Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday....Oh Bother

Last Thursday, I had the brilliant idea of taking my picture in the oval mirror every single day so that this week's WIWW would be a complete record, a thorough reporting of my sartorial adventures. So I took these two pictures that day:
Comments: the oatmeal-y color of this sweater is right down on the bottom of my list of colors that I like/colors that flatter me.  But I bought it anyway, the other week at Salvation Army.  Obviously, it was a low risk investment, being $3-4.  Also, it's wool. 

Further comments: also, it crosses in the front and ties, and I cannot resist the assymetrical.  In this rare close up shot, please also note my scarf, which is actually a piece of fabric from Mood Fabrics.  I wish it wouldn't curl up like that but I'm too lazy to finish the edges. 

AAAANNDDDD then I completely forgot all about my resolution to record things thoroughly and thus took no photo on Friday.  Good grief Charlie Brown.  

Then on Saturday I managed to snap this: 
Comments: the sum of the whole is better than the parts of this outfit. Does that make any sense? In other words, it looked decent while I was standing arranged in front of the mirror.  But when I went out for karaoke (see previous post), this wool sweaterish thingy was WAY TOO HOT and the shirt I had on under it was not that good.  :-(  At least I had a good necklace.
Comments: Erm. AND my every day intentions rapidly devolved to every other day. Here's yesterday. I was so determined to take this picture that I did it first thing in the morning before my head was ready to be seen, thus, you get headless me.
Comments: It's Leap Day today, and I feel rather grumpy which seems at odds with the gift of an extra day. Blech. Trying to pull myself up and out by wearing purple and pink and more importantly, praying for the work of God. Amen. Anyway, all my blathering about which day I took which picture etc reminds me that if you haven't yet taught your kids the names of the days of this week, you must use this song. It's also adaptable to Japanese. Seriously. pleated poppy

Top of the World

Saturday night, the chorus group I'm in celebrated a sad thing in a happy way.  Three of our members, summoned by their husbands' companies, are moving back to Japan.  Wouldn't it be silly if a chorus group of (mostly--exception, me) Japanese ladies marked a special occasion by doing anything other than karaoke?  Wouldn't that be the most foolish thing ever?

Well, not to worry, because from 5 pm until 1:30 am, we were out dutifully fulfilling your expectations.  I like singing Japanese songs because it's harder, but the truth of the matter is my chorus group friends seem to want to sing English songs with me.  In the same way I feel like I'm a somewhat competent singer when we sing together (I'm not a very good singer!!  But I'm in the chorus anyway because I just like to sing and they haven't kicked me out...), I think they feel like their English pronunciation is more accurate when they sing with me?  Maybe?  So, among others, we sang:

Yes, I snuck a Japanese song in there.  Yes, I took the photo on top and it's too dark.  Yes, I must publish this post or fall asleep on my computer.  Good night.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Find Me Here

Last night, Aogu and I had a funny (to me?) conversation, something like this:

Me: Did I tell you that K called me three weeks ago and I've still never called her back?  I'm so bad. 

Aogu: Doesn't she know that you're not such a phone talker?  If she wants to get your attention, she should use Google Reader.

Me (laughing): Yeah, anyone who wants to talk to me needs to start a blog, post their business to me on it, and then send me a link...but how do you know that I love Google Reader?!

Aogu: 'Cause I'm the one who looks at our iPhone data usage and lately yours is higher than mine. 

Me: gulp....

There's an element of truth here, people.  I will leave it to you to figure it out... meanwhile, sincere apologies to my lovely friends K and also R who deserve a phone call and still haven't gotten one.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Do You Know What I'm Doing?

Perhaps I haven't explained my sudden foray into the land of fashion show. Perhaps you didn't know that when I was eight or nine years old, I wanted to be a fashion designer? I would spend hours (OK, it was more likely minutes) drawing clothes on paper. Too bad I wasn't good at it, which caused me to quickly revert to what I was good at: reading. Anyhow, I've always liked clothes and thought they were fun. Have I mentioned my freshman year of college, when I astonished my friends by dressing head to toe in orange? So when I happened upon What I Wore Wednesday, which is a kind of challenge to not be a mom in yoga pants (not that there's anything wrong with moms in yoga pants, just that if I were to be that every day and not make more effort to dress nicely, I think I would be grumpy), I thought it created the perfect opportunity for me to display my outfits.  Here we go:
So I don't normally have a "day to evening" look but for once, last Thursday night, Aogu and I went out!!  Valentine's Day and all that.  Above was my "day" look.  Sweater and trousers are thrifted.  Oops, guess I was too lazy to put my shoes on for this photo. 

