August In Review

How's it going? August was exactly the chill month we needed after a pretty hectic summer. David and I celebrated 6 years happily married by going to the Ed Sheeran concert at the iconic Rose Bowl. We’re usually more intimate, sit-down venue kind of people (think drinking beer on a lawn or small, round table with an Old Fashioned) so it was fun but also slightly overwhelming to attend a production on that scale alongside 62,000 other concert goers. So yeah, I think we both agreed it fulfilled our one obligatory, quintessentially LA social experience for the year. Nothing like a special occasion to break out of daily routine and try something new.

Here are the quieter scenes around these parts.


Can you believe that we got through August without a single heatwave? For once, Fall actually felt like well, Fall. And if you’ve been following along on Instagram Stories, our watermelon patch continued to be a scene of much excitement. We began the month with three watermelon friends, but we sadly ended up losing one to a thieving critter. It was still fairly small and from past experience, the little, unripe ones seemed to go mostly unbothered since they weren't exactly sweet and tasty yet. Not this time. After discovering that it had been gnawed clean off the vine, I found its sad remains in the corner of the garden, completely hallowed out, surrounded by chewed up pieces of watermelon shell. It happened right under Hoku’s nose too! Sneaky little fellas.


So then I had this idea to create a protective cage of some sort using hardware mesh, wire clippers and heavy duty gloves. In hindsight, I probably should have thought through the design a little more but I essentially ended up with a vertical, wire mesh cylinder tower. I covered the sharp ends with duct tape and carefully slipped the cage over the melon, making sure not to damage the stem. And finally, for good measure, I scattered Hoku fur balls and sprayed garlic + chili pepper infused water throughout the patch. (One website suggested fox urine, which guess what, is available through Amazon freaking Prime, but I’ll be saving that option for more desperate times.)

So out of six potential watermelons, we are now down to two, both protected by my makeshift cages. As we head into Fall, I'm fairly certain that our patch is nearing its final days. The leaves are not looking so hot. So all fingers and paws crossed that these two make it to the end so we can have a happy ending to this riveting watermelon saga. 

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↑ By the way, here are our very first melons from the patch that had cracked from the heatwaves that hit us in July. Just in case you’ve ever wondered what a little, unripe melon looked like on the inside. Basically, it is all rind.


In the kitchen, we’ve officially rediscovered the joys of the Kitchenaid mixer. It was my mom’s and it had been boxed up in the garage for years because I was so worried about having to sacrifice more of the counter space we had available in our little kitchen. But let me tell you, my only regret is not taking it out sooner. Kneading bread and making fresh pasta has never been easier. No more sore arms for us.

Our new favorite weekend lunch is a super simple pasta with freshly picked sun gold tomatoes and basil from the garden, with a touch of garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. I also tried making pineapple buns (a childhood favorite) for the first time. I used my usual Hokkaido milk bread recipe for the bun and added the crust from this recipe here. So it’s a bit lighter than the traditional Tangzhong milk bread, which has a buttery dough, but it still tastes amazing and makes the entire house smell like a Hong Kong bakery.

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And of course, I can’t forget to mention our epic fire lookout adventure that kicked off August. When Nacho’s parents invited us to join them for a weekend on a historic fire lookout in the Sequoia National Forest, one that they had booked 6 months in advance, the obvious answer was hell yeah. But as irony would have it, we indeed saw a wildfire from the lookout and had to make the difficult decision to evacuate only a few hours after arriving and setting up camp. The lookout was 45 minutes on off-road terrain from the main highway, which had the potential of being cut off by the fire and stranding us on the mountains. Not an ideal scenario to find oneself in during fire season when firefighting resources were already strained. We ended up making it back down the mountain just as the sky turned to black, which accentuated the eery faint glow of fiery orange in the distance.

And that is how 4 humans and 2 pups ended up eating and laughing over fried chicken strips, tater tots and ice cream at a Sonic’s Drive-In at 10pm in the middle of who-knows-where in Bakersfield. Not the epic adventure planned but still good times with awesome company.


That’s been our August in a nutshell! Is it too early to start thinking about Hoku’s Halloween costume this year? I mean, after Shibe Jobs and Shi-Boba, what else is there to do? ;)

June & July in Review

What a summer it's been here in Southern California so far. Heatwaves, wildfires, bugs. I, for one, am looking forward to the cooler, rainy months. In addition to his garden patrol and delivery dog duties, Hoku has taken it upon himself to mentally map the flow of air conditioning throughout the house and has determined that the most ideal nap spot is at the NE corner of the sofa. See exhibit A below. We have corroborated his findings with a peer review.


A few new additions to the house include a handmade raffia toy basket for Hoku (which we shared in a 'Meet The Maker' Story Takeover over on Wool And The Gang's Instagram) and also a wooden Shiba figurine from Japan (my official travel-sized Hoku companion). At home, he is the guardian of my plant propagation corner, where I've just added some pilea cuttings. The other succulents seem to be rooting nicely and I'm looking forward to transferring them into new homes soon. I guess that means I have to buy new planters.  


Another new addition to the family room is Hoku's gray pouf. I had the pleasure of working with German brand MiaCara Design and I cannot say enough good things about their beautifully designed products. Not only does the round Scala pouf fit the aesthetic of our home perfectly, it is also impeccably made and the perfect height for sitting and lounging. So much so that family TV time has humans and pup alike racing to see who can claim it first.

