Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Seven Things (You Didn't Need to Know) About Me

Earlier I received the sweetest award from Carrie at carrotspeak. It's called the Beautiful Blogger Award, and when you receive it, you're supposed to tell seven things about yourself.  Here are mine, which should probably be called Seven Things You Didn't Need to Know About Me:

  1. I have a son who is my Mini-me, except he is much better at sports. He and I can argue for ages. The Husband doesn't get this at all. 
  2. I have a daughter who seems to take delight in diagnosing herself with all manner of ailments and conditions. Recently, she claims to be OCD, ADD, and just plain Weird. Wonder where she gets this? P.S. She is none of these things except probably the third.
  3. I am something of a hypochondriac (see #2).
  4. I have had long hair for many years, and it has made me dislike wind. I will never own a convertible.
  5. I am a procrastinator of the first order. Why do today what you can put off until next year?
  6. In health and environmental matters, I am very Crunchy. I nearly came to blows recently with a German doctor. 
  7. I'm a Word Person. I'm not that bad at math, but numbers just aren't my thing. I remember absolutely nothing from two semesters of college accounting except that there are these things called debits and credits. Never ask me to be treasurer of your club. 
Okay, so my dog is standing still as a stone and staring at me from across the room. He doesn't normally do this, so I think I will investigate. But I will leave you with a photo of him, in all his cuteness, just because.

Yes, I know he needs a haircut.  It's on my list (see #5).

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Daffodil Disaster

Welcome to Magpie Tales #7--I can't believe it's Tuesday already!

"I'm afraid there's been some kind of mix-up, Madam."

"How on earth could there be a "mix-up" in an entire field, Jasper?"

"I'm afraid I may have shopped in the bulk bins, Madam, in order to keep expenses down--what with the recent Financial Unpleasantness at the Manor, Madam."

"I thought you were told not to speak of the Unpleasantness, Jasper.  Anyway, what gardener can't tell the difference between hyacinth and daffodil bulbs? That's what I'd like to know."

"It was an unfortunate, large-scale error on my part. But if I might say so, it should be remembered that I was trained as an accountant and financial analyst, Madam."

"You were aware, were you not, that the mere sight of yellow flowers of any type gives me migraine?"

"Yes, Madam. The daffodils must be most offensive to your sensibilities."

"I'll say! Well, don't just stand there! For heaven's sake, pull them all up! I tell you, you'd be out on your ear this minute if you weren't my brother!"

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fairytale Style: Mori Girls

Even though I haven't been called a "girl" in years, I'm pretty sure I'm a Mori Girl.  Mori Girls are girls (and women) who look like they live in the forest--or something like that (mori is the Japanese word for forest).  The style of the Mori Girl--the term originated in Japan, where the trend is prevalent and understandably long-lasting--really goes much further, as you can see, and no one is wearing moss or making leaf vests.

Hello Sandwich led me to this description of what it means to be a Mori Girl.  This excerpt says a lot:

Fashion wise, there is an affinity for floaty a-line dresses, an admiration of lace, puff sleeves, and retro prints, a fussiness over natural materials, and a preference for warm, earthy hues and deep traditional colors like navy, wine red, and forest green. Oft-spotted accessories include leather satchels, fur stoles, tights, round-toed shoes, pocket watches, and handmade jewelry. 

More than meeting a fashion requirement, however, Mori Girls exude a certain aura of a dreamy slow life. Picture them strolling one of Tokyo’s few remaining bohemian neighborhoods, like Shimokitazawa or Koenji, analog SLR camera in hand. Or scribbling in a leather-bound journal from the corner of a café where none of the teacups match (but are served as a matter of course on saucers). It is likely that a number of them can make macaroons from scratch. 

A "dreamy slow life": I love that! Since I've decided to share more about my fascination with (and life in) Japan, I thought I'd share some photos of Mori Girl style, from the June 2009 issue of Spoon, a mook that is highly regarded by many a choosy Mori Girl (click for more detail).

