Tuesday, 30 March 2010


Over the last week we've had weather ranging from this...

...to this, including wet and windy days too. Brrr.

On Sunday we visited H's aunt and uncle who live in the mountains, where we were greeted with sleet and a temperature of 2 degrees. I was surprised at how much snow was still around too. Later in the day it warmed up though, causing the fields to steam!

I'm hoping for better weather this weekend, so that I can have a pleasant drive down to Niimi to see Nico on Saturday and maybe a bit of hanami (cherry-blossom viewing) on Sunday...

New business cards

The photo doesn't do them justice, but I am very pleased with my new cards from Moo! I used photos of fabric from my shop for the front of the cards and they look great. The cards themselves are lovely and sturdy too.

These cards were free because they have Moo and Etsy advertising on them, including a code for 10% off your first Moo order. If you want one, let me know!

Saturday, 27 March 2010

The birthday crown

If you saw the photos I posted from K's birthday, you may remember that I made him a crown. And just in case you missed it, here it is again...

I think I first got the idea for a birthday crown from one of my favourite blogs, Salt And Chocolate. I had it it my head for ages and knew I wanted to make one for K. I ordered the felt from Paper And String and started to think about how to make it.

Then, thanks to all that excitement in February known as Celebrate The Boy, I came across the blog Juicy Bits. And there in the sidebar was a tutorial for a felt crown! So thank you Jessica for saving me the bother of working out exactly how I'd make it, and for providing a pattern too.

Friday, 26 March 2010


I've been thinking about getting some business cards for my fabric shop, Strawberries and Sushi, for ages, and I've had my eye on Moo for a while. They make rather cool cards you can design yourself, and the best thing is that you can put a different image on every single card in a pack of 50! Great for a shop, don't you think?

Well now it gets even better because you can get a sample pack of cards for free (you just have to pay shipping)! They have a bit of Moo and Etsy advertising on them so they probably won't be suitable as Proper Business Cards, but I went ahead and ordered some anyway :-) I thought it'd be a good way to try them out, and I can give them to friends and people who already know me... and they're free! Where can you go wrong with that?

Mine are hopefully on their way to me right now and if you'd like some, the offer is on here until the end of April. I'll let you know when mine arrive, and might even give you one...

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

93 and counting...

93! That's the number of sales I've had in my little fabric shop so far, thanks to lots of lovely people like *you*. Thank you so much to everyone who has been supporting Strawberries And Sushi!

Now I don't know about you, but when I see '93' I think 'nearly 100'. And that seems like something to celebrate, don't you think? So whoever buys the 100th item from my shop will receive a little present :-)

I'll decide exactly what it is when I see what kind of fabric that person likes, but I suspect it may be some extra fabric... The 100th sale is only 7 items away, so don't hang about!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

St Patrick's Day

Last Sunday we went to Matsue for the annual St Patrick's Day parade. The city is most well known for its castle, but it also likes to make the most of its rather tenuous link with Ireland; the Irish writer Lafcadio Hearn lived in the city in the early 1890s, a time when foreigners were still a definite rarity in this area. Some might say they're not so common even now....

The St Patrick's Day parade started 4 years ago, but this was the first time we'd been. The weather was perfect and we had a great day of chatting with friends, eating all manner of goodies from the food stalls and, of course, watching the parade.

St Patrick himself led the parade...

... but I think this guy was the real star of the show.

There were bands and dance groups, scout troops, people in various costumes and a gang of lads hurling/attacking the spectators.

These next guys are famous cartoon characters who come from Sakaiminato, the town next to ours. In the last few years the town has really promoted itself as the home of GeGeGe No Kitaro and it's become quite a tourist destination.

K was spellbound by it all. He seemed to really enjoy watching everyone go past, especially the musical parts. And in the background, Lisa was enjoying her Guinness...

One of my favourite parts of the parade was these guys (and women, and little kids!) dressed as samurai. All very cool...

... especially the conch shell playing. They make an eerie, other-worldly sound that must have sent shivers down the spine on the battlefield.

K had great fun during the parade, and then wandered about having cuddles with everyone. This next picture has no great meaning or important significance; it's just lovely, don't you think?

And then home again, after some impromptu vintage kimono and fabric buying by me, and pebble collecting by K.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

The week that was

The good...

... a somewhat impromptu visit from Katherine; lunch with her and Cian; having Nico back in Japan; H having a day off on Thursday (and another lunch out); lovely warm weather yesterday and today; finally finishing that zippered pouch for Lisa

The bad...

