Apr 28, 2007

  • Last updated on July 12, 2010 at 8:45 am
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On Saturday I hosted a garden tea party bridal shower for Duckierose. Ladies were asked to wear dresses and froofy large hats and a pretty darn girly event was thrown. is very well loved by all of her friends for which I am extremely lucky because I had a TON of offers to help. Of course I accepted. (Momma didn't raise no fool!)

Anywho on to the party!


Reminder, these were the invitations which I created based on a kit from Mimio in Pasadena and then accentuated with items from Paper Source.



Prep and Details

The style for this shower has been kinda brewing for a while. It got reinforced when I spoke to a girl who wanted to do a vintage style theme for her wedding and so I started collecting milk glass and depression glass. Much of the olive green glass is actually owned by duckierose . So, I figured green and pink would be a good combo with accents of yellow. And of course, when I saw the gorgeous blue glass at the flea market, I knew that had to be used too.



The hostess snack plates I found at a few thrift stores with some hunting. I was really lucky in that the plates and cups come in a set of four and each set I got was intact. The plates date back to around the 50's and are by the Federal Glass Company. I got each set for around $5 per set. IMG_5597


The pink satin linens were purchased from and were actually cheaper to purchase from them than to rent them. Initially I tried to sew my own napkins. HA HA HA HA HA!!! THAT was a joke. My fabric was super slick and it took me over an hour just to make ONE. Since I was already renting chairs, I called up Jennifer at and rented satin apple green napkins at $1 each. The runners however, I did make on my own. Fabric was 40% off at JoAnne's.


I also wanted to hang some adorable shabby chic mini chandeliers above the table. I got these babies for a great price at using my gift card. The bottom I accentuated with a slightly larger crystal drop from the flower market, and then put roses in the candle holders. (I learned my lesson from the last event and used floral glue to make sure they didn't blow out. Love that stuff, doesn't damage the flowers, still holds it in, SUPER easy to clean off.)


For decor around the yard, I reused fabric banners I had made for a previous event. I also reused the fabric strips I had cut for another event to decorate the chairs but never got to fully use. Hooray for recycling! IMG_6048


For the main centerpiece, I have this wrought iron tree with votive candles that I got from Illuminaries several years back. I spray painted the tree to match the blue glass, added roses into the votives, and hung dessert teas from the branches by Tea Forte, the Dolce Vita collection. (LOVE their Coco Truffle and Vienna Cinnamon tea!) IMG_5706

Amongst the vintage vases, I had large vintage style gate keys which I got online from Pottery Barn. IMG_5713

For napkin rings, I had Julie and Anne make mini tissue balls. Thanks Martha Stewart! Favors included tea for one sets from and tea trays from ALSO, 's mom brought down extra virgin olive oil, and blue cheese or garlic stuffed olives from Napa (where she lives). SOOO yummy. IMG_5696 IMG_6089

Another detail that was made in advance was a recipe book. Duckierose recently remodeled her kitchen and she wanted useful gifts that she could use, but didn't really want anyone to spend money. So, I suggested a cookbook where each girl could contribute a recipe or two, and that way guests who couldn't make the shower could still participate. I collected the recipes and made the book via IMG_6023






Duckierose collects two things.... snow globes and rubber ducks. I knew she had gotten her hands on a bunch of blank rubber ducks with the intention of doing 'something' with them. I asked to use them thinking how appropriate it would be for each girl to decorate one to add to her collection so she could remember her shower each time she saw them.


Also, if you know this couple at all... costumes and photo sets are a BIG thing for all of their parties. (One of the reasons why I requested big hats from everyone.) I also thought it appropriate to create a simple photo set for her shower. Duckierose's brother, Sky owns Red Dawn Media He was kind enough to come over and set up a white back drop, lights and a camera in the garage. and then made huge tissue paper pom poms using the 20x30 tissue paper I purchased from Nashville Wraps IMG_6051


Julie and Duckierose's mom were amazing in the kitchen. I set them loose in there after handing off recipes and ran away to the office to go put flowers together. Everything was so tasty! We tried to be good keeping in mind we had some restrictions, including the guest of honor not able to eat dairy or liking onions, a vegan friend, and a pregnant woman.

