Review – Nozomi Project jewellery

I have something really special to share with you all today. Nozomi Project is a company with a mission that produces absolutely beautiful and unique jewellery. Started after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, they work to bring sustainable income to women in Ishinomaki who lost their livelihoods. Evoking the principles of mottainai, they upcycle broken pottery and ceramics into stunning, one-of-a-kind pieces. Nozomi means hope, and I can’t think of a better name.

They were kind enough to send me one item for review (the Rumi necklace), and I bought another (the Sara earrings) for me to wear, review, and share with you all.

They are fantastically well-made. The hardware is silver, and sets off the delicate tones of the ceramics perfectly. Each piece is very well-polished, making sure there are smooth rounded edges everywhere. This ensures that they’re very comfortable to wear. The earrings are also made with particularly light and delicate pottery, so they’re not overly heavy. The necklace piece is a little more substantial, but still feels very airy. There is something very comforting in the way it sits against the skin.

My aunt is visiting and was kind enough to model these beautiful pieces for me!

Another beautiful touch is that the card each piece comes mounted has the name of the artisan who made it. This is such a thoughtful addition that really helps you to feel connected with the whole process!

Overall, I cannot recommend these enough. The pieces are gorgeous and eclectic and will grab attention and start conversations wherever you go, and the thoughts and messages behind the company only add to the appeal. Whether you’re looking for a gift for someone special or splurging on yourself, anything from Nozomi Project would be absolutely perfect.

You can follow them on social media.
Nozomi Project website | Nozomi Project on Facebook | Nozomi Project on Instagram

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

Review – Tsunami Art Obi-style Spinner Ring

Today for you I have something that I think is really cool. I came across this sterling silver spinner ring that looks like a wave-motif obi, complete with obijime! I’ve mentioned it in passing here before, but for those who aren’t aware, I suffer from anxiety and mild obsessive-compulsive disorder. I’ve been a fidgeter and a worrier most of my life. So when I found something that not only could help me deal with those issues but looked as beautiful as this, I was thrilled!

The base design of the ring is clearly inspired by the beautiful Great Wave off Kanagawa, but reproduced in a beautifully fluid and slightly abstracted style. It wraps all around the band of the ring, ensuring it looks beautiful no matter how you put it it on. What truly makes this ring special though, is the spinner segment, two thin bands of sterling silver tied in a square knot and looking identical to an obijime tied over a beautiful obi. The gently rolled edges of the ring keep the spinner from falling off and help keep the ring incredibly comfortable both to wear and to fidget with.

I would also like to clarify that, no, this is not an engagement ring post or anything of that nature! I selected the ring size to fit on my index finger, ideal for a spinner/fidget ring, but since it’s so hot and humid here in Montreal my hands are swollen and it currently only fits on my left ring finger. Rather than delay this review for too long, I decided to run with it.

Even the packaging the ring came in is beautiful and thoughtful, and would make this a fantastic gift for any lover of kimono or traditional Japanese art.

You can browse Energy Stone’s beautiful selection on EnergyStone.Com and Etsy. This ring is the only one that looks specifically like an obi, but they have many other beautiful designs as well! If you’ve been looking for something to help with anxiety and help keep you grounded, or are just looking for some unique jewellery to wear with or without kimono, I highly recommend them.

Just for fun, here is a bonus photo of the ring in action with some raspberry-lemon vegan soft serve from Ca Lem, my favourite local creamery.

 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. 

Tea Time – Tea Squared Selection

Today for you I have a great selection of green teas from Tea Squared. They were kind enough to send me a variety of loose-leaf green teas as well as some flavoured matcha latte powders. They’re based in Canada, so if you’re like me and looking for new tea suppliers without having to pay through the nose in shipping and duty, they’re a great place to check out. I’ve been trying them out for a week now, and ready to share my thoughts!

First up, we have the green teas. I wanted to sample a variety of these, to get a feel for the tea in its purest form as well as how it blends with other ingredients.

Sencha Fujiyama – This is a classic loose-leaf sencha tea. I always think teas like this are the best way to tell if a company knows what they’re doing. It’s very easy to mask a mediocre tea leaf with flavours and additives, but in pure form like this the tea itself has to be good, and Tea Squared got it right here. It’s light, fresh, and grassy. The colour is lovely, a bright clear green. If you’re looking for a clean sencha tea to go with everything from meals to sweets, this is definitely worth a shot.

Ryokucha – This is a blend of  sencha  and matcha tea with roasted rice. It adds a wonderful, earthy, toasted note that pairs so well with the light taste of green tea. It’s one of my favourites, and I have several different brands floating around the house. This one compared fantastically to them all. It strikes the perfect balance between the tea and the rice, and makes a great comforting cup.

Sencha Sensation – This is familiar sencha tea with a fun and colourful blend of natural ingredients like fruit, nuts, and pink peppercorns. I was very intrigued by the combination, and very pleased by the results. I was a little worried the tea would get lost under all the strong aromatics, but it’s very well-balanced. It’s a little fresh, a little fruity, and a little spicy. I can’t wait until the weather gets warmer to try this one iced and sweetened with a little honey!

These teas were all great, and I would recommend any of them.

After the classic sencha teas, I tried a couple of their Ma-Cha line of matcha lattes. These are meant to be mixed with a small amount of boiling water to create a sort of concentrate, which is then mixed with steamed or cold milk.

Vanilla Almond Ma-Cha Latte – This one was deliciously sweet but not overpowering. Personally, I noticed the vanilla more than the almond, but that’s not to say the almond wasn’t present – it was definitely noticeable. I made it with the unsweetened cashew milk I had on hand, and it was absolutely delicious. I bet it would be even better with almond milk, but I didn’t have any on hand. Once I’ve gone through the large bag they sent, I’m definitely going to be buying the individual packet size of these to keep at work and for travel.

Naughty Cacao Ma-Cha Latte – This one ended up being much darker than I expected. It looks like a really rich chocolate milk than a matcha drink. Heck, it tastes like a really rich chocolate milk, but with those familiar earthy notes from the matcha that pair incredibly well with the chocolate. I thought the chili would be a gimmick but it’s definitely present, and you can feel a lovely warmth build up in your throat as you drink it. Nothing unpleasant or overwhelming but it definitely makes its presence known. If you’re really not a spice fan, this one might not be for you.

There is one negative with these, minor as it is. You’re probably thinking it. Yes, the lady on the packaging is a little cringe-inducing for anyone familiar with geisha and kimono in general. I suspect she’s from a stock photo site, and I don’t fault the company for using her. I do hope they find a more authentic-looking image if they redo the packaging in the future though.

If you’re looking for an authentic matcha experience, these won’t scratch your itch. However, if you’re looking for a healthy and delicious alternative to some of the drinks at your local coffee-house that has the familiar earthiness of green tea with some interesting overlapping notes, they’re absolutely worth a shot.

 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. 

Kizuna Subscription Box – Deliver Japan to your door

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. 

J-Okini Shop Featurette

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.