... a strange little cold that knocked me out for a day or two and left me with a cough and very little voice; bitterly cold weather at the start of the week; a courtesy car that stank of cigarettes - when I switched on the fan it was as if someone was blowing smoke right at me!

And the as-yet-undecided...

... a wedding reception tomorrow evening - I don't know the bride and don't really know the groom that well, I'll be going alone and won't know many of the guests and I'll be paying 5,000 yen for it all. Ah well, it's a chance to dress up :-)

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

The Dentist Drill

Every Tuesday K goes to nursery. I work in the morning and then, in theory, have the afternoon to myself. In reality, I go to the dentist. I have been every Tuesday afternoon since December, save for one week when I was ill, and last week when I filed my taxes instead...

There are a few things here in Japan (not just at this particular dentist) that stand out as different from my dental experiences in the UK. Firstly, as you may have deduced, it takes a long time. Even a simple filling generally requires 2 or 3 visits. I had a temporary crown fitted at the end of January, and each week since then the dentist has removed it, cleaned, poked about, amended the fitting and who know what else. I swear he's been soldering in there recently. Today he fitted the permanent crown but I have another appointment for next week so your guess is as good as mine as to when it'll all be over.

The other big difference is the general set-up at the dentist. Instead of individual rooms, there are 4 dentist chairs all in one big room, with low partitions between them. The dentist works on you for a while and then goes off to someone else, coming back again a bit later. There's very little waiting time in the waiting room, but you do spend time reclining in the chair waiting for him to reappear. Most of the time I don't mind; the chairs are very comfortable and it's quite relaxing, but sometimes you do begin to wonder if they've forgotten you...

Hopefully the current round of dentistry will soon be over, and I'll be able to spend Tuesday afternoons on more enjoyable activities, most notably sewing and general making of stuff.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Don't they look pretty?

Yes, I've been messing about on the computer and finding out how to make mosiacs...

This one is of some of the fabrics I've added to the shop this week. Anything you fancy?

Friday, 12 March 2010

Building a traditional house

Some friends of ours are having a new house built, after demolishing the old one, and yesterday the frame was raised. Nowadays a lot of houses here are built from pre-fabricated panels or room-units, but with traditional wood frame houses like this one (and ours), the whole frame is put up in one day. Yesterday morning there would have been only the concrete foundations, but by 5.30 it looked like this:

Next they'll do the roof. The external walls are one of the last parts to be completed!

Can you see something up on the highest part of the frame? It's a little shrine to bless the house, just set up temporarily for that evening. The decorations will be kept though, to continue to protect the house - ours are up in the loft.

In the picture below you might be able to make out a big bottle of sake in the bottom left of the photo. Just after this the carpenters went around pouring a little sake and sprinkling some salt (both symbolic of purity and blessing) onto each corner of the house.

Then it was time for the mochi-maki, the throwing of pounded rice cakes; the reason that friends and neighbours had gathered. Our friend and his sons went up to the second floor and threw out little bags containing rice cakes and sweets, to the people waiting below. Can you see H making an impressive leap to catch some?

K and I waited behind everyone, to make sure he didn't get trampled on... He still managed to get in on the fun though, picking up a bag that landed right in front of him and then promptly throwing it again!

Finally a carpenter threw down a giant rice cake, one that had some money in it:

The house is due to be completed by the end of June and I'm looking forward to seeing it. So are our friends, I think, who are temporarily living in a small flat with most of their furniture in storage...

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

All by myself

K is A Big Boy Now, and can Do Things Himself. That seems to be the message he's sending us nowadays, anyway. He's keen to do things as the big people do, whether it be holding chopsticks at mealtimes, drinking from a proper glass, or getting himself dressed.

This is all accompanied by not wanting people to do things for him. Actually, not 'people' - me. H, H's mum and the staff at the nursery can all change K's nappy or clothes, wash his hands and face or put him to bed with the minimum of fuss. Hmmm....

K has also renounced things he deems babyish, most notably the high chair. He can reach the table quite easily when he kneels on the normal dining chairs, and I'm not concerned about him falling off. The only reason I'm sad to see the high chair go is that it kept him in one place.

Have a look at these pictures from dinner the other night. They're not great photos, but you might notice something interesting...

The eagle-eyed among you (at least, those who have been to our house) may have spotted that K is sitting in a different seat in each shot. Yes, meal times have turned into Musical Chairs at the monkey household. If H or I get up for some reason, K rushes to steal our place. And if there isn't as much movement as he would like, K comes over and tries to push me off my chair, while telling me 'bye-bye'...

