Monday, May 31, 2010

Catching up in Kyoto

Melissa, an old friend from my university days, arrived in Japan two days ago! Her sister Kathelijne had been working in Inuyama (of all places!) for the last three months and before she returns home, she’ll do some more sightseeing in Japan. Joining her are Melissa, her mom Irma, her girlfriend Sonja from Finland (who also worked in Inuyama for 3 months), and Melissa’s boyfriend Filip from Belgium. Thanks to Kathelijne’s facebook I found out about their travel plans this weekend and today we all hooked up in Kyoto! Yasu was there too, so we were a truly international bunch.
Speaking a mixture of Dutch, English and some Japanese words we went on a all day walking tour through the orange tori tunnels in Fushimi Inari, Gion and Yasaka Jinja. And we took the whole bunch to our favorite sushi-go-round Kurazushi. It was way too far to walk so we had to take taxis, but it was really worth it. Our group of tourists had never been to a kaitenzushi before and they loved the food, the revolving sushi plates, and the funny high-speed ship that kept bringing us our ordered sushi. We finished off 38 sushi plates and one bowl of edamame with the seven of us!
It was an exhausting day (I feel like I can sleep for a week and I’m not even jet lagged), but it was so much fun to catch up with old friends and introduce them to Yasu (who they all loved) and to some of my other favorite things in Japan. I hope the rest of their Japanese adventure will be wonderful too!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Fiesta

Less than two months left in Japan so it’s time for fun parties with people I’m going to miss once I leave. Tonight we went to El Pancho, a Mexican restaurant in Shinsaibashi, I heard about more than a year ago but never got round to trying.
Japanese restaurants tend to be overlit to the extreme and it really takes away from the overall dining experience. The atmosphere at this Mexican restaurant was the opposite, the decor was really nice and the lighting soft and colored, it was a really pleasant place to dine. The live guitar music and singing made it even more perfect.
I’ve never been a big fan of Mexican food and I’m still not. But I think most of the others really liked the food and my sangria was really delicious! And it was fun to finally introduce Yasu to some of my coworkers.

Friday, May 28, 2010

eleventh monkey GIVEAWAY!

My birthday is on the eleventh (of August) and my Chinese zodiac sign is monkey, hence the ‘eleventh monkey’. Under this name, I’ve already designed and hand sewn numerous felt creatures, and many of them were monkeys. Ten to be exact, so the next monkey I’ll make will be the eleventh! I feel like celebrating!

I’ve been wanting to organize a giveaway for ages and this seems like the perfect occasion! The winner of this giveaway gets to choose all the colors for the eleventh monkey. You get to decide the color of felt for the body, the face, and the nose. The color of buttons for the eyes and the colors of the embroidery floss used to sew it all together!

There are several ways to enter into this giveaway. You only have to do one of these to enter, but if you do more or all of these you’ll have a bigger chance of winning the custom made monkey! I’m so excited about this giveaway, and if things go well I’m sure I’ll host more giveaways in the future.

HOW TO ENTER
  1. Follow my blog and TELL ME about it in the comment section of this post
  2. Heart my shop on Etsy and TELL ME about it in the comment section of this post
  3. Like my facebook eleventh monkey fan page and TELL ME about it in the comment section of this post
  4. Choose your favorite eleventh monkey creature and LINK to its photo on Flickr in the comment section of this post
  5. Follow me on Twitter and TELL ME about it in the comment section of this post
  6. Grab my widget and put it on your blog and LINK to it in the comment section of this post
  7. Blog about my giveaway and LINK to it in the comment section of this post
  8. Facebook about my giveaway and LINK to it or TELL ME about it in the comment section of this post
  9. Tweet about my giveaway and LINK to it in the comment section of this post
  10. Buy something in my Etsy shop and TELL ME about in the comment section of this post
Numbers 1-9 all count as 1 entry each and number 10 counts as 3 entries! And if you've already done one of these things in the past (like follow my blog or heart my shop) it still counts, just comment about it here. If you enter in more than one way, you can just tell me in one comment, no need to create separate comments.

