Flower Workshop

This book is meant to inspire.

Ariella Chezar has certainly accomplished that and more with her book, The Flower Workshop. This book is full of beautiful photos full of color and texture, a reflection of Chezar’s belief that floral arrangements ought to be ‘painterly’ in composition. She is well known within the floral community (which I am learning is a thing) for her free-form and wonderfully natural work. Her book is a visual feast.


I loved looking through the photos, which comprise mostly of finished bouquets but also include a few step-by-step demonstrations and many sort of inspirational boards where she has lain out flowers, twigs and greenery, fruits, vases, and any other object that suits the theme of the chapter. The labeling of the flowers was helpful to me and will surely help all build their flower vocabulary. Chapters address topics such as focusing on color tones, highlighting specific and favorite flowers, using branches, fruits, or berries, and more. The text is fairly slim and is meant mostly to accompany the photos.


What I liked: Again, the photos are really beautiful and inspirational in themselves (the photos above come from her website; I want the pictures in the book to be a surprise for those who choose read it!). Chezar includes many photos of bouquets along with the ‘recipe’ to go along with that were a lot of fun to look through. She includes some useful and basic tips on how to make bouquets, what tools she uses, and a chart in the back of which flowers are in which season (probably what I will use the most often).

My absolute favorite thing about the book are her double-page photos of flowers arranged by specific colors (‘smoky mauve’, ‘blue mood’, ‘luminous yellow’).

What I am not so sure about: There’s nothing I dislike about the book! The only thing I was unclear about is who exactly is the target audience? Buying and growing flowers take a good amount of time and money. For me, it will be a long time until I have the resources needed to collect the ingredients for making any single one of her arrangements, but it sure is nice to have this book to look at in the mean time.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for a copy of this book in exchange for a fair review!


The Watercolor Course You’ve Always Wanted


I’ve dabbled a little in watercolors for a few years and really enjoy them, but I’ve never had guided lessons or a book to follow until recently (Jessica bought me some great books for my birthday last year). I’ve always thought I could make faster progress if I had some instruction or guidance, so I was naturally interested in this book.

The Watercolor Course You’ve Always Wanted is by Leslie Frontz, an experienced artist and teacher who says the book is to be like a workshop in book format that

… guides everyone – absolute beginners as well as seasoned artists – beyond the basics.

The title of the book along with that introduction gave me pretty high expectations and as a result, I was a little unimpressed with the content. The book is divided into several chapters that the author suggests you read in sequential order, but if you aren’t a total beginner, I’m not sure it’s necessary. The seven chapters cover topics such as materials, shapes, values, colors, ‘the fundamentals of line’, textures, and mood.

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Interpreter of Maladies – “Sexy”

A saleswoman took one look at the paper and began to open drawers. She produced an oblong cake of soap in a black case, a hydrating mask, a vial of cell renewal drops, and two tubes of face cream. – Lahiri

The third book I am reading this summer is Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. In the short story “Sexy”, Miranda enjoys walking through the cosmetic department, where she sees a man buying the above items for his wife. I also think there is something soothing and pleasing about browsing high-end cosmetics, but I’ve never bought any. I’ve done some browsing on etsy and this is perhaps what I would put on my list; what would be on yours?


Cosmetic Bag


Coconut and Rose Lip Balm


Sage and Lemongrass Shaving Cream


Citrus and Sea Salt Soap


Honeysuckle Lotion


A Matcha Green Tea and Jasmine Set


Aromatherapy Charm (which I didn’t know was a thing)


And a very summer-y Red Berry and Sea Salt Body Scrub


And these are fancy bathroom soaps too much fun 🙂

The Temple of the Golden Pavilion – Tsukumogami

Towards the end of the book, Mizoguchi considers his next big action (and if you know anything about the book, you know what I’m talking about) to be something that would “open the eyes of men to the disasters of the Tsukumogami and save them from those disasters.”

Tsukumogami are part of Japanese folklore and were also used in some Buddhist teachings. They are household items (silverware, pots, brooms, so on) that, having ‘served’ for 100 years, receive their own souls. They are mostly harmless, maybe mischievous and happy to prank their past owners, or maybe angry if they were mistreated or broken…

There are stories of specific types of Tsukumogami; some are loyal and kind, others are characterized as malevolent. Many seek the company of their own kind. The abumi-guchi was once a stirrup. Upon becoming a Tsukumogami, he lies and waits for his soldier, who is probably deceased, to return for him. Boroborotons were once futons. Those that were neglected may wander the house at night and throw people off their beds or even try to strangle them (unfortunately, it isn’t the only item that tends to want to strangle you…). Others might just throw a party with the other Tsukumogami of the house while you’re away. Koto-furunushis are the Tsukumogami of koto instruments. Those that were played often and with love are often content and will perform songs for you, especially the ones that you practiced often. Kotos that are neglected, however, turn sad and run away with other Tsukumogami.


