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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Extra Extra! Read All About It

Local Edition Papers

Concealed behind an unassuming storefront, there is a hidden gem of a lounge in San Francisco known as Local Edition.  Housed in the basement of the vintage Examiner building in the Financial District, Hearst inspired cocktails and mid-century libations permeate the area that once contained the newspaper’s printing presses.  Upon hearing of this great bar, some of my friends and I decided to make some headlines of our own on a Monday Night, and headed down for a drink.

Local Bar 02

The entrance to Local Edition is located on Market, not far from 3rd Street.  After one’s checked in with the doorman, a staircase leads down to the submerged tavern.  For residences, I am not a fan of basement level apartments (also known as garden apartments).  These offer far too much yin energy, as one’s home is literally underground, completely surrounded by the earth (similar to a burial plot).  Those who inhabit such dwellings can suffer from a variety of issues, including  feelings of being stagnant, and poor health.  However, this is not a residence – it’s a bar.   When bars or restaurants reuse subterranean spaces like this, it adds a wonderful yang energy to a very yin space.

Local Bank Seating

Everywhere one looks, the history of William Randolph Hearst and The Examiner has been captivated and transformed.  Famous newspapers are showcased throughout in frames or under glass tables (pictured at the top of the post).  Vintage manual typewriters are displayed as monuments to a bygone era of news reporting.  Even the marble-topped tables make a statement.  Not only are they beautiful, durable, and a wonderful example of the earth element, the marble used is remnants leftover from the construction of Heart Castle.

Local Table 01

Honoring and preserving history is of vital importance to every generation.  In order to evolve and grow, we look to the  past to see our former successes and our unfortunate mistakes.  Using this knowledge helps us to decide which paths to take, inspires us to create and innovate to new heights, and further enriches us as a people.

How is preserving history good feng shui?  Well, first you have the green aspect.  When one reuses or repurposes an Local Typewritersobject or material in a new fashion, this helps to reduce energy and resources that would be needed to make something brand new.   It’s also a way of clearing clutter.  An item that has been sitting around collecting dust is employed in a new way, thus changing negative energy into positive energy.

There is also the matter of style, which I find to be of great importance in feng shui.  In our home environments, one common factor is that everyone has their own sense of what they do and do not like.  And, either knowingly or not, history influences our individual style.  There can be a particular time period we are drawn to – or music from a decade we can’t seem to get enough of – or an allure to vintage clothing of a specific era.  We take samples of the past and intermingle them into our modern tastes.  Having items that are personally nostalgic in one’s environment is comforting, and gives one a sense of peace and belonging.

Local Leather Seating

History influences us in all kinds of beneficial ways.  One example is in alcohol and mixed drinks.  All of the specialty cocktails at Local Edition are influenced by vintage recipes with modern flare, looking at those from the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Many of the libations derive their names from things of a newspaper origin, or anything connected to William Randolph Hearst.  One drink I didn’t get to try was The Rosebud, a tequila based beverage with vanilla simple syrup and sea salt.  The namesake of this concoction was actress Marion Davies, Hearst’s mistress of over thirty years.  Rosebud was her nickname.  Let’s look at the libations I did try:

The Eagle

The Eagle – My friend Rachel could not stop talking about this drink, so I had to try it – and I’m so glad I did!  Bourbon, soda water, and a root beer simple syrup combined make this an incredible beverage.  I could drink these all day.  Refreshing and addictive.

Local Edition Cocktail

Local Edition Cocktail – The namesake of the establishment, this is Local’s own edition of an Old Fashioned.   Bourbon, cherry-infused bitters, and an orange peel simple syrup are the main components of this headliner.  Strong and bold.

Rex Roth and Fidel and Che

Rexroth – Pictured on the left is the Rexroth, named for the famed poet and political activist.  A complex mixture including Peychaud’s bitters, pisco, and an egg white, this was intriguing and unforgettable – much like Rexroth’s poetry.   His writings are poignant and impressive.  A selection of his work can be found at Poemhunter:  http://www.poemhunter.com/kenneth-rexroth/poems/

Fidel and Che – On the right is Fidel and Che, a unique twist on a mojito.  Although rum, lime, and mint are used as in traditional mojitos, this drink also uses aperol, an Italian apertif similar to campari.  Vibrant and invigorating.

