Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Japan Festivals

Matsuri, is the Japanese word for festival or holiday. Usually, there is a celebration during the rice harvest season, that could be Spring and Fall.  At one point, various places in the world will celebrate it as the Japan Festival, and it is always a fun way to get together, enjoy the Japanese culture, food tasting, music, and so forth.

Matsuri are celebrations throughout the year as well. They could be tied with the different shrines in Japan and also various regions.  There is the Sapporo Snow Festival (Hokkaido) in February, Nango Summer Jazz Festival where artists gather to perform.  My favorite is the Cherry Blossom Festival, which is celebrated throughout the entire season in all the regions of Japan.  There is food stalls in different locations, lanterns, dancing, admiration of beautiful cherry blossoms everywhere.

Even though we might not be residing in Japan to experience these festivities, we can still participate through local Japanese organizations in all parts of the world.

When I was in Chicago, me and my family and friends will go to the convention center during the Japan Festival.  There are performances on traditional Japanese dance, great food to taste, sake, anime, pop music performance, samurai sword talks, painting, bonsai classes, book stores, how to wear a kimono, flower arrangement art, so much fun!

I will highly recommend checking in to local Japanese organizations and sign up for some of the events just to experience it.  It will be memorable!

Want to paint the Sakura blossoms?  Join us at
Sakura, beautiful cherry blossom, marking the start of Spring is mesmerizing to watch.  They usually bloom around the end of March and early April, and much later in the northern part of Hokkaido.  Let's capture this beautiful scenery on canvas together. We will paint the cherry blossom in the city lights of Tokyo along the Meguro River! 

Also, local places to visit, Mitsuwa has a brand new store in Dallas, check it out!  Visit Japan America Society -, Dallas Japanese Association -, and other local organizations for their running events.

Have a happy celebration!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


XOXO - Love Ya!  What a cute and light way to express your affection.   St. Valentine's Day, is the day to celebrate and show appreciation to your loved ones.  Some people might think that this is a special day just for lovers, couples, but in essence, it is really for everybody.  

There are so many kinds of "LOVE", sisterly, brotherly, pet members, friends, the list goes on. I got together recently with some of our Creative Girlfriends and indulged in some chocolate yummies!  It was great getting together and wonderful celebrating CHOCOLATE!  We have decided to do this monthly, title:  Chocolate Therapy!  LOL!

As a token of my appreciation for the Creative Girlfriends, I made some lip smacker with my unique recipe and designs for them.  Want to try this as a gift idea?  Let's go...

You will need to sterilize the containers by putting them in boiling water and air-dry.  Put blended oils in a double-boiler (glass or metal heat-safe bowl over a pot of steaming water).  Remember not to cook the oil, just gentle heat to warm them.  Add white beeswax (cosmetic grade), to pot and blend in with wooden spoon.  When mixture melted together, pour into lip balm container and let it cool to set. Design your own labels and it's done!  Place them in pretty chiffon bags with a lovely card.

Anne's lip smacker recipe:

1 cup Grapeseed oil
2 teaspoon organic coconut oil
1 tablespoon almond oil
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon orange oil
1 teaspoon peppermint oil
1 teasppon rosemary extract 
1 teaspoon vanila oil
3 to 4 small semi-sweet chocolate chips (baking type)
2 tablesppon white beeswax flakes (cosmetic grade)

Use high quality edible organic ingredients.

Enjoy!  Happy Valentine's Day ^^


Monday, January 23, 2017

Butterfly in Winter

At our recent workshop, we painted an acrylic artwork with the theme:  Butterfly in Winter.  The image of a fragile butterfly amidst winter conjured mixed feelings of appreciation and concern for the butterfly.  The lightness of the butterfly being drawn to the newly bloomed cherry blossom makes a sensitive artwork.  Is it true that in nature this image can be spotted?
There are relatively very few butterfly species that migrate and can survive the cold winter months.  There are indeed a minority of tough and inquisitive butterflies during the late winter, where the cherry blossoms bloom.  It is startling to spot a mourning cloak, comma, or tortoiseshell flying over snowdrifts.

Can we relate to this in the human world?  Facing hardship full on everyday?  Taking risk despite the fact that it could be non-rewarding?  Fulfilling our dreams and conquering winter?  One way or another, we can relate to this idea.

Bravo to my lovely butterfly, you found this newly bloomed cherry blossom and happiness is achieved. Watch out for the blobs of snowflakes!!!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Fun Succulents Terrarium Party!

It was great getting together with the girls creating beautiful succulent terrariums recently.  The fun really begins when we all got our hands dirty with the soil, trying to figure out how to coordinate the plants to make it look good, layering the sand, sand stones, glitter sands of different colors, sparkly glass bits, potting soil, mulch, and when they are all assembled, it was gorgeous!  This is one of my favorite girlfriends out activity.

Succulents are getting lots of attention lately.  This is such a hot topic and the thing to do!  It is so calming to have a terrarium of green cuteness in your living or work space.  It does cheer one up especially when you can add messages and words like Good times, Dream, Imagine, Love, or a glow in the dark mini person for Holloween, Happy face, etc.

So this is the next important thing, now that we have this lovely succulent terrarium in our care.  How not to kill it!!!  It is low maintenance, but it still needs some basic care to keep it alive and looking happy!

