A Japanese Feast for the Opening Ceremonies

It seemed at times like today would never come, but finally, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have begun! Whether or not they should be held no longer matters, because they’ve gone ahead, and as long as they Olympics are going on, I’m doing all of the things I meant to do last summer, starting with a special dinner for the Opening Ceremonies.

We started with homemade pork gyoza and rayu. I’ve made the gyoza before, but making the rayu from scratch was a new experience!

The main course was spicy ramen/udon with ajitsuke tamago (ramen eggs). The broth was made with dashi, kimchi, soy sauce, leeks, garlic, miso, gochujang, and shiitake mushrooms. It was served over spicy chicken and bacon, and topped with nori, bean sprouts, and green onions.

For dessert, I made coffee jelly:

We waited a long time to have this meal, but I think it was worth the wait!

Francis Olympic Field

Did you know that the Summer Olympic Games were once held in St. Louis?

The 1904 Olympics were supposed to be held in Chicago, but the organizers of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, also known as the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, were not thrilled about that idea. They actually began to plan their own international sports contest, forcing Pierre de Coubertin himself to step in and move the Summer Games to St. Louis. The central location for the 1904 Olympics was Francis Field, located on the campus of Washington University, and named for David R. Francis, a former governor of Missouri and president of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. (Other venues included Forest Park, Glen Echo Country Club, and Creve Coeur Lake.) Among the events contested at Francis Field in 1904 were wrestling, gymnastics, athletics, lacrosse, tug of war, and roque (the only time that sport has been an Olympic event!).

The stadium is a U.S. National Historic Landmark, but is also the current home of the Washington University Bears football team, as well as the track and field and soccer teams.

Adjacent to the field is the St. Louis Olympic Spectacular, which was unveiled in 2018:

Although there was controversy surrounding the 1904 Olympic Games (something we can definitely relate to today!), it’s still pretty cool knowing that St. Louis is one of only three U.S. cities to host the Summer Olympics!

Lego Rabbits

The one thing I didn’t cover in my Nature Pop! post was the collection of Lego rabbits in the exhibition. There are about 20 of them, and I thought they deserved their own entry!

They’re located near Visitor Services in Cheekwood’s Color Garden, which is appropriate, because they are a very colorful collection of rabbits!

I like how there are both solid and patterned rabbits hiding among the plants:

Sean Kenney did an excellent job designing these creatures. He captured the look and movement of actual rabbits so well, they really look like the animals you might find hiding in a garden!

Nature Pop!

The first time we visited the Missouri Botanical Garden, it was to see the Nature Connects Lego exhibition by Sean Kenney. When I heard that he had a new Lego exhibition, Nature Pop!, being hosted by Cheekwood Estate and Gardens in Nashville, I knew we were going to have to use our reciprocal membership to see it, too.

Let’s start with my very favorite piece from the installation…the Dodo bird. Not only do I love the way he designed the bird and baby, I also love that the colors of the sunset are used as a metaphor for extinction.

There was a wide variety of wildlife represented, with most of the pieces being found in and around the Children’s Garden.

Some of the pieces really need to viewed from all sides to fully appreciate them:

This deer family was another of my favorites. I especially like the way the colors from both parents are incorporated into the design of the baby…and the colors themselves are amazing!

This was an outstanding exhibition, and I’m really glad we had the chance to see it in person! Stay tuned for a look at the Lego rabbit collection in the Color Garden!

Road Trip Wrap-Up in the Time of COVID-19

Our travels this summer might not yet be back to what they were in pre-COVID times, but we did actually go somewhere this year! Since we weren’t quite as busy as we have been on previous vacations, I’m just going to take a look at the whole trip instead of going day-by-day.

On Monday, we left for a short trip to Bowling Green, KY. Any visit to Bowling Green includes a meal from Zaxby’s. Fortunately, we have always done carryout, so that wasn’t even any different from our usual dinner.

On Tuesday morning, we drove into Nashville to visit Cheekwood Estate and Gardens and see the Nature Pop! Lego exhibition by Sean Kenney. Both the sculptures and the estate were breathtaking!

We also drove down to the Cumberland riverfront to get a look at the Nashville skyline.

We were going to get lunch at Hattie B’s, one of the locations in Nashville known for hot chicken, but the line was unbelievably long, so we went to Chaney’s Dairy Barn and had ice cream for lunch instead!

Our day ended with a beautiful double rainbow!

On Wednesday, Bunny and I went with her grandparents to tour Western Kentucky University, where she is planning on attending after she finishes at community college:

And on Thursday, we visited the Aviation Heritage Park in Bowling Green, where we saw not only an authorized replica of Marine One, but also an aircraft flown by every astronaut who walked on the moon!

We also had an early birthday celebration for Bunny that night:

We were up early on Friday morning to head home, but we did stop for donuts at the Donut Bank on the way:

It was a little challenging coming up with fun things to do outside in the summer heat, (I wanted to go to a Bowling Green Hot Rods game, but between the temperatures and the fact that I’m still a little hesitant to be in a big crowd, even outdoors, made me table that for the time being), but we found something to do every day, and it was so nice to get away for a bit!

