September in Review

Here are some scenes from our September around here. I’ve been trying to be a little more proactive about putting down the phone, being present and embracing this thing called JOMO (joy of missing out) which as a natural introvert, turned out I was already pretty good at. With my sister in town to help me with some things, it was also nice to just hanging out, eating homemade bread and pastries (a shared love), and spend entire mornings talking about nothing at all over coffee (another shared love), because that’s what sisters do best.


At the start of the month, I felt motivated, for approximately 30 minutes, to work on organizing/redesigning my office bookshelf. This is as far as I got. Does anyone have shelf styling tips for finding that perfect balance between aesthetic and utility? I’d love to display knick knacks/ tchotckes and books side by side in a way that says “Come read/interact/play” instead of “Please don’t touch and ruin this perfect #shelfie” which is the vibe I get from a lot of design inspo office tours. Can something refined and look put together and also lived-in, loved, and useful? Hoku finds my musings uninspiring.


Meanwhile, the garden actually did get a much needed Fall refresh. We said thank you and goodbye to our beloved watermelon patch, sweet peppers, and eggplant - which believe it or not, was still going strong. I found it so ironic that the best summer producer in our garden was the veggie we were least fond of. That’s right, we actually don’t like eggplant! I thought that if we grew it ourselves, maybe we’d change our minds about it. (And we did make a few dishes, which were actually not bad.) But by the end of August, we were swimming in eggplant with no end in sight and I couldn’t do it anymore. Still, a successful experiment in trying something new.


I love those weekends when the three of us spend an entire morning at the nursery, followed by an entire afternoon working side by side amending the garden bed and planting new veggies. Well, two of us. Hoku supervised. We planted parsley (David wants to make Pasta Aglio e Olio from one of my favorite movies, Chef), tatsoi, broccoli, kohlrabi, bok choy, snow peas, brussels sprouts and bibb lettuce. Leafy greens season is my favorite.

We also had every intention of dusting off our homemade grow light and getting some seeds going, but we never actually got around it. Which we all know is just a euphemism for, we got hella lazy.


The last of our sweet peppers went into a yummy pasta. And we haven’t turned over our tomatoes yet since they seem to be hanging on, but they are definitely the least happy about it being Fall.


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.