#MonoKimono Challenge – Plummy & Crabby

Well, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve done an outfit on the mannequin, hasn’t it? Between events, injuries, heat waves… it just got sort of pushed to the wayside. But I was determined to keep going with the monoKimono challenge this weekend!

A dear friend sent me this kimono a few weeks back, and since it’s a beautiful solid colour I knew it would be great for a monochrome outfit. Problem is, it’s that very difficult shade of royal purple that kimono fans all know intimately; it’s hard to coordinate, it’s hard to photograph. Even the catalogue photo of it looks a bit off, since I had to process it to make the kimono colour accurate.

The only obi I had that was in the same cool-toned range was my beloved crustacean chuuya obi, so that was a done deal. Rather than try to hide the orange accents in the obi, I figured I’d use them as a pop of contrast and emphasize it with the accessories. The outfit still feels primarily monochrome, but the brighter salmon tones help break it up and keep it visually interesting. The haneri is a lighter shade of purple, but I think it still works well and echoes the white in the obi. Overall, the outfit is even more successful than I thought it would be, which pleases me immensely.

Items used in this coordination

 

Tea Time – Tea Forté

Today I have a beautiful assortment of teas from Tea Forté as well as their incredible KATI steeping cup in Hanami design. I received these for review purposes back in early June, and have been trying them out for a while to make sure I could bring you the best review possible. It’s just my luck that I get a selection of hot steeped beverages to work through while we’ve been hit with the hottest summer on record here in Montreal, but I’ve persevered! It was worth it!

To begin with, here’s the Matcha Collection; a beautiful presentation box with single-serving packets of matcha. Included are Chai Matcha, Chocolate Matcha, Coconut Matcha, Ginger Matcha, and Pure Matcha.

This is a beautifully cohesive, well-designed sampler. There are three packets of each variety, perfectly measured to make one cup of tea each. I love how thoughtfully designed the packets are, they’re very pretty to look at as well as being practical. They prevent the tea from being exposed to light and are very easy to open. so they would be great to travel with or keep at your desk.

I started with the Pure Matcha, because it was the most straightforward and I wanted to taste it clean before digging in to the interesting flavour combinations. It was earthy and grassy in just the right way; if you’re familiar with matcha you’ll know what I mean. It whisked easily just using a dessert fork, if you don’t have a proper chasen (bamboo whisk).

Next up was the Coconut Matcha. Full disclosure here, I like coconut by itself but tend not to like coconut-flavoured things. They almost always remind me of sun block or soap. I’m very glad to say that was not the case with this one! The coconut was delicate and natural-tasting, and didn’t overpower the fresh green taste of the tea. I do think I’ll be giving the other two packets to my mum, who is a coconut fiend, but I definitely did find this one more pleasant than I was expecting to.

From there, I started venturing out to the stronger and more adventurous combos, starting with the Ginger Matcha. This one was delicious – very heavy on the ginger, spicy and warming all the way down my throat. Which I probably would have appreciated a little more were we not in the midst of another oppressive heat wave! I did find the ginger overpowered the matcha itself a little bit but since I love ginger that wasn’t an issue personally. If you prefer your ginger milder, however, you might want to give this one a pass.

That brought me to the Chai Matcha, which struck a perfect balance between the grassy tea and spicy herbs. There’s also ginger in this one. but it’s not as up-front as the previous tea. There are also beautiful notes of cinnamon and a few other subtle spices I can’t quite pin down. This would also be incredible iced, or blended with a milk or non-dairy beverage of your choice.

I left the Chocolate Matcha for last because, to be frank, I was a little wary of it. I know it’s not uncommon for matcha to be paired with white chocolate in desserts, but the idea of it as a warm drink struck me as more than a little odd. Thankfully, the geniuses at Tea Forté clearly know what they’re doing, since this was unexpectedly delicious. It’s a little sweet without being cloying, and there are definite notes of cocoa in the blend that somehow pair really well with the matcha. This one would be a lovely dessert tea, and I’m going to try baking with it soon.

