#MonoKimono Challenge – Bold Red

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Can you believe the year is finally over? I knew I wanted to end the #monokimono challenge with a bang, so I went with a really festive-feeling bold red coordination.

I know I use this kimono a lot, but I do love it to bits. It was my first kimono and it’s still one of the easiest to work with. This whole outfit fell into place very easily and dressing the mannequin took no effort at all. Which is a good thing, because I slipped on the ice getting into the car last night and pulled my entire right side out of alignment. Nothing serious, but it’s uncomfortable and annoying! So I’m very glad this outfit cooperated so well.

Once I had the red kimono sorted, this red and white hakata obi was a no-brainer. The reds are nearly identical, and the white geometric plays off the flowing white kiku of the kimono. I don’t have a red haneri so I went with white, also with kiku motif, and a gold kasane-eri for a little bit of punch. The obijime is one I bought at that big kimono bazaar in the autumn and I’m so happy to have found a way to feature it.

This is such a bright, vibrant outfit. It feels perfect for that liminal time between Christmas and New Year’s day. It also brought me a lot of joy to coordinate it, and that’s something I sorely needed in my life right now.

I don’t know if I’ll do this monthly challenge again in 2019, but I know I will still be making monochrome outfits now and again because it’s a lot of fun and encourages me to step out of the “typical kimono comfort zone”.

Items used in this coordination

Silk Peony Ikebana

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Last year, I made an origami ikebana arrangement as a gift for a friend. This year, I wanted to make something for my aunt that would coordinate with her decor and last a long time.

Everything here came from Michaels. I started with the gorgeous, bold red peony that I knew would be the focal point of the whole arrangement. Typically I’m not a huge fan of faux greenery, but these monstera leaves had way more substance and punch than most fake foliage, and since real monstera leaves are quite shiny and waxy anyway, these look much more realistic than most. All I needed after that was a something with height and airiness to balance the earthy, heavy quality of the flower and leaves. My father actually found these very thin branches with pretty silver beads on them that work as the perfect finishing touch.

Of course, I needed some sort of vessel, and I spent a fair bit of time rummaging around in a few different aisles until I found this one and fell in love with it. It’s an almost-perfect match for my aunt’s wall colours so I knew it would coordinate well and while it’s simple enough not to compete with the flower, the bit of texture makes it very earthy and interesting.

Typically, ikebana needs to be done with live, fresh, seasonal flowers. However, there are always acceptable reasons to deviate from the norm. Overall, I think for a silk flower arrangement this was very successful. And my aunt seemed to like it, which is the important part!

Kizuna Subscription Box – Deliver Japan to your door

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Today I’ve got another awesome Japanese subscription box to share with you all. This is Kizuna Box, a monthly themed box delivered right to your door. Kizuna offers a Snack box, Healthy box, and a Lifestyle box, which is the one I received. Due to a lot of complicated allergies and food sensitivities, I tend to avoid snack-focused boxes, but theirs do look like a lot of fun.

Each month there is a new seasonal theme. I received December’s box, which had the theme of Toshi-Koshi Box, all sorts of lovely items for the upcoming New Year.

The box arrived wrapped in a plain weather-resistant mailer, but the inner box had this lovely label on it so you know exactly what you’re receiving. The items inside the box are very carefully wrapped and elegantly presented. Included is a little pamphlet explaining each item – a very important touch when dealing with a box that’s not in your native language. Because this was the end-of-year box, there was an extra gift, an ema that I’ll elaborate on below, and there was a separate note explaining that too.

Let’s start with the housewares and lifestyle items.

  • First there’s a masu, or cypress wood sake vessel. It has the cutest little chidori motif, and I’m a sucker for anything chidori!
  • Because we’re coming up on the year of the boar, the next item is a charming ceramic boar, painted with gold and decorated with a little crystal.
  • A small selection of stationery, including a card, a small decorative banner, and a package of envelopes meant for gifts of money for the new year. They’d make great little personal notes to tuck into a gift or a loved one’s lunch or purse as a surprise.
  • A furoshiki with really cute toy representations of all the animals of the zodiac. This is a really nice touch, since it’s got all twelve it can be displayed every year.

After the lifestyle items come the food items!

  • Nissin brand donbei, or instant soba noodles with tempura.
  • A great rice/donburi bowl. It’s got a really versatile striped pattern, and feels great in the hands. The donbei will fit perfectly in here, and you can bet when I eat it I will be posting a photo on Instagram.
  • These chopsticks themselves are simple enough, the chopstick rest is the real star here. It’s a hagoita, decorated with tiny orizuru paper. I’m admittedly afraid to use it, since it doesn’t look particularly washable. I may put it in a display case with other odds and ends rather than risk dirtying it.
  • Kagami-mochi candy, representative of the traditional larger traditional mochi displays for the new year.