The Pulitzer

The Pulitzer – Named after the famed publisher and journalist, The Pulitzer was the ideal libation to close the evening,  Scotch, honey, angostura bitters and manzanilla sherry served straight up in a small goblet with an orange peel garnish.  Very strong, and perfect for sipping.  Daring and memorable.

Local Table 02

Comfortable  seating, walls draped in scarlet fabric, and high ceilings evoke a romantic and relaxing atmosphere.  Although reservations are not required, my party and I did make some just to be safe.   Decanter service is provided should one desire a favorite bottled spirit.  Local Edition also offers great live music on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  On the record, I will state that is a brilliant and highly auspicious place to grab a drink.  Off the record – This place is awesome!  I can’t wait to come back here again – for the drinks and the history.

Local Edition Entrance

Local Edition

691 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

415 795-1375

Hours:  Monday – Friday 5:00 pm – 2:00 am,   Saturday 7:00 pm – 2:00 am

http://localeditionsf.com/

Shaun Local 03

Prosperity on Tap: The Draft Wines at Lucky Devil’s

Lucky Devils Bar 01

Amidst the City of Angels there resides a persuasive creature known as Lucky Devil’s.  This classy bistro first won my heart two years ago with their succulent ribs.  But when it was brought to my attention that they had tap wine, I decided it was time to pay them a long overdue visit.  Located on Hollywood Boulevard, it is the elegant red building pictured below.  (One  can’t helped but be charmed by the cute devil illustration on the marquee. )

Lucky Devils

Keg, or draft wine has been popular in Europe for centuries, and although it’s been introduced to America from time to time, it never really caught on until 2011.  And it’s still a relatively new concept for the Los Angeles market.  The benefits of keg wine versus bottled wine are quite extensive.   Wine barrels are completely reusable, either continuing their original life purpose as kegs, or being crafted into furniture or garden planters.   The keg storage of the wine preserves every single drop of the libation, whereas when it goes into bottles, some wine gets splashed around, thus wasting product.  Kegs also weigh less than bottles per unit, therefore less energy is used in distribution.   Not to mention the excess use of corks, and glass to make the bottles.  There is also the matter of taste.  The wood from the barrels influences wine in a highly auspicious manner.  Most wine looses some of this elemental influence when it is stored in glass vessels for long periods of time.   Wine from a barrel will have a more genuine taste to it than its bottled counterparts.   Not that I’m disparaging bottled wine in the slightest – I love both kinds.  However, keg wine has that beneficial wood element more directly connected to the liquid, which bottled wine lacks.   (When visiting wineries in Temecula or Santa Barbara, some of my fellow wine connoisseurs and I like to have our tastings in the barrel room, as one can usually try things right out of the keg.  Not all wineries offer this, but many do; they just don’t advertise.)

One would think that all of these prosperous attributes would make keg wine less expensive to purchase by the glass.  However, I have found most places serving draft wine in Los Angeles mark the cost up even more than wine out of the bottle.   Lucky Devil’s, however, does not do this.  Reasonably priced,  their wine is available in four different sizes, with 3 ounce and 6 ounce pours if one wants a glass, or the 16 ounce and 32 ounce servings ideal for sharing.   For a 6 ounce pour, most wines run $8.00 – $9.00.  Pictured below is a glass of the Fulton Lane Cabernet Franc ’08.   This luscious red has mellow suggestions of black raspberry, vanilla and cherry.  Lovely and sophisticated.

Lucky Devils Cab Franc

Of their sixteen offerings, I sampled a total of eight.  Here are my opinions of the other seven I tried:

  • Baileyana Chardonnay ’11 – This sweet wine was wonderful!  Hints of pineapple and oak are highly prevalent.  I could easily drink a whole carafe of this on a hot summer day.
  • Silvertap Chardonnay ’11 – Much more savory than the above.  This would be ideal  paired with pork or turkey.  Smooth and classy.
  • Shannon Ridge Sauvignon Blanc ’11 – An appealing white that enhanced the flavors of the goat cheese monumentally, with hints of pear.  Crisp and lively.
  • Boat Dock Rose of Grenache ’10 – Quite different from most blush wines, this had an almost creamy essence to it, without being overly sweet.  Although it’s not a dessert wine, I would have this at the end of dinner.  Intriguing and unique.
  • Pop-Chiles Sangiovese ’09 – Citrus and black pepper are the commanding influences in this balmy red.  Bold and contemporary.
  • Pardi Cabernet Sauvignon ’09 – A curious cab blend with hints of spice and orange.  Cool and complex.
  • Parducci Wine Cellars Pinot Noir ’10 – This is that pinot noir dream that every wine lover seeks out, with suggestions of cranberry and cherry.  Smooth and sophisticated.

