Monday, December 30, 2013

Brothers in Buxton

After a half day of work today, I rushed to Buxton to meet some of my favorite people:
Yup, the brothers have arrived in Buxton! Not just that, they've arrived looking like a pair of twins. We'd better not let those two go shopping together anymore.
Our little apartment is a full house now, with my mom, my two brothers, and Gyano's girlfriend Bente. Thankfully, we have two bathrooms and now two air beds in the studio (currently a.k.a. dormitory). It's a good thing we no longer live in America or Japan, this many people would never have fit then.
Of course, we made sure everyone's bellies were filled as well, England-style. Dinner was a lovely afternoon tea and tea was fish and chips at the pub... Confused? Yeah, I often get confused too. Here they refer to lunch with "dinner" and to dinner with "tea". Ha, you're probably still confused.
Everyone's here, let's make some memories!

Sunday, December 29, 2013


We're in England, time for a proper tea party.
This morning we bussed it to Bakewell, and sat down at a cosy table at a quaint tearoom, and ordered us some tea and some local treats. We tried a Bakewell tart and a Bakewell pudding (which is not like pudding in the Netherlands or the US, it's just a synonym for a dessert), but I can't remember which is which, both were pretty tasty though.

Tea needs to be drunk with milk, of course, like I said, we are in England. Actually, I had been drinking milk-less English tea in the first weeks we were here, until someone accidentally milked my tea, and to be polite I drank it anyways. Surprisingly, I (a long-time milk-less tea lover) liked it. Since that day, I haven't gone back to milk-less tea, as I now love drinking my tea the English way. Everyday, multiple times... I think I'm turning British.
Bakewell is a lovely town, with loads of cute shops and pretty views. 
And weird tourists.
And of course another English staple: Fish and Chips. We finally got my mom to try some and she loved it. But hey, what's not to love? Fried potatoes and fried fish, can't really go wrong with that.
We had to bus ourselves back home to Buxton on time, since I have to work tomorrow and my mom is getting up even earlier to pick up my brothers at the airport. I'm so excited to have them here as well, I think I'll have to do a little happy dance when they arrive!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Buxton walk

Thank goodness for weekends. Now, I get to spend some quality time with my mom. Today we went for a relaxing Buxton walk. I'm happy to report Buxton agrees with my mom, she's quite in love with our little spa town tucked away in the English Peak District. Now, if I could only convince her to move here...

Friday, December 27, 2013

Visitors at work

We get around the High Peak area by bus. Not that we can't drive, we can and we love it, but we simply haven't found a car a worthy investment, yet. So when we have guests they also get to ride the bus with us. And today Yasu took my mom on a trip a few villages over from Buxton.
It was cold, but they enjoyed a bit of English sightseeing and found a familiar face at the local bank:

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas in Buxton

It's been several years since my mom and I have celebrated Christmas together, so this year is very special! 

My mom has cooked many turkeys for Christmases in the past, and today was the first time for her to try my turkey. This is only the second time I'm trying to cook one, with a new pan, a new oven, and in a new country, so I was anxious for it to go well. My mom gave me the best compliment, after seeing me prepare the turkey and eating it: "Now, I finally know how to cook a turkey right". Yay!
This year is also the first time Yasu and I had an actual Christmas tree! Our places in Japan and California were just too small for a tree, but now we have space for a tree and a fake fireplace.
The neighbors came over to celebrate with us and they had the best "ugly-Christmas-sweaters" ever!
We all cooked some food and ended up with a yummy Christmas buffet:
Of course, being in England, we did the whole Christmas cracker thing. Yup, pretty fun. Especially the colorful crowns.
We had a great first Christmas in Buxton. We hope to repeat it again next year, perhaps with even more family members in attendance.
Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sambuca Sunday

She's still here. Of course!

