Tag Archives: adventures

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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My Kakimori Journal

Kakimori notebook, red leather, gold accentsHere it is! (Was it worth the wait?) Kakimori notebook, blue book clothAfter much deliberation, (You can ask Naoto how many times I picked up something and put it back, only to end up with something really basic!) I decided to go with a red leather cover and I stuck with the peacock blue book cloth for the back. I didn’t think the yellow and white book cloth would hold up well over time. Plus, I love red and I love blue, and the yellow doesn’t really fit my vibe…I couldn’t see myself really loving it once I got it home. kakimori notebook kakimori notebook, gold accents kakimori notebook, gold accentsPlus, I really wanted gold accents and that didn’t seem to fit with the yellow pattern vibe. I forgot to mention yesterday that you can also choose your binding colors and other accents for your book. We didn’t get a good picture of those options, but you can see them here. I didn’t add a pen loop or an elastic because I like a simple notebook, but seriously, you can have so much fun adding all the accouterments you like! Kakimori notebook, red leather, gold accents, blue bookclothIf everything in my life could be these two colors, I would be happy. kakimori notebook, fools paperI ended up going with Fool’s Paper for my insides. It’s also a fountain pen friendly paper and when I tested it at the store, I loved how it worked with a 2B pencil, a fountain pen, and a regular thin gel pen. It’s so smooth! kakimori notebook, fools paperkakimori notebook, fools paperkakimori notebook, fools paperBecause I could, I got a mix of lined, dot grid, plain, and grid papers. kakimori notebook, fools paperI also added an envelope to the back, because why not? kakimori postcard, black paper notesIn addition to my notebook, I bought a Kakimori postcard and this notepad.

The notepad has ten different kinds of black paper inside, with all sorts of textures. I sampled it in the store and thought it was fun, and I’m looking forward to using it in my Travelers Notebook and for little notes here and there. kakimori, letterpress birthday postcardsAnd I couldn’t pass up these cute birthday postcards that came with a tiny pencil so you can draw in flames for the number of candles the recipient is celebrating. Genius, right?

If you’re in Tokyo, I highly recommend Kakimori for stationery lovers. I made a small (A4 size) notebook, but they also offer A5 which would be an amazing size for a scrapbook if you filled it with one of the heavier paper options. It’s just such a neat experience to make something just for yourself…now to see if I can get into the habit of using it! I’ll report back!

 

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Kakimori

Kakimori It feels like we just got home from Japan…which could explain why all of our Japanese snacks and stationery treats are still sprawled across my desk and Christmas isn’t completely put away yet…but I digress.

Kakimori was one of my favorite stops this trip. It’s a notebook boutique where you can create your own completely custom notebook. Kakimori’s goal is “to re-evaluate the importance of writing.” Their philosophy is if you can build the perfect notebook, you will spend more time using it. That’s my goal…to use this notebook. kakimori custom notebook paper wallThere is a wall of cubbies where you choose your covers and guts. From book cloth covers, to fancy waxed paper covers and leather covers, the combinations were endless. I had such a hard time deciding. Kakimori notebook coversYou can kind of get a peek of the options here. There is really something for everyone, and also their stock seems to change a bit over time. There were some samples with this grid book cloth that was so fabulous, I think it affected my decision-making because I was so bummed it wasn’t in stock for me to use. Kakimori book cloth coversThis was my choice…or so I thought. kakimori paper samplesOnce I decided on my covers, I moved on to choose the insides. At first I was dead set on Tomoe River paper, but I write on that every day in my Hobonichi and when I tested some other papers, I decided to go with something new. You could also choose black or kraft paper, book journal paper (where it had boxes to rate books and write mini synopses,) and other guided papers.Kakimori paper choices
Kakimori pen selection
In addition to making your own notebook, Kakimori offers a wide range of fountain pens, pencils, and other writing utensils. I am not really a fountain pen user…I can’t get my handwriting to look nice when I write with one, but I always enjoy checking out various inks and pens while I’m shopping. Kakimori pen testingThey had a well-curated selection of other specialty pens and markers. I’m always on the look out for a good white or silver pen. kakimori pencil station kakimori pencil stationI don’t neeeeeed any pencils, but I really loved the script on this French pencil. (I did not buy it because I have a lifetime supply of pencils and then some…) Kakimori finished journalsOnce you choose your journal materials, it takes a bit of time for them to put it together. There is a little waiting room with finished journals you can purchase. Instead of sticking around the store, we decided to go to Dandelion Chocolate for a treat while we waited. Dandelion CoffeeThat s’more thing on the right…I still dream about it.

I’ll be back tomorrow to share my notebook and the other stationery I bought at Kakimori!

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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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Garage Galleries 2019

My last show for August was Forest Park’s Garage Galleries. It was my second year participating and this year was even better than the last. Our garage host, Mary, was fabulous and welcoming. She created a whole little snack station for our guests to enjoy, even bringing out a tray of pigs in a blanket around dinner time! Naoto manned the food and drink table, offering snacks and water and wine to all of the garage visitors. I shared the garage with Carolyn Dunn and Kennedy Shenberg. The Garage Gallery organizers are always so great about varying the types of work in each garage. I’m really liking my new double rack set-up. I don’t have as much space for my framed pieces though, so I’m still working on making that less crowded, but my cards are the bread & butter of the business so it makes sense to give them the most real estate. I’m hoping to have a new logo and sign before the holiday shows start up in November…eeks!

The top picture is a “limited edition” postcard I made for Garage Galleries. No one bought them so now they’re going to be thank you notes for the GG organizers and our garage host. Sometimes you try something and it doesn’t catch on…I really love that stamp though, so I’m going to bring it back as a “You’re a work of art” card again.

Next week, I’ll start preparing for the Brookfield Fine Arts Fest and Empowering Gardens Music, Art, and Wine event. I’m trying to be more proactive with my preparations so that I am not cramming at the last minute, or so I have time for last minute ideas. “Always trying and failing to be more organized” is going to end up on my headstone, I swear.

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