Next up is Hanami, another lovely presentation box filled with ten individually wrapped pyramid infuser bags as well as a pretty and sturdy tin of loose-leaf. This is a new addition to their product line and has already won a silver medal at the 2018 Global Tea Championship

This tea starts out with delicate sencha green tea, carefully blended with sakura essence and rose petals to bring a beautifully balanced floral note. This particular style of tea (green with light floral notes) is one of my favourite ways to drink green tea, so it’s no surprise that I absolutely loved this one. When mixing floral notes into tea it can be easy to go either too heavy and have the tea overpowered, or too light and make the floral almost undetectable, but there’s a reason this one’s an award winner. It’s spectacularly balanced!

This also shows off their fantastic handcrafted pyramid bags very well, and aren’t the little leaf tags adorable?! The bags are incredibly sturdy and allow for excellent water flow which makes for a very smoothly brewed tea. This isn’t really related, but I received this amazing mid-century tea cup from a friend years ago, and it’s one of my favourites. I don’t use it often because I’m afraid of breaking it, but this seemed like an appropriate time to bring it out.

As amazing as flavoured and speciality teas are, one of the best tests is how a pure, organic tea with no additions tastes, and their Organic Sencha is no exception. This is a beautifully gentle, clean, and fresh green tea. These tins have steeping instructions on them which is one of those little touches that make such a huge difference, especially when it comes to green teas. They’re quite sensitive to time and temperature, so having precise numbers to work from helps ensure optimum enjoyment of the product. This tea is clean, fresh, and just a tiny bit grassy/earthy, which is exactly what you want in a green tea.

 

The KATI cup is also absolutely gorgeous. It’s a really weighty, solid-feeling ceramic with a beautiful design of sakura on it. There’s a very fine mesh strainer that fits into it, perfect for loose-leaf teas, and a ceramic lid to keep your tea safe and warm. The cup comes in a ton of other beautiful designs, if the cherry blossoms aren’t your style.

I can’t get over how much thought and effort were put into every aspect of everything Tea Forté offers. From the flavourful, delicate, and well-balanced teas themselves to the design and aesthetics of the packaging. They feel so luxurious, and would make incredible gifts. I highly recommend everything listed here (assuming the products are to your taste!), and I’ll definitely be buying from them in the future.

 I received this item from the manufacturer for honest review purposes.If you have a topically appropriate craft, product, or service you would like me to review, please contact me. 

YATAI MTL! at the Marche Des Possibles – 2018

As much fun as last year’s YATAI! Japanese street food festival was, I have to admit that it was a little disorganised and definitely had room to grow. Thankfully, this year they took everything they learned from last year and it was so much more amazing! There was plenty of varied and delicious food, fun music, a yukata booth provided by Kimono Yuki, and even a giant daruma art project. There were several workshops over the course of the weekend, including one about tea, one about sake, and some origami. I didn’t participate in any, but it was definitely a nice addition to the concept. It’s amazing to see events like this grow and evolve!

Of course, it was an excellent opportunity for me to wear this new wide yukata I have, and I managed to drag my friends along too! I’ve known Sophie and Dave for eons, and they’re some of my best friends, but somehow I’d never had the opportunity to dress them until now. It was super fun. I kept things very comfy-casual since neither of them has worn yukata before, and we all wore comfortable shoes because the event is in a park with lots of roots and uneven terrain.

As fun as dressing up was, the main draw of the festival was the food. There were lots of amazing options, but in the end I went for a Japanese-style hot dog, yakisoba (noodles), korokke (potato croquette), and karaage (fried chicken). Dave also bought me some grilled corn on the cob, which I happily bit into before realising it had butter on it. I’m inconveniently but not fatally allergic to dairy, so nothing disastrous happened but I did have to stop eating it, alas! Everything I did eat was absolutely delicious, but the karaage was definitely my favourite. So juicy and crispy! And of course, dango for dessert! We also ended up swinging by Ca Lem, a place near my house on the way home that’s got lots of vegan ice cream options. I got a strawberry sorbet and it was the perfect finishing touch to the evening.