Succulent plants, can also be known as Fat plant (I like the word Chubby!), since they have some extraordinary thickened and flashy leaves.  They are thick for a reason, to retain water efficiently which is a survival factor for these plants that are mostly found in dry soil condition in arid climates geographically.  They are low bearing ground plants, and have a variety of shapes, colors, and forms. So far, there are more than 200 species of succulents and cacti that are suitable for table top potted arrangements.  With the interesting variety, and low maintenance requirement, no wonder they are one of the most popular items/gift to be enjoyed by everyone.  Not to mention the love it takes to put one together for your family or friends!

Succulents do not behave the same as outdoor plants, it takes over a week for them to need water, and to ensure that their roots do not rot, we do not soak the soil and ensure that we have good drainage in the pot for the water to escape. Part of a successful potted succulent is to maintain layers of sand stone, with sand, and perlite with activated charcoal to prevent bacteria from starting.  The roots will be healthy and dry but not so dry to the extent of thirst.   They do not need direct light, but too little light can cause the plants to loose it's color, and became pale. Too much light can burn their leaves causing spots and marks and they will start to dry out and wither.  Sometimes, the glass terrarium can refract sunlight and so it is good practice to put them in an area that has indirect sunlight.
When watering these lovelies, do not pour a lot of water at the same time, gently seep water onto top soil and let it absorb slowly.  That's it!  You can enjoy them for a long time.

I am in the process of germinating some succulents.  Can't wait to see the baby succulents appear!  Will post some pictures later.

A few tips for succulents:

Use Cactus soil for succulents
Layer with rough pebbles and sand to maintain good drainage
Add activated charcoal to make sure no molds can be formed
Perlite is great for avoiding bacteria in the roots
Get a moisture meter to see how soil is 
Water a week to week and half 
Do not soak roots
Moderate indirect sunlight


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Hi Yummy Asian Food!

This is one of my favourite places to visit with friends. The BellyQ in Chicago do Asian BBQ with packed load of flavours.  I recommend getting at least ten friends together in order to get a variety of dishes to try.  Their tea smoked duck breast which is originated from the Sichuan province of China is awesome! 

I used to have this dish in Hong Kong all the time.  You really have to know what you are doing in order to get the best result.  For the adventurous ones, you can give it a go with the recipe from foodnetwork.

The baby back pork ribs are succulent and crispy.  All the best to pair it with a chardonnay or even chilled sake.  Check out BellyQ's menu :

Talking about Hong Kong, you want to check out the local eateries!  It is difficult to isolate any one place as the best since there is good food all around you!  

Hong Kong people likes to know what they are eating literally.  Salted and braised chicken hung on display, dripping with chicken oil and ready to be served with a bowl of hot white rice and fresh veggies!

Complete a lovely evening with good friends and some fresh strawberry chocolate or lychee daiquiries! 

Awesome ^^

Farm to Table

Sometimes I wonder if we can still get pure and wholesome food without worrying about the additives, preservatives, and unwelcome chemicals,  not to mention the hidden processed kind.  We really can't be too careful and rule out 100% of the good food our world have to offer but we can be selective without compromising taste and quality.  During the summer, I decided to venture to the McKinney farmer market in Dallas, Texas.  In order to do that, an early start on the weekend is a must as most of the farmer and vendors showcase their fresh and fine produce as early as 7:00 a.m. If you are late, a lot of the good produce are already sold.  

Most of the vendors travel at least an hour or more to tend their booths at the McKinney market during the weekend.  I like the real taste of the tomatoes, blueberries, various vegetables and special bakes, chili sauce, and delicious candies and peanut brittle unique to Texas.  There are even tea leaves of different selection for making that one cup of fragrant tea with.  The array of good eats are all over including freshly made taco and farm grown herbs.  I also met up with friends at one of the popular go to restaurants in Greenville, Dallas, that serve organic and farm to table dishes.  HG Sply. & Co. is the name.  Unique right?  Well, the ambiance is excellent full of energy and it was really enjoyable to taste wholesome food with a rebellious pint or two of beer from local brewery.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Origami Party

Remember as a child, sitting with friends and sharing ways to fold with paper?  That is the beginning of the idea of learning about Origami.  It is a fun and simple way to keep a child motivated, while inspiring them to be creative.  It also encourages motor skill and early brain development. The word origami is derived from two Japanese characters, "Oru", meaning fold, and "Gami", meaning paper. This paper folding art form originated from China, known as "Zhezhi", and focused mainly in folding paper boats and hats.  Japanese Origami often involves folding flower, and animals. 

As creativity progressed, we found ourselves coming across folded art used in our daily lives, such as Origami lamp shades, art decoration, and so forth.

How to multi-use the Origami:

Origami is not limited to just using paper, but you can use fabric, ribbon, mesh, to form beautiful embellishments, or incorporate it into unique pieces of jewelry to wear or as a gift. Origami could be used as a decoration on a gift box, put together as a collage wall decor, head piece, shoe pin, boxes,anything that you can think of.

It is a common practice for store attendants to use origami techniques in their gift wrapping for customers.  That is a first impression to impress!

Since summer is quite warm in Dallas, I thought it will be nice to get a bunch of us Creative Girlfriends and have a theme party indoor at a Sushi place with some origami fun!

Sushi munchies, cocktails, and origami = Pretty Happy Summer!