Menu included:

  1. Egg Salad Sandwiches
  2. Cucumber Mint Tea Sandwiches
  3. Minted Radish Tea Sandwiches with Lemon Mayonnaise
  4. Smoked-Turkey Tea Sandwiches with Arugula Mayonnaise
  5. Mini hot dogs wrapped in buns (Trader Joes)
  6. Veggie Platter with dairy free creamy garlic dressing
  7. Fresh fruit platter
  8. Lemon Tea Cakes and Cranberry Tea Cakes (From Martino's Bakery)
  9. Mini Cannolis (Martino's. Seriously, I didn't like cannolis until I had one from here, AMAZING)
  10. Fruit Tarts (Portos)
  11. Flowerless Chocolate Cake (Portos)
  12. Lemon Bars (Meg)

Quick note, I also got these fantastic little chalk boards from an Etsy seller gfout. He was fast, and they were adorable. Perfect for putting signs next to food! IMG_5723

The trays which we used to display desserts were on loan from Kristeen of IMG_5757



For drinks we had:

  1. Wine from Napa
  2. Hot tea
  3. Basil Lemonade (Had my doubts on this one while making the syrup.... but SO GOOOOD!!!) (Can sub in Agave.)
  4. Iced tea using half ceylon gold and half pomegranate blackberry iced tea bags from tea forte.
  5. Strawberry Peach Sangria

The apothecary drink dispenser was on loan from Kristeen. (She got it from Z-Gallery.) The other two dispensers I got from Amazon thanks to my gift card!


Full Party Setup!

Food Table



A HUGE shout-out goes to Julie for going with me at 5AM on Friday to the Flower Market down town, keeping my floral budget in check, and helping prep the flowers. IMG_5682








Girls in hats!



The Guest of Honor


Time to eat!


Tea drinking!



Very serious duck decorating!



Gift Opening!

April gave Rose the most AWESOME gift ever. She made the picture herself, drawing Rose complete with a race number (she loves running and races), her viking hat from the Warrior Dash (an obstacle course race), mud run type clothing, her fav color as a background and of course, rubber ducks.



Rose also collects knee socks. As in, she used to do a sock of the day photo. I think she had enough socks to wear new socks for almost a year and post photos. Julie and I helped add to her collection, including some socks she could wear while getting ready for her wedding.


I love this sweet 1st edition cook book that Joanna gave her. It has old school recipes along with advice for being a good wife.


And of COURSE, we took photos in the photo set! There were a ton of props to play with also. _MG_7391 _MG_7213 _MG_7115 _MG_7118

Mother and Daughter. And the girls in the family!

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Rose and two of her bridal party, myself and Julie

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Then we started playing with props...

_MG_7223 _MG_7242 _MG_7256 _MG_7270 _MG_7656 _MG_7625 _MG_7510 _MG_7438 _MG_7694 _MG_7764

Showing off our ducks!

_MG_7822 _MG_7841 _MG_7833 _MG_7844 _MG_7850 _MG_7901 _MG_7883 _MG_7862

A huge thank you and shout out go to:

  1. Rose for being awesome and helping clean up.
  2. Julie for going to the flower market, prep, setup and cooking.
  3. Anne for setting up, ironing and clean up
  4. My husband Andrew for being so tolerant of our home being used to host, helping set up, and being our photographer.
  5. April for helping clean up
  6. Kristeen of for loaning her pretty food trays and dispenser, and using her contacts to get my chairs from
  7. Sky of for setting up and loaning equipment for the photo area
  8. Louann for buying food, bringing down delicious Napa treats and helping out in the kitchen
  9. Stela for being an awesome sugar momma
  10. Meg for her delicious lemon bars.

 Seriously, none of this would have been as awesome without your help.

  • Last updated on July 7, 2010 at 5:10 am
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Even though Andrew and I have been together for a while, we decided to take advantage of Sara Lindsay's visit to LA.  She's a talanted photographer out of Texas and offered to do some couple shots for a group of us.

