Category Archives: adventures

Pen Pal Stationery Tour Part One

TestPatern and Kimberly in JapanA crazy fun fact about our trip to Japan: it coincided with my pen pal April’s trip to Japan! We didn’t have a ton of time together, but we did spend an entire day doing a Pen Pal Stationery Tour along the Chuo Line out to the outskirts of Tokyo. Naoto and I did some of these shops last time, but I wanted to revisit them, particularly Hachimakura and Yamada Stationery, and to visit a new shop or two. Yamada is one of my favorite shops in all of Japan. They have stationery lines that are unique and harder to find in Tokyo. Their merchandising is so good. As you can see, there are so many nooks and crannies to explore and find more papery goodness! Some of my favorite things are on the rack above. They have a whole library line with washi tape, stickers, library cards and pockets, buttons…it’s all so good! Next stop was Torino where they don’t allow photography inside. (Don’t tell on us because apparently we took a few last time we visited…oops!) Fun fact: Naoto left his phone on the ledge outside of Torino and we didn’t realize until we’d traveled all the way to the next station. We thought it was gone forever, but nope…it was still there. No one touched it! It was very stressful in the moment, but afterwards, it gave us all a laugh, and of course reminded us that Japan Does It Better

I’ll be back on Monday with part two of our day together! Hopefully it will be sunny enough this weekend for me to take a few pictures of my purchases. 

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mt labo

mt laboIt took two tries (thanks to new year closings) but we made it to the mt lab (mt labo) towards the end of our trip. The shop is so spare and clean…it was seriously a dream place to shop. walls of washi, mt tape, washi tape, mt labo walls of washi, mt tape, washi tape, mt labo walls of washi, mt tape, washi tape, mt labowalls of washi, mt tape, washi tape, mt laboAll of the washi tapes were organized by color. (You know how I love to ROY G BIV things!) The regular tapes were in clear cylinders all along the left side of the shop. It was so hard not to buy every single one. limited edition mt tape, mt tape, washi tape, mt laboThere was a whole table of limited edition tapes that can only be bought at this store. walls of washi, mt tape, washi tape, mt labo walls of washi, mt tape, washi tape, mt laboThey had these new clear sheet stickers that can be used to add a pop of color to clear trays, phone cases, or whatever you want. I didn’t buy any of them, but they were neat! mt bags, mt tape, washi tape, mt labo mt bags, mt tape, washi tape, mt laboThey also had these fun, one-of-a-kind collage bags made of mt banners from different special mt events throughout Japan. Isn’t that such a cool way to reuse something that would normally end up in the trash?limited edition mt tape, cut in the store,, mt tape, washi tape, mt labo, mt tape cutterOne of the other cool features of the store was the tape cutter that cuts rolls of washi tape into different thicknesses. They were nice enough to do a demo for us. First they rolled the tape onto the cardboard tube.

After that they cut the tape into thin, medium, and thick rolls. It was neat to see the pattern of the master tape change based on the width of the tape.

limited edition mt tape, cut in the store,, mt tape, washi tape, mt laboThey sold all of the different widths at the counter. walls of washi, mt tape, washi tape, mt labowalls of washi, mt tape, washi tape, mt laboThis is the face of someone who was shopping in her merchandised zen.I think I was pretty restrained in my purchases!

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Nengajō Day

nengajo, 2020 new year postcardsWhen we decided to go to Japan over the new year, I was so excited to send nengajo! On January 2nd, Naoto took me to the post office at Tokyo Station so I could write my postcards and send them with new year stamps. I bought these cards at Loft on New Year’s Day. It’s the year of the rat, so I ran with the mouse theme. nengajo, 2020 new year postcardsThe Japan Post issued these cute stamps for 2020. There’s some kind of lottery involved with them, but since I sent them overseas, I’m not sure what a winner would do if their number was drawn. Station master's office, Tokyo StationI wrote all of my postcards in the letter room at the Kitte mall while Naoto entertained himself at the station master’s desk. Letter Room, KitteSomething new since the last time we visited is this &Post mobile letter writing truck. We didn’t get to see the truck in action but I’m following it on Instagram to see what happens. They also had this book, Letters by Noriko Kudo. I love the colored pencil drawings and the collaged pages with handwritten letters. (I’ve been on the hunt for a copy of my own since we got home…I want to add it to my library of mail books. I wrote the last of my nengajo on the Narita Express on the way to the airport. I also stocked up on some postcards for next new year because there were so many good ones! (Of course those don’t have mice or the year 2020 on them!)

nengajo mailboxP.S. There is a special mailbox for the nengajo.

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Italian in Tokyo

Every year we explore Sangenjaya more and more and find all sorts of great little gems in our hotel neighborhood. We always talk about staying someplace else but I really just love going back to the same spot and since we’re still finding things we love there, why not?

