Going Ape!

Last week over The Cuties’ Spring Break, we traveled to Kota Kinabalu, Borneo.

The majority of our time was spent prone on a chaise lounge, napping under palm trees, reading and doing needlepoint.  It was glorious.  It was also just the adult vacation modus operandi.

The Cuties spent their time in and out of the water, wiggling while I re-applied sunscreen, and generally consuming books on their Kindles.

{We also managed to eat an inordinate amount of food from thrice daily resort buffets, but that’s another issue altogether.}

Two mornings, we handled putting on actual clothing to spend time at the Nature Reserve on the resort property.  The first day, we watched an amazing movie about orangutans, which are now only living in Borneo and Sumatra and are seriously endangered due to logging for palm oil.  As a result, the adults are often killed leaving their babies orphaned.

Very little in the animal world will tug on your heartstrings like the sight of baby orangutans and watching them interact with humans.

After the movie, we climbed up to a viewing platform and waited patiently and silently for feeding time.  I was very proud of The Cuties, as it’s really hard to be both patient and quiet when you’re standing in the Rainforest and it’s about 90 degrees with 80% humidity, and the guide is pointing out snakes in trees along the way.

Twenty minutes into our sweaty silence, we heard rustling in the trees above us; as we looked up, we saw tall branches swaying to and fro, but the sun prevented us from actually seeing anything.  But then….


We met Kolapis.


Who was seriously the most fun to watch ever.


What a face.  What a doll.  What a goofball.

A few days later The Cuties participated in the Nature Reserve’s Ranger Experience.  They were first required to have a check up by a nurse to make sure they were healthy and free from infection since humans and orangutans can easily transmit the same diseases.  Thankfully, they passed and were sent off to work!

They again attended a feeding session, but also were able to learn more about the health care and food preparation for the Reserve’s babies.  They then spent a lot of time cutting fruits and veggies for the orangutans’ lunch; always good to have them earn their keep!

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Cute Grammy & Poppy were with us in Borneo and generously adopted Kolapis for the next year in The Cuties’ names.  As a result of being his foster parents, they will receive updates on his health, life and efforts towards rehabilitating him back into the wild.  I wonder if we will also get his report cards!

Helping our adorable primate friends was a great way to spend our break and add to our Asian adventures.

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Beach Bag Vacation Essentials

The Cuties are on Spring Break next week and so I’m starting to get us organized for another adventure.  I thought I’d share my favorite essentials for packing a bag for a warm vacation spot.

Let’s start with a tote bag ~ You can’t beat the bags from Scout.  I’ve had mine for years and years and they are still in great shape.  I have two different ones and I use each with a different purpose in mind.  For trips to the beach in Kiawah, when I need to schlep four towels plus all the other essentials, I use an Original Deano bag.  After a day at the beach, I just shake it out and occasionally wipe it down and it’s as good as new.



For trips to the pool or at a resort, I prefer the Pocket Rocket bag.  I carry sunscreen and water bottles in each of the outer pockets, as well as my cell phone and keys for easy access.  The interior is plenty big enough for iPads, magazines, snacks, and anything else we want to bring with us for the day.



Because iPads and Kindles are sensitive to excessive heat and sand, I keep them in wet bags from Itzy Ritzy.  A medium-sized bag will easily hold two iPads, and I use a Snack Happens Snack & Everything Bag in my beach bag for cell phones, keys and wallets to keep them together and accessible {you always want to be prepared for either the ice cream truck on the beach or a sudden rainstorm departure!}.  The best part about packing the medium wet bags on a flying vacation is that it gives you somewhere to put your wet bathing suits in your suitcase from a last minute dip!



I love to be outside at the beach, pool or on a boat, but I take sun protection really seriously.  We religiously apply sunscreen to The Cuties and ourselves several times a day.   I prefer a high SPF water-resistant sunscreen for our bodies and use a broad spectrum sunscreen with zinc oxide on our faces.  The Cuties adore EOS lip balms and the lemon drop flavor has SPF in it.

Most importantly, we wear hats in the sun.  The Cuties have worn these hats from Garnet Hill for years, which completely shade their faces.



I am especially partial to Helen Kaminski hats, which while pricey, last for years.  I bought this hat almost 18 years ago while shopping for our honeymoon and it is still a powerhouse.  It rolls up and packs in my suitcase, and springs back into shape.  The strings adjust the size, and there is a soft liner inside at your forehead for comfort.



