Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens with Sonja

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Last week I tagged along with Payam for a work thing and since it happened to be in my friend Sonja’s neighborhood, I decided to visit my old 7days buddy. It’s been a few since we last hung out, sadly. But you know what makes me happy? She didn’t even mention that I haven’t visited in forever and she took me on a walk with her boys to Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens! I LOVE that she thinks nature trails when I come to visit. That’s the kind of friend I want to be.

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It was a beautiful spring day, squeezed in between weeks of dreary rainy days so we felt like we won the lottery with the weather. It was so nice! Look at that snow! I’ve been scrolling past post after post of snowmageddon images on Instagram feeling major FOMO so getting a glimpse of snow like this is gleeful. Wee! Snow! If only I owned a cabin and we could pile the dogs in the truck and head up for a day of it. Not gonna happen though. I am on budget-watch 2019 and no trips to the snow are included. Sad face.

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But that’s okay because we have things we can do for free like visit nature trails and look at native plants and art installations…

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This particular installation was so perfect for the gardens. If I was a sculptor making stainless steel origami statues I would definitely want them placed strategically around these gardens. It was wonderful. Walk into a clearing, there stand some iron origami horses. Look sideways into a dark patch of evergreens, there’s a tower of origami cranes. 

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Paper airplanes, floating boats, standing bison, iron eagles… it was very imaginative and fun. Hats off to the artists.

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Of course there were animals to watch too.

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We brought our very own wild animals with us. Just kidding.

Sonja’s boys are not wild animals but they are boys and therefore very different than girls, which is what I’m used to. No chatting about ASMR or singing Ariana Grande songs or whining about who gets to sit in the front on the way back but definitely lots of climbing, stick stealing and rock-throwing… At one point we were by a pond and her boys were throwing big boulders into the pond. Sploosh went the boulders one after another until a woman nearby who was eating her lunch chided them to stop. They stopped and threw little pebbles into the pond instead.

Then later they were sliding down a stone wall next to a staircase and someone piped up that they sure hoped they didn’t get hurt which passive-aggressively meant: please stop doing that. Sonja very kindly informed the woman that the boys were fine and she was keeping an eye on them. I had to admire her parenting because if boys can’t play in a botanic garden full of nature, where can they play? I suppose the commenter preferred they sat quietly on a bench sketching or something but if anyone knows boys, they know that is just silly.

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I supremely enjoyed myself even without any quiet sketching. I could have easily wiled away an hour or two sketching my favorite plants but it was fun to see the park through new eyes. Not just flora and fauna but fun jungle gyms and rock launchers, stinging nettles, noisy palm fronds and which stick would make the best walking stick.

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I suppose this post is going to be pretty boring to most. Except the 2 percent who love native California plants like I do. Hey there 2 percent! Let’s be friends! Happy, sunny black-eyed Susans, curling spindly reddish manzanita…these are a few of my favorite things!

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Don’t hold back on the spikes dudes!

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Before I close up this post I should also mention that they have lovely facilities if anyone wanted to throw a gala event or a wedding. How pretty, right? There were white paper solar powered lanterns everywhere.  I would love to come back at night and see how they glow.

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Very lastly, on the way to the parking lot actually, we visited the nursery. I wanted to take home a few spikey friends but my drive was long and I didn’t really do my research yet on where I should plant them at home so they stayed there. Next time!

 

Let’s Make Matchbox Valentines!

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Who wants to make teeny tiny fastidious little matchbox Valentines with tiny bits of paper and tape and glue, paint and and Mod Podge! I do! I do! Nobody else does but that’s why you come here, right? To imagine what it would be like and vicariously live through me. Well, guess what? I love tiny tedious projects like this. The more mess the better. And this one was a doozy.

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First, I painted the boxes. It’s a bit of a sticky mess trying to paint them while holding the box with your fingers and getting the paint smudged by your fingers and all over yourself. Of course I should just paint one side at a time and wait for it to dry before moving onto the next but WHO DOES THAT? Not me. I just smudge my way forward.

Most people would cuss and get frustrated at this process but I don’t. It’s like getting on the same freeway and cussing out the traffic everyday. Why bother? It’s the same traffic everyday. Nothing changes? Why not just pop in a podcast, accept that you are going to be staring at break lights for the next hour and just chill? That’s my motto. Pop in a podcast and chill.

It does get easier the more you do it.

Not that I’m an expert at painting but I don’t get that frustrated anymore. I do think my painting skills or choice of paintbrushes needs some work.

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After I painted the boxes completely (and let it dry) and then painted flowers and decorations on top of that, I printed out some fiddly little valentine illustrations and got to work cutting them out.

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Why, yes, I am quite insane. I love to fiddle! Fiddle, fiddle, fiddle. Sticky tape sticking everywhere and cutting it to small tiny pieces with my trust exacto knife! I need a new self-cutting mat. This one is well-used.

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I second-guessed my color choices and didn’t cut everything out perfectly but that’s okay because I am NOT a perfectionist. Stick it and go with it!

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I’m actually quite proud of these suckers. Now who to gift them to?

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Leave a comment and I’ll pick five readers and send them out like old times via snail mail.

I can’t promise they’ll make it by Valentines’s Day but maybe you don’t mind. :)