Monthly Archives: July 2011

The Japanese Garden, Portland, Oregon


We live in a bustling country full of noises and the belief that faster is better. Sometimes, we need to unwind and enjoy nature. Portland, Oregon is one of the prettiest cities I’ve visited so far. I have been to a lot of parks and gardens, but the Japanese Garden is extremely peaceful. I could spend an entire day walking around or reading and go home at peace.

The Japanese Garden is actually made up of five small gardens that each have their own elements but flow together nicely. Every garden is meticulously landscaped and maintained. And the green….it was green everywhere! Beautiful.

The Stone and Rock Garden (photo by Stephanie Moss, click on photo for link) was the first life sized karesansui (or Zen Garden) I’ve seen. It was stunning. Now, if I could figure out how to create one in my own backyard… 

There were slabs of stone around with writing, but I can’t remember what they said. I know some of them were lines of poetry.

The Flat Garden was similar to the Stone and Rock Garden but had more vegetation as opposed to rock. It was equally tranquil.


The Strolling Pond Garden was probably one of my favorite. Not all of the plants had bloomed yet, so I can only imagine what a vast array of colors this garden would have during the Spring.

There were small benches throughout the gardens where you could sit and meditate, or just take some weight off of your feet.

From the Strolling Pond Garden you follow a trail into the Tea Garden. They have a Tea House but we weren’t able to see any of the presentations. Next time we’re in the area, I plan on attending.

The most recent addition was the Natural Garden. It was built in a steeper area which meant more of the beautiful stone staircases. This particular garden was the most contemporary of the others as well.

 (Source – Photo by Michael Hersen)

Each garden is beautiful in its own right, but together the Japanese Garden is inspiring. Have you visited the gardens? If so, which was your favorite?

Writerly Links

As a relatively new writer, I often wonder if I’m doing things right. A friend of mine told me “If you’re writing, then you’re doing it right.” Fair enough. The most common advice authors tend to give out is to read voraciously and write often. However, there are still things we should know as writers.

To the interwebz!



Larry Brooks’ 5 Creative Flaws That Will Expose Your Lack of Storytelling Experience – Great post explaining small changes that have a large impact. Very clear and concise.

MaryElizabeth Summer’s 7 Things Your English Teacher Lied to You About – As a one time English teacher, this post had me giggling to myself. Yep, I remember telling kids all of these rules. While they probably still apply in some areas, they really don’t necessarily apply to your novel/writing.

Kara Lennox’s How Much Research is Enough? – This is a great question. As authors should we be more concerned with enteraining or knowing the ins and outs of every skill/job/experiment/task/etc our characters perform?

Chuck Wendig’s 25 Ways to Defeat the Dreaded Writers’ Block – We all face it at one time or another! Check out his book, 250 Things About Writing too.

Marcy Kennedy’s Crafting a 25-Word Pitch – Great information for your pitch. Struggling with your novel? Take time to write your pitch and maybe you’ll see where the problem is!

I know there are many other useful links out there as well. Please share some of your favorites in the comments section!

Nobody’s Perfect

Lately, I’ve found myself becoming more of a perfectionist with whatever task I’m trying to conquer; whether it’s a quilting or writing project. If a seam is even just a little off I get frustrated and want to rip it out to start again. If the scene isn’t going exactly where I want it to, I delete it and try again. However, that’s not always the best answer.

As creative people we tend to really focus on our art to where eventually the art suffers. Like Mark Lipinski stated last week:

Sometimes when I work on my art, not planning it, but literally working with my tools, supplies and techniques, I get so focused on perfection that my work — be it drawing, designing fabric or patterns, knitting, crochet, painting, quilting, hooking strips of wool, or whatever, — that  I find myself holding my pencil and pens and tools tighter and tighter and my art, my process, and my end result becomes more inflexible, severe and, well, tight.  It doesn’t work on so many levels . . .

LOOSEN UP, CUPCAKE!  Shake the stress and strain and perfection from your bod and allow your art to flow through you!

