Thursday, December 29, 2011

Winding down

At the end of each year - in order to bring in the new year all fresh and clean - the average Japanese household does "Osoji" or Big Cleaning. These are the cleaning jobs that typically only get done once a year such as screen doors, deep into the storage closets, behind the refrigerator, etc. You get the picture.

This year because of the bazaar we had in late November, I got most of my kitchen deep cleaning done very early. And now that my kids are older and they often want spending money, I have a lot of help getting the other big cleaning projects done.

Yesterday I cleaned my "pantry" space and my little office cubby and bookshelf in the bedroom. Today I spent the entire morning putting away Christmas decorations and cleaning and organizing the Japanese tatami room storage closet. I also cleaned off our front porch and put out our traditional Japanese new year decoration to welcome in the new year.

I'm not done with cleaning by any means, but a lot of the rest of the projects are going to depend on when and how much cooperation I can get from the other three members living in our home. Kids' rooms, husband's papers and books, etc.

I can't believe that I didn't upload this before now. Consider it my Christmas and New Years greetings to you. I thank you for reading of my blog this year and I hope you will keep me on your blogroll in 2012.

Happy Holidays.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Spirit of Christmas

For years now - probably for as many years as I have spent Christmas in Japan - I just don't feel Christmasy. Not that there aren't any decorations. Oh, the Japanese start to decorate for Christmas almost immediately after Halloween. Its just that.... that's all it is here. Decorations, fluff, loud jingly Christmas music advertising the winter sales. Santa and bells. I suppose its like that in many places around the world. But here there just is no Christ in Christmas. That is what I miss.

And all the other things that come with a more "spiritual" Christmas. I miss my family most at Christmas time. I miss being in my parents' home after my mother has spent days decorating. I miss going to Christmas Eve church services together. I miss waking up on Christmas morning with the feeling of anticipation of a wonderful and exciting day to come. Its been years since I've spent Christmas at home - only once since my children were born.

I go through the motions of most of those same things here - decorations, shopping, gifts under the tree, Christmas Eve service (sometimes). Its the best I can do. But its not the same.

I wish I could be home with my American family each year. I wish I could share that Christmas magic, that Christmas spirit, that Christmas love.

I made this page for my One Word One Photo challenge I am hosting at The Digichick this Friday. In the spirit of the season I wanted to keep the challenge pure and simple. What is the one thing that says how you feel at this time of year. Stressed? Overshopped? Joyous? Festive?

In my case, I chose a word that I WANT to feel during this season. The feeling that I think is missing in a Christmas spent here. Holy. I want to feel His presence. Presence over presents. The Holy spirit of Christmas. 

most papers and elements from Sugar Sand Boardwalk Christmas by Etc. by Danyale
gold glitter border from Noel by Mari Koegelenberg
blue flower from Midsummer Night's Dream by ViVa Artistry
page template from Solos Part 5 by Busy Bee Designs

Christmas. Hanukkah. Kwanza. Whatever it is that you are celebrating now. I wish you all, where ever in the world you may be, a most blessed holiday season.

I will leave you with a few more Christmassy pages. One of my little girl, years ago. One of my little boy, yesterday.

all papers and elements from Silver Bells by ViVa Artistry in Scrap N Art December issue
alpha is Holiday Spirit uppercase by Lisa Whitney Designs
page template from Fall Flavors Pumpkin Pie by Busy Bee Designs
font is Porcelain
most papers and elements from Sound the Trumpets, Winter Solstice and Silver Bells all by ViVa Artistry
worn page overlay from Worn Page Edges No 2 by Lynn Grieveson
Glitter action is from Punkboi Glitters by Joyful Heart Designs
page template from Tag You're It 2 by Fiddle-Dee-Dee Designs
font is Jellyka Saint-Andrews Queen

Thank you so much for stopping by my little corner of the web. Please come again soon!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sweets for You

Ah the holiday season, with all its hustle and bustle. Running here, running there. Doing this, making that. Its been hard to find the time to scrap. In fact I don't think I've scrapped a page in a few weeks. I sure hope my Creative Team bosses don't fire me.