We really wanted to show off where we live, and hence had her follow us while we rode the Red Line train to the Disney Concert Hall and Union Station.  These were the results:

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  • Last updated on March 18, 2009 at 6:49 am
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Kinosaki Onsen: (As told by Marla & Andrew)

This morning was a day for recovering from our long hike up Mt. Misen... Japanese style.   How do you do this?  By a trip to an Onsen!  (Japanese Hot Spring Resort.)  On to the town of Kinosaki-Onsen for us.  A haven for the Onsen expert containing several of these hot springs open to the public.
Our morning in Kyoto was a lovely one, and while the sights and sounds of the city called, we opted instead to try a hot springs simply because we wanted to avoid the weekend crowds.  Before we headed on our favorite JR train, we stopped at a delicious coffee place down inside the station.  One quick note... food presentation, everything here is so beautifully packaged, even the coffee you get at a train station.
The ride up to Kinosaki was very relaxed.  The crowds were small, and the scenery was out standing.  We arrived to the small town filled with quiet streets, beautiful Ryokan (Japanese Inns) and people wandering about in their Yukata (robes) and Geta (shoes) going from hot spring to hot spring.  It was then an there we decided we shall no longer listen to a travel agent who unfortunately talked us out of staying in a Ryokan.  Not only do you get free access to the hot springs, your stay also comes with breakfast and dinner.  We had been told that only westerners stay in these places, but as far as we could tell, this was not the case.
While hiking towards the onsen of our choice, we kept encountering a group of school children in bright yellow hats.  Even at the tender age of 5 and 6, these kids knew key phrases in english.  We kept hearing them shout out “Americani”, “Hello, how are you?”  Andrew and I would reply and they would laugh and the next group of kids would try their hand.
We finally arrived at a small hot spring.  The owners spoke no english, but were friendly and through much gestures and writing, we were able to communicate.  (Andrew here:) Now if you’ve never been to an onsen, they’re a bit different than American spas. The accommodations are simple with wooden lockers for your clothes as you’re to enter the waters naked. After changing out of your clothes, you enter a community bathing area with small seats, buckets, soap, a small towel and a moveable shower-head. You’re to scrub yourself down and rinse off before entering the pools, which I’m totally fine with but its the whole doing it around other naked guys thing. But that part of the experience didn’t last long and I soon felt at ease because I was clearly the most many man of the group. :) One particular thing I began to experience is the Japanese dislike of foreigners in general. When I would enter a pool, they would leave. If the choice is to sit with you on a train or stand, they’ll choose to stand. Eat at a table with you or wait for their own, they’ll wait. No one is rude about it but we just started to notice it happening more often. All in all, it was nice because I basically got the whole onsen to myself. (End Andrew) The waters were divine and as promised, very soothing... so soothing that not long after, we were ready to head home for a much deserved rest.
Before that we decided to grab a quick bite to eat, but it wasn’t easy as all the restaurants were closed until 6 p.m. and we were looking to grab some food before the 5:30 train. We did find one place that was a basic beer pub that brewed their own beers. We pointed at the steak picture and then pointed at the pasta picture and about ten minutes later they brought us exactly those things. What looked like a simple slice of steak with a dabble of mashed potatoes turned out to be one of the best plates of food we’ve ever had. The steak was juicy and perfectly cooked with a soy mushroom glaze that I was practically licking off the plate. Marla had a carbonara pasta dish that had perfectly cooked pasta with lite cream sauce that was, once again, amazing. No matter where we go, we seem to have great food.
Our train arrived on time and its rhythmic swaying put us both into a nice, little nap before we arrived at our Kyoto hotel.
Next time we come to Japan, it’s Ryokans and at least two days in Kinosaki for us.