Truffle Chips

Truffle Parmesan Chips – A perfect appetizer for any meal, although one may want to order two of these if the party is more than three people.  Alluring truffle sea salt and grated parmesan are the beneficial influences over these fresh-cut chips.  Dangerously good and very addictive.  This went very well with the Fulton Lane.

Flaming Goat Half Order

The Flaming Goat – Those born under the Goat, the eighth sign of the Chinese Zodiac, are said to possess many virtuous qualities including creativity, kindness, and a keen business sense.  The Flaming Goat here possesses a great virtue in taste.  Grilled bread covered with Laura Chenel goat cheese and red bell pepper.  The flaming aspect comes from a hint of habanero chile.  This is a little spicy, and I loved it!  Pictured above is half of a full order.  Fiery and decadent.

Tandoori Pizza

Tandoori Chicken and Goat Cheese Pizza – All of the pizzas here are served on a delicious and savory flat bread.  The mixture of the sweetness of the tandoori, mint and chutney combined with the spice of jalapeno, cilantro and onion provide that ideal taste balance of yin and yang.  Mozzarella and goat cheese are both used, and help to draw out the mellow red curry influences in the tomato sauce.  The flat breads are a generous personal size and perfect for sharing or as a stand alone meal.   Exotic and excellent.

Ribs and Sweet Potato Fries

Ribs and Sweet Potato Fries – The legendary ribs I mentioned earlier.  Enshrouded in a piquant bbq sauce, and then slow roasted for seven hours.  Simply wondrous.  The sweet potato fries alongside were good in bringing out the subtlety of the flavors in the hickory marinade.  A pleasingly sumptuous aioli is served with the fries.  Both of these items went extremely well with the Parducci.

Steelhead and Kennebec Fries

Steelhead and Wedge-Cut Fries – For those unfamiliar with Steelhead, it is a variety of rainbow trout.  Lucky Devil’s uses Steelhead in a few of their creations, including the sandwich above.  Cooked to perfection, and served on a delicious role with homemade slaw.  Delicious and tantalizing.  (If trout could be velvet, this would be it.)  Accompanying the Steelhead are wedge-cut fries.  Kennebec potatoes roasted to a golden hue.  Tasty and impressive.

I also tried two other items that are not pictured.

  • Short Rib Sliders – Two soft, Hawaiian roles generously filled with short ribs, wild arugula and a languid horseradish sauce.  I loved every morsel, and devoured them before I could snap a picture.  The Pardi Cab paired perfectly with the short rib.  Irresistible and filling.
  • Smoked Cheddar Grilled Cheese – Comfort food at it’s finest.  Smoked cheddar and a homemade chutney grilled between two toasted pieces of bread.  Perfect for vegetarians.  Partnered alongside the sandwich was a delicious salad of mixed greens with a mildly tangy dressing.  Enticing and opulent.

I had the chance to speak to Lucky Vanous, the owner and creator of this fine establishment.  I was really impressed with his passion for wine and food, and how the two can influence each other in different ways.  One can tell that he absolutely loves what he does, and this type of positive energy is released into the environment.  This is especially vital in making things people absorb – like food and wine – because this chi, or energy, is carried within these items.  An example of this would be Laura Esquivel’s novel Like Water for Chocolate.  The main character of the novel can only express how she truly feels when cooking – by putting her emotions into her food.  Those who ingest the food are then consumed with her feelings.  Some of the situations in the book are a little extreme, but I really like how emotions and energy, and their connection to food, are illustrated.  I feel the positive energy by Lucky and his employees influence the cuisine in a highly beneficial manner.   My server, Brad, took expert care of me.  He was very knowledgeable about wine and wine culture.  The few other employees I also spoke with were helpful and cordial.

