Thursday, August 26, 2010

First Fruits - or - My love affair with gardening

This is tech week for All Shook Up. It's been a wild ride, as tech week always is. Last night, backstage, one of the parents, April, asked me how I'm doing it -putting up a show, in the home stretch of planning my wedding, writing the Starlight Newsletter every week (Click here to see this week's newsletter), and keeping up with my blog. My answer? I don't know, but I garden a lot.

Gardening has become very healthy for me. Getting in the soil, working with the plants, watching them root and grow - it's joyous and serene, a great time for me to decompress and put my focus on something else. I've planted seeds, and they've all sprouted in the last week. I've also planted seedlings and larger plants. Some veggies, some fruits and a whole lot of flowers.

My soon to be mother-in-law observed last week that I must love fresh flowers. There are cut flowers throughout the house, and blooming pots of flowers (annuals and perennials) throughout the yard.

I've been gardening a lot lately at the new house. Here's what I've been up to:

The planter boxes in the back - they've all been weeded, hoed and had new soil added to them. In the front box we have lots and lots of tomatoes with room to climb. In the second box we have herbs (Oregano, rosemary, thyme, parsley, and mint in pots so they won't take over) jalapenos and chilli peppers. The third box has cilantro (pre-grown and seedlings, green onion (pre-grown and seedlings), red, yellow and green bell peppers. In the last box there is lettuce (pre-grown and seedlings), zucchini, strawberries in pots, and more herbs (basil, chives, parsley). We pulled the weeds and put down fresh bark, potted a lime tree and an orange tree, and put down sod around the back for Indy.

Indy loves it when I garden, too. He's really enjoyed getting out of an apartment and being able to sleep outside in the sun during the day!

First Fruits (and Vegetables) - these are the first things to be picked out of our garden in the back. They're big and beautiful! Can't wait to eat them!

Planting Annuals in little pots out front. I also have quite a few rose bushes that are just starting to bud again. But these pots have gone nuts! I've never had happy Petunias before and for the first time they're thriving for me!

The walkway up to the house - I've been bringing these back to life after the last tenants neglected them. See the giant rosemary in the bottom left corner? It smells delicious!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Feb 2, 1990 - Akiko's 8th Birthday! Unfortunately the photo was damaged, so I touched it up as
best as I could once I scanned it. I have so many memories at that dining room table!
From L to R: Kelli, Tomoko, Yoriko, Akiko, Me

Continuing on with my bridesmaids in the order that I met them, Akiko is next. My family moved in across the street from Akiko's house when I was six years old. We met at the bus stop on the first day of 2nd Grade, and from my recollection we didn't actually like each other initially.

That certainly didn't last long! We became fast friends - best friends - and spent nine years riding the bus and then walking to and from middle and high school together. Sleepovers, torturing our younger sisters (who also became close friends), learning the ins and outs of how to eat with chopsticks, and cooking up one wild scheme after the other... We were inseparable for nine years until her dad's job caused their whole family to move back to Japan.

I will never forget how lonely I was when Akiko left. As I moved into my Junior year of high school without her - getting my drivers license, going to dances and Proms - all the things we'd always talked about doing together, I was doing alone. It broke my little heart - and still makes me sad when I think about it today.

But... she came back! College brought Akiko back to California, and for one awesome Christmas, she was back on Ingrum Way with my family and I.

Akiko and I during that special Christmas when she stayed with us - New Years Eve 2000/2001.

Over the years, the gaps between our visits have gotten larger - mostly due to geography. When Akiko was in California, I was in Michigan. When I was back in California, she moved to New York for work.

Still though, every time I see her the years disappear, and we are the same old friends. The time and life experiences just enhance our friendship, not detract from it. Akiko is so genuine. She is accepting and loving, honest, and sooooo intelligent. Oh man! She was always super intelligent - match that with a kind and generous heart, well it's no wonder she has gone into a career where she can help students!

The biggest memory that comes to my mind right now is from 6th Grade. For her birthday, Akiko FINALLY got to have her very own bedroom - no more sharing with her two sisters! And to celebrate, I got to spend the night. Of course, that meant that Kelli got to spend the night with Yoriko and Tomoko as well. So there I was, sleeping on the floor while Akiko slept her first night in her own room. I woke up in the middle of the night with my head rolling side to side - it was the night of the Northridge Earthquake. It woke Akiko up, too. AND Kelli, Yoriko and Tomoko, all of whom ended up in Akiko's new bedroom - where she did NOT spend her first night in her own room without her sisters.

One more story - I was always so envious that Akiko could play piano. That's one skill that has escaped me no matter how many times I have tried to learn. I can read music, but I just can't PLAY. Akiko could, though. So, in one of my crazy, harebrained schemes I decided that I could cheat and learn to play a song - I just had Akiko color code the stickers that I put on the keys of my family piano. YEP. Stickers on the keys - sacrilege - but I talked her into it. I still have no idea how.

I love you, my friend. Thank you for being willing to cross the continent to be a part of this special, special day. I am SOOOOO looking forward to giving you a huge hug!

Halloween, 1994 - We both didn't have a costume so we went as crazy tourists!

