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Perfect Monday

Yesterday was as perfect as a normal working Monday could be.

It was sunny, but with a cool wind bringing in the scent of autumn. I opened all windows and doors as far as I could letting in the fresh air while not letting out the cat. After days of rain, I could finally do the laundry and did no less than four loads thanks to the sun drying things in less than an hour.

For three years I have had the same futon covers, but I finally bought new ones; matching ones. And the joy of washing them and putting them on: I was over the moon. I have noticed that here, instead of having several sets of covers and changing and washing on like a weekly basis (which I would do in Norway), it seems to be enough with one set and then you hang the whole futon out to dry and “wash” in the sunshine.

While the laundry was drying, I was free to clean the apartment and finish most of my to-do list (that has been piling up lately)

I also got started on changing out my warderobe. Thanks to reading “Lessons from Madame Chic”, I am trying to define my style and also get some ‘core pieces’ and maybe even get down to a ’10-piece warderobe’. I make no promises however. I got a lot of new clothes (well, 8 pieces) which I think will be the main, but I also have some thicker knit sweaters and one wool skirt in my existing fall/winter warderobe so I am already exceeding the 10 pieces but I am not too bothered, it’s not the end of the world. I’m also trying to get better at dressing up, wearing the clothes I like more regularly and not just for special occasions. So for example, to go to the bakery this morning, I put on some of my new pieces and did my makeup! At 10 in the morning! (I work evenings). In Norway, if the bakery was as close as it is here, I might’ve just gone over in sweatpants.

Anyways, I digress, I was writing of yesterday.

My warderobe is looking like this at the moment, I’m hoping to get my knit sweaters etc., into the white boxes that are currently full of winter clothes, which means I need to find a different space to store summer clothes. Did I mention I love organizing yet? It should be getting clearer now. Thinking about storage space and how to organize it is what gets me going. And yes, I have thought that maybe I should become a Konmari consultant, but haven’t found any courses here yet.

I took a break after my warderobe shenanigans and had another matcha latte, which I have every day now, I am obsessed. I’ll probably drink it daily for 6 months and then I’ll get hooked on something new, or maybe go back to milk tea (that I made and drank daily from December until June).

Matcha latte? Check

Laundry? Check

Cleaning? Check

Organizing? Check

Reading? Check

It doesn’t take too much to make me happy. I coud accomplish all this, take my time getting to work, and work didn’t bring me down either.

I got home, took a bath with the Makioka Sisters in hand, and then I could go to bed in new sheets, the first new sheets in 3 years. My sigh is of happiness and you could probably hear it from outside as the temperature was perfect for keeping the windows open all day and all night.

A quiet Sunday in September

Woke up early and did a sweep of the house. Did some much needed dusting, mopped the floors, vacuumed the carpet, hung out laundry, cleaned the kitchen counter, aired out all the rooms, and did some reorganizing in the stock closet. Everything felt clean and fresh and in order.

Went to my piano lesson and started a new piece. When I had tried it by myself earlier I could not grasp it at all, but the teacher showed me and it all just seemed so simple. It really makes a difference having a teacher to help. I will enjoy this piece, it’s a classical piece, as compared to the previous piece I was working on which was a pop-song, and I found I can’t really get into pop-songs with the piano yet. I prefer more calm, soothing, slow classical pieces.

After my lesson I went to the second-hand store and found a beautiful momiji tea bowl and had to add it to my tea-cup collection. As soon as I got home I baked an apple cake (but without apples as I don’t like them getting warm and mushy) and made some milk tea with Mariage Frères’ French island vanilla black tea and used my new tea bowl. The momiji design made me happy, and this tea is my favorite. The cake came out well too, making it a great time.

I did a facemask and wanted to take a long bath while watching a movie, but was chuffed when the application kept translating the titles making it difficult and the movie I wanted was only available dubbed into Japanese, though I wanted to hear it in its original language as I like the main actress. I had a bit of a childish tantrum and tirade on twitter and felt that maybe I am not as much as an adult as I’d like to be, when things don’t go as I wish I revert right back to a whining baby. It is almost too embarrassing to admit, but there you have it.