Evening: same trousers, but with sequiny tank top under cashmere sweater (yes, I was freezing.  Speaking of lazy, I didn't have time to do my hair so I hope the effort I spent on my clothes made up for my less than perfect mane...

Evidence photo, which looks like I'm trying to blur Aogu's face so you won't recognize him on the street.  I'm not that clever, this is just the way the photo turned out.  Strong smelling story for this week: we went out with F & Z to Cho Sun Ok, a Korean barbeque restaurant a little ways south of Lincoln Square.  There were actual Korean people there, which was a good sign.  I think most of my meal consisted of banchan, or Korean side dishes (kimchi being the most famous example), which was all delicious.  I would go back again in a second!  It certainly fits my restaurant requirement of "things I can't or won't make at home".   
On Friday, I had a performance at Koji's school.  The choir was to wear black on top and jeans, but I had to change into a costume midway and I knew that actual jeans wouldn't work well under my costume, so I went with this dress and "jean leggings" instead.  Here's a video of our performance at the school Culture Festival last fall:

Saturday I had another performance at Koji's school with the same dress code. No "outfit photo" for the day. I do have a couple other pictures I could show but I think I'll save them for another day.

On Sunday I tried to match my eyeshadow to my dress and I wanted you to see it but I don't think you can.  You'll have to just believe me.  I also have grey and black leopard socks on, but again, you just have to have faith, please.  Note that I'm using the skirt under dress trick here, both for warmth and to avoid the embarrassment of a too short dress! Monday was a school holiday for Koji; I took him to an epic playdate. If you really want to hear about it or see what I was wearing, check out the post previous to this one!
Tuesday I went to "work". I signed up to help with the interview process for The JET Programme, so I spent half the day in the Japan Information Center as part of a panel that screened five aspiring JET Teachers.  It was great fun, I only wished I had signed up for more time slots.  I wasn't nearly as policewoman like to the interviewees as I look with these sunglasses on!
Today!  Have you tried your argyle socks and leopard shoes together yet?  If not, why not?  All the pieces you see were thrifted, with the exception of the stripey tank and the aforementioned footwear.  Are you having fun with your outfits?  I hope so!! 
Good night~
pleated poppy

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Chiharu Cafe

Here's a Japanese-American cultural difference (or maybe it's just the Third Culture of Japanese Folks in Chicago Suburbs): when we arrange a playdate, we mean it. While we're having lunch and drinking coffee at the "Chiharu Cafe" the kids will be playing for at least FIVE HOURS. And then I'll still get complaints on the way home, "how come we can't play longer?!"....
Gochisou Sama Deshita, Chiharu!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Black and White Affair

Two nights ago, it happened.  Driving the kids home from Awana, I saw something run in front of my car.  With much dismay, I realized it was a skunk.  By the way, the real deal is nowhere near as charming as Pepe Le Pew. 

Swerve to the left and hit the median, swerve to the right and hit a parked car.  Aim down the middle, avoid smooshing Mr. Skunk with tires and hope he lays low and makes it somewhat unscathed. 

The latter was my strategy, and I hoped it might work.  Turns out skunks aren't very smart though--as he got halfway under my car, I heard a clunk and bump and I knew we were sunk. 

And we were, sunk into stench!!  PEW is right...  I tried rolling down the windows and received instant and heavy chastisement from my children.  That's when I had to admit to them the smell is actually coming from our car, not from an independent location outside. 

Koji urged me to drive straight to the car wash, and perhaps I should have.  Mama instincts urged me to get home and get kids to bed instead.  Meanwhile, Misaki (who can't yet pronounce initial "s") made the final and best declaration of the evening:

"Mama, God love 'kunks!"

Good thing, 'cause I don't!

