Tokyo Maker Faire this weekend!

Maker Faire has come to Tokyo! I’ll be participating this weekend with a fine group of Etsy crafters. So if you’re in Tokyo Dec. 1-2, come out to The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikain) in Odaiba, battle your way through homemade robots and come say hi. I’m easy to spot — I’m mostly human except for a large metal screw in my elbow from a freestyle walking incident.

The Etsy crew will have workshops all weekend, an open table for makin’ and hands-on crafting, and many holiday gifts for sale. This is a kid-friendly event, the more the merrier. Come and get your hands dirty glittered and glued!

Tokyo Maker Faire: Saturday December 1, 12:00-5:00PM, Sunday December 2, 10:00AM-5:00PM

Location: Miraikan, The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation

Sashiko Gift Guide

The holiday season ’tis upon us again. Tokyo is blanketed in tiny LED lights and Colonel Sanders has donned his holiday Santa hat. The Christmas spirit and the smell of fried chicken are in the air!

My web shop will be offering Black Friday/Cyber Monday specials again this year, so I encourage you to take a peek! For all orders placed between Friday, November 23rd and Monday, November 26th use coupon code CHEER to receive 10% off your order and to receive a special little surprise gift in the package. It might be edible. It will definitely be weird. Orders will ship Tuesday morning and will arrive in plenty of time for Christmas.

Need a little help with your holiday shopping? I’ve taken the liberty of putting together a holiday helper guide. Friends, see if you can guess which one of these are you.

For the Crafty Teen :: Maybe they’re too smart for their own good, or maybe they just like to glue sh*t to other sh*t. Perfect for the girl who loves to mix and match accessories and colors and multi-color nail polish. Or for the full-grown woman who also loves these things, including dressing like a teen.

The DIY Brooch Kit, $15

For the Busy Mom :: They love to create but have troubling finding the time, because, you know, they are busy keeping tiny humans alive. These sashiko kits come with all the materials needed for a full project, and are easy to start, set aside, pick back up again, and finish by dim lamp light in the middle of the night.

The Genki Sashiko Coasters (Set of 4) DIY Embroidery Kit, $25

For the Friend Who Always Throws a Better Party Than You :: Wine parties, knitting parties, and impromptu I-just-threw-this-delicious-hotdish-together parties, she does it all. This friend enjoys creating a fun atmosphere for her loved ones and is very good at it, so the special touches really matter.

Traditional Sashiko Coasters, Set of 4, $40

For the Girl Who is Just a Friend :: You don’t want to give the wrong impression, like the time you gave her holiday-themed socks and you found yourself in an awkward position. You also know ladies love presents and you don’t want to take the heat the next time you introduce her to your new girlfriend, and she tells New Girlfriend how awful you are at gift-giving. Because you care enough to say you know she knows you care how she looks.

The Sashiko Pocket Mirror, $20

For the Inoffensive Coworker :: You like your colleagues but perhaps you don’t know much about them. Or maybe you do and pretend you don’t. A hand-stitched gift for an inoffensive coworker is the perfect way to say, “Have a fine holiday. But not too much fun that you run off and leave me with all this work.” Also, these ornaments are fun to make, so you might as well get something out of the deal.

Sashiko Starry Night DIY Felt Ornament Kit, $20

Caution: Highly Caffeinated

Discovered on my phone this past month:

And I sheepishly admit that is not all of them. With the arrival of autumn, I seem to have given myself permission to indulge in steamy hot lattes more than just occasionally.

I have been a dedicated coffee drinker for years. I blame the coffee shop where I worked part-time, and every week they sent me home with a pound of coffee beans. I had a coffee cabinet. When you opened the door, you’d get a caffeine buzz just by breathing in the air that escaped that cabinet.

Tokyo’s cafe culture, with its adorable latte art and impeccable dessert menus, has proven irresistible. It is dangerous to be so caffeinated with a sewing needle in-hand. My kanji-writing practice has certainly suffered.

Maybe it is time I consider drinking some tea.

A Nice Rice

A few weeks ago we received a package of rice from a friend who lives and farms on Sado Island.

We met Matt when we went to Sado for the taiko drum extravaganza we attended in August. He was an amazing tour guide, showed us around the island and even revealed a few secret swimming spots. I left Sado with an incredible fondness for the place, thanks to Matt. He and his wife are rice farmers, and their region has a reputation for producing some of the best rice in Japan.

Rice is rice, you say? Oh no, my friends! It most certainly is not. Get that Uncle Ben’s Minute Rice business out of my kitchen this instant.

I used to dislike rice. I thought it was dry and boring, because usually it was. After we moved to Japan my friend Saki slowly showed me the way to rice nirvana. She brought us to rice restaurants. She emailed me instructions on how to gently wash and then rinse and then soak my rice before cooking. She was sneaky but persistent in her teachings. Maybe because she had tasted my very first attempt at onigiri and couldn’t bear the thought of me torturing any more rice.

I still have no idea what makes good rice good, but I know it when I taste it. It sticks but isn’t too sticky. It’s floral and eaten alone, not hidden under heaps of curry or meat. It is usually white, but not a crazy bleached white, more of a pearl white with hints of purple or yellow. It looks and smells like a plant because it is.

If given a choice between rice or noodles, I’ll go for the rice. A bold claim, I know.

Check out Daruma An Farms for some damn fine island rice.

Kotatsu warms by heart. And feet.

Exciting things are happening over here at Saké Puppets. I was interviewed by the Japan Times and I’m hosting an English Craft Club quilting class this Sunday. But most importantly, I got a kotatsu.

It is mine, wrinkles and all. I’m the kind of girl who puts on her clothes with the hope that the warmth of her body will undo the creases, so honestly wrinkles don’t bother me.

What is this contraption, you ask? A short-legged table with a small space heater attached to the underside. Come to think of it, it is bit like the daschund I had as kid. You stick your toes in its undercarriage and hope for the best. Then cover the whole thing with a big blanket, and you’ve got yourself a little winter nest.

I might let the kotatsu swallow me up to the chin. I’ll see you in the spring.

That’s a Wrap!

Sometimes bad wordplay is too good to avoid.

I completed my chunky scarf, and took it out for a walk on the warmest day we have had in Tokyo in the past few weeks. The scarf turned out exactly how I wanted it to. I’m delighted. And overheated.

Also, the Japan Times gets credit for breaking this story since my photo appeared on their website today along with a little article. You can check it out here.