Review – Paperless Post Project

Recently, I was contacted by the Paperless Post Project, offering me some credits to explore and review their service. At first, I admit that I was uncertain about a way to tie it in to the content of this blog, but my worries were unfounded. We had a kimono club event coming up, and there’s such a wonderful variety of invitations and digital paper products that I knew it would be a great way to send out invites.

Paperless Post is a fantastic alternative to traditional mail. It’s infinitely customiseable and eco-friendly, but still feels exciting and cohesive, like receiving a physical invitation. The interface is fantastic – you can personalise nearly every aspect of the “mail” you’re sending, from the card to the envelope and stamp to even the backdrop surface the envelope opens on! For people who don’t have the time or skill to create their own designs, many of the pre-existing designs are absolutely gorgeous. However, if you enjoy that sort of a thing and like being in control, you can change or alter every element involved. As you know, seasonality and aesthetics play a huge part in kimono, so the fact that you can tweak and customise and find designs for nearly everything really appealed to me.

There are plenty of options on the site that are free, but some premium options do require an in-site coin currency. However, it’s totally possible to make and send a beautiful card or invitation without using any coins!

The interface is very straightforward and intuitive;  to change an element simply click on the part you’d like to edit. All the options will be displayed, and a small text in the upper corner will tell you how many coins you’ll need for each card or invitation you send out. You fill out your information and then finally enter the names and email addresses of your desired recipients. One feature I would like to see here would be some sort of integration with Facebook Events. In this modern age of social media, collecting email addresses seems almost archaic. That’s really my only “complaint” about Paperless Post, and it’s definitely a minor one. But if you’re hoping to share your card or invitation online, it’s something to keep in mind.

Now that the event is over and done with, here’s the lovely little invite I created for our kimono club meetup! You can see how much it looks and feels like “real” mail, from the envelope front to the card sliding out of the flap. It’s a really fun and charming experience.

Will Paperless Post replace physical mail entirely? Probably not. But in this brave new world of long-distance friendship, increasing postal service costs, and awareness of carbon footprints and environmental impacts, it’s definitely a service worth looking into!

 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. 

Review – Obi Handbag from Sachi and Co

When I was given the opportunity to review one of Sachi and Company‘s beautiful handbags, I jumped at the chance. The store was started by friends from Okinawa, the United States, and Canada, working together to recycle traditional Japanese textiles into gorgeous modern accessories.  They make beautiful kimono fabric scarves as well as the handbags, and they’re sold along wall hangings and traditional kokeshi dolls. Their passion for tradition and Japanese culture is evident in everything they do, and it’s infectious.

The handbag itself is absolutely amazing.  The primary maru obi fabric was clearly very carefully selected and cut in a way that shows it off very well. It’s incredibly well-finished both inside and out, being fully lined and finished with mofuku obi fabric and solid-feeling plastic handles that are very securely attached. There’s an interior slip pocket for smaller items, and the bag itself holds a huge amount without feeling overwhelmingly big. The only “issues” I had with it, minor as they are, are lack of a zipper and shoulder strap. Living in a big city, the lack of a zipper makes me wary, but I will be keeping it as a special-event handbag so security is less of a concern. It will also help keep the beautiful fabric clean. If you’re looking for a great way to inject a bit of Japan into your western wardrobe, I highly recommend checking them out!

Please forgive the sticker over my face. I used the bag when I went to see The Book of Mormon yesterday, and while I felt fantastic and confident, every photo came out with a vaguely grumpy bemused expression. I just really wanted to include a photo so you can see the size and shape of the bag, and how well it completes my outfit.

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.

My Ikebana Journey

That’s right, I’m dipping my toes into something new! Kimono will always be this blog’s focus and my first love, but ikebana is another traditional Japanese art form that’s always fascinated me. Every time I’ve looked into taking lessons they’ve either been way out of my budget or at times that were impossible for me to work with, or done in a very traditional environment where I’d have to sit seiza for two hours, which my body cannot handle.

However, I was discussing it with a friend recently, and with his encouragement I realised that through the magic of books and the internet, I can at least learn the basics on my own. I did it with kimono and kitsuke, and there were way less resources fifteen years ago than there are now. Maybe one day I will have the time and money to take proper lessons, but until then there’s no reason I shouldn’t start soaking up all the knowledge and experience that I can.

So today begins the first step in my new journey. I am trying to keep to a very strict budget for this venture, since I’m not exactly rolling in spare cash at the moment. I’ve assembled some books from AbeBooks (admittedly, the Dale Chihuly book is not a guide book so much as I love his glass art and I hope it will inspire me) and a basic tool kit, including an antique kenzan that belonged to my grandmother. She was very influential in the development of my passion for Japanese traditional arts; all the artwork and little decorative objects you see in the backgrounds of photos on this blog were hers. My only regret is that I didn’t get more into this sort of thing while she was still alive. She would have loved it all. Thankfully the tools required for ikebana (at least at a very beginner level) are quite easy to procure, and fairly inexpensive. My beginner’s kit is comprised of my grandmother’s kenzan, a smaller one I found at a local florist’s, a tool to straighten the pins, and a neat little set of shears, floral, and wire cutters I got at Michaels for free (after creative use of coupons combined with a mistake on the price tag). The pouch arrived in the mail on the same day as the pin straightener. It was a free promotional item, but it seemed like fate, so now all my tools have a place to live.

 

I’ve also assembled a collection of varying vases and containers to use. Most of them are things I already owned, and a few were found at thrift stores for a dollar or less. So far, the biggest investment here has been the books, all five (plus a dvd) of which set me back less than $20. I think I’m doing quite well up to this point!

I am hoping to post at minimum one arrangement arrangement a month, possibly more if I’m inspired or the garden is exceptionally abundant. I will write about my thought process, what inspired my flower choices, and what I’ve learnt since the last one. Please join me on my ikebana journey!

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Tea Time – Easy Matcha Cake

One thing you may not know about me is that I love to cook. There is something comforting to me about the alchemy of it all, and feeding the people I love makes me very happy. I like to find new recipes and then improvise and put my personal spin on old classics. I was in the mood for a matcha-based cake and thought I would experiment a bit. My first attempt was a bit of a disaster because I wasn’t paying attention and burnt it, but the second try turned out well, so I have decided to share it with you.

This recipe is adapted from my favourite simple chocolate cake recipe, Margaret Fox’s Amazon Chocolate Cake. I love this recipe because it comes together incredibly quickly and uses only pantry staples, so you’re pretty much assured you’ll have the necessary ingredients. It’s also vegan and pareve, which makes it great to take to parties or gatherings where there may be dietary restrictions to consider. This matcha variation of the cake is not overly sweet, has a lightly earthy taste from the matcha, and would be lovely with a cup of tea. It may not be the prettiest cake, but it’s quick and satisfying. If you would like the recipe, please keep reading!
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Tea Time – Kimono pattern bone china mug

So really, the last thing this household needs is another cup. Cups, mugs, demitasses, bowls… if it was designed to hold a warm steeped or brewed beverage, odds are we’ve got at least six of it. However, when I saw this mug, on sale no less, I knew it had to come home with me.

It’s part of a larger collection by a homewares company called Maxwell & Williams, and the name of the range is appropriately Kimono

I was very tempted to buy more, but we really don’t have need or space for it. However, if anyone ever happens to come across the matching teapot or other mugs and wants to give them a good home, I certainly won’t say no 😉