This time we found this cute little Italian spot and it was one of the best meals of our trip. (I know I say that a lot…but seriously, the food in Japan is almost always amazing.)dried fava beans with cinnamonFor starters, we got these cinnamon coated fava beans that were delicious and weird and just a tiny bit sweet. salad with yuzu dressingAnd we got a salad with chicken and yuzu dressing…it’s hard to ever say no to yuzu. Italian gyozaWe were really intrigued by these Italian gyoza on the menu. They were filled with regular gyoza fillings (cabbage, pork, garlic, ginger) but were topped with fresh tomato sauce and Parmesan. When we ordered them, I thought they’d have a different filling, something more…Italian? But they were really good and we want to recreate something similar at home. butter shoyu pastaAnother dish we want to perfect at home is butter shoyu pasta…this one had cremini mushrooms and chives on top…it’s umami heaven. If we ever find a good recipe, I’ll share it here. margharita pizzaAnd of course we ordered margharita pizza…Japan really does a charred crust so well.

sparkling wineNeither of us remember what cocktails we had to start…we really need to be better about writing our little food diaries down since it’s something we enjoy so much on our travels. But my second drink was this filllllled to the brim glass of sparkling wine and it was delightful. We also had tiramisu for dessert and failed to capture it, but it was the perfect end to another perfect meal in Tokyo.

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Traveler’s Factory at Narita Airport

Traveler's Factory Narita AirportI’m always so happy when we fly out of Terminal 1 at Narita Airport so I can shop one last time before we get on the plane! We didn’t get any good pictures of the Tokyo Station Traveler’s Shop, but I thought I’d share the airport pictures while we’re on a TN kick. Traveler's Notebook stickers, Traveler's Factory Airport, narita airportThey had a huge selection of baggage stickers at the airport. Traveler's Notebook stickers, Traveler's Factory Airport, narita airport, limited edition refills Traveler's Notebook stickers, Traveler's Factory Airport, narita airport, Pan Am accessoriesSeriously, how did I not buy it all? Traveler's Store Narita AirportThis is what I did end up getting…which is plenty. I love the little Narita facts postcard. And…I can’t believe I’d resisted the reading bookmarks for as long as I did!

I always say I’m going to share my Traveler’s Notebook here, but I never do because it’s kind of just a bit of a scrapbook and a journal and there are way better examples on Instagram. But maybe someday I’ll share anyway…

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Traveler’s Factory

Traveler's FactoryBecause we got to Japan on New Year’s Day, we had to wait for some smaller shops to open after the new year break. At the Traveler’s Factory, it was worth the wait. Traveler's Factory lottery lineWe ended up going on one of our last days in Japan and we were surprised to see a line out the door when we got there. This was our third visit and in previous trips, I’d been the only one in the store! They were having a special lottery for the new year! We were 111th in line, so the gentleman at the door told us we could walk around the neighborhood and come back in an hour if we wanted to…so we went to the grocery store down the block. (Visiting grocery stores is Naoto’s favorite Japanese pastime.) Kimberly and Naoto, Travelers Factory visitWe came back close to our time and had a good time chatting with our line neighbors. Everyone was in good spirits, patient, and friendly. It seemed like people came from all over for the event. Every so often, the crowd inside cleared out enough that they allowed another group inside.  shopping at Traveler's FactoryIt was very crowded inside! I’m glad I had been there before and kind of had the lay of the land enough to know what sections I wanted to spend the most time shopping. shopping at Traveler's Factory shopping at Traveler's Factory shopping at Traveler's Factory shopping at Traveler's Factory shopping at Traveler's Factory shopping at Traveler's Factory shopping at Traveler's Factory shopping at Traveler's Factory shopping at Traveler's Factory Naoto took some pictures around the store while I shopped and caught me at the stamping station, which is always one of the highlights of visiting the Traveler’s Stores. There was a special stamp for the new year, of course. I stamped it in my Japan book where I kept track of our trip. About the lottery…for every ¥1000 (about $10 USD) spent, I got a ticket to take upstairs for chances to win limited edition Traveler’s products. Each ticket was a chance at the vintage gumball machine, which was filled with little capsules that held the prize. It was seriously so much fun!Traveler's Notebook limited edition, new years lotteryHere’s what I won: three limited edition passport-size refills, a big 2020 sticker, and a little Traveler’s sticker pack. The 2020 sticker is currently adorning my 2020 refill. Traveler's notebook refills, 2020 refills And, here’s what I bought. I used the lottery as an opportunity/excuse to stock up on refills. I got three limited edition ones, and three plain ones. Traveler's Notebook accessoriesThe Traveler’s accessories are my favorite things. The letterpress cards and stickers were new this year and every Traveler’s shop has a limited edition washi tape. (One of those pictured above is from the Tokyo Station store.)