As the movie part didn’t go through, I decided on reading instead and it made for a lovely bath. I continued Jane Eyre, and it was around where Mr. Mason is bit by Rochester’s crazy wife aka his own sister.

After my bath, I did some measuring around the house and found that I could increase storage space if I moved things around a bit, in the hope of making it a bit more functional. One of my great pleasures is to organize and declutter. That is not to say that the house is always spotless of course. I have found that there is a big difference between wanting to have clean dishes and wanting to clean dishes.

Excluding my little hissy fit, today has been delightful. If all Sundays could be as this one, I can’t have any complaints.

The end of summer

I hear the cicadas less and less. The continous noise that was summer is starting to quiet down, becoming a distant memory. While it is still too hot for my liking and to be called autumn, we will get there.

I am over the moon excited for autumn. I can wear all my favorite pieces again, and the new pieces I bought. I got a new dress for autumn, a brown flannel one, and then I got a white leather belt to go with it. And to be able to wear my beloved boots; bliss.

Japan seems to have a new flavour at starbucks every month, but I have yet to see the infamous pumpkin spice latte. While I have nothing against sweet potato frappuchinos and chestnut lattes, I’d like to get one with pumpkin spice once in a while too.

I am most excited about seeing the 紅葉 (momiji) ; the autumn foliage. Watching the leaves turn from green to yellow, orange, red. Breathtaking. I’d like to be able to take Darjeeling out for a walk too, to see her play with the leaves. Such a precious image.

I want to light a candle, bake cakes, take a bath with bath salts. Have the whole apartment smell of cinnamon and chai. And read books, mostly classics. Autumn is not the time for light contemporary books (in my personal opinion). The image in my mind is of cold evenings spent wrapped up in a blanket with a cat on your lap, a hot chocolate or milk tea in one hand, and a classic like Pride and Prejudice or Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights in your other hand. Maybe I’ll do the Japanese Little Women this autumn, it fits my requirement of being a classic AND it will give my Japanese some practice.

What things come to mind when you think of autumn?

A new tea-cup

There is a thrift store not too far from my house which I pass by sometimes, but here the other day I decided to go check out what they have.

As a bigger woman I was pretty sure I didn’t need waste my time looking at clothes or shoes so I went straight to the goodies; the kitchenware.

There were many cute little tea-cups, some formed like cherry blossoms with the saucer acting as the leaves, or even some impressive old wedgwood sets (but they were rather pricy as expected).

What surprised me the most however, was when I found tea-cup sets which reminded me strongly of home, and would you know! They actually were!

I saw about 6 of these sets, which was many more than I had expected (I hadn’t actually expected any). But I didn’t get them, at least not yet.

What I did get was this:

A tea-cup (or tea bowl, if you will) with a very season appropriate momiji design. Autumn is one of my favorite seasons and so the autumn leaves are on the top of the list of designs that I love (sorry cherry blossoms, you can’t always be number one).

I don’t actually own any tea bowls, nor any cups suitable for matcha, even though I have a matcha whisk. Which meant that I could justify getting a tea bowl over yet another tea-cup.

I didn’t waste a second and made tea as soon as I got home. I might have just bought a matcha tea bowl but I have no matcha powder, so I used it for my everyday milk tea instead because that is what sparks joy for me.

I have a feeling this will be used a lot in the coming months.

A Saturday in September

I had a lovely day today.

The weather forecast had said a lot of rain so I decided to use my new rain poncho, with this beautiful pattern of magnolias and I loved it! No need to carry around and hold an umbrella, and by keeping my bags underneath the poncho they didn’t get wet at all. Such a brilliant spur-of-the-moment buy from the Moomin park earlier this year. It reminded me of the Norwegian saying:

There is no bad weather, only bad clothing

It rhymes in Norwegian so it sounds better (Det fins ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær)

I went to a starbucks and while I know it is so very unoriginal, it is one of the places I feel comfortable with, and where I don’t have to grapple with my anxious self. I had a chai latte and a chocolate chip scone while I continued reading Jane Eyre. How many times have I read this now? Luckily for me, I’ve kept lists of my reading for more than ten years now so I can pinpoint exactly how many times, but only if I check my book. Unless I write things down I cannot trust my memory. Let’s see, this will be the sixth time it seems.

