Saturday, May 18, 2013

Care Package Love

This afternoon while hubs and I were snuggling with Lulu watching a DVD we had a special delivery...or shall I say Lulu had a special delivery.

My parents sent a package full of goodies for Lulu. My mom even made a special little card to welcome the newest member of our family. What a spoiled little fur-baby we have.

*Le sigh* I remember when we were the ones who got the care packages. LOL.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

I just wanted to wish all the mommies out there a most wonderful mother's day. You're all in charge of one of the most important jobs in the world.

Unfortunately I'm not able to celebrate with my mom due to the expansive ocean between us. But my thoughts and love are with her. Raising me, especially through my terrible teens, cannot have been an easy feat. Nonetheless, she has always been there to support me through it all. And I am lucky to have had such an amazing mom who let me be myself and make my own mistakes while gently guiding me down the right path in life. Now that I'm officially an adult and out on my own we have grown to be great friends. My life wouldn't be what it is today without her.  I am forever grateful.

So cheers to all you mothers out there. I hope to one day be inducted into your elite group and hope to be even half the mother my mom is to me.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Spring Breakers: Kyoto

Sorry for the delay in posting the next in the Spring Breakers series. We've had our hands full here with the newest addition to our family. Let's just say it's been less than a month since we brought Lulu home and we've gone through almost 2 whole bottles of Natures Miracle: Stain and Odor Remover (aka: best investment when bringing home a new puppy). Not to mention the fact that after the first week we spent over $100 and have yet to find a pen that can keep her contained while we're away at work.

After taking the bullet train to Kyoto we met up with our JTB tour group from Hawaii. We had a pretty small group of just barely 15 people including us and my parents which was nice since we got to know each other and get pretty chummy over the duration of the trip.

Our first stop in Kyoto was Kinkaku-ji, the 3 story pavillion that's covered with gold leafing. It was so pretty with the calm lake reflecting the golden pavillion. The gardens there are so beautiful and imaculately taken care of. There's even a very old tree that's pruned to perfection to look like a boat. It actually used to be a bonsai tree at one point.

top row: beautiful kimonos at Nishijin textile factory
bottom row L to R: what we started with, our finished products (hub's on the left and mine on the right)
Next we visited Nishijin textile factory where they make some fo the finest silk kimonos in Kyoto. While we were there we got to see a fashion show with some of the different kimonos they make. Then we tried our hand at making traditional Japanese sweets. We cut and roll out our mochi before filling them with different flavored sweet beans. It was a lot harder to do then I had anticipated, but it was a lot of fun to see the outcomes of everyone's efforts.

We then headed to Kiyomizu-dera which is a buddhist temple known for their huge veranda with a panoramic view of the area. At one time people used to jump off the veranda, and it was said that if you survived the fall you'd be blessed. Also located at this temple are three fountains that you can drink from. They say that depending on which fountain you choose to drink from you'll be granted health, longevity, or sucess. Unfortunately the line was pretty long so we didn't get a chance to take a

L to R: sakura tree in full bloom on Sannen Zaka, Inoda's ice coffee
Near the temple is the famous shopping street, Sannen Zaka. They had all kinds of delightful candy and sweets shops and stores selling all kinds of nicknacks. While we were there I stopped by the popular coffee shop, Inoda Coffee Co. for a super yummy ice coffee that was as strong and sweet as Vietnamese ice coffee. I wish we had more time to spend there, it looked like they had a nice restaurant area over looking a beautiful garden.

L to R: beautiful cherry blossom tree in the rock garden, reflecting pond, bamboo grove
Later that night we went to Kodai-ji, which is a buddhist temple that stays open after dark during spring. They illuminate several different area throughout the temple and the scenery is nothing short of breathtaking. Our photos don't even come close to doing the scene justice. It was absolutely awe inspiring.

The next day our tour guide surprised us with an impromptu stop at Fushimi Inari-taisha. Remember that scene in Memoirs of a Geisha where the little girl is running through hundreds of torii gates? (Yeah,  me neither. We had to promptly rewatch that movie when we got home). That's what this shrine is famous for...hundreds upon hundreds of torii gates all lined up through the mountains. We only had time to go through the first set, but it was enough to get a taste and snap some great pictures.

counterclockwise from the top: sake barrels, Kyoto water perfect for making sake,
cheers for free sake tasting
From there, we headed to a sake brewery. The guide told us that Kyoto was known for their good water, which is it was an ideal location for making sake. We even got to taste 3 different types of sake. Anyone who knows me will tell you I'm not much of a drinker so I was surprised to find that I enjoyed the sake.

Then we were off to Nara and Hakone. I'll save those details for another post.

Missed out on the earlier Spring Breakers posts? Check out our stops in Hawaii, Singapore, and Hiroshima