A Girls Trip to Huntington Gardens

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A few weeks ago my girlfriends and I sat through a few hours of traffic to go to the Huntington Gardens in San Marino. You know it has to be something pretty great for us Orange Countians to sit through LA traffic for. We HATE traffic with a passion of a thousand suns, especially LA traffic, though San Diego comes in pretty close. You need a pick up from LAX? You better call an uber.

So I guess you could say I love wandering around pretty gardens and taking photos of flowers and plants with a passion of a thousand suns. I also really like my girlfriends.

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One of the girls, Monica, had been talking about the gardens for months. She used to have a membership and take her kids there when they were little. A membership is very smart because for one, it’s incredibly reasonable and for two, the gardens are so expansive you could explore for months! It would pay for itself in five visits which would be very easy to do IF YOU DIDN’T LIVE AN HOUR AND A HALF AWAY in traffic.

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We didn’t get memberships but we did make a vow to come back again. Maybe in fall because even on a pretty spring day it did get pretty hot wandering around in the sun all day.

As you can see the cacti gardens were a big hit for me. I love them!! There are so many different varieties. Some I’d never even seen before.

It all reminded me that I really need to step up my gardening game at home. I’ve got loads of plants but I would love more and I seriously need to get on my game of fertilizing regularly. A lot of my plants are pale and listing because they are dying for some vitamins

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After we sweltered thought the cacti we took refuge in the shady bamboo forrest. It rivaled Japan. Really. And I’ve been to bamboo gardens in Japan so I can say that.

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So shady and cool with lots of places to peek through and take photos.

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Then we stumbled upon a watercolor class painting koi fish in a pond! How cool would that be? I’ve got to go back and take a class.

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From there we made our way to the tea house for a surprise!

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Over the hills and through the woods… well sorta. It was more through the woods, down several steps, through the rose gardens…

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The ROSES!  They might be enough of a reason to visit when it’s hot. The smell wafting from hundreds of rose bushes on a warm day was like heaven. I could have stood there for days if I wasn’t so sweaty. I have an aversion to sweat. It makes me want to take a shower.

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Thankfully, we had reservations at the Rose Garden Tea Room and it was so nice and cool inside. We immediately felt a thousand times more civilized and proper. I strongly recommend making a reservation if you plan to visit. It’s an experience! Scones, profiteroles, baby quiches, tiny dark chocolate mousse tarts, pineapple cupcakes, chicken salad sandwiches with the crusts cut off…you know, the USUAL English tea party service that is so fun and delicious. It’s really the best way to end a lovely day with your girlfriends.

Which reminds me, I need to take MY best girls there!

Glamping in the Sticks and Tomato-Basil Jam!

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My parents are finally back from their happy-little-retired-people romp all over the United States. They’ve been gone for months and I have to admit I’ve been feeling a little abandoned!

Really, I’m so happy for them. After years and years of bad luck and hard knocks, my dad working harder than anyone I know and being gone for months and months away from his home and family… they are FINALLY living the sweet life. And the best part is that they are still healthy enough to appreciate it. They bought a little trailer and they’ve been camping all over the place. It’s their dream come true.

But now they are finally back and you know what that means!  Quick Stick Fix!!! Woo hoo!  I love where I live but I have missed the sticks. Especially summer in the sticks with it’s crazy-abundant garden-harvest time. Oh, I miss my tomato garden so much!  Good thing my parents have a garden that is hooked up to a drip system and waters itself while they’ve been gone. It pretty much grew into a jungle.

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Tomatoes! Basil! Mint as tall as you! Corn, squash, peaches, plums! It’s a dream out here. A crazy wild out of control garden jungle of a dream.

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Of course Bug loves the sticks. It’s a kid wonderland out here. Junk everywhere, tree houses, broken down clubhouses (ie: death traps), weeds that grow as high as your head,  big panting dogs that like to play fetch, eight cats and of course all the produce you could ever want to eat right at your fingertips. She and her cousin Super Chic have been having a blast.

I call it glamping when I’m here because well, things are not exactly spic and span. If you know how my parents are then you know what I’m talking about. Cleanliness is not on the top of their list but that’s okay because hospitality and charm are. So you just can’t stress about clean bathrooms or dirty dishes, dust or spiders or (gasp!) animal hair. It’s just part of life. Suck up your city-slicker squeamishness and make the best of it.   You just have to let go and give in and if you can do that you’ll have a really good time. I love it here.

If you pretend you are camping then it’s actually really super glamourous. They have electricity , hot showers, air conditioning and wifi! My mom stocks via coffee just for me and my dad makes the best waffles ever. And we get to sleep in their trailer which is just one step away in cuteness from an Airstream.

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Last night when it finally cooled down I walked the garden with my mom and we harvested about three pounds of tomatoes in about five minutes. I was so excited about the sheer quantity of tomatoes that I talked my mom into making a batch of tomato-basil jam. She found the recipe in a Better Homes and Gardens 2013 Canning magazine and it peaked both of our interest. It probably wasn’t the smartest idea to tackle at nine o’clock at night but I can be a bit manic and persuasive at times. My poor mom. Maybe it’s a good thing they don’t see me all that often.

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Anyway, the jam turned out really cool. It’s definitely something of a novelty that you break out at parties with fancy cheeses and crackers or spread on a crunchy piece of sourdough toast or something. I wouldn’t want to eat it in a peanut butter sandwich or anything. It’s sweet but definitely tomato-y and faintly reminds you of cold pizza or spaghetti sauce. But I don’t care I think it’s wonderful and I’m so proud to be taking five jars home.

I love the sticks!