of Evergreen, the geoduck is a species of very large, edible saltwater clams in the family Hiatellidae. That said, I suggest you google an image of one, if you aren’t already familiar with it. Evergreen’s motto is Omnia Extares, or “Let it all hang out.” Google the geoduck. Trust me.

lush forest at Evergreen

lush forest at Evergreen

We drove around a little more, with Nicole taking us to the highest point of the city, showing me the best panorama of Olympia. By the time we got back to her house, we were greeted by yet another Boston having arrived! With 3 in her house and another up the street, it was nearly too much for me to handle! It was really hard to leave, even with the fact that there were more adventures awaiting me in Portland. Even better-Nicole drove down on Monday so we could do some pet shopping before I left! Putting us in a dog boutique is just asking for trouble…

Solo cross-country trip, day one, was better than I could have ever imagined. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have such amazing friends!

Deep Roots

Most Saturdays (and some Fridays during my lunch break!), one can find me perusing my favorite nursery looking for the perfect new plant babies to take home. My apartment is brimming with furry, four-legged children, as well as green, sometimes furry, potted ones! When I was really little, we would visit my grandparents at their office downtown- a space in which they also lived- with an old-fashioned Coke machine in the back room, operas playing on the stereo, and where the scent of oil paint, tobacco, and butterscotch candies filled the air. When I wasn’t sitting atop a filing cabinet playing with a collection of small ceramic mice, gnomes, and other various fairytale creatures, I could be found by my grandmother’s side, watering can in hand, as she let me help her nourish the plants. Because it was it favorite activity to do there, I don’t know how I didn’t end up killing them all, since I begged to water them all the time! I still remember standing on my tippy toes in white stockings and Mary Jane shoes, tipping a pale blue watering can just over the lip of a pot, and pretending that the leaves and flowers were growing before my eyes.

One of the most frustrating things about apartment living is the inability to have a truly magnificent garden. At my old house, I grew strawberries, nasturtiums, every herb you could imagine, snapdragons, hyacinths, gerbera daisies, dahlias, etc. I’ve had to re-imagine how to bring the outside in, and in doing so, sharpened my green thumb. Ten years ago, I killed my first cactus-now, I have several who are thriving! So, for any of you who fear you have a black thumb, you may just not have found a type of plant that works with your sentiments and lifestyle. For example, ferns don’t really flow with me, but orchids are easy. I’m really enjoying finding new varieties of indoor plants that will bring the magical feeling I had as a kid into my home as adult.

When we travel, I always look for greeneries, florists, or any shop that sells plants. In Royal Oak, Michigan, one of my favorite shops has the most adorable collection of succulents. Rail and Anchor is pretty much one of the best home & gift shops ever. From Herbivore Botanicals to Found My Animal, they have something for every aspect of one’s life. They even serve hot tea! Their succulent collection, however, always leaves me wishing they could all fly home with us.
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Another store I like to visit is Nest, in the Cass/Canfield area of Detroit. I usually pick up some sort of stationary or violet candy, but what I really want is all of the air plants! This holiday season, they some really wonderful ceramic air plant containers that I still regret not buying. Those, and the watermelon ornaments!

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How gorgeous is that terrarium?!

My sweet boyfriend and I exchanged one gift apiece while we were on vacation. He’s pretty good at digging through my Pinterest account to see what I’m dreaming about, and finding just the right thing. That item was a pair of vintage, Japanese gardening shears, which he said he thought I would enjoy using for all of my gardening needs, combined with my love for all things vintage and Japanese. *insert heart eyes here*

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Since we didn’t go to the greenhouses this past Saturday, we went on our day off today. He’s a pretty good sport to put up with my indecisiveness, hemming and hawing to find the right plants to join our home. His sister and brother in law gifted me a beautiful terrarium over the holidays and I’d had yet to start to fill it, so I decided that today was the day to do so. I picked up one of my favorite moss varieties, Leucobryum, and a little dark green Peperomia. I’m going to have to take the terrarium with me next weekend, to pick out everything else! I also added a Gasteria carinata, an aloe-like succulent, to my plant family.

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We went to the nursery just as the afternoon light was starting to fade, and had the hothouses all to ourselves. One of the cats who roam the property followed us around, and it was like being transported to a quiet, tropical getaway for the day. Do you have any hobbies that you were interested in as a kid, and cultivated as you became an adult?

Weekend Summary:
New plant babies, gin drinks aptly named “Fortune Teller,” vegan Pad Thai with friends, listening to the boy spinning sweet sounds, and sleeping in until noon- I’d say it was a success! How was yours?