But I haven't been slacking. I had a Christmas Party yesterday with a few of my friends. I wanted to give them something unique, something they've never gotten before. Scrounging over the web - namely Pinterest - I came across the idea of giving the gift of cookie mix in a jar. Now here was just what I was looking for.

First I had to decide upon a recipe. I chose this Cowboy Cookie recipe from I only hit two minor snags - the outrageous price of chocolate chips and pecans here in Japan. So I slightly altered the recipe. I only put in 3/4 cup of chocolate chips (which by the way is plenty!!) and I substituted walnuts for the pecans (still expensive but much more readily available). I also decreased the amounts of sugar ever so slightly for the Japanese taste. Of course I had to make a batch to sample for myself and let me tell you... these are GOOD cookies. I'm lucky that half of them even got baked because I am such a cookie-dough-aholic. Now I remember why I stopped baking years and years ago.

Then I went to our local 100 yen shop (the equivalent to the dollar stores) and found some 1 liter size glass jars.

Then the best part - other than eating cookie dough that is - was going over to the shop and deciding on which kit to use to decorate my jars. I'd had my eye on Cheer by Wendy Page for the past few weeks so decided to use it to make a jar label and a baking instructions card. The friends who I had the Christmas party with yesterday are all somewhat skilled in English, at least enough to be able to read the baking instructions as I was too lazy to even attempt to translate them in Japanese.

I love how the jars turned out. In discussions with some other scrappers on both Facebook and in the TDC forums, I learned that there are SO many different kinds of mixes you can give as gifts in a jar. Cookies, brownies, hot cocoa, soups. I will definitely be trying this again. It was fun to make and it really was accepted with huge smiles by my friends.

In the spirit of Christmas, if any of my dear blog friends would like to try this idea as well, I would like to offer a jar label and baking instructions card freebie download to you! The incrediby talented designer of the kit I used, Wendy Page, was more than happy to let me share this with you. If you love the kit as much as I do and think you can use it for other projects as well, please be sure to head over to her store.

This freebie is made on an A4 sized paper which is just slightly longer and more narrow than an 8 1/2 x 11 sized page. So it should print out nicely on either size of paper. I don't have a lot of experience with uploading files to 4Shared for sharing as freebies. If for some reason you aren't able to access or download this file, please let me know in the comments section below and I'll try to find out the problem.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays to you.

Thank you so very much for stopping by my little corner of the web. Please come again soon!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sweets for the Sweet

Well, I almost had my hopes up for a white Christmas. Unbelievably, a few snowflakes fell over western Tokyo this morning. Of course it didn't last long, and by afternoon we had one of the brightest blue skies I have seen in a long time. Makes me miss Christmas in Colorado even more. If its going to be cold, well then.... it might as well snow!

As much as I'd like to say that my scrapbooking is getting caught up, I think in reality I will never be caught up. I have so many pictures over the years that I love but for some reason have not yet been inspired to scrap. Other pictures I end up scrapping more than once. I do not scrap chronologically. At times I choose a kit to match my pictures. At times I choose my pictures to match a kit. And sometimes a kit comes along that is destined for a certain photo.

Even though ViVa Artistry's newest kit, Tea Garden, is all about tea and cupcakes, as soon as I saw it I knew the pictures I wanted to scrap. Old pictures, from many years ago. From when my darling daughter was still a little toddler. Not cupcakes, but oranges. Sweets are sweets. I would love to go back in time to this day and give that precious, sweet little girl and big hug.

Such a sweet and precious little girl. You steal my heart, you make me smile, you make me laugh. Everything right now is "do it by self." You want to do everything by yourself and I'm more than happy to let you try. Climbing up to the counter, peeling your own orange. Eating, playing, dressing. You are precious and I love you so.
Papers and elements from Tea Garden by ViVa Artistry
page template from No Boys Allowed by Cluster Queen Creations
pink glitter from En Pointe Glitters by ViVa Artistry
brush from LCO Decorative Accents
alpha stamp used for title is Suzy Q by CD Muckosky
font is Aquarelle

I hope your holiday season is going well and you are enjoying each day. Thank you so much for stopping by my little corner of the web. Please come again soon.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Ha Ha

I've been waiting for months to be able to share this page. It was published in the November 2011 Artisan Notebook. The assignment was to make a page about a conversation between two people that is especially funny. I have tons of them between my children and I, but there are two conversations that I have carried in my heart for more than 30 years between my mother and I. Not sure if she remembers them or not, but I will never forget them. Love you mom!