We also noticed while waiting in one of the lines that Sophie’s outfit was a perfect match to the cute little girl on their sign. so I convinced her to strike a pose. And of course, no yukata outing would be complete without stupid photos of me eating. We also tried to get a photo of my hair because I really liked how it turned out. The photo’s not great but at least my brain surgery scar looks cool, right?!

The whole day was great fun, and it’s so wonderful to see events like this grow and flourish in Montreal! Next year will be even better, I’m sure. And there’s several other fun things coming up, like the Matsuri Japon and Asian Night Market, and I’m hoping to hit up one or both of them. Maybe I’ll drag some friends along for those too. 🙂

Diane’s Outfit

Sophie’s Outfit

Dave’s Outfit

Climbing Clematis Ikebana

First things first, I’d like to apologise for the relative radio silence this week. There’s been an unfortunate confluence of events; injuries to both my hands combined with more insufferable heat and humidity make it very hard to do things like work with textiles or review tea. I’ve also been in a bit of a bad mood today, dealing with some tech issues. I decided it was time to slow down and focus on something that would improve my mental state and not exacerbate my hand injuries – time for ikebana!

I knew going into it that I wanted to feature this awesome Tawami aluminium vase by AlArt that I received recently, and I wanted to keep the arrangement very minimal so as not to compete with it. I knew our clematis was blooming, and then I remembered I still had some curly willow branches lying around that would work as an excellent structure to wrap them around. Clematis vines are very thin and fragile, and if I’d just put them in alone they would have flopped over and looked very sad indeed. It feels very organic and balances out the sharp, modern lines of the vase perfectly.

Putting this together was exactly what I needed. It made me stop and focus on something other than the issues that were frustrating me. For half an hour, all that mattered was the plant matter between my fingers. Ikebana can be  a wonderful form of meditation, where you have to slow down and “listen” to what the flowers have to say, and how they want to interact with each other and the vessel you’ve chosen. If you find yourself going at top speed constantly and find that traditional “sit down and think of nothing” mindfulness techniques don’t work well for you, I urge you to give something like this a try!

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A Little Maiko Inspiration

Sometimes, despite my best efforts to avoid it, I find myself browsing Kijiji for local kimono-related things. Imagine my surprise when I came across someone right near my work, selling a pre-tied darari obi! A darari is the very long, dangling style obi maiko wear. Han-darari means “half-darari” and they’re still cute and dangling, but a much more practical length. They’re typically worn by minarai, the young women in training to become maiko, but can also be worn for stage performances or as a dramatic stylistic choice. This one is actually a bit longer than a standard han-darari, but not long enough or thick enough to be a full darari. I suspect it may have been for a young teenage girl, or a stage show.

Colour-wise, this one was such a perfect match for the beautiful kakeshita a very kind friend sent me, so I thought I’d steal a little bit of maiko inspiration and go for some bright, youthful drama with the bold colour scheme, long obi, and trailing hem of the kimono.

I won’t lie, I’m a little jealous of the mannequin right now! These pieces just look so good together. I think I will make an attempt to wear this outfit later myself, when it’s not 40 degrees centigrade out. Even just coordinating this outfit made me feel gross and overheated. I forgot how many layers this kimono has; not just a secondary hiyoku but it’s got a layered collar and fully double-lined sleeves as well. You could almost get away with not wearing a full juban with it, and that’s very likely what I’ll if I ever get around to putting it on myself.

The nice thing about wedding kimono is that in general, they tend to fit me right now even though I am, to put it delicately, not very small. There’s another fun hint for you all – kimono that are meant to be worn trailing will often be wider as well as longer, giving a bigger person more “wiggle room”.

Items used in this coordination