Lucky Devils Bar 02

Another winsome trait of Lucky Devil’s is the environment.  They had remodeled some since my last meal here, and the changes are brilliant.  First, there is the color red.  Red is the most auspicious color in the palette.  The element attached to it is fire, and it signifies prosperity, abundance, fame, passion, love, and luck.  In feng shui folklore, many would use red string on items to draw more luck and wealth to their personal areas.  This practice is still used by some today.  From a color science perspective, it’s the hue most people take notice of instantly – hence why it is used symbolically in films more so than other color (such as in The Matrix or Schindler’s List).  A beautiful shade of cardinal covers the outside of the building, with various shades of red and scarlet covering two of the inside walls.  The cool, yin darkness of the tables, upholstery, and ceiling make a perfect balance with the yang of the red hues.  And all five elements are represented here  perfectly:

  • Wood – The trees outside, both along the sidewalk, and in planters lining the patio dining area.
  • Fire – The color red everywhere (including the red wine).
  • Earth – The stone and brick work along the walls, and the brown shades of the furniture.
  • Metal – The wine and beer taps themselves.
  • Water – The black of the upholstery, and the wavy lines along the red walls.

They also solved the beam issue!  As I’ve said before, I am not a fan of ceiling beams.  They can cause many health, financial and emotional issues for those occupying the space.  Here, however, they did exactly what  I would have suggested as the fastest “fix” – paint the ceiling beams the same color as the ceiling, thus making them symbolically “disappear.”  I also really like the height of the ceilings and the way the tables are spread out.  It makes for an easy flow of air and energy (chi).   And I liked the bathrooms.  I laughed out loud when I saw the male and female “sign demons” acting as sentries to the toilets.

Lucky Devils Bathrooms

As for parking, it is Hollywood, so it can be a challenge at times.  There are many pay lots around, and convenient public parking is located right off of Cherokee.  (Although I did find one of the coveted free spaces on the street)   Or one can take the red line and disembark at  Hollywood and Highland, and walk the remaining four blocks.  For beer lovers, there is the Lucky 7 Happy Hour where seven select brews are offered at lower prices (They have a total of twenty-four beers on tap.)  It has been a week since my excursion and I am dying to go back!   I never thought a devil could be so appealing, but this one most assuredly is.  Lucky Devil’s is indeed a place to indulge in heavenly good food and choice wine.

Lucky Devils Sidewalk

Lucky Devil’s

6613 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, CA 90028

323 465-8259

Hours:  Sunday – Thursday  11:30 am – 10:00 pm,  Friday – Saturday 11:30 am – 10:00 pm,  Lucky Seven Happy Hour:  Monday – Friday 4:00 – 7:00

http://www.luckydevils-la.com/index.php

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree…

Christmas Tree Adorned with Lighted Candles

Since I was a child, one of my favorite holiday activities has been to decorate the Christmas Tree.  The days leading up to Christmas, I would take my sleeping bag and curl up in front of its protective branches, completely mesmerized by the twinkling lights and shiny ornaments until I drifted off to sleep.  As an adult, I don’t really do this so much, but the aesthetic beauty of Christmas Trees continues to enchant me.   For centuries, people have decorated their homes with healthy branches that remained green throughout winter.  To celebrate the Winter Solstice, the pagans in early Europe would decorate  their homes with boughs of fir, spruce and pine.  Druid priests in Celtic England would decorate their houses and temples with evergreen as a symbol of eternal life.  (Only branches were used, though, and never the whole tree, as that would have been too destructive for their tastes.)  The citizens of ancient Egypt would fill their homes with palm fronds to commemorate resurrection and rebirth.  But it was the Greeks and Romans who thought to decorate these branches, adorning them with bits of metal and religious icons.

Victorian Christmas Tree and NativityThe Germans were the ones responsible for bringing the whole tree inside the house, using fruit and candles as the main decorations.  There were many objections to the use of the Christmas Tree as part of the holiday celebration.  Many religious leaders and pious followers felt the symbol of the tree was far too pagan and unholy to use in Christian-based religions.  Despite these objections, Queen Victoria and her husband, German born Prince Albert, loved Christmas Trees.  They began to gain popularity, and by the late Victorian Era, they could be seen everywhere.  The Europeans preferred their trees to be three to four feet tall, whereas Americas liked theirs to reach floor to ceiling.

From a feng shui standpoint, there are many reasons why people are attracted to the beauty of The Christmas Tree.  For one, all five of the elements are represented.  Wood is represented by the tree itself.  Fire is symbolized by the glowing lights.  Metal and earth comprise most of the ornaments.  As for water, if one’s tree is living, then there is usually a water source at the base.  However, if the three is faux, then shades of blue can be symbolic of the water element.  Indeed, the use of color can work for all the elements here.   Another alluring aspect of the tree is the shape.  In feng shui, triangles are representative of fire, which humans are drawn to.  Most Christmas trees are triangle in shape.  The lights are also another fire aspect of the tree that beguile the beholder.  Not to mention the various kind of ornaments that adorn the branches – of which there is there is an endless variety.

