Buttonwood Flowering Blossoms

Buttonwood Cherry Blossoms

Flowering trees, such as the beautiful almond tree above, are one of the best examples of feng shui plant life.  Not only do most of these trees sprout delicious nuts or fruit, but their blossoms give off an alluring scent that carries on the air.   Flowering branches also have auspicious symbolism.  Because they usually bloom in winter or early spring, these floral tendrils represent longevity and  overcoming great burdens.  There are not many blossomy trees in my neighborhood, so I usually resort to the Japanese Cherry Blossom lotion from Bath and Body Works (the smell is to die for).  However, on a recent trip to Solvang, a generous collection of these beneficial plants reside at Buttonwood Farm.

Buttonwood Back View

Originally an equestrian ranch established by philanthropist Betty Williams, the property now boasts a vast vineyard, tasting room, and organic farm.  Pictured above is is the back entrance to the tasting room, which leads out to their intricate and beautiful gardens.

Buttonwood 02

The tasting room is stylish and very serviceable.  Two tasting bars reside on either side of the space, allowing for easy flow of patrons.   I love the living chandelier of leaves – a highly conducive and artistic example of the wood element.

Buttonwood Duck

Buttonwood also has many farm-fresh products for sale, including olive oils, preserves, salsas – and my personal favorite – the Raspberry Grenache-Syrah Chocolate sauce.  Decadent and loaded with antioxidants, this sauce is ideal for desserts or a chocolate martini.

Buttonwood 01

Wine barrels are used as support for an elegant table in the middle of the room.  I love barrel furniture, and it’s a green and economical way of reusing these vessels.  Powerful and striking images painted by Seyburn Zorthian grace the walls.  Much of Seyburn’s art is highly influenced by her study of Shoudo, the passionate brush stroke technique of Japanese and Chinese writing.  She also creates the artwork featured on Buttonwood’s wine labels.  For more information about her art, please visit her website here:  http://www.seyburnzorthian.com/artist.html

Buttonwood Fountain

I was captivated by this gorgeous fountain nestled in a private garden outside the tasting room.  Working fountains with clear, clean water add beneficial and peaceful chi (energy) to an environment.

Buttonwood Grounds 01

Daffodils were in full bloom when we visited.  Also known as narcissus or jonquils, these flowers have a myriad of symbolic meaning.  In feng shui folklore, the white ones represent the flowering of one’s talents and skills, and can be used in furthering one’s career. I also think they are great examples of spring; they remind me of hunting for Easter eggs as a kid.

Buttonwood Grounds 03

There were many different wines  l sampled.  My favorites were:

  • 2010 Devin – An irresistible  sauvignon blanc.  Influences of honey, lemon and apricot come through in a charismatic fashion.  Crisp and complex.
  • 2009 Marsanne – A decadent white.  Hints of honeycomb and marzipan contrast nicely with a crisp taste and rich body.  Flavorful and refreshing.  (Sold Out)
  • 2010 Cabernet Franc – Sage and raspberry take center stage with this enticing red.   Very easy to drink.  Silky and sophisticated.
  • 2009 Trevin – An intoxicating red blend composed mostly of Cab Franc.  Vanilla, rhubarb and dark berries were the notes highlighted on my palate.  Tasteful with a lingering finish.
  • 2010 POSH – One of the best ports I’ve had.  Dark cocoa and espresso make their presence known, with a holiday influence of cinnamon, orange and cherry.  (A bottle came home with me.)

Rhea and Victoria

I also got to meet fellow feng shui consultant, writer and interior designer Rhea Peake (pictured left here with my friend Victoria).  She has many years experience in creating sacred spaces and improving environments, as well as a plethora of other skills and talents.  In addition to her strong ties with Buttonwood, she is based in Santa Barbara, Hawaii  and Vancouver.  For more information, please visit her website here:  http://www.rheapeake.com

Buttonwood Grounds 02

Comfortable seating is placed purposefully around the gardens, encouraging guests to linger with some wine and a picnic lunch.  In addition to their tastings, Buttonwood also hosts many different events throughout the year, including a crawfish boil.  I also suggest checking their website for some  stellar recipes (I will be trying the olive oil cake recipe first) as well as their informative blog Buttonwords.  I am going to try to come up at least one more time before the seasons dramatically change, so I can sit under a flowering tree with a glass of Cab Franc and just immerse myself in the auspicious environment that is Buttonwood Farm.

Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard

1500 Alamo Pintado Road, Solvang, CA 93463

805-688-3032

Hours:  Open Daily 11:00 am – 5:00 pm

http://www.buttonwoodwinery.com

Buttonwood Front Entrance

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The Creative Wood Energy of Home

One of the basic principles of feng shui is how the five elements (being wood, fire, earth, metal, and water) interact with each other.   Sometimes when there is a major problem with an environment, one or two of these elements are  either missing, or are not present enough in the area to have an effect.    Of the five, there will be one or two cohesive elements that dominate the space, but the other three or four need to be represented as well.  On a recent visit to one of my favorite spots in Los Feliz, I was captivated by the soothing and nurturing wood element of Home Restaurant.  Most of the seating is outdoors on their spacious and newly remodeled terrace.  Green, thriving trees create a natural canopy over the guests, which fosters a sense of safety and comfort, like picnicking in a lush park; thus attracting a steady flow of guests and business.

The wood element helps people and places to thrive in a variety of ways.  Wood signifies the beginning of new life, as it starts the elemental cycle.  It’s represented by the color green, and is wonderful for new beginnings, increasing one’s prosperity, nourishment, health, creativity, and abundance.  Here at Home, the trees are the main example of the wood element.  As long as plants and trees are healthy and flourishing, they are the prime example of beneficial wood energy.  Dead plants or barren trees are an example of sha, or bad energy, which should be avoided.

Ferns and large, leafy plants are another fine example of wood here at Home.  But don’t let the wooden tabletops or terrace floor fool you.  Many people mistakenly use wood furniture and flooring as a wood element.  This does not work as the wood here is dead, and not thriving.  However, that being said, I’m in favor of wooden flooring and furniture, just not as an example of the wood element.  Home has all five of the elements here displayed beautifully.  For example, take the luxurious stone fountain in the center of the courtyard (pictured above).  The carved lions add a rich fire element to the earthen sculpture, and the moving water flows through it smoothly.  I’m going to guess that there is metal somewhere within the fountain, and with the prospering plants nearby, this is a highly auspicious example of all five elements working together in harmony.  Fire is also depicted here beautifully, in the form of lighting.  Small, Asian-inspired lanterns hang from the trees and building.  There is also a gorgeous vintage lantern (at right), that hangs suspended above the courtyard.  Much larger than the other lanterns, this gypsy light acts as a beacon to guide wayward diners to Home.

This establishment also has an excellent Happy Hour.  Available Monday – Friday from 3:00 to 7:00, beer, wine, well drinks, and  selected food items are available.  They also feature two specialty cocktails, including a Sauza Gold Tequila Margarita (pictured below right).  It is moderately strong, and is well worth the price for $5.00.  Also, it’s very light green in color (more wood energy).

To the left, we have one of their Happy Hour white wines, a Pinot Grigio that is refreshing and delicious.  They also offer a Chardonnay that is quite tasty as well.  A full bar with a choice selection is available to satisfy the palette.

Of their vast selection of food items, here is what I sampled on my last visit:

  • On the left is the Breakfast Quesadilla.  Home serves many of their breakfast items all day, including this one.  A savory tomato basil tortilla provides shelter to eggs, cheese and bacon, with salsa in the middle.  Oh so good.
  • Taking center stage is Not Cho Mamma’s Nachos, with chicken.  Sour cream, enchilada sauce, salsa, cheese and Home’s impressive guacamole completely envelop a large pile of corn tortilla chips.  You will need to use a fork with this.  During Happy Hour, with chicken or beef added, it comes to about $8.5o.  Enticing and decadent.
  • At right is the Home Huevos Rancheros.  My friend Jon insists on ordering Huevos anytime we go out if it’s offered on the menu.  Being a connoisseur of the dish, he feels Home make a stellar version of this classic.  Over-easy eggs, black beans, cheese and peppercorn sauce casually lounge about a bed of corn tortilla chips.  Guacamole, and either potatoes or fruit also come with the dish.

And these items are also scrumptious

  • Santa Fe Egg Rolls – A fusion of South meets East, these delectable morsels are served with Home’s luscious guacamole.  I think there’s either four or six pieces to an order.  Mouth-watering.
  • Breakfast Burrito – My usual selection here.  A colossal tomato basil tortilla filled with bacon, eggs, beans, and melted cheeses.  Also served with their popular  guacamole, and either potatoes or fruit.  Really good when paired with a red wine.

My favorite server here, without a doubt,  is Danielle.   She takes expert care of all of her guests in a warm and delightful manner.  Ask to sit in her section if she happens to be working when you visit.  You can’t miss her; she has pretty red hair.  Parking is pretty plentiful in the surrounding neighborhood, just be sure to double-check the street signs.  On my next couple of visits, I plan on trying their Chicken Breast Marsala, and the Banana Walnut Pancakes.