Growing up, I never thought my mother was particularly funny or humorous. But on a few occasions she would say something so wacky that it would catch me off guard. I'm not sure if she was intentionally making a joke or if she was being serious at the time. But after hearing her own words, she too would crack up and we would both be laughing. (I hope the wording of the conversations are not offensive. I want to journal the conversations as they actually occurred.)

The title of my page, "ha ha," is a joke in itself. Not only is it the sound of laughter, but it also means "mother" in Japanese.

- My mother is a peanut & chocoholic -
Me: "Mom, did you see the article in the paper the other day about peanuts and chocolate?"
Mom: "What did it say?"
Me: "That studies have shown eating too many peanuts or too much chocolate can lead to hearing loss. Maybe you should think about cutting back."
Mom: a definite twinge of shock flashing across her face, "I'd rather go deaf!"

- My mother and her play on words -
Situation: We were leaving in the car. Mom was already in and waiting for me. As I got in, I noticed that tail of her coat's belt was sticking outside of the car.

Me: "Mom, your belt is sticking out of the door."
Mom: opening the door and pulling it back in, "Thank you, that was a close one."
Me: "Yeah, you could have gotten sucked out the door!"
Mom: "Ha ha ha. FAT chance!"

all papers and most elements are from Fleury by Wendy Page Designs
page template from Gimme Layers with Words Vol 2 by Cluster Queen Creations
stitches (recolored) are by Ronna Penner
alpha is from Autumn Bliss by Joyce Paul

Today's post is short and sweet. Just wanted to share this! Thank you so much for stopping by my little corner of the web. I hope that your December is starting off with joy!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The good, the bad, and the uber excellent

Yesterday was the bazaar. I've been mulling it over in my head for the past 24 hours - thinking about what went well, what didn't go according to my hopes and expectations. My thoughts are jumbled. Overall it was a success. We had 14 ladies participating this time and my living, dining and Japanese rooms were packed with a huge variety of handmade goods.

By opening time, we had a line of about 70 to 100 ladies outside my garden gate. They filed in slowly taking their time to look around. I stood by my table full of watch bands and necklaces trying to explain what they are. I had several display sample watches and even a little explanation card written in Japanese, but still the ladies seemed confused as to what they were looking at. So I stood there, trying to show. I felt like one of those product spokesmen you see on infomercials selling their wares. (It slices, it dices. You need this!)

Did I mention that the elementary school in my neighborhood is (numbers wise) the largest one is all of Tokyo? .... you may be wondering where this is going. That means there are a lot of other mothers just like me who are stay at home moms but whose kids don't need their constant attention. That gives us all plenty of time to make handmade goods if that is our cup of tea. And plenty of time to go to craft bazaars to buy these things as well.

Getting to the point now. There are two other craft bazaars in my immediate neighborhood this week - one today and another one tomorrow. So that means just within a 1 mile square area there are three craft bazaars in three days. Tis the season... We were the first one yesterday. I am thinking that we didn't sell as many of our things as we would have hoped because at least some of our guests were going to one or both of the other local bazaars this week and were holding on to their money. Okay, so I may be rationalizing, but indulge me.

As for me personally, I learned some valuable lessons, both good and bad, and had one very uber excellent experience.

Good - yesterday was the bazaar
Bad - we didn't sell as much as we hoped
Good - we sold a lot
Bad - we have a lot left over
Good - many of the left over items can still be sold or given as gifts to our friends and neighbors

Good - I sold 12 Scarlet Lime watches yesterday
Bad -  I made 35 Scarlet Lime watches
Good - I have an incredible stock of beautiful Scarlet Lime watches. I will still sell them either at the spring bazaar or in a local consignment shop. Or maybe.... I'll keep one or two.