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As to be expected, the garden is ever evolving. In early June, we harvested our corn and cleared the stalks to expand the watermelon patch. The carrots were completely harvested by mid-July, becoming a part of tasty stews, soups and pup snacks. With an unseasonably mild early summer, our seedlings could not have asked for more ideal initial growing conditions and it was really looking to be a bountiful summer season. 

Then, an unfortunate turn of events. While we away in Seattle over the Fourth of July holiday, an epic heatwave hit Southern California and temperatures soared to 116 in our area, sadly burning much of our once-thriving garden to a crisp. (This article from The LAist explains what these new temperature highs mean for the future of growing plants in LA and be warned, it is seriously depressing.) We returned home to discover that the leaves of our yellow pear tomato had been burnt to the point of disintegrating into dust in our hands, the growth of my favorite and usually very productive sun golds had been stunted, near ripe bell peppers shriveled, and about half of the little mandarin oranges growing on our tree (to be picked next Spring) had turned into little black raisins. I almost cried. But on the bright side, we were surprised to discover which plants had managed to survive, some seemingly unscathed! The eggplant, strawberries, indigo rose tomatoes and the watermelon were the definite winners here.

And of course, I must give credit where credit is due. Their survival is largely due to my mom, who had been watching Hoku at our house when the heatwave hit. She had the sense to give our non-shaded garden a little extra daily watering in the early morning and late afternoon and essentially saved it from certain apocalyptic destruction. She claims the green thumb skipped a generation - my grandma could grow literally anything! - but I honestly think she has secret plant whisperer potential.


Have you been following our Watermelon Watch story highlights on Instagram? This little one is now 6 lbs! I think I'll devote an entire post to watermelons soon because that is how emotionally invested I am in these guys. 


In case you missed it, our patio space got a pretty big makeover. Check it out in this post here!

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And lastly, we took a weekend trip to Palm Springs when my little sister stopped through LA for a few days while her stuff made its way from New York City to San Francisco. (She's officially moved in now, so I guess it's time to plan a trip up to SF!) I've always loved The Parker and was so thrilled to collaborate with them on this post

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How is your summer going so far? I'm looking forward to some serious home-bodying in August before some light weekend wedding travels in September. 

A Girls + Pup Getaway at The Parker Palm Springs

When you live in Los Angeles, no summer is complete without sipping on a refreshing, fruity cocktail poolside in Palm Springs! So when my sister (Hoku's favorite aunty) stopped by to visit us on her way to a fresh, new start in San Francisco after nine years of living in the Big Apple, an extra special girls + pup weekend getaway at The Parker was in order.  What could be a more perfect summertime Southern California welcome?


Driving through the gates of The Parker is like discovering a secret oasis hidden away in the middle of the desert. Curious as always, Hoku stuck his nose out of the window as he had done many times in the past when we visited the resort for brunch at Norma's. (Little did he know that this time, we were coming back as guests!) The road continued to lead us past impeccably lush landscaping until we rounded a large fountain and The Parker's iconic, sky-high, bright orange doors came into view. We had officially arrived in Wonderland.


The hotel's lobby, designed by none other than interior designer Jonathan Adler, sets the tone for The Parker experience, perfectly blending whimsy and glamour. The cool details and bright pops of color is pure eye candy. We eagerly checked in with the nice ladies at the front desk and could not wait to see our room. 


We made ourselves right at home in one of the Parker's patio rooms, which has a spacious outdoor lounge area surrounded by vibrant, pink bougainvillea and a hammock with enough space for two. Hoku, who is not a fan of hammocks, chose to stay firmly put on the ground and found himself a comfortable spot on the soft sand. 


Even though it was an uncharacteristically overcast summer day for Palm Springs, temperatures had still climbed into the 100's and we wasted no time changing into our swimsuits and beelining to the Gene Autry pool to escape the dry, desert heat. (While the pool area is dog friendly - dogs are just not allowed in the pool - we decided it would be best if Hoku stayed behind to relax in the cool air conditioning of our room.) We were greeted by the friendly pool staff who quickly got us set up with fresh towels on poolside chaises under the happiest, yellow and white striped umbrellas. We alternated between taking dips in the water and sipping away at our delicious cocktails from the Lemonade Stand.

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For dinner, we wined and dined at Mr. Parker before taking Hoku on a starlit stroll around the property. Even in evening, The Parker's grounds are well lit and a welcoming communal fire pit surrounded by white butterfly chairs invited all to gather round.


The next morning, we woke up early to explore The Parker's expansive 13-acre property and to beat the heat of the day. From the pétanque court to the croquet lawn, we loved discovering all the little hidden corners and beautiful vintage doorways along pathways lined with lush greenery.


And of course, our visit to The Parker would not be complete without brunch on Norma's colorful, ultra pup friendly patio. The Normalita's Huevos Rancheros and Cripsy Belgian Waffle covered in Devonshire cream and fresh berries are two tried and true favorites. 


After a delicious brunch, we packed up our things, said goodbye to our pretty patio and passed through the great orange doors once again. We couldn't have asked for a more relaxing sister's weekend. If you're looking for a dreamy, pup-friendly desert hideaway, The Parker is where it's at. 


This post was created in collaboration with The Parker Palm Springs. All opinions and photos are my own.