All of which generally results in something like this:

Monday, 8 March 2010

Garden update

The camellias in our garden have been covered in buds all winter, and the warm weather a week or two ago prompted them to bloom.

Still lots more to come though...

The snowdrops are finishing now, but the crocuses are starting to flower...

...and the cherry will be soon.

The broccoli was slow to get going, but has now formed lovely big heads. The leaves are riddled with holes but there are no caterpillars in sight. Instead, I've spotted birds perched on the broccoli, pecking away... Feasting on the pests I suppose!

The other leaves behind the broccoli are na-no-hana, which I know as 'rape' in English, grown for its oil. Here it is grown as a vegetable too. The young shoots and flowers are considered a spring-time treat.

In other garden news...

Our friend Tim is having to move house as his place is being knocked down to extend a carpark. Boo... Even worse, his house is surrounded by lovely big trees which will all be cut down. He has managed to dig up and move some of the smaller ones, and we have acquired some things from the 'plants that will fit in the car' category - a couple of roses, a lilac, some daffodils and a couple of others I can't name.

It was rather fun, even on a cold and damp day, to get our wellies on and stomp around in the mud a bit...

Sunday, 7 March 2010

In which I bore you with photos of K on his birthday

How old are you today K?

After breakfast there was opening of birthday cards...

... and loving of birthday badges.

Then it was off to the park to watch the monkeys...

... play on the big-boy slide and see-saw...

... and of course the rocking lion.

The three of us went to one of our favourite restaurants for lunch, which was more of a treat for me and H than for K, I think. K enjoyed spotting a cat on the way there though:

Back home again, and K had a little nap in preparation for the next round of festivities: a birthday Skype with Gran and Grandad, a visit from Uncle H (complete with very fun but very loud present...) and then the birthday tea.

The crown went down well...

... especially in conjunction with sausage rolls...

...while the cake was met with indifference. Oh well.

The candles were of interest, at least.

Finally, present opening. K received lots of lovely presents from friends and family, including clothes, soft toys and a puzzle. H got a bit carried away with the online bargain shopping, resulting in a Bob the Builder book, the Bob the Builder CD, and Bob the Builder Duplo from us. Notice a pattern there?

Happy Birthday K! I hope you enjoyed your day.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Happy Birthday K

5th March 2008

5th March 2009

5th March 2010

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Done, doing, to do


A birthday crown for K
A birthday cake for K
A batch of sausage rolls for a birthday tea (notice a pattern here?)


Photographing and listing more fabric
Editing those photos
Cottage pie for dinner

To do:

Harvest our first head of broccoli, to go with that cottage pie
Decorate that birthday cake
More food for the birthday tea
Get my packages ready for the fabric swap
Sign up for Claire's pin-cushion swap?

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

New fabric in the shop!

Over the last few days I've been restocking my shop after the Celebrate The Boy bonanza. You'll find more cute fabric for boys, cute fabric for the recently-neglected girls and cute fabric for anyone at all really, as well as some beautiful traditional Japanese designs.

Why not pop over and have a look?

I still have more new things to list but it'll probably be next week until I can do that; I'm waiting for the sun to come out so that I can take some decent photos. Plus I have a little boy's birthday to get ready for...

Monday, 1 March 2010


Do you ever feel swamped by all those jobs that build up quicker than you can deal with them? And do you then, like me, feel so overwhelmed by what has to be done that you can't even get started, even though you know that it'll just get worse if you leave it?

I've got lots of projects that Need To Be Tackled, but the worst one is photos. I'm sure we are not the only doting parents who take a ridiculous number of photos of their offspring. The great thing about digital cameras is that you can take as many pictures as you like, without worrying about film or developing. The terrible thing about digital cameras is that you can take as many pictures as you like... We always say 'oh we can delete them later', but somehow it never happens. All our photos just get put onto this laptop, to be sorted and put onto CDs later. Later.

(In case you're worried, they are all stored on an external hard drive too, in case of disaster :-D )

Anyway, my procrastination has caught up with me. The other day I couldn't edit one lone picture in Photoshop because there wasn't enough space. I have literally filled this computer with photos. Just writing that made my stomach sink! So I am going to spend 15 minutes every morning sorting photos. Every Sunday I am going to do the pictures taken that week, so that the backlog only ever shrinks. I'll do it first thing, while K is still asleep, in the Mid-Level Priority Slot - after emails and the shop, before blogs and Facebook. And I am writing about it here to allow, nay encourage, you to nag me about it.

Yes, I did it this morning.