Good - I almost broke even - sales and expenses
Bad - I didn't make any profit
Good - I don't have debt because of unsold items
Bad - I won't be able to buy the Silhouette cutter I've had my eye on quite yet
Good - I can always buy it later

Good - I bought a few extremely cute items from my friends
Bad - There is nothing bad about this

And finally the Uber Excellent.
Good - One of the ladies who I do the bazaar with is good friends with Maiko Kosugi, a 2011 Prima Flower Girl. I am a huge admirer of Maiko's pages and projects. I briefly met her last April when she stopped by our spring bazaar to pick up a preserved flower arrangement she had ordered from my friend. At the time I was starstruck - truly.
Excellent - Maiko came to the bazaar again yesterday. For our second meeting I wasn't quite such a spaz.
Uber Excellent - Maiko brought along her project that she had made last week at a class she took from Irene Tan - another incredible and famous scrapper. She brought along her project just to show me! Little old me. How cool is that!

Overall it was a positive, learning experience for all of us. I think we had fun and now we can look forward to December, Christmas and New Years and all the joys of the holiday season.

Thank you so much for stopping by my little corner of the web. Please come again.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Busy Bee

No, not the templates made by Sasha of Busy Bee Designs. Although I love them too, but that's not what this one is about. This is just to say Hello and sorry for being absent. Been a busy bee.

Tuesday is our winter craft bazaar and I've been going a bit crazy making stuff, or just trying to get the stuff that I started weeks ago done. Think I finally managed most of it.

A very wonderful part of this weekend has been that my daughter owes me $10. I never let my kids pay me back in money, they always get the opportunity to work off their debt. Call it my little lessons in reality. So today, right when I needed help the most, my daughter was there for me and washed our living room, dining room and tatami room windows - inside and out. They needed it. Badly. And considering I have probably near to 100 ladies coming into those rooms on Tuesday for the bazaar the timing was perfect. While she was doing that, I was busy hanging a little garland, putting out my Nativity set and trying to clean up my crafting mess. Thank you my darlin' daughter. And not to be outdone, my dear son cooked dinner for us. Pancakes, eggs and ham. Love my babes!

Well, instead of rambling on any longer, I have some photos for you of what I've been up to these past several weeks. All the finishing details will have to be done tomorrow, or not at all. Wish me luck!

Waterfall Mini Albums

Just a few of the beaded ornaments I make. Nothing spectacular, but fun to make.

Door hangers. I had hoped to get more than just two done, but ran out of time and mojo.
Approximately 50 beaded watchbands and necklace dangles made using kits by Scarlet Lime. I'll be sure to take some pictures on the day of the bazaar to show them off more properly.

 And very fortunately - because this was a huge time and effort saver. Since we didn't have a winter bazaar last year, I still have all of the tags I and cards I made last year for various CTs.

And last but not least, the only new CT thing I have to show for the past few weeks. I made this for a dear friend of mine, who has helped me out this past year in so many ways. Using Early Bird by Erica Zane, guest designer at TDC during Nov 2011.

As always, thank you so much for stopping by my little corner of the web. Please come again soon!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Two Too Cool

Just a quick post because its Saturday and I'm home alone! Yipee! Quiet, peaceful alone time. I'm working on a big project and I can't wait to see how it comes out. Going to take some time though. I actually should be getting ready for the craft bazaar but....

First of my Two Too Cool stories. Have a look at this tutorial from the Hybrid Chick - Digi Nails! Is this not the coolest thing. One of these days I must give this a try!

Second Two Too Cool. A page I made for DSD weekend has been featured on Gallery Pretties on One Story Down! I'd never heard of the site before, but when I went to visit it I was thoroughly impressed with all the fun crafty information. You can bet that I added them to my daily blogroll.

made using All Spice by Mari Koegelenberg
misc elements from Emporium and Around the World by TDC Designers
alpha from Sugar Sands Beach by Etc. by Danyale
page template from Solos, Part 3 by Busy Bee Designs

Okay, I'm off to play, or take a nap. Whichever comes first.

