It’s Our Birthday, Have A Gift – Updated

** This giveaway is no longer accepting entries.  Scroll down to see who won. **

Today marks our one year anniversary, or…sigh…our Japaniversary. Sorry. We already celebrated this blog’s birthday, but let’s stretch this out a bit, shall we?

We had a grand plan to do a giveaway so we could learn more about our readers, but the truth is, we just like assembling care packages. So, leave a comment on this post, and we will enter you in our totally awesome, totally cheap, Tokyo Care Package Giveaway.

If you win, maybe we’ll ask for some hints to tailor the package for you, or maybe I will just run to the conbini and 100 yen shop. So that’s that.

A year ago we stepped out on to the clean streets of Tokyo, tried to order dinner, and failed miserably. Now a year later, we can order beer and beg our waiter to order our food for us. Progress!

I told Ang that I will contribute more to the site this year. All I can think to contribute is ramen shops, arcades, candy and batting cages, because Ang unknowingly married a 12 year old.

So there you go. I was going to write a Doogie Howser-esque post about how this year has changed us. But we’re all too busy for that. Leave a comment, and we’ll send one of you a box o’ treats. Thanks, team.

Leave a comment by Monday afternoonish USA time and we’ll pick a winner using the Random Number Generator. Don’t be shy. Your prize will be awesome.  ** Update — I just realized it’s a holiday weekend in the US — let’s extend the deadline to Tuesday afternoonish. **

***

Hi everyone — Ang here!  Maybe it was a few too many birthday drinks, but we decided 1 winner wasn’t enough.  So congrats to comments 15, 7 and 3 (skipping duplicates and replies).  Mullins, Becky and LeahD, we’ll be contacting you shortly for mailing addressTo everyone else, thanks for your comments!  It has been a great year, thanks for coming along.  xo! -A


Happy Blog Birthday, Saké Puppets!

Wow, how this year has zoomed by.

It is amazing to think that just a year ago, we had a very different life.

Starting this blog while preparing to move from one side of the world to the other was a hectic endeavor, though I’m glad we did.  It’s been interesting to look back, and a bit bittersweet to realize how far we’ve come in certain areas, yet how little progress has been made in others.

I’m thinking mostly about my Japanese.  When I realized the one-year mark was approaching, I panicked.  I was hoping to be further along by now.  Maybe I was too optimistic with my goals, or maybe I’ve just been lazy. Probably the latter. Rather than rag on myself, I’ll just make a pact — with you all as my witness — to keep at it, and in a year from now I’ll be reading manga with the best of ‘em (er, by that I mean elementary school students and Doraemon, the children’s manga series about an earless robotic cat).

The time went by so quickly that I’m afraid I’ll wake up someday and realize I missed it all.  So, a few goals –

Where this past year was about exploring parts of Asia, the next year will be about exploring Japan.  I want to visit Hokkaido, Kyushu, maybe even Okinawa.  I want to visit Kyoto and Osaka, to hike mountains and take the train, and to volunteer in the tsunami-stricken north.  I want to get to know the country I’ve adopted as home.

Year Two will also be a year of creative work.  It took a little while to settle in and find my way around, and I’m glad I took that time, though I’m ready for bigger things.  I want to keep stitching and learning and really come into my own style.  Both Dan and I have projects we vow to move more towards the  “completed” end of the spectrum than their current resting places near the starting line.

I’m grateful for this blog, for pushing me along in the right direction.  Having a year of writing to look back on has been really valuable — to see the growth and our changes in style.  To all our readers — thanks for hanging in there, encouraging us to keep studying and exploring, and for keeping us connected to friends old and new.

Happy Birthday, little blog.  Cheers for another great year!  Now let’s eat pie.

Action Craft, Thoughts

Hello all!  I’m expecting another box of blankets, so while I was hoping to wow you with another batch of photos today, it looks like I’ll have to keep you in suspense a bit longer.