A Golden Bunny Day

Today is Bunny’s golden birthday!!! We started the day with presents:

I think she likes her new outfit!

We spent the day watching some of her favorite movies. We just got back from a short trip, so she was happy to stay at home and just relax. She picked her favorite dinner of Stromboli and Sunchips, just like she did last year:

She asked me to make a cake that looks like Wrecker’s stuffed friend, Lula, in The Bad Batch. I think it turned out ok, although it should be more red than pink.

Happy Birthday Bunny!

An Obsession with Peaches

Summertime is peach season, and I think most people would agree that there’s nothing like a nice, fresh peach.

I mean, who doesn’t love a peach crisp?

Wade, however, takes the love of a peach to a whole new obsessive level.

He even dreams about peaches…but sometimes, even peachy dreams can be scary!

Or was it a dream?

I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before, but I planted a peach tree outside his house, and added a peach surprise box, just to make him happy…and, well, surprised. Yes, I’m also dressed like a peach!

I will say that Wade is certainly an easy guy to buy presents for…a simple peach will do the trick!

I love discovering the quirks of my neighbors!

A Rainy Morning at the Missouri Botanical Garden

We stopped at the Missouri Botanical Garden this morning so I could take the latest pictures in my “MoBot Through the Year” photo series of the Ottoman Garden. The whole visit kind of ended up being a comedy of errors, because we discovered the Ottoman Garden is temporarily closed for construction, and even though the weather was supposed to be clear, it started raining on us, and didn’t stop the whole time we were there. The rain did make for some good pictures, though!

The garden is really pretty in the rain…I just wish I had brought an umbrella!

A Museum Tour

I think this is the final entry in my Animal Crossing: New Horizons “Island Tour” series (unless someone has a suggestion for another tour I could take)!

I know the museum is pretty standard from island to island, but I wanted to share a look at the museum on Gloriana through my eyes, which will hopefully offer a unique perspective, starting with the beautiful entrance:

I am nowhere near collecting all of the art, but I think I’ve done better in this game than I have in any previous Animal Crossing game. It would be nice if I didn’t keep getting forgeries from Crazy Redd and even sometimes my neighbors. I’m sharing photos of some of my favorite spaces in the art galleries, including the “Informative Statue” (Rosetta Stone) that was a gift to me from Roald.

The fossils are by far the easiest collection to complete…I had them all within a few months of playing the game. I really like how the displays are set up, and the spot in the main room that zooms out so you can really see the skeletons is a great detail!

My insectarium is almost complete…I’m only missing a handful of bugs. For the first time in an Animal Crossing game, I managed to catch both a tarantula and a scorpion without asking for help! The butterfly room is gorgeous, and I also like the addition of the laboratory.

My favorite part of the museum is the aquarium. The colors and light are so beautiful, and it all looks so real! I’m also missing a few creatures here…hopefully I’ll add them soon! I have enjoyed many visits to this spot by myself, with my neighbors, and with visitors to my island (so, my daughters).

No trip to the museum would be complete without stopping by to see Blathie. I do miss the days when Celeste and Brewster also both had spaces in the museum, though!

I hope you’ve enjoyed taking a look at Gloriana…if you want to walk around for yourself, my Dream Address is DA-5313-0640-4319.

An Island Tour of Homes

As promised, here’s a tour of all of my neighbors’ homes on my island!

First up, my next-door-neighbor Roald’s house. He still has the St. Patrick’s Day door decoration I gave him hanging up. Actually, a good number of the items in his house were also gifts from me…I love that he has them on display!

Aurora has a cute house with a little library out front. I love her snowflake and ice decor inside, too!

Cube has the same doorplate as Roald. The inside of his house hasn’t changed too much, but he does have a few items from me on display, including the robot I gave him for Christmas.

Like Roald and Cube, Wade also has a St. Patrick’s Day doorplate, and since he likes fish, I made some wooden fish to go next to his house. Speaking of fish, his house is full of them…I don’t know if they’re pets, or if he’s planning a large meal, but I’m not going to dwell on it.

Sprinkle has a nice birdbath outside of her house…that’s not weird since she’s technically a bird, is it? Her shell furniture is from one of my favorite series, and it goes so nicely with the icy items!

Iggly has a beehive outside of his house, which is located right by my apple orchard/pumpkin patch. His illuminated trees are so pretty, and he always has plenty of popsicles on hand!

Just outside Puck’s door is a doghouse, and my black and gold rose garden. I got the idea for my ice bar from his house, but mine doesn’t include a fish!

Boomer has a log garden lounge next to his house, which is good, because he’s a lazy villager. In addition to ice furniture, he has a cute snowman!

Antonio has a spa outside his door, but you can’t really see it here. His house is extremely plain…I guess he’s too busy working out to decorate.

And finally, Ursula’s house, with a music stand right next to it, because she likes to sing. I really love how cozy the inside of her house is!

I made sure to plant at least one lily-of-the-valley, the symbol of my perfect town rating, outside of each of my neighbors’ homes. Many of the houses also have seasonal shrubs, in addition to the special furniture items I placed outside, to add a little extra curb appeal. They all seem happy with their homes and the island, so I think I’ve done a good job!