B is for Bento

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Bento (弁当), organised packed lunch, typically with rice

It seems a bit silly to pack a boxed lunch at a time when nobody’s supposed to be leaving the house! But nothing’s stopping me from eating it here at home.

I’ve never assembled a proper bento before, it always seemed too daunting and I’m usually in a rush on work days and rarely have the foresight to prepare it the night before. But now that I’ve got all the free time in the world, it seemed like a good opportunity to use this cute bento box that Kansai Gal sent me a while back. And yes, those are indeed Darth Vader Lightsaber chopsticks, because why not?

One container has rice, furikake, and poached chicken. The other has a nice selection of fresh veggies; tomatoes, carrots, radishes, and baby spinach underneath it all. I tried to cut the radishes into roses and the carrots into sakura, but I’m not sure how well I succeeded. The awkward vegetable cutting aside, it was way easier and more fun to assemble than I’d expected, if I’m being honest.

Would I do this again, once I’m back at work when all this craziness is over? Definitely. Will I bother trying to be cutesy and cut my vegetables into wonky flowers? Probably not.

April A to Z Challenge!

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A few days ago, I discovered the April A to Z Challenge. Essentially, it’s a daily challenge where you write a blog post each day in April (except Sundays, for a little break) focusing on a topic beginning with a letter of the alphabet. Unfortunately, I missed the official sign-ups but I can still have fun participating.

I know I’ve said I’m not going to do daily challenges here, but since this isn’t going to be a coordination every day and I have no other commitments all month (thank you social distancing!), it felt like a good way to keep my mind occupied. There will definitely be kitsuke posts but there will also be DIYs, knowledge posts, and other fun things. Hopefully this will give us all something to look forward every morning in this strange and unstable time. 🙂

Picrew.me Kimono Avatar Creators

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If you’ve spent any time on any large social media platform lately, odds are you’ve seen avatars made using the Picrew.me site. It’s an enormous repository of avatar creators that started in Japan but has since spread worldwide. No matter what kind of avatar you want to create, you can find something for it.

However, it is quite large and a bit overwhelming to browse, especially since the interface and a lot of the creators are all in Japanese. Fear not though, I’ve gone through and found all of the best kimono-themed ones for you to play with, and a few little extras at the bottom!

How to use Picrew.me

If you’re new to Picrew and feeling overwhelmed by all the Japanese text and buttons, don’t fret! The interface is very straightforward, and here’s a little mini-tutorial that will hopefully help you out.

  • 1. Confirm/begin your avatar
  • 2. Scroll through here to see all the options to customise
  • 3. Choose item colour (if applicable – this one isn’t always available)
  • 4. Choose item style
  • 5. Save/complete your avatar
  • 6. Randomise – The first pink button randomises all features, the second pink button randomises the feature you’ve currently selected. The grey button at the bottom cancels all randomisation, the yellow button at the top confirms them.

For organisational purposes, I’ve separated these into female avatars, male avatars, and other things. I realise this gendering isn’t ideal, but the list got overwhelming without it. However, I do encourage you to use whichever avatar creator you like best!

Female Avatars


https://picrew.me/image_maker/15599
This is the most popular one, and for good reason. There's a huge number of customisation options for every single layer. You can change the girl's appearance colours and patterns, add ruffles and textures, insert accesories, you name it. I could easily spend hours playing with this one. Sadly, only "natural" hair colours here, plus one shade of pinkish strawberry-blonde, but there's so many other options that it doesn't bother me too much.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/84345/
This little cutie may not have many character customisations (two skin tones, two hair colours, a couple of eye styles) but the awesome number of kimono and hakama combinations you can do makes her a worthwhile addition to this list. From super traditional to modern and sexy, you can layer different tops, bottoms, and accessories to get a ton of unique styles.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/9889
This particular doll isn't kimono-specific, but there are enough options for me to include her. There's a ton of customisation for the face and hair, multiple kimono you can change the colours of, different hand poses, and other assorted cuteness!
https://picrew.me/image_maker/46794/
A really elegant manga-style avatar. In true manga style there's no colour to this one, only shades of grey, but plenty of face, hair, and kimono options that more than make up for the monochrome aspect. This one is listed as a "monster" maker and so has horns, fangs, etc, but as you can see you can also totally make a human girl.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/35860
Create your own oiran avatar! Sexy and elegant, this one's got a few kimono options, both in a more normal high-collar style and the low, draped collar of the oiran showed here. Creating a unique hairstyle might be the most appealing part of this one.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/16001/
A very simple but very charming little avatar that includes a variety of obi options and haori. The base offers a fair bit of customisation, which is nice. The kimono options aren't super varied, but adding in a haori gives you more opportunities for coordination.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/15557
This Taisho-inspired beauty might be one of my favourites. I love this style of artwork, and the kimono options are fantastic for a vintage fan. Pretty much everything you can come up with using this generator ends up looking like a lovely 1920s advertising poster!
https://picrew.me/image_maker/29910
Here's another one that offers some very Taisho-feeling kimono, but with a more modern art style. The really neat thing about this particular avatar creator is that it uses photos of actual textiles to make the kimono, obi, and haori. It's a really cool feature.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/18630/
This one's a little simpler than some of the previous ones, but super cute. There are options for haneri, kimono, and a few different types of coats.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/20990/
Have you ever wanted to experiment with the many layers of juunihitoe, but didn't want to deal with the expense or hassle? Have no fear, this avatar maker is out to help! There aren't a huge number of options here, but the real draw is playing with all the layered collar combinations you can make.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/48855/
Another elegant one with a kind of vintage vibe. You can't change the hair or eye colour on this one, but you can change the hair style and there are a few options for eye makeup. The main draw, however, is definitely the outfits. Lots of choices for kimono, and separate options for haneri, obi, obiage, obijime, and obidome, mean that you can make tons of different outfits.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/11253/
This one only has a few colour and style options for each section, but it was too cute not to include! There are kimono with and without hakama, as well as some slightly more fantastical and historical options.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/68061
There's no customisation available at all for the base, not even the hairstyle, but there are plenty of cute vintage-style kimono, obi, and haori to layer and play with here. There's also some alternative options for undergarments, like a blouse instead of a juban.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/20934
Bride generator! There isn't much in the way of colour and pattern here; everything is white, red, or black. However there are lots of facial expressions, so you can make your bride anything from sweet and innocent to legitimately monstrous (horns and blood splatter included)!