Tomorrow, I have a quick post about the Traveler’s Factory at Narita Airport. Then maybe some foodie posts? Or some current life posts! I can’t believe it’s already the middle of February!

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Bar Lariat

We celebrated Naoto’s birthday in Japan on January 5th. I found this local craft cocktail bar, Bar Lariat, in “our neighborhood” near our usual hotel and I insisted we try it. bar LariatFive years ago, we went to Mixology near Tokyo Station and we had a great time…all the time not knowing that this tiny gem of a bar was within walking distance of our hotel! There is no menu. You just let the bartender know what kind of drink you’re in the mood for and he creates something for you. I will admit that this kind of stressed me out. I didn’t want to drink something terrible…but it turns out, the bartender is a great listener and he hit it out of the ballpark all night! With our first cocktail, we were given this little amuse-bouche, cheese and a dried apricot. To start, Naoto ordered something like a Moscow Mule. And I requested something bright and gin based. The bartender muddled a ginko with gin and some other mixers and I was handed a refreshing, delicious cocktail. When Naoto told me a ginko would be part of my drink, I was scared. Have you ever smelled a ginko tree? It’s not good!  But the fruit was really delicious! Kind of sweet and orangey? For his second drink, Naoto had a vodka and kumquat. I finished the night with a yuzu cocktail. Everything about this drink, and especially the delicate chilled glass, was perfection. I felt so fancy drinking here! Naoto had a coffee liquor drink for dessert.  bar lariatWe definitely want to go back on our next visit. The bar only has ten seats and it’s dark and cozy inside. The owner, Masahiro-San, is an expert in his craft and he really creates a relaxing ambiance in his shop. Thanks to him, we ended Naoto’s birthday on a high note!

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Petite Boutique 2019

This week I’m preparing for another Petite Boutique! Prepping for this show always reminds me of how quickly the year goes…I can’t believe the holiday season is back again. This is my fourth year at Petite Boutique, which you may remember was my first ever craft show! Petite Boutique kicks off my holiday show season–I have three shows in November and one in December. If you’re local, this page has all of the information on where to find me this season.

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It Feels Like Fall

I took this picture of Naoto last week when temperatures were still warm. It has been so cold ever since! We haven’t turned our heat on yet, but nights are cold and I’m wearing a jacket every time I leave the house. It’s amazing you can go from skirts and sandals to socks and jackets almost overnight. We had a light frost this past week, so I assume our garden is done…we need to go and clear off our dead plants, pick the last of the carrots, and plant our garlic so we can have a fresh start next year. I brought in all of the balcony plants I want to overwinter, so now I have to figure out where they’re going to live.

I’m looking forward to the weekend. Tonight, I’m going to a marujuana forum for Forest Park. Recreational marujuana is going to be legal in Illinois starting on January 1st so a lot of communities are deciding right now if having a dispensary or growing facility is right for them. It’s all been an interesting learning experience! Last time I live-tweeted it because it was so entertaining. And tomorrow is book club and live music at Goldyburgers! I can hardly wait!

Have a good weekend!

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The Garden is Still Growing

I haven’t been to the garden as much as I’d like lately. Naoto has been running down to harvest tomatoes and basil and herbs on an as-needed basis, but yesterday, we were both home and free to go together. As usual, our plot is a jungle of tomato vines, but this year, it’s also a jungle of overgrown herbs and nasturtium! Look at that nasturtium!! I just can’t believe how the plant took off. It seemed like it wasn’t going to do much but now it’s huge and it has lots of flowers inside the big poof a leaves. I just found a recipe for nasturtium pesto, so I think we might experiment with that soon…which is good timing because our basil is done. Some of our tomatoes were slow to produce this summer thanks to the white fly infestation that plagued the garden. But we’ve gotten a decent harvest from our Juliet and a few other heirlooms. We haven’t been overloaded with tomatoes like we have in the past, but it’s definitely enough for us to feel good about plot 6 this summer. I picked a bunch of zinnias, nasturtiums, and marigolds to make a little bouquet for my desk. The zinnias are as tall as me and still going strong. And in other happy garden news, my tiny carrots are coming in! I planted them kind of late in the spring and they were quickly overshadowed by the tomato plants, so I didn’t have very much hope for a harvest, but I think it’s going to be decent! I’m not quite ready to pick them all, but I wanted to do a little test. This variety is supposed to be only 2-3 inches big. We’ve never had luck with root vegetables, so I decided to try a tiny kind and I think it worked!

How is your garden growing? Any other ideas for my nasturtium bounty?

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