Just Charming

Several years ago, The Cuties and my husband surprised me with a charm bracelet.

They picked out several meaningful charms for my life up until that point and we’ve added to it ever since then.

It’s truly one of my most favorite pieces of jewelry to wear and I love the soft jangle it makes as I move.

charmbracelet

Here’s what I have and why ~

leftbracelet

*a book {I’ve always been a big reader}

*a Palmetto tree {for my beloved Kiawah Island}

*The White House {I grew up in Washington, DC}

*Big Cutie

*a house {snuck in behind the disc but there for our homes together}

*a Newfoundland {our first family pet}

middlebracelet

*a girl silhouette with Big Cutie’s name & birthdate engraved

*an alligator (for the preppiness and my nickname + last name together sound like the word alligator, so I’ve always been drawn to them as an icon}

*a Tiffany & Co blue box {on The Cutie’s first trip to NYC we took them there and there was a charm bracelet display.  They very unsubtly convinced their father to buy one for me to remember the trip ~ so sweet!}

*a camera {I’ve always loved to take pictures, even if this one is a little out of focus!}

*the Japanese goddess Benzaiten of knowledge, art & beauty {she’s one of the Seven Lucky Gods and is special to commemorate our time in Japan}

*a pair of glasses {I’ve worn them since 4th grade!}

*a heart with my husband’s and my names and our wedding engraved

*an artist’s palette {it’s a little overly generous but I’ve yet to find a sterling glue gun!}

*a high heel {I love my shoes!}

*Little Cutie

rightbracelet

*a baby shoe {one of my most beloved charms as this one marks Big Cutie learning to walk!}

*Little Cutie’s silhouette with her name and birth date engraved

*a Star of David {it’s a little hidden, but there, I promise!}

*bagpipes {my husband and I may go down in history as the only Jewish couple to have had a bagpiper at our wedding.  It’s a long, sweet story and I’ll share it someday!}

*the Eiffel Tower {the first international trip my husband and I took together was to Paris}

*a purse {another little shopping “problem” I have!}

I’m currently on the hunt for the perfect elephant now that I’ve been to Thailand twice and am so very fond of them.  Nothing has really been perfect yet – either too RNC or too cartoonish.  I’m willing to be patient!

So what’s your most sentimental piece of jewelry?

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My Fair Cutie

So y’all know my Halloween costume era came to end last year when both girls chose store-bought costumes for the first time.

While saddened, this happened to coincide with the husband and I attending Halloween costume parties where adults went all-out, so I could re-focus my energies in other ways, so the costume-making manifesto continued.

This past summer, however, Little Cutie came up with an idea for a costume that she didn’t want me to make but wasn’t readily available for purchase.

Uh oh.

And she wanted to go as Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly!

Oh happy, happy, joy, joy.

Because we all know how much this mama loves and adores Madame Audrey.

And in the end what a perfectly easy costume to make for a little girl.  All it took was a little black dress and satin gloves bought from a flower girl dress supplier; big sunglasses, a mini tiara comb, and tons of fake pearls from Claire’s; and a borrowed floppy hat from Mommy’s closet.  Throw in a shopping bag from Tiffany & Co to use as a Trick or Treat bag and a croissant as a snack, and Little Cutie was ready to go!

Y’all should know she loves this ensemble so much I regularly find her lying on her bed reading a book, dressed as Audrey from head to toe.  Cracks me up.

audrey

closeaudrey

tiara

tiffbag

adorbs

The pixie cut growth from shaving her head is rather perfectly timed for Halloween, don’t you think!

LINKED TO:

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FEATURED  ON:

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Making Dolls with My Dolls

My friend Jill told me about a Kokeshi Doll making workshop at Tokyu Hands {pretty much one of the coolest stores ever, which sells craft supplies, washi tape, stationery, bicycles and so much more}.  I immediately wrote it on the calendar to do today since it ends tomorrow, and it was the only day we could take The Cuties.

Except we woke up to driving rain and winds, a typhoon warning.

But I still planned to go.

I mean it was a warning and not an actual typhoon yet, right? ;-)

And then, wonder of wonder, the rains stopped and the sun came out.

So we ran out the door as fast as we could.

Each station was perfectly set up and ready to go ~

station

The directions were given completely in Japanese and the instructors didn’t speak any English.  I was feeling a little stressed and overwhelmed by that, but The Cuties were calm, cool and collected.   They managed to figure it all out by gestures and the fact that they know all their colors in Japanese.

They started with faces, making expressive eyebrows and eyes ~

face

Then The Cuties got to work making the characteristic spirals and stripes that are typical of Kokeshi dolls.  I’m in love with this special spinning vice they provided for exactly this purpose.  I was an official “designated spinner!”

circles

stripes

I love their finished products so much!!!

finisheddolls

They remind me of some of my favorite antique kokeshi dolls I saw at the Kawagoe Shrine Sale last year!

antiquekokeshis

The current weather forecast now calls for heavy rains, gale force winds, floods, high waves and thunderstorms and we received word from school it may be cancelled tomorrow.  Thank goodness nothing got in the way of our crafting!!!!

