Sunday, February 28, 2010

Colorful macaroons

Ever heard of macaroons? Well, I know (and absolutely love) coconut macaroons, but those colorful things they call macaroons in Japan were new to me. Apparently, they’re French macaroons, or macarons, and they’re immensely popular here. Having been here for almost 3 years, I thought it was time to finally try some of these colorful pastries, together with Yasu another macaroon virgin.
They aren’t cheap, but we wanted to try a variety of colors and flavors. Our selection: chocolate (dark brown), coffee (light brown), English tea (brown with speckles), nuts (white with speckles) pistachio (green), raspberry (pink), strawberry (red), vanilla (white).
We carefully sampled them all. Our favorites were the least sweet ones, like nuts and pistachio. Chocolate was way too sweet and raspberry tasted like body lotion (because we use the Bodyshop’s raspberry body butter). It was an interesting experiment, and although we liked most of them, we can’t imagine buying macaroons again, they’re just not our thing. But I will always love the colors!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cartoon teachers

The online class I signed up for will start next week, and I'm super excited! And I just had to share the cartoon one of our teachers made of herself and her fellow teachers. Aren't they cute?!

I'm already so busy without doing homework for this upcoming class, I'm basically fuelling myself with red bull and coffee on a daily basis as it is... Yet, I really can't wait to get started with this class! Luckily we get to do everything at our own pace, but I don't want to fall too much behind. So I'm sure I'm going to be busier than ever from next week on! Never a boring day, it's great!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Happy Bali

I’m half Indonesian, so it’s not that surprising that I just love Indonesian food. In the Netherlands it’s readily available but here in Japan it’s more like specialty food. So when Yasu discovered a restaurant named Happy Bali on his cellphone internet I was very excited.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera with me, but my iPhone takes pictures, although the quality isn’t great. But the Indonesian food was great though!
The food tasted really authentic. And I was very happy to discover satay with peanut sauce and fried banana on the menu! This restaurant is kind of out of the way, but I hope we’ll go there again.

Sugar rush migraine

Chewlry featured one of my giraffes in an Etsy treasury. I really love all the colors! Etsy treasuries expire pretty quickly so I made a screenshot of the treasury:
I especially like the POW Charm Necklace and the Medium Multicolor earrings. They make me want to make some jewelry myself again. If I only had more time.

Friday, February 19, 2010

1000 days in Japan

One thousand days ago today, I arrived in Japan. May 26th, 2007 in the late afternoon my plane landed at Chubu Airport near Nagoya, and it was the start of my Japanese adventure. It has been and continues to be a life-changing experience. Wow, I can't believe I've been here that long already...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Classroom make-over

Last week we had Thursday off due to some national holiday, and some construction workers saw that as an opportunity to spruce our school up a bit. Our classrooms weren’t that inspiring with their dirty walls, loose and filthy brown carpets, makeshift coatracks, and greasy gray paint on the windows. So before Thursday we stripped all the walls and moved all furniture out of the way. And this is what my classroom looked like before the construction guys went to work:
When we came back to school on Friday the construction workers had wallpapered most walls with shiny and stripy paper, put huge cork-boards and real coatracks up and hung some pretty blinds to hide the gray painted windows. During the weekend the construction workers also laid some new and clean carpet to make the make-over complete. And today I added some finishing touches with my old posters and this is what my classroom looks like now:
I really love the new look, and I especially like the idea of the classroom wide cork-board. Too bad the cork is only 2 mm (0.08 inch) thick, behind that is some kind of hard plastic which is really strong. And putting a thumbnail in, requires extraordinary strength and will make your thumb hurt for at least an hour. So if you hear funny karate sounds coming from my classroom, I’m probably just hanging a poster on my new cork-board.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day with homemade guacamole

