Sometimes Rainy Days are the Best

It’s raining in Tokyo today, and I couldn’t help but get a little reminiscey about the rainy day we had just about a year ago…

The Farm almost looked more amazing in the rain.  The dahlias were like little color bombs.

Look at my wonderful family sitting there in the rain — now that is true love.  They were determined to give me my outdoor wedding.

Thanks again to all my family and friends who made the trek to Hershey last Fall!  I’m thinking of you on this cold, rainy afternoon (remember that mud pit that was the bar?! And the water slick of a dance floor?!  And the Starlingtons!!).  Love to you all.

Feeling Stabby – An Update

A few weeks ago I gushed about my new favorite form of needlework, sashiko.  Since then, my stabby little fingers have been busy: I finished up one project, started two more, and attended my first sashiko class.  Whew, what a busy Stab-tember!

Thanks for all the great suggestions on what to do with my finished shippo tsunagi 七宝つなぎ.  I think it’s destined to become part of a bigger whole, but I don’t have the heart to hide it in a closet until then.  And so, a quick stitch into a pillow case seemed like a good interim solution.

Careful there, clothes can make things difficult for a hen.

With one finished piece under my belt, I felt pretty good about going into my first sashiko class.  And it was great!  Conducted entirely in Japanese, it was just a few women sitting around a table, with the sensei directing us individually whenever we needed help.  I spent most of my class time listening to the other women in the room chatter, and surprisingly picked up more of their conversations than I thought I could.  I guess my limited vocabulary of mostly craft terms helped me, for once.

I came home with a new project in hand, a small table covering decorated with teacups.  The biggest difference about my new project is that it is not printed directly onto the fabric, but is instead traced on using white carbon paper.  The indigo fabric and thread were also much better quality, and when I got home I discovered my fingers were a wonderful shade of blue from the dyes.

The needle is also much smaller than the one I picked up at the craft store during my first week here, though much sharper and I think perhaps I prefer it.  I signed up for the October class, so  I’ll be sure to keep you up-to-stab!

A Tokyo local and interested in the sashiko class?  They’re held monthly at Blue & White, 2-9-2 Azabu juban, Minato-ku, tel. 03 3451 0537

The Day Korea Broke Me

It’s pretty obvious that we love food.  We’ve been in Tokyo almost 4 months now, and I’m still not sick of Japanese food.  In fact, I crave it.  I will try (almost) anything once, and even if I don’t care for a particular dish or cuisine, I can usually still appreciate its existence.  And so, while on a recent trip to Korea I was excited to see what it had to offer my gullet.  When I asked a friend who recently visited Korea what she thought of the food, she replied, “A whole lot of spicy and raw.”  No problem, I thought.  I like both those things, so I was excited for a Korea Food Adventure.

Our first night in Jeju, we went after an island specialty — grilled black boar.  We were told that the pork came from the restaurant’s neighbor, which I believed, since we ate in a big tent over grills made from barrels.  Never mind that the old guy running the place was flirting with me, he’d never make a story like that up, right?

You see all the fat?  That’s right, we ate it.  They poured beer into that little cup and we used it as a dipping sauce.  And my friend was right, there was also a lot of spicy and raw, in the form of banchan (side dishes, including kimchi).

Our second night we tried another island specialty, hairtail fish stew (after a false start, which included a search for pheasant, a deserted hunting club, and a very scenic cab ride).  The giant clay pot of fish and potatoes was delicious (I think Dan licked that pot clean), though the rest of the spread looked suspiciously similar… spicy and raw.

Night #3 sent us to another outdoor restaurant (that’s island life, I guess) with more grilled meats and more, that’s right, spicy and raw.

Dan is only slightly bothered by the fact that I keep cutting off his head in these photos, in favor of the food:

Then it was off to Seoul, and on our first night I made the ultimate mistake — I picked a restaurant out of my guidebook and we took a taxi across town looking for it, only to discover it was no longer there.  Thankfully a very friendly salaryman took pity on us and led us to one of his favorite places instead.  I was looking forward to trying something different — not all Korean food is cooked at the table, right?  True, boribap was prepared in a location different from my table and was very tasty, though it was still very meaty, and very spi… well, you know.

On my last day in Seoul the weather was looking a little iffy (thanks, Typhoon Kompasu) and I’d had three straight days of museums and markets, so I decided to take a break from all that darn culture and went to N Seoul Tower, a bonafide tourist attraction that promises great views of the city. Well, it wasn’t exactly a clear day:

And that’s when I broke down and ordered the 4 course set lunch at an Italian restaurant in the tower.

It was either that or more spicy and raw, and I just couldn’t do it again.  So I did what I try never to do when on vacation — eat at tourist spots, eat cuisine that isn’t local, and eat gigantic expensive set meals by myself.

Damn you, spicy and raw.

So OK, we did have one awesome night of non-spicy and non-raw foods, a meal eaten entirely at street carts.  I feel like I wouldn’t do Seoul food (heh) justice if I didn’t show you these:

Clockwise, that’s a pronto pup with french fries fried directly into the batter, a doughnut cart, my doughnut of choice filled with black sesame and brown sugar, bindaetteok (mung bean pancake), and the night market where said pancake was consumed.

Typhoons and Waterfalls

We’re back!  Dan and I had a great week in South Korea, despite Typhoon Kompasu and all the rain (we’re talking rain every day — I guess it’s goodbye rainy season and hello typhoon season).  Though I hardly thought about crafts while we were away, and am now overwhelmed by the hundreds of kanji flashcards waiting for review, I thought I’d share a few photos.

Our first stop was Jeju Island for a mini beach vacation.

The daily rain showers produced some pretty sweet waterfalls.  Eongtto only shows its face about 50 days a year — lucky us!

Jeongbang falls directly into the sea, and makes the whole area cool and misty.

While walking along Jungmun Beach near our hotel, we discovered yet another.  Just a small trickling stream the day before, I think this was my favorite.  No one else was around, and we could get really close.

Jeju Island was full of other wonderful things — delicious wild boar grilled table-side, fresh tangerine juice, beautiful ocean views, a Harry Potter movie on TV… and though it’s always a little sad to leave a vacation behind, I was pretty happy to discover that our return to Tokyo felt like home.