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Excuses, Excuses

Boy, do I got ’em.

The return to Real Life and the start of the school year has pretty much kicked my butt.

Because the dining room table has been covered in my piles of projects, we’ve eaten almost every dinner at the kitchen island, which only has three stools, so that requires one of us to stand and eat a meal.  Not quite the quality family meal time I imagine.

I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but that might be that I’ve finally managed to get all the paperwork properly filed in its rightful home and so I’m just delusional as to how much I’ve still got to do!

I’m still looking at this though and considering it an improvement…

binders

So here’s what I’ve been doing instead of wowing you with my blogging prowess ~

{from left to right, and top to bottom}

I *believe* I finally have all the school, Hebrew School, PTA, swim team, volleyball, JCC committees and social events to date written in the calendar.  I knew it would be a busier year than usual and so I made the bold move to switch from my much-loved, larger MomAgenda to the smaller Lilly Pulitzer agenda, thinking I can carry it around in all of my purses.  {I know MomAgenda makes a smaller version, but it was a pricier option in case I admit defeat in a month and place an order for my old standby!}

One of the biggest reasons we said yes to life overseas was the opportunity to explore Asia, so we are forever trying to take advantage of all of our vacation time.  I feel like I am constantly reading about somewhere to go and trying to figure out what are the “Must-See’s.”  First World Problems if ever they existed, I know.

That brochure on the top of the big stack is the list of classes for the Tokyo American Club for the semester.  I am definitely signing up for my sumi-e painting class again and hope to finish my first byobu {Japanese screen} by the end of the term.  I’ve got a few cooking classes and tours circled as well but I’m probably being a bit overly ambitious.

My pink MomAgenda Kitchen Folio has been stocked with this year’s school schedules, cafeteria menus and sports schedules and is ready to be stored in it’s rightful home, where everyone in the family can find it as a handy reference source.

As I mentioned earlier, we travel as often as possible.  So this year, I decided to create a notebook with a section for each of the school vacations, so I can put each trip’s itinerary and travel arrangements in one location.  I’m often working on as many as four trips at once, and I can easily confuse myself; I’m hoping this will help things.  I try not to print everything in my life, and each trip is managed in it’s own file in my gmail account, but I can’t always access that in another country, so I have learned to print hard copies.

I am on the Board at the Jewish Community of Japan and serve on our Events Committee.  I’m currently planning a Trivia Night for our adult members next month as well as designing invitations for an Anniversary Gala we’re having.  Again, I’ve tossed all these disparate items into a binder to help corral them in one place for my sanity of late!

Next, I’m serving as the PTA Secretary at The Cuties’ school.  We have an amazing PTA Board, filled with many of my girlfriends, so I’m really enjoying my time on this project.  But I joked today that I thought I was an organized person until I took on this job at a school of 1500 students and their parents.  It’s definitely keeping me on my toes.

Finally, you see a notebook for Big Cutie’s Bat Mitzvah which we are doing here in Tokyo.  While the big event is about a year away, there have been a few decisions we’ve had to make recently in order to secure vendors.  As you can imagine, it’s a little different than planning it back in the States.

So that’s my life.

I have all sorts of ideas for craft projects I want to do on my own and with The Cuties, and hope to carve out some time for them soon so I can share with you!

In the mean time, I’m going to put The Cuties to bed and pour myself a big glass of wine.

And then I’m off to plan my menu for the Yom Kippur Break Fast I’m hosting on Saturday.

I make my own crazy.  I own it.

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And Off They Went!

I think I’ve discovered a trick to Expat life and the return from summer travels: if you cut it all close enough, the early wake up for school won’t seem so miserable if you’re still recovering from jet lag!

And so this morning, my “babies” hopped on the bus to start fourth and sixth grades!!!

1stdayofschool2013

Big Cutie is starting Middle School, which while still on the same campus she’s been on, is filled with all sorts of changes like lockers, multiple teachers, new activities and the ability to buy new things in the cafeteria {priorities, people, priorities!}

sixthgrade

And Little Cutie is very excited for Fourth Grade.  She loves school so much and literally was the first person onto the bus this morning.

fourthgrade

It was a fabulous summer, but as all parents usually feel by now, it’s time for school to start and routine to settle in.  I’m ready for activities, homework, swim meets, regular dinners, appointments and exercise.

Besides, I really need to catch up on Breaking Bad. ;-)

****************************

To quickly catch you up on the past month’s chaos and my absentee blogging….

I’ll sum up with this: camp was fantastic.  The Cuties arrived off the bus having loved the experience, chanting non-stop at meal times for their respective divisions, they tried all sorts of amazing new things {Big Cutie made it up on water skis!} and returned home filthy.  All signs of a successful experience in my book.

I quickly did laundry for four days straight, packed up The Happy Place, moved us all up North, visited friends, lived out of suitcases in a hotel, saw The Cute Grandparents, did last-minute errands and somehow managed to make it home on the 14-hour flight with both bronchitis and a double ear infection.  What am I ~ five?  Thank goodness for urgent care and prescription medications!

