The Mondrian Hotel

Masa and I love to stay at gorgeous hotels. On most vacations we will try to find a fancy hotel and stay for at least a night and do average mid-level hotels the rest of the time. Why do we love staying at fancy hotels? Well, for Masa- it makes him feel like he’s a VIP. As for me, I love walking into a hotel and being in awe of the lobby, and nothing is better when you open the door of your hotel room and its absolutely gorgeous.
In March, Masa and I stayed at the Mondrian Hotel in South Beach Florida. Masa choose this hotel and he did a great job choosing it. Its a very artsy and sophisticated.

This girl is painted all over the hotel. Its kind of creepy, but kind of cool.

This girl is painted all over the hotel including the hotel rooms.  Its kind of creepy, but kind of cool.

The lobby was amazing. The columns and staircase are all over sized and very chic.

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We went to check- in,which took FOREVER- I would say we were standing there and waiting for at least 30 minutes as our room was  not ready even though check- in is at 3pm and we were there at 4pm. However, we did get upgraded from a King Suit to a 2 bedroom/ 2 bathroom suite with a full kitchen. Our room was huge and I loved the wallpaper.

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My sister and brother-in-law actually live very close to the hotel and they stopped by to say hello.  My brother-in law told me the hotel use to be a condominium which would explain the two bedroom/two bathroom suite.

Our view out of the suite was breathtaking. We were on the 26th floor and you could see the Miami skyline in addition to boats and cruise ships floating by.

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We really had a nice time at the hotel. It was Masa’s first time on South Beach and we did it in style! Our hotel room was entirely too big for us but it was fun feeling like millionaire!

Something weird did happen while we were staying there. A man was pacing up and down the hallway and asked us if we had any extra sheets in our room. What would you need extra bed sheets for?! Where they making a sheet fort?

Say What?!

My suitcase for spring break was packed with lots of wedding projects since I knew it would be easier to bring them in a suitcase than have them shipped at a very high price from Japan to the States. This meant that even though my wedding in the states is in November I needed to have lots the of big projects done by early March. Since I’m a crazy over -planning kind of lady this didn’t bother me much. During winter vacation I worked on quite a few projects such as fabric boards and origami cranes.

Origami Cranes

Origami Cranes

Now let me tell you something about my origami cranes, when I first started planning my wedding the one thing I vowed I would never do would be origami cranes.  I think that origami cranes at weddings are absolutely beautiful, but I live in Japan and I felt that it is something that everyone would expect and I really wanted to be original and unique.

Then, I got bride brain.

There are many different versions of bride brain, such as the  bride who crashes her car because she is too busy staring at her engagement ring rather than paying attention to the road, or the bride who overly  fixates on her wedding colors.

I think this borders more on bridezilla than bride brain but it was too funny not to post

I think this borders more on bridezilla than bride brain but it was too funny not to post.

My version of bride brain was this: concerning myself with the really small details of the wedding that no one will notice and turning them into very big things that only I care about and getting weird looks from Masa when I talked about them.

After being on Pinterest for about an hour looking for place card ideas my bride brain told me that I HAD to have origami place card holders, and I am sad to say that I became the bride who sat home in front of the TV and folded 50 origami cranes night after night even though she really didn’t want to. Once I finished, I packed them in a box and jammed them in a suitcase and set off for America.

I arrived in America and my mother and I got together and I showed her all of my DIY projects. She loved all of them until I took out those origami cranes. Her face wrinkled in disgust and she said “I’m not really feeling those. Lets think about something else.”

I was like,

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In that instance, all the hours of painstakingly folding those cranes flashed before my eyes. I could not believe she didn’t like them!
The next moment, the rational side of my brain voiced itself over my anger.
“Hey girl,” it said to me, “You never wanted those origami cranes in the first place. This shows you right for going against you better self and getting caught up in all this wedding insanity.”

I took a deep breath and looked at my mom and said “Okay”.

My “Say What?!” moment has hopefully stopped me from getting caught up in anymore wedding insanity. I am still going to do DIY crafts, but if my gut tells me that I’m going overboard I’m going to stop myself. My priorities are now enjoying my time as an engaged couple with Masa- not grudgingly working on wedding projects I don’t even want.

I still, unfortunately, have bride brain. This time I was too busy instructing Masa on how to order our save the dates that I forgot to add cornstarch to my homemade fig newton cookies and ended up making this gooey mess. They still tasted fine though!

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Anyone else get caught up in wedding insanity?

A Very Kyoto Day

When people ask me why I moved to Japan its difficult to answer. I know what people are expecting me to say- “I love Japanese culture- temples, kimono, green tea, and ancient castles. There is such a rich history!” Well,  this is not the case with me. I have never been interested in anything about old Japan, and  my go- to excuse for when someone invites me out to see a temple is “If you’ve seen one temple you’ve seen them all.” I was always more interested in the weird, modern world that is Japan- Sailor Moon, JPop, Final Fantasy, and Haruki Murakami. I knew from the start that I when I moved to the Kansai area that I would spend my time in Osaka- a very huge modern metropolis, rather than Kyoto- the ancient capital of Japan that is full of temples and shrines.