I never cook. My kitchen is smaller than my fridge, cooking in it is way too time-consuming, it is also more expensive than eating out in Japan and I’m not really good at it. I’ve tried it over and over, and I definitely plan to take it up again when I live in a place that has an actual kitchen, but for now while living in this shoebox, I’ve given it up.
Which is why Yasu never expected me to cook him a meal for Valentine’s Day! He was working all day today, which gave me an excellent opportunity to surprise him with Mexican food, including nachos his all time favorite. When he came to pick me up for dinner, he was amazed that we were staying home because I had actually cooked for him! He really loved it and I had so much fun surprising him.
This is what it looked like before I started:
This is what it looked like 3 (!) hours later, Mexican food:
This is what Yasu looked like, while eating his fajita:
Getting the ingredients for this Mexican meal together wasn’t easy. The tortillas and fajita mix where from the Netherlands, but the rest was found during one of my trips to many different Japanese supermarkets. They didn’t sell guacamole anywhere! So I decided to make my own... from scratch! And astonishingly, it was delicious!
And this is how I did it: 1) Peeled the avocado 2) Removed the huge pit 3) Mashed the avocado with a fork 4) Chopped the tomato and onion, minced the garlic, cut the lime in half, and got the sour cream out of the fridge 5) Mixed the tomato, onion, garlic, a teaspoon of sour cream and squeezed lime juice with the mashed avocado 6) Chilled the whole concoction in my tiny fridge to blend the flavors, and totally forgot to add salt and pepper...
It tasted really good with some nacho chips and on the fajitas and I was so proud of myself! So was Yasu! And he ate a lot! This was the first time we really 'celebrated' Valentine's Day together, we may just have to do that again in the future!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Birds

I finally added two birds, that I made a while ago, to my shop. They’re called Albert the Albino and George and about 10 cm (4 inches) tall.
Albert loves singing and white chocolate. George loves musicals and apple tea. And they’re both looking for new friends to hug!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Indie Business 2.0

I’ve just signed up for this:

Indie Business 2.0 is a 6 week online class for people wanting to build an online or local creative business. It focuses on starting, surviving and succeeding in small business and it covers everything in between. The class is taught by the three inspiring and successful ladies you can see in the picture. I’m very, very excited about this class and I can’t wait to start!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Teaching stitches again!

I wish my desk always looked like it does in the left picture, when I'm preparing for classes. And I wish that students always do what the student does in the right picture, when I’m teaching them.

That’s right, this week I get to teach another sewing class, like the manager promised! And this one is Valentine-themed. And here is the teacher showing off the examples sewn last month to entice students to sign up for the class.

Students get to sew a felt stuffed heart or kiss with their initials on them to give to some special friend on Sunday. As I expected the kiss is the most popular design, but I like the heart the most.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

A package from the eleventh monkey

So I’ve just used my new stamps for the first time on a package today! And I’ve started packaging my creatures and ornaments a little differently. Not just in plastic but with a little eleventh monkey banner on top.

I think it all looks really cool and professional! And it makes selling and packaging even more fun. I hope my customer likes it too!

Friday, February 05, 2010

A monkey for a generous student

Last month, one of my students surprised me with a bag full of felt and embroidery floss! Isn’t that sweet and awesome of her?! So I made her a little present to thank her for her gift, a monkey brooch.

Unfortunately, she hasn’t been to class ever since she gave me the bag of felt... I guess she’s busy, but as soon as I see her again, I’m going to give her the green monkey. I hope she likes it!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Thanks Gina!

When I got home last night I found a package from my swap partner in the States! She sent me a beautiful card, an embroidered sushi embellishment (which happened to be one of my favorite stamps), a stamp pad and of course the enormously awesome stamps.

I love everything, but of course the stamps are my absolute favorite! I’m going to use them on all my shop correspondence. And Gina also got her butterfly in the mail and I’m happy to report she loves it! Craft swap: completed successfully!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Little ones

This weekend I worked on a couple of custom orders. Two little black cats as cellphone straps instead of brooches, and a little dog brooch.

They’re very small, just about 7 cm (2.75 inches) so they fit right in your hand. I never really thought about creating creatures that small, and they still take hours to sew. But I think they’re so adorable that I’m going to make some for my shop when I have the time.