Well said. We need to loosen up and see where the creative process takes us. If the finished product isn’t what we expected, that’s ok. It may be better! Or, it may turn into more supplies for your scrap pile. Sometimes we need to step back, walk away from the project for a bit to get a different perspective. Many people use a reducing glass so they can see more of a cohesive picture as opposed to focusing too closely on one particular block.

You may find when you return to your project that “wrong color” turns out to work better than what you had originally envisioned. No matter what our creative journey may be, we need to remember that sometimes perfect can lack personality!

Are You Kidding Me?

3x3x3x3x3x3 (ending weight 185)

100 Burpees for time
Modified to 50
Completed 60 in 12:00

Shane caught up to me after our 400 meter warm up run and asked me how it was going. I explained that I can’t breathe well but will do what I can. They had a piece of paper covering the workout on the board so none of us would run away! So, Shane says “I’ll tell you what we’re doing” like it was some big secret with Cortni had already told us what it was! lol “We’re doing 100 burpees”…waits for my reaction…”Oh, wow…that’s a lot”. “So, what I want you to do is think of how many you think you can do and we’ll modify it to that.” I thought about it and decided 50 would be an impressive feat considering I usually run out of gas after 10-20. I told Shane I’d aim for 50 but would do more if I felt I could. All in all I ended up with 60. I thought about keeping going but I was dragging and I really didn’t want everyone in the gym watching me perform pathetic burpees. However, I’m a bit upset with myself that I didn’t push that aside and just do it. I think it would have taken me at least 20 minutes. I have my dilation coming up in a couple of months…at that time I will revisit this workout. If I have a good breathing day, I may revisit it earlier.

After it was over I washed my face and neck to cool off, then sat on a box for a bit. Once I was cooled down some, I went and sat on the floor to talk to the girls. I sat there for maybe 5-10 minutes then got up to get my phone. When I walked back over to them, I saw this:

Yep, that’s my ass print along with two sets of legs….niiiicce. Nothing like leaving your “ass sweat” on the mat. I tried to find a wipe to clean it up, but I couldn’t. Hope no one is doing burpees in that in the evening class! lol….

Gigi’s Cupcakes

Ok, I have a confession to make. I am a sugarholic. My body craves sugar 24/7. Chocolate is usually my drug of choice but cake is a very close second. So, when I found out there was a new cupcake bakery in town I had to check them out.

It took me a while to find Gigi’s Cupcakes, as it was hidden in a strip center behind a bank. The chairs outside were a nice splash of color and extremely clean. If the weather was nice enough, I would have enjoyed sitting outside people watching. However, it was in the 90’s so inside I went! As soon as the door opened the scent of freshly backed cake wafted my way…yummmm.

The interior was very colorful with green, pink and black splashed throughout. The presentation of the cupcakes was beautiful, yet simple. Gigi’s has a different menu for each day of the week. Depending on what day you visit you’ll have fresh baked cupcakes. No left over cupcakes from the day before here! The packaging is adorable as well. If you’re buying cupcakes for a party or a hosting gift, the box is perfect. “Spread love one cupcake at a time” – indeed!

The box is set up to carry 4 cupcakes at a time while not allowing them to shift and run the icing. However, if you live in a hot area, don’t leave the cupcakes in the car or the icing will slide down…just sayin’.

Faced with several delicious choices I decided to go with the White Midnight Magic, which is considered a customer favorite, and the Lemon Ice Box.

Personally, I thought the White Midnight Magic was alright. It tasted like a chocolate cake with white icing, surprise surprise!

The Lemon Ice Box was absolutely delicious. The lemon was fresh and tangy but not overpowering. This was, by far, my favorite. I may, or may not, have eaten both cupcakes in one sitting. 0_o

If you have a Gigi’s Cupcakes close to you, I strongly recommend giving them a try. While the tower o’ icing is a little too much for me, both cupcakes were moist and fresh. Now, I just have to hit them up each day of the week to try all the other options!

What type of sugary treat is your weakness? I’d love to know!