a new look

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

It was time - I've been blogging since 2011! I'm a small hobby blogger but even I am aware that the old design, which was a DIY, was starting to hurt the eyes. I'm not a graphic designer so it was time to turn to a pro. I found this one via this Etsy seller. I hope you like it and it lets our ideas shine.

the house i'm not building

I know we are very fortunate to be expats living overseas as we are. But from time to time I do get homesick. I admit some of my triggers are seeing bloggers share their own homes, the latest projects they're doing or the cute new find they found at the local big box retailer (ahem, Target - yes you can laugh at me). Often this leads to daydreaming of a fantasy house I would build when we return to the States someday.

Recently I was cruising the real estate listings from back Stateside and found a beautiful farm for sale. I don't talk about it much here but I am an equestrian, well a former equestrian. I lived and breathed horses my entire life, until we started moving around that is. My whole family is horse crazy, I'm even descended from America's only one-armed polo player (at least as far as we know) so basically we're nuts. In my fits of homesickness, I daydream of building a horse farm.

Pinterest doesn't help... this last time, I came really close to pulling the trigger. It was in our budget, the land was perfect and even the schools in the area were great. But then my brain started working again and I asked myself, "Can you really oversee the building of a house from overseas?!" Nope, not really. But if I could, this is the house I'm not building:

I love colored kitchens:

Julia Reed in New Orleans, image

A calming dining space:

Solis Betancourt

A cozy office to read a book:

A family-friendly, casual living room:

And a fun place to play:

A beautiful stair and other details:

I actually really like wood tones in a bathroom, especially after seeing this one by Phoebe Howard.

And a beautiful, simple hearth:

And a solarium, my grandparents had a solarium and I have so many memories of loving that space:

1939 house in Atlanta by Frazier and Bodin restored by Stephen and Kerry Fuller from Cote de Texas

I always thought I would prefer a more formal historic house for restoration, however I'm becoming more and more interested in building new. If the right historic house came up, I would still love to restore. Maybe someday, but for now I'm happy with our under 800 square feet here in Japan and all the life experiences our current home brings.

tenryu-ji and the bamboo forest

Friday, June 20, 2014

I truly think this was one of my favorite places in Kyoto and from what I gather it can be translated to Temple of the Heavenly Dragon. I mean, it is no wonder that it is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A significant temple of Zen Buddhism founded in 1339 to honor Gautama Buddha. The most recent structure dates as late as 1934. 

Such a beautiful indoor-outdoor hall

Beautiful ornamentation

Front courtyard rock and moss garden

I believe this painting is of Da Mo, the Indian Monk.

And of course, the gorgeous Bamboo Forest just beyond the temple's back gate. The light that filters through these towering, protected bamboo trees is just indescribable. It is no wonder I saw several photo shoots happening while we were there... And of course my toddler adored running around as well.

All photos by me, please credit if you share - thanks!!

fushimi inari-taisha

Monday, June 2, 2014

 Fushimi Inari-taisha is the head shrine of Inari, or Inari Okami. Not to be confused with inari sushi which was named after the the Shinto Kami of this shrine who is believed to have a fondness for fried tofu. My toddler would agree - it is her favorite snack! 

Inari Okami is the Shinto Kami, or spirit, which represents foxes, fertility, agriculture and industry but also general prosperity and wealth. Being the most significant place of worship of this Kami, this Imperial shrine was founded  during the Heian Period in 711 and received a boon under Emperor Murakami in 965. While this has been the shrine site since 816, the main shrine structure pictured above was not built until 1499.

This is right about where my toddler had the most epic, traffic-stopping, temper tantrum of all time. She wanted to play with the gravel anchoring the torii gates...  I'll never forget that one!

Foxes, or kitsune, are the animal spirit are often found in Inari shrines. There are foxes all about the shrine grounds. You can even take a cuddly stuffed fox home with you from the gift shop! Many of the foxes are holding keys to the rice granary or rice fronds. Real rice is also often tied to the foxes' necks.

Handwashing station

I loved these lanterns and the grounds in general

This woman was nice enough to let me take her photo; I thought her kimono was just beautiful. I see kimonos very often here in Japan (especially since we don't live right in Tokyo which I find more Westernized in a lot of respects), but the fabric of her kimono really caught my eye.

all photos above by me and please credit if you share, thanks!

The shrine famously inspired the NYC Gates (which I well remember but failed to fully understand at the time) from 2005 by Bulgarian artist Christo Yavacheff and French artist Jeanne-Claude.