Thank you so much for stopping by my little corner of the web. Please come again soon!

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Six Halloween parties, one CT call welcome, one DSD challenge, one annual hip-hop dance performance, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Crazy couple of weeks around here - mostly happy-busy I think. Halloween is finished, big sigh of relief! Daughter's dance performance is finished, big sigh of relief! Creative Team call brings new challenge chicks (and other chicks as well) to The Digichick, big sigh of relief! The Digichick 2011 Digital Scrapbooking Day - FB Freebies Challenge and FB hop are live, big sigh of relief! Not that I was in charge of them all by any means, but I had to play my little part and its just nice to see the projects being successful.

Speaking of DSD, or Digital Scrapbooking Day... I'll bet my non-scrapping friends didn't even know there was such a thing... come on over to the Digichick for our DSD Challenge. You can actually complete the challenge with all-new, free supplies! You just need your computer and a suitable software program.

The main point of the challenge is to make your page using the FB freebies, and to journal about a secret to your scrapbooking success. Here is the page I came up with.

various TDC and Guest Designers FB Freebies

In other TDC news, a huge welcome to the new Creative Team members at The Digichick:

Amy (anrobe)
Becca (Becca236)
Emilie (stevens89)
Jenna (sweeet)
Jennifer (jennyf92)
Kate (cardinalskate)
Lena (Lena Gardner)
Melanie (melrio)
Michelle (mhreen08)
Ramona (Ramona the Pest)

And because we had so many fantastic applicants,
we'll be having lots of guests over the next couple months:

Jude (Judet) November
Trista (ScrappyT) December
Patricia (scrappyladystudios) December
Chel (Chel) December
jamie (inkspots) December
Heidi (scrappurple) January
Alisa (ayaandjudah) January
tropt (tropt) February
chloe (chloe) February

Many of these talented scrappers have joined the Challenge Chicks team, I'm so excited!

I do have one additional page to show, this one is made with yet another incredible design from the lovely and talented ladies who are ViVa Artistry.

Winter Solstice by ViVa Artistry
Fall Flavors - Cinnamon Spice by Busy Bee Designs

So now that November is upon us you would think I could constantly breathe these huge sighs of relief. Alas, now my frantic preparations for the winter craft bazaar begin. I've made several of the Scarlet Lime watches and necklaces, even a few other crafts as well. But this month will be a crafting and cleaning month for me. Crafting in order to sell the lovely goodies, and cleaning because 26 days from now about 100 women will all be crammed into my house. I hope they will focus their attention on the lovely hand-made crafts before them and not so much on my dirty nooks and crannies.

As always, thank you so much for stopping by my little corner of the web. Please come again soon!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Enzymes part 2

Its been more than a week, but I just didn't feel like the enzymes were done brewing. For one thing, they didn't foam up like Tomoko-sensei told me they would. I was wondering if I did something wrong, asked her but she told me not to worry about it. So this evening I strained them.

Here is what they look like still in the bucket. See how the fruits and veggies have all shriveled up. Everyday when I stirred them I would give each handful and good squeeze to try and get the juices out.

First thing was to put all the contents in a mesh net and get the juices out.

Next thing is to add the Umi no Sei. Kerry told me that these are natural enzymes from the sea. You can drink it straight for your daily enzyme intake, but its very expensive. It also contains iodine and this is why its effective against radiation. Very important in Japan nowadays.

Finally, I put it all in bottles. From 3 kg of fruits and veggies mixed with 3.3 kg of sugar, I got nearly 4 liters of enzymes.

The leftover fruits and veggies are still full of healthy nutrients! Tomoko-sensei said they can be ground up in a food processor and added (about 1 tbs) to stews and curry, even put into a small mesh bag and put into a hot bath to make your skin all soft. (You know how the Japanese luv their baths.)

From now I'll have to keep all 4 liters and the leftover fruits and veggies in the fridge. Starting tomorrow the kids and I will be drinking a little each day. I hope we stay healthy this winter! These enzymes are supposed to help boost our immunity, so we'll see!

As always, thank you so much for stopping by my little corner of the web. Please come again soon.