We hopped off the plane and made it to school orientations beginning the next morning.

And there you are!

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Happiness at the Happy Place

We’ve been coming to The Happy Place for many years now.

While living in two different states and on two different continents.

That’s just how much we love it.

And so last year, when we finished our first year as Expats, having sold the house up in the Northeast, we took a long-term rental at The Happy Place for a month and a half.

And as we imagined, many weeks at The Happy Place were better than one.  {That’s my kind of math!}  So somewhere in there, we called a realtor to just look at our options to possibly buy a little place.

And so I did.  On one very rainy morning, in between other renters, I quickly looked at what was available, snapped some pictures, made a prioritized list and tucked the information away to discuss with the husband when we were back in the same country together and we could figure out exactly what our plans were for the next few years.

And then this past Winter we bit the bullet and bought my favorite place from over in Japan, without having anything more to show my husband than these kind of pictures ~

LR1

LR2

LR3

And yet he trusted me that the major pieces in this furnished place were still good and that with a little paint and a little work we could make it much more “us” and up to date.

And I promised I would keep in mind that we would be renting it out when we weren’t there AND that we would also be living in it all summer.  And I could strike some kind of balancing in decorating to make it all work so that we’d be happy, but not purchase expensive things we’d be disappointed if they were accidentally broken by renters.

And I totally kept my promise.  And did the whole thing on a shoestring budget.

So here’s what I’ve really been up to while The Cuties are at camp!

It’s a little hard to tell in the original dark and terrible photos, but the walls were beige.  And the sisal carpet is beige.  And the big sofa is beige.  And the kitchen tile is beige. So I lived in fear of sitting down and turning beige like a chameleon.  We needed a little contrast and texture!

I had the main living space painted in Sherwin Williams Upward, and removed all the many palmetto pillows and art (I counted 27 in the place!).  The new pillows all come from Pier One, Target and Garden Ridge, so it won’t be a tragedy if a renter spills something on one.  I took down the awkward vertical mirror and added an abstract painting that nicely brings in all the greens from the view outside of the lagoon.

sofa

I de-cluttered the side table and added a faux mercury glass lamp for a little shine.  I also added a few books of interest and a Guest Book for our renters {all from the bargain area at Barnes & Noble + my member discount!}.

tablescape1

When I took down the palmetto prints, I replaced them with these fun prints from Seaside Prints on Etsy.  I love the details in them as well as the quality.

art

I did reuse that massive mirror in a place where it seemed to fit better {and doesn’t it work best vertically?}.  Around that corner is our front door, so it’s nice to have a “quick check” spot.  I also replaced the palmetto plates on the side of the kitchen cabinets with some pretty taupe ones {not my first design choice, but they are masking the massive holes put there}.

full view

There had been three or four small containers of shells around the place when we moved in, and so I found this pretty bowl and consolidated them all in one spot.  And while I know it’s not an authentic glass fishing float, I was happy to find this little guy in a local shop, as he makes me think of Japan.

shellsfloats

The TV built-in was an easy fix once we took out a lot of dusty fake greenery.

tv

I spent all Spring believing this chair had to be replaced because it was too big for the room, but when we lifted up the ottoman to take it out we realized that was the root of the problem and the chair was perfectly fine on it’s own; problem solved!  And the elephant table was possibly my favorite find of the summer ~ I think he looks like something from Jonathan Adler, but would you believe he was only $50!

elephantstand

Here’s all that pretty lagoon greenery I was mentioning.  It’s been like Wild Kingdom this week, and I’ve had visits from our alligator, some ridiculously huge turtles and lots of baby deer just outside!

lagoon

And finally, this is what we now see when we walk in the door.   Pretty much sums it up.

happy

On a different note ~ thank you for all your lovely comments regarding the Lilly Pulitzer Giveaway.  Congratulations to Kellie Failla!  Please email me at FeltSoCute@gmail.com with your contact information so I can send the watch set to you.

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Giveaway!

I promised a Giveaway when we reached 1,000 Followers and here we are!

Thank you so much for your support and kind comments.

This has been a fun little adventure that’s taken a few unexpected twists and turns along the way {I, for one, certainly didn’t expect to be writing to you about life in Japan, that’s for sure!}

As a thank you I have this for one lucky reader ~

Lilly-Pulitzer-Watch-Set-Lucky-Charms-M

The straps are interchangeable and will fit adults or kids {Big Cutie has a set and I often steal borrow hers!}.  You will receive the Lucky Charms pattern set.

So here’s the deal:

Leave a comment here and you’re eligible to enter!

Leave a comment here telling me you’re a new follower and you’re eligible to enter!

Leave a comment here telling me you follow Felt So Cute on Facebook and you’re eligible to enter!

Leave a comment here telling me you follow Felt So Cute on Instagram and you’re eligible to enter!

Winner will be selected on Friday, August 2, 2013.

Again, thank you!

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