It's funny, because I didn't even know the term "Mori Girl" until after we left Japan!  I have quite a few magazines and mooks showcasing a style I loved for six years before knowing what to call it. Sigh.

So what makes me a Mori Girl?  Here are a few things:
  • I like tea, a lot, and I love hanging out in cafés.
  • Deer, matryoshka, dala, gnomes, mushrooms, rabbits, ladybugs, lotus flowers: these motifs make me happy.
  • I prefer vintage things and natural fibers.
  • I enjoy my own company, maybe a bit too much.
  • I am smitten by the scenery and fresh air of the forest and country, though I usually prefer the amenities of city life: bookstores, museums, trains, quaint shops, food markets...
  • I love clogs, lockets, and wool felt.
  • I sew and embroider, and I love taking photos of just about anything.

It's nice to see that Mori Girl style knows no bounds, age-wise.  Another excerpt from the Fashion Snoops article:

While hardly aggressively counter-culture (appearing instead almost limply indifferent), Mori Girls do posses a certain against-the-grain quality. They make their style choices based on the “atmosphere” of an item, as opposed to its trendiness or brand name value. Consequently they shun conventional fashion magazines and mass-produced items in favor of handmade, original pieces. Quirkiness is important. Age is not. There is nothing in the creed that singles out youth or a particular generational experience. And unlike teenage fashion cults like the Shibuya gyaru (who see many members “graduate”), there is nothing about being a Mori Girl that rebels against growing up.

Lovely! Now, for all things Mori, check out the very cool Mori Girl blog.  There are also some other great, recent posts about Mori Girl style at Oh, Hello There and Daydream Lily. And if you hurry, you can buy a copy of a Mori Girl magazine from Jollygoo's Uguisu shop! You know I had to buy one...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Nails in a Shed

It's time for Magpie Tales again!  I'm sorry I didn't get around to reading anyone's Tales last week, other than Willow's--I'll do better this time!  Here is mine for this week:

Dry leaves crunch underfoot as he approaches the shed in the back yard. The old padlock on the door rebels against its key, but a bit of determined jiggling by the man does the trick after a minute or so.  It's a good thing, because he doesn't have much time. He enters, stepping over a threshold beginning to rot, and hears the familiar creak of the plank floor.  There are weathered shelves along the back wall, and the rest of the space holds things too numerous to mention, the detritus of forty years of living and gardening in suburbia. 

It is the shelves that most interest him now.  He searches each one, scanning the cobwebbed machine parts, Mason jars full of marbles he'd loved as a kid, and other things he can't quite make out in the growing darkness.  The light fixture has been out of commission for quite some time, so he steps carefully as he moves closer.

His hand gently explores one end of the top shelf and soon pulls down the box of nails. He recalls why some of the nails are missing: the treehouse he'd helped build for his ten-year-old self and a stack of Hardy Boys.  He holds the box, pours out a few nails in his hand, considers producing a few nostalgic tears, but returns to his task. The red velvet bag stuck in the bottom of the box is what he is after; he's sure his grandfather would want him to have it--he'd said as much.  

He opens the bottom end of the box and lifts the treasure from the spot where it has lain compacted and hidden for so long. It occurs to him that he should have asked his grandfather why he would stash a diamond ring in a shed.  He can feel the ring through the aged fabric, and he smiles.  He knows it's the very essence of cliché, but there is a girl headed to the airport--a girl who will fly away and start a new life if he doesn't intervene, quickly. If he makes it in time, he hopes his great-grandmother's ring will begin a new life of its own. 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Honesty Check

In the interest of (nearly) full disclosure:

On Saturday, while The Girl was having a sleepover and The Boy was off on a miserably-rainy Boy Scout camping  trip, The Husband and I went to Koblenz to obtain some needed items from IKEA.  We also visited two flea markets and came away with--nothing.  Absolutely zero (knew I should have picked up that Avon Cottage Wedgwood plate for one euro!).  Seriously, it was really disappointing.  We've had almost no flea market luck at all, in fact, though admittedly we've been to only a handful here so far because of icky weather and work on our haus.