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  • Last updated on March 13, 2009 at 1:22 pm
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Hiroshima- Peace Park and Castle: (As told by Andrew)

"Our last day in Hiroshima began with a purpose: laundry. We had funked up our clothes pretty good with strenuous hikes all across Tokyo and Mt. Misen. Since the hotel’s laundry service was atrociously expensive we had to search out a local coin-op. The hotel must have predicted that most people wouldn’t want to take part in their money-laundry scam because they had a nice, little map waiting for us at the front desk. It was a five minute walk through the chilly morning but we found what we were looking for in the neighborhood laundromat. There was a small machine full of boxes that we had hoped would be either detergent and dryer linens and we gambled right except the dryer linens were more like dryer sponges. After folding our clothes we headed back to the room to pack, check our bags at the bell captain’s desk and head out to Hiroshima city.

Our first stop was the Atom Bomb Dome (Industrial Promotion Hall) in the heart of the city which was accessible by streetcar. About $2 each got us there. As we approached the broken ruins of the Atom Dome (one of the few buildings that stood after the bomb flattened the entire city) we came across several memorials one being the Mobilized Students memorial which was a tribute to the 10,000 students ages 12 an older lost during the war.

As we traveled through the park we began to see more and more students making us think it was almost a field trip day for many schools. We still don’t know why exactly there were so many students visiting the Peace Memorial Park that day but we did happen upon a very special event surrounding one of the more prominent figures during the time after the war. Her name was Sakado and she was just a child when the atom bomb hit the city. She survived the blast and seemed to be one of the lucky ones. But as we came to realize, there were a certain number of initial casualties and there were many more subsequent casualties and she was one of the latter. Radiation from the blast lingered for months killing off the blast survivors with keltoid scars, leukemia and other fatal illnesses. Sakado became sicker and weaker as each day passed. As her blood count levels dropped, she began to rely upon faith to heal her and that faith was personified into 1000 paper cranes. She believed if she folded 1000 paper cranes she would get better. She never completed the task and became too weak to fold the cranes. Local students began folding them for her and soon the nation’s students were doing the same.

At around age 13, Sakado died from her illness but her legacy has lived on. Her memorial was flanked by lines of students all giving her outspoken respect and prayers. Each class waited their turn to give prayers and lay before the memorial their 1000 paper cranes. With a bow of their heads, one line would exit and another would take their place. In the background, contained in plexi-glass containers, tens of thousands of paper cranes from previous years are on display for all to see and remember the tragedy that took place that day and its physical and emotional impact. It was a powerful moment.

 We continued on to view the eternal flame and the Peace Memorial Museum that housed the database of those killed that day and those that died years later from the after affects. Marla found listings matching her family’s namesake of Takeda, but there were several listings and she didn’t know quite who was who but that didn’t matter, the impact was still the same. She is with me today because her family wasn’t near what America, at the time, considered a military strike zone. Hiroshima was picked due to its large military port. One of the more striking parts of the museum was the Remembrance Hall that showed a 360 view of the destruction that day, plus a small water fountain that, from above, showed the time of 8:15 am - the time the bomb hit Hiroshima. Other areas depicted personal stories of that day. Children remembering what it was like to leave friends behind, trapped in rubble to be consumed by the fires that blazed the city not long after the bomb hit. If not the initial blast that killed you, it was the fires that the intense heat started that killed most. Needless to say, we were thoroughly depressed exiting the building.

Gluttons for punishment we moved on to another museum. This one showing actual artifacts from that day. Clothing, shoes, death logs, pictures of the burned and dead, a tricycle burned and tattered, before and after models of the city, a complete timeline of the events and reasoning of the attack, the actual stoop that showed someone’s shadow burned into the concrete as she sat there that morning, plus, many other trinkets and objects that reminds all who enter exactly what happened that day. The most important of them all was a stopwatch, the blast halting its mechanisms at 8:15, a permanent reminder.

