Apr 29, 2012

More New Printable Designs

Here's a new set of cards, featuring Vintage Sewing Images.  

Each of these cards is 2.5" x 4.5", and there are six different designs.

All ready to print and use, you can find them at my Etsy Shop, Digital Antiques.

Please watch for a new set of free printable tags, in the next few days.

Have a lovely day, from the Dog and me.

Apr 22, 2012

Time to get back to work on new designs for Digital Antiques, my shop at Etsy.  Spring is always fun, since the subjects can be all over the place, instead of holiday themed.

Here is a new set of round tags, with Floral Wreaths. There are 8 different tags in the set, and each tag is 4". They have a textured, sepia background in the center, and would be a great gift tag or journaling spot.  I think they could also be a fun photo frame, if the center was cut out.  You can see them all here.

This is a sweet set of floral backgrounds, nice for creating tags,
cards,  or Artist Trading Cards.  Each background is 2.5" x 3.5", and they all have aged and worn textures and edges. Also fun to use as photo mounts.  Eight different florals, see them here.

I hope you are enjoying Spring, with all it's variety.  Thanks for dropping in, from the Dog and me.

Apr 10, 2012

The Japan Chronicles - Part 4

Our time in Japan went much too swiftly, and here I am back in Tennessee.  Just a few more impressions to share with you.

I was impressed with the way things are packaged.  This is a selection of different kinds of rice, in a store that I would compare to Whole Foods in the U.S.  So much thought is given to the appearance and presentation of things in Japan, and the wrappings can be quite elegant.

Look how this meat is carefully arranged in it's packages to look appealing.  This was at one of the street markets, not a high end shop.

Here's one of the places I enjoyed the most, best described as a kind of street market, only pedestrian and bicycle traffic allowed.  Shops line both sides, offering all kinds of goods and services, and farmers selling their goods from stands set up in the center of the street.

Bicycles are everywhere, and everyone walks.  Cars are a real luxury, with gas at about $6.70 per gallon, and almost no free parking.  There are also significant license and inspection fees each year, of several hundred dollars, calculated on the size of the engine.

You can find almost everything, from a pharmacy,to the Pachinko Parlor,  to the 100 yen store (like the Dollar Store), to this Dog Spa.  We saw so many more dogs this trip, and Japanese dog owners are very loving and proud of their companions.

This shop specializes in school uniforms.  Most Japanese school children wear uniforms, and we saw these styles on kids all around.

This chart was in the window display - don't you love the rabbits?  Kaku is the uniform manufacturer.

While I was taking the photos, the girl on the right came running out of the shop to ask if we were American?  She was excited because she had done a Homestay in Portland, Oregon, and we were a good chance for her to practice her English.  Homestays, when Japanese students spend time abroad, living with a host family and practicing their English, are very popular.  It was a delight to encounter this girl, who spoke very good English.  Although all Japanese take English in school, and can read and write English, it is much harder to learn to use it conversationally, and most of the places we went, we were the only English speakers.  I think this may be different in some of the bigger cities, like Tokyo or Yokohama.   Everyone was kind and friendly to us, even though we do not speak any Japanese. These three young ladies who work in the Uniform shop are a good example, and were so pleased when I asked if I might take their photo.

This a flower shop along the shopping street. We saw flowers and plants tucked in everywhere.

Food was everywhere!  These are sweet snacks, cookies, candy, cake and sweet crackers.

Here are savory snacks, like crackers and chips in amazing flavors - seaweed, wasabe, green pea, shrimp.

These are Bento boxes, single portion take out meals, usually rice with meat or fish and some kind of pickled vegetables.  You see these everywhere, in super markets, convenience stores, train stations.  Bento is a typical lunch, and Moms carefully pack Bento boxes for school lunches.

If you'd prefer one stop shopping, there are lots of supermarkets, too, including Costco and Walmart.  I was surprised to see lots of Churros being enjoyed in Japan, until my son explained that they were introduced by the Costco food court.

Here's a small part of the dried mushroom selection.

And, so many noodle choices!  The produce selection was amazing as well.

So, that's a little look at what we saw and did.  If you ever have a chance to visit in Japan, I hope you'll go.

One last photo, and my favorite of all.

Thanks for dropping by, from the Dog and me.

Apr 6, 2012

The Japan Chronicles - Part 3

If you enjoy trying new tastes and are at all adventurous, Japanese food is delightful.  Food experiences are highly valued here, and sharing meals with family and friends is a really important tradition.  We are so fortunate to have family here, which gives us a big advantage. When we eat with them, they are great about guiding us to things they know we'd like, but still offering us new things to try.

One of the traditional foods of Japan that I really enjoy is Okonomiyaki.  Kurt and Yuki took Mr. Brown Dog and me to lunch at an authentic, Hiroshima style, Okonomiyaki place on the first day we were in Fukuoka.  

It's a combination of a kind of crepe like pancake on the outside, filled with cooked noodles, cabbage, egg, onions, some kind of meat or seafood, and seasonings.  It's cooked on a flat grill, and finished with a wonderful sauce.

This time, shredded cheese was also an ingredient, not traditional, but really good!

