March served up a valuable reminder about the importance of being flexible. Even the best of plans need to be agile. I had high hopes of blogging every week, getting a fresh coat of paint up in the bathroom, reorganizing the bookshelves, and so so many other things. But between work, school, and apparently trying for the world’s record for longest cold – life had other plans in mind.
And with Spring making an early debut, it was all a very good reminder to live in the moment. To see the beauty in the fleeting of time and live life to the fullest no matter how mundane the task is. Truly the secret to a very rich life.
The first of this year's cherry blossoms at BBG.
Hanami, the Japanese tradition of flower viewing this time of year, epitomizes being in the moment. The blossoming of the cherry blossoms usually last one or two weeks at best. The perfect excuse to slow down, take a deep breath, and simply enjoy Spring’s splendor.
Several year’s had past since my last visit to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. And so yesterday my better half and I put aside our carefully laid out weekend plans to dash off and see the Sakura. The Japanese Garden has the first shocks of bright pink. Cherry Esplanade is patiently waiting to provide the crescendo for the season.
We are thinking of heading back in a couple of weeks to celebrate the Easter holiday. But between now and then I am certain to be more aware of my surroundings. I hope you and your loved ones are also able to gather together and celebrate Spring’s ephemeral beauty.
2012 has been off to a very busy start. Between lots of business travel, starting classes, and a bout with a nasty cold, I did sneak in a bit of time for myself. While it has been a very mild winter this year the fact remains that I live in an older home. It comes with “character” I believe is the polite expression. Meaning it has with its age developed many quirks, one of which is that it stays relatively cool inside all year round.
To accommodate this charming character, I now have a growing collection of fleece vests. They add just the right extra amount of warmth. The challenge is they are not exactly cute. I do keep hoping that Timberland or The North Face will release a collection in pink… but am not holding my breath.
So I squeezed in a sewing project to add a pink fleece vest to my room wear options. Nothing fancy and there are many things I would change if I made a second one. But all-in-all it does its job nicely.
Looks like I have been over indulging in the cutesy, frilly stuff as of late. So with March approaching think I will dive a bit more into Life’s Essential #3 – Shelter. Seems appropriate to spend some time talking about Home Sweet Home as I always suffer from cabin fever in the last month of Winter. Time can drag on anxiously awaiting spring so let’s make good use of the time spent indoors.
Wishing the staff of Angelic Pretty, Secret Garden, and all the lovely Lolitas of San Francisco many thanks. It was a pleasure to meet and spend time with you today. The tea party was was wonderful.
Delicious tea service at Secret Garden.
A competitive round of janken (rock-paper-scissors.)
Prizes were given for those who could stack the most sweet hearts. I personally liked this team's creativity.
I won a Wonder Cookie poster - kawaii. A free lunch bag was given to all who attended.
Reminiscing on the day's memories back at the hotel.
What a treat. I was asked for work, very last minute, to participate in meetings with a vendor out in San Francisco. And the timing could not be more perfect. It puts me there right in time to enjoy Angelic Pretty’s “Angelic Valentine Tea Party.”
No sooner had I booked my flight and hotel then I was on AP’s web site checking availability of tickets. Received an affirmative confirmation yesterday.
The theme is Valentine’s Day which is perfect. (One guess as to what color I will style around.) My only issue is that I don’t own an Angelic Pretty dress. The reason is simple – way too small on me. So I am going to wear the competition, Baby The Stars Shine Bright, for my main piece. I am a bit nervous about it, feels rude. So to make up for it, I will accessorize like there is no tomorrow with all my AP accoutrements.
Maybe later today or tomorrow I’ll pull out everything and pop it on my dressform to share the coordinate. Very excited.
Confession – it drives my nuts when I hear someone say they are bored. How can anyone possibly be bored!? There are just way too many happy and interesting things to occupy one’s time with. If you already know it all – well I guess congratulations then on having the biggest ego on the planet. My philosophy is the minute you stop learning you might as well be dead.
To keep my mind sharp, I dabble and love to take random classes. For example, in February I am excited to begin Japanese language lessons through Japan Society. [I have put this one off for far too long.] Last winter it was screen printing at 3rd Ward in Brooklyn. A couple summers ago was a refresher sewing course at Sew Fast Sew Easy in Manhattan. [If you are a fan of Project Runway, as a little trivia, Kenley was an instructor at SFSE.] Before that I had fun with Stained Glass at Pratt. And long before that were French lessons at French Institute Alliance Française. All of these courses I personally invested in outside of conferences, webinars and other professional courses that I regularly engage in specific to my “day job.”
The doodle I drafted for screen printing at 3rd Ward.
Seeing it spelled out it does sound like a rather schizophrenic list. But I believe the subject matter is not the important factor. Instead it is the act of putting your mind through the discipline of coursework. I honestly don’t think I would be as successful as I am in business if I didn’t take these opportunities to stretch myself and sustain a “beginner’s” mind. These classes force me to look at life with a fresh set of eyes.
It is a pitfall I see all to often in Corporate America. “I am so experienced, I have done this a hundred times, I can do it in my sleep.” While I am a huge fan of tried-and-true processes, everyday presents us with a new opportunity to do things better than we have ever done before.
So the next time you are bored – run, don’t walk, to your computer. Jump online and search for a lesson near you. Any lesson! And let me know how it goes.
I have a creative job working in digital marketing, but I like to dabble in more traditional crafts in my spare time. It is such a rush making something by hand that you can use. Taking advantage of the long holiday weekend I had some fun.
It would be an understatement to say that I like Japanese Alternative Fashion. The challenge – my comfortable U.S. size medium is a Plus Size by Japan’s standards. Some of the most extraordinary designs are out of reach for me. So I mustered up my determination and whipped up a cutsew blouse and one piece dress this weekend.