Male Avatars

https://picrew.me/image_maker/10347/
A very cute, stylised little samurai or ronin guy. Mostly historically-influenced options for both his hairstyles and his outfits, but a fair level of customisation nonetheless.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/24195/
A handsome man in kimono! Need I say more? Tons of options for face and hair, customiseable kimono and accessories, The example I've made is pretty fantastical but you can make more normal-looking ones as well.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/18771
This is another one that's not kimono-specific, but there are lots of options, and something about the whole "Bad Boy" aesthetic that makes me laugh. The description of this one basically translates to "Make Your Own F**king B**tard", and the facial expressions really do evoke that feeling. It's too amusing not to share.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/8803
This is another historical-based one, which feels like a common theme for the male avatar creators. It's actually got more of an ancient Chinese feeling with some of the outfits and accessories, but as you can see it's also possible to make a kimono-style ensemble.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/26613
Another handsome historical-inspired dude. This one has a lot of fun accessories and options, even if the avatar and kimono themselves aren't super varied.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/15097
This one's actually rather androgynous, so it could easily work for any gender, but the styling of the kimono is more masculine. There's actually a little story implied in this one, parting with a loved one. With or without that in mind, it's fun to play with and makes some really lovely avatars.

Other

https://picrew.me/image_maker/42620
What's this? Not an avatar! This is a really sweet little Japanese scene/garden generator. There's houses, castles, and temples as well as plenty of scenery options. You can even choose which animal you want in your scene!
https://picrew.me/image_maker/51936
This is a very simple one to create your own Hinamatsuri set. There are a few different faces, and different colours for the kimono, headpieces, and backgrounds. Not much to play with but still quite charming.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/79981
Make your own adorable little kitsune companion with this generator! Plenty of options for colours, accessories, ears, tails, and markings. I actually got sucked into playing with this one for nearly half an hour solid while working on this entry!
https://picrew.me/image_maker/122741
Do you know Daruma dolls? Here you can make a custom one in a variety of colours. There are a bunch of different faces, including ones with no eyes, one eye, and both eyes, so you can choose the right face for whether you have made your wish come true or not. Too cute!
https://picrew.me/image_maker/64765/
Izekaya meal generator! This one is a surprising amount of fun. You can choose the contents of each dish as well as your drink.
https://picrew.me/image_maker/95777/
Make your own tamago gohan (egg and rice) bowl with this cute little maker. You can choose your table, bowl, and chopsticks as well as the rice and toppings.

I hope you had tons of fun playing with these amazing kimono avatar creators! I would love to see what you make with them. 💖

Tea Time – DIY Floral Tea Blend

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Today I have something a little different for you guys! You all know I love tea, and I love flowers, so this nifty DIY floral tea bag project on the FTD By Design blog was right up my alley. This is a great way to make a custom tea blend that’s perfectly suited to your tastes. With Mother’s Day coming up here in North America, these would make a really unique gift!

The post has some great selections of food-safe dried flowers to work with. I actually had a harder time finding some of them than I anticipated, oddly enough. I’d suggest hitting up bulk food stores and organic speciality stores.I chose to start with a base of the wonderful organic sencha tea the lovely folks over at Tea Forte sent me, and added dried rosebuds and hibiscus blossoms. I remembered we had some dried lavender from our garden and decided to add a little of that too.

The DIY includes incredibly thorough instructions on how to make your own tea bags using items you probably already have at home, and offers some super cute printable tags. Personally, I’m in favour of loose tea, and prefer not to create more single-use waste, so I chose to print one of the adorable tags and package the tea in a mason jar. However, if you’re taking it to the office or offering it as gifts, the DIY bags would be a fantastic idea.

The tea blend I made was really nice, the florals didn’t overpower the earthiness of the green tea but they were definitely noticeable. It also turned a really pretty pink colour. I’m glad I made a bunch of it, and I can’t wait to steep myself another cup.

Thank you to FTD for sharing this tutorial. I hope you check it out and have fun as well!

Daruma Colouring Page

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Here we are in the first day of a new year. Twenty-eighteen was rough for a lot of people, and I think we’re all hoping for a happy, healthy, rewarding twenty-nineteen.

To start the year with focus and intention, I’ve created this Daruma colouring page. Daruma are traditional representations of a monk named Bodhidharma. When you purchase one, usually from a temple, there are no eyes painted on it. When you set a goal or wish for yourself, you paint in the first eye. When you’ve accomplished it, you can paint in the second eye.

Daruma can be painted in many different colours, based on your goals, but red is the most traditional and versatile, There are often characters painted on the front, again varying depending on your goal, but like the red colour, 福 (fuku, good fortune) is the most common. 

Here’s my daruma. I have set a few goals and dreams for myself this year. I’m no good with resolutions, but maybe this will encourage me to focus better. If and when I manage to accomplish any of them I will complete it and share again!

Here are a couple of blank versions, with and without kanji, for you to colour. Feel free to colour it digitally like I did or print it out and use more traditional methods.

If you colour it in, I would love to see! And I wish you all the best for this upcoming new year.