So, now we need to lighten up things! On to Hiroshima Castle. Its existence was also destroyed on that day but it was successfully rebuilt in 1958 but many of its original foundations remain. Small walkways that used to climb great walls are all that remains. It was built purposefully within the center of the union of two rivers that divide Hiroshima. They used these rivers to develop the moat system around the castle. The moat system was unique at the time due to the fact that the outer moat system was to be destroyed in case of an attack, flooding the enemy out and confusing their forces. The buildings were also built with small murder holes which weren’t common to that day. We viewed ancient swords, katanas and spears. Ancient samurai uniforms and army armor were on display. All the while, students would stare at us, most out of curiosity and most wanting to practice their English. We got a lot of “Hello!” and when we said hello back, they would often duck their heads and give a shy grin. I’m going to go ahead and assume its because they though we were cool and huge stars in America. Which we are. But we enjoyed being popular for a few seconds.

 It was an exhausting day but we had travel in front of us as we ventured out to Kyoto. Our packs became heavier and heavier as we transferred a few trains to get where we needed to be: Hotel Okura in central Kyoto. We entered through the train station, checked in and had no less than three people helping us at all times. The bellhops continue to amaze us with their jovial attitude and extreme pride they take in merely taking your bags for you up to your room. Once we got to room 2018, we were happy to see the nicest room we’ve gotten so far. A comfy bed, huge bathroom and fresh slippers. That’s all we really need, right?"


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  • Last updated on March 13, 2009 at 12:16 pm
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Miyajima Island: (As told by Andrew)

"We began our day knowing exactly what we wanted to do. This was on Marla’s list of places she wanted to see while in Japan and so this day was given to just Miyajima Island and nothing else. We would soon find out that after this day we would have nothing left for anything else. Miyajima definitely took every last bit of our energy to explore.

We awoke, showered and clothed ourselves in our remaining clean clothes. I have rather  wearing my “travel pants” during the trip which are a pair of REI thin, breathable pants that are perfect in any weather. Mom and Dad got them for me as a wedding present along with our backpacks that we’re using for the trip. These are also REI brand and wonderful, sturdy and perfect for a two week stint in any condition. We had a “western” buffet at the hotel, because it was free and we love free things, especially food. I love how the Japanese think. Obviously they have heard of this “brunch” that Americans do from time to time and have included brunch type items in their buffets. They have everything from eggs and cereal to spaghetti and green beans. Of course we tried a bit of everything. It was all, once again, very good.

Okay, back to Miyajima which we arrived at via JR. A short walk and we boarded the JR owned ferries that would take us the ten minute ride to Miyajima Island. We arrived knowing a bit of history and also knowing that the island is home of one of Japan’s more famous landmarks, O-torii, the temple arch that greets you as you enter the bay. It was pretty much beautiful from all sides. I tried to capture as many good pics of it as I could. Marla tried to avoid the huge crowd of furry deer as we wandered the lower area of the island. They are kinda creepy in the sense that they have no fear of humans. They sleep right in the middle of the street not really caring about really anything other than if you have something for them to eat. We saw a small pack of them later hunt down and messily devour a poor hapless cardboard box. Poor box.

On the way up to the top, the pathway leads you through town, through shops that sell the exact same thing: prayer paddles, little geisha dolls and miniatures of the arch. Every shop. Same stuff. But they were just a small part of the hike. We soon found ourselves at a large shrine, Senjokaku, that was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, but left unfinished when the warlord died.  The large airy hall was originally a library for Buddhist sutras.  Large wooden beams structured to create its support system. There was little to no metal used at all. Even the nails were wooden, but it has held up after all this time, its age shown by the polished look of the floor obviously worn down by billions of footfalls over thousands of years.

Outside the shrine was another five-story pagoda and beneath it was a diseased palm that should have fallen over years ago if it had not been for the supports the community have put beneath it making have an upside-down “L” shape to it. A symbol that trees are not felled by human hands for the entire forest is virgin forest, nothing is cut down, all wood is shipped to the island for construction.

As we wandered further up the hill, we came to Momiji-dani-koen, a leafy hillside park and the site of the Iwaso Ryokan, where Marla dreams of staying once she and Andrew become filthy rich.  The park and burbling brooks were outstanding and the weather was perfect.  We continued our leisurely stroll upwards.