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Believe it or not, I have been getting dressed and I have been taking (poor quality iPhone) photos for the last month or so. And now, said photos have finally leapt through space onto your screen!
All items above were thrifted, with the exception of my necklace and earrings, which are a la Premier Designs.  It's hard to see but this top has a big bow attached to one side of the neckline.  It would be so easy to DIY, for those who are so inclined.  I could if I would...meanwhile, I was delighted to discover this finished product in a consignment store in Princeton, NJ when I was there in the fall.  Thanks to my friend Y for letting me drag her out thrifting when she really wanted to show me Princeton's campus...!
Guess I like this color. The items in this outfit are all thrifted, too. Except for that scarf, which I bought for something like 288 yen at a discount shop down the road from my in laws apartment in Tokyo.
And these boots, which were a HUGE INVESTMENT for me last year. Alas, the things of last year feel like a millennia ago, and I remember absolutely nothing about where I got them or how much they cost. I only know that I'm pretty sure I learned of their existance from this site.  Maybe. 
Hardly visible here, but on this day (that's right, though these photos are from the last month, I'm not sure which day...) I remember I was excited about my leopard tights with this leopard and flower printed shirt. And other than the tights, all was thrifted. Oh, I guess I got the incongruous snow boots at a garage sale for five bucks. No, I don't think they are a sartorially great choice for this outfit, but it snowed that day. For sure.
I thrifted this sweater, which was infinitely better in concept than to actually wear. Turns out a V neck that extends to one's navel doesn't make sense for a suburban mom. Even if she's bilingual and wears another layer underneath. As for this skirt, I aquired it PTD (Pre Thrift Days) at Costco. Too bad it took this many years for me to see that it's not very flattering. I no longer own either of these items because after I saw this photo I put them in my donation pile and out they went! Isn't it honest of me to show you this photo anyway?!
Looking at this picture with two kinds of stripes and polka dots reminds me that as recently as a year or two ago, I strictly limited myself to one pattern per outfit. I don't know that I'll ever be able to mix this masterfully.

Consider this photo a bit of a confession.  For more days than not, I've been sporting trousers and jeans, which is fine but in my mind, not as fun or interesting.  With three lively kids around (one and another's hands are pictured), do I actually need to be more fun and interesting?  WHY YES, I DO

This isn't as much of an outfit photo per se, as a documentation of my kids' love affair with our friends' hamster. And an all important credit to my sister who made this cute and cosy fleece circle scarf.  Order yours today for less than five dollars!
Orange tights! Which were the only thing I could afford when I visited the new Topshop on Michigan Ave recently.  While I was there, I saw a pink sweater with a couple of bunnies holding hands on it (sounds super weird, but I think I could have pulled it off) that tempted me but I stepped away when I saw that it was $92?! Skirt, boots and scarf are thrifted, orange knit cardigan is from uniqlo and grey sweater is ages old but purchased new, likely from Kohl's. 
Wah! Wish I could have taken a better photo of this outfit from TODAY (finally, I remember something) as I thought my snake patterned dress layered over skirt (both thrifted) and leggings and boots (bought new) was a nicely done combination.
But alas, when I took off my sweater, the better to show you my neck jewels, this is what happened. Ah well, my girls are cuter than me anyway! And that, friends, is a thorough representation of what I wore!

 pleated poppy

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Roses Fix Everything

or least grumpy me on Valentine's Day.
Gratitude and love to my thoughtful husband (and my two year old daughter, who helped pick these out)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Eleven Things on the Thirteenth

Really really wanted to do 11 Things on the 11th but it had a lot of steps and you had to tag other bloggers and think about what to say

Still I couldn't quite let go of it so I am taking the part I can do quickly and putting it here on the 12th oops it's past midnight which makes it the 13th

Questions for my taggees:
1. Which season is your favorite and why?
summer!  my heart and mind are still in school kid mode and I think I should be could be will be FREE during the summer plus the sun is SO much more life giving than windy cold snowiness
2. What is the best deal you've ever gotten on anything?
two things come to mind, though I'm not sure either of them was actually BEST: I recently thrifted a pair of these Bogs for $2.56 which felt like a totally amazing deal.  satisfaction was slightly diminished by this spider motif for my girly "mom game" loving five year old daughter.  but she's OK with it now  
also, my first car, which was a 1978 Oldsmobile (right, Dad?!) purchased with my very own five hundred dollars
3. What is your favorite dessert?
this flourless chocolate cake  I know it has sugar, does "organic cane juice" make it better?...but everything else about it is Real Food...right?!
4. When was the last time you went to the dentist?
*shudder* I've blocked how many months ago it was, but not so long ago now I had to have my first ever root canal, which wasn't actually as bad as subsequently having my tooth drilled down to a stub so the dentist could put a crown over it.  I haven't read Cure Tooth Decay yet but I've seen and read enough anecdotal evidence to know: the next time I have a cavity, I will try to remineralize before I'll be approached with a drill wielding dentist.  I'm sure I sound wacky but I don't care, that's how traumatized I was by my last encounter!