It's served in a blazing hot metal dish.

With the sauce added,yum!  Ready to eat, with chopsticks and the special cutter that's provided.

We've also ventured out a bit on our own, and  walked to Fox Town Mall, near the baseball stadium.  Kurt had called ahead, and determined that there was one of the staff who spoke English, which was cheating a bit, but a big help.

Here is the lunch spot where we ate.  It offers udon, a type of noodle, which I have been wanting to try.

Replicas of each of the menu offerings are displayed in the window.

Here is Mr. Brown Dog's choice, noodles with dipping sauce and condiments, and a bowl with breaded and fried pork cutlet over rice.  Pork cutlets are a big favorite here.

Here's my choice, udon, with it's own pot of sauce, condiments, and a wonderful tempura shrimp.  I love the presentation, in pottery bowls and lacquer trays.  Really attractive and so earth friendly.

Here's the special Children's selection, which I couldn't help thinking of as a happy meal.  One of the children in a family near us was enjoying this, in it's bowl decorated with bunnies and chicks.

I have more to share - shopping, walking, sightseeing, more family, but I may need to wait a bit, since our visit ends tomorrow. Tonight we shared a wonderful family dinner, with home made goyza, which you may know as "Pot Stickers", and great Yaki soba,   Flying back to the U.S. tomorrow.  It's been a great trip, just never long enough.

Apr 4, 2012

The Japan Chronicles - Part 2

Part of what is making this time in Japan so delightful to me, are lots of little details.  Just the simple everyday things we do, but with some delightful twists.  Our son arranged for us to stay in a really nice hotel.

The room is very spacious, and there is even a kitchenette, so we can make our own breakfast and snacks if we wish.  It's great to be able to have coffee whenever I want, and here's one of those little details I mentioned.

This is a hot water pot.. All Japanese homes and most hotel rooms have one of these.  You fill the inner container with water, and it keeps it just below boiling, an instant hot water source.  Perfect for tea, coffee, or ramen noodles.   I'm a bit of a snob about coffee, won't drink instant.  Look at this brilliant solution that I've never seen in the States.

Mon Cafe, one serving, individually packaged.  All you need is your cup and hot water.

Fold up the little cardboard wings, hook them over the rim of your cup, and add hot water to the ground coffee.

Really good tasting, fresh coffee, without any special machine to produce it.  So clever.

Here is another different touch, and one that I wish I could take back home with me. This is the bath room in our hotel room, and it's designed for that specifically. bathing.  It's enclosed in glass, and has a tile floor with a drain in it.  There is a flexible shower, plus a wonderful deep tub, which allows you to soak up to your shoulders.

Before you soak in the tub, you scrub and shower off, so that you are already clean when you enter the tub.

Wouldn't this be great to warm up in on a cold winter night?  Of course this is a hotel version, but most homes in Japan have a similar arrangement.

Next installment, food adventures!  

Apr 3, 2012

The Japan Chronicles - Part One

While the Dog waits patiently at home, Mr. Brown Dog and I are visiting our family in Japan. This is my third trip here, and #5 for Mr. BD.   Our son has lived here for 22 years, since graduating from UCLA, and presently lives in Fukuoka, which is on an island at the southwestern side of Japan, almost directly across from South Korea.  Fukuoka is a fairly large city, with over a million in population, and very cosmopolitan, a big change from life on the farm.  

This is the view from our hotel room, on the twelfth floor.  The wonderful barrel roofed building is a big fire station, which includes ambulance services as well.  To the left, you can see part of a school, with the playing field for baseball and soccer.  You can get a bit of the feeling of the city in the background.

This is a great place for walking, and on the first morning here, we walked around the block and found this walkway and bridge across one of the inlets from the sea.  The trees are cherry, which are just beginning to flower, and the building is the Fukuoka Dome, home to the local baseball team, the Fukuoka Soft Bank Hawks. 

 Cherry trees are planted all around the city, and this is the perfect time to enjoy them.

The big reason for the trip this time is the arrival of our new Grandson, who was born in early January.

This is one of our first looks at him in person.  Such a good, quiet boy, and so wonderful to hold him in our arms.  He has a traditional Japanese first name, Kanade.  His family call him Kana.

On the day after we arrived, there was a traditional ceremony to mark his 100th day of life.  They were kind enough to plan this during the time of our visit, so that we could share with the family.  It was held at a Shabu-shabu restaurant, with low tables and floor seating. 

Here is part of the family around the table, with me holding the honored baby, along side his Uncle and Aunt.  Shabu-shabu is a kind of hot pot cooking, and thin sliced meats and vegetables are cooked in a broth which is simmering in the center of the table.  

Here is more of the family, including Kana's Japanese Grandmother, his wonderful Cousin, and his lovely Mother.

These are the ceremonial foods that are presented to the Baby, and they include several kinds of vegetables, Tofu, seafood, and rice.  They are offered with the special chopsticks shown at the left of the tray.

The food is offered to the baby, and touched to his lips, but he does not really eat the food.  The rock on the tray is touched to his lips as well, to give him strong teeth.  

We are so proud of our Japanese family, and so thrilled to have been able to be with them for this very special time.