I will draw the winner on Sunday June 13th, so be sure to get all your entries in before 11:59 PM Japanese time (see the clock on this blog) on June 12th! Good luck everyone :).

See who won and what the actual 11th monkey looks like.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lesson prep

I am very excited about the sewing classes I’ll be teaching in two weeks. A lot of students already signed up and these classes require a lot of preparation.

Like cutting felt, making personal material kits and a little bit of pre-sewing to make sure the students will be able to finish their plush brooches within an hour. But not to worry, it’s the kind of preparation I like love!

Almost sold out

The clearance sale is really going strong. I sold all these awkward friends just yesterday.
It's a great feeling to send so many creatures of to their new home somewhere on the other side of the world! I have just 6 more items left in my shop waiting for new friends and a new home: Hannah the Horse ($28 $11), Love skulls in brown, green and red ($11 $5.50), love skulls in white, purple and orange ($11 $5.50), Peggy the Monkey ($11 $5.50), Albert the Albino Bird ($11 $5.50) and George the Bird ($11 $5.50). I really hope they will all be adopted by someone very nice before I leave in July.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Too many clothes...

Moving to the other side of the world is very exciting, but it’s a challenge too. How am I going to get all my stuff from Osaka to San Francisco? Can’t drag everything with me on a plane to the Netherlands and then on to the States... I’m going to have to send stuff by surface mail, because airmail is just to expensive. But surface mail isn’t as cheap as I’d like either... I’m going to have to get rid of a lot of stuff, then. So, today I went through all my clothes, and this is the result.
Two big garbage bags of discarded clothes (only one in the picture) and a heap and a bag of clothes I want to donate somewhere, somehow. I discovered I want to ship 5 big bags full of clothes to America, I’m going to need a whole bunch of boxes just to do that. And I still have a closet full of clothes that I’m planning to use here in Japan, and these clothes will probably travel with me in my suitcases.
It’s not easy selecting what gets to stay (or rather go to San Francisco) and what gets thrown away. But I do love throwing or giving things away, it’s so liberating to minimize my belongings. The rest of my stuff is up next, someday soon.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Onigiri Guido

Guido is celebrating is 45th birthday today so I designed him a little penguin. My mom told me he loves penguins and I know he loves the color green. A little bit of drawing and sewing later Guido the Penguin was born.

The real Guido loved his little namesake, which kind of resembles an onigiri (a Japanese rice ball), which he loves as well. We actually made some onigiris ourselves during my last visit home, and sometimes he likes to dress up like one. Happy birthday Gui!

Updates on my trip to the Netherlands in Japan

April 13 - Dejima
April 13 - Nagasaki
More to come, hopefully soon...

Earlier updates:
April 11 - Huis ten BoschPaleis Huis ten BoschDomtoren
April 12 - Hotel AmsterdamKujuku IslandsSasebo burgerBears in a Dutch castleThe house of NijntjeSteak-burgerMore Huis ten Bosch fun

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cooking Indonesian

Today I cooked Indonesian food! At Tomomi’s place, which is much bigger than mine, especially the kitchen, and Tomomi and Miyuki helped me with the cooking and the gathering of the Indonesian ingredients. When Tomomi visited Indonesia she brought Indonesian soy sauce (ketjap manis) with her. When Miyuki visited Indonesia she brought Indonesian chili pepper paste/sauce (sambal pedas). And even though I’ve never visited Indonesia, I brought loads of Indonesian wet herbal mixtures (boemboe), satay marinade and instant peanut sauce from the Netherlands.
We made beef rendang, ajam ketjap (chicken dish), satay babi (pork skewers), nasi goreng (fried rice dish), sayur beans, peanut satay sauce and cucumbers sticks for dipping. I thought we cooked way too much, but Yasu, Duncan and Eddie helped us finish everything in no time. And they all loved it, yay!
I’m half Indonesian, thanks to my sweet mom, and I love Indonesian food. It’s very popular in the Netherlands but not so much in Japan. Which is peculiar because we’re much closer to Indonesia here in Japan. Maybe the food is too spicy for the Japanese, or they just don’t like it. In any case I’m really looking forward to dinner at my favorite Indonesian restaurant when I go home in two months.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Clearance sale

As announced yesterday, the eleventh monkey is moving from Osaka to San Francisco this summer! So production in the eleventh monkey factory has currently stopped, to be resumed on the other side of the world a.s.a.p. And to reduce the amount of stuff in the two suitcases traveling with me across the world, I’m selling everything in my shop at bottom prices. 