5. Do you prefer older homes or new construction?
I live in an older home now, built in 1950.  I appreciate its solidity.  I don't appreciate its antiquated layout and color scheme.  so theoretically speaking, I like new construction.  though I hear it's not as sturdy.  just call me Little Miss Fickle (the kids and I are super into these books right now)
6. What is your favorite social media platform and why? (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, etc)
FB used to be my first love but as it's changed more I've loved it less.  it seems too hard now to find my friends saying anything interesting.  I probably could control that with more "filters" but there's my stubborn side that wonders why I should have to do that when it never used to be necessary.  I want to love Twitter but I just don't get it though I've been "on" for two or three years.  Pinterest has lots of potential to be my fave but I can't carve the time to invest in it.  Don't know what Reddit is...don't even know if it's a "platform" per se but Google Reader is really my BFF.  That's "where" I am for most of my screen time 
7. Photography: do it yourself or go to a professional?
Ha.  What photography?  We actually have a decent camera so I do take some pictures with it but the follow up is really intense for me, which means that I mostly just don't do it, or I compromise with super bad iPhone pictures.  Professional would be great, maybe some day
8. What is the last thing you made?
this Japanese curry but I modified it to be chicken curry instead of beef, and I was kind of proud that I split it out into two pots: "amakuchi" (mild) for the kids and "karakuchi" (hot) for the adults.  I'm also making a pair of trousers (hate the word pants, between Japanese and British English in my head, I just can't accept it meaning anything but underwear) out of Jess' Peapod fabric which will likely turn out ludicrous and unwearable.  shouldn't even be mentioned as an answer for this question since they aren't actually "made" yet...but the fact that I'm sewing something for the first time in donkeys (isn't that what Aussies say, I love it) makes it feel worth a mention
9. Thrifting: love it or hate it?
if my (thrifted) pajamas have cats, am I the cat's pajamas?  bonus insider info: I am inhaling The Forgotten Garden 
LOVE.  more than I ever ever ever imagined.  we aren't independently wealthy (what does that mean?!) yet and likely never will be but I NEED variety, NEED it like air, I don't want to be simple when it comes to my clothes though I am losing and losing and being buried in the Battle of the Laundry, still, I want "new" clothes, so thrift I must
10. Sunrise or sunset?
both take my breath away but sunrise carries more of the promise of the day to come so I'll go with it
11. What is your guilty pleasure?
number three on this list?  number nine on this list?  hours of karaoke with friends (better yet if we are in Tokyo)?  reading when I should be doing laundry (see number 9 again)?  

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Our Own Country

IMG_0788So you might think we live in the Midwest of the good ol' US of A.  Locationally speaking, that is true.  But what's also true is that our daily experience is probably a bit closer things happening in the suburbs of Tokyo.
One of our priorities as a family is bilingualism.  Aogu and I both speak English and Japanese.  My nature causes me to feel strongly and unswervingly that what I have, I must pass on to the kids.  So, here we are are in Skokie, Illinois, with our kids in Japanese school, and when I really stop and think about it, it's a little otherworldly.
For example, above is a recent schedule for the day, posted for Koji's class in the school library.  It's specially written in English for the American second grade kids that came in for a one day exchange program.
Some terms on the sign: "Janken" means Rock, Paper, Scissors and if you think this is a mere childhood game, you are missing an important stone in the corner of Japanese society.  I am not kidding, any and every decision that needs to made between two people can quickly, easily (is it fair?  I guess so...) be settled with hands formed into various shapes and thrust out at the right moment.
In this case, Janken was the tool by which the kids played a train ("ressha") game.  And then a bowling game.  And who knows which other vital points for the day were settled in this manner?
"Japanese Traditional Games": the words are English, but as suggested, the content unfamiliar.  What struck me funny was that as the kids were trying to pin various parts to a blank face, some watching moms said to me, "Americans don't have any game like this, right?"  And I blew their minds when I replied, "Sure we do, it's called "Pin the Tale on the Donkey"....
Koji seems to enjoy school (which is important on many levels, not least the financial) and I'm thankful for days like this that let him shine.  A few of the other kids in the class speak English quite well but he's the most sure of himself and that makes him someone to go to when things aren't clear.  I had volunteered to be a helper that day, but he and his friends have grown up so much (already!) that they hardly need me.  The other mom volunteer and I spent most of our time complaining about not having any jobs.  Good problem, right?

Japanese word for the day: OYASUMINASAI  (oh yah sue me nah sigh), which means Good Night!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Mail Chimp

Hat wearer (courtesy of Jess, thank you!) just so happens to be watching Space Chimps 2. Of all the above, I only endorse the wearer of the hat!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

C is for...

Raise your hand if you think C is for Cookie. 'Cause I think it's for
Curry Powder
Coriander Powder

So now this is just pretty much a statement of fact: all the best spices start with C