After finishing my little break time I ventured on and did some shopping at muji before going to the main event; kinokuniya. I browsed for a bit, with nothing catching my eye before I saw the cutest book cover I have seen in a long time. The drawing style was amazing and it had all the things I love, like books, tea, plants, etc. The title sounded interesting as well so I picked it up. I wanted to go to the cafe next door to the bookstore and start reading right away but as it was Saturday, it was completely full so I gave up and went home instead, all while keeping my new book dry underneath my rain poncho.

Things I am loving lately:

  • Cat-shaped bread
  • Hirai Dai’s new singles
  • White leather
  • This picture of Darjeeling:
My Norwegian forest cat with the Norwegian chocolate my grandma kindly sent me from home

Sayonara rainy season

Last night, the night going into August 1st, I lay awake and listened to the rain. It came on suddenly and furiously, the winds whipping it against the windows, hitting the ground sounding like hail. Looking outside I saw the world enveloped in rain. The humidity was almost suffocating, even the air was turning into water.

Waking up on August 1st I was greeted by the sun and blue skies. Any trace of the previous night’s rain gone. Last night was the rainy season wrapping itself up, presenting us with summer nicely tied in a bow to be opened on the first day of August.

It feels like the cicadas have spring to life overnight as well. An endless chorus of their chirping, blending into the background until you barely notice it, forgetting almost the source of the noise. The sound of summer.

I’ll admit it is bittersweet to say farewell. The rainy season isn’t all bad. I don’t mind a rain shower here and there, preferably at night with accompanying thunder, but constantly feeling wet and clammy gets tiring pretty quickly.

With summer incoming, while it does bring a certain lightness, brighter days, sunshine, and not to mention vacation, it also brings a heat like no other. As a viking I am not equipped to handle temperatures above 25 degrees celsius. Japanese summers bring temperatures well above 30 daily. Me and Japanese summers do not go hand in hand, but unfortunately we can’t skip them. I enjoy some summery things, but I am looking towards autumn to soothe me after what will surely be another sweltering summer.

Tone deaf but practicing the piano

I never had an ear for music. My grandfather, and now Teddy, tell me I am tone deaf. They may be right, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying listening to music, singing (bad) karaoke with my (very) close friends, and since December; learning piano.

I never learned any instruments as a kid. We did the recorder at school, but luckily only for a short time. I tried my hands at guitar but after spending 30 minutes trying to tune it and then failing at getting my fingers into the seemingly impossible positions described in the ‘guitar for beginners’ book, I put the guitar back in the closet where I found it.

Last year I saw a sign advertising trial lessons for piano at a local bookstore. For weeks I went past, reading it again and again, wondering, thinking. I could maybe? But my courage would always fail me. Until one day in November; I had made up my mind. I marched to the bookstore while making up all the possible scenarios on how the conversation would go in my head. I entered the store and went straight to-

the magazines. I am so bad at talking to and reaching out to strangers that I had to recharge after using all my energy on just getting to and into the bookstore. I circled around a bit, looking but not really looking at the different covers before I squared my shoulders and went to the register where an older man was working.

After stammering out in nervous Japanese about the sign and wanting to try, he tells me to hold on and goes to find the piano teacher that was holding a piano lesson in the back room of the bookstore. Great, I have to redo all I just did to another person. The teacher was lovely though, and we set a date for the trial lesson.

The trial lesson went great, and I’ve been going every Sunday for about 6 months. While I do not have any aspirations to be a great pianist, and while I might still be tone deaf, it’s a great pastime which I very much enjoy.

My first practices at home were done on my tablet, but after a couple of months I invested in a good, and not too expensive keyboard.