Our lack of luck makes sense in light of the fact that few things have gone right for us since we moved here. It's been quite the comedy of errors, really, but we haven't always felt like laughing. I know I haven't talked very much yet on this blog about life in Germany, which must seem odd. I've been keeping busy with things like photos of my Japanese match boxes and Cath Kidston purchases as a form of distraction, I suppose.

Recently I had a request for more posts about the allure of Japan and what it was like for us to live there.  I'll be happy to oblige, especially because as much as I do like Europe, I love Japan.

Don't get me wrong--I am thankful to have a nice home and to live in a community where things are simple, slow, and safe.  I'm just still homesick for a place that shouldn't have felt so much like home, but did.  Here are a few reasons I miss this place--photos taken mostly by The Girl, in our little neighborhood:

our street (our house is behind that wall and hedge)

the cho (neighborhood)

vending machines--buying sports drinks, green tea, and the occasional Coke 

oh, sushi--cheap and good, just down the hill!

our home's inner courtyard, after a light (fairly rare) dusting of snow

our street, again--coming back from having sushi, I think

again, with the food--I just can't help it--delicious ramen and gyoza here, served with complimentary pickled mountain vegetables (my mouth is watering just thinking about them)

bamboo forests--the sound of the leaves rustling

Okay, my mini-venting session/photo tour is over for now. If you're interested in reading more about Japan, you can always hop on over to my Japan blog (where you'll also see some of the above pics).  And I'll be back here soon with some good stuff about Germany!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Signs of Spring

It appears that Spring may in fact make its way to Germany!  I started poking around in the back yard and managed to find various baby plants, all poking their heads out and insisting that Spring really is almost here, regardless of what all of Germany has come to believe.  Inspired by the Springiness, young Yoshi and I took a walk--me, without a coat--and snapped a few pictures in the village.  I would have taken more, but my silly digital camera card was full.

Hooray for sunshine--Yoshi says it's time to play!  And Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Another Perplexing Clue

Magpie Tales, number 5--here's my contribution:

It arrived on Thursday afternoon.  The third clue--another piece of a very strange puzzle--lay on a rectangle of black velvet inside a hinged green silk box, which sat inside the cardboard box used to mail it halfway around the world.  Like the cracked jade pendant and the bronze incense burner, it came with no note, no accompanying information or explanation.  

These bizarre but intriguing gifts were sent by her uncle, that much she knew.  What she didn't know was what on earth he was doing.  He'd left abruptly, as he usually did when he went away, leaving his long-suffering girlfriend a small silver pitcher, and his niece a weathered lacquer tray.  Generous but enigmatic, this man.

Now, a wooden hand?   Corinne loved a good mystery as much as the next girl--no, definitely more than most, and Uncle Simon knew it.  So he had sent her this hand, and it was supposed to reveal something.  She'd tucked away the other gifts, or clues, in her bedroom inside her great-grandfather's steamer trunk, under a tattered quilt and a stack of embroidered pillowcases.  Now she went to the trunk and retrieved these items.  She looked carefully at all three clues together, lined up on the floor in front of her.  Well, Uncle Simon must be in Asia.  Right, but what did all of this mean?   And why was the wooden hand contorted in this way, as if it felt pain or somehow yearned for help?  Flummoxed, Corinne could only hope that  another clue would be forthcoming, and soon. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

You Say Oo, I say Long

Absolutely wonderful and hilarious, if you love tea as much as I do:

Thank you, Elemental!  
Found via The Flâneur

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fairytale Friday

For your Friday, some Fairytale fabulousness from the Rice Spring-Summer 2010 catalog:

It's snowing (again) today.  These bright, cheery images make me smile, despite the gray skies.  Wishing you a colorful weekend!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rednesday #2

Here's my small contribution to Rednesday this week: the windows next to our dining room table.  I do love German windows--more on them another day.  