And now the bonus gift, an ema with a toy dog on it, representing the end of 2018. An ema, if you’re unfamiliar with the term, is a wooden plaque you write a prayer on and hang at your local shinto temple. This one comes with a note suggesting that if you don’t have a temple nearby, just to hang it somewhere in your house as both a wish and a decoration. I have a few goals I’d like to accomplish in the upcoming year, so I’m going to use it to bring me some good mojo. I actually have two for this upcoming year, as my friend Kansai Gal sent me one in her box of goodies too.

 

Overall, Kizuna Box is a great experience, and I definitely recommend it. It’s clear they put a lot of thought and effort into curating items to fit each theme and it’s always fun to get a bunch of beautiful surprises in the mail! You can subscribe to Kizuna Box for $34.95 per month here, along with their sister subscriptions of Kizuna Snacks and Kizuna Healthy if you find those more appealing.

Kizuna Box is approved by both Tribble and Vinnie!

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

Hope for the New Year

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To say that 2018 has been a wreck would be a bit of an understatement. Ecological, financial, moral and political instability across the globe. And on a smaller, more personal scale, the loss of more beautiful lives than I wish to tally up. The one that hit me the hardest, by far, happened only yesterday and is still painful and raw.

A friend and bright shining light in the lives of so many people lost their life to incredibly aggressive cancer yesterday. The diagnosis was less than a month ago, and now only a few days before Christmas they’ve left behind a husband and two children. It happened way too fast, to someone way too young and vibrant.

Of course, I did my best to deal with it the way I usually do, by distracting myself with kitsuke. I thought it would be a good time to throw myself into something somewhat productive and decided to make a new year’s inspired outfit because I am more than ready for 2019 to get here and wash away all the pain 2018 brought with it.

This kimono was only the second or third I ever bought, and I don’t bring it out often enough. My initial plan was to do a proper kurotome-style kitsuke, featuring only white and metallic, but you all know I can’t leave well enough alone. I remembered this silver and white obi has tiny pink-peach accents that echo the peachy ume in the hem design, so I ran with it. Eagle-eyed readers might notice I’m using the exact same haneri and obiage as the last coordination, but they worked so perfectly I couldn’t resist. I do love that this has such wintery motifs of ume and pine, and despite clearly being a wedding rental piece it works quite well for the season. In retrospect, I should have found a way to include some bamboo so I would have the sho-chiku-bai (three friends of winter) motif often used at New Year’s. Oh well.

As the year comes to a close, I’d just like to take a moment to wish you all the best possible upcoming new year. And remind you that life is short and precious and beautiful, so please be sure to tell someone you love them and hug them tightly today because you may not get another chance. ❤️

Items used in this coordination

J-Okini Shop Featurette

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Today I’ve got a review for you, featuring J-Okini: Products From Japan. This is a lovely little shop stocks a wide variety of beautiful gifts and accessories, focused on traditional crafts and materials. Founder Sumie Nakamura was kind enough to offer me a few items to review when I reached out to her, and I can’t wait to share this great shop with you!

The first item I chose was this beautiful pair of mizuhiki earrings. Mizuhiki is an ancient Japanese art form that involves creating tiny, tightly-wound cords out of washi paper and bending them into knots and shapes. They are often used as decorative items or tied in auspicious knots attached to gifts and cards.

These earrings are absolutely beautiful and very well-made, They arrived carefully packed in a sweet little gift box, which both helped protect them in the mail and would make for a beautiful gift presentation. What I love about these is that they will undoubtedly look great with kimono but would also look amazing with western-style outfits that need a bit of wa flair. I actually found a really great little black dress with traditional looking kiku and ume motifts on it at Wal-Mart, of all places, and these earrings will definitely elevate that dress to a more chic level! I can’t wait to pair them together.

Browse their selection of mizuhiki accessories here.

Next up is this charming tiny little zipper pouch. I can’t get over how well-finished it is for something so small. I’ve including the Canadian quarter for scale – it’s the same size as a US quarter or a 50 cent Euro coin. It would make a great change purse or a little case for a special piece of jewellery while travelling.

Despite its tiny size, it’s smoothly finished inside and out and the zipper is great quality and opens without any fuss. I love the cube shape so much, it reminds me of a large die. I tend to leave the house without my hearing aid or jewellery when I fly, because I know I’ll have to take it all off when I get to security and deal with the hassle of collecting it all afterwards. Next time, I think I’ll put it all in this charming little cube and equip myself properly once I’ve settled in at the gate.

Browse their selection of kimono fabric wallets and pouches here.

Aside from these items, they also offer a wonderful variety of teas and tea tools (bowls, whisks, strainers, etc); a huge selection of bento boxes and products ranging from the adorable (I’m in love with this Geisha set) to the elegant (like this classic kimono-inspired motif); and obiage that can be worn as elegant silk scarves, or if you’re a fellow kimono addict, can be the finishing touch to your coordination.

Whether you’re shopping for yourself or looking for a gift for a loved one who is passionate about Japanese culture, J-Okini will have something for you. They are based in Europe (Malta, to be precise) so if you’re in that area they’re an excellent place to shop from. They will ship worldwide, though! It took a while for the package to get to me, but I place the blame for that squarely on the recent Canada Post strike, not J-Okini.

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