Sweet on Sumo

We went to our first Sumo Grand Tournament this past weekend and I have a serious confession to make:

I’m totally hooked on Sumo Wrestling.

I truly think it’s the coolest professional sporting event I’ve ever attended.

There was great excitement from Little Cutie as we arrived at Ryogoku Kokugikan, the Sumo Hall, and saw the same kind of banners lining the perimeter as were at her  sumo tournament at school last Spring.

sumoproflags

The entrance to the Sumo Hall is also flanked by two incredible murals.  I thought the perspective of this one was particularly interesting.

sumomural

Sumo is just as much as about the ceremony and rituals as it is about the actual bouts.  I found the Ring Entering Ceremonies mesmerizing and loved the rhythm of the wrestlers entering the dohyo {ring}.

enteringring

sumoarms

After the Ring Entering Ceremony the athletes clapped their hands, then performed a leg-stomping shiko exercise to drive away evil spirits from the ring.  Very dramatic!

sumoclap

footstomp

And still, before the wrestlers could get to actual contact there was more ritual, including tossing salt into the ring to purify it.

sumosalt

And now we were ready to get to it!

faceoff

wrestling

And then just seconds later, it was over! {a match is won by knocking your opponent out of the ring or if you force your opponent to touch the ground with any part of their body except for the bottoms of their feet}

winner

The next big Sumo Tournament is in May and I absolutely want to go.  The burning question, however, is whether my very non-Japanese knees could handle sitting in the “premier” seats down on the tatami mats for hours on end!

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Things I’ve Been Swooning Over

Or as the English Lit major in me knows better ~ Things Over Which I’ve Been Swooning!

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Because we are moving next week I’ve been holding back on buying things lately but have big plans for the new place once we’re settled {stop rolling your eyes, dear husband of mine, it’s true, I’ve showed restraint, I promise!}.  Instead, I’ve settled for late night Internet browsing and have found all sorts of goodies I wanted to share.

I’m a List Maker and Note Taker {do you like how I capitalized those as if they were actually official titles?}, so I regularly purchase lined, blank journals and notebooks for this purpose.  In my humble opinion, one can never have enough.  Minted has many choices, but I especially love the preppy stripes on this one:

Mintedjournal

Because I’m limited in my ability to hang art in our Japanese rental apartment, I end up with a lot of blank, white walls.  I am, however, learning to get more creative with this problem, and so I found these precious prints at the Etsy shop 23 Madison Studio that are small enough to put in a lightweight frame and hang with small 3M hooks.  Isn’t this adorable for in my master bathroom or walk in closet?

23MadisonStudioWhile I’m all about practicality, there’s no reason things shouldn’t be cute whenever possible. So I’m pretty sure my purse needs one of these in case my iPhone dies on the go, don’t you?

chargers

It’s the Year of the Snake here in Japan, and I’ve been wanting to get something fun like I did last year for the Year of the Dragon.  Except, I kinda really hate snakes.  But look how adorable this Iomoi scarf is, and would be great as a pop of color on a cold day with black or navy or crisp against air conditioning in summer with bright white!

snakescarf

Finally, it took me a while to locate the source of these, as I’ve had them Pinned for a while with no link, but I did it!  Aren’t these the best Preppy-Girl pencils ever?  I still love to write in pencil, and really, these are pretty much all of my grown-up favorite things!

pencils

So what are you eyeing lately?  Please share with the rest of the class!

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She Rocks

It happened again.

Time snuck up and my baby girl turned 9 years old this morning.

I’ve timed the posting of this to coincide with the actual anniversary of her birth back in America even though we celebrated here in Tokyo today.  She likes to say she gets two birthdays as a result of this whole Expat thing, but I think the family celebration starting with our usual Birthday Breakfast Cupcakes {AKA blueberry muffins with cream cheese ‘frosting’} and presents bright and early in the morning is probably more than enough.

Fun fact about The Cuties:  both of them have 7:44 am as their official time of birth since they were born via c-sections during 7:30 am surgeries.  My husband swears Little Cutie was born at a different time and I totally believe him; being that I was being gutted like a fish at the time and vomiting violently from the anesthesia.  I somehow missed looking at the clock and am willing to trust him on this one.  But since both Mom and Dad happened to have been born during early morning c-sections as well, all birthdays in the Felt So Cute household are celebrated early in the morning.

And as usual, I’ve digressed.

So my baby is a year older.

She told me yesterday it was a pretty awesome year.

I sure think so.

