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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I Heart Containers

Big Cutie was on a school field trip today across the city that required four train changes, and so I insisted I go and pick her up.  It was one of the more complicated and stressful train adventures I’ve had in our years in Tokyo and on the way to meet her, I was so focused on finding the location that I didn’t notice much about my surroundings.

But on the way back, hand in hand, we chatted and looked around, and started popping into stores as we walked since Little Cutie would not be home until much later from Karate class.  We made some great finds!

Since we both were hungry, we stopped at an adorable tempura shop where we each had a heaping platter of vegetables, miso soup and tea for a grand total of ¥800.  Yummy and a bargain ~ what more could we ask for!


Much to our delight we found not one, but two Hyaku Yen stores {the Japanese equivalent of Dollar Stores} that were so large they were two stories!  We found tons of things we couldn’t live without and were willing to schlep home on all those trains ~ the ultimate justification of impulse purchases in Tokyo!

But my favorite by far were finding organization trays for my kitchen drawers that were large enough for my American utensils and gadgets and had adjustable inserts.

When The Cuties were doing their homework later I got to work since I was starting with messes like this {which is what happens when you have the good fortune to have both ample drawer space in a Japanese apartment and family members who all help unload the dishwasher}.


And five minutes later, with my new containers and adjustable dividers in place!


{in case you’re wondering why we have so many small utensils, we are not elves ~ however we do entertain quite a bit with appetizer and dessert-only parties and just find them handy}

Because I’d never seen trays like these before and they came in two sizes I bought up what they had and reorganized the rest of my island drawers.  I was able to better organize by like items and when my Cute Helpers unloaded the dishwasher after dinner they gave a big thumbs up.

Here’s all the baking items {yes, I have multiple cookie scoops.  I have issues.  We already know that, people.}


Regular serving pieces {it made me slightly nuts I couldn’t configure the first drawer to fit the cheese knives.  See above statement on issues.}


All the extra gadgets, but most importantly the bottle opener and corkscrew since this drawer is located right across from the wine fridge.


At this point I was moaning and groaning that I’d run out of containers to use and had a drawer of complete kitchen miscellany.  And then I realized that the cute tray I’d bought with no purpose in mind on my last Ikea trip that didn’t seem to fit anywhere would, in fact fit in the drawer when turned sideways.  And it would be a great catch all for the often-used straws and lids for our Tervis Tumblers.


Sigh.  So lovely.

I may or may not have made a few unnecessary trips through the kitchen and opened a drawer for no apparent reason.

I think I’m actually a bit bummed that our last little find before heading to the train station was this and I won’t have to cook breakfast in the morning and get to rave about how easy it now is to find a whisk.


But I’m pretty sure donuts will make The Cuties much happier than containers make me.

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What to Wear When Traveling

One of my Top Three posts last year was Packing a Carry On for International Travel {it’s also one of my most pinned posts on Pinterest!}.  I’ve received many follow-up questions asking me what I wear on long international flights, so I thought I’d share.

As a child, my sister and I often flew as Unaccompanied Minors to visit my grandparents for Spring Break.  We always wore cute new outfits on the plane because back in the Dark Ages people dressed up to fly.  Even as an Old Fart, I have trouble letting go of that mentality and just can’t bring myself to wear sweats even when flying for fourteen hours at a time.

But I promise I’m comfortable.

Here’s a typical outfit I wear on the trip back and forth between Japan and America ~

International Travel Outfit

I like to wear a pant with some stretch to it.  The J.Crew Minnie is a great choice because it comes in both twill and light-weight wool, so depending on the time of year, I’ve got a pair that works.  They also don’t wrinkle, even after snoozing for a few hours in an airplane seat!

It’s important on airplanes to always dress in layers as I often find myself chilly or overly warm.  For that reason, I wear a tee and cardigan year round.  I like Three Dots tees as they are thicker than a lot of t-shirts.  This is important if you spill something and need to wipe yourself off ~ it’s a little easier to scrub a spot out on a more substantial fabric {trust me, I know this from experience!}.  I usually wear longer cardigans or sweaters on planes as they give me the option to wrap myself up.  I seriously have a dozen different ones as they are a wardrobe staple ~ this one is from Nordstrom.

Ballet flats like Tieks that fold up are a great choice when traveling.  I travel with a pair of foldable slippers in their own pouch since airline slippers rarely fit me.  When I get onboard, I take off my outdoor shoes, put them in the pouch and back in my carry on and put the slippers on for the flight.

Since I travel with all my good jewelry for a trip in my carry on, I can simply throw on a few bangle bracelets and a necklace and feel put together upon arrival.  Not a bad thing since flying from Asia to America often means arriving in time for a meal or two and thus having to actually see people!

As for The Cuties, here’s their traveling ‘uniform’ ~

Kids International Traveling


Like me, I have them dress in layers.  Over the years, we’ve found they’re most comfortable in tees, cardigans, elastic-waisted circle skirts and leggings.  The leggings are a good option for two reasons: one they help with modesty while sleeping in a skirt on the plane and two; if we are traveling from a colder climate to a warmer climate, they can just slip the leggings off upon arrival.  They usually wear Converse sneakers when traveling since they’re doing a decent amount of walking through airports.

My only other advice is if you’re the Mom ~ dark colors are your friend.

Because Murphy’s Law says that if your kid spills or gets sick on a plane, YOU will take the hit.


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