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Kelli and Jeff's Wedding - May, 2007
L to R: Me, Kelli, Jeff, Jeff's Best Man Jordan

About a week ago, I had a conversation with a friend who's also planning a wedding. The conversation turned to bridesmaids, and she was saying that she has a friend who had all of her college friends in her bridal party, and now - three years later - that friend never even speaks to her Bridesmaids since they've drifted apart.

The conversation drifted to my bridal party, and I realized how blessed I am to have a woman representing each stage of my life in my Bridal Party. Women that I talk to regularly, who I have maintained relationships with throughout the years. These are INCREDIBLE women, so I decided to write about each of them over the next couple of weeks!

I'll start with my Maid of Honor - my sister Kelli. Kelli is three years younger than I am, and we are as different as night and day, at least as far as our interests go. The older we get, the more our similarities have come to light - the way we speak, communicate, eat, clean, likes/dislikes. As adults, we've become more than sisters but great friends!

Kelli has the kindest heart of anyone I have every met. She is empathetic to a fault, and soooo generous with her time, resources and creativity. SHE IS SO TALENTED!

It's been incredible watching Kelli grow from a little dirt-ball tomboy into the sophisticated, beautiful and glamorous woman that she is today. She is a woman from a different era - always polished and effortless - gorgeous and glowing even in her work clothes. And let me just say that she is NOT afraid to get dirty!

Yes... I'm very white. Yes, Kelli is covered in mud - I told you she was a dirtball!
Trinity Lake, Circa 2003

Kelli has a wonderful husband, Jeff, and it has been such a blessing watching Jeff and my fiancee Jason bond and become fast friends. My hope is that someday we'll have our kids at close to the same time and they can grow up together - playing together and vacationing together just like we were able to do with our cousins.

I have a lifetime of memories with Kelli in them, but the ones that come to the forefront of my mind right now are of countless Christmas Mornings - of racing Kelli down the hallway to the living room, ready to see the tree and the treasures that lay below it. Every year she would beat me, every year one of us would get shoved into the wall heater as we wrestled for the doorway.

I am so grateful and humbled to have a sister like Kelli. I love you so much, sissy! Thank you for being my maid of honor and my dear friend!

No date, No location, but we're probably at a lake somewhere, camping. I LOVE this picture. I love our faces!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wedding Flowers

To those precious few of you who actually read this blog, I'm sorry that I've been so lame lately! I will try to write more often, promise. :)

My life has gone a little bit beserk. All Shook Up goes into tech - AGAIN - next week, and I've been busy getting that show on the road, working at the house and planning my wedding!

New photos of the house as it looks now (it's very cute - I'm super happy with it!) will be posted soon, promise.

In the meantime, here's a little update on the wedding planning:

It just feels like there's so much to do, but when I really sit down and think about it, most of the big stuff has been tackled. My one major lapse, though, was flowers. I'm ashamed to say it because I am a flower junkie (you should see my house - potted plants all over outside, and LOTS of fresh flowers inside all the time), but I just put this off until the last minute.

So, with the help and assistance of Mom, Kelli and Solange, we bought an enormous amount of flowers wholesale and figured out what the heck we're doing with the centerpieces. We're toying with doing our own because of cost - because I love wilder looking flowers, it's easier to do them ourselves. But we'll see. We're also waiting on a quote to do the whole wedding from the florist who did both Solange and Kelli's weddings - beautifully and reasonably.

In the meantime, while we're sorting everything out, here's a photo of what we mocked up from our fun at the wholesale flower market!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Sometimes I feel that I am always running - that I hit the ground running every morning, run all day, and then run to bed at night - only to wake up in the wee hours with my brain running on and on without my consent, unable to fall back asleep, and so exhausted that I just want to cry.

I was talking with an old friend the other day, and he asked me "so, are you as busy as you've always been?". To which I said "NO". That's the truth - honestly - as difficult as that my be to believe. His response? "Right. Sure."

So that's that. I'm a "busy" person I guess. The person that everyone always thinks has too much going on. Even when my life is slower, it's still busier than your average person's.

I've steadfastly tried to change that in my life, I swear. To put boundaries around my work and reserve my free time for my fiancee, my family, my friends, or just for me.

And still... STILL. I find myself feeling like I'm running to catch up. To finish wedding planning, to finish organizing the new house before we have a housewarming party, to finish re-staging and re-mounting ALL SHOOK UP because we just HAD to do it again a month before my wedding.

Sometimes I stop and ask myself, is it all worth it? Why on Earth have I always had this compulsion to make others see me as Wonder Woman (photo below)? Why am I so proud that I can't just stop and say NOOOOOO! I don't want to! NO! That stresses me out! NO! I just want to have a LIFE!

Then I immediately feel selfish for thinking that. And the cycle starts all over again.

Did you know that I am terrified of my cell phone? I have a real phobia developing. Every time it rings I'm deathly afraid of it - my phone ringing equals someone wanting something from me - a piece out of what remains of my personal time.

That's not healthy.

So I'll keep working on it. As I always have. Chipping away at it one day at a time. Fighting for my personal time while I work myself to the bone.