Thus before spring equinox, you should conduct a “house-sweeping”, where one gathers all the old items and utensils in the house and throws them out. Still worried? Consider building a shrine for the items you have broken and neglected and apologize!

The Temple of the Golden Pavilion – Ikebana

While Kashiwaga was talking, his hands had been moving delicately, first arranging the little, rusty flower holder in the bowl, then inserting the cattail, which occupied the role of Heaven in the arrangement, next adding the irises, which he adjusted into a three-leaf set. Gradually a flower arrangement of the Kansui school had taken shape. – Mishima

Ikebana is the art of floral arrangements that are often based on a representation of man, earth, and heaven. Unlike a typical flower arrangement you might find in the US, Ikebana arrangements emphasize twigs, leaves, stems, and empty space. There are many schools within the art form. The Kansui school arrangement that Kashiwaga was making in the above excerpt has a water-reflecting component. Other styles may place emphasis on the structure of the arrangement, the vase used (there are a lot of unique vases made for ikebana!), the symbolism of the three points, or on other parts of nature. I’ve included some of my favorite pictures below, but I seriously recommend searching for more pictures and styles yourself.





The Temple of the Golden Pavilion – excerpt

Three parts of the temple were strikingly white – the roofs of the Kukyocho and the Choondo and the little roof of the Sosei. The rest of the uninhabited building was dark, and there was rather something fresh about the blackness of the complicated, wooden structure that stood out in relief against the snow. — Mishima

zozoji temple Zozoji Temple in Snow by Kawase Hasui

kinkakuji temple Kinkaku-ji Temple (which the novel is based off of) covered in snow in real life!

The other prints of Zozoji Temple in Snow by Hasui are also excellent and can be found here.

The Temple of the Golden Pavilion – daily schedule

The protagonist, Mizoguchi, of The Temple of Golden Pavilion joins the titular temple to study as a young boy in the summer. There he, like other monks across different sects and religions, must follow a strict routine. Mishima details a day in the temple.

  • 5 o’clock: “opening of the rules” or waking up. Members of the temple are woken by the sound of a bell.
  • first morning task: recite sutras three times, also called “triple return”
  • second morning task: sweep and mop the temple floors
  • breakfast meal: breakfast is also called the “gruel session” and is eaten while listening to a “gruel-session sutra”
  • daily tasks: after breakfast, everyone had tasks related to the maintenance of the temple – picking weeds, chopping wood, cleaning, etc. Mizoguchi has the particular task of delivering the newspaper to the Superior.
  • school: Mizoguchi and the other young boys at the temple then walk to the nearby school together
  • evening meal: once they’ve walked back from school, it is about time for evening meal, also called “medicine”
  • post-meal lecture: after having his medicine, the Superior of the temple gives a lecture on the sacred scriptures
  • 9 o’clock: “opening of the pillow” or bedtime

Can you imagine getting so much done before even getting to school? I certainly can’t. My favorite thing about their schedule is the term “opening of the pillow” — it sounds very nice and soft.

The Temple of the Golden Pavilion – vocabulary

The Temple of the Golden Pavilion was originally written in Japanese by Yukio Mishima and then translated into English by Ivan Morris, who decides to leave some words untranslated. I thought it might be nice to keep all those words together in a list and add to it as I read the book.

Chapter One

keyaki (tree) – also called a Japanese elm. Its scientific name is Zelkova serrata, and it is a flowering deciduous tree of medium height. It is grown for ornamental purposes and typically has a short trunk and round canopy shape.

kempei-tai – the “Military Police Corps” that served like a secret police force for the Imperial Japanese Army from 1881 to 1945. A kempei is one member of the police force.

kaya (tree) – also called a Japanese nutmeg-yew. Its scientific name is Torreya nucifera. It is a deciduous tree of medium height with leaves like evergreen needles. The wood from this tree is highly valued, and the species is now protected after times of over-harvesting.


shinden-zukuri – a style of architecture used for mansions that was popular in the Heian period of 794 to 1185. The shinden is the main room and is typically on a north-south axis with a courtyard placed to the south. There is a specific symmetry to these estates and use of undeveloped space as a point of design. Buildings are connected by corridors. (Jessica – this layout should look familiar to you as it is based off a similar Chinese model seen in many of the Imperial buildings)

image source

more reading about shinden-zukuri