Peacock Tree 08

Above are some photos of my Christmas Tree this year.  I went with a Victorian Peacock theme (I like peacocks).  One thing I use in decorating my Christmas Tree every year is fruit.   I have a collection of faux red apple ornaments (not pictured), as well as faux pears (which can be seen on the tree).  Faux fruit works far better than the real thing, as they tend to be heavy on the branches, and can become rotten, causing all kinds of issues.  Other examples of faux fruit I’ve seen have been glass strawberries, wax fruit and berries of all kinds, and red beads (these look like cranberries from a distance)  But if you want something edible on the tree, the fastest and easiest thing to add would be candy canes.  I do advise keeping them in their wrapping, however, to keep them fresh.  And then, there are some trees that are completely edible in of themselves.

Christmas Tree Crudite

Chef, author and spokesperson Jeanne Benedict created this amazing Christmas Tree Crudite  for LIVE with Regis and Kelly in 2009.  In addition to all of the colorful, edible vegetables, the base is made out of two cabbages.  The complete directions on how to make this stunning tree are located here:  http://www.jeannebenedict.com/recipes/christmas-tree-crudite/

Christmas Tree Rolls

Taste of Home has a tantalizing tree made from cinnamon buns.  I would play with colored frosting and tinted sugars to enhance the display.   Direction available here:  http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Christmas-Tree-Rolls

Christmas Tree Cake BC

Betty Crocker, than name we know and love, has several Christmas Tree inspired treats.  My favorite is the Christmas Tree Cake.  Although I would tint the batter green.  The complete recipe and cutting instructions are located here:  http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/christmas-tree-cake/6a22dadd-3b92-40b5-a5a9-df209ff3ef68

Lemon Basil Tree

Ms. Crocker also has a delicious looking Lemon Basil Tree I want to experiment with.  Although I’d add a couple of black olives and diced tomatoes for color.   Here’s the recipe:  http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/lemon-basil-tree/5fe297f9-df00-432e-8079-e7a8f1fc8a31

Cookie Jigsaw

Delish.com and Good Housekeeping have revived a mid-century favorite:  The Cookie Jigsaw.   Originally published in the December 1965 edition of Good Housekeeping, this nouveau take on the classic sugar cookie has each cookie as a puzzle piece for the celebratory Christmas Tree and a starry night sky.   I’d like to try this recipe for Easter as well, perhaps with the image of a giant Easter Egg.  The complete recipe is here:  http://www.delish.com/recipefinder/cookie-jigsaw-1658

As for the location of the Christmas Tree in the home, there are many options.  Each ideal location for the tree is different with each environment.  The main tree should be put in the living room or parlor, or a large room where the home’s loved ones and guests can congregate easily.   Unless you’re on a higher floor, avoid putting the tree directly in front of a window, as this can sometimes lure thieves to break into the home.  The best areas for the tree are the East, Southeast and South.  East is the area of each room that symbolizes family.  The associated element here is wood, and its associated color green, making it perfect for any plant, especially the Christmas Tree.  Southeast, being the area of prosperity and abundance, and south, being the area of fame, are also good options.  However, the southwest could also work, being the area symbolic of love, if your tree happens to be predominantly red, pink, or white.  As for choosing real or faux trees, they both have their advantages and disadvantages.  Real trees offer a stronger wood element to the environment, and give off a purely festive aroma of nature.  The water element is also present here to sustain the tree.  Faux options, however, last much longer than real trees, and some have bendable branches, creating a perfect display for ornaments.  I inherited my family’s old Christmas Tree years ago, which was originally bought back in 1992, and it still looks just as good as when it was first purchased.   I also advise that one keeps a close eye on their pets (and the occasional willful child).  Sometimes the branches and ornaments prove too much of a temptation to play with.

I realize that these recipes and tips are far too late in the season to be currently applied, but every morsel of information can be put towards next years Christmas celebration.  It was my goal to get this article finished weeks ago (and not on Christmas Day), but I got distracted by many a holiday party.  I would like to wish everyone reading this a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Festive and Joyous New Year!

New Year's Cherub in Lily Pond

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/