In effort to avoid the never-ending onslaught of wrinkles marching across my face, I wear big sunglasses pretty much whenever I’m outside.  I wear them in the water while playing at the pool and beach as well because I wear disposable contact lenses as I am seriously vision-impaired.  I figure it’s easier {and cheaper!} to pop in a new pair of the lenses than to get prescription goggles just to go down a water slide with The Cuties.  I do, however, wear a sunglass strap, and have somehow never lost a pair of glasses.  And of course, my strap is Lilly Pulitzer.



For beach/pool shoes, you can’t beat Havaianas.  They come in every color of the rainbow and you can even customize your own.

When staying at a resort, I think it’s important to consider what kind of cover up you pack.  A simple sarong usually won’t do if you want to go into the lobby or cafe for lunch {of course, the husband has it easy and just has to throw on a shirt!}.  I prefer long tunic-style cover ups that completely cover our bottoms for me and The Cuties.  For them, Boden, is my go-to source.  They are just transitioning from Mini Boden to Johnnie B in sizes and taste, and this year I bought this one.  I also think it would also look adorable with skinny white jeans.



Because we live at the beach all summer, I have quite a few cover ups.  My rule of thumb is that they have to be both long enough that I get appropriate thigh coverage riding my bicycle {being short helps!} and long-sleeved.  I like our cover ups to be long sleeved so we can throw them on for sun protection when it’s an especially long day in the sun and we want more coverage.  Of course I have several Lilly Pulitzer ones, but this Mud Pies one is a favorite.



So those are my must-haves.  I am a reformed over packer.  I pretty much pack the above plus a few sundresses and sandals and I’m good to go for a week at the beach.  I think dresses are the absolute easiest way to go when it’s hot ~ they’re comfy, nothing to match, and in a pinch, you can pretend it’s a nightgown and go to sleep in it that night.

Not that I’ve ever done that or anything.😉


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Three Years

Today is the 3rd anniversary of the Great Japan Earthquake and the Tsunami that followed.  There are still so many people displaced from their homes and in need.  News is still evolving about the effects of the disaster both short and long-term.

Please keep the amazing people of Japan in your thoughts and hearts.


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Food Carving

I recently had the privilege to host a food carving event for the Jewish Community of Japan in my home with Chef Hiroshi Nagashima.  Chef Nagashima is the head chef of the Honganji Temple restaurant Shisui in Tsukiji and has received numerous culinary awards.  He has been chosen to prepare the cuisine for the Crown Prince of Japan and was a chef at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC for an international event.  Additionally, he has written several books related to food and preparation, including The Decorative Art of Japanese Food Carving, on which our program was based.

Chef Nagashima did not speak English, but fortunately my friend Tomoko translated for those of us with more limited Japanese skills {meaning me!}.

With a simple strip of paper, twisted into a knot, he taught us to create a template for a carrot slice.  We then cut a slit into each side and curved the edges.  And finally, we carved a small bit of petal out for depth.


After some rather failed attempts to get us all to create paper-thin butterflies from daikon slices, we realized it was much more fun to let the Chef go to town with his knife and create while we simply oohed and aahed.

Because look what he made in a matter of minutes!


Look at that beautiful delicate daikon butterfly sitting on a cucumber branch!

And here’s a closeup of that adorable little frog {which fortunately there were two of, as The Cuties arrived home and promptly popped one in each of their mouths!}


One of the most amazing things was that Chef Nagashima made all those fragile little designs with the large knife in his hand and barely touched his extensive tool rolls.


And to console us in case we were feeling down and out at our lack of talent in the art of food carving, the Chef brought us bento lunches from his restaurant.  Gorgeous boxes, stacked two-deep with all sorts of delicious food.


I’m off to sharpen my knives and practice my carrot flowers in time for matzoh ball soup for Passover next month.  I’m sure I’ll only need about forty!

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Cookie Decorating Party with Tiny Prints

The Cuties and I had a great time this weekend hosting a Mother & Daughter Cookie Decorating Party with the help of Tiny Prints.