She is the one! Sailor Moon! Photo from imdb.com

She is the one! Sailor Moon!
Photo from imdb.com

As expected, I fell in love with Osaka and lived there for quite some time. However, I somehow ended up living in Kyoto for a few years after my stint in Osaka and I learned to enjoy the city.  I still have no desire to see any temples or castles, but there are so many beautiful shops, restaurants, and markets there that are truly amazing.

This weekend I headed out to Kyoto to meet up with a few of my friends.  We are all in the same Meetup group and hang out with each other all over the Kansai Area.

I first met up with my friend H and we walked through the Nishiki market. It’s a street that has dozens of stands that sell fish, pickles, and cute knick- knacks. This place is very Japanese-y and I highly recommend  a walk down this road if you have the chance.  Be careful though, it can get pretty crowded sometimes.

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A very cute fruit stand

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Cute Stuff!

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More cute stuff!

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Pickled vegetables

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We had lunch and then headed to a very cute yarn store called Avril, which has beautiful specialty yarn.

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My friend H told me to look natural and this is what I did. It looks like I’m considering eating this ball of yarn.

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We then meet up with our other group members who had gone to the Toji Temple Flea Market earlier that day(Temple? Count me out!) and scored an adorable find- these cute Kokeshi dolls.

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My friend H and I shared green tea cheesecake as well (I love splitting desserts- only half the calories!)

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Walking through Nishiki Market and eating green tea cheese cake while I looked at Kokeshi dolls made me feel as if I had a very “Kyoto” kind of day. It was really nice, and I look forward to having one again.

My Wedding Makeup Trial

During my spring break  in March (being a teacher is awesome- you get to have spring break!), I went back to the States and I completed my makeup trial for the American wedding. Let me tell you, I actually dreaded my makeup trial and prayed it would be over with as quickly as possible. Why, you ask? Because even though I am a pretty outgoing person, I can be painfully shy when it comes to being one on one with a stranger. I am the girl in the salon who listens to her iPod so she doesn’t have to make small talk with the manicurist or pedicurist. I read a book when I get my hair done so I don’t have to talk to the hair stylist. I know, it’s bad.

My appointment was at noon and at 11am I was on the couch trying to make mental note cards of topics I could discuss with the makeup artist so there wouldn’t be the dreadful lull of silence that inevitably happens when I talk to a stranger.

I didn’t have anything to worry about though. My makeup artist Aimee was wonderful, sweet, and kind. I found her on Wedding Wire where she was highly recommended. Before we met up she had me fill out a very detailed questionnaire that asked about my general makeup, my photographer, even my wedding website. I was surprised she wanted to have so much information and it made me feel that she wanted as much information as possible so she could do the best job possible.

She and her husband came over, (her husband came to set up as she was pregnant at the time) and she brought her own makeup chair, studio light, and of course makeup. We chatted a bit about what I wanted, but she already had a pretty good idea since I had sent her pictures of my inspiration beforehand.

Image via imdb.com Photographer Steve Granitz

Image via imdb.com Photographer Steve Granitz

Image via imdb.com Photographer Jamie McCarthy

Image via imdb.com Photographer Jamie McCarthy

I wanted somewhat heavy eye makeup, pink cheeks, and that my lips be balanced. My lips are are two different colors- the top is brown and the bottom is pink so I knew that would be difficult to work with.

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Here is what I usually look like: black eyeliner and a neutral lip.

She started on my eyes and moved on to the airbrush foundation. It was my first time getting airbrushed makeup which was very cool. I thought it was going to splatter all over my shirt but it was totally fine. Here are a few pictures from the trial. Pardon the dorky expression on my face.

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My biggest concern was my lips, but she balanced them out well. She used MAC Touch lipstick if you are interested.

The whole process was very pleasant. Aimee chatted with me and very much put me at ease. I am so glad she will be doing my makeup on my wedding day. On such a stressful day I’m pretty sure she will be a calming presence on that day.

I took advantage of having my makeup trial and booked my engagement photos that same day. It was a great chance to see how the makeup would photograph and how it would hold up outside. It is easy to see that it held up just great.

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Photographer Courtney Ortiz

How did your makeup trial go? Were there any awkward silences?

Stump the Bookseller

During spring vacation I started a quest.

A quest to find a beloved book from my childhood about a kitten. The only problem was that I didn’t remember the title or even the main character’s name. The only thing I remembered was a sentence – “What a pickle you’ve gotten into!” This was said after the kitten fell into a bowl of milk. I remember sitting on the floor of my bedroom as a child trying to figure out how a cat could get into a pickle (the green cucumber-y kind) and why the picture didn’t match what was written. I later asked my dad and he explained to me that getting into a pickle meant getting into a troubled situation.