Now, you’re probably wondering, how I can get more wood into my life?  Well, there are a couple of ways.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Get some Living Plants!  Adding trees or plants to your living room, kitchen, or outdoor environment is the fastest way to add wood energy.  If you have children or pets, make sure the plants are non-toxic, and kept out of reach.  Make sure the plants are healthy and thriving.  Dead or decaying plant attract bad energy.
  • What about Faux Plants?  Although real plants are significantly better, not everyone has a green thumb.  Faux plants can work, but they need to be very high quality and look realistic.  Many offices use fake Ficus trees.  The trick with faux plant is the dust.  You HAVE to dust your plant weekly.
  • Paintings – Beautiful landscapes with trees, or paintings of full-blooming flowers is another way to bring creative wood energy into a room.
  • Wall Decals – A new, popular decorative item are removal wall decals.  These provide wall decor other than paint or wallpaper, and make very intriguing visual statements.  These are also more conducive to renters, as they can be easily removed.  Wall Pops  http://www.wallpops.com/ and Elly Nelly  http://www.ellynelly.com/category/wall-graphics  are just two of the many online retailers selling high quality wall art.
  • Visit a Forest!  Find some beautiful land with trees on it, either a more untamed setting, a national park, or a more manicured environment such as Descanso Gardens.   https://fengshuifoodie.com/2012/08/25/descanso-gardens-and-the-camellialounge/

Everyone can benefit from having more wood energy in their lives.  And while you’re contemplating getting a new rubber tree plant, or a print of Claude  Monet’s The Poppy Field, stop by Home and have a breakfast burrito.  There’s no place like it.

Home Restaurant Los Feliz

1760 Hillhurst Avenue, Los Feliz, CA 90027

323 669-0211

Hours:  Sunday – Thursday 9:00 am – 10:00 pm, Friday – Saturday 9:00 am – 11:00 pm,  Happy Hour:  Monday – Friday 3:00 – 7:00

http://www.homelosfeliz.com/

A Garden Oasis at Carhartt

The bewitching grace of the colorful  fish called koi has long attracted mortals.  In the folklore of many eastern countries, koi is considered to be a symbol of strength, endurance, courage and abundance.  It was also believed that the larger the koi one owned, the more prosperous one would become.  As I was entering the Carhartt Tasting Room, I was immediately taken with the colossal fish sculpture acting as guardian to the establishment.  The intricate metalwork of the delicate fins and scales is a truly beautiful thing to behold.  I am honestly not certain what kind of fish it is, but it reminded me of the stately koi.  Also known as “swimming flowers,” koi are available in a wide variety of colors, usually white, yellow, orange, red, black, or any combination thereof.  If we can judge by the grandiose size of this fish, then Carhartt must be thriving in its prosperity.

Located in the wine hamlet of Los Olivos, Carhartt is perhaps one of the smallest tasting rooms I’ve ever visited.  Photographs, mostly of the winemakers and nearby landscapes, adorn the walls of the matchbook-sized room.  But what really captured my attention was the heavenly garden in back.  Guests are invited to have their tastings out here when the weather is fine, as well as to just come and enjoy a glass or bottle at their leisure.  From a feng shui perspective, this tranquil oasis has all of the five elements represented, blending together in perfect unity:

  • Wood – The trees and lush plants in the garden.
  • Fire-The colors of the flowers and flower pots, as well as the wine in our glasses.
  • Metal -Parts of the fountain and patio furniture, and the metal signage
  • Earth – The stone of the fountain, the terra cotta flower pots, and brick tile on the ground.
  • Water – The elegant fountain, part of which is made from a wine barrel (pictured below)

Notice the little stone frog perched in the fountain.  Frogs, in feng shui folklore, attract luck and wealth, especially when paired with other items such as water and flowers.  Also, this specific frog is placed diagonally from the main entrance to the garden, which can help to attract wealth to the environment.  I think the frog is cute, and adds a healthy energy to the fountain and surroundings.  And I think I spot some real living fish in the pond, too.

And now on to the wine.  All six of the intricate wines we tried were intoxicating and lovely.  The two that really impressed me were the 2010 Sangiovese and the 2009 Syrah.  The Sangiovese had a deep, silky sheen in color and tasted divine, with hints of strawberry and oak.

The Syrah won my heart, however.  A deep, blood red wine with suggestions of chocolate, pepper, and blackberry.  It was love at first taste.  A bottle of this fine liquid gem accompanied me back home.  I will most assuredly be purchasing this again.

Another aspect I love about Carhartt wines are the labels on the bottle.  Each varietal has a different animal on it.  The Syrah has a pig, the Merlot a pheasant, the Sangiovese a rooster.  All of these animals have different meanings and symbolism, both in feng shui and other historical avenues.

The rustic class and simplicity of Carhartt made for a wonderful wine savoring experience.  They also played amazing music during the tasting, including some selections from the Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, most of it being a fusion of mellow bluegrass and jazz.   For a truly excellent outdoor wine tasting experience, visit the fine people at Carhartt.  And, don’t forget to pay homage to the giant metal fish in front.

Carhartt Tasting Room and Winery

2990A Grand Avenue, Los Olivos, CA 93441

805 693-5100

Hours:  Tasting room open daily 11:00 to 5:00.

http://www.carharttvineyard.com