We asked our guests to bring a dozen cookies per person and we would supply all the fun extras, from icing to sprinkles to packaging materials!  How cute is the Painted Chevrons Firecracker Invitation from Tiny Prints we used? {Here’s an invitation tip: always remember to check the trim options – for just a wee bit more you can really upgrade the look of your invitation with rounded edges, scallops and more}


The Cuties and I had such fun figuring out what our friends might want to put on their cookies when decorating.  Thankfully the husband had a business trip to the States in January so we sent him on a supply Mission Impossible for things like Conversation Hearts, Valentine-packs of M&Ms, and more.  Poor guy was texting me from the store with his status and giving me updates that read:

Red hots no longer-what 2 do? Buying all red candies. Hope U like.

What a trooper!  And we ended up with the best stuff that of course you can’t easily get in Japan to decorate cookies, so The Cuties were thrilled!


We’ve hosted a few cookie decorating parties over the years and one of the biggest challenges is that sprinkles – especially nonpareils {those evil little balls!} – end up rolling off the counter tops and all over the floor.  Drives me crazy.  This year, however, I stumbled upon a genius solution {if I do say so myself!}.  Small trays with a slight lip from the Hyaku Yen store {the Japanese version of a Dollar Store}.  Best.solution.ever.


They even had more “sophisticated” versions for the Moms’ table.


And check out ALL The Cuties that were at my house ready to get to work!


And a little sample of their amazing handiwork! {Can I just say that kid-decorated cookies are some of my favorite things ever!}


Once all the decorating was done, the kids got to work on packaging their beautiful treats!  We had all sorts of pretty things for them to choose from – ribbons, sharpies and wax paper in pink or red with polka dots!


Of course we pulled out all our washi tape in Valentine colors!


And then there were plenty of cellophane bags, pipe cleaners, and stickers as well.


I chose the Valentine’s Dots collection stickers from Tiny Prints and left room so each of the girls could add their names to their packaging.  They coordinated really well with the different washi tapes we had as well as the polka dot ribbon you see in the photo above, and the girls used them in both the Gift Tag size and the Address Label size.


Loved seeing our house filled with so much pink and red {the only other combo I like besides pink and green!}


But even better was a house filled with friends!


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A New Pink Friend

As Little Cutie’s friend said when she walked in the door of our apartment today…

 It’s very pink and red around here!

The Cuties are pretty much up for decorating for every possible occasion so I’m happy to indulge when possible.   So as soon as February 1st rolled around we busted out the giant Rubbermaid bin filled with Valentine decorations.

We don’t have much, but what we do have I really love.

Hardee har har.

Until this year, our Valentine pillows have always graced the black bench in our genkan.


 But now that we have more space in our playroom and The Cuties entertain their friends in there, I decided to replace the text message pillows for this month.  However, the futon is a bit larger than the bench and so I thought we could use another pillow!

I repurposed a pillow I found stashed in our storage closet, and since I seriously have no idea why it was in there, opted to make this pillow with an envelope cover in case I wake up in the middle of the night remembering the original purpose and might want the insert back someday! {forgetfulness like this will start to happen often in your 40s people, so at least work with it and not against it!}

I cut a heart template on card stock with my Silhouette and used it to cut nine hearts.


I pinned them onto a square of pink felt {which I scored the other day with Big Cutie when we stumbled upon the two-story Hyaku-Yen stores while exploring!}


I then sewed them to the pink felt only down the center as I wanted them to have a somewhat three-dimensional look.


And now she lives happily with all her new friends!


For peeks at more of the red and pink invasion going on in the Felt So Cute household, be sure to follow me on Instagram!

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Touchdown Party!

Even in Japan we party for the Super Bowl.  We just do it differently.  This year, I’ll be watching at The American Club bright and early Monday morning eating brunch and drinking Bloody Marys while the rest of you are drinking beers and eating chili.  Whatever works, right?

However, I love to throw a Super Bowl party when we are in the States.  It’s a family-friendly party, is easy to make festive and the commercials are usually entertaining.

I’ve found some especially cute invitations this year ~


{Tiny Prints}

beerinvite{Polka Dot Designs}


{SL Design Team on Etsy}

Here and here are posts on two of our parties we threw back in the States ~

Football chocolate lollipops were always one of my favorite centerpieces – cute to look at and a treat to munch on.  Gotta love double duty!


And of course here at Felt So Cute we love felt, so I had to use a giant piece of green felt to make a table cloth.  Add a little white duct tape and some numbers and you’ve got a football field!


Have a great time and Go Team Go!

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