She learned to ski in Shigakogen.

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She saw amazing snow sculptures in Sapporo

snowsculpture

She had her nihon buyo {Japanese fan dancing} recital

nihonbuyo
She made a really big new friend

elephanthugs
She was mobbed like a rock star for her long curly hair in Thailand

rockstar

She tried sumo wrestling

sumogirl

She did a good deed

thebigcut

She learned to ride a bicycle by herself

bicycle
She made the Swim Team

swimteam
She danced in Bali

balidance
and she tried SCUBA diving in Cebu

SCUBA

An awesome year, indeed.

I think I want to be my children when I grow up someday!

Here’s to an amazing 9th year, my Little Cutie.

and more posts coming soon on her rockin’ birthday party!

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GoodReads and an Update

I love to read.

I love that I have a family of readers.

There are, however, a few problems in my world of reading:

1) I am prone to ‘losing myself’ in a book and either ignore all other responsibilities like laundry, dishes, or preparing food to feed my family or I stay up until the wee hours of the night vowing to “finish just one more chapter.”

2) I read ridiculously fast.  Seriously.  I’m a borderline speed reader.  In school, teachers constantly questioned my comprehension because of it.  Why is this a problem?  Well, in our digital age, where I can instantaneously upload the next book I want to read, I can blow through cash at Amazon at an alarming rate.

3) Because I live in a foreign country, in order to easily access books in English, I now read almost all of my books on my Kindle or iPad.  On occasion I forget to charge everything every night, and will suddenly find myself out and about on the train with zero charge and no more book to read.  Major bummer, dude.

I am not one to make New Year’s resolutions.  I don’t really believe in them {not the idea of vowing to make changes in your life, but the notion of only doing it once a year – I think we should be empowered to enact changes in our lives whenever we feel the need}. 

However, this year, I want to be better about turning off the TV, shutting down my laptop, and reading.  Reading things I want to read, reading things my husband recommends {he’s also a voracious reader; one of the many things I adore about him!}, and reading more with The Cuties.

So I have added a GoodReads button to the blog, and will chronicle what I read this year.  Sometimes, you’ll be able to tell it was clearly, a book I chose ~ like Gone Girl that I read in a day at the beach this past week.  And sometimes, you will be able to tell I’ve read a book with one of The Cuties.  They are both well beyond wanting to be read to anymore, but over Thanksgiving, all four of us read R.J. Palacio’s amazing book, Wonder and discussed it {fabulous book, by the way ~ I recommend it for all ages!}.  It was such a great experience, that I’ve promised myself I will continue reading books along with them and discussing them to hear their thoughts and ideas about characters and the conversations that spin off of from the plot.  So that’s why you’ll also see tween books like The Black Stallion pop up every now and then, as well.

I’d love your book recommendations and to hear what you’re reading, too.

On a different note, after a brief hiatus, we are back in Japan, and I hope to get the blog back on track soon.  

To give you a brief glimpse of our craziness ~ we had my in-laws here visiting for almost three weeks and traveling with us, and then two weeks later I took The Cuties to America for ten days solo to see all seven of my nieces and nephews and all of my and my husband’s siblings in Chicago and Washington, DC.  Then we flew back to Japan, and less than 72 hours later were on a plane to Cebu, the Philippines for a week-long family vacation for the four of us.  We’ve returned, and now my parents arrive tomorrow for two weeks and in the middle of their visit we are moving to a new apartment and I’m throwing Little Cutie’s birthday party for 20 children.

At this point I think I’m going to pretty much survive on chai lattes, cocktails and chocolate!

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Blog News Around the Internet

It’s been a fun few weeks at Felt So Cute!

First, I heard from Huffington Post, where they featured my Sneaky Centerpiece on one of their “What’s Hot on Pinterest” pieces.

geltvase

Then Seventeen.com included my Yarn and Felt Wreath Tutorial in their DIY Holiday Craft article {look for slide #6}.

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And now just this morning, Earth911.com has my Mantel card display up as an environmentally friendly decorating idea for Hanukkah from reused materials.

hanukkahmantel

As exciting as this is for my little blog, I’m most excited that Hanukkah is being included in the crafting world for the holidays, and that it was done in such a timely fashion!

{ I added buttons to easily follow me on both Pinterest and Facebook and if you’re interested in receiving an email whenever there’s a new post, be sure to follow the blog as well!}
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Winterfest Hodgepodge

This past weekend was our school Winterfest.  It was one of those absolutely beautiful late fall/early winter days that was crisp and sunny and just delightful on which to be outside.  Especially in contrast to last year, which fell on one of the rainiest, coldest, nastiest days of the year.  I imagine the chairs woke up and did the Dance of Joy.