And on another topic, if you loved Toast's visit to San Miguel de Allende, you should visit with Ruche as well.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


"Score!  This baby's mine!"  She pushed him aside, gave him the best her left elbow had to offer, as she spied her prey on the top shelf, almost--but not quite--out of reach.  "E, for elephant."

He crossed his arms and glared.  "Okay, I think you may have injured my spleen.  You really are insane.  Sometimes I'm not exactly sure what I see in you."

She smiled and clutched the small wooden elephant that much more tightly.  "You couldn't do without me, and you know it.  Besides, you're just mad I'm beating you.  And your spleen will be fine."

"I guess I should have known better than to engage you in an alphabetic thrifting competition.  Remind me to bring along a white flag should I ever happen to challenge you to a game hunt on the savanna."

She turned from their shopping basket to face him.  "I keep telling you, Sweetie: never attempt to out-shop a woman.  Speaking of white flags, since we're only going to "H" today, you really should surrender now and get it over with.  How about some coffee and a pastry back at home?"

He spotted a white cotton pillowcase in the linens bin, pulled it out with a flourish, and waved it overhead.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday, Monday

I've just come from a special academic award ceremony for The Boy and a handful of his school-mates (so proud of him!).  A reception followed.  May I just say that 8:30 a.m. is too early for cake for pretty much everyone besides a sixth-grader?  Actually, 8:30 is too early for most things, in my opinion.  Because I'm tired from getting up too early and also from the effects of a virus I apparently had all last week, I'm not in a blogging groove today.  I think I'll take a nap instead.  

But I'll leave you for now with a couple of random photos from my house.  Also, I just found the blog Ensuite.  These two French sisters write about and take photos of interesting, real (not hyper-designed) Parisian flats, including the home of the fantastic Nathalie Lété.  You know I'm a big fan of hers.  Happy Monday!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Vintage Anthropologie 2

From February 2008:

So, does somebody here at this blog have a bit of a thing for caravans?  Okay, yes--I like them, a lot.  They're so cozy and eclectic, as a rule.  I'd love to have one sitting in my back yard.  But mind you, I wouldn't want to travel in one.  I am so not a camper.  I have tried, people--oh, how I have tried--but sleepless nights do not become me.  I digress.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Weight

This is my third time to have fun with Willow's Magpie Tales:

It had happened two hours and seventeen minutes ago.  Just another step, maybe two--that's all it would have taken.  Forty more centimeters and he'd have been out the door, in the clear.  The security guard, all six-feet-three-inches of him (let's see, that's over 185 centimeters), had grabbed the back of his windbreaker and yanked it--too roughly, he thought.  The five-centimeter hole that man had left would need repairing; his mother could do that.  

He calculated how long it would take her to get to the jail from work: twenty-six minutes, if she made half the lights.  Of course, this was assuming she'd show up at all.  One hundred fourteen pounds of sass and attitude but seemingly double that in patience, she might have finally reached her limit.  His father had reached his long ago; he'd been gone for six years, three months, and fourteen days.

The boy sat and assessed the female officer who'd shown him the phone to make his one call: size seven shoes, size five pants, quite pretty--he'd give her a "9."  It had taken him years to realize how much numbers comforted him in times of stress.  He'd read a book that told him his numbers were either a brain malfunction or a defense mechanism of sorts, a way of dealing--or not--with a world that tilted so sharply it constantly threatened to tip him into an immeasurable abyss.  He could imagine nothing worse than immeasurability.

And now he'd risked so much for a book that must have weighed, what?  A kilogram or so?  About two pounds--yes, that sounded right.  It had felt perfect as he'd slipped it inside his jacket--there had been a leveling, settling effect from his head to his feet.   But it wasn't meant to be, not this time.  He looked down at his watch; another eight minutes had passed.

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Disclosure Time

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