Today I showed her around our lovely little English spa town, and she's loving it so far.
We heard Buxton is supposed to be very cold and snowy, so for my mom's holiday card photo we got completely bundled up in hopes of colder and whiter weather in a few days. A white Christmas would be pretty perfect...
We ended the day at our favourite pub, and we discovered my mom has a deep love for Sambuca. A bit surprised, didn't even know she knew the stuff existed. And who can blame, liquid alcoholic licorice, who doesn't love that? Well, Yasu.
Well, my mom and I do love it, and we worked our way through quite a few shots tonight. Happy Sunday!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Moem in Buxton

Guess who I picked up at the airport this morning?! My sweet mother!
She didn't know I was picking her up, because she was going to try the trip from the airport to Buxton by herself, like a proper big girl. I wanted to surprise her anyways, a bit like she did in 2004, but I was almost too late. You know, the buses here in the High Peak Area aren't the most punctual. When I was hurrying to the arrivals gate, she was making her way to the bus station and we completely missed each other.

I was hanging around the gate to surprise her when she texted me that she had successfully made it to the bus station and that her bus would leave in 5 minutes. Aah! I slightly panicked (buses to Buxton only go twice an hour), ran back to the bus station, saw her sitting waiting next to the bus to Buxton, creeped up from behind her, and hugged her. She was completely surprised,  and startled. Score! I was so happy I was able to surprise her and she was happy I picked her up after all. Turns out she knows me and was kind of expecting me at the arrivals gate. When I wasn't there she was a little disappointed that I had listened to her, for a change. So I got to surprise her when she was totally not expecting it anymore, hehe.

Of course, we had the best time catching up during the long bus ride home and even during the climb up from downtown Buxton to our house on the super high hill. My mom, she's a strong lady she is,  she made it all the way up there with her heavy luggage, with a bit of help from her daughter of course.

I'm so excited to have my mom with us in Buxton! Tonight we gave her a quick tour of Yasu's University, she treated us to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants (it is our 4th wedding anniversary today as well), and we treated her to a play at the local theater. She's already loving Buxton and I can't wait to show her all around town in the next two weeks. And even better my brothers will also be joining us soon!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

One of the great things about living in England is that I am allowed to work again! That may not sound like a big deal, but my spousal-foreign-student-visa in America made it illegal for me to work for three years, and let me tell you it's not great. Yes, you end up with a lot of free time, but it feels like you're trapped. Your life is on hold and you're just waiting around for it to get started again.

Oh, the joy and the sense of freedom that came with the simple activity of looking at job adverts and applying to jobs, it's inexplicable. After about a month I ended up with 3 job offers, and I picked my favorite. Last week I started my new full time, permanent job at a local bank and so far I'm loving it! I love my coworkers, the work, and just the feeling of being back in the working world. My life is no longer on hold.

So today on Thanksgiving Day, I am very thankful for our new life in England!

The only downside is that I suddenly have hardly any free time left to squeeze in all my other activities. Not just the domesticalities, but also social activities (both in real life and online) and most regrettably, creative activities.

As some of you have noticed, I am late announcing the Turkey Owl winner. Since today is Turkey Day in the United States, I'm quickly squeezing in the winner announcement today. I also regret to announce that the owl giveaways are on hiatus, at least until I have become accustomed to my new full-time work lifestyle.

I had all these wild plans regarding owl designs to celebrate the Sinterklaas, Christmas and New Year Holidays in upcoming weeks, but I just don't have the time to work on them. Perhaps next year.

Congratulations, Vanessa!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Turkey Owl Giveaway

I know Thanksgiving in November is an American thing and that we no longer live in the States, but we've decided to celebrate Thanksgiving this year anyways, with our English neighbors. And I've been thinking about Thanksgiving recipes, so I've got turkey on my mind. Hence the giveaway owl is a Turkey Owl!

You can gather a total of three entries to win this owl keychain. One by leaving a comment on this blog post (include your email address), another by reposting the giveaway on Instagram, and a third by liking + commenting on the giveaway photo on the Eleventh Monkey Facebook page. Deadline is November 24th. Good luck!

Last giveaway winner:

Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween Skull Ornament Tutorial

Most Halloween parties of 2013 have already happened over the weekend, but Halloween is not over yet. So let's make some Halloween Skull Ornaments together!