This was probably my favorite book as a child. Growing up in the 80’s most girls loved horses, kittens,or dolphins. I was a kitten girl.

Yep, this cute little girl loved kittens.

Yep, this cute little girl loved kittens.

While trying to look for the book (i.e. googling: kitten, pickle and children’s book and coming up with nothing) I found an awesome service online called Stump the Bookseller. You write as much as you can remember about the book, no matter how little, and a group of booksellers try to figure out what you are talking about. You can also go through the archives and see if someone has already answered your question rather than paying the four dollars to get your inquiry posted for the booksellers.

I went through the archives at first but couldn’t find my answer (on later reflection I probably did stumble across the answer but didn’t recognize it since my memory of it was so vague).

My question was answered in 2 days! I read the answer and immediately bought the book on Amazon. I was ecstatic!

Here is the book!

Here is the book!

Okay, this is where it gets real. I pull out the book super excited and full of expectations of how wonderful I remember the book being and…. it was just okay. As always, being a child makes everything brighter, shinier, and better. Or maybe I had just built the book up in my head after all this time.

As an adult, I noticed something that I hadn’t noticed before : there were no people of color in the book.
As I said before, I am a child of the eighties and from what I remember most TV shows and books had lots of diversity, such as The Baby-Sitters Club, Jem and the Holograms, Sesame Street, and so much more. It was a bit of a surprise to flip through this book and not see any of that.
Nonetheless, It is still a really cute book and I fully intend to pass it on to my kids.

Did you have anything from your childhood that on second viewing wasn’t a great as you remember?

Raccoon Eyes

During spring break, I found a very sweet make up artist for my wedding. Before we met up, she asked me about my basic makeup and fashion which really got me thinking.

I have lived in Japan for about 10 years and fashion has not changed much since I have been here. There are four basic styles:

1. Office Lady:

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Photo From allabout.co.jp

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Photo From allabout.co.jp

The office lady look is preppy mixed with a bit of sexy and involves lots of Louis Vuitton and Chanel.

2. Layers, Layers, and more Layers

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Photo from item.rakuten.co.jp

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Photo from item.rakuten.co.jp

This look can sometimes border on “Homeless Chic,” and it must be a million degrees under all of those layers.

3. Grown Women Who Dress like Little Girls

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Photo from gmo.toku.jp

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Photo from blog.excite.co.jp/fteri/

Everyone, the craze right now is little girl socks with heels. It is everywhere!

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And of course, the Grown Women Who Dress Like Little Girls trend includes the “Lolita” and “Gothic Lolita” look.

Japanese women dressed in Lolita fashion walk in front of the venue of "Individual Fashion Expo. IV" fashion event in Tokyo

Photo from guestofaguest.com/tokyo

Last, but not least, the final fashion trend is:

4. Humans Trying to Look Like Animals

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Cat Ear Hats
Photo from http://www.curvys.jp

Rabbit Ear Headbands Photo from www.curvys.jp

Rabbit Ear Headbands
Photo from http://www.curvys.jp

Tail Charms Photo from www.curvys.jp

Tail Charms
Photo from http://www.curvys.jp

I am ashamed to say that my fashion falls into the fourth category. I actually owned a rabbit ear headband and I often rock a tail a tail on my purse.

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I also do raccoon eyes.

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Why do I do this? I guess Japan’s cult of cuteness slowly draws you in until you think it’s totally normal to have rabbit ears while you go out grocery shopping. I must also admit that wearing my tail reminds me of Super Mario Bros. which just makes me happy.

I let my makeup artist know that I usually have raccoon eyes, but I’d like to have something more elegant for the wedding. She totally came through, and I’ll write more about my makeup trial later.

The older I get, the more I realize that I can’t rock the animal look for ever. Rabbit ears on a 40 year old woman will probably just look weird rather than cute.  I will probably slowly move towards a fashion trend that is more mature, but of course uniquely me.

I think the Animal trend may be coming to America. Kurt from Glee was actually rocking a tail!

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Anyone else out there enjoy trying to look like animal? Anyone trying to transition to different  fashion trend as they get older.

I’m Back!

I’m back!

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It has been a month since I last posted. Whoa! My spring vacation trip was jam packed with events, and I got back to Japan about a week ago. I finally got over jet- lag and finished up the insane amount work that comes with the beginning of a new school year. (The Japanese school year starts in April.)

I am so happy to be back in my old routine and writing again.

Quite a few of my next posts will be wedding related so if that’s not your thing- so sorry, but never fear I will also be writing non- wedding stuff as well.

I hope everyone out there is enjoying the awesome spring weather! I know I am! I am in such springy mood I have flowers all over the house. In the kitchen, office, and by the TV.

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As a girl I grew up in South Florida- an area with two seasons-summer and hurricane. I love living in a place where I get to experience Spring! ( I still really hate the winter.)