The highlight of the day as parents was getting to see Big Cutie’s 5th grade Choir performance and Handbell Show.  I admit my expectations for the Choral performance were moderate, and boy was I wrong.  We were totally blown away!  This was serious singing, with four-part harmonies, and even some very adorable, well-coordinated choreography.

choir

arms

After the Choir concert, Big Cutie and several of her classmates stayed and performed a Handbell Concert.  This is an extracurricular activity offered by their music teacher every week after school since the beginning of the year.  They have learned to read music, make sound out of the bells, and perform, all in a few short months.  Not bad for eighteen children who had never before touched a bell!

handbell

Following the concerts, The Cuties ran around campus with their friends, playing games while us adults sampled all of the food.  One of the greatest pleasures of a community filled with Expats from around the world are their culinary delights, and so there were booths a-plenty and we did our best to be sure we could praise our friends’ hard work!

Our last big activity of the day was the Kimono Booth.  I’d seen several friends’ portraits from previous years and knew this was something we’d want to do during our time in Tokyo.  I went back and forth whether I’d include myself with The Cuties, and finally decided to go for it, figuring when else would I have the opportunity to have my hair and makeup done in the traditional style and be professional dressed in a real kimono.

Our group consensus was that it was awesome.

Here’s Little Cutie simultaneously getting her hair and makeup worked on

cutiemakeup

Big Cutie had more elaborate makeup as the traditional style for girls her age in formal portraits or on special dress up days is to wear red lipstick.  Very exciting stuff.

powderpuff

Here are the girls with finished hair and makeup waiting to be dressed~

finished
And me?  Well, the poor girl working on my never-ending pounds of hair {the staff are all students at the largest Kimono College in Tokyo} worked very hard on my decidedly non-Japanese hair to get it to stay up in the traditional “mother” up do {of course, the reason I never ever wear  up dos is because of the arsenal of pins and spray it requires to hold my massive locks into place}.

updo

Here’s our sneak peek {professional photos are sent to us}.

kimono
And these are the many students and teachers who all worked behind the scenes to get everyone ready.  Once again, I point out that I clearly need staff!

staff

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I Almost Didn’t Come Back

You haven’t heard from me for a while because we went away on vacation to Bali, Indonesia.  I seriously considered not coming back.  It’s just that lovely there.  But the whole work, school and not enough clean underwear thing, convinced me to go ahead and get on the plane.

Wouldn’t you be a bit grouchy about leaving this view?

Even better, we managed to snag one of these every day, and scooted the pillows into the middle so half of us could lounge facing the Indian ocean and the other half could face the pool.  As a result I believe at last count there were at least a dozen books read amongst us!

Several nights, we were entertained with different styles of Balinese dancers.  The Cuties liked that we received handouts explaining the story behind the traditional dances and seeing if they could find the message in the actual dance.  But the hair and costumes were of course the best part!

Dancing was such a hit that they decided to take a little lesson; especially when there was a full dress up opportunity available!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think they look like they were having just a wee bit of fun, don’t you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We stayed in Nusa Dua, but spent all day one day in the town of Ubud touring temples and art galleries and seeing the sites and eating local food.

The carvings at the local temple we stopped at were absolutely amazing.  Stonework and wood carvings are truly an elevated handicraft in Indonesia, and we stopped and watched any time we happened upon a craftsman at work.

 

{do you see the turtle shape above?}

Can you imagine how long it took artisans to carve all of this by hand?

After we ate a traditional Balinese lunch we stopped to visit the rice terraces.  {FYI – despite a usually tender Crohn’s Disease tummy, I rocked the Balinese spicy food all week long without a single problem.  Yummy, yum, yum!}  The terraces were so unbelievably cool and The Cuties played a little game of “I Spy” finding people actually working the fields.

The Balinese people were so kind and gracious everywhere we went.  I really hope to go back some day.  Maybe even with only my husband next time! ;-)

So now, while I’m sitting in my way too chilly Tokyo apartment, bundled up in yoga pants and a big scarf, wondering what the heck I’m going to make for dinner tonight, I’m going to pretend I’m there instead, with a waiter coming around asking me for my order and bringing me a cocktail.

And in case Bali wasn’t fabulous enough?

They had Diet Coke!  Swoon.

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