This tutorial will show you how to stitch one by hand, but of course you can also use the template below to make skull ornaments with a sewing machine. They will look slightly different, the green skull ornament in the photo above is hand stitched, the orange one is (mostly) machine stitched. This template is for your felt shapes. Print the template and resize it into the size you'd like your skull ornament to be.

Here's a list of things you will need to make your own handstitched Halloween Skull Ornament:
Now, let's get started! Don't worry it's not hard, just follow the steps below and soon you'll have your very own plush Halloween Skull.
1. Take one felt "face" piece and the felt "eye" piece. Thread your needle with some embroidery floss and stitch the heart eye in place. You can use any stitch you'd like, but I suggest a double running stitch. It starts as a regular running stitch and then you turn around and fill in the gaps:
2. Stitch three lines with embroidery floss that will serve as eye lashes for the second button eye. Attach the button over the lower part of the eye lashes:
3. To outline the skull's teeth use embroidery floss and an overcast stitch. For each teeth divider, stitch two long lines right next to each other to create padding, and cover it with small stitches at right angles to the padding stitches:
4. Make a knot in the ribbon and place that in between the two felt "face" pieces, the decorated "face" piece goes on top. Pin everything together.

5. Now use your thread (you don't need your embroidery floss anymore) to stitch together the felt "face" pieces. Leave an opening at the bottom to stuff the ornament later (see illustration above). Make sure every stitch goes through all layers. Especially when you get to the top of the skull, the needle has to go through both layers of felt and the ribbon to secure the ornament loop in place. Use a blanket stitch, so when you bring out the needle on the other side make sure you pass it over your working thread, and pull it tight before you insert the needle again to make the next stitch:
6. Fill the skull with stuffing until the ornament has the desired firmness, and then continue stitching to close the bottom opening. Then take a photo of your finished skull, upload it, and leave a link in the comments so I can see your creations!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Autumn Owl Giveaway

For this giveaway I've let myself be inspired by what I could see outside my studio window. And since there is a small forest there I've been looking at piles and piles of colored leaves. Fall, or Autumn as they say here in England, has really arrived here and I heard Winter is hurrying its way towards us quickly. So before that happens, here's an Autumnal Owl for the new giveaway.

You can gather a total of three entries to win this owl keychain. One by leaving a comment on this blog post (include your email address), another by reposting the giveaway on Instagram, and a third by liking + commenting on the giveaway photo on the Eleventh Monkey Facebook page. Deadline is November 10th. Good luck!

Last giveaway winner:

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Halloween in Buxton

It's that time of year again. When pumpkins are everywhere in the shops, either as a flavor or ingredient in so many regular products, and the actual squash to be used as decoration or to be eaten. Pumpkins this time a year are especially popular in America, but it's fun to see them in England as well. I enjoy seeing all these seasonal products, but the most I usually partake in this pumpkin party is to drink a PSL at Starbucks. But not this year, since there's no Starbucks in Buxton. I have wanted to carve a pumpkin for ages though. I've never done it and for 3 years in a row I have stood in the Halloween aisle of an American supermarket contemplating buying a carving set and pumpkin, and for some reason always decided against it. The same happened today with Yasu at an English supermarket. But we did decide to start a pumpkin carving tradition once we have a little one to share it with.
And of course, it's not really Halloween without some zombie sighting. I wasn't sure if that was going to happen this year, until our neighbors called us over to their place for a minute to quickly help them with something. I innocently thought they were hanging a heavy picture frame and were dangerously balancing on top of a chair and needed us to save them. So we hurry over, walk into their place and it's pitch black. We hesitate to continue as they flip the switch and... well, freaked us the hell out!
Geez, they nearly gave me heart attack. At first, when I saw these freaks I did not recognize them, so I screamed and slammed the door back shut. Go on tell me that you would not have screamed.Yasu was startled and lucky since he only caught a glimpse. Anyways, it was scary and hilarious.

Meet our lovely neighbors, Matt the Creepy Clown and Kristel the Hungry Zombie:
One of them likes to chop the other up and the other likes to dine on bunnies:
These guys really did a great job on their costuming and in petrifying us. Maybe next year we can return the fright.

Happy Halloween!