Monthly Archives: May 2010

Book Covers: A Love Affair

I love a good book jacket. So often I find myself wondering the aisles of our local library just hoping for that serendipitous moment when the color, type, or photo on the outside of a book with catch my attention. Sometimes its like we are strangers meeting across a room.

What causes us to stop, pause, and make our way over to that certain book, hoping for that instantaneous connection that will compel us to pick it up? Looks do count. Sure, a great story helps, but the packaging has to intrigue you. Engage you.

To me the best book covers are those with a sense of humor.

This little gem was designed by Marc Cozza.

I love the creative use of text and image by John Gall.

This cover idea has been done before, but it still works. This was designed by David Pearson. Do you have a love affair with book covers?



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Lake Towada in the Spring

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Voodoo, Whodoo?

I was so excited today when I received a notification in my mailbox that I had a package waiting for me to pick up! Hooray! I gave my yellow slip to the postal worker and they handed me a priority mail envelope. Oh, the suspense! I looked at the return label and was excited to see that the package was from my friend Kellie, one of the most creative people I know and a real sweetheart, click here to check out her blog.

I opening the envelope, reached inside and….

 I found this cute and colorful voodoo doll! I am pretty sure that Kellie must have picked him up on her recent trip to New Orleans. The doll is a “Voodoo Child Doll” and absolutely hilarious!  The design and the pattern of the material are so very cute – quite a stylish little voodude! Thank you Kellie – I laughed for a good five minutes after I opened the package!

I think these little dolls would be a huge hit in Japan!

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Washi Paper: A gift box Makeover

When you walk into a craft store in Japan, you usually see not only fabrics and craft notions, but also long horizontal pull-out shelves showcasing handmade washi paper. Washi paper is traditionally made from the bark of three native plants: the konzo, mitsumata, and gampi. Others natural fibers include abaca, hemp, and horse hair. The paper very flexible, almost fabric-like. Washi paper is also very durable making it the ideal material for covering boxes, picture frames, glass beads…

I recently decided to makeover a dollar store gift box by covering it with washi paper. You could use the same technique to cover a desk set or pictures frames. It is surprising easy to do! However, I will warn you that I did not use the traditional rice glue, but decided, for convenience sake to substitute a glue stick.

What you will need:

Washi Paper

A glue stick


A ruler or measuring tape

First, measure your box, (If it is a square box) beginning on the outside one side of the lip and up and over the side of the box, and about an inch over the other lip. If your box is round, like mine, just wrap the paper around the box, allowing about an inch overlap on the top and bottom of the box. Cut the paper to your measurements and rub the glue stick on the box. Press the paper to the box taking care to smooth out any air bubbles.

If your box is round, you will need to make little cuts about half an inch apart before you fold down the overlap. If your box is square, you should only have to do this on the corners.

Use the same technique on the lid of the box. Voila! Wasn’t that easy? You can cover your box in varnish, if you wish.

Now is the fun part! First, I embellished the box with kanzashi flowers. Here’s a tutorial from minisweethearts for the black and white flower.

Then I tried pinning vintage brooches on the ribbon.

The possibilities are endless. Upgrade your gifbox and send me a pic!

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Top Knot: What do you think?

The hairstyle that I have been seeing a lot of in Japan is the Top Knot. Usually, the style is being worn by teens or twenty somethings. I think it might be a little too edgy for this 30 something to carry off. What do you think? Is the top knot cute or just over the top?

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Chirashi Sushi

Do you like sushi, but just do not have the time to fashion all those precise little rolls? I have a fast, fun alternative to traditional sushi called Chirashi Sushi. As you can see in the picture below, it’s rather like a free-form sushi, almost like a casserole. It’s so fast and easy to make and would make a great week-night meal or even an easy dish to serve guest.

The ingredients can vary to include pretty much anything you like, however, the base of the sushi is rice, kinshi tamago (egg crepe), vegetables, and some type of protein. Our example includes salmon, fried tofu, mushrooms, cucumber, and fish powder.

To get started you will need:

Egg, one per person

Rice, about a cup, cooked, per person

Beef, poultry, fish or tofu, about a 4 ounce serving per person

Vegetables of your choice: carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, onion



Garnish of your choice. Fish flakes, pickled ginger, seaweed strips, rice seasoning

First, flavor your cooked rice. The idea is to make sushi rice, so flavor one cup of cooked rice with about one tablespoon of vinegar, 1/4 tablespoon of sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Sprinkle this mixture over your cooked rice and then mix into the rice with a slicing motion. Set the rice aside.

Next, cook the kinshi tamago (egg crepe) by cracking the egg into a bowl and whisking vigorously then frying the egg in a medium-hot pan until done.

After it has cooled, julienne the egg into very thin strips. Next, cook your protein, I chose salmon.

Cut your protein of choice into very small slices. Now combine the egg, salmon, rice, and whatever vegetables and garnishes you choice in a medium size serving dish. This dish is wonderful served with miso soup. Enjoy! Wasn’t that easy?

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Sunset on Waikiki

Please do not reproduce this picture without the permission of newinnippon.

I feel that I should post an additional picture of the day to make up for my week away from blogging. What a week it was! I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Hawaii with my husband. We were fortunate enough to enjoy several evenings on Waikiki Beach, Oahu. I have never seen such a beautiful sunset! The colors are so vivid and the beach front is incredible photogenic. Imagine! No filters or Photoshop touch-ups are necessary to capture the beauty of Waikiki.

Our hotel was right on the beach, just a few step from the ocean. Across the street has Waikiki Beach walk where you can find a few little goodies to take home with you from the likes of Versace, Chanel, Prada, and Louis Vuitton. Or if your budget is a little more recession minded, as is mine, there is a fantastic International market were you can find the typical tourist goodies you would expect such as shell jewelry, Hawaiian quilts, and flowered shirts. Yes, I bought my share of silly, touristy items. The only purchase I might would rethink is the sea shell wind chime I “had” to have.

If shopping is not your thing, try Hanauma Bay Nature Park for some great snorkeling. I found the water to be a little bit cold ( I like my sea water to be bath tub temperature), but my husband braved the cold and saw several large fish right next to the shore line! The drive from Waikiki to Hanauma Bay is a short one and is very scenic as is hugs along the Oahu coastline.

Today the weather in Northern Japan is cold and windy. But I still remember how warm the sun was in Hawaii. Hopefully, I will return there someday soon. A Hui Hou Kakou, till we meet again.


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Cherry Blossoms in Misawa


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