I want to tell everyone again how delighted I am by the response to this little Call-to-Acton-Craft.  I’m overwhelmed (in the good way) by the generosity of everyone who participated. Together, we’ve created 32 new handmade blankets for tsunami and earthquake survivors here in Japan.  That is, 32 and counting…

As to where they are headed — it’s still in the works.  I’ve got a few leads and we’re ironing out the details.  More info on that to come, I promise.

I had a great time making my quilt for this project.  It felt good to make something for someone else, not knowing who might receive it.  I thought a lot about who might need a small quilt and how they might use it — for a baby, or picnics, or folded up as a pillow or floor cushion.  It feels good to work hard on something then send it off into the world, its future unknown.

I also enjoyed making a quilt with such strict rules.  I told myself not to buy anything new, to use only supplies I already had at home.  This really limited my choices and as a result my quilt came together quickly, which was really satisfying.  (And now I can buy more fabric under the pretense that I’ll do it again someday!)  I enjoyed the process so much, I might actually make another.

Thanks again to everyone who sent blankets — good work, team!

Psst — find a Flickr photo gallery of all the blankets here, and more Action Craft info here.

Another Round of Action Craft

From Cheri and Laura in Minnesota, USA

This was Cheri’s first quilt.  Splendid!

From Jamie and her mother in Minnesota, USA

This quilt was painted and pieced years ago by Jamie’s mother, then folded up and left forgotten.  It was resurrected by Jamie and finished by my mom — truly a community effort.  I love how Alaska has its own block amidst all the other countries (top center).  :)

Per usual, you can find a Flickr photo gallery of all the blankets here, and more Action Craft info here.  Thanks!

Action Craft, All in the Family

If you’ve ever wondered where I got my crafty genes, well –

From my mom, in Minnesota

From my aunt Missy, in Minnesota

They made these together and — get this — they’re both first-time quilters.  Beginner’s luck?  I think not.  Those are skillz, ladies.  Better yet — it was Missy’s first time using a sewing machine.  What?!

From Lynn in Minnesota

Lynn is like a second Mom, and has showered me with handmade gifts my entire life.  Maybe some of that talent wore off on me?  I’m quite proud to admit I got her hooked on Etsy — check out her shop.  The-beer-and-peanut-proof baseball game gear is the best.

More Action Craft love from Minnesota tomorrow.

Psst — photo gallery here, and more Action Craft info here.  Thanks!

More Action Crafts

From (my aunt!) Mickey in Minnesota, USA

I’ve never seen a quilt like this before!  It looks like Mickey made circle “blocks” then stitched them together, flattened the flaps, and tacked the flaps down using a fancy blanket stitch. (The reverse side of this quilt is all the same blue as the flaps.)

Mickey, am I right?  Does this design have a name?  Do tell!

From Susan in Minnesota, USA

Susan embroidered sweet messages in the corners.  Lovely!

Again, check out photos of all the Action Craft quilt and blanket donations here, and for more info on the project, try the link here.

Special thanks to my handsome model husband — handsome model, or model husband?  You decide.  (Hint, it’s both.)

More quilts tomorrow!

Action Crafts, cont.

I’m racing off to sashiko class this morning, but before I go:

From Lisa in Queensland, Australia

How cute are those little bunnies!  I really wanted to take everything out of their bags to admire her handiwork, but Lisa packaged them up so nicely I decided to keep it all intact.  Instead, I just peered through the plastic.

You can check out Lisa’s blog here.

Two more boxes of quilts arrived yesterday!  More to come…

Action Crafts, cont.

Another batch of blankets for Action Craft:

From my friend Molly in Minnesota, USA

Molly has made me a few blankets over the years, and I spy some bits and pieces of leftover yarn in these.  I love it.

It must be a family affair over there! From Molly’s mom, Nancy, also in Minnesota

Beautiful.  I love this bundle of color.

It doesn’t stop there! Molly’s aunt also sent blankets. From Denise in Illinois, USA

Nice work, ladies!

You can see photos of all the donated Action Craft blankets on Flickr, and in previous posts here and here.

Still more to come…