Finally it was time to tackle the mountain but we had no idea what that entailed because looking at the local maps it seems relatively easy, just a short jaunt and you’re at the top.  But that was far from reality.  They have built an impressive array of steep steps directly up the mountain.  It was a mix of ancient and modern steps but they were all tough on our legs. Close to 2.5k worth of them.  Many times along the way we had to stop just to catch our breath and rest our burning thighs and calves.

We’ve been walking alot while here but nothing like this. Along the path though are many places to take in the majestic scenery and plenty of photo ops.

Sky began to break through the canopy and I knew we were close to the top and just then another surprise: monkeys! A whole troop of baboon-like monkeys crossed our path. Now I didn’t know if they were good monkeys or bad monkeys so we kept our distance. I didn’t want the headlines to read: “American couple on Honeymoon dragged away by Monkeys!” We would come to find out that they were harmless and quite lazy. We got a few good looks at some mother and child monkeys and one in particular sat and watched us walk by.

Finally we were at the top and it was a wonderful feeling. Several shrines were there to greet us, this included the famous Kiezu-no-Reikado whose fire was used to light the eternal flame at the Memorial Peace Park in Hiroshima. Up to the left of the shrine was another stepped path leading up to a lookout that allowed you a 360 degree view of the island and it’s surroundings. It was a gorgeous day but the familiar haze of the Japan coast created a foggy dissipation to the landscape falling off into various hues of blue. We rested for a bit listening to the breeze through the trees and gulped down much needed water.

Exhausted we had a slight moment of clarity and decided to take the ropeway down the mountain instead of the way we came up. The ropeway was a series of gondola cars that took you down a scenic route to the ferry. As we rode down the beautiful and scenic route, we realized that perhaps we had gone about our day with Mt. Misen the wrong way... we should have ridden UP, then walked DOWN.... silly Americans.

Our eyelids were heavy as too was our legs as we took the final bus down to the coast to take the 5:30 ferry back to the mainland. We looked back upon the island as a new found friend whose embrace will be sorely missed in the years to come. I’m glad I took some many pics as I know we will want to remember this day for a long time."



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  • Last updated on March 13, 2009 at 7:05 am
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Tokyo to Hiroshima: (As told by Andrew)

"There were two missions today:
1 - Get Andrew the tatoo he’s been wanting to get
2 - Get from Tokyo to Hiroshima
Mission 1 was relatively easy.  We wandered the streets of Shinjuku for 25minutes and finally came across the shop Andrew had found on line.  More pictures to follow once his arm has healed... it was a sweet sentimental moment as Andrew had Marla and Andrew’s monogram inked into his right forearm.
Mission 2 was all about traveling from Toyko to Hiroshima ala the bullet train or Shinkansen. There are two types of Shinkansen: the Nozumi and the Hikari. The Nozumi are the super bullet train traveling faster with less stops and the Hikari are for mere mortals such as ourselves. The stops the Hikari make are still minimal and if you’re not on the train within two leaves without you. These trains are on time and they keep a rigid schedule.
The ride was smooth and the legroom was ample, far more than what you would get on a jet plane making this our favorite form of travel so far. Marla and I both agreed that if bullet trains were in California and they went to Mammoth Mountain, we’d be skiing every weekend that we could. Small carts of food and drink come by every so often and serve everything from crunchy snacks to cans of beer. The latter of which I partook of quite frequently as I’ve gotten quite addicted to Asahi beer.

At speeds of around 200 mph, we speed past small townships and cities that are a mix of traditional and modern buildings. But the landscape is lush and hilly and reminds me of the hills of West Virginia where my mother grew up and I would visit as a child. We even passed Mt. Fuji, a place that we couldn’t go to this time due to weather and climbing conditions. It was beautiful nonetheless.
We changed trains in Shin-Osaka with an hour layover. We got some snacks and hung out enjoying the coffee drinks we get from the vending machines.
Pulling into Hiroshima at night we were lucky in the fact that our hotel is located right at the Hiroshima station. A five minute walk and we were there. Once again, our accomodations were small but complete. We’re here for two nights as tomorrow will be spent at Miyjima Island, a sacred place where no one is allowed to be born or allowed to die on the island. The next day will be spent at the Peace Park Memorial."

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