Pink 100% Cotton Cutsew T-shirt
I favor a more relaxed form of Lolita fashion, so a comfortable cutsew shirt is a critical staple; works well under a jumperskirt or as is with a skirt. As far as patterns go, I use them more as guides than as rules. For this I took some liberties using New Look’s pattern 6078.
The collar was a bit of a challenge, as I wanted a pullover and the pattern was for a button up, but it worked out very well in the end. My only regret with this piece is the ruffle at the hem. I used left over fabric from another project and there wasn’t a lot of wiggle room. Would have preferred the ruffle be about a 1/2 inch wider, but this was all I could mange.
Rose Print 100% Cotton Cutsew Onepiece Dress
The dress again is made from knit/jersey. I was going for something more Otome Kei than Lolita with this. My muse was Milk. I followed Vogue pattern V8411 pretty closely for the dress, but added neck straps and altered the pleating a bit.
Added a little decorative stitch as well across the front. It is a subtle touch that added some extra structure to support the weight of the pleating.
The inspirtion for this weekend’s projects: Aoki Misako, Baby the Stars Shine Bright, Angelic Pretty, Milk and Emily Temple Cute.
Well it’s back to work tomorrow. Hope everyone had a lovely holiday. Happy 2012!
Wishing you all prosperity and happiness in 2012.
Lucky Pack Post: If it is not food, clothing, shelter or money… then it must be a surprise.
One of the characteristics I pride myself on is that I am not a fixed point. Meaning there is so much in this world to explore, so why limit yourself to a narrow, well-defined persona. I have a very broad range of interests from snowboarding to sewing and many things in between. But there is one persistent passion that has remained throughout the years – a love for Japanese culture and design. But where did it begin?
While a specific object or moment can’t be pointed to, it is very clear my first encounters began with my grandparents. They were very well traveled and their home reflected an avid fascination with the Orient.
An immaculate silk folding screen hand painted with Fuji-san in different seasons hung above their dining room table. For a summer robe to lounge around in I was given a ryokan yukata – I wore it until it was threadbare. And the piece-de-resistance was a set of porcelain buttons my grandmother gave me. They were painstakingly handcrafted into miniature Noh masks.
I haven’t yet been to Japan, but as the New Year approaches a long awaited trip moves from my 5-year plan down to the 1-year plan. 2012 is going to be full of planning and research, some of which might spill over here onto LSE. So for my first “lucky pack” post – we begin the journey to Kyoto 2013.
My friends and colleagues got into a festive holiday Recipe Exchange this week. The idea is to send a recipe that is something quick, easy, and without rare ingredients (that last bit was a challenge for me.) As the game goes, “the best one is the one you know in your head and can type right now. Don’t agonize over it because it is the one you make when you are short of time.”
For me the reply was easy: Asian Aioli
Perfect as a sauce/dressing for fresh steamed vegetables and anything grilled/BBQ.
I have even put it on pasta when I am r-e-a-l-l-y lazy.
- 1 cup Japanese mayonnaise
[Kewpie is my fave! How can you resist something that is yummy and cute?]
- 3 tablespoons shoyu/soy sauce
[try any you like, I dig this one]
- 3 tablespoons mirin
[I like this one, it is not too sweet]
- ½ teaspoon crushed garlic
[if you like garlic add more, if you don’t add less – if you are super lazy, use powdered garlic (but it won’t taste as good)]
- Pinch of black pepper
[add to your taste]
- A few drops of sriracha or hot sauce
[again to taste, and do pick your favorite hot sauce, I am partial to Huy Fong]
Instructions: Put all the ingredients into a big bowl and whisk until you have a smooth, creamy consistency. Yes that is how easy it is!!!
It keeps for at least a month in the fridge!
I am fortunate to have access to several fantastic Asian Grocers near me. For this recipe I find everything needed at Daido in White Plains, NY.
Get yourself one of these squeeze bottles from The Container Store (conviently located down the street from Daido in White Plains) to keep your yummy aioli in.
P.S. The cute stars I used on my recipe card came from funtosee.com. They have some sweet room decor items for keiki (kids). Also, here is the Recipe Exchange email if you want to try it yourself.
We are participating in a collective, constructive, and hopefully Tasty experiment. As such, you have been invited to be part of a recipe exchange concept. We hope you will participate. We have picked those we think would make this fun. Please send a recipe to the person whose name is in position 1 (even if you don’t know him/her) and it should be something quick, easy, and without rare ingredients. Actually, the best one is the one you know in your head and can type right now. Don’t agonize over it because it is the one you make when you are short of time.
After you have sent the recipe to the person in position 1 below and only to that person, copy this letter into a new email, move my name to position 1 and put your name in position 2. Only my and your name should show when you send your email. Send to 20 friends BCC (blind copy). If you cannot do this within 5 days, let us know so it will be fair to those participating. You should receive 36 recipes. Seldom does anyone drop out because we all need new ideas. The turnaround is fast as there are only 2 names on the list, and you only have to do it once!
1. A Friend’s Email Address Here
Oh, and I am not affiliated with any of the stores or products mentioned. I am just really fussy about food and what I eat.
2. Your Email Address Here
Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving. Crepes are on the menu at our house this year. The first will be a savory dish with shrimp, mushrooms and goat cheese. Then a sweet version for dessert – a combination crepe + souffle – yum!
Just one of the many critters who live in the back yard.
Still have some Beaujolais Nouveau as well. This year’s is Antonin Rodet. Picked it up at Le Wine Shop in Greenwich, CT. Etienne’s shop is a local gem, specializing in smaller vineyards and second labels. Amazing selections for fantastic prices.
What’s on the menu at your house?
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