Love skulls in brown, green and red and love skulls in white, purple and orange: $11 $5.50

Betty the Cow and Ulla the Cow: $28 $11

Naomi the Giraffe and Noel the Giraffe: $28 $11

Peggy the Monkey and Mel the Monkey: $11 $5.50

Albert the Albino Bird and George the Bird: $11 $5.50

Cecil the Cat, Grace the Cat and Erik the Cat: $25 $11

Patty the Ape, Bob the Ape, Hank the Ape and Gretchen the Ape: $25 $11

Brad the Dog, Paddie the Dog, Roz the Dog and Frida the Dog: $25 $11

Hannah the Horse: $28 $11 Pia the Penguin: $8 $5.50 Peanut the Panda: $22 $11 Tommy the Butterfly: $22 $11
I also lowered the shipping for all items to $2.50 ($1.00 with another item) to anywhere in the world. And considering one creature takes me 6 hours on average to sew, by hand, I feel like I'm giving my creatures away at these prices. But I just hope all my slightly awkward creatures will find a friendly new home before I’m moving to my new home!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Leaving Japan

After more than 3 years of living and working in Japan I’ll be leaving on July 20th! It’s both sad and very exciting because we’re moving to the States! First, I’m flying home for a 3 week vacation and to celebrate my thirtieth birthday. And then, I’m flying to San Francisco, my favorite city in my favorite country, where Yasu will start grad school in August. I can’t wait.
I’m still here for more than two months but we already put up the farewell party posters and farewell messages, yesterday. This is much, much earlier than normal, but some students had already been notified (accidentally) of my departure through a letter, so it was time to spread the news to everyone.
Of course it’s not fun to upset the students (the reaction is often an accusatory “Why?”), but their being sad at my leaving makes me feel very appreciated. And I can usually make them feel better by reminding them that we have more than two months left, that they can still join one of my sewing classes, and that we’re finally going to have another big school party with lots of food and great drinks! I’m going to miss my students, they’re really the best part of the job.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Thank you! Mama.

It’s Mother’s Day again and again I’m spending it far away from my mom. This is one of the disadvantages of living abroad. I wish I could just kidnap my mom and take her with me wherever I go, maybe I will next time I’m home ;).
My mom is my best friend. She’s always there for me and supports me in everything I do. She always believes in me, even when I don’t. I can talk to her about anything, and I do! She’s only 17 years older than me so we’re not really hindered by a generation gap. We spend several hours on Skype each week talking over our lives, keeping our connection very strong, even though we’re far apart physically.
I love you, Moemie. Have a great Mother’s Day. Talk to you later on Skype!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Sweet sewing

I’ll be teaching another sewing class in June, and this time we’ll be sewing sweet treats with faces! To get people interested I made Mr. Chocolate Chip Cookie, Mr. Cupcake and Mr. Ice Cream Cone:

Because they’re brooches this time, the plushies are a little smaller so that they’ll look cute attached to a jacket. The smaller size also helps the students finish within one hour, which has proven difficult in the past. I hope a lot of people will sign up this time again, it’s just so much fun to sew at school!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Starbucks time

Right now we’re in the middle of Golden Week in Japan. Meaning we don’t have to work for a whole week. Normally we travel places during vacation time but this time we decided to just stay in Osaka and chill. Like today we spent several hours at Starbucks where Yasu was amazed by the size of a Venti Frappucino and I was working on some of my weirdos while enjoying my Caramel Macchiato.

What a relaxing day. And three more days of no work to come. Yay!